How To Determine The Cost of Building Your First Online Course

Launch Your Online Business in Just 7 Days

One of the first questions people ask before a purchase is: How much is this going to cost?

The cost of course creation is much like the cost calculation of a house. With so many factors to consider, price ranges can vary drastically.

In this guide, we lay out how much it could potentially cost to develop an online course, common factors to consider when determining cost, and your options when it comes down to deciding what is best for you.

Ready to have a look? Let’s get started!

1. How much does it cost to build an online course?



According to research, the average cost per finished hour of developing an online course ranges from $5000 to $50,000.

However, there are ways to work around this estimation and minimize your budget.

If you almost fell off your chair after seeing the estimated cost, continue reading this post to find affordable options to develop your online course!

2. Factors involved in the cost of online course development



Creating an exact budget on the cost of online course development can’t be done instantaneously.

There are a few key aspects to consider before investing your money and time into what the cost of creating online courses is:

  • Researching your target audience — This affects the online course content. What should be the focus? What are your and your learners' goals?
  • Planning your course curriculum — Will your content be original or off the shelves?
  • Developing your course content — Will you use multimedia like videos with audio or text-based content instead?
  • Packaging your online course — How will you upload your online course?
  • Marketing your online course — How will you advertise your online course?

To keep things organized, we divided all things to consider when calculating the cost of the course development process into 3 categories:

1. Online course development costs

2. Business costs

3. Marketing costs

Let’s get started.

2.1. Online course development costs



The cost of building an online course varies quite a lot, depending on:

  • The complexity of the course — Which course materials, equipment, and learning management system (LMS) will you use?
  • The length — How many hours of work will you be investing into the course?
  • Who will be creating the course — Are you creating the content yourself or are you hiring a professional?

2.1.1. Course complexity

Different multimedia elements are used in online courses that determine their level of engagement.

Some common elements include:

  • Text
  • Graphics
  • Animation
  • Video
  • Audio

And more.

To create course content, a few essential tools are needed:

  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Lighting
  • Screen recording software
  • Video editor
  • Course slides
  • Learning management system

Let’s have a more in-depth look at the key elements that contribute to the cost of online course development. Course materials

A course’s cost tends to increase as the level of engagement and complexity increases.

There are 4 widely recognized levels of eLearning, each of which has an impact on the learning experience, cost, and development time of your course.

The 4 stages of interactivity are:

1. Passive interactivity

Where direct, simple, text-based eLearning material is provided to the learners.

The purpose is to deliver information in a classic text or image design that doesn’t make use of interactive functions.

2. Limited interactivity

Limited interactivity courses include:

  • Animation
  • Audio narration
  • Basic drag-and-drop functions
  • More interactive media

These eLearning courses blend theory and practice in an attempt to instill motivation.

3. Moderate interactivity

An online course that includes:

  • Various video types
  • Different forms of audio
  • Simulations
  • Simple interactive games
  • Complex drag-and-drop functions
  • Detailed branch scenarios

All these elements contribute to a more personalized learning experience.

Online courses with moderate interactivity focus less on theory and more on practice.

4. Full immersion

These types of online courses require learners to interact with the screen at each step of the presentation.

Some elements that are included are:

  • Serious games
  • Avatars
  • Simulated job performance exercises
  • Customized audio and video
  • Stories
  • Scenarios

And more.

These elements require high-end interactive tools which are more complex, more expensive, and need more time to develop.

You need to plan and choose your course materials wisely as they’re a great contributor to the final cost of online course development. Essential equipment


Depending on the type of courses you’re planning to create, you’ll need some essential tools.

Luckily, you have the choice to start with simple, necessary tools and grow into more professional premium tools.

Here’s how the equipment and software costs break down:

1. Camera

There’s a wide variety of video cameras available, so we’ve compiled 4 options, from low budget to high budget:

  • Your smartphone — Smartphones have decent video cameras and, assuming you already have one, this is a great starter to create course videos
  • Basic webcam — The Logitech C930e Webcam is a suitable product that has all the necessary features to record video content
  • Intermediate camcorder — The Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder is a more expensive option that offers full HD recordings
  • Exceptional digital camera — The Canon PowerShot G7 X Digital Camera is the perfect camera if you are an experienced content creator. It offers full HD support, a long camera life, and quality images, which is the most expensive option

Choosing the best video camera adds to the overall quality of your course videos.

However, there’s no shame in starting from the bottom and working your way up!

2. Microphone

Even if you choose to record your videos on your smartphone, we recommend getting a quality lavalier microphone.

Here are 3 microphone options, from lowest to highest price:

  • Cheap — The Single Head Lavalier Lapel Microphone is a good option for beginner content creators who use their smartphones to record content and is an affordable option
  • Relatively cheap — As an intermediary option, you can buy the Samson Dynamic Microphone, a multipurpose handheld microphone that comes with a recording and podcasting pack
  • More expensive If you’re capable of paying a little more, the NZXT Capsule Microphone is a professional streaming microphone that ensures high-quality audio

The microphone you choose will be one of the most essential pieces of your equipment.

3. Lighting

A unique lighting system helps with the following:

  • Mood
  • Engagement
  • Appearance

Whether you record your content indoors or outdoors, you need proper lighting equipment to ensure high-quality videos.

Some affordable lighting equipment includes:

  • LED ring lightRing lights have become extremely popular with content creators over the past years. It’s a useful and affordable piece of equipment and is fairly affordable
  • Softbox lighting — A softbox lighting kit is ideal if you have a bigger space you record in. With this kit, high quality is assured and it's only a little more expensive

If you’re looking to make your footage crisp, sharp, and colorful, we recommend using the correct lighting equipment.

4. Screen recording software

If you plan on doing a demo as part of your online course, adding a screen recording can make your tutorial easier to follow.

Here are 3 popular screen recording software systems:

  • — It’s free to use and provides a step-by-step guide for beginners
  • ScreenPal — It offers a free version and also has some premium plans starting from only $4/month
  • Loom — Loom offers a 14-day free trial whereafter you start paying a monthly fee of $8 as well as an option to contact them and negotiate your price

5. Video editor

If you’re going to be creating videos you will need to choose reliable video editing software.

Video editing can sometimes be a daunting task for first-timers.

However, with the right video editing software, you’ll be a pro editor in no time.

3 top picks for editing your videos include:

  • HitFilm Express — This platform offers its video editing tools for no cost at all
  • Adobe Premiere Pro — It offers a 7-day free trial and after that, you pay $20.99 monthly
  • Final Cut Pro — Although this platform is only macOS-compatible, it’s a great video editing software to have. It offers a 90-day free trial and thereafter you can buy the app with all its features for $299.99

6. Course slides

Some more good news: You don’t have to be a pro designer to create stunning course slide presentations either!

We recommend a design tool, like Canva. It provides templates for nearly any type of visual content that you can imagine.

Canva offers a 30-day free trial, an Enterprise plan of $30 monthly, and a Pro option that costs $119.99 annually.

Alternatively, you can use Google Slides’ free library of presentation templates to create attractive and professional-looking slides for your online course.

7. Learning management system

The LMS you choose has an important role in your course development.

This program oversees the distribution of course materials and keeps track of student progress.

Therefore, you need to be sure that your choice of system meets your needs in terms of features.

Many course systems make it simple to launch training programs, set them up, and create pages and content.

We suggest as an all-in-one solution, which you can try out for free.

2.1.2. Course length



Your time is one of the most significant costs associated with developing an online course.

This also implies that the more time you spend on it, the more it will cost.

There are numerous types of online courses available, including:

  • Mini-courses
  • Masterclasses

And others.

The prices here might differ if you choose to hire others to create the courses for you.

2.1.3. Those who develop your online courses

You’ll have to either develop the course content yourself, delegate it to your team, or hire a professional to do it for you.

If you decide to use an in-house team or hire a third-party developer, you can expect higher costs in most areas of online course development.

Let’s have a look at the implications and costs of each option. Developing it yourself


When developing your online course yourself, your biggest expense will be your time.

However, let’s not think of your time as being wasted, but rather as an investment.

There are tons of advantages to creating your own eLearning materials, such as:

  • Building your own knowledge
  • Developing new skills, such as problem-solving, research, and editing
  • Reducing overall costs
  • Having a sense of satisfaction

And more!

You can always reduce the effort and time spent building, by starting small. Using in-house team members


Using an in-house team means you allocate employees in your company to complete the project, rather than hiring people from outside of the company to do it for you.

This means that you’ll be developing the online course with the help of your employees.

Accordingly, you either already consist of the manpower to create an internal development team or you need to hire new people to fill the distinct roles.

3 benefits of putting together an internal team are:

  • Highly customized training experience — Your employees know your company better than anyone else and might have some hidden skills that could be an asset to your project
  • Lower costs — You won’t have to pay extra to hire designers or programmers
  • Challenge — Your employees might see this as a new learning opportunity, which will be a drive for success

A downside to this is, however, that you might not have employees with the necessary skills to execute the job and end up having to hire other people after all. Hiring third-party developers


Third-party hiring is the exact opposite of having an in-house team.

By hiring outsiders you hand over the development control to them.

Although this might end up costing you more, you may find that the long-term advantages are worth it.

3 main advantages of hiring third-party developers are:

  • High-end development team — You’ll have a professional team at your fingertips
  • Fast execution and implementation — These people are professionals and know what they're doing. Their experience and expertise will speed up the process, but it all comes down to how big the project is
  • Scalability and future-proofing — It’s important to keep long-term growth in mind as professionals generally work with these concepts in mind

Members that you need to bring to the table include:

  • Instructional designer — An hourly rate of $40
  • User interface designer — An hourly rate of $43
  • Programmers — For an entry-level programmer an hourly rate of $31 and a professional programmer between $41 and $46 an hour
  • Tech experts — An average hourly rate of $56.74
  • Quality controller — Typically ranges between $17 and $21 hourly
  • Project manager — An average hourly wage of $64

However, for smaller projects, you might not need all these people.

To sum up the first category’s costs, here is a list of the main expenses thus far:

  • Camera — Free to $689.99
  • Microphone — $10.99 to $129.99
  • Lighting — Free to $69.99
  • Screen recording software — Free to $149 once-off or a monthly fee of $8
  • Video editor — Free to $299.99 once-off or a monthly fee of $20.99
  • Course slides — Free to $119.99 annually
  • LMS — Free to a monthly fee of $97

As you can see, there are enough options to explore, without having to break or alter your budget.

Also, please note the above prices are subject to change, so we suggest you pick a favorite and set up an Amazon alert for when those products are on special.

In the next section, we will have a look at the business costs that you’ll encounter.

2.2. Business costs

After creating your online course content, you’re ready to upload, publish and sell your online course.

Your online course business will be incomplete without a website.

A good first step would be to find the best domain name for your website.

2.2.1. Domain name and website hosting

essential tips to create emails for mobile devices


The first step toward building your website is to create a domain name and register it.

Costs for registering your domain name can range anywhere from $5 annually up to a million dollars depending on the domain name you choose.

Don’t let the numbers discourage you though!

Here are 3 domain registrars that could be easy on your pocket: boasts of being the world's largest domain registrar, having an enormous selection of names and award-winning support.

Examples of domain name

Examples of domain name

The above domain names’ pricing is as follows:

  • .art — $6.03/first year
  • — $6.69/first year
  • .ink — $10/first year
  • .cc — $6.03/first year

With, you’re also able to register your domain name for one or more years upfront.

In GoDaddy’s offer, you’ll find not only domain names but also website hosting with monthly costs from $2.50 to $20.

With you get:

  • Popular domains at competitive prices
  • Free products and services
  • Easy setup and helpful guidance’s domain name pricing’s domain name pricing

You can choose to buy your domain name for anything from one to up to 10 years.

With you have access to website hosting for only $3.88/month.

Not only does have a great name, but they’re also a popular competitor when it comes to registering domain names.’s domain name pricing’s domain name pricing also offers website hosting from $1.99 to $13.75 monthly.

Note that the hosting choice you select is linked to the course platform you choose to use.

With, there are no additional hosting costs, and you can integrate your domain name using the features that come with your subscription.

2.2.2. Website design



Once you have your domain name registered and you’ve chosen a website hosting provider, you’re all set to start building your website.

With, you can build your website in minutes. provides the following features to make tricky website building a thing of the past:

  • Start with our pre-designed website templates and speed up the building process
  • Create the website you want with our simple drag-and-drop editor
  • Integrate your email list, payment system, and online courses
  • Create and add a blog, and deliver your content to your audience

Our prices range between $0 and $97 monthly.

Here’s a summary of category 2’s costs:

  • Domain name and website hosting — From $5 up to $1 million annually
  • Website design — Free to a monthly fee of $97

In the next section, we’ll have a look at the marketing costs that are generally involved in the complex process that is online course development.

2.3. Marketing costs

Now that you have all the tools to build and host your online course, the next step would be to market it to your learners.

This calls for a marketing plan.

Here are a few ways you can market your course:

  • Advertising and social media management
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing

Let’s have a more in-depth look at the above marketing strategies.

2.3.1. Advertising and social media management



According to Credo, the average hourly rate to hire a digital marketing agency in the US is $167.28.

Digital marketing is an efficient way to advertise your online course and reach your first visitors.

This is where social media comes into the picture.

Marketing through social media is one of the most versatile and cost-effective strategies that online businesses can use to reach their target audience and boost sales over time.

A few reasons why social media marketing is essential for online businesses:

  • Your customers are on social media
  • Helps to increase brand recognition
  • Increases inbound traffic
  • Cost-effective
  • This leads to higher conversion rates
  • You can interact with your audience

The main advantage of social media marketing is that it reaches a large number of people at one time.

2.3.2. Email marketing



Eventually, you will need to build an email list to help promote your online courses.

Email marketing is one of the oldest methods of marketing, but it’s still super effective.

Email marketing is a digital marketing tactic that involves sending emails to convert leads into customers and turn existing customers into recurring buyers.

These emails help you solidify your relationship, provide relevant information, and can assist with audience engagement. is one of the best email marketing services available.

2.3.3. Affiliate marketing



Affiliate marketing is another one of the most popular and profitable ways to reach your target audience.

With affiliate marketing, you get other people to advertise your products and once they deliver a paying customer, you pay them a commission.

With’s affiliate program you can build an army of affiliates.

Here are some tools provided by to manage your affiliate marketing:

  • Track your affiliates
  • Manage affiliate commissions and payouts
  • Integrate your email list, payment system, membership site

A summary of the marketing costs:

  • Digital marketing — Up to $167.28 per hour
  • Email marketing — Free to a monthly fee of $97.
  • Affiliate marketing — Free to a monthly fee of $97

3. Developing online courses on a budget



If you’re creating your very first online course, it probably isn’t worth it to invest in super expensive equipment and software.

There are several ways to cut down on expenses while still being able to create high-quality online courses.

Here’s how:

  • Create courses with little to no interactivity
  • Use your smartphone camera to record videos
  • Make use of natural lighting
  • Work with free screen recording and video editing software

Another option to save some money is by developing the entire online course by yourself.

You could also rent the necessary equipment for your first course and if you decide to continue building courses you can buy it all.

Finally, you can partner with a platform such as!

4. Save time and money with the online course builder logo logo is the perfect solution to create, launch, and market your online course.

Let’s see how can help you create a successful online course from scratch and market it online! is an all-in-one course creation platform that can help you get your online course business off the ground.

With you can:

  • Create your course site with our easy-to-use editor
  • Integrate your course access with payments from your sales funnels and websites
  • Give timed access to your course via our drip feature
  • Create, market, and sell your course all in the same place

And so much more!

4.1.’s pricing’s pricing plans’s pricing plans

All of our core features are available with our 4 pricing plans:

  • Free — $0 monthly
  • Startup — $27 monthly
  • Webinar — $47 monthly
  • Unlimited — $97 monthly

Naturally, our Unlimited plan is the best option, as it offers unlimited access to all our features.

Our Free plan is forever-free and you can upgrade to a more premium plan whenever you want to.

5. Conclusion

By now you’ve been introduced to all online course development phases and how much each element involved therein will cost.

You have all the information you need to determine your budget and create an incredible and profitable online course.

A few last words of wisdom:

  • Don’t let the amount of money spent scare you from achieving your goals
  • It’s okay to start from the bottom and work your way up
  • Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your online course be

If you’re serious about creating a course and using a platform that makes the whole process much easier, then check out and sign up for our Freemium plan today!

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