10 Ways to Successfully Build and Sell Online Courses in Any Niche

Launch Your Online Business in Just 7 Days

If you’re trying to make money selling courses online or generate your first online course sale, you’ve made it to the right place!

In this post, we’re going in-depth to answer how you can make money selling courses online, as well as uncover different platforms you can use to build and launch your online business selling courses.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear idea of how people succeed in the eLearning industry and how you can be a success as well.

Let’s get started.

1. But first, can you make money by selling online courses?

Money man clock

Short answer: Yes.

Once you set up your courses and configure a business model to make money, you’ll only have to worry about getting more students.

The beauty lies in the concept that you do the bulk of the building once and get recurring enrollments over time, generating a passive income.

But don’t just take our word for it, the worldwide eLearning market is projected to reach $325 billion in 2025.

1.1. Why should you sell courses online?

Why, because you probably have the skills and means to do so, and getting a piece of that $325-billion pie isn’t as hard as you think!

Covid-19 was a wake-up call for everyone that online courses are no longer an unusual and uncommon puzzle piece in the teaching and learning environment.

In fact, online learning is even reshaping higher education.

The market is there, the students are accustomed to it, and you have the opportunity to generate money by helping others with your skill sets.

At this point, why wouldn’t you sell online courses?

If your answer is: Well, I don’t know how to, then keep reading, because we’ll teach you everything you need to know.

2. 10 ways to make money selling online courses

10 ways to make money selling online courses

After choosing your topic for your online courses, you want to start thinking about how you’re going to make your money.

The importance of setting a solid business model before even the online course creation process can’t be overstated.

You don’t want to build something and then figure out how to sell it. On the other hand, knowing your business plan will help you tailor online courses for specific goals and drive students towards certain objectives.

There are two main approaches when offering online courses — you either offer free courses or paid ones. Each comes with its own tactics and methods of generating money.

2.1. 3 ways to make money from free online courses

Free online courses are attractive because they offer high-quality value with seemingly no cost.

If you play your cards right, this will help you hit the ground running and build your reputation while also generating enough money to grow your online business.

2.1.1. Charge for certification

This might be your easiest way to earn money from free courses.

The online course platform, Coursera, used this tactic to generate money from free courses.

It works well because prospects sign-up for free, get all the value they can from the course, then start thinking of the professional value a certificate would add to their resumes.

If you want a proven way to generate money with your free course, this is it.

2.1.2. Funnel students into a paid offer

If you’re really a master of your craft, you can build an online course that fulfills its main objective and at the same time grows a specific intent towards something among the students.

That something is your product, service, or a high-ticket paid course.

And remember, part of offering a free course is to build trust and brand awareness for yourself — this will make purchasing something from you much easier for students.

2.1.3. Use email marketing to sell paid offers to students

An ROI that goes up to 4500% for email marketing makes it a no-brainer in your online course marketing strategy.

Unfortunately, one of the main challenges of email marketing is to build an email list of interested prospects.

This is where your online courses come in — everyone who signs up for your course is signing up for your email list.

And with free courses, the numbers are multiplied compared to those of paid courses.

This means that you’re already doing the heavy lifting for your email marketing efforts.

From there on out, you can launch an email marketing campaign with a marketing tool like systeme.io to promote relevant paid offers.

This is how you can picture the process of making money with free online courses:

Make money with free courses

This is a proven formula, you should start with it if you’re looking to offer free online courses.

2.2. 7 ways to make money from paid online courses

If you’re going to offer a paid online course, you should already have a following or a community of some sort, or get ready to advertise with paid Ads.

People think twice before getting their credit cards out to sign up for your paid course.

Make sure you build an online community that understands who you are and what you’re offering first.

After that, you can start sharing the success stories of your students or case studies.

Then comes the selling — here are the options you have to help sell your paid online course:

2.2.1. Charge upfront for your course

money for knowledge

It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. You name a price, they pay, and get enrolled — it’s that easy.

Or is it?

You’ll have to account for a number of things before settling on a price that will ensure the growth and success of your online courses business.

For example, you’ll need to cover the cost of creating and selling courses online, account for the competition, maximize your profits, and more.

Say you want to make a full decent living selling online courses and you set a monthly income target of $5,000/month.

Which is easier: start selling a $50 online course to 100 people a month or selling a $200 online course to 25 people a month?

The answer lies in what you’re selling and who your target audience is.

That’s why successful course creators have a deep understanding of the true value of their courses, and how much their target market is willing to pay for them.

Start by looking at the competition’s prices — cut yours by a bit while offering more value to outshine everyone in your space.

Or at least get enough students to sign up and purchase your courses.

After you calculate all the upfront fees and variables, come up with a number that you’re going to charge your students for.

Make sure to have it in psychological pricing, so if you’re going for $200, offer the online course for $199.95, for example.

This may seem dumb, but it has been proven time and time again that psychological pricing can improve conversions.

Use this method when you’re just starting out to gain experience of the flow of the process with your first course.

When you’re ready, move into the more complicated options on this list.

2.2.2. Use tiered payment models

A tiered payment model is where you sell products or services at different prices depending on predetermined conditions.

You must have heard of, “buy 2, get 1 free” deals, or “buy $120 worth of products to get free shipping” deals.

These are tiered payment models. The idea is to incentivize customers to buy more by letting them think that they get more for what they’re spending.

This increases average order value (AOV), and it includes tiered pricing models as well.

To apply a tiered payment model to online courses, start listing pricing offers like:

  • You and your friends can get in shape in 3 weeks — Sign up now and get 2 more spots at the course for 75% off!


  • You can get a 1-1 weekly call with me to monitor your results if you sign up in the next 24 hours for just $15 extra!

Use this when you want to get creative with offers and need to push potential customers to think they’re going to miss out on something if they don’t spend a few extra dollars.

2.2.3. Charge subscriptions or offer membership sites

Sign up for membership

If you’re leaning more towards coaching services, where you need to talk to your students all the time, then this might be a very good option for you.

Set up your online course material and give students access to it by paying a monthly fee.

Remember, short-term goals are good, but sustainable growth is better and what you should be banking on.

This requires you to be very active with your students.

Make sure to always have a resource (information or a support team) that can help if you’re not available.

You also need to be completely transparent about what they’re getting and when they’re getting it.

For example:

A fitness coach with a $50/week subscription fee for a 2-month program that has clear goals for separate students depending on their state . . .

This makes much more sense than just creating a fitness program that goes on “indefinitely”, with no clear goals other than just getting ripped no matter what state students are in.

Additionally, you can flip the script and offer subscription models for students enrolled in your courses to get premium features, like VIP calls, from you.

2.2.4. Sell licenses for your courses

Sell licenses

Are you a business professional with certain high-level skills that businesses need?

Do you dabble with consulting? If so, then this option is for you.

Businesses would be very interested in licensing your course material if you offer a proven solution for an advanced problem.

For instance:

If you have been in the HVAC industry for years and you’re building a massive course on how to deploy, maintain, fix, and check all kinds of machines in the market, you’ll catch a lot of businesses looking to either train their employees or train their customers on such machines.

And thus, as long your course has detailed and updated material, they’d happily pay you an annual premium price for it.

With this model, you’ll mainly sell course licenses to businesses and not normal everyday consumers.

2.2.5. Pre-sell your course before you create it

Pre selling courses

There’s a huge difference between having students already pay you before launching the course and being all over the place on launch day because you can’t find enough students to sign up.

That’s why companies, like Apple, hype up their products before launching — they create awareness and demand before their products hit the market and that’s exactly what you should do as well when creating and selling an online course.

With a following behind your brand, this is easy. If you don’t have one, start generating hype and a following for your upcoming online course — pre-sell when you can.

You can do this by talking to prospects in your target audience, like in niche Facebook groups, for example.

Content marketing is also a great way to address your target audience and pre-sell your courses.

Also, don’t discount video content on a YouTube channel because that counts as content marketing as well.

To successfully pre-sell your course, make sure your course topic is in line with what prospects are looking for.

Invite them to free online training, and then announce your upcoming course outline and, of course, give them the option to pay and enroll, right then and there.

That’s how you pre-sell courses online and help build a profitable online course business with a strong foundation.

2.2.6. Offer upsells and course bundles

Course bundles

Upselling is offering a higher-ticket product or service when a customer is keen on buying a lower-ticket version of said product or service.

Upsells are considered one of the best business models to increase revenue, up by 30% for some businesses.

Upselling is both cheaper than acquiring new customers and increases the amount each customer spends, and that in turn increases your AOV.

Course bundles are self-explanatory, just shuffle relevant courses together, add a tempting price tag, and you’re ready for marketing.

Once you have created a big enough library of new courses, upselling course bundles should become second nature for you.


It’s very appealing for customers to get more courses for a little extra money compared to what they’d have to pay when buying each course individually.

One way this could work very well is by launching relevant courses individually in your community with full-price tags.

And then, when the time is right, you offer a limited-time course bundle that they can only get one time.

In fact, at systeme.io, we have gotten remarkable results using this method with email marketing:

systeme.io upselling a course bundle

systeme.io upselling a course bundle

The original offer was a $7 course and at one point of the sales funnel, we offered an upsell of a bundle with 8 courses for $197.

And these were the results for that exact same offer.

Results of upselling a course bundle at systeme.io

Results of upselling a course bundle at systeme.io

Just 14 people got the course bundle, but that resulted in 1.6X more revenue compared to just selling the normal course.

You can use all sorts of marketing channels like YouTube videos, blog posts, and email campaigns to promote your course bundles.

An important note to always remember is to keep the bundle’s courses relevant and fall into a cohesive environment where they can work well together.

Never upsell course bundles too much as they’d lose value in the eyes of customers and students.

2.2.7. Turn your students into your affiliates

Training students to become affiliates

Affiliate marketing is a form of monetization where affiliates promote a product or service and then get paid commissions based on their conversions.

It’s similar to word-of-mouth marketing but on a much larger and more organized scale.

For example, an affiliate can get a commission for referring a student that signs up for one of your courses.

This is great because you only pay the affiliate a percentage of what the referred student pays you.

You can take a look at these 50 best affiliate programs to get a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t for you as an online instructor.

3. What are the best platforms to create online courses?

What are the best platforms to create online courses?

There are many platforms that claim to be the best online education platform out there, but the truth is, what’s best is what fits you best.

Before choosing, consider these questions:

  • Do you already have your own website?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What is the way you’re going to generate money creating and selling courses?
  • What does your marketing plan look like?

Answering these would help you choose the platform that’s best for you to make money selling courses.

That said, here’s a list that covers most variants of what’s out there for you to try out:

3.1. Systeme.io

systeme.io logo

systeme.io logo

Systeme.io is an all-in-one digital marketing platform that’s built for you to create, launch, and scale your online business effortlessly.

Your online business is related to creating and selling online courses and systeme.io has you covered with software and marketing tools like:

  • Online courses — Build a course site without any technical knowledge and manage all your students with in-depth analytics
  • Affiliate programs — Launch your affiliate program and let students sell for you
  • Blog — Utilize content marketing campaigns to build a community online
  • Email marketing — Create different campaigns and send an unlimited amount of emails every month
  • Webinars — Use evergreen webinars that have timeless resources to always keep growing your student list
  • Sales funnels — Funnel your students and prospects from all kinds of marketing channels to sign up for your paid courses and offers
  • Automate everything — Use automation rules to automate the entire flow of students, from enrolling to exiting your business

We also offer a drag-and-drop builder to create websites, lectures, or landing pages for your business courses and products.

For example, here’s a very simple squeeze page that was built by systeme.io to promote one of the systeme.io courses:

A simple squeeze page built at systeme.io

And our prices are also as cheap as they come!

3.1.1. Systeme.io’s pricing

systeme.io’s pricing options

systeme.io’s pricing options

Here are our plans:

  • Free — $0/month for 1 online course with unlimited students
  • Startup — $27/month for 5 online courses with unlimited students
  • Webinar — $47/month for 20 online courses with unlimited students
  • Unlimited — $97/month for unlimited online courses with unlimited students

The Free plan has access to all the features mentioned above (except webinars), like unlimited video hosting — and it’s free forever.

Systeme.io integrates with PayPal and Stripe to collect your students’ payments and grows as you grow.

It’s easy to see why clients love us.

3.2. Thinkific

Thinkific logo

Thinkific logo

Thinkific is an online course platform and web-based Learning Management System (LMS) that allows you to create, and monetize online courses and membership sites.

With Thinkific, you can provide training and educational course material in a presentation with PDF files (with text or voice-overs) and video formats.

3.2.1. Thinkfic’s pricing

Thinkific’s pricing

Thinkific’s pricing

Thinkific offers 5 pricing plans:

  • Free — $0/month
  • Basic — $49/month
  • Pro — $99/month
  • Premier — $499/month
  • Enterprise/Thinkific Plus — Custom quote

This platform is a good option for starting out, but the price gets steep quickly once you want to scale your online course business.

3.3. Udemy

Udemy logo

Udemy logo

Udemy is a massive online learning site that has a robust system directed at students and online instructors, as well as a course marketplace.

For more than 44 million students, you can upload course materials in video format, and you can add documents and files as well.

The problem though, the only control you have outside your course is pretty much just setting the price.

And while Udemy has no official pricing plans on their website for instructors, it’s free to create and host courses.

However, Udemy takes a 3% cut of each course you sell through your referral links, as well as 63% of any sale where no instructor coupon or course referral link was used — meaning the course was sold at their course marketplace.

3.4. Teachable

Teachable logo

Teachable logo

With more than 100,000 instructors on board, Teachable is a giant when it comes to creating an online course business or an online school.

What’s neat is that you can set up your own curriculum and then publish it to students in the form of courses, lectures, quizzes, and more.

What’s not so neat is that advanced features like affiliate management are locked behind the higher pricing plans — and both the Free and Basic plans have transaction fees on each sale you make.

3.4.1. Teachable’s pricing

Teachable’s pricing plans

Teachable’s pricing plans

Teachable offers 4 plans:

  • Free — $0/month
  • Basic — $39/month
  • Pro — $119/month
  • Business — $299/month

Of course, all of them will get you varying access to features and the more you pay, the more you’ll unlock. And you can get a discount if you go for an annual subscription.

4. FAQs for selling online courses


Got questions? We’ve got answers.

4.1. Can you make good money selling courses online?

Yes, you can definitely make good money selling courses online, that’s why a platform like Teachable has more than 100,000 instructors.

4.2. What are the best online courses to sell?

Your course idea should be unique to your niche and attract students with a strong value proposition.

That said, here are the best performing niches for online courses:

  • Software development
  • Fitness/Health and care
  • Business
  • Blockchain and crypto
  • Video production and graphic design
  • Educational subjects
  • Marketing

4.3. How much does it cost to create an online course?

You can create and sell your online course completely free on a platform like systeme.io.

4.4. How to make money selling online courses?

If you want to make money selling your own course online, then you need to follow the proven methods mentioned in this guide.

5. Conclusion

Wrapping up this post, we hope you gained valuable information on how you can make money selling courses online.

We can summarize what we’ve learned with:

  • Determine the kind of courses you’re going to sell and how are you going to generate money from them before creating them
  • When starting out, don’t be afraid to pre-sell your courses before completion. If you don’t have a following, market on social media
  • Compare price and value when deciding on an online course platform — we recommend systeme.io as a great all-in-one option

And that’s it! Once you’re ready to get started, sign-up at systeme.io and get 30% off on any annual plan!

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