Teaching is human nature. As parents, we teach our children, as children we teach our siblings and our education continues as we pass through grade school and universities. However, we never truly stop learning.

Outside of formalized education, we learn new skills like cooking and parenting. We pick up hobbies like dance or watercolor painting. And in fact, many of us continue to learn new skills as a way to advance our careers.

With ever increasing education costs and shifts in the job market demands, we’ve seen an undeniable increase in the number of coding bootcamps, MOOCs and (our favorite) online courses - and a surge of money behind it.

This is all to say, there’s a huge demand to learn and it’s about time you start teaching online as a way to leverage this market, make money from home and share knowledge - is there anything sweeter than that?

Working at Teachable, this is something I know and see every day, but I want to use this post and prove it using the data we’ve collected over two years and 53,000 courses.

So let’s start here….

Why Courses

EdTech is undeniably booming. Take this headline from Forbes, “Online Learning Industry Poised for $107 Billion in 2015”  or this one “Edtech Startups Raised $59Million in February 2016” from EdSurge.  Investors believe there is money to be made in EdTech.

Here’s why: This is the GLOBAL (not national) look on money spent in education. 


That’s public spending money, but gives you an idea of just how much we value learning. Let’s look at the individual.

In the US, the college board of education reports that: "the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities."

This means that the individual is willing to take $10,000 dollars out of their pocket for just 1 year of college education.

Let me be frank - this is a lot of money. And why spend it if you can learn these same skills online for less?

With this thought, we’ve seen the rise of programming bootcamps that have increased the number of graduates 138% in 2015. But how much do these cost? According to BetaNews, “tuition for career-switching coding bootcamps falls between $10,000 and $20,000. (For example, Bloc’s Web Track costs $9,500, Dev Bootcamp costs $12,700-$13,950, and Hack Reactor costs $17,780.)

What if you could learn these same skills, in the comfort of your home, at your own pace in a way that allowed you to quit or keep your job - you can. That’s exactly what online courses have to offer.

MOOCs and dozens of EdTech companies have jumped on the opportunity, think Lynda, Udemy, SkilledUp and, hopefully, us here at Teachable. Many of these companies are student focused - sharing courses for free or offering them at a guranteed price under $50 (Udemy). While this is great for students - it often leaves or limits teacher’s grasp on that $107 billion dollar pie.

Why You Shouldn’t Teach for a Marketplace

Quite literally, there are billions of dollars of dollars to be earned teaching. And there’s no reason why you can’t have a few thousand of them. Hear me out.

Online entrepreneurs often look to blogs, podcasts on YouTube channels to make money, but common practice states that this content is free. Compare this with what we just talked about - billions being spent on education. Because we globally value education you can charge hundreds for an online course, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone paying over $30 for a book or blog subscription.

The same can be said to be true with ebooks. And while online stores can make you a lot of money, you also have to take a risk with overhead and sunk costs as you create the product the first time around.

With a course you avoid all of this AND you only have to create content once and it works as a passive revenue stream (unlike blogs and podcasts where you have to continuously create content).

HOWEVER, there is currently a debate in the course creation industry: to marketplace or not to marketplace.

A course marketplace is one that advertises your course for you. If you’re a student you go to this marketplace, search your topic and buy your course. Teachers don’t have to market. Students get to learn. Seems like a win-win, right?

I’d say wrong. Teachable was founded on an alternate theory - the theory that individuals have the ability to market their course if given power over student data (email addresses), branding, price - control over their course content and marketing.

These things are all controlled in a marketplace like Udemy who recently capped the maximum price allowed for a course at $50, but the data we’ve pulled at Teachable says you can charge much more than this - and should! 

Proof of this point comes from Ryan Bonhardt who teaches Maker Based Education. Using Gumroad, he tested the effects of pricing his course at $25, $50, $75 and $100. The course at $100 had more sign ups (and obviously made more revenue) than any of the cheaper options (and then we hired him!).

If you think this contrasts what you thought about unit economics (price lower, sell more) - it does. 

Price communicates value and we believe that every course can sell at $100 or more.

So why cap your course at $50 when you don’t have to? That’s a question over 1,000 previous Udemy instructors have asked as they’ve switch to Teachable.

We believe that you don’t have to be part of a marketplace to make money. At Teachable, we host over 50,000 courses and have paid out over 9 million to online instructors. In fact, an average of profitable teachers shows that the average instructor will make over $5,000.

As further proof, our instructors are teaching over 1.2 million students. We were incorporated in May 2014 meaning the company reached the one million student mark in less than two years - faster than other industry players like Udemy and Skillshare.

Data like this is a testament to a new course creation model that empowers instructors to sell and market their courses rather than joining a marketplace.

Globally, we place a high value on education. With technology, the ability to continuously learn and dramatically increased. So here at Teachable, we've pulled the data to show you why you should create your own online course. Click to read now.Will this work for me?

So you might be wondering, will this work for me?

Here’s what you can expect if you sign up with Teachable:

More than two-thirds of new sign ups are people who report never having taught online.

Many people create free courses on our e-learning platform, or play around by starting a courses but never launch or make a sale (aka what I did when I made wordpress blogs for college assignments to learn the CMS).

Excluding these people, on average, an instructor will make $5,426 using Teachable (also - consider that we’re growing 30% month on month - many of our instructors are just starting with their course and still bringing in income 4,5,6 months out).

By contrast, 81% of “bloggers” never make even $100An author makes only 8-15 cents on every dollar made on their book. The “average” YouTuber with 5K views per month makes just $15/month.


Plus, bloggers who are making a living off their blogs tend to cite selling online courses as their main stream of income.

So how long does it take to create a course? The average amount of time between signup and first sale is 67 days - although, we’ve developed a process that gets you there in 30.

Want to know how?

Enroll in our Teachable course - The Profitable Teacher. It walks you through creating your own online course in just 30 days even if you're getting started. 


Enroll & Explore The Profitable Teacher

We'll show you how to validate your idea, create content and market your course and if you follow along - you will find success. 

Once you create a course, you’ve set yourself up for passive income. On average, this is what course sales look like over time:


Month one: $1,434, Month two: $667, Month three: $805,
Month four: $796, Month five: $796, Month six: $869

It’s no surprise then, that 15% of our instructors have made at least 2 courses (and we’re only 2 years old, so we do expect that number to go up).

What can you teach? Literally anything. We have courses on programming, meditation, dog walking and broga (bro+yoga). 

When we surveyed a group at random of 8.9K course creators on what they are teaching, here's what they said:


Worried this is going to be too hard? Our support team is world-class with the average response time at 57 minutes. I personally write once a week on tips to help you create and grow your course and we have weekly training workshops with a live Q&A at the end. 

And our own course- The Profitable Teacher - which is the most comprehensive method for launching your own online course.

Here's a sneak peek of Ryan (who tested our pricing theory) talking about how to validate your course idea.


Enroll & Explore The Profitable Teacher


What do you think? Are you continuing to make passive income on your course months out? How long did it take you to create? Let us know in the comment section below. 

P.S. HUGE shout out to our CTO - Noah Pryor for helping me pull Teachable data. 

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Ashley Hockney

Written by Ashley Hockney

Ashley Hockney is the Content Marketer & Writer at Teachable (Create & Sell Online Courses). Her knowledge spans both the marketing and literary fields. Her background is in food & beverage PR i.e. she wants to talk to you about single malts.