Today we’re answering that very common yet difficult question: How much should I charge for my online course?
Pricing can feel like throwing a dart and randomly picking numbers, but when done right it’s the easiest way to make hundreds more on each sale.
Hundreds?! We know that feels weird. There are people pricing similar courses at both extremes of the spectrum so even if you’re looking to compare two different offerings, they may be hundreds of dollars apart.
But! By valuing yourself, your course and the work you put into creating your offer you’ll be able to come up with a fair price that your audience will be willing to pay.
At the bare minimum, we recommend pricing your course at least $100. This often raises objections from people new to the world of online courses because they don’t yet see the value of their offer, but trust me when I say that your course is worth $100, if not much, much more.
Yes, even if…
- You’re not an expert. Believe it or not, you don’t need to be an expert to successfully teach and sell an online course. In fact, we’ve found that people who are just a few steps ahead of their students tend to be more effective teachers because at this point you remember your students’ pain points because you were in their shoes not too long ago.
Experts might offer a simplified solution to their student’s problems because they don’t remember just how tricky solving those same problems were for them initially.
- You’re not teaching a “profitable” topic. This is a common hang up among people creating courses in more creative fields. Programmers can advertise that their courses will help you make money and get a raise, whereas people teaching something like knitting might not be able to promise a tangible return on a student’s investment. But don’t despair, we have instructors like Angela Fehr bringing in $8,000 a month teaching watercolor painting.
If your audience really wants to learn something (even if it won’t make them money) they’ll be willing to pay for a course that will teach them.
- Your audience could learn your topic on their own. People often put off making a course thinking, “I learned this all using Google, anyone could so my course is useless.” Technically that is true, but the beauty of an online course is that you’re creating a shortcut to an outcome. Without you and your course, your audience might spend ten times the amount of time sifting through information, videos and blog posts trying to figure this out on their own.
- Somebody else is already teaching your course topic for less. Oftentimes people are buying your course for you and your unique perspective.
Even if someone else in your niche is teaching the same topic, you can still be successful by highlighting what makes your course unique. Perhaps you’ve turned your course topic into your full-time job, or you’re offering one-on-one consulting in addition to the online course. Whatever it is that makes your offer different - make sure to highlight it and use it as a selling point.
Check out this post on creating a unique selling proposition for your online course.
- You don’t think your audience will be willing to spend much. It’s a lot to ask strangers on the internet to spend $25 on anything, much less $100+. With that said, don’t let your audience see you as a stranger. If you’re launching to your mailing list make sure that you’ve been warming them up for the past few months and have provided them real value and they will be far more likely to spend money on your offering.
Why courses are worth at least $100
It might feel foreign to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on something as intangible as an online course. Usually, when you make a big investment online you’re met with a package sitting pretty on your front steps three to five business days later whereas that’s not the case with online courses.
Because courses aren’t offering you something you can physically own I get that they might not feel as valuable. BUT! Courses are actually incredibly valuable for a multitude of reasons:
1. People value education
We value education so much - in fact, people go tens of thousands of dollars into debt each year pursuing an education. A course is just that - education. It’s not in the traditional sense, but with university prices soaring and more people working in nontraditional careers, courses provide the perfect solution.
In the US, the College Board of Education reported "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."
People are willing to spend a lot on education and the format of education has been shifting. Compared to traditional means of education, EdTech is very new, but growing rapidly.
2. You’re creating a shortcut to an outcome
For some people online courses offer them the skills they need to make a living, and for other people they are learning a skill that can become a creative outlet.
Regardless, online courses are educational and provide a shortcut to an outcome for your students. Without your course your students might spend months, or even years learning what you have to teach them.
3. People expect to pay more
Unlike products such as ebooks or resource libraries, people are primed to pay more for courses. Whereas most people would seriously contemplate whether or not an ebook was worth $25, those same people would gladly spend five times that on an online course.
You can put the same information into your online course that would go into your ebook, but charge exponentially more for it.
4. Online courses are gated content
Unlike platforms like blogs and social media, online courses are more valuable and offer gated content. The exclusivity of what you’re teaching makes your course very valuable. Through your online course your students will learn things that they’d otherwise have no access to.
5. You deserve to make more money
Online courses take a good deal of time, dedication and work to create and you deserve to be compensated fairly for everything that you put into your online course.
Why you should charge premium pricing
So we know that courses are valuable and definitely worth premium pricing, but some people still decide to undercharge for their course and lose out on hundreds (if not thousands!) of dollars in the process.
Yes, choosing a cheaper price point might feel safer, but in the long run you’ll only be serving to sell yourself short.
Your revenue goals will be easier to meet
When you’re selling a course at a low price point you’re going to need a lot of students to reach any income goals meaning you’ll have to spend a lot more time trying to reach people. If you charge at a higher price point, you’ll be able to devote that time to your existing students and improving your course.
A smaller group of students makes for a better course experience
If you’re only dealing with 15 students as opposed to 50 they will get more of your focused attention and feel like your course was worth their investment. This is going to a.) turn these students into repeat customers and b.) increase the likelihood that they’ll recommend your courses to their friends.
Premium pricing increases engagement
When people spend more on a course they are more likely to complete the course and engage. If they impulsively buy a $20 course they might open it once and never think about it again. On the other hand, a $200 course is going to be seen as an investment and they’ll do everything they can to get a return on their investment.
Premium pricing communicates value
People will believe that a $200 course will bring them greater value than a $20 course will. Even if you are promising the same result in both courses, people will be skeptical of the cheaper one and won’t trust it.
To drive this point home: if someone offered you a $60 bicycle and a $600 bicycle which one would you choose? Probably the $600 one because it’s price conveys value.
Weed out the bad students
By charging more you can ensure that your students are going to be enthusiastic and ready to learn. If your course is too cheap you’re going to get a number of people who aren’t in your target audience and really don’t care about your course. Like I mentioned earlier, when people spend more they are more prepared to be active and engage with your course.
How much you should charge
Figuring out how much you should tack onto the base of $100 is where things tend to get sticky. Your course is loaded full with killer content and bonuses that could be an entire product themselves - so how much can you charge for everything? How much is too much?
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. No foolproof, one-size-fits-all answer that I can give you. BUT! What I can do is help you come up with goals and price your online course from there with our pricing calculator.
Creating income goals
Before anything else, you should come up with income goals for your online course.
Are you hoping to make enough to quit your full-time job? Or perhaps you want to make enough to pay for your kid’s travel soccer team?
Whatever you’re hoping to accomplish with your online course, come up with a number to strive for.
Let’s say you’re hoping to make $5,000 with your online course.
With that in mind, if you keep your price point at $100 you’d need fifty people to buy your course to reach your goal.
But what if you decide to price your course at $250? In that case you’d only need 20 people to buy.
And if you price your online course at $500, now you only need to sell to ten people.
By putting these goals into place you can establish a clearer picture of just how many people you need to be selling to in order to consider your launch successful.
Another way to look at this is figuring out how many people are likely to buy your course.
Generally, you can assume that at least 2% of your email list will purchase, so you can decide on pricing that way.
If you have 1000 people on your list, 20 people will probably purchase. If you want to make $4000 you’ll need to sell your course for at least $200 to meet your goal.
Increasing the value of your course
Of course, you want the cost of your course to be justified by the value it delivers, so in order to increase the price of your course you should also increase it’s value.
There is a lot you can do to make your course more valuable - whether it’s increasing content quality or offering bonuses. Here are a few of our favorite ways:
- Create a content upgrade. To accompany your online course, consider creating an editable worksheet as a lead magnet that your students can refer to and fill out while they go through your curriculum. Even if you aren’t a great designer you can create a workbook fairly easily using these templates. Workbooks can increase the value of your online course by twenty-five to fifty dollars.
- Host live Q&A’s. If you have a set open date on your course (so everyone is going through it at the same time), you can host live Q&A’s to increase the value.
Schedule a few throughout the life of your course for different times of day so you can capture as many of your students as possible. You can increase the value of your course by several hundred dollars depending on how often you host your Q&A's.
- Offer consulting. If your course is selling at a high enough price point that you’ll only have a handful of students, consider offering 1:1 consulting throughout the course to increase the value.
This can be in the form of a weekly email or Skype meeting, or even a one on one evaluation of where they are at and how the can improve. You can increase the value of your course by hundreds of dollars by offering consulting.
- Create a community. If you can offer your students a community where they can all hang out, interact and bounce ideas off each other that’s incredibly valuable.
You can easily create a Facebook group or a community on Slack. From there you can decide how tightly monitored your community will be. You can increase the value of your course by fifty to one hundred dollars by creating a community.
- Improve the production quality of your course. If you are using professional tools to create your course, or even hiring professionals to help your produce it then the quality of the lectures and content themselves will be high enough to justify a higher price point.
You can increase the value of your course by several hundred dollars by improving the production quality of your course.
You can also create a great studio set-up at home for cheap!
- Weekly office hours. Consider setting up a time each week where you will be online and available to your students. You can create a thread or channel in your community, or even set up a new lecture in your school and host your office hours there.
This is a time where your students can ask you questions and get your feedback. You can increase the value of your course by one hundred dollars by offering weekly office hourse.
- Devote more time to each student. By making your course a bit more exclusive you are now more available to each individual student. You are going to be able to focus on each person a lot more effectively if you have 10 students as opposed to 100, thus making a 10 person course more valuable to your students.
You can increase the value of your course by twenty-five to fifty dollars by limiting your course size.
- Get creative! Here we have only a handful of different bonuses you can add, but the options are limitless. Perhaps your course is geographic specific, in that case you can plan an in person meetup. Or maybe there are tools your students will need, if you’re up for it you can create a bundle to send out to your students. The sky's the limit!
Adding pricing tiers
Pricing tiers make your course accessible to a larger number of students and students who may not be interested in all of the bonuses you’re offering.
To create your pricing tiers first you need to decide on which pieces of bonus content you want to offer. Consider which make the most sense for your audience, and which ones will have the largest ROI.
Once you’ve decided on your bonus content evaluate and decide how much each piece is worth. (We’ve got a good baseline to go off in our course price calculator!)
From there you can start creating your tiers. For this example we will be creating three.
Your first tier should be your course offering and any downloadable PDF’s or workbooks (so they’re at least getting some sort of bonus!) This will be your cheapest tier, say $100.
With your next tier you can add in another bonus or two. Maybe a weekly group coaching call. That’s super valuable so you can tack on an extra $100, making this tier worth $200.
Finally, for your third tier you can offer everything that was included in the previous two tiers, but tack on a one-on-one consultation, adding an extra $100 bringing this tier up to $300.
Another option for your online course (which acts as a separate tier in itself) is offering a payment plan.
With a payment plan you will have your students pay you over the course of a few months rather than all at once. There are two main benefits to doing this:
- Students who can't afford $497 as a single payment may be more inclined to pay $175 three months in a row.
- You make a bit more using a pricing plan. Usually you can ask for one sum up front or a slightly higher price that will be paid out over the next few months.
So how much should you charge?
I know, I know. I gave you a lot of run around and hypothetical situations, but that’s just because there is no one right answer to this question.
Setting a goal, creating bonuses and determining what audience size you’ll need to meet your goal can help you get a better idea of how much you should price your course.
And if you want even more guidance, be sure to try out our course price calculator!
How much did you charge for your first online course? Do you think it was the right price point for your offer?