So, you’re a writer, a wordsmith, a creator, a blogger, maybe even an author. And as a writer myself, I know - people don't think we can make a living online on our creative skills.
Here’s the deal. The current state of the publishing world has developed and trained consumers to expect content for free. Write online - it’s hard to charge for that post. Write a book - at most the hardback is going to sell for under $30 bucks and you’ll only see a fraction of that amount.
Blogs, ebooks, paperbacks even online editors are not being compensated in correlation with talent or quality. Do you feel this too?
Well, here’s the deal. One of the most profitable ways to monetize your already existing content is with an online course.
Why Courses Will Make You Money
An online course can be a high return-on-investment digital product that pairs well with your existing content. More and more, it’s become increasingly popular for online publishers to create courses, essentially building another revenue stream for their platform.
“When you write a book or produce a magazine, you produce premium content that builds authority, but that’s ONE piece of the puzzle. If you're writing a book to build a personal brand or build your business, you always need to look at other ways of monetizing your [intellectual property],” said Nathan Chan, founder of Foundr magazine.
This idea is becoming increasingly popular as authors look for alternative ways to generate income.
“Converting your book into a course allows you to reach a different market of readers who prefer a more interactive approach to learning, thus helping you make money online by simply restructuring the material you have already written.” says DIY Author, an outlet aimed at helping people build careers as authors.
One such writer was Ryan Holiday. Ryan is a best selling author and notable media strategist for Tucker Max and Dov Charney. He transformed his content into an online course in less than a week. Growth Hacker Marketing: The Course sold over 1,000 copies netting over 50,000 dollars.
“Publishing as an industry has always been slow to embrace innovation. But I saw [Teachable] as a chance to essentially create an additional medium for readers to consume the content I’d created for my book. Some people like audiobooks, some people like ebooks, some people like physical and as I found, a lot of people like module based courses. In fact some people like purchasing in more than one format. For an author, this was a major revenue stream—one with better margins than most of the other mediums actually,” Ryan said.
There are 6 key reasons an online course is able to make more money than most writing focused outlets.
1. Courses are completely gated content
When you compare a course to a blog, a publication website (even those like Forbes, The New York Times or Business Insider), readers expect content for free. We simply don’t have it in our minds to pay for our news articles - much less our entertainment article. As such,
"Only 10% of respondents in the survey see print advertising increasing in value over the next two years. Meanwhile, 46% expect the value of print advertising to decrease," said Hubspot referencing thier Digital Publishing Benchmark Reports.
By contrast, a course can’t be accessed until someone enrolls and pays a fee that YOU select. And while we always suggest giving away pieces of content for free to allure and engage customers while proving the quality of your content, you should price your course and HIGH!
The reason why….
2. Our Culture Values Education
Our current global culture upholds the idea that education is important. From the US to Europe, India and Asia, we all agree that education is crucial for success.
Especially if you’re in the US, we expect to pay thousands for a university education. However, because of the high tuition, there has be an increasing interest in alternative forms of education like developer bootcamps or, well, online courses.
With this cultural mindset, you can charge hundreds of dollars for an online course. Compare this to an ebook or book or blog - would you even consider paying $50? That’s half of what we at Teachable think you should be charging for an online course at minumum.
3. High ROI
Now consider this: not only can you charge more for your content, but you only have to create it once.
Ever slogged at a blog for months? Written lengthy posts each week? Sat down to pen chapter after chapter of a book?
With a course, you create your content once, and then you’re done!
4. You Create a Community
Within a course, you’ll have groups of students moving through your content and discussing what they learn in comments or Facebook or Slack groups you set up. These communities are surprisingly active.
Having a community around you is not only a great support network, but helps you become an authority in your field.
5. You have direct access to your customers
That’s insane. And in my mind, unfair.
Want to know how much you make off of your course? 100%
AND you have access to all of your student’s email addresses. This is a HUGE advantage. If you compare Teachable’s platform to someone like Udemy the difference is striking.
With Udemy, you course can be discounted 90%...without you knowing it AND if you decide to leave the platform, you don’t have any of your student information so you can’t sell to them AND even if you stay with the platform, you can’t email your Udemy students about a new product like another course, ebook you created, conference you’ve set up… nada.
We created Teachable with the sole purpose of helping you succeed and making you money. We’re not just saying this, our two founders were both Udemy instructors before creating Teachable to meet their needs.
If you'd like to how to make money through online courses with Teachable - I suggest checking out our free 7 Steps Webinar where we walk you through creating your own profitable course.
6. You’ve already created content
I’m writing this post specifically for publishers & authors because, for you, a course is going to have an especially high ROI.
Most people creating a course are building content and audiences from scratch, but you’re a step ahead.
Take your blog posts and turn them into a course! If you’ve written a book turn it into a course. Or, if you’re creating an online hub of info, leverage your fresh data and audience to create a killer course people are craving.
One of my favorite examples of this is Nathan Chan.
Nathan founded Foundr magazine, a digital magazine for young entrepreneurs showing you exactly what it takes to build a successful business.
The magazine launched back in 2013 and has since grown into it’s on digital media hub.
“Once upon a time, Foundr was just a business magazine with a few hundred readers. But we’ve grown. Now, Foundr is a multi-faceted digital media business spreading the love of entrepreneurship through its podcast, magazine and training platform,” Nathan said.
By “training platform”, Nathan is referring to Foundr’s online course Instagram Domination which sells for $1,497.
Teachable CEO, Ankur Nagpal, recently sat down with Nathan who described what it was like to work in publishing in 2016.
“The traditional media type publishing model is that you publish a magazine and monetize from subscriptions or advertising, but I believe that model is broken. There are certain publishers and media companies that do things differently; they build membership sites, build information products, build courses and that’s what The Next Web are doing too,” said Nathan.
"Considering the state of the current publishing atmosphere, this has never been more true. Don’t assume that paywalls are the solution to media’s monetization woes. There’s an urgent need for media companies to explore new ways to drive revenue. It’s important to experiment with a wide variety of products and services as alternative solutions," said Hubspot.
This might be why publishers like The Next Web are exploring courses.
Take for instance The Next Web Academy.
Hoping to give their readers a richer more immersive experience, they began to market courses and with a platform like Teachable, they were up and running in a little over a week.
Authors & Publishers Are A Step Ahead in Course Creation & Marketing
Besides turning your content into an online course, know that you’ve also already created content upgrades or lead magnets and an audience. That’s a huge amplifier when it comes to the success of your online course.
If you’re creating new video content for your course, you can use old blog posts to create an ebook. This is one of our favorite new tactics for rapid growth.
The premise is simple. Amazon is a search engine unto itself with less competition than Google and a consumer who has already entered their credit card.
If you can quickly combine 4-5 blog posts into a small ebook, it’s easy to link to your online course in the front and back of the book.
The master of this trade is Nick Stephenson. Nick generated an ebook that’s been downloaded 1,500 times and drives around 10K in sales per month.
For detail on Nick’s strategy, check out our post: Content Marketing with Nick Stephenson: Explode Your Email List.
Maybe you’re already blogging? If so, simply add a call-to-action button to sign up for your course to your post. It’s a simple, passive way to generate an audience on new or evergreen posts.
If you’re creating blog posts, again include that CTA button. When you promote your blog posts (through influencer outreach, social or a newsletter), you’ll also be driving traffic to your course.
You can also use your blog posts to collect email addresses through content upgrades. These people are engaged users interested in your topic and a percentage will likely convert and buy your course if you pitch them.
We do this in each of our blog posts and it looks like this:
Plus, the free blog posts work to engage customers and build trust. A blog post shows who you are, portrays your teaching style and gives a taste of the value of your content.
If you already have an audience from recent articles, one of the best way you can convert interested readers into paying customers is through webinars.
We’ve seen hundreds of course creators launch with webinars, including Mariah Coz who makes over 100K a month on her online course.
Mariah relies on the power of webinars and hers convert at around 30%. She details exactly how to launch a course with a webinar here: How to Create Webinars that Convert.
Mariah is also a shining example of someone who monetized her popular blog with an online course. In fact, if you take her email course “Build a Profitable Blog” (which is FREE here) she’ll tell you this...
“Successful, profitable blogs have native products you can buy directly on their site. Whether it’s an eBook, a course, a “productized” service such as a coaching session, or membership subscription. There’s no reason not to have your own product on your blog.”
The combination of publishing outlet, blog and webinar is the absolute trifecta
Nathan Chan did something similar. While growing Foundr, he created a rapidly growing Instagram account that went from 0 to 50K in just a few months. People were so interested in how he did this that he wrote a book and from that book, a course which he promotes through webinars.
“We started with Instagram, but then people in the community started asking how we did this and I sent an email asking for interest, that email list was just 5,000. Over 100 people responded saying it would be awesome to have a course. We shipped a landing page on Leadpages pages and had a Paypal button. From there, we sold the course and delivered 6 webinars and recorded them."
Nathan’s big tip is this: Almost everyone uses lead magnets to build an email list. “All I recommend you do is with the Thank You Page, have a webinar registration page and whether you automate or do it live, I rekon it’s one of the best ways to sell digital products or your course.”
Courses are the real deal
With these things in mind, it’s very easy to see that if you’re a publisher or author, you’ve already got content, lead magnets and an audience primed for purchase making courses an extremely high ROI digital product.
What do you think? What have you seen? Let me know in the comment section below.