Teach Me Your Ways: Online Courses Could Be Your Next Marketing Tactic

Business.com / Education / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

“Learning management systems” make creating an online class fairly straightforward. Such classes can be powerful marketing tools.

Those who can, teach. Online classes can be effective marketing vehicles for your business, as well as potential money-makers.

What you teach depends on your expertise and interests. It might be fun to teach something related to a hobby or other interest of yours, but doing so probably won’t help your business.

Course content can provide a way to promote your company and its services, even train employees and partners. If you’re an app developer, maybe the course is something about primary app development or sites that help a novice create basic apps. If you’re a marketing and communications professional, perhaps it’s a course on how to write an effective press release that generates new sales leads.

You can always point out that you do this sort of thing for living in case someone or someone’s company needs some more experienced help.

How you teach matters. While you could be an adjunct at a local college, such a position usually involves a significant commitment in time, and it doesn’t pay very well. If you’re going to go the effort of creating a course, even if its primary purpose is to market your brand, you should still get appropriate remuneration. As NPR reports, the average adjunct makes about $3,500 teaching a class.

Related Article: Does LinkedIn’s Acquisition of Lynda Signal the New Age of HR?

Create an Online Course

An online course offers you and your students flexibility, lets you draw attention to your brand and, not unimportantly, allows you to make some money. We’re not talking about online, for-profit schools such as Phoenix University.

The pay there isn’t all that much better than an adjunct at a traditional school, and more importantly, you’re locked into their curriculum and delivery standards that require a certain fixed time commitment.

What you want to do is create your online course and market it to anyone with an interest in what you have to offer. Sort of like you do with your company.

A variety of web-based Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide the ability to create a great-looking, easy-to-use online course with minimal effort for comparatively little or no cost.

You can also employ custom themes and branding to individualize courses so that there’s a direct correlation between your course(s) and your company. Also, there are various management and reporting tools to measure student performance and obtain feedback, as well as the ability to integrate with other third-party systems, mobile and cloud platforms.

Course content can range in complexity. At one end might be a basic video of you giving a “lecture” and a PowerPoint presentation. More sophisticated packages might include student exercises, group projects, sequenced modules keyed to acquiring individual skill competencies, case studies and game simulations, even interactive sessions via Skype or some other video or teleconferencing platform.You can use your documents or presentations and use LMS tools to create them.

How much you want to put into the course depends on your objectives and your time constraints. You’ll probably want to start out with something basic to test the waters, both to see what goes into creating an online course and if there’s an audience for it. Then progress to doing something more complicated and possibly more engaging.

Related Article: 11 User-Friendly Platforms that are Best for Training

LMS Providers and Costs

Popular LMS providers include:

Besides the cost of your time to develop the course, there are some costs to using an LMS. Pricing structures vary, but they are relatively affordable. These options can range from free (with limits on the number of students or courses, or additional transaction fees that can go as high as 10 percent per signed-up student) to $350 a month.

Marketing Online Courses

Most LMS platforms market your courses for the obvious reason that selling courses is their business. When they sell your course, for anywhere between $10 to $250 per student, they make money. Udemy offers an option of giving the company 50 percent of sign-up revenues for promoting your course; you give away almost nothing if you do all the marketing. They know where students come from based on instructor coupons from you that students enter when they register for the class.

Needless to say, it certainly doesn’t hurt for you to market your course in addition to whatever the LMS is doing for you. There should be a course description on your website with links to a sign-up page for the course, as well as social media initiatives to promote the course. In other words, you promote your course just like you would promote any of your company’s products and services.

Revenue Potential of Online Courses

The LMS also handle your payments and customer service support, so that’s one less headache for you. How much can you realistically expect to make from an online course? That, of course, depends on how many courses you put online and how many students line up. Udemy says the average instructor earns $7,000. But it also cites elite instructors who make anywhere from $3,000 monthly to those making six-figure yearly incomes.

Who knows? You may find creating your online courses sufficiently challenging and lucrative, you may be tempted to quit your day job.

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