5 Myths of Building a Successful Online Course Business

After asking more than a dozen 6-figure course creators how they built their business, we uncovered several false, yet commonly believed, assumptions about what it takes to build a successful business selling online courses.

We’d like to officially dispel these myths for you now:

Myth #1: You need big launches to build a big business

Despite the hype, big launches are absolutely not a requirement for building a successful online course business. Many course creators, particularly those who run membership sites with recurring monthly subscriptions, avoid the launch model entirely. Instead, they create automated sales and marketing systems that attract new customers on a consistent basis.

It’s also worth noting that, almost without exception, the people who execute online course launches that generate tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in a short period of time have several advantages, including:

  • Established brands (authority in their marketplace)
  • Several years of business and marketing experience
  • A track record of other course and/or product launches (aka practice!)
  • Large audiences that know, like, and trust them (email lists, social media followers, etc.)
  • Relationships with joint venture partners that help promote their course
  • A respectable marketing budget and strategy for their launch
  • People and systems in place to help prevent mishaps

Since the vast majority of online course creators do not possess these advantages, at least not in the early stages of building their business, executing an elaborate and finely tuned course launch just isn’t feasible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, but for most early-stage online course creators, there are better things you can do with your time and resources.

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In fact, the only launch we encourage early-stage course creators to do is a small one, the purpose of which is to validate demand for their course and collect feedback from students before investing more time and resources improving and promoting their course.

Myth #2: You need to create lots of courses

Most of the people we spoke with that have generated over $100,000 in annual revenue from their online course sales did so with just 1 or 2 courses.

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Instead of creating a large number of courses, focus on creating one course for one specific audience. Once you’ve created your course, shift your focus to getting as many students as possible for that course before you start creating another one.

Myth #3: You need a large audience

The size of your audience is important, but not as important as you might think. The obvious benefit of having a large audience is the ability to reach more people. If you have 10,000 people on your email list, for example, your emails will be read by more people than if you have 1,000 people on your email list (all else being equal).

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But the size of your audience is not as important as the relationship you build with your audience. A small audience that knows, likes, and trusts you, is far more valuable than a large audience that barely knows who you are.

Myth #4: Your course needs to be perfect

Perfectionism has prevented more course creators from publishing their courses than perhaps anything else. But there is one big problem with perfection: it is subjective.

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What you think is perfect is probably not the same as what your customers think is perfect. Plus, your course does not have to be perfect in order for it to be valuable. If your course is good enough to help someone, then it is good enough to publish. Published is better than perfect.

Myth #5: You have to sell expensive courses

You don’t need to charge thousands of dollars for your courses to achieve a 6-figure income. Many course creators reach 6-figures by selling courses for a few hundred dollars each, sometimes less.

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A popular pricing strategy is to create an inexpensive (or even free) introductory course, which upsells a more advanced course at a higher price point. With this approach, you can sell multiple courses to the same customer, instead of having to acquire a brand new customer at a high price point for every sale.

Another approach is to create a membership site with ongoing training, charging your students a recurring monthly subscription fee instead of a one-time purchase.

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Don’t let the myths stop you from building a successful business

The demand for online education is booming right now, and consequently, it’s not hard to find courses and training on how to create and sell online courses.

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And although there is plenty of great training creating by people that have a proven track record of creating and selling online courses successfully, there is some not-so-great training out there as well.

As a general rule, be wary of anyone that tells you that there is only one way to create and sell online courses. With thousands of people and companies selling courses using CreateOnlineAcademy, we’ve seen the data. There is more than one way to build a successful online course business, and we have plenty of case studies to prove it.

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You don’t need to do a big launch for your first course. You don’t need to create lots of courses to be successful, or have a huge audience, or create the perfect course, or sell your course at a high price in order to be successful.

Have these approaches worked for others? In many cases, yes. But they aren’t the only ways to build your online course business.

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