How to sell courses online

March 2021

Selling courses online is an attractive proposition because there is no need for the logistics of face-to-face learning delivery: course materials, classrooms, tutors and scheduling. Once your course content is loaded into an LMS (Learning Management System, such as Moodle or Brightspace) and connected to an eCommerce system that enables learners to pay for access, you are immediately in business. There is no wait for enrollment dates to come around. Your course can reach a wide audience easily and instantly.

Types of courses that can be sold online include video training, live lectures, pre-recorded audio and video lectures, interactive animations, even virtual reality. The teaching possibilities of online learning are now so rich and varied that a course can be presented as a blend of the above formats or just kept simple as text and images. The only limit is the imagination and time the course creator puts in.

LMS's can handle courses in many of the ways a classroom teacher would, and tutoring, if included, can be delivered remotely via the LMS. A course can include revision sessions, quizzes, interactive debates, messaging and discussion, tests, exams and certificates.

Online learning can deliver any type of learning content. An LMS connected to an ecommerce system and payment gateway is a flexible channel for selling training courses online, be it safety training, academic courses, professional training, hobbies or lifestyle courses.

What are the fundamentals of selling a course online?

What are the fundamentals of selling a course online?

1. A Website

Firstly, you will need a website that functions as a storefront for your learning product. It should make it as easy as possible for learners to find your course on the web, read about it and ultimately purchase it. Ideally your website should make it as easy to buy a course as it is to buy something on Amazon, with a shopping cart and checkout that makes selling online training a breeze for both you and the customer. Course Merchant integrates seamlessly with any existing website. We build a course catalog in Course Merchant that is design-matched to the existing site for a seamless user experience. Learners pick courses from the catalog, add them to the shopping cart and check out, and it all appears to take place on your own website rater than being redirected to a third-party payment processing system. This looks professional and inspires buyer confidence, which reduces shopping cart abandonment and leads to more sales.

A Website

2. An LMS

The Learning Management System is the software that delivers the learning to the end user. It manages course materials, quizzes, tests and certificates. Learners log in to the LMS at any time they choose and continue where they left off, which makes it a flexible way to learn. Your course may or may not have deadlines for tests to be submitted and digital certificates issued, but the learners can organise their own learning around their other commitments rather than having to attend classes at regular times.

Course Merchant can integrate with existing instances of Moodle, Totara, Joule and other variants of Moodle, the world’s most popular LMS. If you do not have an LMS set up yet, we can create and host it for you. For those who want to sell courses online, we can cover the whole process from the ground up if required. Existing eLearning course providers often decide to connect their LMS to Course Merchant when they discover the limitations of their current ecommerce setup.

An LMS

3. An Ecommerce platform

This is the step where learners add courses to a shopping cart and then check out with a credit or debit card. The strength of Course Merchant is that it handles all of this and then enrolls learners instantly into the LMS. This means they can start learning straight away. There is no need for you to email them their LMS login credentials, so there is no delay for them and no enrollment admin to do on your part. Course Merchant creates a user profile for a new learner directly into the LMS so that on first (automatic) login the account has already been created and they are ready to go.

Course Merchant can be connected to any hosted payment gateway. These include SagePay, WorldPay, PayPal and many others. The course provider chooses which payment gateways they want Course Merchant to connect to. Course Merchant does not itself handle card details but allows a user to connect to the payment gateway where the secure transaction takes place. This makes Course Merchant fully PCI compliant in that it does not handle any card details.

An Ecommerce platform

4. Marketing

Leading people to your course and encouraging them to buy it is the purpose of any marketing activities you do. To sell your courses online it will be necessary to engage in some degree of marketing, otherwise few people will find them. Fortunately there are tried and proven methods for raising awareness of your online courses. These include SEO, content marketing, social media, blogging, PPC (Pay Per Click), email campaigns and video marketing. A great site dedicated to promoting and selling training courses online is our sister site courseindex.com.

Next post: some problems that often arise when selling courses online, and how to solve them.

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David Hill
March 2021

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