Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve already launched your blog, your concept of monetizing might look something like this:
Step 1: Create a blog
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Profit
Of course AdSense banners or affiliate links are obvious paths to monetization – both having their own unique challenges:
Banners are obstructive and can water down user experience, which can hurt bounce rates and SEO.
Affiliate links require disclosures and FCC compliance and are a lot of work to find natural tie-ins.
What if there was a way to leverage the content you already have, and position yourself as an expert in your niche, and make a profit?
Online courses are a great way to add value to your audience while monetizing your blog in a way that is natural and non-obstructive. And if you already have content and an audience, the transition will be even easier for you.
In this blog, we’ll share a few examples of creators who have monetized their blogs and a variety of other businesses through online courses.
Why create online courses?
The most obvious reason is to generate revenue, and indeed there are people who earn their livelihoods purely through their course sales.
However, there are additional benefits to creating online courses beyond making money.
Online Courses are a more structured way to learn than reading blogs, which may only scratch the surface.
They’re also a more subversive experience since you can incorporate different modules like videos, voice-overs, and quizzes to switch things up and accommodate different learning styles.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ve probably done a lot of the work in creating your course content… so the transition to courses will be easier than you thought.
The profit margins on Digital Products are attractive since you don’t need to handle inventory, purchase supplies, or fulfill orders.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, the next step would be to organize topically focused sections of your blog, structuring them into a learning journey that transforms your student from their current reality (A) to their desired future (B).
We’ll show you an example of how this transition could look later on. But first, let’s put things into perspective with a look at the business case behind course creation, and examples of others who have successfully made the leap.
Online courses as a way to monetize your blog
Generating revenue is the most common reason for an entrepreneur to create online courses.
This is the simplest use case – you create an online course once, and people buy it over and over again. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into it, which Thinkific has covered in detail, but that’s the allure of creating an online course.
As a digital product, it doesn’t cost much to produce, and it’s cheap to distribute. No shipping costs, no orders to fulfill.
This isn’t to say quit blogging and create courses. You’ll still need to attract new potential students, and blogs are a great way to do that organically through SEO and social media.
Instead, think of your blog posts like this – A freemium product that you’re giving away to bring people to your site, with a call to action to register for your course for a deeper dive into the topic.
Lewis Howes is a best-selling author, podcaster, and blogger turned course creator. Once he tasted success with that first online course, there was no stopping him. Today, he’s built a multi-million dollar business selling online courses, books, and other digital assets:
Many other entrepreneurs are transitioning into online courses in a similar fashion:
As a blogger, you are already publishing free content on your site. You know how much work goes into monetizing your site with banner ads and affiliate links. Many bloggers are realizing… that creating an in-depth course is a more natural and lucrative way to monetize (without selling their souls).
Danny Iny started the popular Firepole Marketing blog to share his knowledge of marketing. After rebranding to Mirasee, he started creating and selling online courses to monetize his audience.
Here are some other creators that can easily transition into monetization through courses.
YouTubers have historically depended on ad revenue. However, with all the video content they create, packaging it into an online course is easy. This allows them to generate a much higher income than what they get from ads.
Sunny Lenarduzzi is an expert in YouTube marketing. As a consultant, she helped companies grow their YouTube channel. Today, she teaches others to do the same in her YouTube for Bosses online course.
Podcasters are eschewing the sponsorship model in favor of selling their own courses. This allows them to monetize their audience without interrupting their shows with advertorials for other companies.
John Lee Dumas had built one of the most popular business podcasts and was earning six-figures through sponsorships. He then created an online course on podcasting that brings in more revenue.
Authors are augmenting their diminishing book revenues by creating follow-on courses. These courses are a natural extension of the concepts they cover in their books.
Dorie Clark is a best-selling author and personal branding expert. After the success of her books, she took it to the next level with her Recognized Expert online course.
Speakers who have hit a ceiling with the number of speaking gigs they can take on are creating courses to scale past that barrier. Many of them actually speak for free because they can make it back and more with the resulting course sales.
Michael Port has been giving keynotes across the world for the last 15 years. Now he’s taken traditional keynoting off his plate so that he can focus on making a bigger impact via his online courses.
Coaches and consultants who have reached capacity and can’t trade more time for money are scaling up by creating courses as digital complements to their coaching.
Mari Smith is the leading expert on Facebook marketing and consulting for countless companies. To scale up she shares her knowledge of marketing via her online courses.
How to adapt your existing blog content into an online course
By this point, you may be wondering what it would take to structure your existing content into an online course.
The good news is that you may have already done the bulk of your content creation work.
Picking a topic for your course
Your next steps are to choose a topic for your course, and organize your existing blog content in chronological order to facilitate a learning journey. Not sure where to start with your course topic?
As an example, let’s say you write about personal finance. Ask yourself, what content is the most popular with your readers? What topics do they ask the most questions about, or leave the most comments on? What blog posts, or better yet, categories are bringing you the most traffic?
If you see patterns emerge, that may very well indicate the topic you should build your course around.
Once you have your course topic, you’d go to work organizing the content you already have in chronological order to populate your course.
Packaging your content together into a course
Here’s an example of how a personal finance blogger could package a category on credit scores from their blog into an online courses. They’re bound to have content covering the following aspects of Credit Scores:
What’s a credit score?
Why are they important?
How can you check your credit score?
What counts as a good credit score?
What impacts your credit score?
How can you improve your credit score?
The “credit scores” category becomes the course – “Credit Scores 101”, and then each blog post on the topic has potential to become a chapter or a lesson within the overarching course.
Although you don’t need to go any further than this, it helps if you do. So you may want to incorporate quizzes, and maybe even turn your blog posts into video lessons or voiceover presentations.
Presell your course
The way to avoid creating an online course that no one buys is to sell your course before you create it. This approach is often called pre-selling, and it’s one of the best ways to protect yourself from wasting your time creating a course that no one wants or is willing to pay for.
You could run an early bird special, and if you wind up pre-selling a lot of them, you better get to work!
Pricing your course
The price of your course has a direct impact on virtually every aspect of your online teaching business – from the type of marketing you can do to promote your course, to the type of students your course attracts, the amount of support and attention you can provide to your students, and of course, the amount of revenue you can generate from your course sales.
Charge too little, and you erode the perceived value of your course, severely limiting your revenue potential and marketing abilities in the process. Charge too much, and you’ll likely have to reduce your price (it looks really bad when you do this, by the way!) in order to get some sales.
This guide should help you figure out how to price your course.
So if you have a skill, or a passion, or an audience, or some content that people want, then selling it as an online course is a great way to generate revenue.
By just reading this blog, you’ve taken the first step in your journey to monetize your blog, so what’s next?
You can create and sell up to 3 courses, and test all of Thinkific’s core features for free.
Originally published at Thinkific.com and syndicated with permission.
ABOUT Colin Burton
Colin is a Content Marketer at Thinkific, writing about everything from online entrepreneurship & course creation to digital marketing strategy.