Course Creators October 1, 2020

Do e-courses really pay?

Gabriel Theodoropoulos @gabth

Hi course creators!

I'd like to ask a straight question: Does making e-courses pay? Can someone make a living from it?

Please don't take me wrong for that straight question. I'm not after money and that's not my primary goal. I love what I do (programming) and I honestly want to help people learn. Actually, I've been doing so for years through tutorials. However, I've (temporarily) left my job to focus on doing what I love and trying hard to stay away from it 😁!

It's been a long time that I wanted to create either an ebook or an e-course, but for various reasons haven't made it so far. Now it's about time, and I'm thinking to go for e-courses, combining both videos and text since it's about programming stuff. What do you think?

Thank you 🙏 !

  1. 3

    They definitely pay. There are caveats most overlook though.

    With info products your audience is key. If you don't have any trusted followers then your sales won't go so great.

    I made a course called Hello Rails ( that was about 2 years in the making. I posted myself learning in public on my blog and YouTube for a majority of that time for free prior to even thinking about a course. Once the time felt right I put up a landing page and shared it with my audience. By launch day I obtained about 700 emails. From that list you earn the most trust so that makes it an easier sell.

    All of this to say, if it's your first course you might think about audience first. In fact, giving one or two courses away for free is huge for marketing yourself. It takes a lot of time but compounds.

    1. 1

      Thank you for your your detailed answer!

      I'm going to keep in mind what you're saying, and start creating an audience. I've already been blogging for years, but I'm also just about to start uploading short programming lessons on YouTube, which I believe will be a way to gather some more audience.

      Btw, I checked your landing page and it's looking great! If I decide to learn ruby on rails then I'll become one of your students with no doubt on that. I also liked the alternative you offer, to give an ebook at a lower price. That makes it interesting even for those you hesitate to get the course. Smart move. I appreciate your reply man!

  2. 2

    In answer to your question - with time and effort, yes they can definitely pay. Whether you can make a living from it depends on your circumstances and the size of the market.

    I launched Medibuddy ( back in 2017 and we started making money pretty early on by producing very niche courses for doctors where there was no competition. This got us some immediate sales but it certainly wasn’t enough to live on as the market was so small.

    One of the first courses we launched was for plastic surgeons preparing for a specific national selection interview. We got over half the market in our first year, but there was only 130 people taking that interview so it wasn’t a huge amount of money.

    It did give us the motivation to keep going though and we started focusing on producing wider reaching courses. The money we made from the smaller courses we reinvested in content production and marketing for the bigger courses.

    We’ve now got to a position where we’re a pretty well known brand amongst doctors in the UK. This has given us the ability to aim even higher and we’re in the process now of developing courses that will compete with the much more established course providers in our industry.

    If our sales continue on an upward trend, we should be in a position for my cofounder and myself to go full time next year. As you can see though it’s be a long old journey with lots of work along the way.

    1. 2

      Thanks a lot for your answer and for testifying your personal experience on this matter! Based on both your words and other answers I got here, I realise pretty well that it's going to be a rough journey and it will take a lot of effort. But, if I'm going to see positive results one day, then I don't mind about that; I'm willing to try hard. I appreciate your long and detailed answer!

      1. 1

        No problem - hope it helped!

        1. 1

          It definitely helped! Thanks a lot!

  3. 1

    Check out:
    To add to your toolbox for course platform creation!

    1. 1

      Thanks for that! I'll definitely keep it among my options.

  4. 1

    They do pay, but it's not going to be overnight success.

    Start by building an audience, and the best way you can do that is by simply being useful on the Internet. That means sharing your knowledge through platforms where people you want to reach hang out. Make yourself known, figure out what those people crave, and give them that. Share plenty of free stuff, and charge a fair price (which is higher than you might expect) for more structured content/courses.

    Most importantly, remember that people don't buy courses—they buy the promised outcome. So, make sure you know what that is, and if you obsess over anything, let that be it.

    I haven't created online courses before. What I'm sharing with you here is what I've learnt from curating content for my newsletter: Course Creators Weekly

    1. 2

      I really appreciate your detailed answer and your points! What I keep as most important besides the need to build an audience, is that people buy the promised outcome and not the course as you say. In the end that's the essence of courses I guess; the value that they provide to people who take them. I've subscribed to your newsletter as it looks really interesting and followed you here as well! Thanks again for your valuable advice!

      1. 1

        You're most welcome, and thanks for subscribing! 😇

  5. 1

    As long as you find product-market fit, anything pays ;)

    1. 1

      That's true, thanks!

  6. 1

    I'm seeing success stories every day on Twitter. Unless they're all lying, yeah they pay :))

    1. 1

      Indeed, a bit hard for all to be lying 🤥. That's why I'm asking here, to get first hand opinions from people who've already experienced it. Thanks for your answer!

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