ūüćé Trends #0061 ‚ÄĒ Online Courses

Why It Matters

Creators can stop trading time for money by helping students land their first software development jobs, get raises, launch businesses and more.


There's a gap between where you are and where you want to be.


Online courses are bridges that help you fill these gaps. You can find your way via trial and error. Or learn from someone who's done it before.


Course Platforms

  • Khan Academy¬†- Free online classes for high-school students.
  • Coursera¬†- Courses, certificates and degrees from universities and companies.
  • Egghead¬†- Tutorials for intermediate and advanced developers.
  • Masterclass¬†- Edutainment from influential instructors.
  • Maven¬†- Platform for cohort-based courses.
  • Udemy¬†- Marketplace for self-paced courses.
  • Lynda¬†- Self-paced courses on software development, design, photography and more.
  • General Assembly¬†- Coding, data and design training programs.


  • Podia¬†- Sell courses, webinars, memberships and other digital products.
  • Teachable¬†- Offer online courses and coaching services.
  • Kajabi¬†- Host courses, communities, coaching services and more.
  • Thinkific¬†- Create online courses and membership sites.
  • Gumroad¬†- Sell digital products.



  • More platforms will sponsor influential educators.¬†Pat Flynn¬†did a webinar for¬†Copy.ai. Notion pays¬†Ali Abdaal. Influencers give platforms¬†documentation¬†and¬†distribution.
  • We'll see more "edutainers." Famous teachers have always understood the power of¬†storytelling. See Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman and Neil Degrasse Tyson. Barriers are falling. The best are rising to the top. There are new form factors like¬†TikTok tutorials.
  • There will be more¬†interactive, adaptive¬†platforms like¬†Duolingo. They scale personalized, gamified, self-paced education with low marginal costs.


  • Do it live the first time.¬†Build fast feedback loops by consulting before making courses. Build the curriculum from questions, real-world struggles and feedback. Tyler Gillespie¬†built a few¬†productized services,¬†mentored founders¬†and now he's building a¬†course.
  • Presell¬†to reduce market risk. Marie Poulin used presales to get early feedback on the beta version of¬†her course. Trust¬†wallets over words.
  • Base your course on an outcome.¬†Use¬†capstone projects.¬†This is a forcing function to make sure your content is actionable.¬†Launch MBA¬†is based on the 12 startups in 12 months concept. Each project serves as social proof.
  • Combine¬†courses and¬†communities. Get benefits of cohorts (accountability, peer-to-peer learning) at scale without high marginal costs. See all-in-one platforms like¬†Kajabi.
  • Build a¬†value ladder.¬†Help people at different stages and diversify revenue.¬†Flavio¬†does this with his blog (free), books ($), courses ($$) and bootcamps ($$$).
  • Version¬†your course.¬†Paula Pant¬†earned over $1 million from a¬†"beta" course. She's done multiple versions. Use new versions as launch events.

Key Lessons

  • These are¬†fragmented, micro-monopolies. There are many options and many winners. Course creators have¬†pricing power. Feature parity applies to SaaS not pros.
  • Markets¬†are taking over.¬†Colleges can't keep up with talent needs. Companies like¬†Salesfofce¬†and¬†Google¬†take it upon themselves to train employees.
  • Consider tradeoffs:
    • Cohort-based¬†courses are high-fidelity, boost accountability and have higher completion rates than self-paced courses.¬†But students are kept at the same pace. Like classrooms.
    • Self-paced¬†courses let you move fast or slow. They are more financially accessible than cohort-based courses. But completion rates are lower. Communities can ebb some of these downsides.
    • Interactive platforms¬†adapt to you. They have high engagement and low marginal costs. You may need one-on-one support to fill in gaps.


"I don't know enough to teach a course."
What do you wish you knew 3 years ago?
 Teach that. You may be better than an expert because you don't suffer from the expert's curse. Or teach as you learn. This is what Tim Ferriss, Shane Parrish and I am doing.

"Most people don't finish courses."
The same goes for books and other form factors. Cohorts and interactive, adaptive platforms can help with this.

"Education should be free."
It is. Get after it. Quality and cost aren't always correlated. You'll still have to pay attention.

"Course revenue is spiky."
This applies to most digital products. There are ways around it: memberships, value ladders and evergreen funnels. Or embrace the spikiness with open and closed enrollment.

"Courses are just money grabs."
You can find bad intentions in any market. How to avoid it? Time is smarter than we are. Be a late adopter and let the chicken come home to roost. How does this person's reputation perform over time? Or look for reviews in unmoderated environments.


  1. Who has a course? - The tweet behind this report.
  2. Create Your Online Course Template - A step-by-step process for creating courses.
  3. Interactive Course Platforms - A tweetstorm on new platforms.

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  1. 3

    Thank you for this. I’m really glad to have found it.

  2. 3

    As someone said on Twitter, the unbundling of Harvard has begun.

    Great trend report as always. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 3

    Solid content, a lot of food for thought.

    1. 2

      Hope it sparked some ideas.

  4. 3

    Loved this. Good job Dru.

  5. 3

    WOW! This is a great curation. Thanks.

  6. 1

    This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

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