How to Sell Other People’s Online Courses
You see that selling online courses is big business. As an entrepreneur you want to get in on that market. Excellent choice!
You have two choices available to you:
1. Start creating your own courses
2. Sell other people’s online courses
If you want option 1, this post is not for you. If you want option 2, then read on.
What Do I Need to Sell Online Courses?
Below are what you need to get started selling other people’s online courses. In the sections below we’ll go into detail on what each of these are, and how you can get access to them.
· A website
· A Learning Management System to deliver the courses to your customers
· An E-Commerce system to collect payments
· Online courses you can sell
This is pretty straightforward. You need a brand and every brand needs a website.
Finding the Right Learning Management System
This one is a bit more complex. The Learning Management System (LMS) is where the online courses are hosted, then delivered to the end user. Below we’ll go into detail on the various aspects of an LMS you’ll need to pay attention to.
The customer experience is important here, but it’s more important to use an LMS that has all the administrative controls you’ll need. There are a number of LMS’s on the market you can pay for. Some provide a very nice user experience and some are outdated and clunky.
Pricing for an LMS varies greatly, and most LMS providers charge a number of fees simultaneously. These fees include setup fees, monthly rental fees, storage fees, bandwidth fees, a percentage of sales, and the hidden killer – per user fees.
It’s very difficult to know how much storage and bandwidth you’ll need. The one thing that’s for sure is you won’t get away with any free account levels or even less expensive plans. If you want to sell a decent number of courses you will need to sign up for higher level, more expensive plans, so use those prices as your guide. For example, most online course sizes are in the 2-5 GB range. Use that as a guide in determining how much storage you’ll need.
Per user fees can vary from a few dollars per user up to $20 or $30 per user. Some user fees charge this for each user every month, some charge once yearly. Think of this as an additional cost every time you sell a course. If the per user fee is monthly simply walk away from that LMS, as that fee will eat all of your profit over time.
SCORM or Video Content
The next main consideration when deciding on an LMS is what kind of content it can deliver. Some LMS software can deliver SCORM and video courses, but many deliver only one or the other. For those not familiar with SCORM, think of it as an entire online course in one zip file. That file is uploaded to an LMS, and if that SCORM file and your LMS play well together the SCORM file should deliver the course to your customers. However, there are often technical issues that can make the SCORM/LMS integration a painful and expensive one.
Alternatively you can choose a video based platform to deliver content. This works great and you won’t have to deal with SCORM files, but the main issue with this method is that the vast majority of content providers will not allow you to load video files to your LMS, but rather require that you upload the SCORM files. This makes content acquisition infinitely more difficult.
Create an LMS from Scratch
There are a number of open source LMS platforms that allow you to use it for free or a small fee, then customize it to your needs. If you’re highly technical and this is something you can do yourself it may be a good route to take. If you’re not a programmer you’ll need to hire one to set up and customize your LMS. LMS customizations generally run from $20k to $50k for the initial setup. You’ll also need continuous developer help working out bugs, upgrading to new versions and adding new features. This is an expensive option, but if you’re highly successful selling online courses it may save you money in the long run.
Generally speaking, E-Commerce systems need to be added in addition to your LMS. This means that the LMS you choose needs to play well with the E-Commerce provider you choose. This is very often not the case, and again, unless you’re highly technical you’ll need to hire a developer to integrate the two. If you find an LMS that already has E-Commerce Integrated you’ll generally be paying them a percentage of your sales revenue on top of the fees discussed in the LMS Pricing section.
Choosing the right E-Commerce system comes with its own challenges much like finding the right LMS. You’ll need to know how you want to sell your online courses and make sure the E-Commerce system has the features you need. For example, do you want to offer coupons, offer upsells, drip campaigns, track paid advertisements or abandoned carts, etc.? Many systems have some, but not all, of this functionality.
Online Courses You Can Sell
If you thought the sections above seemed daunting, get ready for more of the same here.
We already discussed SCORM vs. video courses as the options for LMS delivery. As you scour the internet for content you can sell you’ll begin to find that most content providers only offer SCORM files. If you’ve chosen a streaming video LMS none of these providers will work with you. Alternatively, if you find smaller content providers they generally only have video files for you, so the SCORM LMS will not work.
Let’s go over how content providers charge you for their content. If you’re looking to bring on a good amount of content to sell, say 20 or more courses, you’ll need to find a larger supplier. If you plan to specialize and offer just a handful of courses you can work with smaller suppliers.
Larger suppliers will not load the content to your LMS, then let you try to sell it at an agreed upon revenue share at no up-front cost to you. They will require that you pre-pay for the content and sometimes require minimum quarterly payments whether or not you sell enough courses. Understand that they’ve paid for the development of the content, so they don’t allow you to try your hand at selling the content at no cost to you. It’s just business.
Pricing through larger providers is based on a per course or per course library wholesale cost. Often it’s a tiered system, where the more licenses you buy up front, the larger your discount off retail price. Discounts range anywhere from 10% off retail for smaller up front purchases to 90% in instances where you pay for 10k-25k licenses at a time.
Your other option is to surf around on marketplaces like Udemy to find content from smaller providers – usually just individuals who have created a couple courses and posted them for sale on Udemy. You’ll need to reach out to each individually and negotiate with each one to resell their content. Using this method is extremely time intensive, and usually results in a course catalog full of content that is much lower quality than it would be from a larger provider. However, the benefit of this method is that you may be able to acquire courses to sell with no up-front fees and based on a revenue share agreement.
Be warned that this method has been used heavily over the last 5+ years, so it is becoming increasingly difficult to find content providers that will agree to work with you on these terms. We get several emails per day from startups that want to sell our content on a revenue share basis, but we don’t work with anyone who does not have a proven track record of sales.
Alternative Solution That May Work for You
We’ve been through all the headaches you just read about, which is why we developed a turn-key solution that allows you to sell other people’s online courses without jumping through all these hoops. SkillHub Training combines a website, LMS, E-Commerce system and online courses into one package that you can begin selling within a week. Our pricing is a monthly fee plus a flat fee wholesale cost for each course you sell. There are no per user fees, no bandwidth fees and no storage fees to worry about.
If this option seems like it may work for you please take some time to look at our features, then contact us to get started.