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Curious how to make money with an e-courses? Well, when I first launched my blog, I had no idea I’d eventually find success through the creation of my own e-course.
It was November of 2015 and I’d hit the wall – fed up with spending what felt like mere minutes with my children each weeknight, working a job I less-than-loved, and only making $2.67/hr after daycare was factored out. It was enough.

So I launched Thrifty Guardian, a website dedicated to helping other parents learn to find the joy of freedom that life has to offer. It began as a way to share with others how I save money, manage my time, and “side hustle” (i.e. use sites like InboxDollars to make a few dollars each month).
As the site grew, though, I began to hear from readers that they wanted more; more information on how to better manage their time and a stronger hold on how to budget their finances.
Thus the creation of my first e-course “Life on a Budget” began and today I’d like to share with you how I sold out all 25 spots in the first six days (and did so without Facebook Ads!)

How to Make Money with E-Courses

Please note there are some affiliate links below that may provide me with a commission should you click through to make a purchase; this in no way impacts my opinion of said products or services.

Start with Research

Prior to creating an e-course, the most important step is always the first: know your audience and what they want. If you’re not specific in who you’re trying to help with your course, you’ll flounder and flop. Do your research and take the time to figure out EXACTLY what results you’ll be providing your students.
There are many different ways to conduct market research, such as emailing your list or posting within Facebook groups, but one of the best ways is to simply check out Amazon.

Book Reviews Are Your Friend

Think of the books you’ve read while developing your knowledge of this niche and check out the reviews on Amazon. Note what people found to be incredibly helpful, what frustrated them, and what more they wanted from the author. I’ve found that when asking someone directly “What do you need?” they often struggle, but by perusing these reviews, you’re able to flesh out your research without putting anyone on the spot. People don’t always know what they need, and that’s where you come in.

What This Looks Like

So let’s say you’re building a self help course that helps budding entrepreneurs craft a productive mindset that doesn’t leave them bordering on burn out. You pick the book “Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive” as one that your target market might turn to.
Here’s what looking at those reviews might leave you with:

What people loved:

  • How well the 12 stages of burnout were outlined
  • Motivation to find one’s passion
  • Insight into how to live in the “now”
  • Clarity on why people get burnt out
  • Her voice (“pragmatic and deeply intellectual, but in language that makes her ideas available to the average reader”)
  • The blend of science, psychology, spirituality, and personal experience

What they wanted more of:

  • The same quality given when describing the problem as when presenting solutions
  • Consistency in voice
  • Stronger, clearer solutions

What they hated (1-star reviews):

  • Too many personal details, just get to the meat of the matter
  • Burnt out but do writing exercises? No way!
  • Description of the problem doesn’t match the solutions offered
  • Author is too personal, like she’s trying to sort out her own stuff vs help others
  • Too “flowery” – ie too many motivational quotes, not enough actual motivation

Some takeaways to consider:

  • Is my own voice consistent?
  • Do I write/speak in a way that attracts my ideal client or is it over their heads/too dumbed down?
  • For every problem presented, do I have a solution to offer?
  • Do my clients prefer personal backstory or straight to the fact information?
  • Do my clients like flowery language and inspirational quotes or do they find them to be annoying and cliché?
  • Do my clients like homework? Or do they want the solution during the session?

Build a Facebook Group

When I launched my first e-course, I didn’t yet run my own Facebook group, so I had to really optimize my time spent in others. I created a calendar in Google Docs that helped me track which groups I was in and which allowed promos when.
I then trimmed up the calendar to ensure I was only posting in four groups each day – any more than that and I struggled to engage (and there’s really no point in posting links within a group if you’re not willing to engage with others! No one likes a link-dropper!)
I also kept my Facebook profile private save for one public post – the post through which people could sign up to learn more about my e-course.

My “Small” E-mail List

Generally I do not recommend creating an e-course in the early stages of your business. Not only will your reach probably be lower than desirable, but an e-course is a LOT of work and if you see little ROI on it, you might burn out or feel inclined to quit.
Heh with that said, I didn’t have anyone like me telling me this a year ago. So I went for it and it paid off!
At the time I had an e-mail list of 117 people, but my open rate was about 72% and overall I had an incredibly engaged audience. Had this not been the case, I probably would’ve flopped. So keep this in mind as you begin to develop your own e-course – engage, engage, engage, prior to even thinking about making any sort of sale! Most open rates average more around 20-30% and most need to see that offer repeatedly before they open their wallets to you.

Time to Create!

Before you begin even thinking about pricing or marketing, you need decide on which platform you’ll run your course.

What Platform to Use When Creating an Online Course

Options include:

  • Running it through your e-mail platform itself and hosting any videos you create through a site like Vimeo.
  • Having it directly on your website under a password-protected page.
  • Using an e-course platform, like Teachable, Podia, or Udemy

What Tech to Use

When it comes to what tech you may need, I personally use Powerpoint to create my slides and then ScreenCastoMatic to do the actual recording.
Speaking of recording, it’s incredibly important to use a microphone that’s high quality – I very much recommend you look into getting a Blue Snowball mic, it’s affordable but great quality. It’s also worth the extra $10 to invest in a Dragonpad.
If you plan to do any on-screen presentations in which you’ll need a webcam, the Logitech C920 is the best route to go.

Provide Value First

In the last year, I’ve since run four different e-courses! Any time I get ready for those launches, I do a number of things to first rouse my audience’s interest and get them excited about what’s to come.

  1. Facebook lives. I LIVE for Facebook lives. It’s such a great way to quickly connect and show my audience exactly who I am and what my teaching style is like.
  2. I e-mail my list a new freebie, something related to the course that’s immediately actionable and quickly consumable, like a checklist or template.
  3. I hold at least two free webinars. And if you’ve ever attended one of these, you know that these are ACTUAL trainings, not a long drawn out sales pitch. I fully believe in giving as much value as possible, knowing there is always more to share.
  4. I have the outline uploaded and ready to go, so that if anyone is interested in the course prior to my even launching it, then can see the exact modules and tutorials I’ll be offering.

And that’s it! Again, it is a LOT of work, more than any thousand-word article can cover, but it’s completely do-able and e-courses can be such an amazing way to make money. And if you ARE smart with your Pinterest strategy (which is my own favorite way to grow!) you’ll be able to turn that course into nearly passive income!

Have you started your e-course yet?

Comment below with a link, I’d love to check it out!