There has been a massive growth in the global e-learning market. From the comfort of their own homes people can logon to the internet and learn about whatever they want whether it’s how to make cups cakes, how to make candles, how to dance, how to lose weight, how to take better photographs or a million other things that may catch their interest. While sites like YouTube can provide a quick video on how to do little tasks, there is now an increasing number of websites catering to a wide range of markets – offering detailed courses on lots of different subjects. Many of these websites are satisfying a hunger that people have for gaining new knowledge – and many of these sites are making a lot of money.

It used to be quite difficult to set up an e-learning website i.e. setting up payment systems, private membership areas, delivering course content, etc. The good news is it’s now much easier to set up your own membership – thanks to a range of new software & tools that are now available that automate a lot of the tricky parts to setting up a membership site – particularly for people who are not technical. There’s no need to hire a web designer to set it up it for you. As a result more people than ever are setting up their own online courses and making money.

Are you an expert in anything? Do you have knowledge that other people want? Do you want to make money from your expertise?

What are you an expert in?

Do you have a subject that you have a lot of knowledge & experience of? Share your knowledge, help people learn a new skill and make money in the process.

One thing that holds people back from starting their own online course is that they lack confidence in themselves. They don’t feel comfortable or credible making themselves out to be an “expert”. So let’s clear this up. What is an expert?

What kind of expert are you? You might be a:

  • Specialist – you have formal qualifications and experience in a particular area?
  • Knowledge Transferer – do you have knowledge & experience from one area that can be transferred into another? For example, if you were an officer in the army you might be able to offer a course on how businesses can manage small teams of staff, so that they perform effectively on projects. Take what you have learned from one area and apply it to another.
  • Survivor – have you gone through a specific experience or event and learned from it e.g. anorexia, weight-loss, pregnancy, health problem, illness, debt, etc?

Once you understand that there’s a variety of ways in which you can be thought of as being an expert, then you will be more confident in representing yourself as one. Be open about your status. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. You don’t have to make people think you know everything on your subject. Tell people about your knowledge & experience and why you think you can help them.

Compared to the people who want to buy your course you could be considered a relative expert. You just need to know what you are talking about. The level and depth of the knowledge of a relative expert can vary greatly from person to person. You don’t need to be an absolute expert. If you have knowledge or experience or a skill that can help people solve their problem, then they will think of you as being an expert.

They want to know what you already know. That knowledge gap is your expertise and you can make money from it by selling it in an online course. You just need to be confident in what you know.

It can be a very niche subject or market that you create your course on – it doesn’t have to be a broad subject. People are looking for solutions for their problems and if you can provide a course that meets their needs, then it can be successful.

  • Can you teach spanish?
  • Are you an expert in upholstery?
  • Can you teach people how to knit?
  • Can you teach people how to play piano?
  • Can you teach people how to cook?
  • Can you teach people guitar?
  • Are you an expert in a particular sport?
  • Are you at expert in art?
  • Are you knowledgeable about a particular holiday resort?
  • Can you teach web design?
  • Can you teach graphic design?
  • Are you a yoga teacher?
  • Do you have home plumbing knowledge?
  • Are you a pilates instructor?
  • Can you teach people how to plaster a wall?
  • Can you teach people how to tile a bathroom?
  • Etc, etc….

Go deep in a thin slice of a niche

With approx 60 million people in the United Kingdom, you only need a tiny percentage of them to purchase your course before you start making a nice little income from it. It may start out as a way to earn a little extra each month, but in time it could become your main income.

For example, if you had an online course that you sold for £30 then potentially you could make:

  • 1 sale a month = £30
  • 5 sales a month = £150
  • 10 sales a month = £300
  • 20 sales a month = £600
  • 50 sales a month = £1,500
  • 100 sales a month = £3,000
  • 500 sales a month = £15,000

Your Course Content

For many years people have been making money online by selling ebooks. However, times are changing and it is no longer good enough just to sell an ebook. If you want to beat the competition and attract customers, then nowadays in addition to your ebook, you need to offer an online course.

If you are going to create a course, which contains more than just an ebook, then we recommend that it includes video – increasingly it’s the way people want to consume content.

Record videos

Creating videos for your course will mean you either stand in front of a video camera and record yourself, or somebody else or if you have an information product you can just record your computer screen using software such as Camtasia. At it’s most simple you could record a PowerPoint presentation slides, or walk people through how to use particular software. For example, if your are a graphic designer or photographer with editing skills then you could teach people how to colour correct a photograph image, etc.

As for what camera to use, there are lots of options to choose from – for example, smartphones such as an iPhone 5 records high quality video, otherwise you might want to consider a Canon S120 or invest in something more expensive such as a DSLR, like a Canon 60D. Just make sure it is able to record in HD.

This blog post won’t cover what is required to create videos – equipment, audio, lighting, editing, etc – if you want to learn that, then check out the websites below:

  • Caleb Wojcik – The DIY Video Guy 
  • James Wedmore
  • Fro Knows Photo – DSLR Video Guide

The basic steps to set up a membership website are listed below:

1. Set up a WordPress website

Create your website/blog using WordPress. Add content to the site explaining what it‘s about and tell people about your course and how they can benefit from it. Make sure you include an ‘About’ page – explaining who you are, your experience, your credentials and why people should pay you to instruct them.

You need to consider how to drive traffic to you website/blog, SEO, build an email list, etc. These are major areas and worth taking time & effort to understand them – but this blog post will not not cover that. We recommend you investigate these areas further.

For example, you may want to learn from various blogging and internet marketing experts such as Yaro Starak who can explain the process to build your own profitable blog and email list. Easyspace recently did an audio interview with Yaro for the Easyspace blog.

2. Set up the payment & membership system

The next step is to add in a plugin to your WordPress website that will enable you to accept payments from customers and have them automatically registered as members to your course, without you having to get involved for every order. The less work you have to do the better. The aim is to automate the sales & delivery of your course as much as possible.

Thankfully there are now numerous WordPress plugins available that make it much easier to handle payments and setting up memberships for an online course. We are not going to list them all here, but some of the most popular are:

  • Wishlist
  • Paid Membership Pro
  • Member Mouse
  • iThemes

If you want to read some reviews on each of them and how they compare then we recommend you check out the blog by Chris Lema who has a huge experience when it comes to setting up membership websites – and is an acknowledged expert in this area.

Which membership & payment plugin you choose will depend on the complexity of your website and your course, plus what options you require i.e. do you want to offer different membership levels? Will you offer multiple products/courses? Do you want to drip feed your course content or offer it all straight away?

If you are new to setting up a membership course and you plan on offering something fairly simply such as charging a one-off payment to immediately access one online course then we recommend you start with Wishlist, which is a powerful, yet easy to use membership solution that can turn any WordPress site into a full-blown membership site.

Wishlist is able to integrate with numerous payment gateways/shopping carts such as PayPal, ClickBank, etc. It also integrates with email providers such as Aweber and MailChimp. Plus, you are able to message your members via this plugin.

They provide a helpful blog which provides info on how to build a successful membership site:

3. Create your course content

Take your time in creating your ebook, videos, etc. Make sure they are made to a high standard. For example, if you are going to offer an ebook then you may want to consider outsourcing its design to a graphic designer.

If you are going to offer videos then they will need to be hosted somewhere. Whatever you do don’t add them to YouTube otherwise they will not be private, plus it gives out an unprofessional image. Instead have them professionally hosted with dedicated video hosting providers sites such as:

  • Wistia
  • Vimeo Pro

4. Add your course content

Once you have create your course content e.g. written to your ebook, created your videos, recorded your podcasts, etc, then the next step is to add them to your website – locked down into a members only area. It’s actually not that difficult to set up.

One popular WordPress plugin that enables you to display your course content on your website is WP Courseware. This integrates with numerous other membership plugins such as Wishlist.

If you follow these four steps then you will have your very own membership website, and be on your way to making money from your expertise.

It’s not a quick process, but if there is demand for your course then it will be time well spent.

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