Entrepreneurs marketing

How to Monetize Your Knowledge and Expertise With Online Courses

We’re all knowledgeable in some areas. We all have expertise in a particular niche or skillset. You might not be the best in the world in your respective field, but you’re certainly better than some. Perhaps you’re even better than most.

We live in an era of exploration where people have tremendous access to knowledge. It’s available with just a few casual keystrokes or a couple of effortless swipes and taps of the finger. But someone somewhere has to provide this knowledge – otherwise, the engine ceases to run.

Sometimes that person is a well-known figure or household names, such as an athlete, celebrity, or successful CEO. Other times its folks like you and me – people with gritty knowledge and practical expertise in areas like marketing, investing, entrepreneurship, woodworking, golf, guitar, or underwater basket weaving.

There’s a huge space in today’s marketplace for monetizing this knowledge and expertise. Will you take advantage of this lucrative opportunity and use it to create value for a hungry audience?

The 4-Part Knowledge Monetization Process

If you’re interested in monetizing knowledge and expertise, it ultimately comes down to a three-step process. The four-part process is easy to lay out for you, but much more challenging to act upon. But if you’re genuinely committed to making it work, you may discover just how lucrative it can be.

Part 1: Identify Your Expertise

Most people are hesitant to call themselves an expert in a particular field or niche. But perhaps it’s time we redefine what it means to be an expert. An expert doesn’t have to be a guru or a global celebrity with thousands of raving fans. You simply need to be smarter than the next guy or gal. (Consider that, to a fourth-grader, a fifth-grader is an expert. So to be considered an expert by some, you simply need to be smarter than the “fourth-graders,” “third-graders,” etc. in your field.)

It’s often helpful to drill down and focus on niche areas of expertise. For example, let’s say you’re really good at woodworking and building furniture. What is it about building furniture that you find most enjoyable? Perhaps there’s a particular type of joinery that you’re exceptional at? This could be a monetizable area of expertise. 

We all have different knowledge sets, interests, and personalities, but there’s always some skill lying beneath the surface. Identify it and move forward.

Part 2: Build a Tribe –

It’s not enough to have some knowledge or expertise. In order to monetize it, you need an audience, community, or tribe. This is a collection of interested individuals or fans who are pre-qualified and will soak up anything piece of information or content you toss their way.

There are entire books, blogs, and websites dedicated to building tribes. We don’t have the time to cover it in this article, but you can read more here. The important takeaway is this: You can’t monetize your knowledge without an audience of people who want what you have. This is arguably the most time-consuming part of the entire process.

Part 3: Choose a Medium

The third part of the process requires you to select how you want to share your knowledge. We’ll focus on some of the best ways to sell knowledge and expertise in the next section – so hang on and we’ll explore your options in detail.

Part 4: Promote, Promote, Promote

The final step in the process involves marketing, advertising, and promoting your content so that you can reach members of your tribe and convince them to consume your knowledge via an educated purchase decision. If you’ve taken the time to build a knowledgeable and interested audience, this is the easy part. Otherwise, you’ll spend a significant amount of time and money on promotion before finally seeing any results.

The Best Ways to Sell Knowledge and Expertise

This article is all about selecting the right medium for selling knowledge and expertise. And though there are dozens of unique ways to reach an audience or tribe, there are really five powerful options that stand out above the rest –

  • Books – Even with the rise of the internet and other digital mediums, books are still one of the primary points of learning and knowledge consumption for consumers. Both traditional print books and eBooks provide opportunities.
  • Membership Sites – It’s hard to make any meaningful money from a blog – at least in the first few years. However, membership sites provide an alternative. By positioning your content in a premium light and selling subscriptions, you can monetize digital content and generate a steady and predictable stream of recurring revenue.
  • Speaking gigs – Most people are deathly afraid of public speaking, but this remains one of the most profitable ways of monetizing expertise. Speaking opportunities abound at conferences, universities, businesses, and other live events. It’s not unheard of for good speakers to bring in thousands of dollars for 60-to-90-minute presentations.
  • Consulting – If your knowledge could be useful to other businesses, you might have the opportunity to sell your services in the form of consulting. This can be fun and exciting, but it’s also extremely hands-on and time-consuming.
  • Online courses – Finally, there are online courses. Thanks to various online platforms, creating digital courses has never been easier. You simply compile the information into consumable chunks of content and package them together in a format that you can sell and deliver to customers.

The Case for Online Courses

As the title of this article prognosticates, online courses represent one of the best opportunities for selling knowledge and expertise. Benefits include:

  • High margins – The beauty of online courses is that they’re digital. Unlike a physical book or product, both of which have to be manufactured and distributed, a course doesn’t require any input cost after it’s created. It’s not unheard of for online course margins to be somewhere around 70 to 80 percent (after all expenses – including advertising).
  • Passive income – There are very few genuine sources of passive income – but online courses definitely fall into the category. Yes, you typically have to invest in promotion, but the product itself requires very little ongoing maintenance.
  • Room for creativity – Online courses offer ample room for creative freedom. You can write blog posts, record audio, produce webinars, record videos, create various forms of interactive content, etc. For someone who likes to try different approaches, online course creation is fun and exciting.
  • Easy to upsell – Finally, online courses provide a good starting point to upsell other products and services. For example, many experts use online courses to build rapport with people and then sell premium consulting services.

8 Tips for Launching and Marketing an Online Course

Okay, enough on the why of online courses – let’s dig into the how.

For this article, we’ll assume that you’ve already built an audience.  With this in mind, here are some helpful tips and suggestions for launching and marketing a profitable online course and selling it to your tribe:

1. Survey Your Audience

There’s no sense in creating a course that you think your audience wants when you can go through a couple of additional steps and deliver something you know they want.

Try surveying your audience to discover which specific pain points, interests, or desires they have around your topic. You can then use this to shape your course building strategy.

2. Price Appropriately

Pricing is very important. Many first-time course creators make the mistake of assuming that people will only shell out a few bucks for a course, so they price it at $10 or $20. But this is a huge mistake. A low price point does nothing but cheapen the perceived value of your course. You’re far better off using a premium pricing strategy and going for quality over quantity.

It’s not uncommon for courses to sell at price points of $250, $500, or even $5,000. When you price a course at a higher figure, a couple of things happen. First off, you send a signal that the content you’re selling is valuable. Secondly, you don’t need as many customers to become profitable.

At $20 per course, you have to make 500 sales to reach $10,000 in revenue. At $1,000 per course, you only need 10 sales. Yes, the higher price point will turn some people away, but you can always find 10 interested and willing people.

3. Consider a Payment Plan

We just mentioned one of the biggest concerns entrepreneurs have with premium pricing: Ostracizing a large portion of their audience. If you’re worried about this,  a payment plan is always an option.

One common payment plan is to require one-third up front, another third in two weeks, and the final third at the end of four weeks. So if you’re selling a $1,000 course, this would come out to three equal payments of $333. It sounds a lot more affordable, right?

4. Create a Compelling Course Name

Course purchase decisions can be influenced by any number of factors, but your course name is certainly one of the most important. If it’s cheesy or generic, you’ll limit your potential from the start.

A compelling course name is simple, concise, and clear. It’s also wise to think about its sustainability or longevity. In other words, the course name should still be as relevant next year as it is today.

5. Start With 20 Percent and Presell

Most first-time course creators spend a bunch of time and resources creating a course from start to finish and then they tie a fancy bow on top and sell it. Sometimes this works, but it often comes back to bite.

The better strategy is to create roughly 20 percent of the course and then use this content to presell. After bringing in some subscribers, you can leverage the feedback and funds to produce a high-quality course that people are actually excited about. (And if you don’t have any success with your presell, you can sigh a deep breath of relief. You just saved yourself plenty of time and money!)

6. Go Deep, Not Wide

Remember that people are subscribing to your course because they want premium knowledge and insights that they can’t find elsewhere. They would much rather dive deep into a singular topic than go wide on a bunch of generic subjects. High-level content is specific and information-rich – not vague. Keep this in mind and focus on what matters most.

7. Leverage Free Content

The best way to promote your course is to provide people with a taste of the kind of content you have packed inside. Consider making the first section of your course free to users who opt-in with an email address. This allows you to collect a lead, while simultaneously offering a taste of your course to people who may be interested.

You can also push your course via your own personal social media profiles. The more people trust you, the better your conversion rate will be.

8. Use Webinars to Drive Engagement

If you’re selling premium-priced courses, you can’t expect people to fork over $1,000 or $5,000 without first building some rapport and establishing a little credibility. Blogs, social media posts, and free course samples are some options. But if you want to generate some serious waves, webinars are your best bet.

With webinars, you have the opportunity to put your face in front of a bunch of people all at once. They get to hear from you, watch you, ask questions, and engage. And assuming you have a little personality and know what you’re talking about, this does nothing but strengthen the connection between you and your potential customers. It’s worth a try!

Using an Online Course as a Catalyst

As mentioned, online courses are just a starting point. If you really want to carve out space as an expert in your respective field, you can use a digital course as a catalyst for selling consulting services, books, speaking gigs, premium newsletters, or even endorsements. Don’t miss the boat on this opportunity – it’s one of the most profitable and rewarding niches available. Will you give it a try?

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