Building an online course business is one of the best ways to create a scaleable, passive income stream that you can start to build to stop trading time for money.
Over the last 6 years, my wife and I have launched over a dozen premium courses, and have been able to millions of dollars sharing our knowledge with the world, and being compensated for it.
In this post, I want to share with you everything I've learned about launching online businesses, and even show you the exact toolset I prefer to use when getting started in 2020.
What is an online course website?
In a nutshell, an online course website is a professional website where free or premium educational material is made available for viewers to grow their skills.
Many universities have an online component of learning, and have complimentary online course websites that supplement their in-person teaching.
However, a growing number of online businesses are building out online course websites independently, which allows very specific skills to be learned.
For example, in the classic university system, you have a wide range of broad topics taught such as:
- Language Arts
- Social Sciences
An online course business could let you get extremely granular:
- Digital Marketing
- Direct Response Copywriting
- Facebook Advertising for Local Business
- and so on
Why would you want to build an online course website?
The online education business is absolutely booming and is expected to be a trillion dollar industry by 2025.
If you have any interest in monetizing your knowledge and passions...
Now is the time to dive in.
My honest prediction is that the classical university model isn't going to be as important going forward.
(again this is just my prediction)
We see stories over and over about how students go six figures in debt to earn a college degree, only to come out struggling to find a job that pays more than minimum wage.
To me, that is an absolute disaster.
On the other hand, online courses have the ability to teach entire business models and skillsets that can quickly and effectively teach high-demand trades for a very reasonable price.
For example, this course can teach you to create and sell your own digital downoads for only $97, and students success stories are turning that education into a $600 per day income stream!
Compare that to a $200,000 college tuition!
Other ways to monetize your online courses
Directly selling your courses isn't the only way to profit.
You can also use your online course platform as an authority-booster.
Many service providers use online course websites to build their authority on a topic and attract clients to their services.
Instead of trying to monetize the course itself, they use it as a very strong lead magnet to qualify their prospects for their services.
This helps them charge more for their services, while interviewing only the most qualified candidates.
The different ways to build an online course business
There are well over a dozen online course platforms on the market. Each one has it's own characteristics, but there are a few general categories that you should be aware of.
Online course marketplaces
There are several online course marketplaces like Udemy and Lynda that allow experts to create their own courses easily on their platforms.
Online course marketplaces have risen in popularity over the years because they
- Reduce the difficulty for creators to build their online course
- Remove the need for course creators to spend their time marketing (as these companies already have tons of traffic)
However, these benefits come at a big drawback - price control.
These platforms take a large percentage of your course sales as a commission, and they introduce significant competition in your industry.
What that means is, if someone comes across your online course on basket weaving - they will be able to instantly see dozens of competitors in the exact same space selling the same course.
In these scenarios, the only way to succeed is to lower your price, which makes online course platforms a race to the bottom.
Not a good way to build a business.
The benefits of building an online course business on your own website
To side step this problem, you can create courses on your own marketplace.
With your own marketplace, the pros and cons are basically reversed from the marketplaces.
The benefits here is that you get to keep all the money that you earn - not having to share revenue with any platform holder.
You also own your content, which means you have full control of how it is delivered, and how you engage with your audience.
Finally, you aren't stuck in a race to the bottom with other creators, because once users have found your website, your content is the only thing they will see.
The downsides of building everything on your own website
But let's be fair, it's not all sunshine and roses when it comes to launching your own online course website.
Up until recently, it has been extremely challenging to create your own software platform.
And not only that, driving traffic to your own website requires significant time and energy spent in marketing.
However, in the tutorial in this post, I am going to show you the best online course platform that I have ever found.
The recommended tools to build an online course website
In this video, we will be using the following tools:
- Bluehost for web hosting
- Thrive Theme Builder for our website
- Thrive Apprentice for our online courses (included in membership)
- Thrivecart for selling our products
- Convertkit for email marketing
There are tons of benefits in setting up your course with this tech:
- This set up is very cost effective, requiring only $200-$250 per year in software costs
- You will have complete control over your website design and how you interact with your users
- You can drive great traffic with blog posts, Facebook ads, and so many other forms - the Thrive toolkit is designed with conversions in mind.
With that said, let's dive into the tutorial:
How to build your online course business on your own website step-by-step
0:00 - Overview & Goals
2:40 - End Result Website
Getting Your Website Started
7:16 - Get Started with Web Hosting
12:30 - Installing WordPress
16:25 - Cleaning up your site first
17:47 - Set up Professional Email Address
21:00 - Installing our WordPress Theme & Plugins
Designing your website
25:10 - Custom Designing our own WordPress Theme (without any code)
26:00 - Branding: Create a Logo and Color Scheme
29:00 - Setting up your Header, Footer, etc
34:30 - Optimizing our new website for speed
35:50 - Customizing your fonts
37:17 - Fixing our website temporary domain URL
39:17 - Launching Your Site
40:08 - Editing Your Home Page with Thrive Architect
43:00 - Basic Photo Editing - Remove Background for Hero Images
46:30 - General Page Editing Skills
48:28 - Updating Page / Post Titles & Settings
Creating Pages & Posts in WordPress
50:00 - Create our Contact Me Page
55:00 - Creating a main navigation menu
57:00 - Writing our first blog post with Thrive Architect
Setting up Analytics & Tweaking our Theme
1:02:00 - Creating a ?Smart Site?
1:03:45 - Setting up Google Analytics
1:07:30 - Tweaking the Header to remove social media icons
1:08:30 - Getting Started with Email Marketing
1:12:06 - Creating Your First Lead Magnet on Convertkit
Building our first sales funnel
1:14:00 - Getting Started with Sales Funnels
1:15:00 - Creating Online Courses On Your Website
1:28:35 - Overview of Mapping out your Sales Process & Flow
1:30:50 - Creating the Thank You Page for Funnel
1:33:43 - Designing your Login Page
Selling your products with Thrivecart
1:36:00 - Creating Your Sales Process in Thrivecart
1:39:00 - Integrating Thrivecart with Thrive Apprentice
1:43:00 - Integrating our Convertkit account with Thrivecart
1:44:00 - Configuring your first product in Thrivecart
1:47:00 - Linking your Apprentice courses to Thrivecart Products
1:50:00 - Designing your Checkout page to increase conversions
1:55:00 - Adding Google Analytics to Thrivecart
1:56:00 - Creating a Coupon Code to Incentive customers
2:02:00 - Building a Squeeze Page to bring leads into your funnel
2:05:00 - Customizing your emails to new customers with Thrive Apprentice
2:06:30 - Creating a Pop Up with Thrive Leads
2:09:30 - Updating Website to send traffic into funnel
Testing & Tweaking
2:11:10 - End to End Testing
2:15:00 - Improving deliverability of our emails with SMTP setup
2:19:00 - Removing the black admin bar for customers
Conversion Rate Optimization
2:20:00 - Improving conversions by A/B Testing your Sales Page
2:24:00 - Final End to End Testing
2:29:00 - Measuring tha Analytics of your sales funnel
2:30:00 - Conclusion and Wrap Up
As you can see, there are a lot of moving pieces when setting up a complete online business in 2021 and beyond.
But it is so worth it!
Online courses has been the single most important component of achieving the lifestyle my family enjoys, and I want to make sure everyone has the skills and trainings to implement them in their own businesses as well!
If you like this walkthrough, be sure to get set up with your Thrivecart Bonuses today!