How to Make Money Selling Courses Online in 2021 (as a developer)
Sep 29, 2021 · 9 min read
As a developer, there are a lot of different ways to make an (extra) income from your skills other than your day-to-day job. Among all of the options you have, creating and selling courses online to make money is probably the most promising.
Indeed, the demand for flexible and interactive online courses has been extremely high over the past three to five years, and it will grow even more: the e-Learning market surpassed $250 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2027. In other words, the online courses market is gigantic, and there are a lot of buyers out there looking for high-quality courses to upgrade their skills so they can upscale their career.
And because AlterClass is all about online education for developers, below are some critical steps and pieces of advice you can follow right now to create and sell programming courses online.
As obvious as it sounds, the very first thing to do when it comes to creating a new online course is to choose a topic.
Choosing the right topic to teach can be tricky, but it is crucial for you as the instructor but also for your future students. Indeed, you don't want to choose a subject that no one cares about anymore, like teaching about an outdated web framework, for example, or a topic you are not comfortable with.
You need to find that sweet spot where you have enough practical experience about an in-demand technology in the industry. People are NOT looking to spend hours learning a new technical skill just for the fun of it (well, some of them do, but they are by far not the majority). Instead, people are looking to acquire new skills that will help them in their career, either with their current job or to look for a new job.
So you must choose a topic for your students, so they get real employable skills by learning from your online course. In other words, you have to choose a topic that will impact the life of your students and not just a simple thing they can learn about by watching a 15-minutes Youtube video.
On the other end, you need to have enough experience with the technology you'd like to teach. Indeed, you need to create high-quality content for your course to teach the theory and come up with practical exercises so your students can learn by doing. You can only do that if you have enough practical experience with what you teach.
But don't get me wrong! You don't need to be an expert with 15 years of experience in your chosen topic. You can very well choose a subject you've learned three months ago and have been using so far. You'll be well suited to teach it to beginners with zero experience in this specific topic as you'll know how to speak to them.
Finally, don't think you can't teach something just because there is already a course about it somewhere on the web. It is just the opposite! It probably means that there is a high demand for this topic. Plus, we all have different teaching styles, and because of that, your course will be better suited for some students than any of the existing courses.
You can also find a niche inside the topic you'd like to teach. For example, there is a lot of React JS courses out there. But what about Testing React JS applications? Or you can teach your students about a topic they can apply in a particular situation, like building an e-commerce website with Next.js, FaunaDB, and Stripe?
If you are a software developer, you have something to teach. So think about it and find your niche topic.
Once you have your topic for your online coding course, it is time to create the content.
Most of the programming content we can find on the internet is video-based, either on YouTube or an e-learning platform like Udemy. You also have a lot of text-based content through blogging platforms like Hashnode or Medium.
But I'd like you to think about it for a moment. How do you think you learn the best a technical/programming skill?
Is it by watching hours of videos of someone coding? Or is it by practicing as you learn at your own pace?
What I'm trying to say here is that you don't learn such practical skills as programming just by watching others coding, like you don't learn to drive just by watching others driving a car.
So, for the content of your online programming course, you need to create interactive and engaging lessons. What I mean by that is that you need, on top of the theory (which you could provide through videos and text), to give your students the opportunity to practice the skills you are teaching and to learn on their own through exercises, programming assignments, and projects.
It's also important to include several quizzes throughout your online course to test the knowledge of your students along the way and help them assess their learning.
You'll definitely pass the most out of your time creating the content of your online course. So you must have the right tool to help you with that. However, there is not a lot of options out there for creating high-quality and interactive programming courses online, which is why we've built AlterClass.
At this point, you should have the content of your online course ready to be published (or part of it if you'd like to release it in phases).
Now, you need to choose a platform that enables you to create the best learning experience for your students and makes it easy for you to sell your online course with integrated payment processing.
Fortunately, there are many existing e-learning platforms/marketplaces you can use to host and sell your course quickly. Some of the most popular are Udemy, Teachable, Thinkific, and AlterClass. They all have their pros and cons regarding the type of content you can use to create your online course or the pricing model they use. You need to consider that when choosing the platform for your course. More on that in a future article.
Or you can either build your own platform and host your online course on it. The advantage of doing so is that you have full control over it. However, you'll spend a LOT of time (probably months) working on things like authentication, payments, hosting, and more before being able to publish your course. Plus, you'll not have this time to focus on creating the content of your course, which is by far the most important thing here.
Keep in mind that there is no good or bad solution. Choose the option that best suits your needs, budget, and time.
Now that you are all set, you need to decide how much to charge for your online course. While you should not overthink it, there are still a few things you need to consider to choose the price of your course.
First, you need to check the competition and see where you stand within the market. Here are a few questions you may ask yourself to assess it:
- Are you offering a course on a topic that is widely available in the market or a course on a specific niche topic?
- How does your course differ from the existing ones?
- Do you have a specific teaching style compared to your competitors? Or do you have an innovative teaching approach with your course?
- Is your course mainly video/text-based, or does it include a lot of interactive content?
Then, you need to measure somehow the value you are offering your students with your online course. In step 1, when choosing the topic for your course, you should already have come up with a topic that brings value to your students' careers.
Indeed, the more they can apply what they have learned throughout their learning journey with your online course, in the real world, in their career, the highest the value you are providing, or in other words, the higher the price of your course.
Finally, you also need to take into account the cost of production. For example, if you include videos, you should take into account the cost of the gears you have been using (camera, microphone, software, etc...), and the cost of filming and editing those videos as well.
But you should also consider the cost of running your course. Indeed, depending on the platform you choose to host and sell your course, you probably have some fees for using the service. So make sure to include those fees in your calculation.
In summary, creating and selling online programming courses is an excellent way to generate (extra) income as a developer and to help your peers learn from your skills and experience.
In 2021, more and more people are moving online to learn new things and gain the skills they need to improve their careers and future. Plus, technical skills are in high demand in the industry. So as a developer, you have more than ever the opportunity to monetize your skills online.
However, creating an interactive and engaging technical course online is not an easy task. Most of the platforms available do not provide the necessary tools to do it, and some of them are charging high fees for their service.
Luckily, with the AlterClass all-in-one platform, you can build better online programming courses more easily and deliver the best learning experience for your students.
So if you are serious about monetizing your skills online, checkout AlterClass as it is free to use.