Pricing your online course can be a daunting task, but it's an important decision that can impact the success of your course. When I created my first online course I had no idea how to price it. I was a business owner of a transport company teaching other business owners how to blog. It was an economically bad time, and I wanted to help lots of people. So I decided it was £25. My audience told me this was too much money, and far too expensive... blogging is free* so why am I charging a fortune to learn it? I knew the value, but my audience didn't. I should've done my research a whole lot better, but pricing isn't just about research. In this article, we'll explore the best strategies for pricing your online course to attract more students. We'll provide 7 tips, recommendations from my experience, and examples to help you make an informed decision on what's the best price for your online course.
Course Pricing Tip 1: Understanding Your Target Audience
Understanding your target audience is the key to pricing your online course effectively. Knowing your audience's budget and what they're willing to pay is essential in determining the right price point for your course. But how do you go about understanding your audience?
Conducting market research is a great way to gather information about your target audience and their preferences. When conducting market research, there are a few methods you can use to gather information, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
Surveys are an excellent way to gather quantitative data about your potential students. You can use online survey tools to create a questionnaire that asks questions about your audience's demographics, interests, and budget. You can also ask questions about their preferred learning styles and their willingness to pay for an online course.
Interviews and focus groups are great ways to gather qualitative data about your audience. You can conduct one-on-one interviews or group sessions to gather in-depth insights into your audience's needs, pain points, and motivations. You can ask open-ended questions that allow your audience to express their opinions and preferences in their own words.
Some questions you might consider asking in your market research could include:
- What are your biggest challenges when it comes to learning about [topic]?
- What learning resources have you used in the past, and what did you like or dislike about them?
- What is your budget for online courses?
- What features or resources would you expect to see in an online course on [topic]?
- How do you prefer to learn? Through videos, audio, written content, or interactive activities?
By gathering information through market research, you can gain valuable insights into your target audience and create an online course that meets their needs and preferences.
Once you have this data you can then determine your price points, or move on to creating buyer personas.
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on research and data. By creating detailed personas that represent your target audience, you can gain a better understanding of their needs, pain points, and motivations.
While social media is a popular method for understanding your audience, it's not always reliable. People often present themselves differently on social media than they do in real life. They may be broke but present themselves as living their best life, or vice versa. That's why I prefer using buyer personas as a more accurate way of understanding your audience.
By creating personas that represent your target audience, you can get a more comprehensive understanding of their budget, interests, and preferences. This information can help you determine the appropriate pricing for your course, making it more accessible to your target audience while still generating revenue for your business.
You can also analyze data from social media platforms and online forums to gain insights into their interests and preferences. As I mentioned above, this isn't always as accurate as you'd like. Personally, I recommend using LinkedIn for your social media research. People present themselves more accurately there as there are lots of opportunities for employment. Forums, whilst they may seem old-fashioned and out of date, will also give you more accurate data. For example, the Diabetes Forum in the UK is very supportive and one of the most common questions people have is about what they can eat. From reading the forum you'll see how the audience is tired and confused by all the conflicting information. They just want to know how to eat when their whole life has been upended. The Diabetes Forum owners have produced guides and great content to help their audience. From this, I can determine that there's a tremendous amount of high-quality content at a very low price point (often free) and it's from a very reliable source.
Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can use that information to determine the appropriate pricing for your course. If your audience has a limited budget, you may need to price your course lower to make it accessible to them. On the other hand, if your audience is willing to pay more for high-quality content, you can price your course higher.
Overall, understanding your target audience is crucial in pricing your course effectively. By gathering information through market research and creating buyer personas, you can gain valuable insights into your audience's needs and preferences. This information can help you determine the appropriate pricing for your course, making it more accessible to your target audience while still generating revenue for your business.
Course Pricing Tip 2: Research Your Competitors
Doing research on your competitors can be a helpful way to determine a competitive price point for your online course. By researching what other courses in your niche are charging, you can get a sense of what price points your potential students are already familiar with.
When researching your competitors, make sure to focus on courses that are similar to yours in terms of content, format, and target audience. This will give you a more accurate sense of what your potential students are willing to pay for your course.
However, it's important to remember that pricing your course solely based on your competitors' prices isn't always the best strategy. Instead, you should focus on the value you're providing to your students.
Ask yourself: What unique features or resources am I providing that my competitors aren't?
- Am I offering personalized feedback or one-on-one coaching?
- Do I have a wealth of experience in my field that sets me apart?
- Do I have templates that make my student's life easier?
- Are my courses captioned?
These are the kinds of things that make your course more valuable and can justify a higher price point than your competitors.
Of course, that doesn't mean you should price your course outrageously high. It's important to strike a balance between providing value to your students and pricing your course at a point that's accessible to your target audience.
By doing your research and focusing on the value you're providing, you can determine the right price point for your course and set yourself up for success in the market.
Course Pricing Tip 3: Consider Your Course Value
When determining the price of your online course, it's essential to consider the value you're providing to your students. Ask yourself:
- What benefits will my course provide?
- What unique knowledge or skills will my students gain?
I have to confess, when starting out, I struggled with this. If I could experience the value of blogging, surely it was obvious? I mean, what you're reading right now is a blog post, and you did a search or your interest was piqued on social and you clicked the link... And here we are! You can take a second or too to imagine how all of this can work for your business. Easy, right? Nope, not easy at all. I was making people think and online people don't always want to think they want to be guided, so that means articulating the value.
If your course provides unique and valuable information that isn't readily available elsewhere, you can consider pricing it higher. For example, if you're offering a course on a niche topic or a specialized skill, your course may be worth more to your potential students. On the other hand, if your course provides more general information or covers topics that are widely available online, you may need to price it lower to remain competitive.
It's important to remember that pricing your course too high may turn away potential students, while pricing it too low may undervalue the time and effort you've put into creating your course.
Consider the amount of time and resources you've invested in creating your course, as well as the value you're providing to your students. This will help you determine a fair and competitive price point for your course.
Course Pricing Tip 4: Offer Different Payment Options
One way to make your online course more accessible to a wider range of students is by offering different payment options. By offering a one-time payment or a payment plan, you can make your course more affordable to students with different budgets.
A one-time payment may be more appealing to students who can afford to pay the full price upfront. You can offer a discount for Pay-In-Full, or some very juicy course bonuses that are exclusive to this payment option. On the other hand, a payment plan can be a great option for students who want to spread out the cost over a longer period of time.
Firstly, offering a payment plan can increase the administrative burden on you. You'll need to keep track of payment due dates, payment amounts, and payment processing, which can be time-consuming unless your course platform has a cart function with this option built in. I use both Zenler and ThriveCart for payment plans to reduce the amount of admin involved.
Secondly, offering a payment plan may increase the risk of late or missed payments. This can be particularly problematic if your course has a limited enrollment period or if you're relying on course revenue to pay for your expenses. Some of the big-name course brands will pursue their non-payers and late payers through credit collection agencies. You'll also notice the behaviour changes when someone doesn't make their next installment. Some people think that the student will "download everything and scarper", but that's rare. What they tend to do is ramp up their activity and attempt to connect with everyone on the program, you'll see this happen in FB groups attached to courses. They'll promise payments to you/your team, and some will even meet their commitments. The remainder will go silent and disappear in the hope you won't notice.
It's important to note that in some countries, offering a payment plan can be seen as offering "credit," which may require a license or regulatory compliance. Before offering a payment plan, it's important to research the regulations in your country to ensure you're in compliance.
Offering different payment options not only makes your course more accessible but can also lead to more revenue in the long run. By allowing more students to enrol in your course, you increase the potential for word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews, which can lead to even more enrolments. When considering different course payment options, it's important to strike a balance between accessibility and profitability. Offering too many payment options may increase the administrative burden on you, while offering too few may limit the accessibility of your course.
By offering a range of payment options that work for you and your students, you can make your course more accessible and appealing to a wider range of potential students
Course Pricing Tip 5: Create a Limited-Time Offer
Creating a limited-time offer can be a great way to incentivize students to enrol in your online course quickly. It can create a natural sense of urgency and encourage students to take action before the offer expires. One common approach is to offer a discount for a limited time. For example, you might offer a 10% discount for students who enrol within the first week of the course launch. This can be a powerful motivator for students who are on the fence about joining your programme.
Another approach is to provide additional bonuses for students who enrol by a specific date. For example, you might offer a bonus coaching session or access to an exclusive resource for students who enrol within the first two weeks of the course launch. This can create a sense of exclusivity and make students feel like they're getting more value for their investment. Or, as I mentioned above, you can provide additional bonuses that are limited in time, but also exclusive to the Pay in Full option.
When creating a limited-time offer, it's important to strike a balance between urgency and authenticity. You don't want to create false scarcity or pressure students into enrolling in your course before they're ready. False scarcity doesn't feel right, and this leads to people not taking you up on your offer. One way to avoid this negative feeling is to be transparent about the limited-time offer and the reasons behind it. For example, you might explain that the offer is only available for a limited time because you want to reward early adopters and ensure that you have a manageable class size.
Course Pricing Tip 6: Update Your Pricing Strategy Regularly
Updating your pricing strategy regularly is an important aspect of running a successful online course. Audiences are constantly changing, and so are the value propositions of your course. Thus, it's essential to regularly assess and update your pricing strategy accordingly. For example, if you offer a course on digital marketing and a new social media platform becomes popular, you may need to update your course content to include the new platform. This may increase the value of your course, and you may need to adjust your pricing to reflect this added value.
Another example is if a competitor introduces a new course that directly competes with yours. You may need to adjust your pricing to remain competitive and keep up with the changes in the market.
It's also essential to monitor your pricing strategy regularly and make adjustments as needed.
Course Pricing Tip 7: Test Your Pricing
Testing your pricing strategy is an essential step in determining the optimal price point for your course. While market research and competitor analysis can give you an idea of what price range to aim for, testing your pricing strategy will help you see what actually works and generates the most revenue.
One way to test your pricing strategy is by offering different pricing tiers. For example, you could offer a basic package at a lower price point with access to the core content of your course, and a premium package at a higher price point with additional resources and personalized support. This will allow you to see which pricing tier is more popular among your target audience and adjust your pricing strategy accordingly.
Another way to test your pricing strategy is by running a pricing experiment. This involves changing the price of your course for a specific period and comparing the results with previous data. For example, you could offer a discount on your course for a week and track the enrolment rates and revenue generated during that time.
Let's say you're creating an online cooking course. You could test your pricing strategy by offering different pricing tiers based on the level of culinary expertise your students have. For example, you could offer a beginner package at a lower price point and a more advanced package at a higher price point. By tracking enrolment rates and revenue generated, you can determine which pricing tier is more appealing to your target audience and adjust your pricing strategy accordingly.
Pricing your online course is an important decision that requires careful consideration. By understanding your target audience, researching competitors, and considering your course's value, you can determine the appropriate price point for your course. Offering different payment options, creating limited-time offers, and testing your pricing strategy can also help attract more students and generate more revenue in the long run.