If you don't want to spend as much time and money marketing your course, you can always try to sell your content on course marketplaces with existing audiences. Here are 10 you may want to consider.
How to Find Out Which Courses Sell Best Online
If you are thinking about creating your own online course to sell, it will help to do some market research before you start to get an idea of how well courses currently offered are performing. Fortunately, you can get some of this information from the larger course platforms.
So how do you find out which courses sell best online? Many popular online course marketplaces tell you how many students have enrolled in their courses. This is a great way to do free market research on a particular course idea you are thinking of pursuing.
Below we will show you which of the course marketplaces to search, how to search them, and what numbers to look for. We will also include some Googling tips on finding more market data for your research.
Get Data from the Large Online Course Marketplaces
Online course marketplaces sell hundreds of courses created by people just like yourself. Their primary goal is to get people to buy their courses since they earn money by taking a percentage of the course selling fee.
One way these markets get potential course buyers to purchase is to offer “social proof” that a particular course is worth buying. This social proof includes reviews and ratings left by students along with the number of students who have enrolled in the class. The idea is that if a prospective buyer sees hundreds or thousands of other students that have purchased the course, it must be a good choice for them also. Your goal is to take advantage of this highly valuable data for your market research.
Udemy is one of the largest online course marketplaces and there are a few ways to find out which of their courses sell the best.
First, look at their best selling courses here. On this page, Udemy provides the course topic that is most popular. As you can see from the screen below, the most popular topic at the time of this writing is the Python coding language.
Clicking on “Python” will bring up another page of all the Python coding courses along with the data we are looking for – number of students enrolled shown in parentheses.
Now we can see that a whopping 167,002 students paid for this class which is incredible. Many of the other Python related classes have tens of thousands of students.
You can do this kind of research all throughout Udemy. Either browse the most popular list or just search on a course topic or subject and see how many students are enrolled.
Here's another tip. If you want to find who are the most popular Udemy instructors, just search Google with the following – site:udemy.com top udemy instructor. This should bring up pages that feature Udemy's very best instructors and what courses they teach. Not only can you find out which courses are popular, but you can even take some courses from these teachers and find out what they do that makes them so popular and incorporate their techniques into your own teaching. Chalk up the small course fee and your time as a valuable investment in yourself as a teacher.
LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) Data
Another site that is similar to Udemy is LinkedIn Learning which acquired Lynda.com, another popular course marketplace. Fortunately, LinkedIn Learning provides the number of learners for each course just like Udemy. Use this to your advantage to find out if your area of interest is popular on this site as well.
Another way to find popular courses is to do another Google search of LinkedIn Learning's site. This time we are going to focus on their blog with the following search – site:learning.linkedin.com/blog most popular courses. I noticed that LinkedIn really likes telling people what their most popular courses are and in which subcategories. This search will pull up all the blog posts where LinkedIn has graciously shared their market data for inquiring minds like yourself.
Also, LinkedIn has started reporting on specific skills companies are looking for by examining their course data. Check out “The skills companies need most in 2019.” Posts like this give you up to date data on what kinds of courses are in demand right now that you could create courses for.
Also, don't forget to search their site for your topic of interest as well and take note of enrollment data and how much the course costs.
Coursera Press Releases
Coursera partners with actual universities and professors to offer courses so they are a bit different from some of the other options above. However, you can still get a good idea of what people are interested in paying money to learn.
Fortunately, Coursera has already reported on the most popular courses of the last few years. On these pages you can get lots of ideas on what areas have been very high interest. Coursera tends to have more expensive courses as well so take note of that as you research what people are willing to pay for.
- 2018's Most Popular Courses – https://www.coursera.org/collections/popular-courses-2018
- 2017's Most Popular Courses – https://blog.coursera.org/year-review-10-popular-courses-2017/
- 2016's Most Popular Courses – https://blog.coursera.org/popular-courses-2016/
- 2015's Most Popular Courses – https://blog.coursera.org/the-most-popular-courses-of-2015/
If you don't find much info about your area of interest at the sites above, it is time to simple start Googling. Use searches like “[your topic] course online” (i.e. ice cream making course online). Start looking for any kind student enrollment or sales numbers and also take note of how much the courses cost.
Α Few More Tips
While you are searching, be sure to note how much a course costs and who is teaching the course. Courses go on sale quite a bit but it is still helpful to know market price points when you get to the point of trying to decide what to charge. Also, taking note of popular teachers could come in quite handy if you decide to dig deeper into what makes them so popular.
Should I Create a Course That Has Already Sold Well at One of These Marketplaces?
You might be wondering if you should even create a course if it has already sold extremely well on one of these marketplaces. The answer is maybe.
Realize that many people interested in your topic have never even heard of these course marketplaces let alone purchased a course from them. Just because these places have sold many courses in your area of interest doesn't mean for a second that the market is tapped out. It's a big world out there and lots of people wanting to learn who have yet to buy.
Second, you can always take a good selling course yourself, read the reviews other students left, and find out what you can do better. There is a wealth of market data right here at your finger tips both in the form of what has already sold well and what students liked and didn't like about the course. That is gold for smart market researchers.
Should I Create a Course That Hasn't Sold Well at One of These Marketplaces?
If you see that a course in your area of interest has not been popular, don't lose heart. First, read through any reviews and find out what students didn't like about it. If it was taught poorly, that is an opportunity for you to do better and not necessarily a sign that the course won't sell somewhere else.
Also you will probably notice that many of these courses tend toward technology heavy subjects. It is possible that they just don't have a good audience fit if you are someone who wants to teach on a topic not related to technology, software, coding, and things of that nature. I know for a fact that there are many gardeners out there who are more than willing to pay for courses on how to grow plants better!
How can I create an online course for free? The great thing about many of these online course marketplaces is that they won't charge you to list your course if it is accepted. They make their money by taking a percentage of the sales (sometimes a very high percentage) so you don't have to spend your own money up front before making a sale. Most of the cost for you is your time in creating the course and any additional equipment you choose to buy to produce and edit your video and any other teaching materials.
What online courses are in demand? Look through the best selling sections we listed and you will see some common trends. Technology topics that are new and emerging do well, tutorials on how to code in different programming languages are successful as are software tutorials. However, there are also many surprises so it is best not to prejudge the potential of a course subject before doing your research.
If I have the option of creating several courses, which is the most strategic? It may be helpful to think in terms of both revenue (short and long term) and customer satisfaction. Start with customer satisfaction first. Which course can you over-deliver to students and leave them feeling ecstatic about what you provide for them? Greater satisfaction leads to more free word of mouth marketing in the form of better reviews and referrals to friends. Also, you can typically charge more for courses that satisfy. Second, for short term revenue, use your market research to try and calculate how many courses you think you can sell and at what prices. Remember, prices are often heavily discounted at Udemy which can inflate sales numbers but lower profit. Finally, for long term revenue, try to create courses in areas where customers will want to buy more courses from you in the future.
More Course Creation Intel
What is the most strategic way to develop an online course with the most chance of succeeding? We suggest a market-driven approach.
Don't bore your students. Instead, leave them encouraged and exhilirated to put into practice what you've taught.
Going through the time and expense of creating a course that doesn't sell is a terrible feeling. Learn how to do smart market research before building your course for the best chance to succeed.