Skip to main content
Want to sell courses online? Here’s how to start

Want to sell courses online? Here’s how to start

The future of learning is in digital courses. More and more individuals, schools, businesses, and organizations are purchasing online courses on everything from management skills to personal fitness. If you’re an expert in your field, you can make money selling training courses online to interested students. All you need is a little bit of information on creating the right content, putting it in the proper format, and making sure that it’s compatible with today’s standards for web-based learning technology. Then you’ll just need to know where to sell your courses and how to market them online.

The first step to selling your training courses online is to offer quality content that your audience wants to learn. If you don't have compelling content, you can follow all of the other tips in this guide and you still won’t sell a lot of courses. Why? Because your learners don’t mind paying for courses … if they feel that they’ve gotten something valuable when they’re done. If they don’t, they won’t hesitate to let everyone on the Internet know that your course isn’t worth it, and you’ll have trouble selling any more courses in the future.

So, how do you determine whether or not your course content is valuable to your audience? Follow these steps:

  • Identify your audience – Brainstorm everything you can think of about the people you want to sell your courses to, including where they live, how old they are, their income level, etc. The more detailed you are, the more you’ll “know” your audience, and the more you can make educated decisions about the kind of content they’ll be interested in.
  • Identify relevant topics – What kinds of topics does your target audience want to learn about? What’s relevant to their interests? Brainstorm a good list of these topics so that you can choose one that fits with your expertise and will attract your audience’s attention.
  • Write compelling content – After you’ve chosen your topic and written the first draft of your course, go back and read it as if you were buying the course yourself. Is this something you’d find interesting, valuable, and compelling? If not, it’s time to do some serious revisions.

Remember, getting your audience to buy your training courses is really only the first step. Your goal should be to get them to keep coming back for more, and to do that you need compelling, engaging content. Don’t be afraid to be humorous, and always work to use the most engaging language, examples, and exercises possible.

So your courses have valuable and compelling content. That’s great, but how are you presenting that content to your audience? Think of the most useful and interesting textbooks and guides you’ve come across in your life – in your academic career, in your work life, online, and in print. What did they all have in common?

They were all presented in an accessible, attractive format with design work that drew you in and carried you from one point to the next. You can do the same with your online courses if they are well designed with quality images and graphics, and if you use the proper format to convey your content to your audience.

There’s no single right format or design for digital courses, but you probably don't want to try to sell your audience a package of .txt files and call it a course. Instead, we recommend using PDF or PowerPoint formatting, depending on your preferences and your goals for your course.


PDF files can be created in a read-only format or in a read-write format so that your learners can edit specific areas of each file. This is great if you want to include text boxes where they can take notes or answer quiz questions.


The king of presentations, PowerPoint also works well for presenting information for digital courses. It’s great for individual use, or it can be used by a group in a lecture setting, as well.

Conform to SCORM Standards

Your content will also need to conform to SCORM standards. Short for sharable content object reference model, SCORM is a set of standards that have been created for web-based educational technology. Whatever format you choose for your courses, you should ensure that they conform to SCORM standards so that you can be sure that they are compatible with all applicable learning management systems. This way, your course will have greater reach and will be more useful to a wider audience.

Most authoring tools can produce SCORM-compliant files. And you can create SCORM files directly from PowerPoint with iSpring and the major eLearning authoring tools.

So there are a few pointers for those in the very early stages of their project to sell courses online for passion and profit. Good luck!