How To Choose the Right Price For Your Online Course

7 min read
Becky Lushey
Woman looking at business graphs and writing in a notebook

An online course is often a labour of love, a vessel for teaching others and a way to build a community of educated customers.

But it’s also (usually) a way to generate revenue too.

Pricing your online course is the last step before unleashing it into the world. You’ve crossed your t’s, dotted your i’s and now it’s time to assess what you’ve created and slap a price tag on it.

However, after spending all that time dedicating yourself to building an amazing product, it can feel pretty difficult to simply assign it a number and move on.

Person using a calculator

Plucking a number out of thin air is obviously not the way to go. The price of your course will have a huge impact on sales so it needs to be thought through carefully.

Below, we’ll dive into some of the different options you have and ways in which you can feel assured that you’re choosing the right price for your course. Best of luck to you!

Pricing Strategies

There are three main pricing strategies that you have to choose from before you can get into the nitty gritty numbers. Will your course be free, paid-per-course or charged via membership?

It’s key to decide this first and foremost because different hosting platforms have different pricing capabilities.

Some online course marketplaces such as Skillshare are solely charged on a membership basis, whereas most online course creators such as Teachable and Thinkific encourage you to price per course (although some do allow you to offer membership prices).

On the other hand, if you’re hosting your course on your own website or wish to send it out via email, you might be interested in making it free.

Woman working on a laptop

Free

The downsides to free courses are pretty obvious: they can take up considerable time and effort and they don’t immediately bring in any new revenue stream. However, despite this, there are plenty of reasons why it's worthwhile to create a free course.

By building trust and a great reputation amongst those that are new to your company, free online courses help to generate new leads with a specific interest in the topics you specialise in.

Screenshot of Ran Segall's free online course
Example of a free online course by Ran Segall

Plus, attractive content such as a free online course is the perfect way to boost your website’s SEO and consequently get it seen by more eyes.

Free courses also give warm leads a reason to convert into customers by demonstrating your business’s value as a leader within its industry. This evidence of your capability will speak volumes about why you’re the right person for the job.

Paid-per-course

Paid-per-course is the most common type of pricing strategy for online courses as it enables creators to see a concrete return on investment.

By providing immediate revenue, this pricing strategy validates the time and effort that is put into the course and even allows for advertising to be paid for out of the profits, if so desired.

Screenshot of Sketchmaster's courses on Teachable
Example of Sketchmaster's individually priced Teachable courses

From a customer’s perspective, paying per course means that they only pay for what they want to upfront, although higher price tags can become somewhat of a barrier to entry on occasion.

Compared to membership pricing plans, paying per course doesn’t necessarily guarantee regular income; but it does have lots of the same benefits as free courses, such as helping to boost SEO, generate leads and build a great reputation.

Membership

Speaking of memberships, this form of pricing plan is an excellent way to lower the barrier to entry for many customers by reducing the price and expanding the amount of content they have access to. Customers get a fantastic deal and, in exchange, you get a regular income.

However, if your customers are paying for a membership to an online marketplace then you won’t get to set a price or own any of your students’ data, making it difficult to convert these leads to new customers for your business.

Screenshot of Skillshare Premium pricing plans
Example of Skillshare's membership pricing plans

If you’re offering a membership option via an online course creator instead, then the main downside is that you have to generate lots of content in order for this proposition to be worthwhile for your customers.

Additionally, because of the lower prices of membership options, retention has to be a top priority, meaning that these courses can’t be sidelined at all. They will need to be maintained, updated and added to on a regular basis.

For smaller businesses, it’s just unlikely that you’ll be able to dedicate that much time to developing and maintaining a wide variety of courses.

Attractive content such as a free online course is the perfect way to boost your website’s SEO and consequently get it seen by more eyes.

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How to Price An Individual Online Course

It can be really tricky to nail down the ideal price point for an individual course. But getting the balance right is super important - you don’t want to price out any potential customers or undersell your course.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Don’t price too low

This is probably the number one piece of advice that is touted online. Pricing low is a trap that many people fall into when they’re creating a course for the first time because they lack confidence.

Woman counting out change

Well guess what? You have to fake it ‘til you make it. Customers won’t believe that your course has any real value until you do.

If you price your course low then you’re reducing its perceived value. Your customers will assume that your course isn’t worth a higher price.

See what other people are charging on your host platform

Checking out your competition is always a great way to get a rough idea of what you should be charging.

Many online course platforms have vastly different price averages so it’s important to investigate this before setting your own.

Screenshot of Udemy courses
Example of Udemy course prices

Take Udemy for example. Most of the courses sold on this site are sold at drastically reduced prices, with $12.99 being the most common. By comparison, Teachable advise that you price your course at a minimum of $100.

This is largely because of the difference in terms of the depth of the courses that are hosted on these sites. But it also reflects the price that their specific audiences are planning to pay.

Review the value of your course

Don’t think about this in terms of the length of the course, how long it took to make or what kinds of content you’re providing. The value of your course should be solely based on what the outcome is for your customers.

What will they have gained? How valuable is this new knowledge? How much time and money have you saved them? How difficult would it have been for them to have gained this knowledge elsewhere?

By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll get a better understanding of what they’d be willing to pay.

Consider enabling payment plans

To help make your course more accessible, some course creator platforms will let you add payment plan options.

Adding Teachable pricing plans
Teachable's pricing plan options

This will allow customers to pay off your course in instalments, lowering the barrier for entry and enabling you to receive a regular payment for the next few months. Win win!

Tweak your price points over time

It’s a no brainer to increase the price if your course is selling well and decrease the price if you aren’t making enough sales.

But what might not be so obvious is that you should also test out higher price points for cheaper courses that aren’t selling.

As we mentioned earlier, you might be giving off the impression that your course isn’t worth much if you’re pricing too low. What’s the harm in seeing if a higher price tag might kick start sales?

Three colleagues looking at a laptop

If you’ve been getting feedback that your courses are too expensive then try extracting some of the content and repackaging it into a mini-course at a cheaper price to clarify whether this is truly the case.

To Conclude

It’s difficult to impart a bit of wisdom that can apply to every kind of course there is out there, but here’s our best shot: understand what your customers are looking for, have confidence in yourself and keep refining your price point.

It might seem daunting at first but you can always change the price at a later date. As long as you’ve worked hard to make sure that you’ve provided valuable, interesting content then you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Now go forth and price your course!

Get in Touch to Discuss Your Online Course

Need help with your own online course? We can help write content, design your sales pages or promote it for you.

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