Probably more than once you’ve thought about starting a business. What if I sell this or if I do something online, maybe I should start with a blog…
Today there are many options to start a business, especially online. That is because the Internet and technology make it easier and easier with time.
To start an online business you don’t need great headquarters or high priced equipments. The only ingredient that can’t be missing is having knowledge on a certain topic and you already have it.
Nevertheless, each time you hear the word “business”, you begin to think on how the bills are going to get paid if you quit your job; that you will have to raise some capital and that you will get yourself into a world of chaos like this one:
Luckily for you, starting an online business doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Let’s start with the beginning… What is a business? According to the Wikipedia:
“A business, also known as an enterprise, agency or a firm, is an entity involved in the provision of goods and/or services to consumers”.
This means that you have a business when you’ve found something you can give to people, who are willing to pay for it, and you’ve defined how you will deliver that something.
Based on this definition, you could think on hundreds of things to offer and have a business, but let’s focus on one of them: your knowledge.
How to monetize your knowledge on the Internet?
Making money with our skills and knowledge is what we do every day. That’s why we get paid at work.
However, we’re talking about earning money in exchange for the knowledge itself, not for the things we do with it.
Traditionally, people have been doing this by publishing books, becoming consultants, creating workshops or any kind of training. These examples give us some clues of what we can do on the Internet, because after all, the online world is nothing more than an extension of the real/physical world.
Some ways people are making money online in exchange for their knowledge are writing blogs, making videos for YouTube, publishing ebooks and creating online courses.
All of these options are perfectly valid and in many cases, they complement each other: you create a community with your blog and then you sell them your ebook or your online course; you create videos for your YouTube channel and then you reuse them as lessons for your online course. But… Which one is the best business opportunity?
When thinking about business opportunity, you should consider how to earn higher profits ($) in the shortest time. In this scenario the best option is, without a question, creating your online course.
Why an online course is the best option for starting an online business?
Yes, it is the easiest option: you go to wordpress.com (or any other blogging platform), choose a template and start writing. You don’t need technical skills and you can do it on your pajamas.
The downside is that making money with a blog takes months or even years and you’ll need to write frequently to stay on the top of the mind of your readers, which is lots of work.
Blogger profits come from advertising, partnerships or affiliate marketing. The keyword for the three of them is traffic: how many people visit your blog monthly? What size is your email list? If these numbers are not big enough your earnings won’t be either.
Something similar happens with YouTube. Profits come from advertising and you will receive certain amount of money (US$ 1.00 – 2.00) per a thousand views. So, if you don’t count with a committed community to view your videos and share them (so your reach amplifies), it will be hard for you to make money from your YouTube channel.
Maybe the ebook is a better option, because… yes, you will have to research a lot and come out with a nice design, but after all that… you will be able to sell it over and over. And you don’t need your own traffic to reach people, you can sell it on Amazon if you want.
Nevertheless, the competition on the ebooks world is huge and most authors don’t even see US$ 100.00 a year.
Last but not least, here is the option that will help you make more money in the shortest time, making the best business opportunity:
- You create online courses once and you sell them forever (ok, until they are outdated).
- You don’t rely on your own traffic, you can upload them on platforms like Teachlr that have their own user database.
- As the competition is smaller, you can charge higher for your course.
- You can give your community something back after watching you: a certificate.
- You can evaluate those who are taking your course and find out the topics where people are failing. Then you can create more content on this topic.
How to make your online course a real business?
If you’ve read through here, it is because you were hoping to get some hints about how your online course will get you money. Well, here is the answer: before starting to record the first lesson, before writing the script, you need to understand the whole business model of your course.
Yes, the money flow is simple: you put a price to your course, people pay for it and you cash it, cha-ching!. But, there are many questions left to answer, e.g. why will people pay for your course?.
One of the most popular tools for designing business models is the Business Model Canvas. It is a visual chart where you can write all the aspects of your business and see how they relate to each other. Let’s have a look:
On your Canvas, you will have in a single view everything you need to take into consideration to succeed with any product or business. When completing each box, the most important thing is to find real information: speak to interested customers (future students), go to online communities and discover the pain points of your audience, check out other courses to see how they are addressing your topic and what is missing.
To fill all the Canvas boxes you will need all the data you’ve gathered regarding your course and your clients. We don’t have the statements that go into your Canvas boxes, but we have the questions you’ll need to answer:
- Who are you creating this online course for?
- Is there more than a client segment? For an online course, we would recommend the answer is no.
- Is it a course for the masses or is it for a specialized audience?
- What previous knowledge should your customers have?
- What are you offering that people is willing to pay for?
- What are the pain points of your audience and what is your course doing to end them or minimize them?
- What makes your course different from your competitors’ ones?
- What is the specific angle on your topic that delivers the biggest value to your customers?
- How will you deliver your course to your customers?
- In which platforms are you going to upload and share your course?
- What is the social network most used by your customers and how can you use it to reach them with your course?
- In which communities can you participate to reach your audience?
- What kind of relationship does your customers expect? A cold one, where they only watch your course and leave? Or a close one, where they can keep learning from you after taking your course?
- Are they expecting additional resources to your online course?
- Hint: your goal is to create a community with your customers, so you can reach them in the future to offer them a new course or that ebook you wanted to write so much.
- We’ve said that the money comes from direct sales, but how much should you charge for your course? We can give you a hand with that.
- How much are your competitors charging for their courses?
- Will you be able to make special discounts?
- What do you need to make your value proposition a real course?
- What do you need to reach your audience? (e.g. design a Facebook ad)
- What equipment do you need to create your course? (e.g. camera, microphone)
- Do you need to find some information that cannot be found on the Internet?
- What are the tasks you need to complete in order to create your course? (all of them)
- What are the tasks you will have to complete to reach your audience?
- What will you be doing to establish the best relationship with your students?
- What partnerships can you create in order to reach a bigger audience?
- Is there any influencer that speaks to your target audience? What could you offer him or her?
- Is there any influencer on your field that you wish to interview for your course?
- What are the main costs within your course creation process?
- Are you thinking on paying online ads?
- Do you need to buy or rent any equipment or tool to create your online course?
Do all the research and complete all the Business Model Canvas boxes. Once you see everything makes sense, start creating your course.
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What do you think? Any question? What else you wish to know? Tell us in the comments section.