Selling online courses is becoming increasingly popular. Most of us love to learn new skills – anything from making a felt dog to how to make You Tube videos and everything in between.
If you are selling your services to clients then you’ll have a unique blend of skills, knowledge and experience. Why not package it all into a course which you can sell to others online? It makes sense to make a course, then sell it many times.
Selling online exposes you to feedback and reviews. I don’t want to be a party pooper but poor feedback will really damage your business. Also, if you’re selling to consumers (and that’s a whole ‘grey area’ in itself) they have cancellations rights too. It could mean that someone buys the course, accesses it and then demands their money back.
Unless you really like hassle here are 3 things you need to know to avoid problems and make money from your online course:
(1) Be clear about what you’re selling in your online courses
We all want to know exactly what we’re buying and it’s no different with a course. If you’re not specific about what’s included you’ll soon run into problems.
For example, you’re selling a 12 week course and add into the course description “email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries.” Two people enrol:
- Zena, a particularly zealous student who emails you with her queries at least twice a day. Zena’s emails are often over 1500 words long. Zena expects a response within 12 hours.
- Laksh, who is a bit more laid back. He emails you once, at the end of the course, with just a couple of queries. He expects a reply within about a week.
It’s taking you an hour or so just to answer Zena’s emails and it’s driving you mad. Why doesn’t she ‘get’ it like Laksh does? How dare she?
The problem here is that you haven’t been clear. Buyers haven’t got a crystal ball. If you only want to offer support in a 30 minutes online group session or expect to deal with all the queries in one email then say so.
(2) Make sure that you own what you sell
It may seem obvious, but you need to avoid problems by only selling what you’re entitled to sell.
If you’ve written the course yourself, you own it. Problems start when, for example, you start including stuff that belongs to someone else. Just because something is on the internet, it doesn’t mean that you can ‘borrow’ it. For example,
- you see a nice image on someone’s website that would be perfect on a workbook you’re including with your course so you copy and use it.
- you bought a course from someone else and you include the questions in their workbook in your course.
Unless it’s really clear that you can use someone else’s stuff in that way – don’t! Unless of course you fancy being at the receiving end of an expensive court case?
(3) Protect your course
This brings me on neatly to making sure you protect what’s yours.
When you ‘sell’ a course you usually mean that the person or organisation who buys it can use it for themselves. The last thing you want is for someone to “borrow” a bit of your course and sell it as their own. Sadly, this happens all too often.
The way to protect your course is to make sure that you include a ‘licence’ to use it. Tell the buyer that they can use the course for themselves or for up to 10 people in an organisation or whatever you intend to. Spell it out and leave no doubt. That way, if your ‘unique’ way of copying spreadsheets, or making a cushion or whatever gets copied you can do something about it.
Yes, you might that that it’s obvious to most people and/or that it’s common sense but why wouldn’t you want to protect your stuff.
You can cover all this in a business terms and conditions. This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. We’ve got one in our shop which is written specially to cover selling online courses. It covers everything you need and it’s written in plain English. It’s also included in our Law In Minutes Club.