It’s rewarding to see your book sales increase every month…
But what about when they don’t?
There are a lot of tips out there to help you sell more books, but there’s also a strategy that many successful authors use that lets them stop worrying about whether their sales will go up or down every week.
Just like the smartest investors diversify their portfolios, the savviest authors know that looking beyond book sales can help them earn more money and create predictable, recurring income that doesn’t dry up when one particular income stream underperforms.
We see hundreds of authors turn their books into courses on Podia’s online course platform, and today, I’m going to show you why you should consider doing the same, and why if you already have a book, it’s a lot easier than you think!
The Online Course Market is on a Massive Upswing.
In 2015, Forbes noted that the e-learning market was trending to break $107 billion. A year later, Inc. confirmed that this growth was indeed taking place.
And now, according to the Global News Wire, the global e-learning market is poised to reach $325 billion by 2025.
According to Statista’s latest figures, online courses, specifically, makeup $46 billion of the overall e-learning market.
That’s massive market potential for authors who already have the two most important factors for a successful online course: an audience and something to teach.
Why Authors Can Succeed With Online Courses
Thousands of ambitious authors are turning their expertise into courses and cash.
Take Sally Ann Miller, for example.
Sally Ann is an author of five books, who later turned her experience promoting her books into a course to help other authors increase book sales.
Or Sheri Graham, an author with five books in her Lulu store, who turned one of her author productivity strategies — intentional daily planning — into an online course:
Each of these authors earns additional income, simply by teaching what they already know from their work writing books!
You don’t need to be a teacher — in the traditional sense — to teach an online course.
The best online courses, after all, aren’t high-level lectures, created by people with three decades of experience in a classroom.
Instead, they’re from people who are in the trenches. People like you, who’ve developed a unique approach to tackle a set of problems that other people can benefit from.
Here’s how to get started.
How to Create Your First Online Course
There are plenty of online course platforms you can choose from to create and sell your course.
We built Podia to be the easiest one for authors to use to build, deliver and sell their course content in one place, and you can try it free for 30 days.
But the step-by-step process below will work on any course platform you use:
Step 1: Come up with a profitable idea for your course
There are 3 approaches I recommend for finding topic inspiration:
1. Look at what’s already generating income.
Course seller Justin Jackson shares a useful tip with his students:
“My biggest tip is to ask yourself: ‘In what areas am I already being paid for my time and expertise?’”
What are people paying you for?
In your case, it’s simple!
People are already paying you for your book, so that’s a natural starting point for your course topic.
Does your book cover a topic that people would be interested in learning more about?
Or, did you learn things during the process of writing, creating or selling your book that other authors could learn from?
Start with that.
2. Survey a handful of prospective students.
Ask your existing readers questions like “what’s your biggest challenge with [topic idea]” and “what would solving this problem allow you to do” (so that you can understand just how important the challenge is for them).
Some other questions you can ask include:
3. Find a gap in the marketplace.
Go to online communities like Reddit and Quora, and, in the sections focused on your topic, look for terms that suggest that people are searching for a solution to a problem.
With more than 400,000 members, if you were targeting authors, r/writing would be a great place to start.
Search terms that I’ve found particularly useful include “how do you”, “how do I”, “I’m struggling with”, “any tips” and “please help”.
Simple searches like this can quickly generate potentially profitable course ideas:
Step 2: Plan your course structure
When students pay for a course, they’re not just buying information; they’re paying you for an outcome.
So when planning your course content, start with that outcome and work backward.
What is the end result you want your students to achieve by taking your course?
When you build your course outline, the answer to that question goes at the very top.
Get a Free Course Content Planning Template Here
Your first-course module will help the students understand the end goal they’ll achieve, and in doing so, motivate them to do the work you outline in the following modules.
After the first module, break the outcome down into the various steps that need to be taken to achieve the goal. Plan to build one module for each major step.
Step 3: Create your content
The 4 primary content types you see in online courses are video, audio, digital downloads (PDF’s, worksheets, etc…) and text.
Each has pros and cons:
The “gold standard” format for online courses is video.
One report by Forrester Research found that when it comes to conveying information, a single minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.
For that reason alone, I suggest including at least some video content in your course.
The complete guide to creating an online course has expert advice on how to create content in each of the 4 formats.
You’re Ready to Sell!
There are plenty of ways to earn additional income as an author, but few of them are as scalable, profitable and personally rewarding as teaching others what you know.
There are people out there who would love to learn from you, and many of them are already your readers!
The online e-learning market is booming, and now is the time to get started with your online course.
Len Markidan is the CMO of Podia, a platform for creators to sell online courses, membership sites and digital downloads. He’s created and sold six-figure online courses using strategies like the ones in this article. Get his free 8,000+ word guide to creating profitable online courses, even if you’ve never done it before.
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