As a professional blogger, you’ve probably figured out that one of the main streams of income you can offer is to build courses. They’re your way to that sweet, sweet passive income we all been dreaming about.
But if you’ve created your own courses in the past or you’ve ever set out to create one, you know that a big hurdle to cross before sending it out into the arms of your potential students is pricing. Where do you even start?
A few years ago, the general price for a course would have been between $200 to $250 – not anymore. Sure, there are still some that hover around this amount, but the trend is skewing into the thousands. So many of the courses I see today are priced around $2,000.
Big ups to those creators for making courses that people are interested in enough to lay down those dollars, but that price point is not necessarily for everyone. So with such a vast difference in pricing, how do you know where your course should land in the big picture? I think the first step is to weigh the pros and cons of the each of the three tiers of pricing.
The 3 Tiers of Online Course Pricing
First things first, let’s talk about giving your course away for free, because free isn’t always great.
There’s a connotation to “free” that just feels cheap. I know if I see anything marked free, I’m automatically thinking that something has to be wrong with it and it’s not worth my time. Nothing really good can come for free, right?
Our friends at Teachable did a study to find out if this sentiment was true. They wanted to know if there was a difference in engagement between a free course vs. a paid course. Guess what? There was!
When you give a coupon for a free class, the completion rate can be in the low single digits. When you charge for the same course, the completion rate can be 30 or 40%. The more you charge for a course, the more people actually complete it.- Ankur Nagpal, Teachable CEO and Founder
Basically, by giving a course monetary value, the completion rate rose around 30%. I think it’s because people are more likely to finish something if they’ve paid for it. For instance, if my husband pays for a meal, he WILL eat it all even if he was full 10 bites ago…and then he’ll finish my plate too. So if you’re giving a course – or a sandwich – away for free, people might not be too motivated to finish.
When you give your course away, you’re kind of telling your audience that it’s not worth their time or that there’s no value to it – and that’s just not true. By giving it a price tag, you’re automatically showing value.
All this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t give things away for free. I’m all about freebies as incentives and sneak peeks. But if you’re wanting to create a sense of value around your course, please put some dollar signs in front of it.
So now that we’ve thrown free out the window let’s talk about some quick pros and cons of pricing low or high.
If you set your price point at the baseline according to Teachable, you will have a much wider audience. Making it affordable to the majority means more people can take your course and if you’re solely in this for the good of the people and don’t need the income, then this area on the spectrum might be for you.
While making it available to the masses, having a lower price point might also lower the expectation of value in your course. As we’ve seen with Teachable’s research, that means lower engagement rates, meaning you might have a decent number of people sign up for your course, but the number who actually complete would be low.
If you’ve got the content and potential to hit those higher price points that means you’ll immediately have a higher expectation of value and increased engagement rates. You’ll also have the possibility to meet your revenue goals quicker without needing as many subscribers.
Of course this seems like a no-brainer, but higher prices do mean a more limited customer base. Are you ready to cut out a large portion of potential students because they can’t afford your course?
Did that help you get a grasp of where you want to be in the pricing spectrum? Now that you’ve got a general idea, let’s dive deeper into the thought process.
How to price your course
Here’s the thing: No one really knows the value of a course. There’s no hard and fast rule that a course of 8 modules with 4 videos each should be X amount of dollars. And there’s no way to really compare prices of what you’ve created with what someone else has created. We all put different value on different aspects and just because your course is structured similarly doesn’t mean that it has the same content value.
Brennan Dunn, founder of Double Your Freelancing, has pointed out that when people start to price a course, the first thing they ask is what people charge on average and they go hunting around. That’s just not the right way to go about it.
“If you look everywhere to find out how to price something, you’re going to be looking in a lot of places a lot of the time. You have to trust your values, trust your instincts. Listen to the advice, pay attention to it, but don’t necessarily follow it [if it’s not right for you].”- Mike Vardy
So how do you do it? How can you accurately price out a course? I can’t tell you exactly how (remember: no one can), but here’s a couple things to think about so it doesn’t feel like a big guessing game.
What do you want to make?
When I was a freelancer reconsidering my copywriting rates, I would frame it by thinking about what I would like to make in a yearly income and then broke that down to what I needed to make monthly. That easily translated into how much I would need to charge for my work.
Multiple forms of content
The more material, the higher your price. Your audience will see more value if there is a list of activities they can be a part of and projects to cross off a list. So if you’re looking to create a higher price point for your course, add in FB community groups, downloadable workbooks, high quality video, and anything else your little creative mind can come up with as long as it fits in with your topic and skillset.
Start with an estimate
If you’re still not sure and need some kind of ballpark figure to start, Teachable made a handy little course calculator to help you get going.
The most important aspect – the way people are attracted to your course and why they will pay a good amount of money for it is the outcome. More than workbooks, webinars, and checklists, people want to know how your course will benefit their life. How is completing your course going to be a solution to their problem? There’s a couple points to this one:
Figure out why they’re taking the course. Is it to quit their job or learn a new skill? What is their internal struggle and how can your course fix it?
Position your course as an investment. Once you know what their struggle is, you can tell them how your course will help them overcome that struggle and reach their goals in their career or personal life. Nathan did a great job with this on his sales page for Authority
Yes, your course has great content. Yes, you’re offering to teach them a skill. But your audience is looking for some warm-fuzzies. Tell them exactly how your course is going to make their life better. So how do you it? Here’s a couple examples to take notes from:
- The ladies at Simple Green Smoothies are great at making sure their cleanse and detox participants not only know that their products are great for health purposes, but also how good health translates into real life situations, ie.- more energy to play with their kids, more upbeat disposition.
- With each course that ThinkCreative sells, they make sure to let their audience know that what they’re teaching, it’s not just about the immediate business results. When you have the course’s skill down-pat, that means more freedom and more peace of mind.
When it all comes down to it, your audience is looking for transformation – that one thing that will help them get out of their current situation and into the life they dream of. How can your course get them there? How is it going to change their life? It’s so much more than learning Adobe Acrobat or how to make money on Instagram. People are looking for a lifestyle and your course can help them create it.
Go Forth and Price Your Course
Assuming your course is top-shelf, full of interesting and new content, and 100% from your experience, I believe you’ve got it in you to find the right price point. Take yourself, your content, and your audience into consideration and give it try. Nothing says you can’t change it later if you want.
Will you go high or low? How do you feel about the online course pricing spectrum?
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