Building online courses – online teaching platforms and course creation

Learn how to make money building online courses: Choosing a niche, an online teaching platform, course creation and marketing.

In today’s digital world, the demand for online education is on the rise. People are increasingly looking for ways to upgrade their skills and gain new knowledge without having to attend physical classes.

An online course is a structured educational program, delivered digitally, allowing students to learn a specific topic or skill at their own pace. They are often comprised of text, videos, readings, tutorials and interactive assignments.

If you are an entrepreneur, this presents an excellent opportunity for you to make money by sharing your expertise through online courses. Building online courses can be a lucrative and rewarding way to monetize your skills and knowledge – but is it possible for everyone to make money online building online courses? Read on..

The Good

  • Passive Income Potential: Build a profitable online course once and sell multiple times – once created, a course can continue to generate revenue with minimal ongoing effort.
  • Scalability: Digital courses can be sold to an unlimited number of students without significant incremental costs.
  • Flexibility: Design, launch, and manage courses from anywhere, anytime.
  • Authority Building: Monetise a skill set or experience you have to establish yourself as an expert in your field, enhancing your reputation and brand.
  • Customization: Tailor content, pricing, and course structure to match your vision and audience’s needs.
  • Potential for serious online income!

The Bad

  • Time-Intensive Creation: Developing a comprehensive, high-quality course requires a significant time investment upfront, so starting can be a mammoth task.
  • Technical Challenges: Course creation and hosting might involve navigating platforms, software, or potential technical glitches.
  • Market Competition: The online course industry is crowded, making differentiation and marketing essential.
  • Continuous Updating: To remain relevant, course material often needs to be updated as information, technology, or industry standards change.
  • Trust Building: New instructors, especially those without an established brand, might face challenges in gaining trust and convincing potential students to enroll.

Verdict: Making money online via courses is a good way to make money.

CaptainFI is not a Financial Advisor and the information below is factual review information, not financial advice. This website is reader-supported, which means we may be paid by advertising on the site, or when you visit links to partner or featured sites. For more information please read my Privacy PolicyTerms of Use, and Financial Disclaimer.

Building Online courses case study – Cole’s 8 figure photography course business

One example I was taught during my eBusiness Institute Champions online training and mentoring course was that of Cole Humphus from San Diego in the USA and his $49 photography e-course which he sold through the Udemy platform, and eventually built into a business he sold for over (USD) $10 Million!

camera, photography courses
Cole Humphus created an online photography course selling a USD $49 informational product on improving your photography skills – raising revenue from $130K in his first year to over $3M after 3 years, and selling the business for over $10M.

Cole had a keen interest in photography, running a wedding photography business, and started a very basic photography blog as a side project but lacked advanced web or training skills. Cole was writing articles and making basic YouTube videos about his equipment and experience in his spare time.

As his blog grew, he wanted to add an income stream and decided to launch a classroom style tutorial on photography that he could charge for. Since he didn’t know how to do this, he hired a specialist to produce an online photography course on Udemy, paying them around USD $7,000 to do everything – then Cole just had to advertise it from his blog and YouTube channel.

In his first year of business, Cole made USD $130,000 of revenue from this course, rising to an absolutely flabbergasting $1.5 MILLION in his second year, and even higher to $3 Million in the third year where he changed monetisation strategies from selling individual courses (as a once off fee) to selling them as a monthly membership for the site (with the membership including the courses, tutorials, premium blog articles and video content).

He was able to boost revenues to USD $4.5 Million per year by the fourth year before selling it for an eight-figure exit deal (Over $10 Million dollars) to reach Fat FIRE. Cole now runs a consultancy named Rapid Scale Group where he advises online business owners how to do the same thing.

“We went from $130,000 in year one, and year two was $1.5 million, then it was $3 million. And then I went from selling courses to pretty much mainly selling membership – So, the $3 million went from one-off course fees to recurring revenue. I grew revenue to $4.5 million before selling it for an eight-figure deal.”

Cole Humphus, CEO Rapid Scale Group

Building an online course – an overview

A beginner aiming to create an online course to make money online should first identify a topic they’re knowledgeable about or skilled in. The next step is to design a structured curriculum, breaking the content into easily digestible modules or lessons.

Using platforms like Teachable, Udemy, or Coursera, they can host and sell their course to a broader audience. High-quality content, combined with engaging visuals or interactive elements, can make a course more appealing.

To attract initial students, offering discounted rates or free teaser content can be effective. Promoting the course through social media, email marketing, or partnering with influencers in the same niche can further boost its visibility and sales.

As learners benefit from the content, positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals can lead to sustained income, as well as opportunities to improve your course with feedback from course graduates.

woman studying on laptop, online courses
The demand for online education is on the rise. People are increasingly looking for ways to upgrade their skills and gain new knowledge without having to attend physical classes.

Depending on the demand for your course, and your students’ feedback, you may need to adjust the price of the course (up or down) and should continue to work on marketing the course – potentially by collaborating with other influencers or industry professionals to promote your course (perhaps using an affiliate program!)

Don’t forget to keep track of your admin, as you will need to pay tax on your income (as well as paying other expenses along the way, too). Once you’ve got some cash-flow it might be worth contacting an accountant to talk about setting up an official business structure.

Selecting a niche for your online course

The first step in building a successful online course is to select a niche. The niche should align with your expertise, skills, and passion. When selecting a niche, ask yourself the following questions: what topics interest you? What do you know a lot about? What are people looking for?

Keep in mind that your niche and course topic should be narrow enough to target a specific audience while still having enough market demand to make it profitable.

Defining your Course objectives

Once you have selected a niche, define your course objectives. What do you want your students to achieve by the end of the course? Ensure that your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Your objectives will help you create online courses that align with your students’ goals and needs.

Choosing an online teaching platform

Firstly you have to decide whether you are going to host your online course on your own website, or whether you are going to opt to outsource this to an online teaching platform such as Udemy or Teachable.

Choosing an online teaching platform when building an online course involves several considerations. Here are 15 steps and factors to consider when making your selection:

Define Your Goals: Before diving into platform choices, understand what you want to achieve. Are you looking for quick setup and simplicity, or a more in-depth customizable solution? Do you plan to monetize the course? Do you want a platform that integrates with other tools?

Ease of Use: Choose a platform that’s intuitive for both instructors and students. A user-friendly interface can significantly impact the learning experience.

Customization: Depending on your needs, you might want a platform that allows you to tailor the learning environment, from branding to interface modifications.

Content Types Supported: Make sure the platform can handle various content formats like videos, PDFs, quizzes, slides, interactive elements, and more.

Pricing: Determine your budget and analyze the pricing models of platforms. Some platforms charge a monthly fee, while others might take a percentage of course sales. There are also free options available, but they might be limited in features.

Monetization Options: If you intend to sell your course, examine how the platform handles payments, whether it integrates with payment gateways you prefer, and if it offers promotional tools like coupons and affiliate programs.

Integration and Compatibility: Consider platforms that can seamlessly integrate with other tools you use, like email marketing services, analytics tools, and CRM systems.

online courses, laptop
To remain relevant, ensure course material gets regularly updated as information, technology, or industry standards change.

Community and Interaction Tools: Interaction enhances learning. Look for platforms that provide tools for forums, comments, and peer interaction.

Security and Reliability: Ensure the platform offers robust security measures, especially if users need to input personal or financial information. Regular backups, data encryption, and strong authentication methods are essential.

Mobile Access: A platform that’s mobile-responsive or has a dedicated app ensures students can learn on the go.

Assessment and Analytics: Tools for tracking student progress, quiz/test results, and course analytics help in understanding student engagement and areas for course improvement.

Support and Resources: Consider the level of support provided, both in terms of technical issues and in how-to guides, tutorials, or communities that can assist in course creation.

Reviews and Reputation: Research what others are saying about the platform. User reviews, case studies, and testimonials can provide insight into its strengths and weaknesses.

Growth Scalability: If you plan to create multiple courses or expect a large number of students, ensure the platform can scale with your needs without a drop in performance.

Demo or Trial: Before finalizing, take advantage of free trials or demos to get a hands-on feel of the online course platform. This will give you clarity about its functionality and whether it aligns with your requirements.

With that in mind, here is a list of the 8 most popular online course-hosting platforms:

  • Udemy
  • Gumroad
  • Kajabi
  • Ruzuku
  • Podia
  • Skillshare
  • Teachable
  • Coursera

Creating your course content

The next step is to create your course content. Start by outlining your course modules and breaking them down into manageable sections. Then, create your lessons and include appropriate media such as videos, podcasts, slideshows, and infographics.

Ensure that your content is engaging, informative, and easy to follow. Don’t forget to include assessments, quizzes, and assignments to help students evaluate their knowledge and progress.

If you love your topic, you’re good at it, you have experience (professionally or otherwise), and it fulfills a need for someone—then you have all the makings for expertise you can monetize.

Sarah Cordiner –

Setting pricing and marketing strategies

To make money from your online course, you need to set pricing and marketing strategies. Research the pricing of similar courses in your niche and set a reasonable price that gives your students value for their money. Consider offering discounts, payment plans, and free trials to make your course more appealing.

For marketing online courses, use social media platforms, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) to reach your target audience. You can also collaborate with influencers and other industry professionals to promote your course.

building online courses, online study, woman on laptop
Ensure that your content is engaging, informative, and easy to follow. Don’t forget to include assessments, quizzes, and assignments to help students evaluate their knowledge and progress.


Online course creation is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to make money by sharing their expertise. However, to succeed, you need to select the right niche, define your course objectives, create engaging content, set reasonable pricing and marketing strategies, and use feedback to improve your course continually. By following these tips, you can create and sell online courses that earn you passive income, and help students upgrade their skills and knowledge.

I will add though, I do not have personal experience (yet). I am currently building my online aviation course, and hope to have this up and running in the next year or so for beta testing, and then will continue to optimise it and release it for sale. It’s pretty exciting, and a great way to monetise a website with specialist knowledge you have.

Have you attended an online school? Or do you have experience creating and selling online courses? Let me know in the comments, and if you have any specific tips or useful feedback, I can add it to this article!

Financial Disclaimer

Financial Disclaimer: CaptainFI is NOT a financial advisor and does not hold an AFSL. This is not financial Advice!

I am not a financial adviser and I do not hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). In this article, I am giving you factual, balanced information without judgment or bias, to the best of my ability. I am not giving you any general or personal financial advice about what you should do with your investments. Just because I do something with my money (or use a particular service or platform) doesn’t mean it is automatically appropriate for your personal circumstances. I do not recommend nor endorse any financial or investment product, and my usage or opinion of any product should not be interpreted as an endorsement, advertisement, or intent to influence.

I can only provide factual information based on my journey to Financial Independence, and that is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only. I make no guarantee about the performance of any product, and although I strive to keep the information accurate and updated as it changes, I make no guarantee about the correctness of reviews or information posted.

Remember – you always need to do your own independent research and due diligence before making any transaction. This includes reading and analysing Product Disclosure Statements, Terms and Conditions, Service Arrangement and Fee Structures. It is always smart to compare products and discuss them, but ultimately you need to take responsibility for your use of any particular product and make sure it suits your personal circumstances. If you need help and would like to obtain personal financial advice about which investment options or platforms may be right for you, please talk to a licensed financial adviser or AFSL holder – you can take the first steps to find a financial advisor by reading this interview, or by visiting the ASIC financial adviser register and searching in your area.

For more information please read my Privacy PolicyTerms of Use, and Financial Disclaimer.

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