Entrepreneur Gayneté Jones is the founder of an online course called Cubicle Ditch Academy. Its seven-week program, which costs around $1,000, teaches students to turn odd jobs into full-time jobs and work for themselves.
Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jones designed her course using videos recorded on her phone and creating slides on the Canva graphic design platform. It generated $70,000 in its first week, attracting students from Pakistan to the United States, Kuwait and Bermuda, where she was born and raised.
Jones is part of a wave of entrepreneurs capitalizing on the growing global interest in online courses. The pandemic has sparked a growth in online MBAs and normalized corporate digital training and distance learning. Now individual entrepreneurs are looking for niches where they can make money from students who want to learn pay-as-you-go job skills not covered in traditional classrooms.
Estimates vary as to the value of the global online education market, but all agree that it is growing dramatically. The scale will reach $350 billion by 2025, according to industry data source Research and Markets in a 2019 report. This would mark an increase of nearly 30% from the previous year. Global Market Insights forecasts the value of the e-learning market to reach $1 billion in 2027.
Jones says her own journey from corporate employee to business owner inspired her course, which teaches students to take the same leap. “That’s all they need to build that side hustle to a place where they can possibly leave their cabin, if that’s something they want to do,” she says.
“So it teaches them about branding, but more importantly than that, it teaches them how to find an audience, and really create the thing that’s going to be substantial and help the person at the end of the day.”
The course plays a key role in his portfolio career. Jones is also founder and CEO of menstrual care brand, Best, Periodt. She hosts a podcast called Freedom Slay, which focuses on entrepreneurs seeking financial freedom. “It’s the genesis of a mega-brand! she says.
The pandemic has accelerated a global trend of employees quitting corporate jobs and starting their own businesses, particularly in sectors such as media and marketing. The so-called “big quit” opens the door for college students looking for options beyond corporate jobs and creators looking for potential paths to passive income.
The creation of online courses plays a key role in this change. “It’s a brilliant tactic, because we’re more online now,” says Lisa Gooder, co-founder of One Eleven Partners, a New York-based branding and content marketing agency. Clients who previously sought mentions in mainstream media are now spearheading their own content. “Brands are becoming content creators,” says Gooder. Creating and owning content is enabling more people to launch their own brands as the number of start-ups soars.
More than 5.3 million people filed applications to start new businesses last year in the United States, according to data from the US Census Bureau, an increase of more than 50% from 2019. The number of Newly incorporated businesses in the UK grew by almost 15% between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2021, according to data from Companies House.
Online courses allow entrepreneurs to extend coaching sessions beyond their immediate circle of clients, as students can watch the courses virtually long after the instructor has uploaded the content.
While online MBAs and massive open online courses, or MOOCs, offer free online courses supported by established universities, there is a growing wave of competing courses launched and marketed by individual entrepreneurs alone, without the power of a company or a university behind them. Thanks to a proliferation of online course creation platforms, such as Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific, and many others, the market is exploding.
“Right now it feels like it’s boom time,” says Marianne Cantwell, who has been coaching clients on how to start businesses for a decade. “When I started, nobody was doing that,” she says.
Now based in Los Angeles, Cantwell started leading online career coaching sessions a decade ago while living in London. She wanted to visit her family in Australia, without interrupting her budding business. “What I loved,” she says, “is that I suddenly had people who found my work online, but who didn’t live in London, and all of them joined this group. ”
Most of its courses cost around $2,000 and last about four months, like its newest offering, Free Range Academy. His courses provide Cantwell with a solid source of income. Still, Cantwell says, “I don’t think online courses are a silver bullet.” Without a solid marketing plan, profit can be precarious. “Don’t just set up an online course and hope people find it,” she says.
Fiona Ellis-Chadwick, lecturer in marketing and retail at Loughborough University, points out that the ease of launching online courses opens the door to a multitude of online course teachers.
“Anyone can do it,” she says. “Whether anyone can make money out of it is another question.” While an enterprising business owner can create a course with a smartphone and an online platform, monetization can be trickier.
“If you want to make money, you have to be an accomplished e-marketer or you have to be very lucky,” says Ellis-Chadwick. “Long term, to build a successful and sustainable business, you need to have a quality package.”
Gaynete Jones agrees. “The classes are great, but the reason people take the classes is because they know me – either through the podcast or through social media, through someone else’s podcast or a interview they saw,” she said. Online courses do not sell.
How to start your own online course
If you want to create a video course that lets you reach students around the world, experts advise making a plan before you start paying for a course creation platform. “My biggest piece of advice is – if you want to take a course, don’t make the first move to invest in course technology,” says Marianne Cantwell, author of the book, Be a free human, “This is the last step.” She has been teaching online for ten years. “You should have your background sketched out first,” she says.
Once you are happy with your content, choose a platform to host your course. See if you can test a free option before committing. You can choose whether you want a high-pressure, high-support option, or a light-use option with less IT support if you’re tech-savvy.
“If you don’t like marketing, make sure you price your product so you don’t need a thousand people (to sign up for your course),” Cantwell says.
And don’t expect a passive income stream right away. “I would never start from scratch and say, ‘I’m going to create a passive income stream,'” says Cantwell. “Focus on the person you’re helping, then step back and say, ‘It worked, let’s scale it up.’ »
The writer is the host of the podcast “How to build a village”