Why an Online Course is the Best Way to Make Money At Home

Full confession: when I started working at Teachable, the idea of an online course was a little weird to me. Sure I had heard of universities putting their lectures online, but individuals creating courses and selling them… well, I’d heard of blogs, online shops, podcasts and other digital products, but none of my friends had made a course. You want to know why? Because courses are the next big thing.

Here’s the deal. The EdTech industry is booming. Valued as a 107 billion dollar industry (according to Forbes), the early-adopters are looking at courses and thinking: I. want. that. It’s why our customers, who are just normal people, have made upwards of 45K in just a month while launching their courses. It’s why the best content marketers (Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Noah Kagan) are selling courses. It’s why there was $2.51 billion invested in educational-technology companies during the first half of 2015 (according to InsideHigherEd).

This evidence was enough to convince me to join the Teachable Tribe. But more generally, there are 7 key reasons that make courses an optimal online product. Don’t believe me? In this post, I’ll be quoting some of the most successful online teachers talking about why courses are awesome.

1. Monetize Quickly

Here’s the skinny. An online course is extremely easy to monetize, especially when you compare it to blogs, ebooks, YouTube followings and Podcasts. We ran the numbers, and here at Teachable it takes 47 days on average for someone creating their course to go from first step to first sale.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, courses are gated content. You simply can’t access someone’s course unless you enroll and an instructor can set the price tag. There’s no such thing as a free course unless you want it to be free.

Secondly, people are willing to pay for a course more naturally than other online products. Because our society values education and is trained to think of courses, classes and education as valuable, it’s much easier to convince someone to pay for an online “course” than say, a blog, where a writer is expected to give away their content for free.

Let’s compare:

BLOG: When people think of blogs, they think of something free AND they think of new content. What that means for a blogger is that they must constantly create content and promote it, and they’re getting very little direct income from the process.

Also, it also takes time to monetize a blog. Often this is done through advertisers, but, let’s be honest, no one likes advertisements, especially if they are promoted posts for a third party product. It just feels so disingenuous. So in monetizing a blog, you’re also ruining the level of quality of your work.

We’ve actually seen many bloggers move from this medium to courses to make money off of their investments.

Take Mariah Coz of Webinar Rockstar for instance, she says:

Advertising rates have plummeted and bloggers can no longer make a living with ad revenue alone (unless you get 10 million uniques a month). The over-saturation of blogs and websites means that competition is fierce. Simple supply and demand — there are more blogs and they all want a piece, which means advertisers will pay less and less.

You’ll work your buns off for pennies. This is also the slowest and worst way to make money as a beginner. Making a living with ad revenue means you have to waste years building up traffic. Even tiny bloggers with small audiences can make a living with their own products.”

One of the products Mariah refers to is online courses. She now makes close to 100K a month selling her course and promoting it through webinars. I’ve said it before, but a number that large makes you think she’s doing something illegal or scammy. Nope. She’s just doing course the right way.

If you want to hear Mariah speak, I invite you to join our summit where Mariah and other entrepreneurs will show you how to launch your own online course. FOR FREE. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

PODCAST: A podcast is similar to a blog in that people expect to download your content for free. Podcasts do lend themselves to marketing efforts since it’s easy to have guest speakers, but that still won’t make you money unless you bring in advertisers, which no one likes to listen to. You also have to continually put out new pieces of content to grow. For more details on podcasts, check outmy post here.

ONLINE STORE: A creative myself, there’s nothing I love more that an quirky Etsy store with handmade goods and supporting independent business owners. BUT, an Etsy store takes an initial investment, you have to create the goods with physical materials, you’ve also got to keep creating to make money. Another big point, you have to be creative and skilled. Considering my crafts are generally worthy of pinterest fails, this is not a medium that works well for me.

Compare this to an online course. Everything is digital so there’s very little cost investment AND everyone has their own unique knowledge and skills that can be taught.

EBOOK: Ebooks take a substantial time investment. It’s the equivalent of 10–50 blog posts in one place, and then, you try to market and sell them, but let’s be honest, no one wants to buy an ebook. They’re just not that engaging.

If you compare to an online course where you move through progress section by section, actionably learning through video, sound, blog posts and worksheets, well, in my opinion, there’s no comparison.

2. Scale from Part-Time Income to Lifestyle Business

The beautiful thing about a course is that you get about as much out of them as you put into them. If you want to do one course launch, make a few thousand bucks and walk away, you can do that. If you want to create multiple courses around a general topic and run an academy that you advertise through webinars, podcasts blogs and joint-ventures and build a lifestyle business, you can do that too!

A course scales to exactly the amount of work you want to put into it, which means you can generate passive, part time or full-time income. Launch before you backpack Europe, and you’ll have money in the bank. Continually promote a course with webinars, deals and through other online platforms, and that’s part time income. If you continually make new courses and expand your school, you can generate more than enough income for this to be your full-time business.

If you want advice on freelancing and setting up your own business, Brennan Dunn who hosts a course on freelancing called, Double Your Freelancing will be discussing course creation in that magnificent summit I keep talking about.

“Does the idea of selling or marketing yourself make you cringe? Do you know you’re undercharging, but aren’t sure what to do to fix that? If so, I’ve created a handful of premium courses that have helped thousands of freelancers build a more stable and more profitable business.”

3. Monetize Other Online Products & Audiences

Courses are a high ROI way to help monetize already existing content and audiences.

Here at Teachable, we’ve seen thousands of instructors with followings on YouTube, Facebook, Podcasts and published authors convert to online courses so they can make a more substantial income from their craft.

Take Nick Stephenson, who will be speaking at the summit. He created an online course, Get Your First 10,000 Readers, for writers and authors to help them build their email list and make money off of, what I feel, is a very undervalued talent.

“Get the EXACT System I use to Generate a Six-Figure Income Selling my Books Online — and find out how to attract Your First 10,000 Readers.”

A course works for this because they utilize already existing content so initial time investment is small. Simply take your chapters to an ebook and put them into course sections. Take your watercoloring tutorials from YouYube and create a course (like Angela Fehr). Courses allow you to gate and charge for your content, which works extremely well.

Ryan Holiday, for instance, believes that courses have extremely high margins. He says, “Publishing as an industry has always been slow to embrace innovation. But I saw Teachable as a chance to essentially create an additional medium for readers to consume the content I’d created for my book. Some people like audiobooks, some people like ebooks, some people like physical and as I found, a lot of people like module based courses. In fact some people like purchasing in more than one format. For an author, this was a major revenue stream — one with better margins than most of the other mediums actually.”

4. Courses are a Reusable Asset

Unlike a blog or podcast which require continually fresh content to keep readers engaged, a course can easily be repurposed and resold. If you weren’t happy with your first stab at a course, you can update it and relaunch.

You can also add powerful bonuses to your course, like consulting, podcast access, community or other valuable upgrades to make the course offering feel new, and relaunch.

If you feel you’ve exhausted the content in your course and create a new one, you can also use your first course as a lead magnent, bonus, or part of the offer in selling your second, third, or fourth course.


Here at Teachable, we believe that everyone is an expert and can teach. Why? Here’s the definition of an expert:

Webster defines expert as “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.” Just by nature of living life as an individual you’ve experienced something unique that you can create a course out of, helping you share your knowledge.

Many people don’t believe this. However, those who have just learned a topic are often much better at teaching it than an “expert.” Take for example John and Eliot of Bitfountain. After just completing a programming bootcamp and with no experience teaching, they launched a course that made over 2 million dollars.

One of the major reasons for this is because they had just learned, they were better in touch with the issues beginner’s face.

Also, from our experience getting over 15,000 teachers up and running since Teachable’s initial launch, we’ve found that you can teach almost any subject area.

You don’t have to teach programing, you don’t have to teach business. We have courses on hundreds of topics, some creative, some technical, some entrepreneurial focused.

Compare this to a product like a podcast, where you have to be good at speaking, or an Etsy shop where you’ve got to create a physical good. Those are very specific skills. In a course, you can build video, written, visual or audio content. Whatever you want to teach anyway you want.

On November 23rd, as part of the Black Friday Summit, Caleb Wojcik will be talking about how to create video content for your course, which coincides with his own course DIY Video. If this is of interest to you, join us!

Caleb says, “Rarely just shoot one video at a time. Instead, we batch filming multiple videos into a single day. This leads to releasing videos on a consistent basis, which is how you actually build a thriving audience online.

This means you’re saving time and money, so you can focus your energy on the rest of your business instead fiddling with cameras, lights, microphones, and editing videos multiple days a month.”


A lover, not a fighter, one of my favorite things about courses is their ability to quickly spread ideas, words and skills rapidly. They are one of the quickest ways to share your knowledge with people who need it. That is a beautiful and powerful thing.

For example, course creators Bharat Patodi & Swati Choudhary founded Pyoopel, a course that prepares students in India for standardized testing.

“Both of us felt that students paid exorbitant amounts of money on coaching. This was a gap we wanted to bridge,” says Bharat, who, along with Swati, has published a couple of books as well,” said Bharat.

A good course idea, is a good business idea, and that’s one that people want and need, no scams involved. For more on that, check out my other post here: Find Business Ideas That Make Money and Do Good.

This couldn’t be more true for someone like Melyssa Griffin who says on her website, The Nectar Collective

“I dreamed of creating a community that empowered people and gave them the tools to achieve their dreams. At the time, I felt unfulfilled and unhappy with my job and life, so TNC rapidly became my after-work obsession…I am crazy about helping others find that same “something” in their lives. Whether it be sharing all of my lessons learned so you can grow the biz of your dreams or reminding you why you’re ready, even when you think you’re not, I hope TNC unlocks something BIG deep inside you.”


A course has the amazing benefit of quickly helping you create a community around yourself. Unlike an ebook that’s completed and shipped into the world, an online store where your customers are one time purchasers probably all over the nation, or a blog where you’re lucky to get a few comments on your posts, courses have a high community factor.

It’s common for instructors to ask for students to comment in the course through Disqus, or to ask students to engage with each other through various steps of the course. You can do this within your course, or, as many instructors choose, through a Facebook group or Slack group.

You become the moderator of these communities and it can be fun and incentivizing to see an active community around your product. In this position, you also become an influencer in your niche and an authority on your topic that you can leverage to grow your business.

You can also use the community to motivate your students with their progress.

Take for instance Kim Coles, actress, comedian and game show host best known for her role as a cast member on the sketch comedy, In Living Color.

In the course bio for a lifestyle course on Gratitude, Passion and Success, she says, “ The journey is going to be fun (that is the ONLY way that I know to do things) and filled with real life solutions and tools. And even better, we will be accountable to each other! We are going to look in the rear view mirror and be amazed at how far we have come! “

Kim will be launching a new course soon. Lucky for you, she’s also a panelist at the summit.

If you’re at all interested in creating an online course (and hopefully you are!) attend the free Teachable Summit November 18th-25th. We’re bringing in 8 successful entrepreneurs to deliver live, step-by-step workshops to show you exactly how you can create, promote and launch your own profitable online course. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER