Welcome to the world of active income. For the longest time, I thought that this was the only way to earn a living and put food on the table. Boy, was I wrong. It turns out that there is a powerful alternative. Can you imagine working once, but making money several times from that same amount of work? You don’t have to work to generate an income. It just comes.
When somebody clicks on an ad on your blog and buys something, you earn a commission. When somebody downloads your book on Amazon Kindle, you earn a commission. When somebody buys a domain name, you make a sale. What do all these activities have in common? That’s right. You did the work sometime in the past. The best part? You only worked once, but the good news is, you can get paid today.
Of course, some are more passive than others. Domain names aren’t as passive as online books and blog posts. When somebody buys a domain name, you have to replace that domain name. This is where advance work comes in. You have to buy a lot of them so you can just sit on them and sell them once they appreciate in value. It all involves one key principle: Not having to work for your daily meal, working only once or a few times and reaping the rewards long into the future.
Excited yet? Well, here’s another way to make passive income: Setting up an online course. In this post, I’m going to break down how to make good money with this fairly straightforward form of passive income.
You don’t have to be a professor or teacher to teach online courses
You probably think that teaching people online involves some sort of professional teaching capabilities. You might even be thinking that you have to have some sort of personality. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to have to patience of a saint like your grade school or high school teacher. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room like your college professor. Instead, you just have to have specialized knowledge.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have that, my knowledge isn’t that rare”. Think again. All of us have experiences. All of us have a thing or two we can teach other people, but not all of us take the time and bother to sit down and actually write a book or come up with an online course. This is where you come in.
Since most people who have the same information as you don’t want to teach courses online or don’t think it’s worth it, you have a competitive advantage. That’s really what it all boils down to, its comparative rarity. Just because you think a lot of people have the same information, you also have to factor in the reality that the vast majority of them don’t want to teach this stuff online for whatever reason.
Maybe they’re not motivated enough. Maybe they don’t have the technical skills. Maybe they don’t know that they could make good money doing so. Whatever the reason is, this is good for you.
How can online courses make you passive income?
Before we dive any deeper into this amazing and exciting topic of making passive income with online courses, let me just break down how they operate. How exactly do you make money with this method? Here are the steps.
#1: Put up an online course
Your course can be made up of videos or written materials. You can also go the extra mile and offer testing materials where people who take your course have to take a quiz to see how well they ‘ve mastered whatever it is you tried to teach them.
#2: Put up a payment gateway for your course
When people discover that you have a course, and they want to sign up, they have to go through a payment gateway. This is where it gets exciting. Either they can pay one-time, or they can pay every three months or every year. It doesn’t matter how you set it up. This is the exciting part because you get paid for work you already did.
You took the time, effort and energy to come up with your course one-time. You set up your sales page. You set up your promotions. You set up your blog posts or whatever it is that markets your materials, then you set up the payment form. Once everything is done, you step away. Anything that happens after is passive.
There are a lot of people who set up online courses several years back, and they still make tens of thousands of dollars to this very day. You can do the same.
#3: Promote your course
This can also be passive. A lot of people are under the impression that to market something online they have to get on Facebook every single day and just blast out links and network with people, and basically struggle for every click their course page gets. You don’t have to do that. You actually have many choices.
First, you could do things the semi-hard way. You can lay out a blog network, blogs that talk about topics related to your course. Some of these blogs may have many posts. Others have a handful. It doesn’t matter, because all of them ultimately would link to the sales page for your course.
Another way you can passively market is to set up a mailing list. You can give away a free booklet that gets people all excited about a problem that is related to what you’re teaching. The more they read about the problem, the more they are excited about the solutions that your course has to offer. Since they got the book, they have to sign up for your mailing list, and you start sending them updates regarding the solutions that you talk about. Surprisingly, a lot of people on mailing lists click through and end up signing up for a course.
Finally, you can sign up for platforms that promote you. These are platforms like Amazon Kindle and Udemy. You might be surprised at me mentioning Amazon Kindle. After all, Amazon Kindle publishing is a self-publishing platform. It’s an online bookstore where people upload their digital Amazon Kindle books. But here’s the passive marketing part, you crank out book after book, and even though nobody buys a tremendous amount of your books, it doesn’t matter. A lot of these people will sneak a peek into the first few pages of your book. What do you think those pages will talk about?
That’s right. They would talk about the free books that you give away so people would sign up for your mailing list, or they could talk about your service. Either way, you win. You end up using Amazon Kindle as a passive promotion platform for your online course. If people buy your books, then that’s just extra gravy, but that’s not where you get your bread and butter. You make your income from course sign ups.
Udemy is more straightforward. This is an online course university, so to speak. Course providers like yourself upload your materials on Udemy, and Udemy charges people who sign up for your course. It’s a great network of course providers. Here’s where Udemy can help you: Since millions of people already go to Udemy and sign up for course after course, Udemy also promotes existing courses in their network.
When people type in search terms related to your course, your course might show up. This is where relative rarity and keyword research comes in. If your course is relatively rare, chances are people would find your course much easier than if you were just offering yet another Kindle publishing course.
How to get started with Online Course Building for passive income
Now that you have a good overview of the steps needed to set up your own passive income system using online courses, here is the in-depth breakdown of what you need to go through to come up with something successful. I wish I could tell you that if you just recorded a video of you explaining a concept that somehow people will cough up dollars to sign up for your course, if only things were that easy. They’re not. Not by a long shot.
Depending on the topic that you’re talking about, you might not even have a snowballs’ chance in hell. I don’t mean to be frank, but that’s the truth. There are tons of “Make Money with Kindle”courses out there, most of them go nowhere. There are tons of “Make Money with Blogging” courses available on the Internet, many of them free. Sadly, most of them are struggling. You have to play the game right, otherwise, it’s probably a better idea not to play the game at all.
Pick the right niche
The first thing that you need to do is to pick your battles wisely. As I have mentioned above, there are certain topics that are so competitive and so saturated, it’s really not worth your time and effort. Seriously. If you want to make passive income, you have to do it right. So this is how I do it.
First, I would write down the things that I talk about for absolutely free. That’s how passionate I am about these topics. So off the top of your head, with no self-editing and no hesitation, just write down the first thing that comes to mind. Come up with a massive list. If you like talking about cats and dogs, go ahead and do that, know yourself out. The key is to come up with as massive of a list as possible.
Next, sign up for Google Adwords and use the Google Keyword Planner tool. Type in your topics one by one. Every time you type in a topic, you will retrieve a lot of keywords related to that topic. Copy all these keywords and assign them to each topic on your list. Load your topics keywords for each niche into Google Keyword Planner tool. Pay close attention to search volume. You would notice that a lot of topics have a tremendous amount of volume, and many have very little to non-existent volume.
At this point, you have to delete niches that have too many searches and niches that have very, very little. Shoot for something in the middle. These are niches that you are still interested in and are passionate about, but they are in the middle in terms of demand and matching competition level.
Go to Udemy and sign up and do niche research
Go to the online course platform Udemy and sign up. Enter all the keywords for your niche targets into its search engine. See how many courses appear for each of these topics. Again, just like with your Google Keyword Planner tool step, this is all about trying to figyure out the overall amount of competition you’re up against. If you notice that there are tons of courses about a particular topic, get rid of that from your list. At the end of this process, your list should be fairly short.
Go to Amazon Kindle and type in your niches’ related keywords
Type in your remaining keywords and follow the same process as with Udemy. You’re looking for staturation. Do you see a tremendous amount of books that are on point regarding the topic? If so, delete those niches from your list. Keep what remians.
Go to Google, type in the keywords and see the results that you’re getting
If the results are mixed up, confused, or they don’t really address the issues that you raise, or the problem that you could solve, keep that topic on your list. On the other hand, if you noticed that there are very authoritative reference materials on Google search results, you might want to delete those items. How come? Well, some of this research material is actually so good that people might want to pay for them. In other words, why would people pay for your course when they can just go to Google and find something that is just as good for absolutely free. Do you see the problem? Good.
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Follow these steps to create your product
Now that you have a very short list of topics for your online course, the next step is to create your product. This is the exciting part. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to do everything the hard way. You can outsource this stuff easily. There are specialized content production companies like Ozki.org that specialize in this kind of thing. But the downside with such companies is that they focus primarily on text content. At this point you need to consider whether you’re giving your course in video format or in text format.
Five reasons why you should put up a video course
Here are my five reasons why course providers should consider going with video:
It’s much faster
When you record a video with your webcam, you’re just talking. You’re just talking. You’re just sharing your information and you just get the info out there the first time around. You’re not editing yourself. You’re not going through some convoluted and complicated production process. Many times, you just read a talking point list, and as long as you stay within the parameters of the list, you’re good to go. It doesn’t take much time. A lot of course videos run as little as five minutes.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on lighting and sound quality for a video course. As long as there’s no nasty echo or background noise in the room where you are, you’re good to go. You just speak straight in the camera and let your personality shine. Also, since the video can be as short as you want, you can shoot the videos based on how you feel.
So today you may be feeling very productive, so you could shoot maybe 10 videos. Tomorrow, you’re not feeling so hot, so maybe you can only manage to shoot one video, and it’s perfectly okay. This is the great thing about video content production for courses. It’s very flexible. Not so with writing. It takes a little editing.
Believe it or not, the best courses that I’ve seen online are authentic. What do I mean by that? You’re not watching some polished salesman trying to get you to buy a bill of goods. Instead, it seems like you’re talking to a real person with real experience, somebody you could relate to. That’s more powerful, because a little bit of authenticity goes a long way. People like sincere people. You don’t want people who are slick and so polished that you don’t really know what their agenda is.
Video is easy to repurpose
If for whatever reason, your online video course fails, and you don’t make any money, you can repurpose your videos easily. How? You could upload them to YouTube. Did you know that many YouTubers earn north of 1 million dollars every year? I know that sounds crazy, bt that’s how popular YouTube is, because YouTube is always in the top five of internet traffic. You can have your slice of that pie by repurposing your video courses. If for whatever reason your courses don’t do all that well behind the paywall, you might want to seriousy consider making them free and uploading them to YouTube.
Videos can be the seeds of written content
Finally, when you shoot a video, instead of writing out course materials, you don’t forclose the possibility of offering a text based course. It may well turn out that the video that you shot can be transcribed, and then turned into the foundation of text based or booklet based course. This little bit of flexibility and adaptability means a lot, especially if you don’t know where to start.
With everything else being equal, I would strongly suggest that you start with a video course. Of course, this would mean that you need to invest in a decent microphone, as well as be proactive in terms of noise reduction. You also have to make sure that you’re in a well lit place so it doesn’t look like you are shooting a video in a dungeon somewhere.
Finally, you have to be in a decent enough mood, so when you’re speaking to the camera, the people are not put off and your audience can actually identify and relate with you. If possible, try to be as excited as possible. If you are really passionate about the niche topics you’re teaching people about, let that passion show.
Five reasons why you should consider a text based course
I’ve created both video and text based courses, and here is the breakdown of why I went with the text format for some of my courses.
Text enables you to zero in on your strongest points
The main problem people have with video courses is that, video presentations can ramble on. Seriously. If you’re not really all that prepared and you have very sloppy notes, it’s very easy for you to just repeat what you’re saying over and over again, and then go off tangen, and before you know it, five minutes turns into 15 minutes. That’s not a helpful video course. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
People aren’t paying good money and possibly hundreds of dollars to watch somebody ramble. That’s not what they’re in it for. They want information that is tight, concise and targetted. That’s where writing comes in. Because when you’re writing your stuff, you can zero in on the topic, especially if you have a tight outline, so you know exactly the topic parameters that you are going to talk about. You’re in a better position to cut out fluff. So you get straight to the point.
Text makes for easier product building
The great thing about text based materials is that they can help you branch out into deeper and deeper verticles of seminars and online courses. You can talk about a particular topic, and if enough people are interested in it, you can actually take whatever you’ve written and then just use it as an outline eto further expand into a new product. That’s harder to do with video.
Text can be outsourced
Now let me get to the nitty-gritty. I’m sure if you’re like most Americans, you’re probably too busy. You probably have a lot of things going on. Here’s the good news. Unlike video courses where it’s your mug in front of a camera, people wouldn’t know that you didn’t write your own stuff. You can turn around and outsource your complete course work to American authors who work for cheap, like Gene Eugenio, or hire a company like Bulxter. No matter how you choose to do it, working with text is so much easier and flexible because it’s friendlier to outsourcing than video.
Text can always be improved on
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really consider myself the William Shakespeare of online course work. I don’t have any aspirations or do I pretend to, but with that said, when I write something, I write with a high level of confidence in the fact that I can always go back and fix what I wrote. That’s very hard to do with video, unless you’re going to re-shoot the whole segment, you’re basically stuck with the video that you have.
You may be unhappy for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe the sound is off. Maybe there’s a weird echo. Maybe you mispronounced a word, or you just drop the ball when it comes to a certain segment of your speech. Whatever the case may be, it’s very hard to come back and shoot footage again and again. It really gets on your nerves. Not so with writing. With written text, you can edit the whole piece in one sitting, or you can just edit in portions.
It’s easier to promote with text
I know this sounds crazy, but it’s actually easier to promote with text based content. How? You can copy and paste complete blocks of this stuff that you’ve written, and use these are teasers. It’s hard to do this with video, because with video you either have to give them the whole video for that one portion, or you’re going to have to use some video editing software, and you might not have the time or tech savvy to hassle with that.
How to set up your online course
Now that you’ve created your content, the next step is to set up the course. This is pretty straightforward. You can use WordPress and install plugins that will enable you to charge memebership access to the pages where your course materials are on. You can also upload your videos and materials to Udemy. Udemy will then take care of the payment processing and member management. Personally, I prefer the WordPress approach. I have a lot more control. I also own the website and the platform. It’s easier for me to move my materials from one place to the next.
And here is the clincher. When I own the platform, I can easily sell it. Make no mistake, there is a nice market for successful online courses on places like Flippa. If your course becomes successful enough, don’t be surprised if somebody pays $25,000, $50,000 0r even north of $100,000 for your online course. Not too shabby. After all, people are always looking for passive income.
How do you promote your online course?
As I have alluded to earlier, you can promote your online course passively or actively. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Active promotion simply means that you have to do something everyday to draw eyeballs to your sales page. If you don’t take ation, nothing happens. If this sounds familiar, it should. This sounds like your active work. Active promotions take the form of Facebook page promotions, Facebook group promotions, Twitter and other social media activities. Here’s the good news: Using tools like Hootsuite, you can automate the publication and promotion of your content.
There are also tools that you can use to follow people so that they can follow you and see your content, and you can get more eyeballs to your updates. Again, the name of the game when it comes to active work is to automate, so you ultimately turn them into passive work. Here’s the problem, you have to spend money to make that automation happen.
Passive promotion is all about working once and then getting that work to promote whatever it is that you are trying to push. Pretty straighforward. I’m talking about blog posts, forum posts, and any other form of content that people can interact with and take action on. You don’t have to be there to convince them. You don’t have to get the right message in front of the right eyeballs at the right time. You can pull something a long time ago, if people find it, they can take action on it.
This is where SEO and blogging comes in. By asking questions that people are already asking about your course, you can eventually build a critical mass of people looking for the kind of solutions you talk about in your course.
The final word with Online Courses
Online course work is in my opinion, one of the best ways to make money online on a passive basis. But the problem with passive income is that you have to work smart and sometimes work hard upfront. The good news is, you only need to do it once, and then later on, it will build the grounds well and you can make money from the work that you did in the past.
The secret here is to not spin your wheels trying stuff that may not work or that you have no clue about. That’s just simply too much of a gamble. The better approach is to use the framework that I have described above so you can build a highly effective passive income system.
If you’re looking for 25 ways to make money off the internet without spending much money or no money at all, check out this blog post. You’d be surprised as to how many ways there are to generate cash from the world wide web.