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How to Price Your Online Course (with Calculator)

Last updated: September 20, 2022

Now that you’ve done all the hard work of creating your very own online course, it’s time to start selling that course. But how much should you sell it for?

Picking the right price for your online course can be a challenging task. Several factors may influence the final decision, such as:

  • Where you sell the course (on a marketplace, your own website, etc.)
  • Whether students attend live sessions or work through the course at their own pace
  • How long the course takes to complete
  • How much it cost to produce the course in the first place

These are just some of many variables to consider. While it’s ultimately up to you how much you charge for your content, taking time to think through your pricing strategy is an essential part of providing value to your customers. Let’s take a look at how you can determine the perfect price for your online course through best practices and our free pricing calculator.

Here are the topics that we’ll cover. Jump to any section:

What Is the Average Cost of An Online Course?

The average cost of an online course ranges anywhere from $100 to $5,000.

Udemy, Skillshare, and other online course marketplaces are full of $100 courses. People come to these platforms to learn just about everything. This means the pool of qualified teachers is massive for most subjects like video editing, painting, drawing, writing, etc. Courses on the higher end of the price range tend to help people advance their career, or are produced by notable creators.

Likewise, the perceived value of a $5,000 course is a lot higher than what you’d find on a typical course marketplace. You might find a course at that price point that teaches you web development, marketing, or other skills that can help you earn more. These courses are also more likely to feature assignments, certifications, and a live instructor.

5 Factors to Consider When Pricing An Online Course

1. Where it’s hosted

There are many places you can host your online course. While each platform offers unique advantages, each one also has drawbacks and varied pricing you’ll need to account for.

When hosting on some marketplaces, you may be charged up to a 50% commission on all your earned revenue. You may also be subject to the platforms’ terms of service, promotional events, and more. In other words, you won’t have full control over pricing your course and you definitely won’t own your marketing data. Pricing on marketplaces can also be very competitive. In some cases, you may need to reevaluate your price on a regular basis, depending on what others in your industry are doing.

That’s why most online course creators prefer self-hosting their courses on their own website. You can use a service like Payhip to host your online course on your own custom website. With their Free Forever plan, there’s no upfront cost, and you’ll only be charged a 5% transaction fee per sale. Because the service is hosted on your own site, you’ll also own all your customer data. Beyond that, Payhip offers you the flexibility to charge any amount you want for your online course, so you don’t have to engage in price wars with other instructors within the same marketplace.

In addition, Payhip offers useful features that allow course creators to:

  • Bundle online courses with digital downloads (e.g. ebooks, printables, etc)
  • Upload lessons in multiple formats, such as video, quizzes, text, assignments, surveys, downloadables, or embeds
  • Market your online courses using Payhip’s variety of Marketing tools such as an affiliate program, coupon codes, and more
  • Use drip content to release certain sections of the online course at a set pace
  • Provide your students with various payment options from one-time-fee, payment plans, subscriptions, and more
  • Provide customizable certificates of completion

You can sign up for a free account on Payhip to start selling your online courses.

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2. Live vs Anytime

Pricing your online course also varies depending on how customers can access the content (i.e. by attending live sessions or working through pre-recorded material at their own pace).

A live course requires an instructor to be present, most often in weekly sessions. While this allows you to engage and interact with your students in real-time, it also means you have to dedicate more time and resources to teaching. Take this into consideration when pricing your courses. If it requires more of your time and energy to produce, you probably want to charge more. In many cases, you’ll find live courses priced at $1,000 or more.

Alternatively, if you pre-record lessons and release them in a staggered drip method (a feature available from Payhip) you may be able to offer the course at a lower price. This method allows you to set the pace for how students consume your lessons without being present for every session. The drip method keeps your students motivated and engaged as they wait for each new module to be released.

Finally, an online course that students can work through at any time can be priced much lower. The main advantage with this method is scalability. Because you don’t have to be present for every session, your online course can be purchased by an unlimited number of students. This allows you to offer your course to more people at a lower price. Self-paced courses may be priced anywhere from $10 to $500, depending on the content of the course.

pricing online courses

3. Popularity of Topic

The popularity of your course’s topic also impacts its pricing. If there’s high demand for a course (or it’s a requirement in order to obtain a license), this makes it more valuable. Here, you might offer the course at a higher price than you would otherwise.

If the course topic is casual and not urgent, such as a course on dating, how to read tarot cards, or some other fun online course, you’ll likely want to charge a lower price to draw customers. By contrast, if your topic is both popular and could help people earn extra money or get a new job, you can typically charge a few hundred if not thousands of dollars.

4. Your Expertise

What makes you a suitable expert to teach an online course? If you’ve worked in your industry for decades, you probably have some rare and valuable insight. Your course pricing should reflect that value. If you co-create courses with subject experts, this could also add value to your course.

Consider in what ways students can access your expertise. If you’re available to grade assignments, answer questions, and provide one-on-one sessions, this is much more valuable than a collection of recorded lectures.

5. Competition

When designing your course, it’s important to research the competition within your niche. But we don’t recommend setting your price point solely based on what your competitors are charging. In most cases, value-based pricing is more effective.

That said, it’s important for you to understand the availability of knowledge within your niche. If there is a scarcity of experts on your course topic, your expertise is much more valuable. As a result, you can offer the course at a higher price.

If you’re working in a highly competitive market, it can be tough to offer unique value. In this case, appealing to a niche audience may be your best move. You can differentiate from the competition by tailoring your course to specific languages, demographics, or regions of the world.

How do You Price An Online Course

As we already learned the price for your online course depends on various factors. If you’re attracting a new audience or hoping to get more customers, the sales you generate from your course will vary. If you need an example of how to price your course to your audience, you can try the free online course pricing calculator, we’ve created below to help you know a clear example of what to charge for your course and how much in sales you can generate with that price.

Premium Vs Affordable Price

When it’s time to sell your course, price points matter. Do you prefer selling at a premium price at the risk of fewer students or an affordable price with more students? Which price point is worth a greater value overall? And is there a better choice for your bottom line?

If you have a pre-existing audience, you could sell an online course at premium pricing because the perceived value is already high. Plus, you won’t need to promote via social media ads, a third-party Facebook group, or some other method. You’ll be able to use your pre-existing channels.

Those looking to sell at premium prices might include bonus content, such as ebooks, digital downloads, access to a private Facebook group to help prove the value of the higher priced course.

If you’re charging an affordable price, you’ll need many students to ensure your class is profitable. So, you’ll need to find a way to attract customers and many online students to your course organically. If you know where to market your course for free, this price point could be a good fit for you.

Think about your revenue goals before pricing your online course. Consider the value you bring, how much you want to make in sales overall, the cost of what you create, and the prices you feel good about charging. Creators who know how to market themselves will be able to promote their course well and charge premium prices.

4 Tips for Pricing Strategy

1. One-time Fee

A one-time fee is a popular pricing strategy if you’re creating your first online course. With this strategy, customers only pay once in order to gain access to the entire course. To overcome financial barriers, you’ll likely need to charge a lower price overall. Larger prices are more difficult to charge to a credit card and some customers may be resistant to spend so much money all at once.

The maximum price for a one-time fee usually lands around $1,000. For this price bracket, you may be able to earn a passive income if it’s not a live instruction course (so a number of students can take your online course regularly).

2. Payment Plans

A payment plan is a great option if your course is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum ($1,000+). Dividing the premium price into several affordable installments can help to overcome price objections, and keep any one payment from exceeding what a customer is willing to pay at once, or what their credit limit will allow. This makes it easier to justify the decision of purchasing an expensive course.

If you want to charge a higher price but still accommodate more students, consider using a payment plan for your pricing strategy. You may also be able to charge an additional service fee or some type of interest for dividing the price into multiple payments.

3. Subscriptions

A subscription model is a common price structure for online course marketplaces. For instance, if you’ve created dozens of online courses, you might want to charge a monthly subscription to help students access all of your lessons instead of charging for each course individually.

If you choose a subscription model, people typically pay on a regular monthly price. However, you can also charge annually if you have enough course content to justify a lump sum payment.

With a monthly subscription model, the recurring price should be low enough that customers could imagine paying for it on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. If you choose to bundle multiple months of access into a one-time payment (such as a yearly subscription plan) it’s wise to offer a slight discount. For example, you may charge $15 per month for monthly subscribers ($180 per year) or $150 per year as a lump sum for annual subscribers.

4. Free

Online courses are also a great marketing tool for premium services. You might choose to create and distribute a free course if you’re trying to sell something else and want the course to bring more traffic to your website. This way, your online course becomes a form of content marketing.

Maybe you’re an interior designer and you’ve created an online course to promote your design services. While the course may be free, you probably charge money when a client asks you to design a room for them. The course itself becomes a funnel to generate awareness of your brand and design expertise, converting students into customers. Or perhaps you’re trying to attract your target audience to other digital products, such as software, ebooks, or other premium content.

pricing your online course

Fortunately, Payhip allows you to sell your online course using any of the pricing methods listed above. Whether you’re selling a low priced course to get more potential students for the future or using a subscription model to sell multiple courses over time, Payhip lets you test multiple pricing strategies to see which one works best for you.

Tips to Increase Value of Your Course

1. Build a Community

Creating a private Facebook group or Slack channel (or some form of exclusive space) for your students is a great way to stay connected with them and increase the value of your online courses. Building a community also encourages genuine interactions and relationships between students where they can help each other grow.

2. Offer 1:1 Coaching Opportunity

The do-at-your-own-pace online courses might not work for everyone. Sometimes students have additional questions that are much easier to be addressed during a live video chat session, or just want the accountability of knowing the instructor will check in on them. In these cases, consider offering 1:1 coaching sessions for students. Payhip provides the full suite of features you need to offer personalized coaching services on your own website.

3. Bundle with Downloadables

Online courses often go hand-in-hand with digital downloadables like printable worksheets, templates, and other resources. Consider bundling your online courses with digital extras to increase the value of the overall purchase.

4. Offer Certification of Completion

A certificate of completion is a great way to provide your students with a sense of accomplishment. Offering a certificate (even if it’s not from a professional society) can provide extra encouragement for students to complete the course. Depending on the reputation of your course, this may also provide students with the added value of your official endorsement. They might include the certificate on a resume or bio to show they’ve received your training.

FAQ

How do you price an online program?

We’ve created a free calculator that you can try out to price your online course, as there are many factors involved with coming up with the right price.

How much does it cost to market an online course?

You’ll need to factor marketing costs into your course price. If you have a pre-existing audience, you can use your personal brand and audience to promote your course for free. However, if this is your first course, you may spend a few thousand dollars promoting via social media, advertising, Facebook groups, and more.

What platform is best for selling online courses?

For profitability, Payhip is the best platform for selling online courses. With a Free Forever plan with only a 5% transaction fee, you’ll be able to keep more of your earnings when selling online courses. If you’re looking to charge a low price point or a higher one, you can profitably use Payhip to sell your online course no matter the rate you decide to sell your course.

Try Payhip’s Online Course Pricing Calculator

If you’ve never developed a pricing strategy for an online course before, it can be a major headache. As we’ve learned, there’s a lot to consider to arrive at the perfect solution. To make it easy, we created this free interactive calculator that you can use to price your online course quickly and effectively. Simply plug in a few figures about your online course, and we’ll give you our suggested pricing. Here’s how it works:

  • Course Income Goal – How much money do you (realistically) want to make from selling your course? Keep in mind that making more money may require you to raise prices, lower production cost, or increase your audience size.
  • Estimated Cost of Course Creation – How much will it cost to produce your online course? Consider the hosting, recording equipment, the cost of course materials, the time you spend working on it, etc.
  • Your Audience Size – How many people do you think will sign up for your course? If you offer recurring live sessions, consider how many groups of students in total you may need to reach your income goal.
  • Expected Conversion Rate (%) – How many people do you expect to convert? In other words, what percentage of your total audience do you think you’d be able to convince to sign up for the course?

Course Income Goal
$
Estimated Cost of Course Creation
$
Your Audience Size
Expected Conversion Rate (%)
Suggested Course Pricing

$ 0.00

Final Thoughts

Creating an online course is hard work. Whether you record all of your lessons or teach over live video sessions, you want to be sure that hard work pays off. The best way to do this is to offer the course at a price that benefits you and your customers.

Pricing is a tough balancing act between making your content affordable for your customers and charging enough to make a profit for yourself. In the end, it’s all about making your course as valuable as possible for your unique target audience. To do that, you may have to test out multiple pricing strategies and see which one works best.

With Payhip, you as the creator have the flexibility to price your online course however you want. With the Free Forever plan, all you’ll pay is the 5% processing fee — the rest goes in your pocket. Get started with Payhip today for free and get more value from your online courses.

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