In 2015, people spent $107.5 billion for online courses, according to Forbes.
The $107.5 billion figure was about double what was spent in 2014, and the number is going up every year.
This figure includes college and university courses, as well as courses for hobbies and special interests, business and tech learning, and everything in between.
Offering courses can be a lucrative addition to your freelance income.
- Derek Halpern offers a number of courses through his Social Triggers site, including a course on creating and marketing courses, and software to go with it.
- Brian Clark and the team at Rainmaker Digital (formerly Copyblogger Media) broke into the lucrative course market with Teaching Sells years ago.
- Plenty of pro bloggers like Jon Morrow sell courses, or include courses as part of a membership package.
What you teach will depend on your niche, of course, and your audience. Don’t think you need to teach writing or freelancing — perhaps a course related to your industry niche is the direction to go.
Joining the expanding trend toward e-learning and adding another stream of income to your freelance web-writing business needn’t be difficult. If your website is built on WordPress, you’ll find some excellent — and easy — tools.
Not using WordPress? Keep reading — we’ve got you covered there too.
Several WordPress themes are designed solely for e-learning courses, but if you want to add e-learning to an existing site, you can use a courseware plugin. Some are free, some are paid, and some use a freemium model where you start with a free plugin and add paid components to make it do just what you want.
Before choosing a plugin, have a very clear idea of how you’ll be setting up your courses, what features you’ll need, and what the overall package will cost you.
At the very least, the plugin should include tools for managing:
- Course creation
- Student registration
- Payment processing
Other desirable features might include:
- A forum where students and teacher can interact
- Quizzes and tests
- Integration with mailing lists (third-party lists like MailChimp or AWeber)
- Completion certificates
- Drip content (so the student can access a lesson only after completing the previous lesson, for example)
- Gamification features to make their progress more interesting for the students — badges, points, progress bars, and the like
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