Ever wanted to create online courses and been put off by the development cost? Digital course creation can be profitable, but you’ll need to determine whether the total cost is worth the time investment before you start.
This guide will examine the costs associated with online course development, how digital courses benefit your learners, and some practical tips to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI).
What is eLearning?
In a nutshell, eLearning (or electronic learning) refers to any education or training that takes place over the Internet.
The digital nature of eLearning also means that there’s a huge variety of ways to deliver resources to your learners – like virtual classrooms and webinars – and that interactive modules and personalized assessments can be seamlessly integrated into the offering.
eLearning is an increasingly popular way to upskill and educate learners worldwide, and the eLearning market size surpassed $315 billion in 2021! This spiking trend was caused, in part, by rising internet penetration – as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outbreak forced universities and academic institutions to translate traditional learning practices to an online setting, and businesses likewise moved to implement work-from-home policies and remote training.
Now, more people than ever before are taking advantage of eLearning opportunities. With over 100 million students enrolled in online courses spanning many topics, your creations certainly won’t lack a target audience!
The benefits of creating online courses
eLearning offers you and your customers several advantages over their traditional in-classroom counterparts. So, let’s look at the perks of developing online courses.
Crafting and selling online courses can be a lucrative source of income – whether you’re a solopreneur or part of a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).
The growing eLearning industry is bolstered by employees and graduates keen to bridge the digital skills gap by developing in-demand competencies like software development and project management.
Giving these eager students online opportunities to do so prepares them for an increasingly digitalized workplace and can provide a tidy profit for the digital course developer.
Online courses also have lower overhead costs and fewer associated expenses; renting a physical space or distributing pricey physical resources like textbooks, for example, is unnecessary.
Your learners won’t have to travel to a classroom to access your online course and its supplemental resources – all they’ll need is an internet connection!
This means that learners from around the globe can enjoy your modules from anywhere, at any time.
Including adjustments for accessibility is also much easier for online courses than their in-person equivalents.
For example, a course developer can ensure that all images and diagrams have alt text, benefiting learners who rely on screen readers, and provide subtitles and transcripts of video content for learners with difficulty processing auditory information.
An online course doesn’t require learners to sit in a classroom for an hour or two each week. As a result, they’ll enjoy more autonomy.
Students can work around busy schedules and complete modules in their own time, providing a better work-life balance and improved overall learning experience.
What’s more, online courses let learners explore concepts at their own pace.
They won’t need to worry about instructors rushing them through the material and moving on to the next topic before they’ve developed an in-depth understanding of the current one!
Self-paced modules and drip-fed courses can also improve a student’s information retention and result in more positive assessment scores.
Cutting out the commute means your learners will save time that’d otherwise be spent in traffic jams or hunting for parking spaces.
More importantly, students enrolled in distance learning opportunities produce around 85% fewer emissions than those attending in-person classes.
The sheer cost of education is a massive barrier to entry for a lot of would-be students.
However, learners enrolled in digital courses don’t need to pay for transportation to a physical classroom or expensive student housing.
Course creators can cut student costs further by providing supplementary digital resources and reading materials!
This negates the need for students to purchase textbooks and reduces the amount of paper waste in landfills.
It takes work to cater to a student’s preferred learning style in a crowded classroom.
Fortunately, online courses can leverage all sorts of resources to help learners pick the delivery that best suits their needs.
This includes supplementary webinars, PowerPoint materials, and 1-on-1 support with mentors.
Course developers can also add quizzes to their modules for extra interactivity – and use gamification elements like drag-and-drop mechanics, badges, and point-based goals to ensure they’re engaging.
Digital simulations likewise allow learners to navigate real-world scenarios without worrying about real-world consequences and can be an immersive way of onboarding new employees!
eLearning course development cost
The overall cost of creating an online course is dictated by a handful of critical factors, including the course complexity, your target audience, and the tools and technologies you’ll use to produce your learning materials.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at how to manage the costs associated with online course creation.
Budgeting for course creation
Before embarking on your quest to create online courses, you’ll need a budget!
And there are careful considerations to make when determining your financial flexibility.
For a start, you’ll need to clarify the subject and scope of your course, identify which resources you have and which you’ll need to invest in, calculate time and labor costs, and factor in additional marketing expenses.
This might seem like a lot of prep work, but it’ll go a long way to ensuring you create manageable targets for yourself – and allow you to prepare for any unexpected expenses that pop up!
Factors that influence cost
Who are you creating your course for? The answer to this question has a massive impact on the cost of your endeavor.
For example, creating a course for beginners that covers the basics of a subject without going into detail takes less time – making it much cheaper to produce than densely-packed courses designed for intermediate or advanced learners.
Outsourcing course development
Passionate course creators might want to take on all aspects of development by themselves.
It’s a great way to save money – but it’ll cost time! To speed things up, and maximize your ROI, consider using content templates and delegating tasks to freelancers.
Using recruitment sites like Upwork, you can connect to professionals and outsource high-quality voiceovers (from $250 to $3,500), video editing (from $25 to $250 per hour), and paid actors (from $50 to $500 per hour).
Make sure your contractor’s hourly rate fits within your budget, however!
It’s tempting to offload tasks to an ever-growing selection of AI tools, like ChatGPT.
However, using AI to produce detailed content like curriculum outlines can result in disappointingly generic courses and copy.
Ultimately, your students will miss out on important insights if you rely too heavily on AI tools rather than subject matter experts.
Creating effective courses requires effective equipment, especially if you’re self-producing video content and graphics.
Ask yourself if you need to purchase additional tools like cameras, webcams, microphones, and lighting rigs, and whether you’d benefit from paid subscriptions to specialist video editing or graphic design software like Adobe Photoshop and Canva.
Marketing your online course
You’ll want your course to reach as many learners as possible.
Using strategies like paid advertising (including paid social media ads and search results), content creation, and tailored landing pages and websites is an effective way to maximize traffic and conversion rates.
Affiliate and email marketing, analytics, and optimization are equally impactful strategies that can boost learner acquisition and trust.
However, these strategies, and their scale, can significantly impact the overall cost of delivering your course.
How much you charge
Take the time to fully consider your pricing strategy.
Of course, you’ll want to provide affordable upskilling for as many people as possible, but meager prices can devalue your content.
Similarly, setting your price range too high is a surefire way to deter prospective learners.
LMS platforms and online tools
A Learning Management System (LMS) tool is invaluable to any instructional designer.
With an LMS, you can add quizzes to your courses in just a few clicks, upload supplemental course materials like webinars and PowerPoints, and set goals for each module.
It’s also possible to incorporate one-on-one mentoring sessions to track learner progress!
However, it’s hard for an LMS to adequately cover all aspects of course creation on its own.
You may need Content Management System (CMS) to publish content on your accompanying website or blog, and membership features to boost your revenue.
You can also opt for an all-in-one tool, like AccessAlly, which combines these features into a single plugin to create, deliver, and sell your courses. All built on the WordPress content management platform.
LMS pricing varies depending on the suite of features and functions, ranging from annual fees of a few hundred dollars to prices in the thousands.
So, you’ll need to shop around for the best deal. If you’d like help weighing your options and comparing LMS tools and plans, check out our guide to course platforms.
How to maximize the ROI of your online courses
You’re bound to put a lot of time and expertise into your courses, which means you’ll want them to be as profitable as possible once published.
Therefore, prioritizing your ROI when calculating development costs is a smart strategy ensuring that both you and your learners benefit from your hard work.
There are hundreds of tools you could employ to help build and market your courses, but learning how to use each one effectively, and integrate them together, is a headache waiting to happen.
So, one surefire way to streamline your workflow (and stick to your budget) is to pick a single tool that has everything you need – like AccessAlly!
AccessAlly is a WordPress LMS plugin that makes life easier for instructional designers delivering educational content. The tool is packed with features, including:
- LMS aspects
- Built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and integrations with existing CRM systems
- Membership management
- Community management
- Affiliate marketing tools
- Member directories
- Video courses
- Gamification, including quiz creation and interactive narratives
- Payment shopping cart
- Integration with your current systems
How much does AccessAlly cost?
Interested in trying AccessAlly for yourself? There are three pricing plans to choose from, so pick the best plan that suits your needs (and budget).
- AccessAlly Essentials – For Solopreneurs and small businesses at $82/month. This plan includes one site license, unlimited courses and members, and top-of-the-line support that never leaves you hung out to dry. You’ll have everything you need to start making and selling your online courses!
- AccessAlly Pro – For online educators and marketers at $108/month. This tier includes all of the above and a built-in LMS.
- AccessAlly Community – For coaches, educators, and community leaders at $125/month. The Community tier includes the Essentials and Pro benefits, as well as unlimited community groups and discussion threads, email, and web notifications.
Whether you pay for your plan monthly or yearly is up to you – but you’ll save money in the long run if you pick an annual plan.
AccessAlly helps instructional designers streamline costs by combining all the features of an LMS with memberships, reporting tools, affiliate marketing functionality, and more.
It’s the total package!
As a result, you won’t have to shop around for dozens of individual plugins with hefty price tags and tricky integration issues, and instead can spend more time focusing on the aspects of your business that matter.
Streamline costs and maximize the ROI of your online courses with AccessAlly
Developing online courses can be a lucrative source of income.
They’re typically cheaper to produce than their in-classroom equivalents thanks to low overhead costs, can incorporate digital supplementary resources like webinars and gamification elements.
Online courses also provide accessible education to learners around the globe.
After all, you only need an internet connection to take advantage of eLearning opportunities!
However, it’s important to remember your budget when outsourcing tasks and investing in marketing strategies.
Acquiring the technology and software you need to create your course content can rack up quickly, too.
And that’s where AccessAlly can help. The all-in-one plugin does the work of a dozen tools, letting developers create, deliver, and sell courses in a way that just makes sense.
AccessAlly also gives you the power to produce drip-fed content, set up membership portals, and even build learning communities around your courses.
Maximizing your ROI without skimping on course quality can be a challenging balancing act for business owners and entrepreneurs alike – but AccessAlly provides an elegant solution.
So download the plugin today and start creating cost-effective eLearning courses with total confidence!