The Right Online Course Pricing Strategy for YOUR Business

Unless you’re offering a free online course, you’re going to need to figure out the price of your paid course.

So, whether you’re just starting out with your first online course or you’ve been selling online courses for a while, this pricing strategy post is for you!

In order to decide how to price your online course, we need to talk about online course math.

Now that may not sound sexy, but it really is, because your pricing model determines how much revenue you’ll make from your efforts.

The biggest mistake I see people make when they price their online courses is to look at what their competitors are charging and pick a similar price.

Maybe they go a little higher or a little lower, but they don’t come up with their price based on the value they provide or how their potential customers will regard it—the perceived value.

They might sometimes end up with the right price for them, but you usually want to be pricing online courses in a more value-based fashion.

You may have to ask yourself: how many students are willing to purchase what I’m offering at this price?

If you’re offering something that is of high value to your customers, then the right price for you might be higher than the average price, so long as your customers are willing to pay higher prices.

Like many things in life, an online course could have any price.

There are pairs of shoes that cost $10, $100, and even $1000.

These shoes are all meant to help someone walk from point A to point B.

But they are designed for different customers.

Potential customers will also likely justify the cost of their purchase when it comes to a pair of shoes. They might feel like they got a great deal, they got a fair value, or they got something that will help them impress their friends. The shoes have a high perceived value to the purchaser as they feel like they got good value at the right price.

different shoe pricing

It’s very similar in the online course space. You could price your course low to help people who are price sensitive access your teachings.

As an online course creator, you could price in the middle and get people who appreciate the value you put into your courses, and are a little more motivated to finish because they put their money down for it.

Or you could go high and create a certain type of experience that projects status and helps people rub elbows with others at their investment level.

Notice that at each price point you might still be offering the same basic curriculum. But as you raise the price, you might add new dimensions to the course experience.

gamification

A low-priced course might be a few downloadable PDFs and a short video. A higher-priced course might have similar content, but in a beautiful members-only area with the bells and whistles like progress tracking, quizzes to earn points, and bonuses that get unlocked.

A very high-end program might also include a community area and private or group coaching calls (and this will reflect in its premium pricing).

You can also think outside of the “online” box when it comes to very high-end courses. You can send physical gifts in the mail or pair your digital experience with tools or items to complement online learning and your course content.

One example of this is Ornament Gal, who runs not just a regular online course on making ornaments, but a recurring membership. Each month members receive the materials for making a new ornament in the mail and the instructions and training are delivered online.

Now let’s talk about how you should decide which of the different course pricing models to pick.

Low Cost

Anything under $99 is considered low-cost in the online world. You might even argue that $199 or less is also low cost, but of course, everyone has a different opinion and relationship to prices.

Think back to what other alternatives people have tried before buying your online course.

It’s possible that they’ve tried free things like listening to YouTube videos or reading blog posts.

They may have bought books or attended seminars. These options may be considered low-cost or low-priced, and you can start to build a case for how your lower-priced course is worth it.

Speaking of books: if you want to publish a book and you also want to have a paid online course on the same topic, think about how you can tie them together.

You don’t need to come up with 100% new material for your book and course. Some people prefer to learn by reading and others prefer to go through an online course experience with videos and access to you in a community setting.

book and online course

Ideally, you can lead people who buy your book into your online course, without hitting them over the head. It should feel like a natural next step.

When it comes to choosing a low price point, think about where this course fits on your customer journey.

Is this a mini course that they will take before enrolling in a longer-term membership program?

Is this a course that you will offer year-round, with instant gratification if someone decides to sign up? This is called an evergreen course, and it’s a great way to satisfy people who just discover you and want their problems addressed immediately.

Also, think about the potential volume of people going through this course.

Do you have a large enough audience to support this business model?

If you’re just starting out, and this is your first online course I recommend that you DON’T price low.

That might sound crazy and in my own success story, I priced my course at $99. You’ll want to take this advice and weigh it against your market and niche, too.

I love giving business advice based on my experience and what I’ve seen work for other entrepreneurs. But I also know that context matters and not all advice will be applicable in all situations.

So here’s why I don’t think you should price your online course low if you’re just getting started:

It will take too long for you to get profitable.

If you have an established target audience of say 5000 people on an email list, then you could offer a lower-priced program and get a nice bump in income.

But in my experience, it takes just as much time to create a low-cost product and market it, as it does to create a mid or high-end program.

So why not charge more and get a better return on your efforts?

Mid Cost

This is where the majority of people price their online courses. It’s more comfortable to charge between $100 and $500 for an online course.

You’ll earn a bit more per sign-up, which means you don’t need as big of an audience and you can still turn a profit on your own course quickly.

The stakes don’t feel as high, but this could turn out to be a bad thing.

Let me explain.

If your students and customers enroll but don’t feel motivated enough to engage with your course, then you’ve lost the chance to help someone reach their goals or solve their problems.

The reason people sign up for online courses is that they want the promise or the transformation.

If they haven’t invested too much into your course, they’re more likely to get sidetracked and fall back into the routine of their lives, not bothering to fully engage with the complete course.

That means they won’t become a raving fan, they won’t write you a glowing testimonial, and they won’t tell your friends about how awesome your course was.

So it’s super important to know going in that choosing a mid-tier price for your course might be harder long term.

Again, think about where this course sits in your customer journey.

Is this a course people take before they enroll in a private session with you? Is this something they can sign up for as an existing member of a subscription program?

This will help you decide on your pricing, too. Along with comparing what alternatives there are (out of other online courses).

These considerations can make the difference between whether or not you get more customers to invest in your online course.

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High Ticket

If you’re getting started or you have an existing mid-tier course but it just isn’t getting the results for your clients or selling consistently…

high level pricing with an arrow indicating rising tiers

Offering a higher-level course that comes with more access to you might be just the ticket.

High-end paid courses could cost anywhere from $500 to even $5000 or $10,000.

Now how you deliver your course is where you can start to see how we can justify these prices.

Some people call courses that offer a lot of facilitation and community “hybrid courses”. They’re also called high ticket offers, masterminds, and coaching programs.

How you decide to approach yours will dictate how you price. You will also want to think about the context of your niche and business, too.

If you are selling to people trying to get out of debt and the course topic is how to be responsible with money, then this type of online course pricing might not be a fit.

Similarly, if you’re teaching people how to eat well but your target audience has a hard time affording healthy food in the first place, this pricing model won’t work.

But if you are offering something that will have a material impact on people’s finances or lives, then high ticket offers work well. This tends to be the case for things like sales training, investment advice, marriage and relationship advice, and other “big life” areas.

Some of the other intangible benefits of running a hybrid course or focusing on more than just the curriculum include:

Access to you as the facilitator:

Often people will sign up for your online courses because they want to work with you specifically. If you don’t offer any 1-1 sessions, then taking your online course is the next best thing or may be the more affordable option if your rates are high.

Don’t underestimate the power of your attention.

Your students likely have built a relationship with you over time through your other marketing efforts, like your videos, podcast interviews, blog posts, and social posts.

But the true magic is in being able to ask you specific questions about their own situations.

Even if you tend to give the same advice to people, if you listen intently and give tailored advice or coaching to your students, that’s worth a lot.

coaching

It could even be worth more than the curriculum to be able to get specific advice or answers that you can’t get from a book or other generic place.

Access to a like-minded community:

Most people don’t know others who are on a similar journey.

This is especially true when you look at things like personal development, business building, and health transformations.

That’s because we often have the same friends we grew up with and we don’t all go on the same journeys for our careers or life goals. And even if we do find groups online with similar people, everyone is busy.

We can’t expect to get feedback or support from these free groups, at least not at the level we can from paid group experiences.

There’s also the community management aspect where you or someone on your team can help guide conversations, make the online group space safe for all participants, and just give people a place to connect.

Sometimes the return on investment happens completely through the community aspect.

Students might meet their next business partner, their spouse, or even a new best friend that will go on to change their lives.

Don’t underestimate the power of community for your online courses.

There’s also the “filtering effect” of charging a high price. If free groups have a lot of trolls and complainers, paid groups tend to have people who are more serious about their success and willing to help others, too.

Payment plans

For any online course that you price above $99, you can decide to offer a payment plan.

A payment plan means that you split the full amount into installment payments over time.

For example, a $300 course might have a 3-pay plan where the student pays $100 the first day, then $100 the following month, and a final $100 the next month.

When deciding to offer a payment plan you need to keep a few things in mind:

  1. You will likely have more sales if you offer a payment plan. That’s because it makes your course more affordable immediately, and gives people a chance to come up with the money for the next payments.
  2. You will have payment defaults. That means people’s credit cards don’t process successfully on future payments. This is part of the game, and you need to expect it. So this balances out the higher course sales you get, and you may need to “chase” people down to collect payments. You can also use something like AccessAlly’s failed payment automation to remind people to update their credit cards and make their payments.
  3. It’s up to you how you want to structure your installment payments. Some people choose to add a small “fee” to make up for the added follow-up time, so a payment plan is a more expensive overall cost.

For example:

Pay in full: $1000

Payment plan: 5 payments of $225, for a total of $1125

payment plan

Think about whether you want to add this fee or not. Often we create installment plans to make it easier for more people to access our paid courses.

If we add these fees then it penalizes the people who can least afford our courses, because they end up paying more.

Don’t make your payment plans too long.

One mistake I see people make is that they will space out the payments over a really long period of time, to the point where the student is no longer engaged in the course and starts to think they don’t need to pay anymore.

This usually happens if you have an online course that lasts say 6 weeks but you make your installment plan last 12 months.

It’s doable, but you need a solid contract in place so people know this isn’t a payment they can cancel when they are “done” with your course.

Raising prices for your online course

One final note on online course pricing: it’s not set in stone.

You can always start with a certain price and decide to change it later.

It’s much easier to start at a lower price point and then raise prices over time. But it’s equally okay to start at a high price point and offer a ton of personalized value, and go down to a lower price and take some of that “one-to-one” access away.

The main thing is that you don’t want to upset anyone who previously purchased. That means looking further ahead at your online course pricing to make sure that you will be able to adjust it in the right direction as your business grows and your needs change.

You may also want to consider multiple price points or tiered pricing for online courses.

For example, you could have a “basic” online course for $297 that comes with certain features, and an “advanced” online course for $997 that comes with additional features or more one-to-one time.

This can be a great way to increase the perceived value of your online courses while still providing a range of different prices for people to choose from.

Different price points or tiered pricing allows you to offer online courses that cater to different budgets and needs.

To sum up, there is no perfect online course pricing strategy. The best way to price your online course is by doing your research, testing out different prices, and seeing what works best for you and your business.

Final thoughts

Figuring out the price for your online course can be a daunting task. Sometimes, it might feel like you’re putting just as much effort into pricing your course as it did to decide on course content.

You want to make sure you’re charging enough to cover your costs, but you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market.

pricing strategy icon

During course development, most course creators might start with a lower price to increase the number of course sales and then gradually raise the price as they add more value.

It’s also important to think about whether you want to offer payment plans or not. If you do, make sure you structure them in a way that’s fair for both you and your students.

But it’s important to remember that there is no “perfect” price. You can always adjust and change things as you go. The most important thing is that you start somewhere, and then make changes based on how your business grows and what your students need.

The good news is that if you’re looking at pricing, it means that you’ve taken your course idea, thought about the course topic and content, and are working towards making your online course a reality. And once you’ve decided on your course price, you’re one step closer to your course launch.

What online course pricing strategy have you found to be the most successful for your course business?

How did you figure out your target price for your online teaching business? Share in the comments below!

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