How to create an online school from scratch? People ask themselves this question every day…
What is an online school?
An online school is an institution where knowledge is transferred from teacher to student through various online services. The main advantages of such a company are:
Minimal initial investment: you don’t have to pay rent and other operating costs. In addition, you can prepare a course at once and thousands of people can follow it, with or without a teacher;
High profitability: in 90% of cases, these companies fully cover the associated costs. Failure in the remaining 10% is often associated with poor selection of niche segments and uninteresting content presentation;
Extensive customer base: the online school is accessible to people all over the world;
More options for work: You can either sell webinars or master classes consisting of several lessons, or communicate with students individually to solve a specific problem (for example, learning English or the basics of working with a computer).
Preparing to start an online school
Creating an online school requires careful preparation. You not only have to decide what exactly you want to do, but also create the product itself and come up with a name for it (school, studio, masterclass, lessons, etc.).
Then you need to analyze future financial costs. To do this, decide who will be involved in the learning process: you (if you are an expert) or visiting experts. The first option will save you the cost of teacher salaries; the second will give you more free time to devote to developing a new niche.
Different formats of work require different investments. So the most profitable is sending articles by e-mail after registration. First, it does not require large hardware costs (all you need is access to the Internet, an e-mail box and a selection of useful content). Second, this product format has a great return on investment because if you only create the content once, you can sell it as long as people are interested.
Unfortunately, this format is not intended for all areas. Thus, experts recommend insisting on videos, the production costs of which depend only on the type of course. For example, while lessons on how to use software can only be done with screen sharing, filming a cooking masterclass requires a designer kitchen, expensive products, kitchen appliances and accessories, and a chef dressed in company colors. The costs associated with these two types of filming are not comparable.
So, it is possible to analyze all the stages of creating an online cooking school, but practice shows that there is no single answer to the question of the initial budget, because some just need to show their face and an Instagram account to get started, while others need a team of professional experts and a multi-page website.
How to open an online school: the main steps
If you don’t know how to start your own online school…
Step 1. Choose a niche
To begin with, decide what these classes will focus on: parenting, foreign languages, cooking, design, dance, psychology, etc. You don’t have to cover everything when choosing a niche. It should be as small and deep as possible (ie cover a small target group and solve its problems).
Example ! Online photography courses represent a broad category. Landscape photography is a reduced category. Landscape photography courses for beginners are a well-defined category.
Of course, you can offer a wider range of services, but each category will need a separate marketing company.
Step 2. Analysis of the target audience
A target audience is a group of people who are interested in the product you are offering. To select this group, it is necessary to draw an accurate “portrait” of the potential customer. This includes the following data:
family and financial status
Tasks that can be simplified with this course
Customer behavior: how he chooses, how easily he spends money, what features are taken into account when making a purchase.
Interview is often considered the best way to paint such a portrait. If this is not possible, you may consider a short call or voicemail survey.
Step 3. Choose the teaching format
The form of online school teaching can vary greatly. Let’s look at the most popular options:
A selection of items that may be offered in exchange for registration. In this case, in addition to the theoretical basis, you will also have to prepare a practical basis. Offered at the end of training, it allows students to consolidate their knowledge and allows you to get feedback. This format requires minimal effort and financial investment. All you need is a website that can include orders, bank details and email addresses. The most common version of email is sending one email per week;
Video lessons are a universal option that can be adapted to any course. The key is to really consider the format of these lessons. It can be either a standard video guide with an expert speaker, or a screencast (screenshot of a video accompanied by a voiceover). You can use Skype sessions, social media chats, YouTube video lectures and other communication channels to get feedback after viewing these lessons. The average duration is 2 to 3 weeks;
Electronic courses combine different types of content (lectures, videos, photos, infographics, music). In this case, the course can be uploaded to the site or sent to customers by e-mail. The optimal duration of training including online courses is 45 days;
Webinars (online workshops) will save you time and money, which would be needed for traveling and renting suitable premises. In addition, the lesson can always be recorded as a video and sent to students along with the article, presentation and other training content. The recommended duration is one and a half hours.
Step 4. Choose training tools
If the use of emails is always allowed in the testing phase, it makes sense to choose larger tools for serious projects. These tools are generally the most effective:
Accepting payments via Yandex Cash, Paypal, Square or bank account. Payment to an electronic wallet or bank card reduces customer confidence;
Entry web page with course description and participation form. You can create it using any online design tool;
Email services like SendPulse, Zoho Campaigns, BenchMark, MailChimp, etc. Some of them offer free offers for a certain number of subscribers; in addition to the e-mailing service, SendPulse also offers an online course platform.
Webinar solutions such as MyOwnConference, AnyMeeting, ClickMeeting, WebinarJam, etc.;
Online school platforms like GoogleClassroom, Teachbase, Teachable, Emdesell, MemberLux, etc.
Step 5. Create a business model
At this stage, you need to decide how your online school will make money. Many platforms have been created to sell courses: paid, free and combining the two (part of the course is free, the other is paid). Udemy, Geeksmath and Coursera are the most popular of these.
Step 6. Promotion of the product
You can promote your courses using Google and Yandex advertising campaigns or social networks where “the majority of your audience exists”. Take advantage of every opportunity and don’t be afraid to create your own unique content, because posts copied from competitors are unlikely to bring you success.
Step 7. Creating an online school logo
If you have decided to open an online school, do not forget to create its logo. Branding grabs the attention of potential customers and helps them immediately understand the field these courses cover. You don’t necessarily need to hire professional designers for this. You can easily use online generators. Logaster is considered the most popular of them. It allows you to create a logo in less than 5 minutes.
Step 8. Process control and business growth
A large enough audience allows you to grow your business. This can be done using Trello and other CRM systems. To get started, create a private board, add the names of all employees to it, and draw columns through which basic processes will be tracked (“Tasks”, “Received”, “For evaluation”, etc.). As soon as an online school employee transfers a task from one column to another, you will receive an email to the specified email address. Also, do not forget about regular study of new niches, analysis of applied training formats, search for new directions and professional experts.
Successful Online Schools: 4 Best Examples
Still wondering if online schools can serve as permanent or supplemental sources of income? The 5 most popular courses on the Internet will clear your doubts:
1. Udemy provides practical knowledge from the best experts in the world. There are 500,000 students and several courses covering areas such as photography, design, health, art, business, sewing and more.
2. Khan Academy offers more than 3,500 video lessons in journalism, economics, medicine, law and other fields. It is suitable for people of all ages and social categories (from students to business leaders).
3. codeacademy is an online programming school that offers lessons in creating websites, mobile apps and computer games. There are many trainings and they explain complex things in a simple and easy way.
4. Skillshare is a special platform teaching specific skills (business, art, cooking, fashion, design, etc.).
As you can see, starting an online school from scratch is not that difficult. Follow these tips and don’t be afraid to be original. You will definitely succeed!