How To Create Passive Income

Learn and master skills from the best


The recommended platform for course hosting in this article is Teachable

1. Why should I create an online course?

First thing’s first. Why should you even build an online course at all? As you’ll see below, it’s not rocket science, but it is quite a commitment.

For starters, it’s important to note some radical changes happening in education today. You may traditionally think of learning in the context of a huge lecture hall, chalkboards, or even kids programming like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers.

But education is increasingly all about online learning. In recent years, we’ve seen a massive surge of funding turning toward EdTech, with $59 million raised in the US alone for related startups like the Kahn Academy.

In fact, according to market research firm Global Industry Analysts, the online education industry will grow from $107 billion in 2015 to $325 billion in 2025. In 2017 alone, investors poured $8.15 billion in the EdTech industry, which on its own generated almost $200 billion in revenue.

From simple online lectures to intensive bootcamps, you’ll find courses that charge anywhere from a few hundred dollars to nearly $20,000, depending on the topic. And online courses allow you to pursue any specific topic you can imagine, without asking you to take gen ed courses you might not be interested in.

As a potential teacher, as long as you have specialized knowledge in something you know people want to learn about, you can start teaching with some pretty basic tools.

The online course platform Teachable cites data that instructors who have made income using their site average more than $5,000 from their courses. Just contrast that to most bloggers and YouTubers who won’t make more than a $100 a month.

how to create an online course guide product launch robo platform average

So there’s potential to make money through online education.

Think about it. During the gold rush, the people selling the tools made a lot more money than those mining for gold. If you have specialized knowledge that you know people would value, and you can provide the structure that’ll allow them to learn, you just might have gold on your hands.

2. What’s so great about online courses?

Oh man. So much!

Online courses create *passive* revenue.

Using what you already know, you can create an additional revenue source for your business.

And once your course is fully set up, it becomes a passive source of revenue — meaning you can mostly sit back and watch the money roll in (or go to sleep and wake up to Stripe notifications).

Online courses create new clients.

Once someone buys your course, they get to know you and the value that you can bring. They might just end up investing in more of your products and services, such as higher-end, customized coaching or done-for-you service packages.

Online courses stop you from trading time for money.

When you’re teaching something live or providing a service, you’re trading your knowledge AND your time.

An online course requires your effort just the one time — when you’re building it. After that, a student could be taking your online course while you’re sipping a fresh coconut under a palm tree.

People WANT online courses.

The internet is filled with free resources, with varying degrees of value.

But when someone needs to learn a new skill, they want to cut to the chase and get real knowledge, and they’re happy to invest in it.

The online course market is big, and getting bigger.

According to Statista, the e-learning market was worth over $46 billion dollars in 2016.

By 2022, that number is projected to surpass $243 billion dollars. That’s a golden opportunity for online business owners.

3. Pick the Perfect Course Topic

Your course topic must be something that you LOVE.  If you are not passionate about your topic, it will be obvious if you don’t love your topic and will make your training about as engaging as a cardboard sandwich.

Don’t feel like you have to teach a degree-level profession.  Think about your skills, talents and life experiences that you have been through…. Cooking your favourite dishes, interior design, writing non-fiction, overcoming the death of a loved one….  The list is endless but your life and existence gives you all the clues and answers – even if you don’t have a specific profession.

In short, if you love your topic, you are good at your topic and you have experience (formal or life) in it, then you have a topic that will work for you.

4. Ensure Your Course Idea has High Market Demand

Hands up who wants to spend weeks of their life creating an online course, for absolutely nobody to buy it?  Nope.  Didn’t think so.

Once you have picked your online course topic, the next step is to conduct a number of market research tests to see if it has market demand or not.

Competition is good

Many Edupreneurs make the mistake of thinking that if there is a lot of competition in their online course topic area, then they should change their course idea.  Don’t let a scarcity mindset put you off.  I feel like books such as ‘Blue Ocean Strategy‘ (which I love by the way), have made some people too afraid of highly popular online course niches – when in fact, the more popular they are, the better the sign of your course idea being a strong one.  

A lot of topic competition in your area shows that there is a high chance of there being a strong market demand for that course idea and is therefore well worth investigating further.

The main three things you want to be checking for are:

  • Are people talking about it?
  • Are people asking lots of questions about it?
  • Is there a gap in what the competition is offering?

If your answer to the above three questions is ‘yes’ and your idea is similar but different to what is already out there, then you have a course idea that has a chance of being a best-seller.

5. Build your online course content

The bulk of the work will occur in this step wherein you’ll develop the course content. Even so, this process need not be time-consuming. Start by thinking about what content you already have developed — whether those be PowerPoint presentations, hard-copy or digital training manuals, videos (pre-recorded webinars or product demos), or support articles. Organize those pieces in a cohesive manner. So you’re not overwhelmed by an overabundance of files that can lead to distraction, select only those materials that have a direct correlation to the learning objectives you defined.

Now that you know what pre-existing content you already have, you can determine what content you’ll need to update, adapt or develop from scratch. Here are some tips for creating effective and engaging online course content.

Creating active learnersIf you’re new to online course creation, consider Bloom’s Taxonomy as an approach to balancing your course activities while also engaging a diverse group of learning styles with one, all-inclusive curriculum. Traditional educators have been using Bloom’s Taxonomy since the late 1940’s because it works.

In the taxonomy, learners start at the base layer, or the “Remember” step, and work their way up as they master the content in the increasingly complex layers. While the base layer is considered the lowest level of learning, no other learning can take place until a student has the prerequisite knowledge acquired there. 

The graphic already includes a few suggested activities that apply to the experience of learning online, but there are many more applicable activities out there. You’ll likely discover several of them through individual research, through learner suggestions or even accidentally.

If you’re using Bloom’s as a framework for online course creation, it’s worth noting that everything in the learning experience column is active instead of passive. Learners must DO something to learn. It is not enough to just record dozens of videos of yourself speaking into the camera, unless you’re giving learners opportunities to apply the content they’re learning about – which should align well with the actionable learning objectives you laid out in step 1.

Fostering engagement

Interactive elements is a great way to turn passive learners into active learners. Elements such as simulations, games, discussion boards, surveys or quizzes help keep learners engaged. Let’s take a deeper dive into some content strategies that drive engagement. 

6. The best online platform (to publish your courses)

This was the topic that I initially researched the most. There are four or five big platforms out there. At first look they all seem really similar, but they differ in small but important details. I wanted to know which one was the best for me. Eventually, most of my friends recommended Teachable, and I’m so, so happy that I went with that.

First of all, their service is just awesome. They have the perfect editor to beautifully create and organize your online courses. You can create coupons, you can run affiliate programs, you can automate your courses. Everything you might need. It’s simple and efficient.

Secondly, their pricing is more than reasonable. I use their Basic Plan, which costs $39 per month plus a 5% cut of sales — which is very, very low. (Just for comparison, Udemy takes 25–75%.) And you can use your own domain and brand.
Later this year, I’ll upgrade to their Pro Plan; it costs $99 per month, but after a while it’s worth it because the commission drops to 0%. (Do the math and decide which one is the best fit for you!)

Third, Teachable’s customer support is very responsive and very helpful.

And the icing on the the cake is that they take care of all the administrative tasks for you: like invoicing and legal stuff. (More about that in a bit.)

All-in-all: Teachable is the best possible choice as a platform for your online courses.

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