Creating a successful online course for professionals can be a very difficult project.

There is a lot of competition and you need to know what you are doing.

Lucie (co-founder of Implement) and I have been selling and giving courses to professionals for a while now.

We have come to learn a few things about this industry.

I wanted to share with you some of these findings 👇

#1: Career ROI

It's not a secret, professionals are busy. So if you are pulling them away from their duties to teach them something - it needs to advance their career significantly.

Professionals willing to spend time/money training expect a direct career ROI (return-on-investment).

The training needs to give them immediate leverage on the job market.

It should allow them to access higher management positions, higher pay, or change jobs more easily.

They should be more valuable to their employer.

Another important factor not to disregard: how good it looks on the resume.

Professionals who invest time and money in education want to be able to take pride in it and display it to their peers: "look I have done this course".

They need to be proud to show that label. If you think they'd be proud to put your course on their LinkedIn profile - you are probably on the right path.

#2: Pricing Considerations

The learning industry is large. There are many actors and the competition is fierce.

We noticed a pattern about pricing that should be taken into account when designing your course. Basically, there are 2 pricing trends:

  • Expensive courses (usually many thousands of dollars). These include boot camps, university courses...They also usually include a degree or some kind of professional certification. And they are usually delivered live with an instructor.
  • Then there are dirt cheap and free courses. You will find learning content on almost any topic for free or for less than $20. The content is out there you just need to look for it.

What you need to keep in mind is that there isn't much space between these 2 lanes.

You can price a course very high and you will find people willing to pay for it if there is a direct career ROI (see tip #1).

But do not try to aim for the middle of the market, you will have a hard time finding customers.

So my advice would be either to price your course above $1500 or below $100.

#3: Time Spent is A Cost

Professionals all say they want to learn more. They all talk about how important learning is and that they try to take time to learn new things.

The reality is that they don't spend that much time learning and are not necessarily willing to spend more.

With learning, there is a big difference between what they say they want and what they actually do.

The reality is that time spent in learning is always seen as an extra cost on top of the actual dollar cost.

So even if the course is already paid for by their boss, for example, there is still a price to pay which is the time spent learning.

This is why most of the L&D programs are unsuccessful and why most online courses are never completed.

#4: Blended Learning

The format of learning for professionals is very important.

They need the training content to be concise and entertaining.

This is why blended learning is probably one of the most efficient and enjoyable experiences for professionals.

Blended learning is a mix between video and live.

It is a mix of self-paced learning and instructor-led learning.

What we found to be most efficient is:

  • Teaching the theoretical aspects of the course by pre-recorded video. [It's also usually quite boring to repeat the same concepts over and over every session for the instructor].
  • In addition, having live sessions with interactions, group activities, and questions. This is also where the live presence of the instructor has the most value. During the live sessions, you can debrief the videos, and have group exercises to apply the knowledge.  

#5: Primary and Secondary Skillsets

Every professional has a primary skillset and secondary skillsets.

The primary skillset represent the skills they need to do the core of their job.

So marketing is a primary skillset for marketers, coding is a primary skillset for software developers.

On the other hand, coding is a secondary skillset for marketers and marketing is a secondary skillset for software developers.

Overall it is much easier to train professionals on their secondary skillsets.

They will be much receptive to the training proposition and enjoy it much more because they have almost zero knowledge about the topic.

If you want to train professionals on their primary skillset you will need cutting-edge expertise, content, and world-renowned instructors if you want them to pay for it.  

With primary skillsets, professionals usually know how to upskill themselves for free.

Marketers know where to find and learn the latest marketing techniques for free. However, a marketer will have a hard time self-learning data science for example.  

Thanks for having a read! If you enjoyed this article you can read this other piece about how to make more time to learn at work.