How to Build an Online Course on a Budget [Start With Less Than $100]4 minute read
Starting an online business requires an investment in time and money.
If you are on a tight budget it can be scary to start your own business, but it's not impossible, especially if you want to start selling online courses.
You might have to invest more time instead of money, but it can be done.
Keep reading below to find out how to get started with online courses if you have limited resources, and what are the biggest costs for creators.
What expenses do you have as an online course creator?
Compared to other business models, selling online courses is definitely one of the best ways to make money online without investing a large amount of money.
In this article from our blog, we cover the main benefits of selling online courses compared to other popular online businesses: The Benefits of Selling Online Courses vs Other Ways to Make Money Online
Although it may be cheaper to get started with online courses, you still have a few expenses to cover. Let’s see what they are and what is the best way to limit them:
An online course platform
If you want to be successful as an online course creator, you need a great online course platform to create and sell your program.
Most online course platforms out there charge similar prices to any other website-building tools and offer features that are specifically designed for online course creators.
So paying for a great online course platform is definitively worth the expense.
Here is our guide to find the perfect online course software for you: Top 10 Things to Look For When Choosing the Perfect Online Course Platform
Take advantage of the free trial the platform offers and make it a goal to launch your online course before the trial expiration date.
Heights Platform offers a 30-day free trial to its creators, no credit card is needed.
Creation & Marketing Tools
Another expense most course creators have to pay is for additional tools or apps to help them create and sell online courses.
You may have to pay a monthly fee to use email software, video editing apps, etc...
The best way to limit these expenses is to find an online course platform that offers you a wide range of tools, so you don't need to purchase additional software.
Check if your hosting platform has some email features, landing page builder, a built-in check-out, affiliate marketing tools and more.
Heights Platform's course creation software offers all of these tools and more in a standard pricing plan.
As any creator, you know that creating high-quality videos can make a difference in the perceived quality of your online course.
However, purchasing top-notch recording equipment can be extremely expensive.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on cameras and lighting tools to get started.
Nowadays you can take high-quality video by simply using a smartphone.
Check out this video that offers a few easy tips on how to shoot professional videos using a smartphone.
We also created a list of recording and lighting equipment for online course creators: How to Get Great Lighting and Audio for Your Online Courses.
One of the largest expenses you have as a business owner is marketing. While you can create an online course basically for free, promoting it can be expensive.
The best way to minimize this cost is by avoiding paid advertisement and focusing on growing your business organically.
We recently wrote a blog post about this: Get Your First $100k Without Paid Ads: How to Grow Your Online Course Business Organically
Organic marketing requires a different type of investment: time.
If you have a very tight budget, you may need to wait longer to see the first results from promoting your online course organically.
Tips on How to Start Selling Online Courses on a Tight Budget
Now that you learned about the biggest expenses you have as an online course creator, let’s see how to successfully reduce them and start selling!
#1. Avoid Paid Ads
There are many marketing strategies you can use instead of paid ads. From promoting your online course on social media to affiliate marketing, emails, word of mouth or partnerships.
Paid ads are great if you have large resources to invest in finding the best strategy for you.
If you don’t have hundreds of dollars at your disposal to test different audiences and ad campaigns, our recommendation is to start advertising organically.
#2. Start With Basic Equipment
The most important asset you can have when selling online courses is your knowledge. You may have the fanciest recording equipment, but if your 4K videos do not offer any valuable insights to your audience, your course will most likely not be a success.
So before worrying about investing money into high-quality equipment, make sure your content is worth selling.
Nowadays you can create high-quality videos with only a smartphone, as long as you know a few tricks.
It can be worth it to purchase a simple tripod for your smartphone or camera, that will help you shoot professional videos of yourself without anyone’s help. You can find very cheap options on Amazon.
Other gadgets you may need are camera lenses, microphones or recording lights. However, you can avoid these expenses by filming in a quiet and well-lit room to start.
#3. Pre-Sell your online course
Pre-selling means selling your online course even though it is not finished yet and not available for your audience.
In this business model, customers can buy your online course but will be able to access its content only on a set release day.
This is a great way to validate your ideas, get early feedback from your customers and raise some money to help you finish your online course.
Maybe you are very confident that your online course idea will be a success (and that's great), but why not prove it and reduce the risk for yourself by preselling and validating your idea?
If you want to learn how to pre-sell your online course or membership site, check out this article from our blog: How to Pre-Sell Your Online Course and Profit Before the Launch
Can I Start an Online Course Business With Less Than $100?
The answer is yes.
But you may need a longer time to achieve results, as you cannot use paid ads and more powerful promotion strategies. Many of the most successful course creators start without spending money and without much budget at all.
If you have a limited budget, you will have to compensate for the lack of money by investing time.
At the end of the day, whether you spend money on marketing or not, you still have to invest time into building your online course.
Yes, paid ads and expensive software could help you save a couple of hours of work per day, but if you are on a tight budget, it is not worth the cost.
So what are you waiting for? The best time to get started is now!Create Your Online Course Today