Heights Platform How Many Students do You Need to Make Money as an Online Course Creator?

How Many Students do You Need to Make Money as an Online Course Creator?

5 minute read

Online courses allow you to reach an international audience, and you could have thousands of students enrolled in your program at once.

But is it really worth it? And how many students do you actually need to make money as a creator?

In today's article, we will discuss the pros and cons of having a large number of students enrolled in your program, and we will give you our advice on how to make money even with a small group of customers.

First: Decide Your Online Course Price

Before calculating how many students you need to make money as a course creator, it is important to decide how much you want to charge for your online course.

Setting the perfect price is not an easy task, which is why we wrote a detailed guide for you on this topic: Ultimate Guide to Pricing Your Online Course (With Earnings Calculator)

Our advice to creators when it comes to choosing a price is to aim high. Charging a high price for your online course has many benefits, including:

  • Potential customers automatically assume the online course is superior in quality.
  • Your profit margin is higher.
  • You can invest more money into promoting your online course.
  • You need fewer students enrolled in your online course to make a living.

Before you go ahead and charge thousands of dollars for your online course enrollment, there are a few things to consider. Are you justified to charge such a high price?

There are a few things you can do to justify the price of your online course. Aside from the most obvious rule of creating meaningful and qualitative content, you should offer your audience tools to help them learn.

Choose an online course platform that helps students get results with gamification techniques, online community tools, projects, assignments and more.

A high price can be justified with the result you are offering as well. If you promise something meaningful to your audience or solve their biggest problem, potential customers will be more willing to invest money in your online course.

Another way to account for a premium price is to offer additional services. Many online course creators also provide one-on-one support to their students in the form of private or group video calls, additional free tools etc...

If you charge a high price for your online course, you will need fewer students enrolled in your program to make a living as an online course creator.

Now let's see why having fewer students and charging more can be a better option:

Why Fewer Students is Better?

If you charge a high price for enrollment to your online course, you will need to attract fewer students to make a living as a creator.

Many creators have the misconception that the higher the number of students, the better. However, they often do not consider the drawbacks of having hundreds of students enrolled in their online courses at once.

At least when you are getting started, it may be better for you to have fewer students to deal with. And here is why.

For your online course to be beneficial in the eyes of a customer, it needs to include different aspects:

  1. Great and valuable content.
  2. The ability to achieve a specific result.
  3. Personal coaching or interaction with the creator (you).

While you can have hundreds of students at once and still create valuable content and deliver a result, it gets trickier to build a personal relationship with each one of them.

Unless you have a team at your disposal that can manage your students and customer service, you may want to start with only a handful of students first.

With fewer students, you can focus on delivering a better learning experience, interact with them, build a community and answer all of their questions.

How Many Students Do You Really Need?

The number of students you need to make a living as an online course creator ultimately depends on your business model and personal goals.

The most important factor to consider is the price of your online course and what are your costs.

If you sell your online course for $500, you can make a good living with as little as 5 to 10 new students per month (10 students = $5'000 per month of revenue).

This way, you can invest a more significant part of your revenue into marketing and grow your online business faster. Fewer students also mean lower acquisition costs and marketing expenses.

We used our pricing calculator to show you two different scenarios based on online course prices.

Scenario A

In the first scenario, your online course price is $500.

As the price is high, it will be harder for you to convince customers to purchase it, which is why we set the "Cost Per Acquisition" to $5 per lead. We assume a conversion rate of 10% in both scenarios.

As you can see from the picture below, you only need ten students to achieve a net profit of $4,300 (including expenses).

Scenario B

In the second scenario, you decide to sell your online course for $50.

Since the price is relatively low, it might be easier for you to acquire new students, so we set the "Cost Per Acquisition" to $3 per lead. We assume a conversion rate of 10% in both scenarios.

Interestingly, to achieve the same net profit of scenario A ($4,300) instead of 10 students, you now need 235!

This means that you would have to work and spend 200x times more to achieve the same result.

How many students do you need as an online course creator
Use our Earnings Calculator

Reverse Engineer How Many Students You Need

Another way to get a better idea of how many students you will need to make a living as an online course creator is to calculate the number backward.

Instead of finding out your potential earnings with a set number of students, try to figure out how many students you would need to reach your ideal revenue.

So start by identifying your ideal cumulative earnings for a set period of time. Let's say you want to understand how many students you need in one year.

What is the minimum revenue you need to generate in one year? Try to determine what amount of money you would be comfortable with and would cover all of your expenses, and could be considered as the minimum goal to aim towards.

From there, simply divide that amount by the price of your online course, and you will find how many students you need to reach your revenue goal.

If it turns out to be too many students, it means that the price of your online course is too low (or your revenue expectations are too high).

How Many Students Can You Manage?

If you are still not sure how many students you need, try to think about it like this: how many students can you manage at once?

Are you planning to do live calls with each of them? Do you offer one-on-one coaching? Are you going to review all of their assignments and provide direct feedback?

If you are planning to do any of those things, fewer students are a better choice.

At the end of the day, the amount of work you can invest in your online course every day is going to be the same, whether you have thousands of students or just a few. The important thing is to choose in which direction you want to focus.

With a large number of customers, you will need to invest more time into marketing and generating new leads, and you will not have time to talk to each student one by one, forcing you to settle for a lower price.

How many students do you need to make money as an online course creator

With fewer students, you should focus on providing a personalized experience, which can help you justify a higher price. You may still have marketing expenses, but you'll end up with less work required for your overall marketing effort.

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