Summary: One of the most common questions of online course creators who are just beginning to build their online academies is how should I price my online course?
Today, we're going to tackle the art & science of it. Plus, how important positioning is to highlight the value of your course.
After going through some weeks of building and testing it out with a few students, you’re ready to launch your course. It’s now the best time to calculate the right pricing.
Should you charge $50 or $200? Is it too high, or too low? You might feel you’re in limbo, confused about how you’ll do it.
The biggest fear of charging in the wrong way—either too much or too little, is to lose the opportunity to earn revenue and waste effort & time.
So how can we avoid these worries and frustration?
The Challenges of Pricing your Course
At least the biggest problem I know with how course creators to price their courses is due to imposter syndrome. Due to this, most of them charge way too low because they feel there’s no to little value in their courses.
Potential students might dismiss themselves to buying the course after perceiving it as too expensive.
In most scenarios, this isn’t true.
When you price your online course very low, the chances are you’ll get students who aren’t serious and are lurking around.
Your students won’t take so much importance on your course. Your course completion rate will be too low and you will get demotivated to create another course.
“You can google it” mindset.
Another challenge is pricing your course very low because you think people can just google over a topic, and learn from watching Youtube videos, Tiktok, and blogs.
Then alas! They don’t need your course. That’s why you charge so low.
That’s a pretty petty mindset. I will show you later how you can solve this challenge.
How to Do it the Right Way
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all pricing for online courses. What I can share with you in this article is how you can implement the art & science of pricing into your course—which I will talk about in a few minutes.
After identifying the most common problems of pricing, let’s now tackle the pros and cons of charging less and charging high.
As mentioned, your biggest disadvantage is students won’t finish your course after buying it and your feedback loop will fail.
You will disengage from creating a new one because the completion rate is too low. You probably make even from your marketing efforts and your revenue.
The biggest disadvantage is some students couldn’t afford it.
However, as most course creators who have created several courses in the past, charging high can give you most of the advantages. You will:
- get more serious students who will finish your course
- earn more from your effort and time in creating your course
- be more motivated to create another course because of a successful feedback loop: success story > organic marketing > more buyers > expansion of your online academy
- potential students will perceive your course as a high-value course
Strategies to Make Your Course Affordable & High-Value
So you might ask: How about those potential students who can’t afford my course and are willing to learn? There are strategies which you can make your course affordable as well as high-value:
- Use the Purchasing Power Parity where you can automatically offer a discount depending on your buyer's location. In this way, you make your course affordable to everyone wherever they are located.
- Offer scholarships. You can help those students who are very serious about learning and transforming their lives through your course.
- Provide installment payment options. An example of this is if your course cost $149, students can either pay in full or in installments for 2 months. They can pay the first half when they purchase it, and the next half after 30 days.
5 Different Pricing Options (with examples)
There are several ways how we can price our online course. Here they are:
1. Free courses
Most self-paced courses are given for free today due to the competition and supply of content.
In pricing, when is the best time to give your course for free?
You can give it for free if you are generating leads and trying something out for the first time. Here are products you can give away for free:
- short courses. can be a self-paced course or an email course
- cheat sheets, templates, ebooks, etc
- free lessons from your high-value course
2. Paid courses.
You can sell your course as is. Students can purchase it once like how Udemy does it and how Maven does it for cohort-based courses.
3. Course Package.
Some creators are so creative they adapted the package model like how Jeremy Enns did it from his Podcast Marketing Academy.
4. Subscription or Membership-based.
Online academies mostly remodel their revenue in this type of pricing. They offer a bunch of courses, workshops, and other products.
In other words, students can subscribe and access everything monthly, yearly, or even for a lifetime. Examples are Section4 and Credo Academy.
5. Money-back Guarantee.
The course Ship30for30 started as a writing challenge. If you want to build your writing habits for 30 days, you can join the cohort, and pay $50. Then, if you succeed with the challenge you get your money back.
Deciding what pricing options are tedious.
The art of pricing your online course
You can be as creative as you can in pricing your course and integrating the different pricing options. Here are some suggestions on how to do it:
1. Validate market demand through your competitors
Most course creators benchmark their pricing through their competitor's pricing which isn’t right. You only check your competitors’ pricing to validate the market demand.
Is there any demand for your online course?
If the demand is high and the supply is low, you can charge more. If the supply is high and the demand is low, analyze how transformative your course is then charge more than your competitors.
2. Survey your audience on how much they are willing to pay
- What’s their social background?
- Where are they located?
- What do they do?
- Are they professionals or students or mothers?
- What is their current reality?
- Put yourself in their position. Will you be willing to pay for this amount?
- Is the course worth this x amount?
Survey. Ask questions. Do your research. Get to know your audience.
3. Define your promise and use it as a selling point
Nowadays, being upfront about what your students can get after taking your course is important.
Course creators call this the 'promise' of your course.
It’s also used as a selling point.
You can validate the credibility of your course and build its authority through:
- gathering success stories
- and building your social audience
These aren’t just for promotion purposes. When you build more value, you can increase your price and grow your revenue.
The science of pricing your online course (the psychology of pricing)
I pick the best 5 which will guide you in pricing your online course.
Remove commas from prices so it will sound shorter. Fewer syllables sound cheaper and easy to read. Eg.
- $1,499: One-thousand four-hundred and ninety-nine (10 syllables)
- $1499: Fourteen ninety-nine (5 syllables)
Position prices near the top or left because it seems cheaper. Why on the left? Because it feels heavy towards the right.
A good association is how the horizontal ruler starts its small number from left to right. Why top? Because it seemed lighter as it feels the pricing is lifted.
Distinguishing the most expensive option is perfect for a course package and subscription-based pricing. Make the option stand out from the rest to catch the attention of the buyers.
Reduce the left digit by one commonly known as “charm” prices. $4.99 instead of $5. $149 instead of $150.
In psychology, we encode prices in our brains before we finish reading the numerals. So we feel $4.99 is cheaper than $5.
The most common pricing for products are:
Don’t discount premium products and keep emphasizing the quality of your products. The tendency of your buyer is to wait for the discounts on your premium products or choose a competitor.
These are just some of the proven pricing tactics to price anything in general. It’s up to the context of your course on what you should use or not.
Bonus: Nail your positioning with a landing page!
The art & science of how to price your online course wouldn’t be complete without using the right positioning.
What makes your course different from the others? What will happen if they take the course? Will it elevate their skills, careers, mindset, etc?
A good example of this is Steph Smith’s content marketing course. She named it doing content right.
She created the course because most content marketing courses don’t really solve the problem, too much noise out there, and her course is the solution for doing content right.
Her course landing page says $150 for the course package including videos, ebooks, templates, and a community.
If you’ll read through, you’ll see the promo code to get 40% off. And if you read more, you’ll see a promo code to get 50% off.
That’s it! You can play around with the art & science of pricing using your landing page with the right positioning of your course value.
And remember, just follow the suggestions above and you’ve come up with almost the right pricing for your course. Good luck!