I’ve been wondering for a while now what the ‘next big thing’ is in terms of internet marketing and product creation, and how us bloggers / entrepreneurs can get in early.
7 years ago, it was smartphones. Big app developers became millionaires overnight as the mobile app market grew into a 10 billion dollar a year industry. A few years ago, Kindle and other eBook platforms took off and are still growing rapidly today. What’s next?
I think e-Learning is going to be the next big thing, specifically with video courses. Why do I say this?
Colleges Are In Trouble
Let’s think about why people spend money. They spend money to solve some sort of problem. When it comes to video courses, that problem is the need of knowledge and the lack of education. Traditionally, knowledge will be gained from a college or university, which today costs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Honestly, I think we’re in a post-secondary education or student loan bubble that is going to burst. College tuition prices are going up while the value of a college degree is going down, and you’ve really got to wonder how long this trend is going to continue. The truth is, many of the degrees people are graduating with have no value whatsoever, and are certainly not worth the – in some cases – hundred thousand dollars it cost the student to acquire it.
No, eventually this trend is going to stop. It has to. People will eventually realize that it is simply no longer worth it to go to college for many fields, because you’ll end up working the same minimum wage job, except now you’ll have debt. From a financial standpoint, that just doesn’t make any sense.
So what happens next? Honestly, I think this is going to depend on the employer. I think that as degrees become so abundant that they lose their value, many employers will start turning looking towards other factors that will determine the potential employee’s capabilities to do the job. Really, employers do not care what degrees you have. They value degrees because they are an indicator that you’re able to do the job. Well, if everybody has a degree, that becomes less important. In the end, the employer wants to hire whoever does the job best, because that’s the person that will make them the most money. That’s all they care about.
Now let me tell you, half of college is worthless. Half of the classes you take have nothing to do with your major, and the knowledge you gain will not help you at all with your job. So here’s what I’m thinking – if employers place more of a value on capabilities and less on a degree, than there will be no need to take all of those extra worthless classes. You just need to learn the things that are relevant to your career field.
e-Learning – The Future?
This is where e-Learning and online courses come into play. As you may know, we have platforms like Udemy that host thousands of different courses for thousands of different subjects, taught by experts like you and me. Bear in mind these are people who actually have experience in the subject they are teaching about, so you know you’re going to be hearing actual facts that actually work. I still find it funny that people go to college for a degree in entrepreneurship, where they learn from professors who, get this, have never actually started or ran a business in their entire life. Heck, they’ve never even worked for a business – they work in the public sector!
With these online courses, you can get a higher quality education on a subject from the comfort of your own home, for a heck of a lot cheaper than the price of a college course.
Now obviously this isn’t going to replace education that requires hands on learning like chemical engineering or neurosurgery, but for those classes where you’re really just reading through a book, this could be the future.
Seriously now, I’ll give you an example. One of the last courses I took at college was on retail management. The textbook that I had to purchase was $250. The class I took was online and cost about $1000 in tuition. That puts the total cost for the class up to $1,250.
I started the class and was very disappointed when the entire curriculum for the quarter looked like this:
Read chapters 1 and 2 in the book. Take this multiple choice, computer-graded test.
Two weeks later: Read chapters 3 and 4 in the book. Take this multiple choice, computer-graded test.
Rinse and repeat until the quarter ended. I do not think I heard a single word from the instructor all quarter. $1250 for all of that.
Alright, now I’m here on Udemy. I type retail management into the search bar. Several courses come up. I click on the first one and it’s called, “Retail Management & Supply Chain Drivers. Learn supply chain, retail pricing and product, distribution, logistics, assortment, & space management in retail.”
83 different lectures, 11 hours of video. Price for the course? 99 dollars. 99 freaking dollars. My college course that was basically nothing more than “read this book and answer these questions” was 12.5x more expensive and offered less value than this $99 course. Heck, for the price of my one college course, I could probably gain an entire MBA’s worth of knowledge using online courses.
I’m Not The Only One Seeing This Rapid Change
It’s been extremely clear that online learning is on the rise. It makes sense. Online education is not only cheaper, but it’s more convenient as well. People seem to be busier than ever (probably from all the debt they’re carrying) and want to be able to choose when they get to do things. That is why online colleges are becoming more popular, and why I took online courses when I was in college myself.
It’s not just online college education that is increasing though. Sites like Udemy and Khan’s Academy are becoming more and more popular every month. We’ll just use Udemy as an example because that’s what we’ve been talking about the most so far.
Udemy announced at the end of 2014 that it now has over 5 million students, which is an increase of over 213% from the previous year. They’ve also announced that students have enrolled in 13.4 million courses, a little under an average of 3 per student. Revenue grew 160%, and the rate at which courses are being released is increasing exponentially.
And that’s just with one site. The real question is whether or not this trend is going to continue, and again as the college / student loan bubble pops, I think it has got to. This means that it’s time for entrepreneurs like you and me to enter the market before it gets flooded.
My First Experience Selling With Udemy
One of the reasons I decided to write this post was because my first course went live on Udemy today. A slightly less awesome version of my Blogging For Money: Starting Your Very Own Web Business course just went live on Udemy about six hours ago. 4 Students have already signed up, with no effort on my part!
It’s definitely too early to draw any serious conclusions, but I have been told that one in 4 instructors is currently making more than $10,000 a year on Udemy. That is no small chunk of change, considering a full-time minimum wage income isn’t much higher.
Udemy vs. Selling On Your Own Site
We have an advantage over many Udemy instructors because we are bloggers and marketers. We have our own sites and our own followers. This means we have a method of driving traffic to Udemy and making more sales, pushing our courses further up their organic search results.
Here’s the thing though – Udemy is very greedy with their commission. You earn 50% of the sale price if somebody buys through their organic search. Sometimes this isn’t even half of your retail price, as Udemy supplies coupons to their users all the time. One of the sales pictured above only granted me a $5 commission, as somebody grabbed the course with a $10 coupon.
Still, that is a $5 I never would have had if I hadn’t published on Udemy. Not to mention, that student may end up becoming a loyal visitor of the site, subscribing to my email newsletter and purchasing future products from me. Who knows?
Of course, $5 is not spectacular at all for a $97 course, and I certainly wouldn’t bother to market my own product for that little. Hence why I host a better, upgraded version of the course on my own site where I keep 100% of the sales price after transaction fees.
Honestly, I believe anybody who already has a following or a way to market their course should publish a version both on their own website, as well as on Udemy. Your own marketing efforts should go to promoting the version on your site where you make more per sale, and let Udemy do their thing and earn you a bit of passive income on the side. You get the best of both worlds that way – the benefit of Udemy’s search platform, and the full profit from your own marketing efforts.
After all, you don’t have to enroll in their program that devalues your course to only $10.
I pay a 50% commission to all affiliates who sell my course on this site, so I like to think of Udemy as a giant affiliate as I earn roughly the same amount through their sales as I would if one of my affiliates sold the course.
For more information on this topic, see: Udemy Vs. Self Hosting.
As A Blogger, Should You Create A Video Course?
Every blogger needs something to sell. I actually talk a bit about this in my course. Not only do you earn more per sale, but your visitors are more likely to buy a product YOU create rather than one somebody else has created because they know and trust you already.
The question is, should that product be a course?
The eBook market is already a bit saturated, but that’s not an issue if you’re marketing the book yourself. There are certainly less competitors with online courses, but there also aren’t as many people purchasing them.
However, the thing that makes courses great is the amount in which you can sell them for. I sell my book, The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide To Business, Finance, and Life for $9.99. I sell my course for $97.
I’m not sure why, but people are willing to pay way more money for video courses than books. Best of all, the course actually took less time to create!
I can’t speak from experience because I’m definitely not an expert on course creation, but I think there is a reason why so many of the big marketers are selling courses rather than books. They provide a greater return on time invested. The increased price also makes promoting the course a more attractive option for potential affiliates.
All in all, it seems like there’s more money to be made with the same amount of effort.
Will this hold true for you and me? Only time will tell!
What do you think the future of e-Learning looks like, both for students, and for us as marketers? Have you created a course? If not, what’s holding you back?
I’d love to hear what you have to say!