Once you’ve planned to start an e-Learning business based on WordPress and LearnDash, a question that comes to mind is – what type of business model to choose that suits your business?
This can be a difficult question to answer if you don’t know the different business models in eLearning. But don’t worry – we’re here to help you out.
In this article we will tell you about 4 different e-Learning business models and the LearnDash add-ons you can use to implement these models successfully.
Let’s get started!
4 Business Model Options for Your LearnDash site
Scaling an offline learning business may be difficult because of various physical and resource-related constraints , but that’s not the case with e-Learning businesses. Every e-Learning business can be scaled significantly using a variety of business models, some of which we’re going to discuss here.
One time fee-based business model
This type of business model is all over Udemy and other similar e-Learning sites. A course is created, teaching something very specific in any niche, and learners buy it to learn that particular subject.
The pricing for such courses may vary, depending on the nature of course, the budget of learners and other factors like what you’re teaching and how beneficial it can be for the learner once he has completed the course.
Now let’s take a look on some pros and cons of this business model:
- It’s lucrative: Courses that teach anything specific can be sold at high prices (subject to the budget of your learners).
- It’s evergreen: You can create courses that can be sold for a long time. No need to keep updating your content after every few days.
- Time and energy intensive. You need to invest a lot of time and effort in building such courses. If a course doesn’t deliver concrete results, it’s less likely to gain popularity among learners.
- No recurring income: You don’t get recurring income from such courses. Because once someone has purchased a course and learned the skill that you were teaching, it doesn’t leave them with any reason to come to you and purchase the same course again. If you want a recurring income, you need to re-launch your courses to different segments of learners again and again.
- Marketing effort: You need to keep marketing your course(s) continuously to maintain a steady stream of leads to make sales. You also need a unique sales funnel for each of your courses.
Academy/Subscription-based business model
The second kind of business model is an Academy model, sometimes also known as subscription or membership-based business model.
You can think of it as something similar to Netflix in the field of e-Learning.
Instead of teaching something very specific in a particular niche, you develop lots of content about that niche and teach something new in every lesson. You charge a small monthly fee to your learners, and subscribers get access to your whole library of lessons as well as new lessons that you publish during a month.
Its pros and cons are as follows:
- Recurring income: Unlike one time fee-based model, the subscription or membership based business model of e-Learning gives you the opportunity of recurring income. It can be very beneficial in the long run, because you keep earning from all of your learners on a monthly basis. As the number of learners grows, you can earn a lot more than you would earn in one time-fee based business.
- Establish yourself as an expert: When you develop a lot of content about any particular subject, it establishes you as a subject matter expert. That image and social recognition in turn can result in additional business opportunities.
- Marketing effort: You need just one sales funnel for all your learners. Things are much simpler because of that.
- Content creation: You need to keep creating fresh content on a regular basis. It requires a lot of innovation along with deep expertise in the subject.
- Less earnings in the beginning: Your earnings with this model will be low in the beginning. Even though you can eventually make up for it as your community of learners grows, in the starting your earnings can be much lower than expected.
Freemium business model
If you’re aware of the Freemium pricing strategy adopted in the software industry, you may already have an idea of this model.
Essentially, it’s about offering some of your content for free while keeping the remaining large chunk of your in-depth content accessible to paid subscribers.
By giving some content for free, what you do is give a sneak peek of what someone can expect when they sign up for any of your paid courses.
- High conversions: If you can hook your learners properly with your free content, and if your pricing is right, most of them will convert into paid learners. The conversion rate of a freemium model in e-Learning can be higher than any other model.
- More leads: The appeal of “free” is more than enough to lure most people. If you’re offering some of your content for free and you use it as a marketing tactic, then you can generate a lot of leads, many of which can later convert into customers.
- Build your brand: The free part of your content – whether in video form or PDF form – can also be shared by your learners with others, and if you include your branding in it carefully, it can increase your brand awareness very quickly, thus establishing you as an expert in your niche.
- Free content: You need to provide some of your course content for free. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that no matter how well you plan your content and pricing, at least some of your leads won’t convert into paid learners. In such a situation you’re giving a part of your course content for free to a number of users, without any incentives. If enough of your leads don’t convert into paid customers, you may end up losing money in this business model. This single flaw also makes it a quite risky business model in e-Learning.
Partnership-based business model
This is the model you can adopt if you don’t want to create all your courses yourself. You can partner with someone else who is a subject matter expert, and they can create the content while you provide them a platform to post and promote their content.
By doing this you split the marketing related efforts and content creation related efforts between two people, thus maximizing efficiency while retaining the quality of content.
- No burden of content creation: Since you’ve left the responsibility of content creation on someone else, you don’t need to worry about it now. You can focus solely on the management of site and marketing of content.
- Better quality of content: When the content creator has sole responsibility of creating content only, he/she can create high quality content with greater focus.
- More content: If you partner with multiple instructors, you can also create a lot more content than you alone would ever be able to create.
- Shared earnings: The money that you make will be split between the creator courses and you. You can’t take 100% of earnings to your home.
- Dependency: You become dependent on someone else for maintaining the supply of content if you want to earn on a recurring basis. A change in their priorities or lifestyle may force you to look up for someone else who can create the content like them.
Having established these models, let us now take a look at some tools you can use to scale your LearnDash LMS.
Tools to scale your LearnDash LMS
Now when you know about various business models that can be used to scale your e-Learning business, it’s time to take a look at some add-ons and tools that you can use to implement any of these models in your LearnDash based site.
This add-on adds a new ‘Instructor’ role to your WordPress installation with limited authority. Anyone who has been assigned this role can do only two things: post course content to your site and manage their students. Nothing more than that. This add-on, therefore, can be used to implement the partnership-based business model.
The WooCommerce Subscriptions add-on allows you to set up a recurring payments based site on WordPress. It costs $199 per annum, and it can be used to implement the subscription-based business model on your LearnDash site.
This one helps you integrate Mailchimp with your LearnDash plugin, thus automating the delivery of your courses through email. Your students can opt-in to Mailchimp lists, and they can also be tagged with their desired courses. That way whenever you update a course, all members who have opted-in to the list of that course can be notified automatically. Great for all your business models where you need to send regular notifications and newsletters.
This add-on allows you to easily clone the content of any of your courses, rename their titles in bulk and make them prepared for distribution easily. If you ever need to create a copy of any of your courses while keeping lessons, quizzes and other elements of hierarchy intact, this plugin will come very handy. You may need it if your site is based on a one time fee-based business model, thus requiring relaunching of courses multiple times.
This plugin automates various functions of your LearnDash site by integrating with various other plugins. For example, enrollment in courses, actions that happen after someone passes a quiz, marking things complete/incomplete and a lot more can be automated with its help.
This plugin allows you to enable bulk enrollments on your LearnDash site. Once it’s installed and activated, you can not only enroll students faster but also manage them easily with help of various group leaders. It allows anyone to register seats in bulk for courses available on your site. A group of students is created automatically by the plugin after every such purchase, and the user who did bulk registration is assigned the role of Group Leader.
That’s how you can scale your LearnDash-based e-Learning business easily with help of 4 different business models and add-ons that support those models.
Have any other business model recommendations for those new to the eLearning industry? Plus, if you know of any other add-ons that can be beneficial in scaling up a LearnDash site, feel free to share them in the comments.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!