Creating an online educational platform requires efforts and time. However, technological advancement, the appearance of numerous online tools, and the availability of the exact step-by-step plan can make the process easier and more pleasant. Let’s go through the entire process of creating a profitable business online step by step.
The first step on your way to having a successful educational platform is gathering information about the realities of online education. An online entrepreneur-to-be should conduct research on how to adjust their business ideas with the existing market to ensure generating profit. The given market research deals with gathering information on such aspects as: the profile of a potential client, and existing competitors and their four Ps (product, price, place, and promotion). At the same time, it should be mentioned that it is not necessary to copy your competitors’ strategies or brand presentation ideas. The way your competitors lead their companies means neither that their strategy is successful in all circumstances nor that you have to follow their example. The main benefit of conducting competitive research is to find out about the prevailing market tendencies and how to make your product or services more alluring than all others.
Tools to be used: there is a wide variety of different sources where you can get all the required information. It is possible to use special platforms containing data on each online business, such as:
- Owler, BizStats (profit analysis and general information about a company) and marketing tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb (for marketing matrix analysis);
- Google Alerts, Social Mention, and Twitter give you a possibility to analyze all the mentions your competitors are getting on the Internet;
- RSS feeds through a tool such as MySyndicat and others.
- Tableau – helps to track the latest innovations and trends in the market.
- Qualtrics Panels, SurveySparrow, and other survey platforms can help find more information about your potential customers and their primary needs.
- FreeLunch can provide you with all important information about demographics and patterns of spending money among your targeted audience.
Create a logo and think through your concept
Based on the gathered data, spend some time on developing your brand representation strategies. First, think through the mission statement, values, and vision of your business. The mission statement claims the company’s main interests and how it can be helpful to other people (“to assist in learning foreign languages”, “to connect with professional guitar tutors”, etc. Values indicate the principles that guide the way your company is functioning (recognition, integrity, freedom, discovery, etc.). As for vision, it describes the ambitions you have and the goals you want to achieve in the long run.
Once the mission statement, values, and vision are established, it is time to create a logo. This image should represent what you are, be simple, and, at the same time, memorable. It is quite possible to create a simple logo by yourself using special programs or by hiring a specialist.
Useful Online Tools: Wix Logo Maker, Free Logo Design, Logo Maker, Canva, etc.
Creating a website
The real work starts with creating your website. First, you need to register your domain. For an online business, it is recommended to use either “.com” as your domain root. The domain “.com” indicates that your organization has commercial purposes, while the domain “.edu” serves to indicate that the organization has only educational purposes. Therefore, the ideal form for an online educational platform is www.yourwebsitename.com.
Pay attention to the choice of your domain name. It is not so easy to change the name of your website once you have already made up your brand and gain high positions in search engine ranking. In this case, switching to another domain name will affect your brand awareness and website positioning.
Here is the list of general recommendations about choosing your domain name:
- Your domain name should be short and unique;
- It has to reflect the ideas of what your company is offering and what are its particularities. In short, your potential visitors should immediately get an idea of what your platform is about;
- Implement proper keywords in your website address since domain names can influence search engine optimization.
- To buy a domain: Namecheap, GoDaddy, Google Domains;
- To buy hosting: it is possible to buy domain names together with hosting (on GoDaddy, NameCheap, and similar platforms) or on websites specialized in hosting (A2 Hosting, Site Ground, etc.).
- To get themes: Colorlib, athemes, ThemeForest, themegrill.
- To start with, create a single page type of website that would include the following information: your name and bio, information about the company, clients’ reviews section (should be filled up with first clients). Then add a blog to your website and start to fill it with more and more articles.
- Start to build up your blog to get more traffic. Get the first hundred posts written on your blog as fast as you can. Make sure that your blog posts are connected with the main sphere of your company’s interests and contain the appropriate keywords.
Useful tools for visuals: Image Creator, Stencil, Canva, Soapbox (video maker), Gliffy (diagram creator), PicMonkey, Venngage (infographics creator), etc.
- Create a free Leads Magnet. This practice will give you a list of your potential customers’ e-mails. Usually, a lead magnet is some sort of useful content: article, video, podcast, ebook, etc. At the same time, this content should be both valuable and something that your client would like to get immediately. Thanks to free content, your leads will be grateful to you and may want to try out paid courses or paid content or at least to be updated about your publications.
Useful tools: you can get Lead Magnet templates on such platforms as Creativemarket and Convertkit.
- Create content for e-mail marketing and make sure to send 2-4 high-value letters to your leads to keep them interested.
Useful tools for e-mail marketing: HubSpot Email Marketing, Sender, Omnisend, SendPulse, Benchmark Email, Mailchimp, MailerLite.
No matter what your online educational platform would be like, it is better to follow the steps described above. Even if your business requires building a professional online platform that would include interactive components, difficult visualization, or host meetings – start with the given small steps towards your goal. The thing is that these steps will help you to kickstart the traffic to your website. If you wait until everything is settled, it is evident that you will waste precious time building up your audience and earn some authority in terms of SERP placement.
After that, there are different ways of how to continue developing your platform:
- Info Product: books, already recorded video courses;
- Live Online Courses and Seminars;
- E-learning Platform (Coursera or Udemy), membership website, interactive platforms.
Let consider these three main types of online educational business.
- Info Products. To earn money from having an online platform in the form of educational materials catalog, pay a lot of attention to filling it with diverse info products. It might be video courses, podcasts, or other types of digital products. You can start working on creating several products (a collection of videos and a small workbook) and funnel people from your email marketing list generated by the lead magnet. Make sure to represent it as something your potential clients cannot live without. Think over all elements of your info product and the used source materials: videos, notes, current training materials, images.
Make sure that once your client has bought access to your course, they can easily download all the required information to their devices. Get reviews and constantly improve your info products. Furthermore, it is quite possible that your clients would be very thankful if you provide them with both video/audio and the script of the information.
Useful tools: for visuals use Canva, Easel.ly, Gliffy, etc; for videos, you may use Camtasia (especially if you want both to record PowerPoint presentation and edit educational videos); it is also possible to use Thinkific and Udemy to create, manage, and promote your online educational products.
- Live Online Courses and Seminars;
Another possible way of having an educational platform is to create a space for online courses or use/create special platforms for online seminars. In the first case, it is possible either to implement such communication tools as skype and zoom. The platform includes your materials, but the communication is ensured by the mentioned tools or their equivalents. This means that you need to create unique educational materials, hire teachers or instructors, check their equipment and Internet connection, and then start selling the courses. The given scheme is perfect for foreign language teaching and diverse school/university subjects tutoring.
The second case is about creating a website for online webinars or conducting seminars on existing platforms. The instructor prepares the presentation, the speech/explanation, tries to predict possible questions of the audience. While choosing a platform, make sure that it has all the necessary sections: comments, the list of participants, space for presentation and video, the possibility to assign admins and moderators.
Useful tools: Demio, WebinarNinja, JetWebinar, WebEx, Livestream, etc.
III. E-learning Platform (Coursera or Udemy), membership website, interactive platforms.
The main requirement for creating an interactive educational platform is to have a strong concept and compelling ideas. Good examples of such interactive platforms are Kahoot and Quizlet. These platforms have become a must-have for teachers who want to conduct exciting lessons. Of course, the creation of similar platforms requires hiring professional webmasters, designers, and web developers. The access to your educational platform might be in a membership format. This format may be also applied to the website with online educational services or courses catalog. It is important to highlight that membership can be divided into different groups according to the price and the provided abilities. Usually, there are three groups with the lowest, medium, and the highest price. However, it is quite beneficial to create a platform-catalog, where users buy each online course separately.
While creating the mentioned types of online educational platforms, it is important to pay attention to the presence of the following characteristics:
- Possibility to fulfill complex tasks and operations: submitting something, enrolling in a course, searching and selecting courses, redirecting clients to the payment gateway;
- Enabled social interaction and student-teacher connection: commenting and discussing, getting feedback, etc.
- Interactivity that does not cause technical problems. For instance, it should be possible for learners to interact with all elements on the page without interruptions or bugs.
To get loyal clients, it is often advised to offer your potential clients to test your products for a limited period (day/week/month) or to get free samples or free basic materials. Even if you have content that is much better than those of your competitors, learners still need to compare available online courses and then choose what they want. It is also possible to make a discount to newbies who want to start learning right away without any trial period.
The essential idea that should be kept in mind is that building up an online education is a long-term dynamic process, not a static creation. The business of online education is constantly evolving, which should be taken into consideration if you want to keep up with your competitors or be ahead of them.
Lessley Anderson is an enthusiastic copywriter who works for several IT companies. She is quite open-minded and curious about everything, which can be seen in her ability to understand technical topics. Lessley is also an academic freelance writer. To be more precise, she works using different platforms, including https://pro-papers.com/. As a rule, Lessley Anderson writes about programming, science, IT, artificial intelligence, innovations, management, human resources, and business development. In her spare time, Lessley plays the piano and composes music. Lessley visits art galleries on a regular basis and really appreciates the works of the Impressionists. She also enjoys going to the cinema from time to time. Last but not least, Lessley Anderson is a happy wife and mother of two children.