Table of contents
Written by:
Layla Acharya
Last Updated:
cost of online course development

Online Course Development – How Much?

It is an exciting time to be in the e-learning business. More and more people are looking to expand their skill set through online courses and with education taking a turn at going digital, your time to set up an online course is now. Let’s look at some factors you need to consider to help decide the cost of online course development before taking this big step.

What is the length of your course?

First things first, what is your course about and how long does it run? You must already have an idea or goal in mind if you’re thinking of setting up an online course business. Do you want to impart knowledge to others or are you trying to cash in on a lucrative business scheme that is guaranteed to bring in passive income? Question your purpose before you get started. You will be investing time and money in the development of this online course, so you need to make sure that the return on investment makes up for the cost to create it.

The length of your course will directly influence your costs and how much you are willing to, and need to, spend on it. Some elearning courses last weeks or months at a time and other subjects can be taught over a course of a few hours.  Many are one-time courses that bring in the money only when new learners sign up and are usually one-off. Others need to be refreshed and taken regularly and will depend on your offering as a course creator. You can also choose to include additional course materials at extra costs by adding a premium option to your online course.

What tools, materials, and equipment does your course require?

As part of your online course development, you have to think of all the resources you will require to cover the whole process of course creation. And each of their costs as well. From video to written content, you will need to create some from scratch, but most can be sourced externally. Here are a few e-learning must-haves to consider when allocating costs in your course development process:

course idea to online course
  • Learning Management System (LMS): The first thing to remember when creating your first online course, is a website. Where is your e-learning platform going to be hosted? Decide if you require a full-fledged website or just a landing page. Learning management systems or LMS systems, are programs and applications that help you execute, track, document, and develop online learning courses. It is one of the key platforms for e-learning today and is pretty easy to create and use, even without a background in web development or coding.

Choosing the right learning management system for your business is crucial. There are many LMS plugins with a varying set of features and tools so it is important to compare and decide what works best for your online business model. Take a look at our in-depth guide that talks about the most popular learning management systems available today, to analyze the costs, efficiency, and offerings of each. Some LMS platforms are free, but most have a cost associated with it and you will have to think about budgeting for upgrades and add-ons as well. Almost every LMS system comes with easy-to-use features to help you design, publish, and create all the content and course material you will need.

  • Hardware: As an online course provider, you are in tough competition against some of the leading e-learning platforms in the world. Anyone can set up online courses today, so you need to make sure that you provide high-quality material, with content that is relevant and unique. Your online course platform has to stand out from the rest, deliver expert content about your subject matter, and stay one step ahead when it comes to delivery. All this and more can be accomplished with the right hardware.

You no longer need thousands of dollars to create decent content online, and videos are a great way to start. Invest in a basic, but powerful video camera that can take your video production to the next level. Smartphones today come with video cameras of really good quality, but for learners to take you seriously you need to show a level of professionalism in your content and videos. A good video camera, tripod, microphone, and stand will save you production costs and development costs in the long run. Make sure you film your tutorials and videos with good and clear natural light as well. Other hardware costs you need to consider to start with include laptops and desktops with necessary accessories like keyboards and mouse, and storage and backup for your data and content.

  • Software: From video editing software to design tools (see also ‘Best Online AutoCAD Classes‘) and applications, making your online course special requires the right programs alongside creativity. There are plenty of free graphic-design tools, like Canva available online today. Use this to make your website visually appealing at no extra cost.  Another way to keep your course creation costs low is by using Microsoft Office tools. Most of us already have these on our systems and a PowerPoint Presentation (see also ‘How To Add Narration To Google Slides‘) is a simple and cost-effective way to showcase your online course content. Save costs by using Google Presentations which is free and can be accessed through Google accounts or a Gmail email address. Creating an online course successfully and at a low cost starts by making the best use of what you already have.

Consider using cloud storage to save all your course content, videos, and media files for your website and LMS. They are more cost-effective and durable in the long-run. Find out how much does it cost to use different cloud storage solutions, and you can always upgrade your system later when you decide to scale up and grow your online courses.

Do you need to hire professionals to help run your course?

You might have all the resources and tools to launch your online course, but you also need to think of hiring external help as soon as you need it. Professionals can make a difference and take your course from good to great. Think about who you can invest in and where else you can save costs by taking some jobs upon yourself. Hiring early will save you time and money in the long run if you don’t have to spend extra on fixing issues when it’s too late.  You can choose to hire full time or save costs by hiring an expert at their hourly rate or till the job is done. Hiring per job can sometimes cost much less than keeping staff on your payroll.

Do i need to hire professionals to make a course

One thing to remember is this, the cost to create an amazing online course lies in the hands of the subject matter expert you invest in. Here are some areas to consider:

  • Web development: An LMS is easy to use, but can also be time-consuming. Hiring a professional to manage your website, its content and the build of it, along with the upkeep of the backend, will make up for the effort and cost to develop it yourself.
  • Creative personnel: From a graphic designer to a content creator, the success of your online course depends on the quality of your content and the innovative way you can present it. Designers can help you add value to your course with seamless design, user-friendly content, and intuitive design elements that enhance your subject. Designers can be hired on an ‘as needed’ basis or can be one time costs during the course development and design stage. You can also choose to get help with your video content by hiring a video producer and editor. Videos require a larger thought process and can save you the cost to develop them yourself if you are unaware of the full procedure. Experts can help you develop an online course that meets the standards you aim to achieve.
  • Instructional designer: An instructional designer will make sure that your design elements work well in an informative way leveraging the right digital theory to provide the best course of action for your content. They will make sure that the framework and delivery of your content factors in the aesthetics of your system to ease the process of learning in your online course.
  • Teaching staff: Consider whether you need to hire a subject matter expert or if you are going to undertake the teaching of your course yourself. Ensure that whoever you hire is comfortable with your online platform, on video, can use WordPress plugin and other online applications at a basic level. 

Asking for help at the start of your business can save you from last-minute costs later in your course schedule. Creating an online course requires the right mindset and the right people. Costs will come and go, but with the right foundation in place, you can develop an online course to be proud of.

How much does it cost to create an online course will also depend on the below factors:

Users turn to online learning to meet their needs, and they have certain hopes in mind. Your course needs to answer their questions and provide them with online courses that not only meet expectations but strive to exceed them while keeping costs low for you.

Structure your course

The elearning market is highly competitive and can be saturated with repeated content. Revise your course complexity to make content easy to digest, yet informative. Use a clear table of contents that lists every question, answer, module, and chapter and encourages the learner to progress ahead in the course. Label and categorize all videos and media elements to make them easy to find. Invest in a domain name early to save on costs later, and make it clear enough to give the user an idea about what your courses are about. 

WordPress has inbuilt options that can link with the domain name of your choice. Copyright your content with rights reserved only to you to save on fraud and plagiarism costs. This includes all content you create, from videos to graphics.

Provide a mix of engaging content

Your e-learning courses need to be engaging and noteworthy. Users should be willing to spend on your courses over others. One way to do this is to invest in video content early on and mix it up with blogs, quizzes, multiple-choice questions, live tutorials, forums, and other areas of interaction amongst students. You can even choose to have your students engage with each other on video or conduct one-to-one sessions for personalized tutoring. 

WordPress has a number of features you can make use of on your own and you can save on development costs for each one individually. Speak a language that your target audience will understand. If your learners are working professionals in a field, incorporate their own business jargon within the course. If you are teaching basics to those just starting out it would be good to use conversational language. Video content is a great way to keep everyone engaged.

So what is the cost of online course development?

All of these factors and more add up to your cost. It is a complex and ever-changing industry so you need to weigh all your options carefully. Ask for all prices upfront and try to spend only when required. Many things like video creation, social media management, basic web development, and design can be done in-house.

How do you charge for your online course? Start by making a list of everything that counts as an expense. This will help you set a competitive price point for your course. You need to price it in such a way that you break even, but also adds value to your business. Pricing it too low may seem suspicious and pricing too high will scare away users. Ultimately, online courses are a great way to have some income coming in. If you don’t invest in it early, you will most likely regret it later.

It is important to keep up-to-date with trends and innovate new ways of teaching. You need to refresh your course at least once a year to stay relevant and competitive.

Within contemporary internet culture, it has become easier than ever to obtain online qualifications, and there are near countless institutions...
Offering courses in fields such as data science, machine learning, and programming, DataCamp is a popular online learning platform used worldwide....
Online education is a commonplace and important tool in modern times, allowing those with other commitments and business interests to...
Who doesn’t love grilled BBQ food? Even though grilling might seem like an easy way to prepare some food for...
Learning to draw can be quite a difficult endeavor, learning to draw not only requires good discipline and plenty of...