It’s 2021 and more experts than ever are choosing to monetize their expertise through an online course.
Choosing the right price is a critical-path item that must be thoughtful and calculated to avoid turning off your prospects (a mismatch with your value proposition – whether too high or too low) or creating a course that’s not profitable.
In this article, I’m going to show you exactly how to price your online course in a way that effortlessly attracts perfect-fit clients and maximizes your profitability.
There’s a good chance that you’ve been thinking about your online course pricing all wrong.
If you’ve been struggling with how to price your online course, coaching or training program, or premium service offer…
Spinning in confusion, overwhelm, and indecision…
I have a powerful approach for you that you will LOVE…
Build a course then pick the price? Yeah, that’s what “they” say.
I say that there’s a better way.
Read on to discover why you should flip this advice upside down then learn my proprietary Profitable Program Pricing Formula™ which will enable you to pick the optimal price for your online course or program in a clear and aligned way.
Do you prefer watching a video over reading an article? I recorded a recent Business Booster LIVE on this topic which you can find a replay of on our YouTube Channel >>HERE<<
Picking the optimal price is a critical step of the course creation journey.
Experts have been flocking to this business model as a way to package their knowledge, add new income streams, and impact more lives without risking burn-out or sacrificing their quality of life.
If you are already on the journey, you know there are many decisions to make along the way.
From picking the perfect online course idea, to choosing the platform, figuring out what content to include, and finding buyers to purchase your course …
…these decision points shape what your final product can become and the value you can create through it – for yourself and your clients.
The factor I hear most questions about from the hundreds of online course creators I’ve spoken with?
Choosing the right price can make all the difference…
Charge too much and you’ll be spinning your wheels with no takers.
Charge too little and the customers you get won’t be worth the effort it took.
But that Goldielocks price will draw in quality customers and create higher profit for your business
The confusion on this topic is real!
Lots of people offer advice that’s all over the board and you’ve likely seen prices of single digits, hundreds of dollars, and thousands of dollars.
No wonder you may be feeling confused!
So how do I figure out my optimal online course pricing?
I’ll tell you about that in a moment, but before we dive in let’s start with a quick overview of the Online Course Landscape because different types of courses have different prices so it’s helpful to understand what the different options are so you can pick the best one for you.
The Online Course Landscape
As we go over this, I invite you to pick just ONE program to focus on. You can add more offerings and tiers later. But this exercise will be easier to complete if you narrow your focus.
Starting on the bottom-left of the graphic:
1. Lead Magnet Courses (also called Mini-Courses)
Have you taken my 30k Blueprint Bootcamp, where you create a Blueprint for your online course or program? It is an example of a lead magnet course. The purpose of these types of courses is to familiarize people with you and your work.
While some may recommend selling these for low prices, I recommend offering these for free.
Two key reasons:
1. More eyeballs on your work = higher sales. This will help you meet your income goals with more ease and less hustle.
2. Serving others feels amazing. This is a service to those who can’t or don’t want to afford your services.
Bonus reason: Being in a giving state and feeling amazing is a great boost to manifesting powers 🧙♀️
Haven't Done the Bootcamp Yet?
Is creating a premium online course or program on your to-do list?
If so, I invite you to grab your complimentary ticket.
This 3-day virtual, on-demand program will enable you to create a high-quality course or program so you can make more money from your expertise and serve more people without working more hours.
2. Mass-Market Courses
This is what most people think about when they think about an online course. Automated and with little to no interaction with the creator. Maybe there’s a Facebook group or a large community but there’s no individual or customized support.
This means that if a client gets stuck, they’re more likely to just give up. Especially since the financial investment was likely low,
THIS is the key reason for low completion rates:
low investment (=low incentive) and no personalized support to keep going
The Results-Oriented Programs which I cover next creates much stronger engagement, better client satisfaction, and higher completion rates.
According to Podia in How Much Should You Charge for Your Online Course?”, the majority of [mass market] courses fell within the $5-$50.00 range.
The rest of the breakdown was as follows:
$5.00-$50.00: 175 or 39.06% of courses
$50.01-$100.00: 84 or 18.76% of courses
$100.01-$150.00: 34 or 7.60% of courses
$150.01-$200.00: 30 or 6.70% of courses
$200.01-$250.00: 22 or 4.91% of courses
As you can see, this a low Revenue Per Sale model. This means that you need many online course sales to earn a sufficient profit and earn a reasonable return on your investment of time, energy, and money.
It’s not a model I recommend you start with unless you already have a big audience.
This is also a VERY crowded space so getting eyeballs on your course will be difficult.
The Results-Oriented Programs is a much more strategic (read: profitable) place to start.
Is a profitable model possible here? Absolutely. And I recommend that you do it AFTER you deliver the results-oriented program. This will allow you to grow your audience and effectively beta-test the digital modules before releasing them into the ‘wild’ (where it’s hard to know what is or isn’t resonating with the students).
3. Results-Oriented Programs
Also called Premium Programs and Hybrid Online Courses.
Some call them High-Ticket Courses.
These are a combination of digital modules and personal support via individual or group coaching sessions.
Digital modules take your clients down the step-by-step journey to results while you support them in going deeper and adapting the work to their particular needs.
🌟 For most experts, this is the most optimal combination of results, time spent per client, and profitability per client.
🌟 It allows you to do what you love doing (training, coaching, consulting), witness the breakthroughs your clients have with your support and do it in a more efficient manner!
🌟 You get a quick return on your investment in creating the program.
This is my recommended starting point for experts who want to create a course or program on a topic of their expertise and passion.
I’ve seen this model work well for experts such as:
- Licensed professionals (therapists, investment advisors, lawyers, dietitians, CPAs)
- Leadership and career coaches
- Business coaches and consultants
- Life coaches (most niches)
- Health and wellness professionals
- “Done-with-you” service providers (design experts, personal stylists, professional organizers, marketing experts, professional decorators)
- And anyone who can help people get desired results and outcomes and whose process involves a training or teaching component (think of things you say over and over again to clients)!
If there’s a step-by-step process you can take clients through – this is likely a model that can work for you!
This is the model I help clients create in my Thriving Online Program Accelerator™. If you’re interested in being supported in creating a course of your own, you can apply for a call with me by clicking >>HERE<<
“I had a full time private practice which I can now start to scale back so that I can focus on my coaching business more.
I could only see one client at a time and only get paid for the hour I worked with that client.
Now, I can expand and help more people at once and get compensated handsomely for it.”
On this call, we will chat about your goals and plans and see if I’m the right person to help you make more money and serve more people quicker and with more ease.
More of the DIY type? Grab your complimentary ticket to our 30K Blueprint Bootcamp >>HERE<<. This 3-day virtual, on-demand program will enable you to create a high-quality course or program so you can make more money from your expertise and serve more people without working more hours.
The Profitable Program Pricing Formula™
The Profitable Program Pricing Formula™ I’m about to teach you is the most comprehensive and intuitive way to choose (and then back up) the optimal price for your online course, online program, or premium service offer.
Three things to keep in mind before we dive into the formula:
1. Start with the price
Choose your price; then create a course around it.
This creates more ease in both course creation and marketing. It creates a ‘north star’ for you to follow which makes decision-making SO. MUCH. EASIER 🙂
It will also ensure that the experience in your course or program is congruent with its price. A task much easier accomplished when the program is created with a price to guide your decision making rather than hacking together various ideas and then trying to fit that into a price that makes sense.
I know this is different than what you’ve heard. So stay with me here.
By choosing the price first, you will be able to create a course that provides commensurate value. Start with the course first and it’ll be very tricky to put a number on that.
2. You will increase your price over time
Too many experts want to start with their optimal price on day one. You can if you want to. But what I see working better is starting with a price that’s a bit lower, enabling you to get some quick wins and gain confidence; then raise it as time goes on.
Counter to how it may seem, this strategy actually creates a faster path to profitability as that early inertia continues at higher and higher prices.
3. Release false beliefs about pricing that you may have inadvertently picked up from other sources.
Counter to what you may have heard,
1. There is zero correlation between the price of your course and how much time it took you to create it.
2. There is zero correlation between the price of your course and how many modules there are.
3. There is zero correlation between the price of your course and how many months the program runs.
4. There is zero correlation between the price of your course and what your competition is charging.
And I’m about to show you the better way.
Introducing the The Profitable Program Pricing Formula™
Let’s look at this graphic from the bottom up.
We will pick the price in step one then dive deeper into providing (and communicating) that value in each subsequent step.
1. Step One: Visualize & Value Client Results
This is fundamentally what your price will be based on because this is where the exchange of value lies.
Money (value) is exchanged for results (value).
I’m going to ask you to visualize your clients’ results from the course or program you want to create. The program that gets you MOST excited about creating (not the one that will be easiest or fastest).
Visualize your perfect-fit clients today and what their life is like in the area your course will support them with.
Visualize them taking steps and making progress towards results.
What are the tangible results?
- Are they now fitting into their favorite pair of jeans?
- Maybe they now have sufficient savings to put their kids through college.
- Or maybe their stress and anxiety are down to manageable levels so they can show up for life again and possibly even wean off of prescription medication.
Think of the intangible changes, too.
Visualize how their life improves and how their relationships improve and how their self-confidence improves.
- What are they now doing that they couldn’t before?
- How are they feeling as a result of taking your program?
- What is accessible to them now that previously wasn’t?
What is the monetary value of those results?
Yes, this exercise is more art than science for pretty much everyone whose topic is not directly related to a quantifiable metric (which is most!)…
…and if that’s you, tune into your intuition and give it your best guess. Deep inside, you have a number that feels good to you when you visualize the full extent of the results you’ll help your clients co-create.
This is simply a starting point… you are not committing to it and you can change it at any time.
Think of that number now.
That’s your Value.
Now let’s calculate a price range that will create 3x – 10x of value for them.
Meaning that the value they get from working with you will be 3 times to 10 times MORE than the amount of money they paid you.
Do this by dividing the Value by 10 and dividing it by 3 to get the range.
For example, if you think the Value of results is $50,000, your price may be:
$50,000 / 3 = $16,668
$50,000 / 10 = $5,000
Your optimal course price is somewhere between $5,000 and $17,000.
(I like round numbers for premium pricing. Pricing psychology is a topic for another day)
You will help your client co-create $50,000 of value in exchange for a $5,000 – $17,000 investment.
By providing this premium of value over the investment, you will:
- Build an army of raving fans
- Create the confidence needed to make offers and get paying clients into your course or program
- Build a more sustainable, feel-good business
Now you have your price range figured out.
Take a minute to tune into how that feels to you. Do big objections and fears come up? They may and it’s a big piece of what I help my clients unwind in this process. More on this in the Confidence section below.
The way you will create your program will be based on this price so that the experience (both as a prospect and as a client) is consistent with the investment amount.
A question I often get at this point is:
Do I have to guaranty those results?
You don’t have to guaranty results. You CAN’T guarantee results if it’s not a done-for-you project (and even then, it’s tricky).
But you do have to be confident in your ability to help them get there.
If they go through your program or course exactly as you intend for it to happen – will they get the results?
You get to create a course that helps them reach their result in the “best” way possible.
I say best in quotation marks because “best” will vary.
- Best may be fastest and most efficient
- Best may be with most pleasure and joy
- Best may be with most ease and grace
You get to define the correct “best” for yourself and your clients.
I need to offer you an important distinction:
(Not) guaranteeing results is not related to offering various guarantees for sales reasons.
For example, I offer a 100% money-back guaranty on my client work and, for clients in my Thriving Online Program Accelerator, I provide support until they get their 2 paying clients. Determining proper guarantees is a deep topic and one I love supporting my clients with.
2. Client Experience
While results are the foundation, the customer experience makes a huge difference in helping them get those results by increasing engagement and improving completion rates.
Better client results = loyal customers and more referral sales.
Premium pricing demands a premium learning experience.
My clients typically sell their courses and programs for $2,500 to $10,000; sometimes more.
When a client pays a significant amount of money, they have an inherent expectation of what that experience will be like. Because you picked the price first, you can create an experience that’s congruent with their expectations.
Think of your experience getting furniture from Ikea vs a high-end local retailer.
Think of the differences in personal touch, clarity of the process, timeliness.
Are you on your own trying to fit misshapen pieces together? Or is there white-glove service carefully assembling the new piece and placing it perfectly in your home?
Think of your experience in a Neiman Marcus vs. a Walmart
A Maserati dealership vs. Honda
With premium prices come a premium, luxurious touch.
Here’s some good news for you: it doesn’t have to take more time, energy, or money to create a premium course. Just some intention and thoughtfulness along the way.
A few premium ideas for you:
- A well-designed onboarding experience with quick access to the course portal (wow them from the first interaction!)
- Personal touches throughout the customer experience (like Warm Welcome Videos)
- A well-designed, clear, step-by-step experience (think of how much easier it is to navigate a Neiman Marcus than a Walmart). Do this in your marketing too and woo them by that smoothness early on.
- Clear support guidelines – they know exactly where and how to get support from you (or your team).
- You will not discount your services or provide bloated bonuses. That just confuses and overwhelms premium buyers who want the clear step-by-step experience.
3. Your Messaging and Positioning in the Market
Unless #1 and #2 are dialed-in, a good marketing strategy will create a one-hit-wonder and crash and burn.
In my Thriving Online Program Accelerator™, experts create course content and messaging at the same time, so it’s clear and congruent.
It’s critical to communicate the value of results and transformations you’ll help your prospective customers co-create.
Please do not sell “a course”.
No one wakes up in the morning hoping to buy a course.
But they do wake up:
- Hoping to fit into an old pair of jeans
- Wanting a better sex life with their partner
- Or to stop worrying about how they’ll put their kids through college
Show them that you see them
Tell them how you can help them
Then make an offer
Your messaging needs to make the following clear:
🌟 What results your course or program will help them get
🌟 Why and how your clients can get these stated results
🌟 What’s different about you, your approach, your method
Talk about your course often and BRAG about it! Tell people how awesome it is. Send it to your email list and share it on your social media channels.
I see so many experts throwing out a few vague teasers then complaining when no one wants to buy their course.
It’s a noisy world out there and you need to take up your real estate to be heard.
You want to take your prospects on a journey towards becoming clients.
This will help your potential customers correlate the value of your support with the investment they need to make in it.
I cover this in Day 2 of the Bootcamp I mentioned above so if you haven’t done it already, grab your complimentary seat >>HERE<<
4. Your Confidence
The final piece of the puzzle is your confidence in your program. It’s pretty simple, really.
More confidence during your sales calls = higher conversion rate = more sales!
In addition to a faster, easier, and more clear path to a sustainable income from their courses, our clients report that confidence is one of their favorite by-products of working with us.
When you have confidence in what you created, saying the price is fun.
It’s like inviting your potential customers to the best party.
And of COURSE, there’s a cover charge. There always is for the best parties…
3. Your Messaging and Positioning in the Market
Unless #1 and #2 are dialed-in, a good marketing strategy will create a one-hit-wonder and crash and burn.
What is important for you is that you pick a price you feel confident saying. As I mentioned earlier, start lower then raise quickly.
You can’t fake confidence and are likely to lose what otherwise would have been valid sales.
Your solution is two-fold.
1. Create a course you feel proud of
I know there’s a lot of advice on the internet to build fast, to pre-sell, to rush the process…. and there is a time and place for that strategy.
Too often, it results in a Crappy Online Course that, of course, you won’t want to passionately sell.
But creating a premium online course or online coaching program in a topic of your passion or expertise that you will use as a vehicle to meet your business and life goals isn’t the best place for that.
I KNOW you can help your clients co-create powerful results and an engaging and smooth user experience.
You can do this with support from me or another expert.
Or by diligently and meticulously researching the options and nuances of course creation and marketing.
Whatever path you choose – choose quality and results.
2. Build trust in yourself
Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are real and even the best of the best have it.
It’s totally possible that your course is awesome and it’s just your gremlin (that mean inner voice) popping in to act like a jerk and cause havoc.
If that resonates, clear up your mind drama with mindset work.
One of my favorite exercises for this is:
50 Reasons Why
Grab a sheet of paper and make a list of 50 reasons why you and your course are the best solutions for your perfect-fit client.
Yes, you have to do all 50 😉
I promise if you do, your authentic confidence will shine, prospects will flock to you like bees to honey, and you will close more sales with ease!
If you feel apprehensive about affordability, you can provide a payment plan with monthly payment options to help their clients space the investment out over time.
So there you have it. The step-by-step formula to pick the optimal price for you then back it up with the results, experience, messaging, and confidence!
What's Next? Choose Your Own Adventure:
- Do you want support in building, selling, and delivering an online course or program? This is for you if you want to compress time to results and have full confidence that what you're creating is the best fit for you and your clients. AND to enjoy the process more!
Click >>HERE<< to apply for a Clarity Call with me. On this call, we will review your vision, goals, and what kind of support you most desire. If I feel like we're a fit to work together, I'll explain what that may look like. If not, I'll suggest your best next steps to reach your goals. In either case, you will get a lot of clarity from this call.
“Her expertise and insights were incredibly helpful in making it a better course plus she gave me the confidence I need to launch and market it.“
“You've opened my eyes to a whole new way of creating my course“
“I've been having so much fun - just exploding with new ideas and creativity. And am so thankful for the oversight that allows me to stay on track and do the right things.”
- More of the DIY type? This is you if you value money over time or this is in your zone of genius or you truly enjoy building processes and diving into research rabbit holes.
Grab your complimentary ticket to the 30k Blueprint Bootcamp >>HERE<<. Over the course of three days (on your own time) you will create your very own blueprint for a premium online program or course in a topic of your passion and expertise.
- Just out researching?
Dive deeper on our live channel where you can register for upcoming live events and catch up on past recordings. Our Expert Coffee Chats series and Business Booster Live series are powerful resources for business owners, experts, and course creators.
Do NOT distract from action with learning. It's a common trap that will keep you spinning in place!
Meet the Author
Founder & CEO, Scale Your Genius
Jane Sagalovich, CFA is the founder of Scale Your Genius and the creator of the Thriving Online Program Accelerator.
Jane has helped hundreds of experts create their online courses and programs with clarity, confidence, and ease.
Powered by an unwavering belief that we each get to create the life and business of our dreams, she inspires and guides clients towards creating their personal versions of their dream businesses where they can scale their impact, maximize their wealth, and live a life of freedom and contribution.
With an M.B.A and a CFA under her belt, over 15 years in high-level corporate roles, and 6 years as a business owner and entrepreneur, Jane brings broad and extensive expertise in all things business and strategy and is gifted in distilling it into powerful and transformational client work using a powerful combination of logic, expertise, and intuition.
As a business strategist and scaling expert, she loves guiding experts who are ready to further their reach using their wisdom and expertise and design a life of abundance and freedom to create results-driven, profitable, and sustainable online programs using her proprietary Thriving Online Program Accelerator process.
Originally from Ukraine, she now loves living the American Dream in Colorado where she gets to play in the beautiful Rocky Mountains surrounded by family and friends... while scheming her next international adventure (which will hopefully be allowed to happen soon).