Sell your knowledge online: 5 tips to be recognized within your community (and thus boost your career)
You have worked for 10, 20 or more years on a specific subject? Why not sell your knowledge online? You have presumably accumulated extensive knowledge on the subject, you have a unique point of view about the topic, and at least, you can make money while educating others. In this article, I am going to explain what benefits you can get by doing this, as well as giving you some tips to start.
What you need to do to successfully sell your knowledge online
Identify your strengths
That sounds obvious, so let’s start there: you want to teach what you know the best. Think long term, you will have to face competitors at some point, either for a job application, or for customers. So better build your credibility immediately by focusing on your strengths only.
Your expertise does not need to come from a specific learning you got from school or university. Of course, it can be an asset if you have a certificate or something similar to show your expertise. But to sell your knowledge online, you are probably better off showing concrete elements that show you are an expert. And for that, real life experiences are a better asset. In other words, it is better to write in your biography “15 years of experience as a cook” than “graduated from the Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland” (it really exists, by the way).
Be as complete and clear as possible when doing your course
You will most certainly be judged on the content of your course materials. Ideally, your course should be thorough and easy to understand, with clear examples to illustrate your concepts. It happened often, when I was a student, that I had to check on the Internet to understand some aspects of my lessons. That should not be the case: the lesson should be the easiest content at your disposal to understand a concept, and the Internet should be just to explore further, not explain the basics.
Choose the right format
You can sell your knowledge online via different ways, but there is something that will not change: to make your content easy to follow, you will have to use not only texts, but also images, graphs, and even videos. Have you seen how many tutorials are on YouTube? With 2 billion active users every month, and the vast majority of videos hosted there available for free, it is probably one of the best place to learn something. In fact, many people prefer watching videos there to repair their devices, rather than reading the manual.
So if you want to grow your customer base with a MOOC, it is highly recommended that you publish your course in a written form and in a video. The written content can be the transcript of the video in that case. By the way, don’t hesitate to use free dictation tools. Microsoft Word has one included, as well as Google Docs. Other options for your content can be a simple blog post, an e-book, a podcast a webinar, or even one-to-one session with your students, as part of an individualized coaching session.
Reach out to your audience via different channels
Your community of students can be much wider if you sell your knowledge online rather than to people physically next to you. They can be in another time zone, in a completely different industry, very young of very old, working full time or part time, employed or self-employed or unemployed… As a consequence, they will interact differently with you. To keep all chances on your side, you can promote your course in different ways: via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Spotify for the “old” social networks, or Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok or Clubhouse for the more recent ones.
Similarly, when people enroll in your course, it’s also a good idea to let them download the contents, so they can follow it offline. Access to the Internet remains very unequal, and you want to give everybody the same chances of following your courses..
Do not hesitate to interact via group messages and forums. And, try to be as available to your students as possible, answer their questions, whether they are private or in public comments section. Don’t forget that if you plan to sell your knowledge online, you are much more than just a teacher or a mentor.
Give away some of your content for free
Unless you are already very well established in a community, it will be hard to sell your knowledge online to people who don’t know you. Just like you would probably not want to spend your money to purchase a good or a service from someone or a company you never heard of before. To overcome this, you should rely on some people who would talk positively about you, your expertise, and your course. And since anything with the word “free” in it is the best way to generate interest in your customers, that is definitely something you should pursue too if you start building your customer base.
Of course, you sell your knowledge online to monetize your expertise and get better career opportunities. So you don’t do giveaways for a long time, your time to create all this content is valuable after all. This must be a special operation, like a launch offer, and limited either in time or to the first X students. The fact of limiting a product like this is called fear of missing out, or FOMO in marketing, it is a powerful technique to recruit customers.
Once your reputation is more established, you can consider charging more money.
The benefits for your career when you sell your knowledge online
Showcase your expertise
We already covered the benefits of learning on the job in this post. No need of investing a significant amount of money to acquire new skills, you get them while doing your job. We already explained the limits of this method: you have no certificate to prove your expertise, so you can hardly capitalize on your experience when you go to another employer, unless your former one is already well considered.
While when you sell your knowledge online, you show people how good you are in your domain, with more concrete examples than just saying you are an expert because you worked for X years in that domain. Similarly, with more students enrolled in your course, you are more likely to be seen as a mentor by the others, and subsequently as an expert. As well as a degree from a famous university is seen as a proof of your knowledge, the testimonials from your students would be the social proof you need to tell the world you are really good.
Reach out to new potential employers (or customers)
This point is the direct consequence of the previous one. Through your students, you get an audience you would not have had via more conventional ways of selling your knowledge. They can indeed talk about you and your courses within their own communities, and subsequently grow yours as well. Meaning employers or customers far away could even consider working with you, by asking you to sell your knowledge online on their own platforms for example.
Learn new skills
Remember informal learning? Well guess what? By doing all this – creating an online course, publishing it, promoting it, building your community – you learn many new skills. Selling your knowledge online is quite a big task in itself: you probably need to master tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, image and video processing software, email marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization… All of this alongside your expertise in the topic you want to teach.
If you manage to make a decent amount of money, you could even consider changing your career to work full time in developing your community and selling your knowledge online. In that case you will need to learn continuously in order to always teach state-of-the-art techniques in your area of expertise.
Who can do it?
Good news: the entry ticket to sell your knowledge online is extremely affordable. In fact, anyone could do it in theory, even people with no or a little knowledge in a topic. Of course, the more you know, the better you will fare…
Now for the not so good news: it requires a lot of effort. And not everybody is ready to commit to all these efforts, even if it is worth it.
The most successful ones have spent many years building their online reputation. Which is why they can charge so much. As a newcomer, you cannot match their prices immediately. So you will need to spend a lot of time at the beginning, creating content that no one will see. You will need to be constant during this period, producing quality content regularly, and promoting it on different channels, without making too much money in it. But on the long term you can definitely make a living of this activity.
Where to do it?
There are different platforms where you can sell your knowledge online. Let’s have a look at some of them.
First of all, there’s your servant. To sell your knowledge online on Jinn, you can use the title bar, then Courses and Instructor Dashboard.
Every user of Jinn has access to the instructor dashboard. From there, the interface proposes you all the tools you need to create your course. I will create a tutorial on how to sell your knowledge online on Jinn soon. The most important thing is this: theoretically, you can create a course in whatever area you want. So to make things easy for your future potential students, use the course categories to sort your content in the right category.
That way, your course can be featured when someone is looking for a skill or a knowledge in the career encyclopedia. Example: you are a DJ, you have some skills related to it. You create your course about “Operate sound live“, which is one of the optional skills of DJ, then you assign this course to the relevant category. In that case, it seems to be audio-visual techniques. When following this trick, you have better chances to be found from an article of the career encyclopedia, since all skills articles have at their bottom a button ‘Learn this skill’ linking to the course catalogue, where your course would feature.
Since we are in the brand building phase, we apply our own advice about giveaways. Meaning that every course created and published on Jinn is 100% free right now. That’s right, we do not take any commission. Moreover, if you can justify you are an expert in the field, you can get a verified tick in your profile, next to the skill or knowledge you are an expert of. At the moment we plan 4 different ranks to show your expertise.
- Adept: this rank can be obtained after 3 courses about the same topic
- Specialist: the same, but after 12 courses, or 3 years of experience in the same area
- Expert: the same, but after 50 courses or if you can prove you have at least 8 years of experience in the specified topic
- Senior Expert: you can get this rank after 100 courses, or after spending 15 years working about the same topic
That way, you can not only sell your knowledge online, but also have your contribution automatically mentioned in your profile, so that people can see your achievement – via your courses – alongside your resume, thus boosting your career opportunities.
Udemy is probably one of the biggest players, when it comes to selling your knowledge online. They have 40 million students in 180 countries, 57,000 instructors, and 130,000 courses offered in 65 languages. That is huge. And they take care of the hosting, so you have no worries about that if you go with them. What it means for you is that it is most certainly the best place to start building your MOOC and sell it, especially since publishing a course is free. But things are not so simple.
Indeed, as the industry leader, Udemy rates are quite expensive: basically, you get 50% of sales if you just rely on Udemy organic traffic. Personally, I think that is a lot. You can opt in to Udemy’s marketing and promotional schemes, to reach out to more potential customers. But you get either 25% of the sales, or in the case of a Udemy Deal, Udemy can offer up to 75% off your course or offer it as low as $10 and you receive typically 50% of the sale (like $5).
The other problem with Udemy is the quality of courses. With so many courses sold at a discounted price, that is not surprising: how can it be sustainable to spend hours building a great content, and see it sold for $10? In the end, not only you will have to face a tough competition from other instructors, but you it won’t even be worth it, financially. That tends to decrease the overall quality of courses.
Teachable is another platform to sell your knowledge online. But their business model is different: as the course author, you must pay a minimum of $29 per month to publish a course, plus 5% fees on all transactions, to access some features allowing you to manage your course. These features expand as you pay a higher plan.
Courses on Teachable are much more expensive than on Udemy, meaning the instructors are more fairly paid (they decide the cost). It also means that the instructors are very much experts in their domains, so the competition is very tough from the beginning. You will need to pass their selection criteria before being able to post a course there, this is their way of keeping a high quality level for their courses, so it is not for everybody.
If, after reading this article, you decided to sell your knowledge online, good for you! E-learning is a booming industry nowadays, worth $144 billion in 2019, and expected to grow to $374 billion in 2026. By trying to get into this industry, you will benefit from it, not only financially, but also in terms of new skills learned, a better reputation and a better employability.
There are different places where you can start selling your knowledge online, each with its pros and cons. The main point is, it is an activity that can make a lot of money, but it requires a significant investment – not financial, but in terms of time and commitment. Like everything in life, you reap what you sow. If you are not convinced, just look here what you could earn from your online course. In any case, if you want to publish your knowledge on Jinn, just let us know, we would be happy to help you for free!