If you are building a business selling online courses, one of the best things you can do is start by giving one away for free. You probably won’t make much money over the first few weeks anyway, so it’s not as if such a burst of generosity will lose you revenue. In fact it’s more likely to bring in more revenue in the long run than if you put everything behind a paywall and waited for the signups to roll in. You can offer a free course as a time-limited offer, or as a permanent fixture in which it functions as a demo of your online school.
Staging a course giveaway can also be a good tactic for more established training & education companies. It can function as a marketing promotion by raising awareness of your brand. People who take your free course will experience your brand from the inside, just as paying customers do – they’ll get to try out the look, feel, content, style and quality of your courses. So don’t put a half-baked course up for free. Make it the best you can, because it’s a showcase for your company, projecting the professional image you want people to see.
It doesn’t need to be a full-length course. You can present a module from an existing course – pick the best one you can find. As long as it is high-quality it will foster brand awareness, people will associate it with positive emotions, and it will net you new learners for your paid content.
People will spread the news about your free course, share it on social media, and tell their friends – provided, of course, that it is a high-quality course. So it’s worth repeating that it needs to be a great piece of eLearning content that acts as a showcase for your offer, tempting people to sign up for more courses.
Another advantage of giving away free eLearning content is that you can use it to collect valuable feedback from learners. Getting to know your target audience is fundamental to running a successful eLearning business, so a free course is a great opportunity to collect comments on your strengths and weaknesses. This information not only helps in improving and marketing your paid content but might also glean positive testimonials and endorsements that you can then use in your marketing materials – providing you ask for the author’s permission to do so, of course.
A free course can promote your eLearning course catalog. At the end of the course you can include links to other related eLearning courses in your catalog to make learners aware of them and boost sales. The free course can thus act as a gateway to the rest of your content. And you can capture learner data at signup by asking them to complete a simple form – just name and email address is often enough – in order to access the free course. If the form has a checkbox to accept future emails, you can then market to them by email, informing them of new courses, promotions and offers.
Finally, allowing people to try out your content as a free demo builds buyer confidence by giving them a taster and establishing your credibility. They are more likely to buy from you after having sampled your wares.
So give it a try if you can – it costs little or nothing to do but helps to build a following more quickly and can produce benefits later on.