Creating Online Professional Development Courses

In this episode, Angie and April discuss the ins and outs of creating professional development online courses as an additional income stream.

Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
Grow with Angie and April: A Podcast for Teacherpreneurs
Creating Online Professional Development Courses

Selling online courses is a great way to add an additional income stream to your TpT business. If you feel this is outside of your wheelhouse, you won’t want to miss this information. We are continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share what questions you have about creating an online course:

Selling online professional development courses is a big part of my business. Courses and getting teachers to use your resources go hand-in-hand. You can reach a large audience by combining the two. And, if you’re getting a lot of questions about how to implement your resources, it’s an effective way to answer questions and teach the information.

I’m going to share what I’ve learned throughout the past few years of online course creation, but first, here’s a little of my story.

A little of my own story creating an online course

Two years ago I decided to put together a video series about project-based learning. I released the first video and started getting a lot of questions. I would refer people to a blog post or video that I had already created answering their questions. Then I realized I should put it all together in one easy to access place in more of a course platform. This concept was starting to become really popular in the TpT world.

Another reason I thought it would be a good idea to tackle a course is that my resources are for 3rd – 5th grade, but I was getting lots of questions from teachers outside of this range. I didn’t have any resources for them but wanted to be able to help them use project-based learning in their classrooms.

I was using project-based learning in my own room, and with a class of 35 students, many struggling to learn English, I had really learned to simplify the process. So, I felt I had a lot to offer knowledge so I started putting the course together.

Original Course (On Teachable)


Original Course (On Teachable)

The results of my online course

Launching the course was a lot of work but I started to get people buying it. And, I was really surprised at how many districts were interested in it. I put the course out there and districts were wanting to purchase 20 or 30 licenses for it.

It was surprising to me because I didn’t know districts would pay for this. But, the people they bring in for training charge a lot of money and they’re barely able to scrape the surface of whatever it is they are trying to teach. Teachers need actionable steps.

Another reason districts were interested is when you hire people to come to the school you have recommendations or website to look at but aren’t really able to see how they are teaching the teachers. I think this helped me because when my course was created, I had a lot of videos out there that they could watch beforehand. They could see how I did the training. This was good for getting both teachers and districts to sign up.

With that quick overview, here are the answers to the questions we hear most often about course creation:

When is the right time to create a course?

I think if you have something that teachers are constantly emailing you about, whether it’s good feedback or something they’re confused about, then it’s time to create a course.

If teachers are having problems in their classroom, many are willing to pay for the training to learn what they need to in order to improve the situation for themselves and their students.

What platform do you recommend?

There are a ton of platforms out there and they are all pretty good. When I first started I used Teachable, but I’m in the process of switching to Kajabi.

While Teachable is a pretty popular platform, I found that it took forever to set up. It was confusing. And, no matter how long I spent on it, things just didn’t look right. I also found that my teachers were having login issues. The breaking point was when I had a teacher that was unable to access the course so I reached out to customer service. I didn’t hear back from them for 10 days! By that time I had found a way to allow her access and had refunded her money. It was both embarrassing and not what you want when trying to grow your business income.

Therefore, I decided to make the jump to Kajabi. Making the transition has not been super easy. I have some people still on Teachable and others on Kajabi. I recommend picking the platform you want to stick with.

The actual set up and design of Kajabi has been fast and smooth. It’s user-friendly and everything looks so nice. They make it clear exactly what you need and take the guesswork out of it.

I usually try many services out before deciding on one. And these days, I’m willing to pay more money if it’s easier in the long run and will save me time. Time is money.

How do you know what to include in your course?

This is the fun part! I’m a big planner so I have outlines and lists from my blog posts. I had spent several years turning the answers to teachers’ questions into blog posts. At one point, I even created a sequence of blog posts on how to start project-based learning. So, I took those and put them into video form and that’s how the course started.

In the beginning, I had a note taking sheet that I provided to teachers so they could take notes throughout the course. I always asked for feedback and teachers let me know that they loved the information but wished there were more actionable steps they could take. So, the next year I updated the videos and included actionable steps in each section. This year, people asked for all the actionable items together in one document, so I’m working on that now.

I recommend that you create an outline. What do teachers need to know? Then, continue to adjust it and update it along the way from feedback that you receive. The first one doesn’t need to be perfect in order for you to put it out there. It’s just like your TpT resources, you’ll find ways to update them along the way and improve sales.

When I first started out I was making a few hundred dollars a month from my course. After the first update a year later, it was 20% of my TpT income!

What about marketing?

It’s pretty popular to only open courses at certain times throughout the year. It’s logical and makes sense for many people. When the audience knows the course isn’t going to be available anymore it motivates them to take action and sign up. However, I don’t do it that way.

My course is evergreen for a few reasons.

  1. It saves time. I don’t like all the work and time that goes into a launch. When you are opening and closing the course you have to continue to adjust your marketing efforts. Doing a launch is a big deal and takes a lot of time. Instead, I keep my course open all year but do a “relaunch” every summer with a 48-hour discount code.
  2. Teachers are learning all year long. It’s not necessarily over the summer that teachers want to implement project-based learning, so keeping it open allows them access when they need it.

I like things to be as automated and simple as possible and keeping my course open allows me to do just that. I have an evergreen webinar that people can watch that feeds them into the funnel for purchasing the course.

How much should I charge?

This is a tough thing to balance. When I first launched my course it was $30. For the information I was providing, I was undervaluing myself. When I relaunched, I raised the price to $79. If people purchased within 48 hours of my webinar they get a 40% discount. That performed really well and many people signed up within 15 minutes of completing the webinar. But, they also buy at the standard price. Most people pay between $50-$60 for the course.

Kajabi has “offers” that you can use that are separate pages to link to. You can make it specific for people that come over from the webinar. You can even use some funnel software to create expiring links so once the 48 hours are up the link with the discounted pricing will no longer work.

Are you interested in creating a course?

Having this course created not only increases my income, but it also saves me time. I was spending a lot of time answering questions from teachers and pointing them to blog posts and videos. Now, I can direct them to my course.

Having a course is a way to get yourself out there as an authority. I would never have been contacted by a publisher for my book without having a blog. But the course has led to things requests for professional development training and speaking at conferences. It’s another option for in the future.

If you are interested in learning how to create an online course, we are going to be running a workshop starting in June. We will meet twice a week and walk you through the process from start to finish. When the workshop is complete you will have a created course that you are ready to launch in August.

I’m really excited about the opportunity to show you everything that I’ve spent the last few years learning. Yes, it’s a big time commitment this summer, but you’ll have a course ready to sell! If you’re interested in joining the workshop you must register by May 24, 2019.

We promise it will be 4 epic weeks with lots of hard work. We are in the process of getting it all set up right now. If you invest your time into this, you’ll have a created and automated course to sell!



Written by April Smith

April runs her business Performing in Education, LLC full time. She lives in Arizona with her husband and twins.