Monetizing Online Classes
The best way to make money offering online classes is to switch your existing customers from an in-person to a virtual environment. Many students (or their parents) will want to continue supporting your business, and giving some sort of familiarity to their days. Plus, it’s easier to continue momentum with existing customers on existing payment plans; (here’s the plug! If you don’t have a great, inexpensive digital invoicing system, check out Finli Payments).
But many of your customers may be opting out of online learning programs for financial, or other reasons, and the ones that remain may be paying reduced rates. You’re not alone. A survey we’ve conducted shows that a majority of neighborhood schools and studios have lost 50% or more of their revenue since the pandemic started. Without knowing when we will “return to normal,” it makes sense to go out there and find new customers.
It can seem daunting to go out and get new customers in this environment, but sometimes offense is the best defense.
On Your Own
Some schools & studios are choosing to create their own virtual environment for online classes, without using a third-party platform. After all, you can get a free Zoom account, coordinate classes with your clients through email, maintain a schedule on Google Calendar, and take payments through Venmo? What’s wrong with that?
Well, that may have worked out in the early stages of remote learning, in a pinch; but trying to manage everything using these tools, on their own, can be time consuming and ineffective.
But it still might be the right solution for you. Here’s some questions to consider:
- Do you have the marketing tools to bring in new customers online? This is the age-old ‘If you build it will they come?’ question. Some enrichment schools or studios have spent a long time cultivating a large, and active social media presence, which is important to distribute information about new featured classes. Many existing customers have a supporting, existing client base during these trying times, but our customers are reporting much more difficulty in attracting new students.
- Do you have time for the increased administration? Setting up these digital systems takes little effort, but perfecting and managing them can be time consuming. For instance, there are dozens of Zoom settings to tweak for the just-right experience. Beyond setup, there’s ensuring that attendance is captured and invoices are sent out and paid.
- Does the setup convey the right level of professionalism, support, and ease for the class taker? For better and for worse, there are many free resources online for class takers to choose from, so it’s critical that your paid classes live up to the premium. Without using a third-party platform, you miss out on the customer experience that these customers dedicate themselves to maintaining – including helpful FAQs and well thought-out refund and cancellation policies.
Fortunately, you’re not on your own – there are a few platforms out there that can help you find paying students and manage the online experience. For many schools and studios, this is well worth the expense and effort to use one or several of these platforms. We put together this guide to help you compare some of the top choices out there.
Top Revenue-Increasing Online Class Platforms
Summary: TakeLessons is the industry juggernaut, with over 3 million classes taught and $50 million in teacher earnings. The site allows you to create a profile, post and book classes, and receive payment. Take Lessons started teaching classes in-person, but has increased their online classes database substantially since the pandemic began.
Who should use: Your practice lends itself well to 1:1 instruction
Things to look out for: Because this platform specializes in 1:1 instruction, the hourly rates can be a bit lower than others. Also, because the platform has over 6,000 teachers, you’ll need to be sure that your class stands out from the crowd.
Conclusion: Registering on Take Lessons is free, (aside from a $20 background check fee), and can be a great choice if you’re looking to teach one-on-one lessons and fit into one of the company’s class categories.
Summary: Finli set up a Classes marketplace within days of COVID hitting in order to help its existing school and studio customers reach new, paying customers as quickly as possible. Finli marketed the classes to companies looking to support their neighborhood businesses by offering class packages for their work-from-home employees. Since then, Finli has opened up its Classes marketplace to non-customers.
Who should use: School, Studio, and class instructors that are looking to expand their customer base and feel comfortable teaching to an adult audience.
Things to look out for: Class takers are typically colleagues or fellow clients of a corporation. So be sure to tailor your classes for this type of audience.
Conclusion: Finli Classes hits the sweet spot of having group class rates, but without the challenges that “open” groups present. With no cost to sign up, and a 4-minute application process, there is really no reason not to join Finli’s platform.
Summary: Yaymaker started as Paint-Nite and the history certainly shows up in the present! Many of Yaymaker’s classes are centered around entertaining and off-the-wall activities to do in a group setting.
Who should use: Studio and class instructors whose classes resonate with the fun Yaymaker theme, especially in creative, less traditional classes.
Things to look out for: The open group setting, where strangers can be paired together, can be a great option for increasing your per hour revenue, but can be more difficult to manage. Since revenue is based on attendance, it also means that you won’t know how much you’re making until close to the start time.
Conclusion: Yaymaker is a great option if you have a clever class that can consistently draw full attendance.
Summary: Outschool is a platform for teachers to create classes and curricula for children from 3 – 18 years old. With a wide range of classes “from AP Physics to Minecraft to Piano,” and with over 50,000 unique classes, Outschool is one of the largest paid class platforms targeted to children.
Who should use: Instructors specifically looking to teach children online through a specific curriculum.
Things to look out for: Having your incoming revenue based on an unknown number of future students are two things to look at before investing time developing a curriculum for this platform.
Conclusion: Outschool emphasizes that teachers should be passionate about the classes that they teach and put the children first. This seems to be, in part, because the revenue might be significantly lower than other platforms. But Outschool’s footprint and well organized platform make it a top contender for classes targeted to children.
Summary: MindBody is a comprehensive business software for fitness, integrative health, salons, and spas. They provide location management, client experience, marketing, payments, and a platform to host online classes. With 3.7 million class bookings a month, they are one of the industry leaders in the wellness space.
Who should use: MindBody provides a lot of cutting edge features in managing your studio. If you’re a business in the wellness space, and you plan on using many of the value add services, having MindBody-hosted classes could be a nice bonus.
Things to look out for: It pays to do a little bit of due diligence to make sure that you can use some or all of MindBody’s features, and that the listing service will attract the type of customers you’re looking for.
Conclusion: MindBody has a huge audience with 1.3 million monthly active users, but you pay to have access to that market – from $129 to $599 a month, plus other fees. Given MindBody’s health & wellness focus, it pays to understand whether your investment in the platform gives you access to enough of the right kind of customers.
See below a full comparison on features & fees: