A Simple Guide to Creating an Online Education School or College

Online education has become increasingly popular over recent years, but the COVID-19 pandemic really pushed it into the stratosphere. Online education is not just a billion dollar industry, it is also an important and essential way for many people to receive education.

  • Not everyone can get to a college or university to study a course that interests them.
  • Not everyone has the time to travel or is able to travel to go to a course.
  • Many people want to study in a flexible way to fit in with them and their lifestyle.

People are changing careers and jobs more frequently today. They want to train and take courses to improve and update their knowledge.

You can see, online education is a growth industry.


Would you like to set up your own online education business? 
Here is a simple, step by step guide on how to get started.


Decide on a Name for Your School or College
That might sound simple, but there are many organisations and businesses out there today and you don’t want to copy someone else’s name.

  • Do a brainstorm and write down words and ideas. Anything you can think of.
  •  Now look at the ideas that you like.
  • Do a search online to see if anyone else has a similar name. Look at the internet, social media and perhaps government organisations listing businesses.
  • Spend some time trying to come up with the right name for you. But don’t take forever. The business and what you are doing is important.


Once you have decided on your name, you will need to consider branding. What logos do you need? Signatures on emails? Letterheads and so on. You may wish to design your own or there are many businesses out there who can help you with this.

Who is your target audience?

As we said earlier, online learning is now a growth industry and many people are taking courses over and over again throughout their lives. Potentially, then, your target audience can be anyone who wants to take a course.

What Courses and Products will You Sell?

  • You might decide to write and develop your own courses.
  • You might want to sell someone else’s courses too.
  • You might decide to do both.

ACS Distance Education offers over 700 off the shelf course content and  online courses , Plus dozens of eBooks that are available to our affiliates to resell on their websites.


Think about what you want to sell as well –

Do you want to sell a wide range of general courses?

Do you want to sell courses in a special area, such as horticulture, animal studies, creative writing?


We can help, whatever you prefer to do.

Choose a platform to sell your courses
You will need a website to sell your courses. Many popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify allow you to sell digital products (products that are not physical and do not require shipping). This type of product option can be used to sell courses online.


Choose an Online Platform to Deliver Your Courses

An LMS (Learning Management System) is required to deliver courses online so that your students can log in and do the courses from their computer, tablet or even phone.

You will also need a student management system to keep track of the students you have, which courses they are enrolled in, if they have completed the course, etc.


ACS has a customisable LMS that affiliates can use which comes automatically loaded with all our courses and is kept up to date with new courses and updates to existing courses. Our LMS also has a fully integrated student management system so you can manage all your students and their enrolments from the one system.


If you want to use a different LMS, we can also provide courses in SCORM format so that can be easily installed in any scorm compliant LMS.

Organising your website

As well as selling courses, you also need a plan of how to organise your website. For example –

  • Home page – an introduction to your online school
  • Contact us page
  • Courses – This might be broken into different pages eg. equine courses, small pets courses, dog courses etc.
  • eBooks – Again, this could be one page or broken into different pages depending on the subject
  • A blog
  • Frequently Asked Questions

These are just simple starting points. You can make your website as complicated or as simple as you wish, but this are important to get started.

Why not try jotting down a visual plan on what pages would appear on your site?

How Will You Offer Your Courses?

Courses can be offered online, but you don’t have to limit yourself to online courses.

  • Distance learning courses can also be provided by e-learning, usually where you add the course to a USB and send it out to the student.
  • You might also decide to offer correspondence courses, where the course is printed out and posted to the student.

There are obviously additional costs of postage and sending out a USB or paper-based courses, but some students may wish to study in that way, so it is another option to consider potentially.


Create bundles of courses to upsell to your students. This increases enrolments and your income. For example, a bundle of four courses focussed on a topic such as starting your own landscaping business.  Increase enrolments using Self Designed Certificates or Bundles.  

Also, promote your products to students who have just completed a course with you.

  • Offer existing students a discount if they re-enrol with you.
  • Perhaps give them a reward eg. a discount or free eBook if they recommend you to someone else and that person chooses to enrol.


How will students pay for your courses?

  • Will you require a one-off up front payment?
  • Will you offer instalments?

How will you get paid?

  • Arrange something through your business bank
  • Use payment services such as Stripe and Paypal

Time Frames

If there are assignments in your courses, you will need to decide on time frames.

  • Will students have as long as they like to complete a course or will you set a time limit, eg. one year?
  • If students have to submit assignments, in what time frame do you expect them to be returned to the student?

It is important to be clear with the student on these points. For example, if it can take up a week to mark an assignment but the student is not told this, they may start chasing the assignment a day later. This causes additional work for you and frustration and irritation for the student. So be clear, right from the start.


As students are completing assignments, you will also need tutors to mark them. If you have picked a specific niche market, it could be because you are an expert in those areas yourself and intend to mark the courses initially. Eventually you may need more tutors.

If you will need tutors straight from the start, we can help here too. We have a repository of potential tutors who are looking for work in the online education industry.

Tutors are important, not just for marking, but also for answering any questions your students may have.


You are ready. Your website is organised. You have tutors, so what now?

You need to let people know about the courses you are offering.  There are many ways to do this -


Get out there –

  • Talk to people – attend business events, industry meetings, breakfast meetings, approach organisations and ask if you can do a talk.
  • Networking can be face to face, but it can also be online. Join relevant online groups and industry groups. Join social media groups.


 You can pay for adverts or many websites offer the option of unpaid advertising. If you have a small, or no, marketing budget, try using free marketing at first, such as social media, press releases, blogs, mail outs and email outs.

Send out press releases

Send out a press releases announcing your new online school. You could also send out releases about new products that you are offering. 

Write articles and blogs and post them on social media

Articles that could interest potential students can draw attention to your site. Keep your blog focusses. It is no good writing about a new spaceship, if you do not offer a course that is related to that topic. So, keep blogs and articles related to the courses you offer.


It is important to check the rules and laws related to unsolicited mail outs or email outs in the country that you intend to send them out.  Develop an email out and mail out list of people who are interested in your courses.  

You can do this in different ways, such as –

  • Offering free products, such as a free eBook
  • Giving discounts

Social media

Set up your own social media sites and promote your courses on there. There are lots of different social media platforms available. So, carry out research into which ones would be suitable for you and the courses you are selling.

With social media, think carefully about how you do this? If you make it too complicated, it can become cumbersome and hard to maintain, so keep it simple –

  • Post regularly. This could be daily, twice daily, twice a week etc. But stick to a routine.
  • Do not post too much. People get bored and consider frequent posts spamming, so they will unfollow you.
  • Try to include images with your posts.


Simple Guide

This is a simple guide to getting started in running your own online school, but we know that there is a lot to take in. That is why we are here to help you.

  • ACS Distance Education was established 43 years ago, so we are very experienced in online and distance education.
  • We know what works and what doesn’t. We have made mistakes, who hasn’t? But we have learned from those mistakes and used them to improve the courses and services we offer to our students and affiliates.
  • We have over 700 courses available that you can offer to your students.
  • Our tutor repository can make it easier for you to find suitable tutors.

Finally, and most importantly, we have expert affiliate and marketing staff who are there to help and advise you every step of the way. 

We want you to succeed!

If you would like to

  • Set up your own online school
  • Set up the school in a growth industry – the online education industry
  • Work for yourself
  • Work when and where you want
  • Be supported by expert and friendly staff

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What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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