Is it profitable selling online courses as an Online Education Business ? 

Is It Worthwhile Starting an Online Education Business? 

With the growth of the internet and social media came the growth of online businesses and jobs. People sell goods and services online from clothes to shoes to books to consultancy work etc. 

More importantly for this article, you can also sell courses online.

The online education business has grown rapidly in recent years. New technologies and the growth of social media made this easier to access for many. Then along came COVID-19 and suddenly, many students were having to study online for the first time.


The Threat of Free Courses

However, is it worthwhile setting up an online education business when there are so many free or very cheap courses available today?

There are a lot of free courses available online today.  That is true.

There are also many courses that are very cheap. 

But, it is still worthwhile to set up your own online business.

Many free courses are free for a reason –

  • The student has to pay for a certificate at the end.
  • They do not include tutor support.
  • They are a very brief introduction, then the student is encouraged to purchase a more detailed course afterwards.
  • They are basically an advert for an organisation. They offer a free course as a way to get the student/customer interested and potentially purchasing courses in the future.

Free courses have their place.  

Paid courses also have their place.

There is an increasing demand for high quality, tutor supported, e-learning courses.


Paid Courses

People will still pay for courses for many reasons. The free course may not provide them with the information and knowledge they require. Also -


Lifelong Learning

Learning has now become lifelong.  People want to study to –

  • Change careers
  • Update their existing knowledge
  • Gain promotion
  • Fill in the gaps in their knowledge

People can study at any age today.  This means that more and more people want to learn. They may study for their job or as a hobby, but whatever the reason, more and more people are studying.

Read more on lifelong learning here.

Studying at Home

More people seem to prefer to study at home or at a location to suit them.  There are so many courses available today, but they are not all available in travelling distance of a student. Online and e-learning allows students to study from anywhere in the world, when, what and how they want to study. 

Many people prefer the flexibility of being able to study like this.

It also reduces their travel costs.

Booming Business

Even with the number of free courses, the online education has boomed. It is estimated that the e-learning market is currently worth $300 billion dollars worldwide and continuing to grow. E-learning is basically electronic learning. You can read more about in this blog.

Many students do not just want a brief course. They may also want a tutor. They may want an in depth course with tutor support.


There is, therefore, a great potential for people wanting to set up their own online education business.

Online education businesses can be very profitable.


Determining Profit


Reduced Costs

Not always, but many online courses can be cheaper to run than face to face ones.

There is no –

  • Rent or mortgage costs for a building or to rent a venue
  • Staff do not have travel costs
  • Catering or other essentials for students are not required

This reduces the costs substantially.

An online course can be run “live,” where students attend a course online as the tutor teaches. But they can also be offered as distance learning or on demand, where the student studies when they want to. This also reduces costs.

The costs incurred on running an online course will obviously vary from education provider to education provider, but online courses are usually substantially cheaper than running physical courses.


The revenue you receive from selling an online course will also vary. It will depend on –

  • How much you are selling the course for. You may choose to sell it really cheaply and aim to sell lots of the courses or sell at a more expensive price and sell less.  The price you set will depend on many factors, such as – the cost of developing and administering the course, number of students, marketing costs etc. 
  • How many potential students do you have? You will need to determine how you will gain students. Through social media, advertising, blogs, vlogs, paid advertising etc. The more advertising you do, the more it will cost. Some education businesses rely mainly on free advertising, via social media and blogs. Others will pay for expensive advertising. It really depends on you and your requirements for selling.
  • You – Your experience will affect how many courses you sell. Whether you have marketing experience? Are you a good sales person? Are you good at writing blogs and social media posts? Are you good at developing courses?
  • Loyal customers can actually reduce costs. If a student comes back to you over and over again because they like your courses, then this reduces the marketing costs and other costs as you are getting repeat business, so loyal customers are a great way to reduce costs.


To work out your potential profit, use the following equation –


Profit = revenue – costs

Revenue is the money that comes in.

Costs are the money that goes out, such as –

  • Course development costs
  • Marketing
  • Tutor costs
  • Advertising costs
  • Bookkeeping or accountancy costs


We have already said that your costs may be less when offering online courses as some costs are not incurred when running online education businesses.


Are Online Education Businesses Profitable Then?


Yes. They are very profitable.


Yes, there are a lot of free and cheap courses, but they do not always provide people with what they want. There are still, literally, millions of students out there who are willing to pay for high quality courses that give them the knowledge, skills and training they require.

  • There is an increasing demand for online courses.
  • It is a great way to make money online.


It is not just about the money though.

  • Running an online education business can also be very rewarding and interesting.
  • You are providing education for a wide range of people.
  • People who may not be able to study your courses in other ways due to travel and cost restrictions.


ACS Distance Education has over 700 courses currently available, and more are coming regularly.

  • We offer courses in a wide range of topics from agriculture to horticulture to permaculture to writing to business to marketing and more.
  • Our courses are all studied via e-learning.
  • We also offer a wide range of eBooks to complement our courses or to be sold separately.
  • Our courses are all developed by experts in their field, who are also experts in distance learning.

Are online education businesses profitable?

Well, ACS Distance Education was established in 1979 by our Principal, John Mason. One man offering one course.  Forty-three years later, we offer over 700 courses and employ over 50 staff and tutors.

We think this speaks for itself.


Online education businesses can be, and are, profitable! We are the proof.


AND we offer the opportunity for others to use our courses to –

  • Set up their own online business
  • Expand their existing online business

If you are interested in selling online courses, we can help.

Contact our Affiliates Manager to find out more on just how much we have to offer.

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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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