How Much Does it Cost to Develop an Online Course?


Kevin Urrutia




September 13, 2022

Don’t develop an online course without understanding the costs involved.

Right now, there are thousands of creative people and business leaders creating online courses. Many of them are earning a steady income and use this as their main source of revenue.

However, two common questions that people have before tapping into an e-learning market is not how much money can I make selling a course but, how much does it actually cost to develop an online course?

In this article, let’s break down the various costs involved with developing an online course. This includes the tools and software available, hiring talent to create content, and any other “hidden” costs that may surprise.

Time vs. Money

Perhaps the biggest cost to develop an online course is your time.

Before you invest your time, take a look at some of the critical parts of course creation you should consider:

  • Researching your students. You’ll want to create a market plan which includes who are your target students, what are their expectations, what do they want/need from a course, and how to reach them.
  • Planning your course curriculum. Before you can technically develop the actual course content, you’ll need a plan and outline. Since you’re condensing knowledge, expertise, and value into a multi-week learning experience, you’ll want to have a clear idea as to what you’ll be teaching. To learn more about how to create online courses.
  • Developing your course content. This is a process that can take a significant amount of time. Filming, recording, writing, and designing the entire course content can take a few days to several weeks (check out the next section for ideas to save time by hiring talent).
  • Packaging your course. When your course is ready to be published, you’ll have to package and upload the course online. Keep reading to see which platforms and costs for publishing an online course below.
  • Marketing your course. Finally, you have to sell the course. This can take considerable time finding the right marketing messages to attract students and create revenue for your course.

Next, let’s take a look at the costs to pay someone to create your course so you can save time and focus on other aspects of your online course.

Costs for Talent to Develop an Online Course

Let’s say you’re an expert and you want to teach your knowledge to as many people as possible. You know that you’re good at public speaking and social media marketing, but, when it comes to developing an online course, you’re completely lost.

If you want to reduce the amount of time learning and developing your own online course, you can easily outsource it to professional talent. On freelancer like Upwork, you can find a range of talent, such as:

  • Video/audio editors
  • Powerpoint/presentation/slide creators
  • Professional copywriters
  • Audio editors
  • Graphic designers
  • Voiceover artists
  • And much more…

The type of content you produce for your course will determine which type of talent you may need for its development.

Best of all, you can filter through the right talent to find the best freelancer to create any part of the course you cannot or do not want to do yourself.

The cost of talent will vary by the level of professionalism, time constraint, and work requirements. In general, you can find decent talent at USD $65 per hour (sometimes less, sometimes more).

So, if it takes between 90 to 240 hours to develop your online course, this could cost USD $5850 to USD $15600 at a rate of USD $65 per hour.

It’s challenging to give you an accurate estimate for the cost of hiring talent to assist with the development of your online course. However, let’s look at some costs that are more obvious to calculate.

Costs for Developing an Online Course

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re going to develop an online course yourself you should already have a laptop or PC.

Beyond that, here are a few of the additional costs to consider:

Content Creation Software Costs

  • Adobe Suite (e.g. Photoshop, Premiere, etc.) – $20.99 / app / mo. or $52.99 / all apps / mo.
  • Microsoft Suite (e.g. to create slideshows and docs) –  $9.99 / mo.
  • Canva (e.g. cost-effective design tool) – FREE

Course Hosting Costs

  • Self-hosted website (e.g. WordPress) – $5 to $10 / mo.
  • Memberpress – WordPress plugin (e.g. to host course content on a WordPress website) – $349 / year
  • Kajabi (e.g. all in one marketing and course hosting) – $149 / mo.

Equipment Costs

  • Webcams + HD/720p Resolution (e.g. Logitech C920 HD Pro) – $49 to $99
  • Microphone (e.g. a standard clip-on mic) – $15 to $35
  • Lighting (e.g. to improve video quality) – $20 to $100

Miscellaneous Costs

  • Screenflow (screen recording software for Mac to record online lessons) – $129.99
  • Email marketing platform (for setting up automated email marketing campaigns) – $50 to $300
  • Design (if hiring talent for course logo, branding, social media images, etc.) – $500+
  • Paypal/Stripe fees – $200+

Marketing Costs for an Online Course

Depending on your target market, marketing costs can have an immense impact on your online course’s profitability.

You can expect to pay between $1 (or less) to $10+ per lead. Of course, these costs vary by topic, search terms, and competition in your market space.

To keep costs low, try using Facebook Ads. A few reasons why include:

  1. Easy access to potential students
  2. Costs per leads are low
  3. Automatic optimization of ads and ad budget

On average, you can expect to pay around USD $0.27 per click on a Facebook ad. You can determine your budget and test with as little or as much money as you can.

Also, if you use the Facebook Pixel, you can also set up:

  1. Remarketing
  2. Targeting

Remarketing is when someone comes to your sales page, but doesn’t buy, then you can send a paid advertisement on Facebook from your Facebook marketing company that will target them until they buy.

Targeting is simply a way of picking a detailed audience that looks like people who would buy from you.

Combined, you can create a powerful marketing strategy for your online course that is not only cost effective but also gives you a higher return on investment.

Do you have any questions about starting a profitable Facebook campaign? Feel free to contact us to discuss strategies for advertising your online course or business on Facebook.

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