Let's Go Back To The Past
Before we can look at the future of online education, we have to understand what has happened in recent times that affects online education, why is online education in such a boom period right now?
The Mobile Revolution
There are parts of the world that have not been able to access online education.
We have had a revolution in video content in the last 10 years, that means that video education, in its most powerful format, is now accessible.
But there are still massive parts of the word that do not have broadband access, so what has happened is that the smartphones that can play video content, have allowed many parts of the world to skip the need to have broadband connections and its associated expense.
The price of online education has dramatically decreased with sites like Udemy and Skillshare and others launching.
The mobile revolution has also enabled people to get access, in the past this was difficult, but now they have access to vocational educational content, and that is really really powerful.
People Pay For Vocational Skills
People will pay, if they can learn a skill, that will enable them to improve their life, what the mobile revolution has done has bought education to the whole world not just the western world.
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So what is the future for independent educators, like myself?
What are the future business models for us?
I think there are going to be two types, the one time purchase education model where someone purchases a course and the subscription education model where someone signs up to access to a large resource on a monthly basis.
One Time Purchase Education
The one time purchase education is what Udemy have adopted, they are focused on the one to many business model. So you create digital content, put it on a platform and sell it for a low price because the customer base is very large.
So with a one to many business model, it is not a matter of how much you charge for a course, but more important to get scale, to get a large number of students into your courses, for a low price.
This drives the cost of that type of training down, a lot of people are uncomfortable with that and I think they need to understand the two models and to consider if the subscription based model works for them much better.
Subscription Based Education
In this model, I might take 10 normal courses put it on a private website like Zenler or Teachable and add additional value and resources, like coaching, forums, interviews with industry experts etc. The key is that I will keep supplying additional content that they will subscribe to.
But now we are moving to a one to few business model, as soon as you starting giving a lot of time to individuals in a community your time is consumed. With this type of model you have to keep feeding them with fresh content with new resources, you are essentially selling a membership.
The Best Of Both Worlds
To get the best of both worlds, you can have your courses on a site like Udemy and on your own website, but provide additional value on your membership website.
This also brings up another issue, if you try to compete with Udemy directly, it is going to be very difficult, but if you offer additional value on your website, you are now outcompeting your content on that platform, which is a win win situation.
We don't want to be competing with Udemy, we want to be outselling them by offering better value on our own properties.
I am focused on the one to many business model, where I create digital assets that I can get in front of as many people as possible, but for the those that are drawn to the coaching side of things, the one to few model, with a subscription will be a superior model.
Competing With Sites Like Udemy
Now you can compete directly with Udemy by selling direct on your website, by offering discounts and bundles and undercutting them, but you cannot sell on your website for more than you are selling on Udemy without losing sales to them and creating bad blood with your students.
This is a very exciting time for online education, the opportunities are massive for those who are willing to invest in their product and their marketing.
Competition Will Increase
People are going to come and start teaching what you are teaching, when stock photography first started, anyone could upload an image, then the professional stock photographers took over and all of a sudden incomes dropped.
Quality Levels Will Rise
As more product comes to market, the competition will be based on quality, this is exactly what happened in the stock photography industry, all of a sudden, as the number of images increased, the quality of the images that were being accepted increased and the number of images being accepted decreased.
The stock photography companies were full up.
I predicted this would happen 2 years ago on Udemy and this is now apparent, Udemy are constantly pushing the quality levels up and marketing based on quality, this means that courses that once were accepted are no longer accepted.
The barrier to entry will rise on sites like Udemy and Skillshare, making courses in 5 days or less, forget about it, you need to invest time in your courses if you want to make good money from your digital products in future.
Quality will be everything.
You will need to invest in your technical skills, your on camera presence and your teaching skills.
So why bother if it is going to be so hard?
Awareness Will Go Mainstream
Udemy is not even a mainstream company yet, most people have never even heard of it. They currently sit around the 12 million student mark, when they get to the place where they have a brand that is as strong as Ebay, Amazon, Paypal, that is when it will get really exciting, when you have 100 million students on your platform...
This Is The Time
You have to be in on the ground level, this is the time to get involved, to learn the skills, to learn the business.
There will come a time when only professional production studios will be able to get their product on platforms like Udemy, once the money really starts flowing, you will have to be putting out the highest quality stuff to take advantage of it.
But that is just learning the business, improving your skills, making the next course better than the last, not pumping out content so that you can earn a quick profit.
With all of those caveats, it is a really really exciting time to be involved in this business. To be able to create courses online and build a residual income based business.
So if you have knowledge that has been hard to acquire, that you have spent time and money on learning and other people want to purchase that knowledge, you can build a powerful residual income based business, where you can earn money whilst you eat, sleep, spend time with family and be free from the rat race...
Now is the time...