The ELearning Business Types or How to Enter the ELearning Market

It’s not so far in the dim distant past that no one thought of studying online, now it is hard to come by a person who has never taken an online course. ELearning, thanks to its flexibility, affordable price, mobility and effectiveness, finds more and more adherents all over the world.

Not surprisingly, the markets of online education and training are tremendously growing. According to the Strategic Assessment and Forecast 2017-2022, the global eLearning market is expected to reach $275.10 billion by 2022 (by comparison, in 2014 the size of the market was $165,36 billion) [source]..

With the eLearning industry projected growth entering the eLearning field seems to be a good idea, don’t you think so?

In this article we will tell you about different eLearning business models and provide examples of successful eLearning startups and businesses whose steps you can follow to take a piece of the eLearning market pie.

So, let’s start.


How to Enter the ELearning Field?


The eLearning field, one way or another, is all about online courses, whether we are talking about academic institutions looking for ways to reach out to modern learners, corporate businesses trying to educate employees to cope with the 21st-century challenges or entrepreneurs, online trainers and teachers tending to sell their knowledge online.

Which means that you can either enter the eLearning market by launching your own online courses business or by providing services to other businesses in your industry (eLearning content and course development, eLearning design, eLearning solutions delivery etc.).


Let’s start with online teaching business options:

Online teaching business options come in the following variations:

  • Being an online instructor in an educational institution;
  • Independent online teaching;
  • Creating content for universities or other teachers;
  • Proving open courses, building MOOC platforms;
  • Giving education for free and generating donations.


Being an online instructor in an educational institution

Traditional educational institutions offer online degree programs to reach out to working and always-on-the-go students who cannot attend lectures on campus.

Not to mention that online education opens doors to non-regional students and the students living on a shoestring since distant learning is much more affordable than a traditional one.

If you have teaching experience that you can translate into the online learning environment and are comfortable with technology, becoming an online instructor in an educational institution is a good career option.

Further reading:

How to Get Started with Teaching Online – Interview with Liz Hardy
How to Start a Career in the ELearning Field


Independent Online Teaching

An alternative to being a full-time university/college online instructor is independent online teaching.

To earn income as an independent online teacher you can either teach online using Email, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Drive or teach through online teaching platforms.

The first approach is well suited for beginners who don’t have a lot of online clientele. When the amount of students gets bigger managing an “online school”, providing learners with materials and giving timely feedback gets trickier. Then, the second approach comes.

The most famous examples of online courses marketplaces (online platforms where individual teachers can sign up and teach online) are Edmodo, Schoology, My Private Teacher and Teachable. The services allow teachers to sign up for free, but charge for using the platform services, sell subscriptions or take commission on revenue. Some of the online teaching platforms also generate revenue from their API web stores.

Let’s analyze one of the online courses marketplace business models and find out what can we learn from its experience.

Edmodo Business Model

The Edmodo Business Model

Two school district employees and a software engineer founded Edmodo back in 2008. The idea behind the project was to create a platform where struggling with technology teachers and their students could easily collaborate with one another. Today the platform counts 112 employees and is used by 77 million users in more than 370 000 schools worldwide.

The platform operates under a freemium model: both students and teachers register for free and pay just for additional functionality and services (the Edmodo app marketplace, training and development services).

Edmodo education platform


How to apply it to your eLearning business?

The Edmodo Company succeeded because it targeted teachers who were looking for tools to improve teacher-students communication and gave them the so called “Facebook” for classrooms. Since the platform was free to use and the functionality met the teachers’ demands, the word-of-mouth had shot bolt and helped the company attract thousands of new educators. Once the teachers were onboard attracting schools had no difficulty.

Tweet: A well-thought-out marketing strategy is the key to the business success! @joomlalms



Creating Content for Universities or Other Teachers

Another way for teachers to earn money is to sell the content and the learning resources they create to other teachers and educational institutions. The Teachers Pay Teachers marketplace is a case in point.

Teachers Pay Teachers Business Model

The Teachers Pay Teachers Business Model

Teachers Pay Teachers is an open online marketplace where teachers buy and sell their learning materials. The founder – Paul Edelman, who was a public school teacher, wanted to help teachers make money from the materials that gathered dust, and the idea to create a website came into his mind. The fact that over 4 million teachers worldwide visit the marketplace and there are over 2.4 million available resources is the most compelling evidence that the idea was great.

The website uses a subscription-based business model (a 15% commission with a premium $59,95 membership and 40% with a free membership).

Teachers Pay Teachers membership

How to apply it to your eLearning business?

The popularity of the Teachers Pay Teachers platform is explained by the fact that teachers trust each other more than some unknown content providers and publishers. To put it differently, the content teachers sell is tested in the classroom and corresponds with the industry standards.

The founder monetized the exchange between teachers and created not only a marketplace but also a global community of teachers, where they could learn from one another.

Tweet: ELearning business demands creativity and innovation. @joomlalms



Giving Education for Free and Generating Donations

The idea of a free, world-class education for everyone is quite popular nowadays.

The most famous example of a platform spreading knowledge for free is Khan Academy.

Khan Academy Business Model

The Khan Academy Business Model

Khan Academy started back in 2006 as a collection of math and science video tutorials its founder Salman Khan created for his cousin. Today the company employs 150 people while the Khan Academy website serves more than 15 million people watching over 100 000 educational videos a month in 36 languages. The company is non-profit and is supported by donations only.

Khan Academy donations

How to apply it to your eLearning business?

The idea behind Khan Academy wasn’t new (have a look at Wikipedia for example), what was new the content format and the way it was delivered (free and what is more important interactive online videos that make people like to learn). Owing to the fact that Salman followed his passion, not money he revolutionized the world of education.

Tweet: Being passionate about what you are doing increases your chances of success! @joomlalms



Open Courses, Building MOOC Platforms

A classic reimbursement model of online degree programs is when students pay for attending online courses. However, many leading universities nowadays provide free access to the learning materials taught by the in-house professors to expand access to education. Even though students don’t get credits or degrees they receive access to high-quality education.

Websites like Coursera, Udacity and EDX are known for providing free online courses from their university partners and getting revenue through verified certifications students pay for when the course is successfully completed. The platforms take a part of the revenue generated by the courses offered through the platform and work with universities to produce more courses.



The Coursera Business Model

Coursera is a well-known MOOC (massive open online courses available over the Internet to millions of people) provider with the largest variety of courses available. Founded in 2012, Coursera today counts 149 university partners and more than 26 million registered learners who take around 2000 courses.

The revenue comes from selling verified certificates (so called “Signature Track”), offering a Specialization program (a sequence of courses a student needs to take to earn required skills), charging for human training if a student struggles with the subject, providing employee-training programs, networking opportunities for employers and recruiters and charging for course grading assignments.

How to apply it to your eLearning business?

There are several monetization strategies Coursera applies. Instead of charging for certificates only, Coursera diversifies the services offered hereby enhancing customer satisfaction, spreads the message to a new audience and obtains a sustained growth.

Tweet: When you start a business, focus on the company development strategy. Try out new angles! @joomlalms

Now, let’s turn to selling online courses online:


Online Courses Business

When the conversation drifts to selling courses online there are two options to do so:

  • Sell courses on online courses marketplaces;
  • Sell courses on your own website.


Sell Courses on Online Courses Marketplaces

By selling courses on third-party platforms you don’t deal with website management, domain, hosting and other activities associated with running one’s own business. No need to deal with marketing, SEO, Branding and attracting traffic. The online marketplaces do everything for you.

Where is the catch? – The revenue share, which can be up to 50% depending on the course-purchasing scenario (organic course sale, instructor coupon use, affiliate sale, advertising campaign etc.). Instructors, selling courses on such third-party platforms, say that communication with students might get messy when you teach several courses at once. Moreover, you don’t own the students’ data and are not allowed to collect students’ emails to use elsewhere.


Sell Courses on Your Own Website

When you sell courses on your own website, you deal with website management and all the associated marketing, PR and SEO activities, but all the generated profit belongs to you. And what is more important, you have full control over the users’ data.

To manage and deliver online courses you need a Learning Management System that can be either installed on your website (On-Premise Solutions) or hosted in the Cloud (SAAS solutions)(to learn more about LMS software and their types we recommend reading the guide How to Select a Learning Management System?).

What is good about selling courses on your own website is that you can differentiate your business from competitors and realize a unique idea third-party platforms don’t allow.

For example, let us bring up an example of Ticken, a custom eLearning project developed on the basis of the JoomlaLMS Learning Management System.

The project started as a small online touch-typing project and grew into a well-known touch-typing program used in dozens of schools in Holland and abroad. The project succeeded because there was a unique idea behind it. The founder didn’t just buy an off-the-shelf Learning Management System as everyone else did; the LMS was highly customized to meet a unique business idea and kids’ needs.


How to apply it to your eLearning business?

Tweet: Only a unique idea coupled with differentiation from competitors has the power to help you achieve the business goals. @joomlalms

Let’s move on now to online and corporate training business options.



Online and Corporate Training Business

Being a Corporate Instructor

Since more and more companies nowadays understand the importance of employee training and development the demand for qualified corporate and training providers is growing tremendously.


Because asking senior employees to train newcomers or hiring a third-party company with zero understanding of your internal business processes and needs are no longer the options. Classroom training or attendance of seminars and lectures in their turn don’t correspond with the employees’ heavy workload and busy appointment schedule.

For those very reasons, companies hire in-house corporate trainers to develop online training programs that help companies prepare employees for constantly changing business needs and market demands.

Therefore, you can either become a corporate instructor or set up a company specializing in courses on safety training, customer service, risk management, stress management etc.


Being an Online Coach or a Personal Trainer

Online personal training is growing in popularity: more and more trainers and fitness instructors offer online versions of their training while more and more people from all over the world want to get a chance to be trained by skilled trainers.

Online personal training is in no way different from a traditional one, with tailored exercises and nutrition programs, except for one point – there is no instructor nearby. There are both adherents and opponents of such kind of training but if you are a trainer or a fitness instructor moving your training program online is an effective way to grow the client base and get an additional income source.


Other Ways to Make Money in the ELearning Market


Among other ways to make profit in the eLearning market are the following:

Becoming an LMS Administrator

An LMS administrator deals with LMS installation, management and maintenance. Since distant education is in demand, more and more companies are looking for a person to administer their Learning Management Systems. If you possess the required technical background, you can become an administrator of Open-Source or On-Premise Learning Management Systems.


Becoming an LMS Reseller

There are over 700 Learning Management Systems on the market. Many of them offer reselling programs – representation of the company in local markets. Instead of developing your own LMS and investing money and resources in its promotion and marketing you can become a reseller of an LMS with a well-known name and reputation.


Becoming an Edtech Consultant

Since there are a variety of edtech solutions available on the market, finding the one is quite complicated. Many people, instead of wasting time on looking for the right software, prefer hiring edtech consultants who help with the search based on the company’s needs and budget.


If there is one thing we’ve learned from 11 years’ experience in the eLearning market is that the potential of the eLearning industry is immense and there is bound to be more demand in the coming years.

We really hope that the variety of best practices and actionable tips we’ve provided in the article will help your business stand out and build lasting assets.


What to read next?
Horrible Mistakes that Can Cost Your ELearning Business Millions 
15 Podcast Episodes to Help you Launch a Successful Online Courses Business
What 6 ELearning Business Owners Wish They Had Done Differently
25 Blogs for Someone Who Wants To Become an ELearning Professional


A Collection of Free Resources to Design an Amazing ELearning Course

I think you will agree that keeping costs down when developing online courses is a key to eLearning business stability and lasting ROI.

Over the years of the JoomlaLMS company existence we have assisted many clients – small eLearning business owners and startup founders, who couldn’t afford hiring experienced instructional designers and content creators and looked for any possible means to cut the eLearning project costs. To help them we published a bunch of the JoomlaLMS workarounds to unlock the hidden functionality of the LMS system, shared partner coupons to save on authoring tools and recommended free eLearning resources for eLearning professionals.

But of course, the JoomlaLMS blog is not the only source of freebies for eLearning course designers and developers. We know dozens of eLearning and EdTech websites where people share resources to create amazing online courses and, what is important, they are completely free!

In this article we will share with you an amazing collection of a variety of places where you can find free eLearning images, free eLearning characters, e-learning website templates, fonts, audio and video files to cut the eLearning development costs.


When you are about to start with eLearning course design you get overwhelmed with all the design principles, approaches and disciplines out there. To get to know all the basics you will spend years, not weeks. Fortunately for you, there is an amazing design school that helps non-designers to learn the basics without charge and shares amazing design resources such as color combinations, schemes and palettes, fonts, icons and eLearning images to download and much more. We highly recommend checking it out!

Tim Slade’s Blog

Tim Slade is an award-winning eLearning designer and the owner of a popular blog where he not only constantly shares eLearning design strategies and approaches but showcases stunning resources to design and develop online courses. Here you will find everything you need to design your next project including icons, high-resolution eLearning images, e-learning website templates and fonts.

The 60 Totally Free Design Resources for Non-Designers, compiled by Vismeo, is another go-to collection for visual content. The blog post features 60 websites with free eLearning images, photos, icons, fonts, free photo and video editing tools.

The collection of design tools and assets by an instructional technologist Bianca Woods is a great source of e-learning freebies to design media-rich course content and polish your design skills.

If you are looking for game design resources to produce high-quality and interactive eLearning courses, then have a look at the freebies, collected by Julie Dirksen – an independent consultant and instructional designer with more than 15 years of eLearning design experience.

The Teacher Toolkit is a wonderland of free resources for teachers and schools. Here you will find a bunch of resources to use in the classroom, including lesson plans, various assessment types, feedback examples and homework templates. If you are a teacher, you will be definitely spoilt for choice!

ELearningArt is a leading provider of free eLearning images and website templates for the eLearning industry. The website is aimed at instructional designers and learning developers working on creating interactive and engaging eLearning content. In the eLearning art blog you will find not only over 40 000 eLearning assets but a bunch of interesting articles and interviews with top eLearning and edtech experts.

The ELearning Coach

The name of Connie Malamed is familiar to almost everyone in the eLearning field. Connie’s blog is a godsend for learning specialists and designers. Besides actionable strategies, expert interviews and practical pieces of advice on designing smarter learning experiences there are a lot of eLearning freebies and resources to bring your eLearning project to the next level.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog

If you are looking for lots of Articulate freebies in one place then the E-Learning Heroes Community is what you need. Every day instructional designers from all over the world submit free resources to help each other build outstanding eLearning courses and get the most from Articulate software. Here you will find e-learning website templates, free eLearning characters, demos, quizzes, eLearning examples and assessments to create a seamless eLearning experience. You can contribute here as well.

ELearning Industry

It is hard to come by a person who has never visited the eLearning industry website or has never heard of its owner – Christopher Pappas. The website contains articles on the eLearning topics of all sorts, including the collections of free eLearning resources for instructional designers and course creators.

The Shiftlearning blog authors post a number of articles each week aimed at people working within the eLearning industry. A great place to explore interesting eLearning ideas and find lots of free eLearning resources to produce more results on a budget.

ELearning Brothers don’t only produce the largest collection of eLearning website templates and assets for a rapid eLearning development but also give away lots of free stuff for eLearning developers and presenters alike. The fact that the startup was named the Top 20 Learning Library by Training Industry is the most compelling evidence that the website is worth visiting.


Learning Solutions Magazine

Learning Solutions Magazine

We have recommended the LearningSolutionsMag as a great eLearning resource more than once. It is worth subscribing to the blog for receiving informative eLearning articles, recent news and experts’ opinions. Another reason to join the subscribers’ list is recommendations of resources for eLearning developers, project managers and instructional designers that will be delivered straight to your inbox.

Jackie Van Nice is an experienced instructional designer who runs her own business on creating custom eLearning. In her blogs she provides a lot of useful advice to help others to succeed in the eLearning field as well as shares free Storyline and PowerPoint templates, free eLearning images in high resolution and resources to help you speed up the eLearning development process.

There are so many websites with free resources that sometimes it gets very difficult to find valuable content your competitors don’t use. Eric Berget, a creative director at Dashe & Thomson, compiled an article featuring free “un-stocky” eLearning resources he uses personally.

Another website where you can find free eLearning resources is the blog owned by Joanna Kurpiewska, an out of the box eLearning designer with 7 years of learning design experience. The freebies she shares are free to download and use in your eLearning projects.

Jennifer Valley, an instructional designer whom we even interviewed for the JoomlaLMS blog also has a list of free tools and resources for eLearning she has been collecting over the years. A broad range of animation, audio, biography, collaboration, color, course authoring, documents, eLearning images, icons, infographics and meeting tools to choose from when building your next eLearning project.

The eLearning Locker website says that they help to put the Wow! back in eLearning by designing outstanding eLearning website templates, layouts, designs and graphics. The website offers a variety of media resources to amaze your learners and is worth to be bookmarked. is one more website where in addition to paid custom eLearning development resources there is a bunch of free stuff to download and get your eLearning development work done within a few clicks.

If you are looking for a collection of websites where you can download free eLearning templates, we recommend checking out the blog post by Scott Winstead, an eLearning designer and technology expert. Here you will find a list of 10 go-to places to find great ready-made templates to make your life as an instructional designer easier.


We sincerely hope that the gathered collection of websites and blogs with free eLearning resources will help you design outstanding eLearning courses and engage your learners.

Do you have your own personal favorites? Please tell us about them in the comments section below. And don’t forget to share the post before you get back to course creation!


What to read next?
25 Blogs for Someone Who Wants To Become an ELearning Professional 
15 Podcast Episodes to Help you Launch a Successful Online Courses Business
How to Create an ELearning Course on a Tight Budget? 14 Lessons from Top Learning Designers

15 Podcast Episodes to Help you Launch a Successful Online Courses Business

Making a bold launch for an online courses business and even more so getting it up and running successfully is praiseworthy. Unfortunately, practice shows not everyone manages to build a six-figure business and secure a steady income stream.

How to make headway then? How to start an online courses business? How to attract a bunch of clients willing to study and be trained online? Where to get knowledge about eLearning basics, the fundamentals of online courses business promotion, eLearning trends, misconceptions and thing to be aware of?

If these questions have been bothering you for a long time, then the podcast episodes collection we’ve gathered is worth listening to.

Sit back and put your earphones on!

1. How to Achieve Expert Status?

Host:Grant Weherley

One of the obstacles that keep people from launching an online courses business is lack of expert status. They are afraid that nobody will get enrolled in their courses because they don’t have a name, expertise, and industry credibility. The thing they forget is their unique vision, voice and the way of presenting information.

Believe it or not, people buy a course not because of your credibility, but because they like how you put ideas into words!

To learn how to get people to perceive you as an expert and deal with the fear of being criticized listen to the podcast episode “How to Achieve Expert Status”, hosted by an online course expert and entrepreneur – Grant Weherley.

Listen on iTunes Listen on

Keep reading… 

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning Technologies for Students

Digital revolution affects education too, changing the whole learning process in so many ways. The word “e-learning” doesn’t sound unfamiliar to many of us these days. Moreover, most of us associate it with not only technological progress but also with big opportunities.

But is e-learning really as effective as it seems? Or it cannot replace classical education (at least at this point)? Let’s find it out together.

ELearning Advantages

First, let’s focus on benefits of e-learning.

1. ELearning does help save costs.

Moreover, it helps both educational institutions and students do so. Colleges don’t have to provide students with space for learning and with some additional materials for their education. Students don’t have to travel somewhere to build new skills and gain new knowledge.

While e-learning still requires teachers to record their lectures and create courses, these learning materials can be used for a long time and easily changed when the need comes. Therefore, colleges save money on instructors and professors too.

Keep reading… 

Horrible Mistakes that Can Cost Your ELearning Business Millions

Whether you are just thinking of starting your own eLearning business or working on making it successful and profitable, surely, time after time you have wondered why some eLearning projects succeed and others fail.
Of course, there is no single cause of the eLearning business “death” and there is a bunch of mistakes that can cost eLearning businesses millions starting from a “weak” idea to management mistakes along the business journey but we thought you might want to find out the most common ones.

Continue reading “Horrible Mistakes that Can Cost Your ELearning Business Millions”

14 Lessons from Top Learning Designers on creating an ELearning Course on a Tight Budget

When it comes to creating eLearning courses, there are two hot topics that never go out of style in the eLearning circles. The first one is “How to create a qualitative and engaging eLearning course?” and the second one is how to do so on a tight eLearning budget.


Because the two of them determine the success of your eLearning business in the long run: whether you will have a steady stream of customers waiting to get enrolled in your eLearning courses and whether the funding is used wisely.

We have already written about the main principles of effective e-course creation (in case you’ve missed it please read the post The Secret of an Effective Course Creation), now it is time to find out how to create such a course when the budget is constrained.

We asked top learning designers to share the insights on how to design an eLearning course with limited resources. An interesting fact that nobody told us that it was impossible or the course would be tiresome and plain then, moreover, there turned out to be many ways to save money when creating an eLearning course, therewith making it engaging, interactive and well-designed.

Want to know the secrets? Keep reading… 

A Story How One Aviation Company Has Grown by Amazing 400%

Starting your own online courses business is exciting and terrifying at the same time.

On one side, it is the only way to get out of your day-to-day office routine, long hours of office work and the boss you cannot stand.

On the other side, you take a huge risk and put everything on the line. You have a family to support, a mortgage to pay.

The thought that you might fail, get in debt up to your ears and beg for your job back terrifies you.

I bet you had not one sleepless night weighing all pros and cons, am I right?

You’ve read dozens of books, hundreds of eLearning industry experts interviews, thousands of blog post on how to be a successful entrepreneur, how to create engaging courses, how to apply effective eLearning techniques…

But all of this is a theory.

You need real-life examples from people like you, who risked, made mistakes, faced challenges and got where they are now.

Continue reading “A Story How One Aviation Company Has Grown by Amazing 400%”

16 Remarkable Lessons Learned from Interviewing Top ELearning and Edtech Experts

More than a year ago we launched a new blog series called “Experts’ Interviews”. We have interviewed many talented people: award winning instructional designers, experienced educators, teachers, conference speakers, bestselling book authors, LMS consultants, and instructional technology specialists.

All these people shared their experience, the mistakes not to make, obstacles to overcome, valuable pieces of advice and ideas to inspire and motivate.

Continue reading “16 Remarkable Lessons Learned from Interviewing Top ELearning and Edtech Experts”

Creating Successful Blended-Learning Classrooms – [Interview]

When teachers begin to experiment with blended learning, they immediately face a bunch of questions: What are the benefits of blended learning? Which blended learning models should I use? How to make the blended class effective? What hidden rocks should I be aware of? And many others. To clarify the blended learning question we’ve interviewed a Google Certified Teacher and the author of numerous book on the blended learning – Catlin Tucker.

Continue reading “Creating Successful Blended-Learning Classrooms – [Interview]”

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