A question I’m often asked is:

Is it possible for me to have a six-figure online course?

The answer:

It depends.

What? Were you expecting a different answer? Maybe some fantasy internet marketing offer like “Make Your Programs Make You Millions?”

Come on. Let’s be honest.

As if someone who has done a few local workshops and built a mailing list of a several hundred people can make “millions” from online programs right away.

The only person making “millions” from this type of offer is the evil genius marketer behind it. (He might actually have done it, too — at $2,000 for his program, he would have only needed 500 signups to hit $1M in gross revenue. Not easy, but be might have done it).

Now, I can’t know exactly what your course will make, but I can share with you some distinctions that separate the 4-figure earners from the 6-figure earners.

Distinction #1: Razor-sharp focus on delivering value to a well-defined audience.

The 6-figure earners don’t mess around with creating a course “just because it seems like a good idea.”

They know exactly who they are serving, understand what’s most critical to teach them, and develop compelling offers perfectly tuned to their tribe. Example: Jen Louden, TeachNow.

Distinction #2: A complete sales funnel that leads from free to high-value offers.

The 6-figure earners provide insightful, valuable content for free. But they don’t just “hope” you’ll buy something after discovering their expertise. They lead you up a ladder with low-cost courses & content that flow directly into premium online programs and in-person workshops or 1:1 coaching/consulting. They nurture, they build, and they aren’t afraid to sell.

Distinction #3: Long-term vision combined with a sense of urgency.

The 6-figure earners move quickly.

They avoid getting stuck in “analysis paralysis” or perfectionism. Yet, at the same time, they take a long-term view.

They patiently build their businesses step-by-step and recognize that real value isn’t created overnight.

They put in the work, so they can reap the reward over time.

Now let’s look at a realistic model for how you might build a 6-figure business around online programs.

First, start by offering “live” online programs that you launch with a specific start date.

These should be programs that you personally teach and in which you interact closely with your participants. We’ve found that these scheduled courses can be offered at reasonably high price points (typically $200 – $2,000).

Second, plan to offer your programs consistently over time.

Consistency is critical in growing your audience, referrals, and revenue. For example, Jeanine Blackwell — our partner in Create 6 Figure Courses — launched her program this year and offered 3 sessions (spring, summer, and fall). People who were interested in the first session, but missed the enrollment window were able to join her mailing list — and many of them went on to join the summer or fall session.

Third, have a clear offer for additional personalized or group support to help people continue learning and improving after your scheduled course wraps up.

A follow-up offer is essential to growing revenue beyond your initial course signups. And it can be very simple. If you offer 1:1 coaching or consulting, simply create a package that’s designed for people who have completed your course. Offer them a discount because they have completed the course, and explain how it will help apply the ideas from the course over time.

With those points in mind, here’s how an individual expert, Anna, could develop a six-figure business, starting in January 2015:

January 2015: Offer winter/spring session of online program

16 participants @ $500/participant = $8,000
4 participants @ $2,000/package for follow-up consulting = $8,000
Total: $16,000

June 2015: Offer summer session of online program, with additional premium tier of personalized support

18 standard participants @ $500/participant = $9,000
7 premium participants @ $800/participant = $5,600
4 participants @ $2,000/package for follow-up consulting = $8,000
Total: $22,600

September 2015: Offer fall session of online program

20 standard participants @ $500/participant = $10,000
10 premium participants @ $800/participant = $8,000
5 participants @ $2,000/package for follow-up consulting = $10,000
Total: $28,000

January 2016: Offer winter/spring session of online program
25 standard participants @ $500/participant = $12,500
12 premium participants @ $800/participant = $9,600
6 participants @ $2,000/package for follow-up consulting = $12,000
Total: $34,100

With this model, Anna has laid the foundation for sustainable value and growth. Her initial investment in developing and marketing her online program creates new leverage in her business within 12 – 18 months, and can become her core offering over the coming years.

Seem doable?

Do you see you could apply this kind of opportunity and revenue to your business?

How to learn more

Check out 5 Steps to Your Online Course ».