Competition is everywhere, even in the world of online teaching business. More and more students are discovering the fun and flexibility of taking classes anywhere and anytime, especially when they can learn using their mobile devices. A study named Online College Students 2015: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences, jointly carried out by Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House, about 30% of students will never set foot in a college classroom. The report also re-establishes some widely-known facts: one, online students are diverse in their preferences, so there’s no-one-size-fits-all strategy to serve them; two, age no longer predicts learning behavior in online education; three, affordability is a critical variable.
Younger students, including school-goers are speedily adopting online learning. This growing demand for online classes is also causing digital instructors to try all sorts of methods to bring in students, and one of the most popular methods is the freebie. Offering something extra for no additional charge can appeal to students who like more bang for their buck, along with those who appreciate complementary research materials. Also, this will help promote your online teaching business through word of mouth.
So, here are some options for thinking creatively and offering creative freebies to your students:
E-books are instrumental, no matter what subject you teach. This is not only a marketing tactic but e-books also make additional resources for your students. Try publishing your e-books or worksheets about a topic that you’re an expert in. It could cover
- details about what was taught in your class, or
- advanced materials your students might be interested in learning after they have completed your class.
You can mention this book at the end of each class, and include a mobile-friendly link so students can download a free copy. Since it’s free you won’t get sales credit, but it still might be appreciated or encourage them to check out more of your digitally published material.
If you have a large fan following and have expertise in a particular subject, Amazon offers good opportunity to list your eBook. It can be listed for sale or download. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy tome either – a few chapters and a few hundred words that highlight key points can be all that you need. You also can include links to your book page with a short description of each one.
2. Videos/Video tutorials
Rather than sitting through your entire course again, students might want to watch some of the key points later via their phones or tablets. Consider creating a YouTube channel for all of these or hosting them on a private site. Since people have different interests and available time for videos, vary the duration with shorter “refresher” clips, usually one to two minutes long, or longer excerpts that are maybe 5-10 minutes.
These could also encourage people who have taken your class to follow your other topics and consider signing up for more, especially if you include a plug for your services and your site. The ‘how to’ part of a ‘how-to’ video can be as simple as recording each lesson with a webcam or a phone camera and then putting the information online. You don’t necessarily need fancy editing software either.
3. Progressively larger freebies – free classes
Encourage students to keep taking your classes by offering more substantial freebies every time someone hits a certain milestone. Maybe someone who takes five of your classes is eligible for a small gift, and something larger for the 10th or the 20th. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or elegant, such as a series of e-books instead of just one, or a subscription to a related periodical, but it should be something that can be offered fairly to all students.
As an alternative to offering freebies for taking a certain number of classes, consider reducing the cost for someone who signs up for a series of your classes on a given topic. It could be a progressively larger discount or even one for free. Have some fun with referencing classic TV or mail-order club pitches and offer one course for “the ridiculously low price of just one penny.
This can appeal to people who enjoy saving money or getting items for free and could encourage them to sign up for more, especially if they’re saving money. One caution: if you teach for some online/mobile schools or learning programs rather than independently, you might have to check with their financial people before offering to modify rates.
At the end of the class, invite students to sign up/opt-in for your newsletter that includes more of your tips and promotions. You can also use it to promote your classes or any other classes/instructors who you think your audience might enjoy learning from. Creating this can be done by making a Word document and collecting emails of anyone who has consented to be part of your recipient list.
6. Collaboration with other instructors
Rather than competing for the same pool of students plus the same types of topics in an online teaching business, partner with some of your educational peers. Not only will you divide the labor but also multiply the benefits. Theresa Heary, a successful online teacher, shares her experience how she collaborated with other instructors and strengthened her business. Also, partnering with other instructors is a good idea to create freebies for your online teaching business. Arrange this by contacting fellow online teachers and asking if they would be interested in any sort of collaboration. Another bonus this approach could take is the cross-traffic: it wouldn’t be just you telling your students about an interesting class, but several instructors telling the same thing.
7. Affiliate links and banners
Some sites pay you actual money if you drive your visitors to their sites, or even better, get visitors to click to travel to a certain site and buy something. You can start this process by checking out a popular site and seeing if they have affiliate options, such as Amazon, which is known for affiliate. If a site does offer affiliates, it can take the form of providing a short piece of html code, which you copy and insert into your site’s source code (easier than it sounds.) Then, give your students a link to your page with an offer like “download X worksheet that has some cool info for free.” They’ll go to your page and see a banner ad that they can click on for their free treat. Everyone wins!
Overall, the growing popularity of digital instruction efforts is to encourage more people to sign up for classes and to consider teaching. Giving an item for free can add more value to an entire educational experience.