How to start an e-learning business

Use your passion for teaching as the basis of a profitable e-learning company.

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The online education industry continues to boom as more and more people enjoy the convenience of studying anywhere, at any time. You could tap into the potentially lucrative field of e-learning by teaching your knowledge and skills to people all around the world, right from your computer.

Read on to learn what you need to know to start your own e-learning business.

What is e-learning?

E-learning is essentially any training or education that's delivered online through digital devices such as a computer, laptop or mobile phone. This type of learning, which is also known as online education, uses a variety of media and software to create engaging courses that can be taken at the student's convenience, often without the need for scheduled or in-person lessons with a tutor or lecturer.

woman teaching math online

What skills or requirements do I need to start an e-learning business?

Broadly, there are two main avenues to consider when starting an e-learning business, and the one you choose will depend on the expertise you have to offer. You could teach one specific skill set, such as website development or yoga and sell a range of courses within that specialism. Alternatively, you could be a more general learning designer and create courses for several different industries. Whichever options works best for you, it'll undoubtedly help to have some background in certain fields of expertise that are linked to the courses you intend to offer.

If you do plan set up an e-learning business as a learning designer (also known as an instructional designer), you'll need a strong background in education and several educational technology skills.

As a minimum, the necessary skills you'll need include as follows:

  • Writing skills. A lot of e-learning design requires writing video scripts, dialogues and case studies.
  • Creativity. You'll often need to think outside the box and come up with new ways to present information.
  • Research skills. Researching new trends, your target audience and educational material are all part of the job.
  • Learning management software skills. You'll need to get familiar with at least one learning management platform to host your courses, such as Moodle, LearnDash, Kajabi or Teachable.
  • Content creation. You'll be using audiovisual equipment, including video cameras, microphones and some basic graphic design tools.
  • Communication skills. Being able to communicate information in an engaging and concise way is a key element to the work involved in e-learning.

If you're still unsure of the way to shape your company, you might start by thinking about your work history or hobbies and what you could teach that people would pay for. Our guide outlines the main types of online course platforms available.

The key courses or qualifications to complete

If you're setting up an e-learning business which focuses on one specific area of skill, you won't necessarily need any formal qualifications. You can just take your expertise and turn it into one or more online courses that you can package and sell online.

On the other hand, if you want to build a business as a learning designer who creates e-learning courses for companies, it will help to have some formal qualifications.

One of the most recognised qualifications for this field of work in Australia is the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. TAFE offers this course, as do other registered training organisations. It can take between six months and two years to complete, and costs around $1,580 on average, according to Smart and Skilled NSW.


Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

A training and assessment certificate from could help start your e-learning business.

    Shop around for the right equipment and software

    As well as a good-sized laptop or desktop computer, you'll want to add some software and technical equipment to your toolkit:

    • Video camera. You can start with a simple webcam or upgrade to an HD camera.
    • Microphone. You may need a good quality microphone to record instructions over your video lessons.
    • Lighting kit. To make videos of yourself giving instructions, you can use a simple lighting set-up for a professional look.
    • Articulate Storyline. This is an industry favourite e-learning authoring app for creating interactive courses.
    • Learning Management System. You'll need to use a platform to host your courses such as Moodle, Teachable or Thinkific.
    • Microsoft PowerPoint. You can use this software to make attractive slide presentations for your lessons. Read more about Microsoft Office 365 in our review.
    • Canva. An easy-to-use graphic design tool for making presentations, graphics and fonts with access to free and paid images.
    • Adobe Premiere. Make the most of this popular video editing software.
    • Audacity. This audio editing software is free on certain plans.
    • Trello. Trello is a handy and user-friendly project management tool that can keep your workstreams on track.

    Pick a business structure that works for you

    Before you dive in and start creating courses, you'll want to get clear on your vision for your business. Deciding on a business structure is an important part of getting your business off the ground.

    In Australia, these are the main business structures to consider:

    • Sole Trader. If you plan to operate your business as a solo enterprise where you are in charge of everything, a Sole Trader structure may be the way to go.
    • Partnership. You may like to join forces with a colleague or friend and share the responsibility of your business. In this case, a Partnership is your best bet.
    • Company. As a Company, your business is seen as a separate entity from you and is owned by shareholders who may be investors or directors.

    Getting all your legal documents in place from the start will help you avoid potential problems down the line. These may include:

    • Service agreements. This will outline the service you're offering to each client and the expected payment.
    • Intellectual Property Licence Agreement. When creating original content for your own business, it's a good idea to protect your intellectual property.
    • A Privacy Policy is a legally required statement on your website which allows you to collect the personal information of people who visit your site.
    • Website Terms and Conditions. This outlines the rules for people visiting your website, including how users can use your website and a disclaimer to limit your liability.

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    Decide how much to charge your customers

    There are a range of factors to consider when setting your prices for your online courses, including the cost of creating and marketing the course, your niche, your target audience and competitor rates. Online course prices can cost as low $10 right up to $5,000 or more.

    According to, the average salary of an instructional designer (or learning designer) in Australia is about $110,000 per year. Of course, in reality, you could make far less or, on the other hand, significantly more when it comes to your own business.

    Accept payments from your customers in person and online with Square's card readers, payment terminals, digital invoicing and e-commerce tools.

    Market your e-learning business

    Building a following through social media, email newsletters and a YouTube channel will give you an audience to sell your courses to. Think about your target audience by considering demographics such as age range, background and interests, then consider putting these marketing tools in place:

    • Website. Your website will be the hub of your business where you can showcase your portfolio, provide information on your services, highlight client testimonials and build a list of subscribers. Find out how to build a winning website.
    • YouTube channel. Since you'll likely be using video a lot to teach your students, you can give people free mini-lessons on YouTube and direct them to your website.
    • Email newsletters. A more personal way to connect with your audience is by building a list of website subscribers and sending them out free tutorials, tips and promotions.

    Frequently asked questions

    Where can I operate my e-learning business?

    You can operate your e-learning business from home. All you need is a good office space, desk, chair and computer. You will most likely need a space to create your course content, such as a room to record videos and a sound-proofed area to record quality audio. Read more about how to start your business from home in 2021.

    Is it expensive to create e-learning courses?

    There are a wide range of course creation tools that vary in prices. You might choose to start with a small budget and use low-cost platforms like Thinkific or Teachable, both of which have free trial options.

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