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How to Passively Sell Your Online Course

Morgan Timm

| May 04, 2019

Running an online business is so rewarding, but if you’re not putting the right systems into place, it can be exhausting, too. 

Between writing blog posts, running social media, creating new paid content, hosting webinars, scheduling launches, and all of the other nuances that go into building a profitable business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

And if you’re balancing your online business with a full-time job, classes, a family, or other responsibilities, you can’t be working day in and day out just to make a profit. 

That’s why you need to build passive income streams

To put it in short, passive income just means money you’re making without any additional effort on your part. You set up systems and let them run in the background, making you money and freeing up your time.

Building a passive income stream with courses

One of the best things about online courses is that they’re a product you can build once and sell over and over again. Unlike business ventures like blogging or podcasting, where you constantly have to create fresh content, online courses allow you to put the time into creating your content once, and then set up the systems that will allow you to profit from that content for years to come. 

Is your online course a good fit to be evergreen?

Before we go any further - consider this: Is your course still going to be relevant in 6 months? A year? 5 years?

If you’re teaching concepts like crafting or baking, you’re in luck. Your course content will likely never become out of date. If you’re teaching technical topics like SEO or Facebook ads, on the other hand, once you evergreen your course, you’ll have to consistently check to make sure your information is still relevant. Strategies and best practices are constantly changing in those fields, so be conscious of that. With that said, you can still follow the strategies in this post to passively sell those courses; you may just want to check in on the content a little more frequently than if you were teaching a more creative topic. 

Get your affiliates to sell your course for you

Enlisting affiliates to promote your online course for you is one of the ultimate ways to ensure you’re going to be getting new eyes on your content. 

Affiliates are people who promote other people’s content and get a percentage of each sale. When it comes to finding affiliates for your online course, your best bet is to turn to your first round of students. 

How much do you pay affiliates? 

Depending on the program, this percentage can be anything from 2% all the way up to making the majority of each sale. 

From what I’ve observed, if you’re setting up an affiliate for your online course, you’ll have the best luck offering a sizeable percentage, at least twenty. 

You want to offer enough to truly incentivize the influencer while still making it worth it for you. 

Setting up affiliates on Teachable

On any paid plan, you can allow users to promote your course(s) as an affiliate.  In the case of a subscription or payment plan course, affiliates will receive a percentage of each payment, not just the first.

For more information on setting up affiliates on your Teachable school, check out this article

Create evergreen email funnels

If you’re actively building your email list (and you should be!), make your emails work harder for you. Once someone subscribes, you can enroll them in an evergreen email funnel (think like The Crazy 8 Launch Strategy, except instead of closing the doors you take bonuses away.)

You’ll follow the same 8 emails mentioned in The Crazy 8 Launch Strategy, with the main difference being that your doors are never closing. With that said, you’ll have to offer your audience a bonus for signing up within those 8 days. That could be a personal coaching call with you, access to a private Facebook group, a bonus course, or any other offering of value. 

Depending on your email provider, the steps to actually set up your automated emails will vary. Here are tutorials from MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Aweber.


Interested in learning more about creating a welcome email sequence? Let us help!

This worksheet will help you with: - Developing subject lines - Creating your CTA - Writing personality and authority into your welcome email


Create an automated webinar

Webinars are one of the most engaging promotional strategies you can use in your business. Video helps your audience feel connected to you, and you can build a ton of urgency within a webinar.

There are a few limitations with live webinars, though: your audience might not be able to attend during your scheduled time, they’re time consuming to set up and host, a lot can go wrong - from street noise to losing wifi. 

That’s why so many people love automated webinars. They are a recording of a webinar that you did live that your audience is invited to view at their own pace. 

You can include your automated webinar in your evergreen email flow, or use it as a stand alone strategy. 

Some people recommend trying to pass your prerecorded webinar off as if it were happening live, I am an outlier in believing it’s best to be straight forward. You can phrase your invite as such: “Hey there! Every so often I host live webinars, but I don’t have another scheduled until X. With that said, after the great feedback I received from my _________ webinar I hosted on ______, I thought I’d open the doors so you can access this content at your own pace. Even better? The once limited time offer I extended to my live viewers is being extended to you, too! I’ve reactivated the coupon code I mentioned, so you can get all of the webinar benefits, too!”

I’d recommend automatically sending this email to your audience after they’ve been on your email list for a month or so. 

The logistics here are:

  • You need a coupon code you mentioned in the webinar to stay live
  • You need somewhere to host the webinar - you can upload it to a free Teachable course, or upload it as unlisted on YouTube
  • You need to automate email sends - check the last section for how to do so

How have you automated your online course business?

Let us know in the comments! And as always, if you have any questions please let me know! 

Morgan Timm is a content marketer at Teachable with a background in blogging and social media. She runs Mostly Morgan, a life and style blog that reaches an audience of 40,000 people monthly.