Guest Column | April 26, 2021

Starting Your eLearning Business? Here Are 3 Key Things You Need To Know

By Darya Efimova, Iflexion

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In recent years, technology has been becoming more and more pervasive in education. From cloud-based corporate training portals to gamification and mobile learning, schools and training departments implement new solutions to enhance instruction quality and effectiveness.

Research corroborates the explosive growth of digital learning. In 2019, the global eLearning market’s size surpassed $200 billion and is expected to reach $375 billion by 2026. When we look at corporate training, over half of Learning & Development professionals expect to increase their eLearning budgets.

Amid the global pandemic, digital education has gone viral. As educational institutions and training centers shut their doors and force learners to move online, custom eLearning development may be needed more than ever before. But before you jump headfirst into the market of distance education, get familiar with these three core tips for starting an EdTech business.

#1 Get To Know Your Future Users

The key to success in any business is identifying the demand and then catering to it. Valuable educational content means little if there aren’t enough people to use it. In some cases, you may not even realize that there’s an issue discouraging people from using your learning platform. To avoid these situations, you have to understand who your learners are and what they want.

Find Out What Learners Think

There are several ways to assess the interest and needs of learners. Start by checking popular eLearning services: figure out what they do right and what they do wrong. Social media is an invaluable source of first-hand information — just reading through comments posted on other EdTech businesses’ fan pages can give you insight into the end users’ needs. Take a look at some real-life examples of learners sharing their concerns on Facebook:

“How to minimize distraction? If I start to do one lesson of a subject, after doing them for like 5-7 mins, I start to get distracted and do other lessons from another subject, without completing the first one. And so on, it just goes on each day.”

Some learners have trouble staying focused during online lessons. How can you keep them engaged?

“I have been a nanny for over 20yrs, and I want to change careers and go in a different direction. I am currently leaning toward the health and wellness area. How do I convey skills that I have learned as a nanny (think of a nanny as a project manager and educator, not a babysitter) into a more traditional professional job?”

Other users are interested in content from a particular field. Perhaps they can be your target audience?

“I have submitted an official application for a course launch on your platform several weeks ago but never heard back. I realize there’s a delay due to Covid, but is there a way to receive support (now even the support message option does not work on the website)?”

Finally, not everyone’s satisfied with the quality of service provided by your competitors. Turn their discontent into a business opportunity!

Taking to social media is just one way to learn more about your audience. You may also check out blog posts, industry magazines, and forums, or ask fellow entrepreneurs. The more data you analyze, the better the chance that your EdTech platform will catch on with your audience.

#2 Consider Custom Elearning Software

Once you’ve analyzed your audience’s needs, it’s time to start designing your virtual classroom. You can choose some of the ready-made solutions or opt for a bespoke eLearning platform. Which one should you pick?

Off-the-shelf solutions have some undeniable advantages: they are affordable and available almost instantly. However, there are many reasons why custom eLearning development might be a better option.

Off-The-Shelf May Not Suffice

Let’s get back to the previous point. You’ve done your research and understand what your future users want. But what if it turns out that the functionalities required to meet their learning goals aren’t available in a prebuilt template? With custom software, this issue doesn’t exist. You may tailor the solution per your exact specification, enriching it with custom features to answer your audience’s needs.

EdTech solutions are unique, which is why they all benefit from a personal approach. Custom corporate eLearning portals may include knowledge bases, enhanced progress tracking, and knowledge sharing tools. Owners of online course marketplaces can build their own easy-to-browse content catalogs. Specialized learning apps, in particular, need dedicated solutions — you probably don’t want to use the same software for learning languages and meditation.

Additionally, custom eLearning development will make your platform stand out from competitors. Don’t allow learners to confuse your product with others — instead, attract them with original design and features they won’t find elsewhere.

#3 Choose A Suitable Payment Model

Another essential factor to consider when building a top-selling eLearning product is the revenue model. If your rates are unreasonable, you will be heading for business failure pretty quickly.

Thus, carefully consider the project scope, the available budget, and the time needed to set up the platform and prepare the learning content. Building your product entirely in-house may entail lengthy onboarding and high hiring and overhead costs. You’ll also need to deal with all the issues related to managing the project team. If you decide to go down this path, ensure you get the right people with relevant skills and expertise on board.

As an alternative, you may outsource work to an external provider. Not only is this a more cost-efficient option, but also the one that requires less time investment while providing you with access to a global talent pool.

In terms of content design and delivery, remember that experienced academics will charge more than instructors who are new to the market. Also, note that collaboration with established educational institutions is likely to impact your profit share.

How Do You Intend To Make Money?

Finally, you’ll need to figure out how to charge your customers. There are several monetization strategies to choose from, exemplified by these eLearning providers:

  • Lynda — the platform offers subscription-based access to its extensive archive of online courses. The first month is free, and corporate pricing is available.
  • Skillshare — the site provides a vast range of free courses and unlimited access with a monthly subscription. Special prices are available for companies depending on the team size.
  • Domestika — it offers courses at a fee or in bundles, plus a premium subscription granting access to selected courses.
  • Quizlet — this is a free memo card tool for teachers and students. Subscribing allows using extra features and customization.

Overall, offering a range of free courses is a great way to attract and retain learners. Be flexible and choose a model that will suit your target audience best.

Conclusion

There’s no single recipe for success in the eLearning industry. However, following the above tips will set you on the right path to starting your own digital learning business. Bear in mind that what works for others doesn’t have to work for you — get inspired by competitors but remember that understanding your audience and intent should be your first guiding principle.

About The Author

Darya Efimova is a Digital Transformation Observer at Iflexion. With MA in Creative and Media Enterprises, Darya is an accomplished writer and industry insider helping IT leaders make sense of today’s tech disruptions and new market imperatives.