Online Side Hustles

How to Earn Selling Online Courses in South Africa

How to Earn Selling Online Courses in South Africa

Creating and selling online courses provides an excellent opportunity for South African experts to earn passive income sharing their knowledge at scale.

With elearning platforms like Udemy and Skillshare handling the marketing and delivery, course creators can earn thousands of rands per month in royalties.

Here is a complete guide to profiting from online course creation as a side hustle business.

What are Online Courses?

Online courses are structured learning programs delivered through websites and apps. They provide video lessons, readings, quizzes and other materials students access on-demand.

Popular course topics include:

  • Business – Marketing, management, productivity, design, accounting
  • Technology – Coding, game development, cybersecurity, data science
  • Creative Skills – Photography, writing, music production, graphic design
  • Lifestyle – Cooking, fitness, parenting, relationships, personal finance
  • Academics – Test prep, math, science, language learning

Online courses represent a flexible way for students to gain skills remotely. For experts, they provide a lucrative income stream.

Why Create Online Courses?

Teaching online courses offers major benefits as a side hustle:

  • Passive income – Earn royalties for months or years after course creation.
  • Establish authority – Showcase your expertise to grow your brand and credibility.
  • Flexible schedule – Record and upload lessons whenever you want.
  • Unlimited earning potential – Income scales with course sales. Top creators make millions.
  • Location independent – Teach students all across South Africa or globally.
  • Personal fulfillment – Share your passion and make an impact teaching others.
  • Scalable business – Start with one course and expand over time.

Online courses represent one of the most profitable yet flexible side hustle opportunities today for established experts.

Read also: 11 Legit Apps for South African Students to Make Money Online

How Much Do Online Course Creators Earn?

Income earned depends majorly on course pricing and sales volume. On platforms like Udemy, course prices typically range from R250 – R600, with some premium courses over R1000.

You earn a commission from 40-60% of the course price per sale. This nets creators:

  • R100 – R240 per sale on a R250 course
  • R240 – R360 per sale on a R600 course
  • R400+ per sale on a R1000+ premium course
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Top creators earn six figures monthly with large catalogs and student bases.

But even selling just 50 courses per month at an average price of R400, of which you earn 60%, can make you over R12,000 monthly. This provides excellent passive income from an initial time investment in course creation.

Top Online Course Platforms

Here are the best e-learning platforms to host and sell your courses:

  • Udemy – Global leader enabling experts to build courses on any topic.
  • Skillshare – Fast-growing creative skills learning community.
  • LinkedIn Learning – Build courses for professionals seeking career development.
  • Thinkific – All-in-one course creation and selling platform.
  • Podia – Create and market online courses, memberships and digital downloads.
  • Teachable – Build and sell courses with comprehensive tools and customization.
  • Kajabi – Create online academies with courses, memberships and coaching.

Look for platforms aligning with your niche, target audience and course goals.

Read also: Teach Online as a Side Hustle: How to Earn R1,000+ Daily

Key Skills For Course Creation Success

To profit as a course creator, these skills are invaluable:

  • In-depth subject matter expertise – Ability to share nuanced insights clearly.
  • Teaching and communication skills – Engaging and informative video presence.
  • Technical abilities – Using video equipment and editing software.
  • Writing and research – Creating useful supplemental materials.
  • Marketing – Promoting your course effectively.
  • Time management – Consistency creating and updating content.
  • Accounting – Tracking income and expenses intelligently.

If you can create professional, high-value lessons and market successfully, you can build a lucrative course business.

Step-By-Step Guide to Launching a Successful Online Course Business

Follow these detailed steps to build a profitable online course side hustle from scratch in South Africa:

Step 1: Choose the Right Online Course Topic and Target Student Niche

Choosing the right course topic and defining your target audience are foundational steps to succeed as a course creator.

  • Conduct market research on potential course ideas related to your expertise that solve common problems or teach in-demand skills. Review competitor offerings for gaps.
  • Use Google Keyword Planner to analyze search volume and demand for related topics. Look for specific questions and learning needs.
  • Validate demand by examining social media groups, forum discussions etc. for broader topic interest and what users are struggling with.
  • Survey your email list or existing audience if you have one to gain direct input on ideal course topics and pain points.
  • Define your target student demographics like age, profession, skill level, goals etc. Tailor your course and marketing accordingly.
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Picking a topic strategically based on demand and competition is key before investing time in course development.

Step 2: Create a Comprehensive Course Curriculum Outline

A well-structured curriculum outline is crucial to developing a cohesive course that delivers value.

  • Map out course sections and the core skills and topics covered in each from start to finish.
  • Break sections into logical lessons – each lesson should have a specific learning objective.
  • Plan appropriate lesson length based on depth of content – some may be 5 minutes, others 30 minutes.
  • Develop assignments like quizzes, worksheets, or projects to reinforce key learnings.
  • Storyboard content with outlines for each video, graphic, handout etc.
  • Outline course prerequisites or assumed foundational knowledge so you set proper expectations.

Having a detailed outline makes production smoother and assembling the course simple.

Step 3: Produce High-Quality Video Lessons and Supplemental Materials

The production phase involves actually creating all the learning content that makes up your course curriculum.

  • Write detailed lesson scripts to clearly explain concepts and articulate points when recording.
  • Gather any visuals like slides, diagrams, footage etc. to insert in videos to maximize engagement.
  • Record video lessons conveying each lesson in an enthusiastic, conversational teaching style. Ensure excellent video and audio quality.
  • Create supporting materials like workbooks, cheat sheets, graphic packs etc. to enhance retention and application of concepts.
  • Check lesson length against your outline to ensure appropriate depth and pacing.
  • Have experienced reviewers watch videos to give improvement feedback before finalizing.

Invest time upfront in high-quality content production directly impacts course satisfaction and income potential.

Step 4: Upload Your Online Course to a Reputable E-Learning Platform or Website

You need to host your course on a platform that handles the sales process, course delivery, and student accounts seamlessly:

UdemyLarge audience reach, good for passive incomeLower course control, content restrictions
TeachableFull course control, higher income potentialLess built-in traffic, more marketing required
SkillsharePopular with creatives, recurring income modelVery competitive to be accepted
PodiaAll-in-one platform, strong course creator featuresSmaller audience size so far
  • Compare options like Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare in the table above to choose what fits your model and audience best.
  • Use the platform’s course tools to upload your content, configure settings, payments etc.

Step 5: Create an Appealing and Optimized Course Sales Page

Your course sales page convinces potential students to enroll, so the design, copy, imagery and testimonials need to be compelling.

  • Write a strong course title and description highlighting the exact topics covered, skills gained, and experience level catered to.
  • Use high-quality course images showing you teaching, students learning, or showcasing course outcomes.
  • Add relevant keywords in title, description for SEO.
  • Show student ratings and share genuine testimonials praising the course.
  • Clarify what’s included – number of lectures, hours of content, assignments etc. so there are no surprises.
  • Offer a preview lecture or samples so students can validate the quality before enrolling.
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An optimized sales page builds trust and positions your course as a worthwhile investment.

Step 6: Market Your Online Course Across Multiple Channels

Simply listing your course is not enough – you need to actively promote it through:

  • SEO – Creating blog content optimized with keywords related to your course topic. Provide value and link back to your course organically.
  • Paid ads – Run Facebook, Instagram and Google ads targeted to your student niche to drive enrollments. Provide special offers like 25% off.
  • Email marketing – Send emails promoting new courses or course updates to your existing email subscriber list.
  • Social media – Post about your course on your social accounts. Run special promotions and sales.
  • Influencer partnerships – Recruit relevant niche authorities and influencers to review or cross-promote your course to their audiences. Offer affiliate commissions.

Execute an ongoing marketing strategy across channels to grow consistent course sales and income.

Step 7: Continuously Update and Improve Your Online Course Over Time

Monitor reviews and feedback to identify potential weaknesses, gaps or technical issues students are having so you can address them quickly.

Survey students for input on how the course could be improved regarding content, delivery, assignments etc.

Update course frequently with new material and examples to keep it feeling current, fresh and valuable.

Quality online courses require ongoing investment – plan to continually enhance to satisfy students.

Step 8: Expand Your Online Course Catalog to Diversify Income

Develop additional courses related to your first one to establish your brand as an educator in your niche. Offering a catalog appeals to more students versus just one course.

Consider bundled packages – offer multiple courses together at a premium package price for more attractive perceived value.

Make some courses paid while having introductory courses that are free or freemium to attract leads.

More courses equals more potential income streams so look to diversify and expand intelligently over time.

Following this extensive step-by-step guide will empower you to build a thriving and profitable online course business from the ground up, even with no prior experience. With dedication and persistence, you can create a course platform that provides ongoing passive income.

Key Takeaways

  • Online courses allow creators to earn royalties by teaching optimized lessons remotely.
  • Course creators typically earn 40-60% commissions on pricing from R250 to over R1000.
  • Leading course platforms include Udemy, Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning and Thinkific.
  • You need teaching experience, technical skills and marketing abilities to succeed.
  • Outlining comprehensive curriculum and recording quality lessons is key.
  • Course income can scale through savvy marketing drawing more students.


Selling online courses represents one of the most profitable side hustle models for established experts and teachers looking to share their knowledge at scale.

With globally leading course platforms handling the marketing and delivery, you can focus solely on creating amazing lessons and curriculum that help students succeed.

This provides immense income potential through passive royalties.

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About the author

Kevin is a location independent freelancer, blogger, and side hustler located in South Africa. Originally from Kenya, he worked as a digital marketing developer for 5 years before making the leap to full-time freelancing.

Kevin has been featured in publications like Entrepreneur Magazine and The South African for his work promoting freelancing and side hustles in South Africa. When he's not working with clients or updating Freelancian, you can find him exploring new destinations as a digital nomad.

Want to share your own freelancing or side hustle story? Have a question for Kevin? Just want to say hello? You can contact Kevin and the Freelancian team at:

Email: [email protected]
X: @freelancian

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