How to Optimize Pricing For Your Online Course?

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Karthik Vijayakumar
Published on: August 2, 2023

What is the right price for your online course? If you’ve ever had this question pop inside your head, this blog post is for you. Because in this post, I will give you a step-by-step process to optimize pricing for your online course.

Optimizing pricing has nothing to do with the price itself.

When I first looked up the internet to find more about price optimization, I bumped into this blog post from HubSpot. It’s a good one, but the five-step process they outline is very broad. Of course, that blog post was for a generic audience and not specifically for course creators.

Optimizing your course price is a scientific process. It’s got nothing to do with the number itself but everything to do with your target buyer. So what do you do? How do you get started? What steps should you take to optimize your course pricing?

optimize pricing

Online Course Price Optimization Process

What I’m about to give you is how I go about optimizing pricing for online courses. While I’ll try to break down this process to the point it’s usable, I strongly recommend you improvise. Think of this as a scientific process and not a scientific formula.

Step 1: Market Research

I hope this step didn’t come as a surprise to you. Many people do find it surprising, though. It’s not about finding how much your competitors are pricing. While that’s important, that’s not where we begin. Here are the top five questions you want to ask:

  1. What is the big problem your course helps solve for your target buyers?
  2. How much pain does this problem cause to your target buyers?
  3. What solutions are your target buyers using today to solve that problem?
  4. What is the positioning of these other solutions? How are they promising to get rid of the problem?
  5. How much do these solutions cost? How are they priced?

I’m not going deep into each of these questions, but I’m happy to expand on these in separate posts in the future. Just leave a comment if you need me to.

Step 2: Have a Clear Goal

Without a clear goal, measuring or knowing if your price optimization exercise has yielded results is tough. But how do you define a goal? What kind of a goal should I have? Here are some tips for defining a clear goal for your pricing.

  1. What do you want your price to do for your business? Enter a new market? Reach a higher or lower segment of your market? Is it to help you meet your target for the month or quarter?
  2. Do you have clear numbers? What is the number if the goal is to meet your monthly revenue targets? What is a good metric to measure if the goal is to reach a different segment?
  3. What strategies and tactics have you tried in the past? Did they work? If not, why? If yes, why change?

Step 3: Check Your Course Value Proposition

Once you have studied your market and defined your goals, it’s time to consider your offer. And the first thing I’d look for is the value proposition of your offer. What is it? Is it unique? Here are a few steps I recommend you take at this juncture:

  1. Write down your course value proposition and the audience segment.
  2. Why is it unique for that segment? Is it really unique for your target buyers? Or is it just you?
  3. Is your offer’s uniqueness something that your target buyer cares about? Is it directly fulfilling their needs? Does it help your offer pop?

My first course needed some work here. It was a podcasting course. But the offer didn’t have a unique value proposition. Every podcasting course will teach you how to start a podcast. Why mine? Did I teach something special? Or did I have a unique approach to teaching podcasting? Did my approach help my target buyers start podcasts faster or easier?

Step 4: Check Your Course Positioning

A simple way to think of positioning is this: what is your big idea or promise to your target buyers? Is the promise focused on achieving the result, or is it focused on getting rid of the pain? Once you have the answer, see if you can check all four checkboxes below:

  • Is your course offer superlative? Is it the best at something? Is it the #1?
  • Does your offer sound important? Do your target buyers want to have it?
  • Is your course offer believable?
  • Can your target buyers measure or feel the change or difference your course makes to their lives or businesses?
  • Can you own your positioning?

These are great ways to check your promise. I learned them from the book Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Art of the Big Idea by Bill Schley and Carl Nichols. Pick that one up if you’d like to dig deep.

And before you move on, check if you’re making these five mistakes (or blunders!) with your positioning. And read this one if you need more reasons to have a clear positioning.

Step 5: Relook at the Perceived Value of Your Course

How are your target buyers thinking of your course? Based on your market research work and goals, how do you want them to perceive the value of your course? Premium? Free? Low-priced? Would you like your audience to perceive your course as affordable?

Step 6: Look at Your Funnels

Check your lead gen and offer funnels. How are they performing? Here are some places to check:

  1. How are subscribers responding to emails where you talk about the problem?
  2. How are they responding when you bring up the price?
  3. Does handling pricing objections work?
  4. Does talking about payments make a difference?
  5. Do guarantees make a difference?

Please remember that you can optimize your pricing by optimizing your emails, objections, guarantees, payments, and other elements. Don’t look at just the pricing alone.

Step 7: Take Notes & Formulate Price Optimization Experiments

The final step is taking notes and setting up a few price optimization experiments. While you may run certain experiments in parallel, some must be run sequentially.

At this point, you incorporate pricing strategies and models into your experiments. Be it tiered pricing, subscriptions, part payments, order bumps and upsells, bundling courses and templates, guarantees, etc. This topic cannot be covered in a single post, but I hope you get some ideas. If you need ideas on pricing models, here’s a post I published recently with 101 pricing models for online courses.

Time to Optimize Pricing For Your Course

So that’s how I recommend you test your offers and optimize pricing. Taking down notes is a very good idea and helps you document best practices. I’ve recently written a two-part post on pricing strategies, and I recommend you read them. Here are parts one and part two on pricing strategies.

If you’d like me to expand on any specific topic in this blog post, drop a comment. And if there’s something you’ve tried with optimizing course pricing, let me know in the comments too.

This blog post was first published in the Paid Course Creator newsletter. I hope to see you inside!

To your prosperity,


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About the author 

Karthik Vijayakumar

Hey, it's me, Karthik. I'm a ghostwriter and copywriter helping B2B founders and businesses. As a copywriter, I help founders validate and nail your messaging. As a ghostwriter, I write strategic blog posts to help you build authority or grow your inbound marketing. Click the tiny button below and connect with me on LinkedIn.

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