No, online courses are not ‘passive income’. Let me explain why.
When we equate courses with passive income the implication is that you don’t have to do very much to make loads of moolah and that’s a misconception. Because course creation takes work.
Just like building a business, it requires some effort and any ad, coach or course that promises no work and easy 5-6 figure returns is misleading you. A course isn’t some magic money-making machine where you just need to flip a switch and the money starts rolling in. It is a business strategy (or possibly the whole business), and that comes with all the same frustrations of any other business strategy. But it is work that’ll be worth it in the end.
Because an online course gives you an opportunity to change your life. And I’m not talking about a 6-figure, pie in the sky, opportunity here. It’s more of an opportunity to be able to free up some time and see fewer clients every day, or cover your daughter’s dance lessons, or make you just enough to be able to leave that 9-5 so you can spend more time with your kids. What you get out of it is entirely up to you.
Another reason why I don’t like using the term ‘passive’ in relation to courses is because I don’t believe courses should be passive. We all crave connection with others and learn best when we have that connection. I often use this example, think back to your school years. Was there one teacher that stood out for you (in a good way)? Chances are, you enjoyed that class more and possibly learnt more because you had a connection with that teacher.
I also believe that most course creators don’t really want a completely passive income. They want to share their knowledge and uplift others. They want to help people and earn an income. I know that’s what I want. I want to provide quality advice to course creators and build relationships with my clients, so I get to see them succeed. Who wouldn’t want that?
No one wants to be just a number on a spreadsheet as soon as they hand over their money. They want interaction and support and accountability and to feel seen. With something that’s completely passive you get none of that, you get a soulless, lifeless experience. And the world we live in doesn’t need any more of those.
So, if courses aren’t ‘passive income’ then what are they?
They’re a great way to generate ‘recurring income’ from something you create once. You do the majority of the work up-front. And how you choose to create and set up your course dictates how much work that is. You could pay someone like me to create it for you or you could deliver it with live sessions (or use my Doable Course Creation Method 😉).
Then once it’s done you can automate the sales and some of the delivery. Then make sure you include some form of live interaction with you, where people can connect with you and get their questions answered.
So, let’s forget about passive income and rather focus on what courses can ultimately mean for your business. For you, additional income, free time and the ability to reach more people. For your clients, it’s an alternate way to work with you (especially if they can’t afford your one-to-one rates) that still makes them feel seen and valued.