How to start an online school: key steps to starting a business

Last year, we observed huge growth in the online education industry. The pandemic and self-isolation situation had a particularly strong influence on this – the demand for distance learning courses grows wild! So if you are wondering how to start your own business, we are here for you. Opening an online school seems like a big deal, but by approaching the process with special care and attention, you can do it with minimal investments or even without it. Our article is here to help you to find out what to start with. 

Business model

Find your audience 

The success of an online school depends on the choice of your audience, the quality of the online lessons, its content, and its promotion. Remember, the topic of your online school project should be of great interest to you. Your task is to find a specialty in which you can serve as an expert, and which is interesting to you.

For a start, just answer the following questions:

  • What can you do well?
  • What can you teach other people?
  • In what industry can you call yourself an expert?

You could teach and monetize your professional skills. For example, open an online school for psychologists, marketing, cooking classes, etc.

Highly competitive topics traditionally include such topics as finance, health, and fitness, language learning, and so on. You can learn more about online learning trends in this article.

Competitive topics are good because there is a larger audience. That means potentially more money to earn. But it’s also more competitors to stand against, and you have to make prices lower and spend more on promotion.

As for the beginning, we highly recommend not to spread yourself too thin. Do not try to capture a bunch of areas at once: devote more effort and time on one, and then, encouraged by the success, go to the next ones.


Don’t forget about the appearance of the new online school, and we all know that you are greeted by your clothes. The positioning in social networks, website design, and advertising form gives the first impression of your project. The student is not yet familiar with the school, has not had time to learn more about it, while he is attracted only by the picture. Try to create a simple and intuitive interface on the site and content for your social network. Place all the contact information and basic course information in the first blocks. Remember, an attractive picture directly affects the pricing. However, do not forget about the content, the content of the site, and the content of the course. The client comes to gain knowledge, not just to admire the pretty wrapper. Think well about the brand identity of your new online school.


Think well about the format of education you provide :

Different formats also require different financial investments and work differently on different audiences. For example, the least expensive is sending out a series of articles by subscription. The articles for mailing only need to be written once, and you can sell them indefinitely, as long as there are people who want to buy them. But this format is not suitable for all directions, video lessons are more universal. The costs of producing video content will depend on its type. For example, for filming cooking classes, in addition to the equipment itself, you also need a beautiful kitchen, a teacher in branded clothing, products, kitchen equipment and accessories, and so on. 

Record your classes

For courses on working in computer programs, the format of screencasts is convenient when the user can see all actions of the teacher in the program and hear their comments behind the scenes. In this case, video recording software like this screen recorder is almost everything you need to start a course. Captured presentations and tutorials could make a great help in providing software learning courses for Photoshop or Excel. It is often used in online photography courses or video editing classes.

On the other hand – video lessons: In the beginning, this type of lesson requires certain investments: the purchase or rental of equipment, studio, good camera, video editing software, additional voice recording software for a voiceover. But seeing the teacher in person could give your school great help.

Do it online

Make your online school interactive with the webinars. You can make a webinar today without any special platforms, and you can go on air with a cell phone using Instagram. It’s not the wrapping that matters, but the content. But this does not mean that there is no need to think about the platform. The teacher communicates with a specific group of students (from two to several hundred or even thousands). The first class usually discusses the training plan and deadlines – this helps prepare students for the future workload. You can do it easily by  Google Classroom.

You (or the speaker you hired) can demonstrate your screen, your face, talk to the audience, or write in a chat room. After the lessons are completed, materials are usually given out in the form of an article or presentation that contains a “squeezed version” of what the teacher has said.

Live communication with students is a great chance to improve the quality of the product and increase its relevance. It is desirable to conduct video lessons of about 10 to 15 minutes 2-3 times a week. The duration of the course may vary: from a week to three. 

How to promote it?

The pace at which you find students depends on the format you choose.

You don’t have to push on clients with direct sales – the conversion rate in such cases will be much lower. 

Tools for promotion differ, but they are all effective on different types of users:


Cheap, simple, and effective if set up properly. It’s easy to “target” information to specific viewers: for example, girls of 18 – 26 years old who recently entered “how to get ready for summer” into a search engine and bought sports nutrition. Some of them will probably want to take part in your fitness course.

Opinion leaders 

Bloggers are an undeniable authority for many. Offer them a percentage for bringing clients or ask them to create their course on the basis of your school. Subscribers of a girl who publishes tips about getting into a cool university on her own are very likely to agree to participate in an inexpensive course for high school students. Viewers trust her, her opinions, and her choices.


E-mail marketing works well. Use popups and other marketing tricks, offer your subscribers a tuition discount or a promo code to be sent to their email. The base you’ve built can be used to promote other projects on similar topics.

Analyze the conversion rate and use those tools that bring the maximum result.

Final words

Our main task is to choose the right specialization, use analytics tools, and establish a dialogue with the client. Prepare carefully for the launch, choose an audience, get your course visible and good-looking (the first impression, remember?) Start using promotional channels: integration with bloggers, advertising on websites, targeted newsletters.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore the online space. People will always continue to learn and develop. Some to improve their skills, and some for a radical change in the field of activity.

Create a quality product, improve it, use promotion channels competently, learn to manage your business, and success will come in no time.