How Pros Make Money Online

Income Diary

How I’m Going To Make $100,000 This Year Selling an Online Course

By:     Topics: Make Money Online     More posts about: ,

Today I’m going to share with you how I plan to create my first online course and make $100,000 from it in the first year.

This year, I actually set myself over 10 resolutions, which are mostly just areas I want to improve in my work and personal life, but my main focus this year is to do better financially. I’ve never really been that focused on making money, more about pursuing a career and finding something I wanted to do, but that’s going to change this year.

How To Make Money Creating and Selling Online Courses

Coming Up With a Product Idea

I’ve always know that I’m limited by what I can make with Google AdSense and if I wanted to start making some big bucks, then I needed a product. Over the past month or so, I’ve started to think about what I could offer, and then it struck me. Around two months ago I wrote a post called ‘The Beginner’s Guide To Photography’ on my own website, and since that’s been published, it’s been my most popular post. It’s really just a collection of tutorials I had already written with a bit of information linking them together, but it serves a very important purpose, and I’ve had people like it so much that they share it with other people too.

So my website is now 8 months old and I found which of my content is currently the most popular, but I still have a problem, I’ve already written the content. This is when I had my lightbulb moment, because I realized that I could make videos instead.

Now, I’m not crazy about the idea of standing in front of camera and teaching, but this is going to be an exclusive product and not something that’s going on YouTube (hopefully), so I’m not going to worry about it. Never let that sort of thing hold you back.

Now that I know what I’m going to make, it’s a just a case of producing it now. I already have a lot of content that I’m going to adapt from my website, but I’m going to write a script for each video to make sure I’ve covered everything and I’m not a bumbling idiot. Teaching through a video is much easier than it is in writing, because you’re never sure which parts people are going to skim over and ignore. I personally don’t read tutorials online, I’d much rather find a book or a video, because I’m a kinesthetic learner, and I like to be able to practice what I’m learning, so I look forward to teaching people in a more personal manner.

I aim to produce roughly twelve different videos related to the basics of photography, ranging from how to use a camera, to custom settings, and taking photos. The idea is that rather than spending money on a book that they probably won’t read, the followers of my blog will buy these videos instead and actually learn something. It will be broken up into different sections so that anytime someone wants to go back and refresh on something, they can do so easily.

When you’re creating a product to sell, you need to think about how much it’s worth to your fans, and how you can improve the quality for them. I started off with a price for my product before anything, and that was set in my mind at $47. I then had to think what could be worth $47, before I even thought of the videos.

When I came up with the idea, there’s the age old problem of ‘is it enough?’. I’m thinking that for someone to want to buy this product, then they’re going to want it to be quite big, and in terms of videos, perhaps 2-3 hours worth. A friend pointed out that this is the completely wrong way of thinking about this, because it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. So long as someone is getting the knowledge they’re looking for, then they’re going to be happy to pay the price.

Look for what people want, and look for a gap in the market. Then fill it. As far as I can see, there’s no video tutorial packages which cover the beginner’s guide to photography.

How To Sell an Online Course

Setting Targets

Set yourself some targets and then stick to them. Think about how long it would reasonably take you if you used the time available and started today, and then stick to that. If you set yourself a target for the end of the year, is it likely that you’re going to even start in the next six months? Don’t start putting off till tomorrow, what you can do today.

I’m estimating that I can complete mine with all the bells and whistles in about 4 months, and earlier, I decided to set the date of the 25th of April, which happens to be the day my site really launched, a year ago, with the first top list.

Setting yourself a target for completion is one thing, but how about setting a target for sales, and when you want to reach those sales points? I personally set myself a financial target, so I just need to work out how many products I need to sell.

Finishing The Product

If you’re just putting something on YouTube, then you don’t really need too worry too much about production values, but when you’re trying to make a product sell, it needs to look good too. To finish the videos, I’m going to put together some video branding that makes the videos look more professional, and when filming, I’m going to use some extra lighting setup, perhaps even a backdrop.

When it comes to marketing the videos, I’m going to create an extra video with extracts from previous videos and put them all together to make a single sales pitch. I will also change my Facebook fan page to include an autoplay video with an introduction on what the videos offer and why they should buy them. Other than that, I would market this product as I would any other product.

Selling Your Product

This is where things start to get interesting because you can start investing your money and see an immediate return. Obviously if you have a Facebook and Twitter following, you can market to them for free and start earning money if you market it properly, but you will ultimately want to appeal to a much wider audience, and to do this, you need to do some advertising.

The first way that I will market my product will be with Facebook ads because that’s a really good way of tracking your progress. Let’s say for example my product is worth $47 and every 20 of my fans will buy the product, then I need to see how much it costs me in advertising to gain 20 fans, and then that’s how much it costs to make $47.

It’s that simple.

Lets say that it costs you ¢50 in advertising to find a new fan, then it would cost $10 to get enough traffic to sell a product which costs $47, leaving you $37 profit.

NOTE – This is a very rough estimate, and it may in fact cost more than this, but the point still stands that if you invest the money, you will see a return. Not only do you start to see an immediate return in terms of sales, but you’ll start to grow your Facebook fan page in a big way, which will start to see a growth in your website. This means that you’ll start to make money through your other channels, such as advertising and affiliate programs.

On the subject of affiliate programs, they’re another excellent way of selling more products. As what I’m creating is going to be a digital product, it doesn’t cost me anything to reproduce and I can give away a large commission to people who will sell it for me. It’s pretty standard to give away 50% of the profit to the affiliate, because selling the product really is half of the job. When I start to see my sales slow down, I will contact potential affiliates with large followings and ask them if they would like to sell for me.

Going Further

There is a limit to how much I can make in the early stages using only advertising, so I need to release more products in quick succession. The goal here isn’t to just make $100,000 and call it a day, it’s to make my website into a business that will grow for years to come. My plan in the future is to continue making videos and sell them in packages, and make a living that way, until my website is in a position where I can start approaching other people, while taking in on as a full time job.

The plan is that after 3-4 releases, I will have a solid business model and following for these videos that I can commission other people with large following to take part too. You’ll find that there’s plenty of people with the knowledge, but neither the means, nor the know how to create a product for themselves. That way we can offer a different range of tutorials, whether it’s advanced lighting or Photoshop, and access a new customer base. Always think one step in the head, and have a target of what you want to achieve in your business.

Read more: ‘How to Plan and Write an eBook For Sale’


  1. Good luck with that 🙂 I run photography website aimed on (micro)stock photography but only in czech language. I dont feel so good in english to publish that in english. The problem is with smaller economy – the market behaves absolutely different in small and/or less developed countries then US, Canada, Australia and western Europe. The popular write blog -> release product -> earn money will fail 99%. Ppl have no extra money and they cant afford that or they dont see the value in it.

    Im now working on other project (in english) aimed on very tight niche. Im very curious if it will work…

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      Yeah that must be a lot tougher to make money from. You’re very good at English though so it might be worth trying to make a product in English too. You have to give them something they want, and they have to see a value in it.

  2. Hi

    I am admirer of yours for last 2 years and I am pretty much sure that you will meet your target.

    Best of luck


    • Josh Dunlop says:

      Thanks, I’ve only been doing this for 9 months, but it’s nice to know I’m being watched. Hahaha

  3. Shamelle@BetterBloggingWays says:

    I’ve read a lot of “goals for year” posts, where majority has what they plan to achieve. Only a handful really give out details of the “action plan” on how to actually go about doing it.

    I found this post informative and inspiring….


  4. Great planning,

    I hope you will successful in 2012. Me i hope to make 50 000€ in 2012

  5. Good luck josh! I can see a great confidence and a sign to achieve what you have said in this article.

  6. hi, i am umrav n my monthly visitor 1,00000 ,so how much i make money in my site

  7. I’ve just started working on my own business this year, but I had been planning all the steps I was going to take to make it successful a month before that. It’s always good to see someone with a plan . It shows your serious, and not just making an empty New Years resolution.

    One suggestion though. It seems like your website would be well suited to a subscription based model. People who are just starting out in photography are going to have a lot of questions and want to continue learning. With a subscription you wouldn’t have to make 3-4 products to get to your 100,000, and you wouldn’t have to spend time doing a launch for each one. Also you don’t have to continue to get 100’s of more customers. If you sold it for just $10 a month, you could get 1,000 subscribers just once and make $120,000 for that year!

    Also it could be better for your customers because you can continue to provide them value by upgrading the subscription site, you can’t do that after you launch a product. There’s tons of advantages to this, but another is that pirating goes down. It’s easier to pirate from products than subscription sites.

    But hey I’m ranting now, just wanted to offer a different way of looking at things. I wish you best of luck on whatever you decide to do.!

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      It’s an interesting idea, but the problem is that I don’t always want to write the same content for my website, because the simple fact is that I will run out of things to talk about. I don’t want a huge subscriber list and lose them because I’m out of ideas. And I’m not sure how realistic it would be to charge a monthly fee for a website, I know that there’s very little that I pay for monthly.

      • I probably didn’t do a good job of explaining the subscription idea. I didn’t mean to say that your website would become a subscription site, but that your product would be subscription based. So you would still create all the same videos you where going to do, but you would roll it out on a monthly basis and add more content over time (almost like an email list funnel). And people will pay for quality, I remember reading about this guy who charged people a monthly fee to learn how to build model ships and he made A LOT of money!

  8. GooglePlusGuides says:

    Great post Josh! One important thing for people who have never created a product to remember is that it does not make a difference how many times somebody has tried to create their own guide on a similar subject, you can always find a way to make it better and provide a fresh perspective.

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      Thank you, that’s what I strive for on my website, as I do my best to make sure that the content is an improvement on any other site on the internet.

  9. Thanks for posting, great information! I’m just getting into blogging for money, there so much information on how to get started it’s overwhelming.

    I’m a photographer myself and people always suggest to teach other people, but I think to myself that all the basics even up to intermediate stuff can all be found on-line for free in text and video. Who are these people paying for basic information ? If they are smart enough to navigate to your website, I’m sure they can find all the information on the web already. Not only that, but I can find newly released videos from professional photographers that charge $150+ for a dvd, by just doing a simple Google search that produces the download link.

    So with all this free information available, why would anyone pay for this? The only way I could see this working is if you already have a huge fan base for your photographs, something original or unique that make people think, ” No one else has images like this, and I want to be able to recreate it” and since no one else has pictures like yours, they pay to see how you did it.

    I would like to hear your perspective on this, I understand people are making money with this concept with lots of products, but are the people buying these e-books and videos because they just don’t have time to search for it? are they lazy? more money then brains? they want to support you?

    I can see how it could work though, for example, the Strobist, Lighting in Layers DVDs just came out and sell for $99 for the d/l version, lots of people on that web site bought it, but in 5 minutes I can download it for free. Are the people who actually pay for this just supporting the site and photographer? or is there a lot of people that just don’t know how to search to get it free. And that’s were a website like yours comes into play, to get these “suckers”.

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      When you say that you can search it and get it free, are you talking about illegally downloading it through a torrent? Because there’s not a lot that I can do about the people who are going to steal it, they don’t have the habit of paying for stuff.

      Everything that I will be teaching is already freely available on my site, but I’m targeting people who have just started out and don’t like learning from the internet, or struggle to pay attention and understand. I’m also going to include some tips on how to make money as a photographer so that they can start seeing a return on their purchase, which is something that I don’t offer on the website.

      People who visit my website know that my content is better than most of the internet, so they can expect the same from the videos. I wouldn’t say that just because someone is willing to pay for the product that they’re a sucker, in fact, I think that the internet is starting to shift somewhat, and if someone is grateful for the product, then they’re likely to pay for it.

      I don’t really know the strength of the market until I start marketing the product, but I don’t think it’s as bad as you think.

      • Michael Martinell says:

        I too believe that the future of commerce is on the internet. What people will pay for is what they have always been willing to pay for – knowledge. Universities are a thriving concern for a reason. Adding in premiums beyond what your brand is giving away is an excellent idea. If nothing much comes of your videos in terms of profit, you can repackage them as a free premium and use them to drive some other angle. Once they exist they are an asset. I have just started taking internet commerce seriously myself, but I know there is good money to be made; just don’t listen to the naysayers. I am in the beginning phases of building my own site, but have 20 years of business experience which tells me you are going in the right direction.

      • Hey Josh, thanks for your reply. I guess your right, if someones going to steal your information and put it on the net free, you can’t do much about it, but try and get it down. I really understand when you say your going after people “starting out” and I like the concept of teaching people how to make money from it. I can see how this would work, you already have great content, so for a reader who wants to learn even more, it makes sense to stay on your site and pay a little fee. I don’t mean to be a na sayer, but I’m a cheap guy so I try and get everything free, and most information is on the net already if you have the time to search out the good from the bad. But I get what your saying now, I actually signed up for a subscription to ($25 month) to learn about setting up wordpress child themes. The only reason though is because content is step by step, do as I do, professionally done, and I can learn 100s of other subjects for the same fee. Anyways, thanks again, I’ll be watching your site!

  10. Good luck with launching the product, I will be very intrigued to see it! I have no doubt that you will be able to do it!

    My previous mentor used to stress the importance of goal setting and you have followed a good system! I was always taught CSMART:
    Challenging Specific Measurable Realistic Timed

    Keep up the good work and keep us posted!!

  11. Chris Bruce says:

    Great goal set to reach Josh. I have been following you online and you have helped with tips to grow my internet business which I am in the niche of Real Estate Investing. I know you will exceed the $100k mark.

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      Thanks, it’s going to be a pretty big step to take, so I hope it goes well. It’s amazing how far you can go with blogging in a year.

  12. Cheptiony Mutai says:

    I wish you all the best! I like your style of writing. I am inspired by you sticking to photography and believing it will work for you as a business. You have really ispired me to think widely and broadly besides specializing in one line of business. Great Josh…Keep Brainstorming so that you give us your best!

  13. good to hear that 2012 you aiming high….i’ve just started blogging and am just constantly improving.

  14. Nice job, Josh. Best of luck . . . but I don’t believe that you will be in need of it. Plan your work and work your plan. You’re doing it, presumably while living your passion. Being compensated for something in which you take joy is a blessing in itself. Liberating, in fact. Be thus free! [And keep us informed of your progress at some point, if consistent with your intentions. I’m certain that you may help others to launch their own ambitions.]

  15. TOYIN SAWYERR says:

    I’m always excited with the prowess of Josh; cool, amiable and also intelligent. Your step-by-step approach to reaching that goal is simple but solid. I’m just starting out with my blog at squidoo, hope to make the best of it. Please visit and your comment will be worth a million dollars to me. Thanks.

  16. Jamie Northrup says:

    Good luck to you Josh, if you work hard I have no doubt your plan will work, and public accountability should help you also.

    I’ll be looking for the updates throughout the year, and will help sell your products for sure.

  17. Sheyi Shobayo says:

    Josh, yeah it is true when you make your stuffs open to people, you will be compelled to want to do more and accomplish it cause no one wants to be a failure like you said. I quite agree with you and I wish you success.

  18. Hi Josh, This was a great article and very inspiring. I like how you explained how you were going to make the money and you have some good ideas. I also think Terrell’s ideas are good too because by creating a subscription cost (rather than one time fee), you will get more of a residual income effect.

    I would also like to respond to Dan’s comment because what many people fail to understand is that people will pay money to get something in a different format. Something that is more user friendly.

    Much of the information found online is not user friendly. Like how to make money blogging, for instance, is very complex and people get really lost and just don’t know what to do Right Now. So I created a guide on what to do each day step by step for an entire year, so my customers are not trying to figure out what to do each day. They have their to-do list with detailed instructions on how to do each task, each and every day for an entire year.

    That makes my guide much more user friendly than blogs that talk about the millions of things you could do to make money blogging. It keeps them much more organised and focused, so they are actually able to accomplish their goal of making an income with a blog.

    So your video idea would be in a format that some people would prefer and they are willing to pay the price to get that format.

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      Thanks for the lengthy and thought out comment. It’s actually given me a couple ideas.

    • Lisha, thanks for the reply. I understand what your saying about putting up user friendly information. Free content is laid out everywhere but its up to the person to piece it together. Its such a coincidence you replied, I actually e-mailed a well known blogger asking him to do exactly what you are doing. I find LOTS of information on making money on blogs, what things to implement and how to get subscribers and all that, but I can’t find anything that will show be step by step, get my blog set up and start getting a income, then the rest would be up to me, getting people to my site and making good content. Please send me a link to your site!! You might have a new member!

      • Hey Dan, well, I’d hate to put up my site’s url here, but I have no other way to get in touch with you, so if Josh, Michael, and any other admin of incomediary are okay with this, my step-by-step blogging guide can be found at … No promises as far as results, but it will definitely tell you what you need to do, step-by-step.


  19. Good luck! Success attend you!

  20. Steve Hughes says:

    You’ve just showed everyone how difficult it is to make a dollar from your blog. With an 8K Alexa ranking (off the charts) and a ton of traffic, only making a little over $1K a month. This is certainly not a get rich quick way. I’m sure you’ve opened many eyes.

    • Josh Dunlop says:

      IncomeDiary is not my website, it’s ExpertPhotography, and it’s only 9 months old at the moment.

    • With blogging it takes time. If you’re consistent and you provide value, and you know how to promote your website, you can build your audience and create a very good income out of it. No, it’s not get rich quick, but what is? Nothing. It’s called you work at it for awhile and do what it takes and then you will reap the rewards. I think that making $1k a month is fantastic for a site that’s only been around for 9 months 🙂 It can take 6 months to a year to build a solid audience and that’s if you work really hard at it, so I’d say is doing very well 🙂


  21. Debabrata Dhar says:

    Hi Josh,

    Recently I wrote a blog post on my blog – Diversity In Setting New Year Goals & Achievements By Bloggers of Different Levels!

    In this post I mentioned about your recent blog post – How I’m Going To Make $100,000 in 2012!

    It is an ambitious goal and I really appreciate your guts. It is not just a post you made in a reputed blog Income Diary but you showed an aggressiveness.

    I hope all the success that you deserve.

    Regards –
    Debabrata Dhar

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.

Accept Read More