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Tim Buff


Chief Learning Strategist

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How to turn digital learning content into revenue


With so much information freely available online, are there ways of harnessing your digital learning content to generate financial returns for your organisation?

After working on just these challenges for many years, I’ve noted what I think are the top five opportunities that may give you a few useful ideas:

1. Sell your updates, training and reference materials

Let’s start with the obvious one. Your content may be significant enough in its own right to provide a chargeable income stream from those wanting to study what you can provide. For this you need one or preferably both of the following:

  • Content that is, quite simply, good and desirable in itself. This generally means some form of niche content that can only be obtained from you.
  • Recognition as a provider of privileged information.

You can enhance the attractiveness of your content by employing a number of strategies, such as certification pathways, accreditation or continuing professional development (CPD).

2. Use it to sell your other products and services

You may want to deploy your content to facilitate sales. This is a common strategy for organisations selling something that requires knowledge on how to utilise the main chargeable offering.

There is a basic question to answer here; whether to sell or give information away for free?

The choice will depend on your chosen business model, but whichever way you do it, remember that getting the content out there in a usable form will enhance your customers’ experience and should hopefully stimulate them to buy more of whatever it is you're offering.

3. Cost reduction

By meaningfully sharing your accumulated product knowledge with your customers, distributors and partners, you can improve service standards and reduce calls on your customer service teams.

OK, this sounds a bit less exciting than generating a whole new revenue stream, but there’s an old adage that if your net profit margin is 20%, it’s usually easier to save a pound of costs rather than sell an extra five pounds.

Think about efficiency and getting the right content out to the right people when they need it and it will reduce the strain on your own internal support functions and save you real money.

4. Advertise

To be honest, this is my least favourite option, but there may well be good opportunities to generate advertising revenues on the back of content that you provide for free. The key here is traffic volumes and increasing the visits to where your content is available and then resisting the temptation to overdo the adverts.

5. Build a community

Give your content away and build the biggest user community in your field. Be the go-to place for all sorts of useful information, reference, news and support materials. The aim is to dramatically increase the number of people coming to you, so make it easy for them to see and use your content, provide a great service and don’t sell advertising space (to other organisations).

Encourage people to opt-in to receiving updates and newsletters (you need to comply with GDPR here), this will provide you with very valuable data. The size and loyalty of your community will give you a capital asset that other organisations may potentially pay for.

Author Profile Picture
Tim Buff

Chief Learning Strategist

Read more from Tim Buff

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