Appysa Technologies

What are Online Learning Websites and Their Business models?

Successful Online Learning Business Models

Online learning websites leverages enhanced communication systems and interactive learning technology for the user. Besides existing techniques, it transforms the method we instruct and learn; to bring the learner potential despite time and location boundaries. Cost-effective and flexible aspects of online learning support learner development and organization objectives. eLearning drives learning in a self-paced way with the enhanced virtual transmission that allows sticking to relevant from an overall global outlook. 

When the world paused during the pandemic, the online learning industry was one of the few businesses to witness remarkable development. The online learning marketplace size outperformed 315 billion dollars in 2021 and expect to fetch a 20% CAGR between 2022 to 2028 by

Multiple types of online learning management systems enlighten users about various topics. Some are comprehensive course marketplaces delivering plenty of courses applicable to diverse industries, niches, and topics. At the same time, some other education startups are more explicit on courses suitable to one certain enterprise or niche.

Let’s find the most popular online learning websites

#1 Udemy

The first online course marketplace was in early 2010. It got the ideal incorporation of the appropriate features and a suitable business model.

Whereas, Udemy enables anyone efficiently create their own institute-like experience. Users can construct courses on any subject they’re proficient in without concern about website maintenance, payment processing, student management, and other tasks to manage if they own their online course website.

Also, The courses enclose everything – pictures, tapes, animations, PDF files, ZIP files, audio files, – anything to make a great course, and students can learn from it. The tutors can also set live classes for their courses.

#2 Coursera

It was established in 2012 as a massive open online course (MOOC) marketplace that delivers professional teaching and skill development courses in various languages. The significant difference between Udemy and Coursera is endorsed by a set of established universities, Fortune 500 companies, and institute campuses. They provide courses with valid certificates accepted around the globe. Some universities that offer programs on Coursera include top universities. Companies offering corporate internship programs via Coursera contain IBM, Google, Meta, PwC, Adobe, MasterCard, etc.

Coursera states it has 77 million students on its course marketplace and 6,000 campuses, institutes, and companies, which makes it one of the most booming online course marketplaces.

#3 Skillshare,

Launched in 2011, offers courses exclusively in animation, photography, writing, graphic design, UI/UX design, music, and fine arts. Yet, some professional courses like web development, business analytics, entrepreneurship, freelancing, leadership, and marketing. Many of the courses are free, and you can also get a premium plan to access all courses. 

Further, with better solutions, the online learning industry evolves to be a thriving business around the globe. Thus, it’s logical to invest in an online learning business if you plan to venture, this is the better course to launch. 

Determining the best business model for your education startup is vital. Your business model is the foundation to make or break your venture. 

Here in this article, let us find the various business models of online course platforms and how to start and manage your e-learning business. 

Successful business models of the online learning management system

A business model for your online learning marketplace is a framework that encloses your business goal, monetization techniques, and everything to foresee your long-term business value. Booming eLearning platforms leverage various business models to yield million-dollar earnings.

Pay-per-course model:

It is the most explicit business model for most of the elearning course marketplaces. Teachers fix the cost, and learners pay to register or to buy the course online. Pay-per course business model is perfect for learners who seek exclusive learning on a specific subject. The better alternative to physical class-based learning the PPC model suits new e-learning platforms that want to develop their learner base.


  • Enable you to augment your revenue. As the number and choice of courses expand on your platform, so does your income.
  • Upselling is effortless by bundling courses of a similar niche to make bundle courses, which may get high price values.
  • Learners don’t inundate by the part of course content they need to learn, particularly in scenarios where one wants to learn a precise skill when a company trains its employees.
  • Revenue is effortless with ample learners who can pay a high cost. 


  • You or your lecturers should find the exact selling cost whenever they create a new course. 
  • Requires constant updation of new content to maintain revenue generation.

Subscription-based model

This model implies the Netflix model in e-learning. You form all courses on your e-learning platform available to users who paid a membership or subscription fee. You can pick any number, of course, tiers based on your requirement. This business model offers a comprehensive list of online courses, taped videos, live classes, and additional learning resources.

The subscription model enables long-term connections between the eLearning platforms and learners. Instructors can cover a wide range of topics attracting learners who want to learn numerous skills in one package.


  • A constant source of earnings with monthly regenerations
  • Easy to execute and monetize your development.
  • Reasonable subscription fees imply a lower deterrent to access. When you provide value service, users will subscribe more. 


  • Exorbitant churn rate. You might expend hundreds of dollars to earn a subscriber, who would lose after a few months. The churn rate influences all businesses through the subscription-based model. 
  • Need additional scope for content to pay-per-course model, so the learners feel justified for paying you monthly. 
  • You need abundant subscribers to make decent earnings (unless your subscription fees are high and users are ready to pay monthly). 

Free (advertising-based) model

Blogs and news websites generally implement this business model, an e-learning platform you can utilize by finding relevant places to embed ads. You can also include ads on course materials like PDF files, videos, etc.


  • Ease in execution: You don’t need to integrate a payment gateway with your website and optimize checkout pages. 
  • A/B testing is simple– you need to convert visitors into subscribers, not customers.
  • The influence – you can instruct mass students with this model as none of them have to pay. 


  • More nominal revenue – you make smaller earnings with this ad-based business model than with the subscription-based or per-course business model.
  • Ads intrude on the online learning experience, which might distract many users.
  • To create a fair amount of revenue, you need to hold plenty of learners in your eLearning platform.

Integrated or Combined business model

As the title implies, the mixed model combines two or more business models discussed above. For instance, you can integrate pay-per-course with a subscription model and incorporate ads in specific content. This model is ideal for online learning businesses that serve the student base with various interests.

In this combined business model as a key offering, you can utilize the subscription model with versatile add-ons; and leverage the pay-per-course or ad-based model.

How to Select the Best eLearning Business Model?

Now that you have comprehended the prevalent eLearning business models, now it’s easy to find the fitting one for you. Business models are not universal that fit all; the right online course website that serves your target users fulfills your business needs and permits you to attain your final objectives.

Yet, the subscription model would likely be the ideal end objective for your online learning platform as it is endurable and obtains consistent revenue.

Here is some guidance for selecting the right business model for your eLearning platform,

Set your business requirements, expectations, and objectives

To select the best business model that fits your online learning website, you should have a precise idea regarding your expectations, the requirements of your eLearning platform, and what to achieve. To discover this, run a survey among your target users, and influential people in your community and do thorough research.

Evaluate your revenue goals

The key to generating revenue varies in different online learning business models. This implies assessing your remuneration goals when selecting a business model to leverage your online course website.

Magnify the scope of your online learning website offerings

When attempting to discover the finest business model, ensure you wrap up the following points.

#1 The scope of the online learning content and its demands.

#2 Type of content and a contender in the industry.

#3 Statistics and the kind of target audience.

Final Thoughts

Online learning getting evolved to be the future of education and continues to extend augmented across the world. With numerous eLearning websites blooming every year and intense competition, it is mandated that ever to pick an endurable business model.

Once you determined the robust business model fits your unique business needs and objectives, with no concern about what to teach, you can earn revenue and increase your online learning business.