15 Profitable Online Course Niches in 2021 [With Examples]

profitable online course niches

Are you thinking of launching an online course and looking for a list of profitable niches for inspiration? If your answer’s ‘yes,’ this blog post’s written just for you. 

Selling online courses is a fantastic business idea: the online education market is exploding, with further growth predicted over the coming decade. 

In 2019 the e-learning market’s value was $144 billion. By 2026, it’s estimated to reach a staggering $374 billion. 

But what is the best online course idea; what are the hot niches to target? 

This article looks at 15 popular online course niches to give you some ideas to inspire you. 

First, let’s talk more about niches. 

What is a Niche?

Simply put, a niche is a smaller segment of a larger market. 

For example, knitting is a large, broad market. Knitted sweaters are a smaller niche segment of that market. 

A niche has to have its own set of unique characteristics, a set of traits you can’t apply elsewhere. So other knitting niches would be socks, gloves, and scarves, for example.  

When you’re teaching people via online courses, it’s crucial to pick a niche. And the more focused niche you choose, the better. 

Why? Because you can’t be all things to all people. If you tried to market your online course in knitting to every single person with a passing interest in the topic, your course is unlikely to appeal to anyone at all.

You need to ‘niche down.’  This means focusing and tightening your course topic to appeal to a specific set of people.  

Here’s an illustration using the knitting market. 

If you wanted to learn how to knit a pair of gloves, you likely already know the basics of knitting. So you’re looking for an advanced course. 

However, those new to knitting will likely look for a beginner’s course on knitting scarves. 

Defining your niche is helpful because it allows you to focus your marketing efforts more effectively: Creating online courses for an advanced audience requires different marketing messages than creating one for beginners. 

What is a Sub-Niche?

A sub-niche is a niche that can be further divided into smaller segments. 

People who like tattoos are a well-defined niche audience. But tattooing is a vast, broad niche that appeals to a large group of people. You can sub-divide this general niche into ever smaller sub-niches.

Tribal tattoos, Japanese tattoos, and traditional maritime tattoos are all sub-niches in the tattoo industry. 

But these sub-niches of tattooing can be divided further still into ever smaller sub-niches as well. 

The traditional maritime tattoo niche can be divided into ship tattoos, anchor tattoos, and swallow tattoos. 

When picking your course niche, you should keep niching down until you reach a niche or sub-niche that is small enough for you to get noticed. While remaining a large enough niche to be worthwhile teaching people about.  

Niche Competition

But not all niches are comparable; some are much more competitive than others. It’s vital that you understand how competitive a niche is before selecting an online course topic. 

Things to consider:

  • Are there many popular online courses already?
  • What is the monthly search volume for the main keywords?
  • Is there an active community on social media platforms?
  • Are there popular YouTube channels in the niche?
  • Are there people giving away a free course about the topic?

If there is lots of competition, you may want to consider creating online classes for a smaller sub-niche.  If there is little to no competition, you may have hit a goldmine or picked a small sub-niche with no demand for courses. 

Now let’s take a look at some of the best niches you can sell online courses in. 

Top 15 Niches for Online Courses

1. Business and Entrepreneurship

business target audience

Business and entrepreneurship is a profitable course idea. The internet provides the means for nearly anyone to launch a business, quit their job, and make money online. As a result, selling online courses about entrepreneurship is a niche with consistently high demand. 

Business is a topic area where you will need to really ‘niche down’ to find a sub-niche where you can stand apart from the competition. 

You don’t need to be a wildly successful entrepreneur, though. Many courses are created by people just like you, who can claim success in business and entrepreneurship, however small. 

Have you earned $200 on Fiverr? Why not create a course and call it ‘how to earn your first $200 on Fiverr’!

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 186,000

Course Ideas

  • Launch a Business As a Freelancer
  • YouTube Affiliate Marketing
  • Building an Audience on Instagram
  • Dropshipping with Shopify
  • Master Amazon advertising

2. Computers and Technology

create an online course in technology

You can’t do much in today’s connected world without using computers and technology. So there’s a significant demand for online courses that make it easy for non-technical people to use technology. 

Many instruction manuals for computers and technology are hard to read or overly complex, so people seek other more accessible learning methods.  

It could be a simple as showing someone how to create a winning Linkedin profile. Or perhaps you are adept with WooCommerce web development and can teach people how to set up a fantastic online store. 

Course Examples

See how the instructor has combined photography and Instagram to focus on a tight niche.  

Monthly Search Volume: 78,000

Course Ideas  

  • A quick introduction to Python
  • How to Trade Cryptocurrency
  • Programming a Raspberry Pi 
  • Ethical hacking
  • How to build your own gaming PC

3. Home Improvement

online course topics home improvement

People are always looking to make improvements around the home. Whether it’s learning to install tiles or finding out how to grow Zucchini, people like to learn practical skills that improve their lives.

There are endless sub-niches in home improvement, and you don’t need to be an expert to teach a course.  You can even launch a course on a skill you’ve just learned about yourself. Start with a beginners guide this year, then when you have developed your skills, update your guide the following year with more advanced lessons. 

Course Examples

Notice how the gardening course linked above has taken a broad online course idea and narrowed it down to appeal to a sub-niche. Resulting in a beginner’s guide that focuses on cold climates. 

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 249,000

Course Ideas  

  • Studio apartment decluttering masterclass
  • Woodworking hand tools explained
  • Aquaponic Gardening
  • Man-cave decoration ideas
  • Update your Bathroom on a Budget 

4. Arts and Crafts

arts and crafts course creators

Everyone should have a hobby to help them relax and decompress from their working lives. The hobby industry is big business too. Statista says that the hobby industry was worth $456 billion in 2019 and is predicted to grow to 545 billion by 2023.

People are always trying out new leisure activities, and the demand for online introductory courses is high. Do you have a skill or hobby that you could create an introductory course about and help people start a new arts and crafts hobby?

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 147,000

Course Ideas

  • How to draw the human figure
  • Learn to sketch on your iPad
  • Candle making for beginners
  • Making cake decorations with sugarcraft
  • Make bath products from natural ingredients

5. Fitness

fitness profitable niche

Fitness is another niche sector that plays a big part in many people’s everyday lives. And the pandemic means it’s more important than ever that people follow a healthy lifestyle. 

Of course, another driver for the fitness niche is vanity. Everyone wants to look good in their social media profiles too! 

Many fitness courses combine both diet and exercise, as you can’t really separate the two if you want to get the best results. So if you are capable in the kitchen and a fitness freak, creating a course on health and fitness could be an option for you. 

Course Examples

The online course industry is so popular that even celebrities have begun to start selling online courses. Find a range of courses by celebrities for inspiration on the online training platform Masterclass.com.

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 95,000

Course Ideas  

  • Quick 10-minute workouts for busy people
  • Intermittent fasting for muscle growth
  • Learn anatomy for Pilates
  • Running for vegans
  • Lower back strengthening exercises 

6. Travel

someone else traveling target audience

For decades it’s been popular for college-aged kids to take a year out and go see the world. There is also a generation of boomers who’ve now retired on good pensions, expanding their horizons too. 

And what better way to prepare for an overseas adventure than by taking an online travel course? 

Course Examples

Travel courses are a brilliant opportunity for digital nomads to enter the online course business. You can record your course as you travel around to give your lessons some genuine authenticity. 

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 273,000

Course Ideas  

  • Learn backcountry camping
  • Basic compass navigation
  • Hobo traveling tips
  • Travel writing. Explore the world and get paid for it
  • How to be a tour guide in your hometown. 

7. Education

education online course topics

If you can help people improve their teaching skills, you can launch education online courses.

There are all sorts of skills that teachers need to master. So if you can help someone improve their speaking skills or develop their IT talents, the education niche is one for you to explore. 

Remember, you really don’t need to be an expert. You just need to have skills that are one step beyond the knowledge you want to teach. 

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 140,000

Course Ideas  

  • Using technology in education
  • Teaching via Zoom
  • Teach ESL online
  • Make math fun 
  • Help students remember your lessons

8. Writing and Content Creation

want to learn writing

The internet has driven a boom in demand for writers and other content creators. There are millions of blogs, websites, and video hosting sites all crying out for good freelance content creators. 

Do you know your verbs from your adverbs? Perhaps you can edit videos for YouTube to a high standard. There is a never-ending demand for high-quality courses in the content creation niche. So if you can create a course in one of these skills, you could build a lucrative online course business. 

Course Examples

There are lots of writing and content creation courses. So make sure your course stands out by creating one for the endless sub-niches in writing and content creation. 

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 108,000

Course Ideas

  • SEO for freelance writers
  • Productivity hacks for writers
  • Video editing for beginners
  • Instagram growth strategies
  • Affiliate marketing on Tik Tok

9. Personal Development

personal development

Personal growth and development is a fascinating niche for online course creation. There are plenty of sub-niches to choose from.  And there are endless ways to niche down to find a distinct group of students. 

You can teach a wide range of skills, such as time management, goal setting, networking, study skills, and more. How might you aim to help people achieve more in their personal and professional lives? 

Course Examples

Relationship Coaching: Transform Problems into Growth & Love

Leading without Formal Authority

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 126,000

Course Ideas  

  • Learn how to speed read
  • How to radiate self-confidence
  • How to enter life coaching
  • Goal setting mastery
  • Build self-discipline

10. Coming of Age and Career

niche for every day lot of people

This niche focuses on teens and young adults as they transition out of education into the world of work. Not all schools and colleges teach their students effectively about career building. Such as practical advice for setting up a compelling Linkedin profile, for example. 

There is also growing demand for courses for middle-aged people who are disillusioned with their careers and want to change their path. 

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 64,000

Course Ideas

  • Master college admissions
  • Find your first job
  • Starting a career with the fire department
  • Launch a career in sales
  • Quit the rat race and find a job you love

11. Entertainment

get paid for entertainment

Sites like YouTube, Tik Tok, and Instagram mean that anyone can launch their own entertainment career. With the top YouTube channels and major social media influencers earning large sums, there is high demand for courses to help people develop the necessary skills. 

This niche is popular, so you will need to give some thought to your sub-niche. As it would be hard to stand apart in a general niche like ‘video editing.’

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 189,000

Course Ideas  

  • Facebook social marketing
  • Video editing for gamers
  • Health and Fitness Influencing
  • iPhone video recording
  • 6 figure influencer marketing strategies

12. Politics

politics online course

Today’s interconnected world has prompted rising demand for online courses about how politics and world events shape people’s lives.

Terrorism, different forms of governance, and the importance of diplomacy are areas that people want to understand better.  

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 169,000

Course Ideas  

  • Politics and global issues
  • Capitalism and communism
  • Diplomacy
  • Morality in politics
  • Voting rights and attempts to curtail them

13. Beauty & Makeup

want to learn beauty

The beauty niche is enormous. YouTube is awash with channels getting millions of views demonstrating tips on beauty and makeup. There is also a wide range of beauty sub-niches, such as skin-care, hair, and nail art. 

Each niche can be further divided by race, age, and culture, so there are endless niches you could create a course about. 

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 103,000

Course Ideas  

  • Nail art gel painting
  • How to apply eyelash extensions
  • Special effects makeup
  • Create your own skincare creams
  • The truth about Acne

14. Lifestyle

lifestyle target audience

The lifestyle niche is as broad as any out there. It includes many diverse topics like pets, meditation, and cooking. You have plenty of options for creating courses that speak to a sub-group of people that’s still large enough to make your efforts worthwhile. 

Cooking for students, teaching French Bulldogs tricks, and Crystal Reiki for seniors are just a few examples of niche audience targeting in the lifestyle niche.

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 225,000

Course Ideas

  • Crush Online Poker
  • How to Twitch Stream like a pro
  • Learn NLP
  • Watercolor painting for beginners
  • Sourdough bread baking

15. Stress Management

life coaching

Practically everyone leads busy, stressful lives today. The demands of work, social lives, and family cause us stress, making the stress management industry big business today. 

Stress in the workplace alone is estimated to cost the US $300 billion every year. If you can create a course that helps people relieve stress, you’ll likely find a hungry audience with money to spend. 

Course Examples

Overall Monthly Search Volume: 129,000

Course Ideas  

  • Manage stress in the workplace
  • Mindfulness for Anxiety
  • Stress management for freelancers
  • How to reduce stress naturally
  • Manage job burnout

Tips on Finding the Perfect Online Course Niche for You

Your Passion is Not Always the Best Niche For Your Course

‘Follow your passion’ is a motto that many say is the path to fulfillment. But if your passion is obscure, then creating a course about it just wastes your time and effort. 

Let’s take an extreme example and say your passion is railway signaling systems. Creating a course that helps people learn to read railway signals is unlikely to be the fast path to riches. There are simply not enough people prepared to pay to learn about railway signals. 

Similarly, if your passion is something very popular, then it’s also a bad idea to create a course for it. 

Making money online is hugely popular and maybe something you are very passionate about. But this niche is incredibly saturated, so if you created a course about it, you’d find it challenging to stand apart in a crowded space. 

And what if you don’t even have a passion? What should you do then?

There is a better approach.

Find a Starving Audience

The key to creating a winning course is to make one for a hungry audience. 

You need to identify a niche that’s popular but not too crowded. A niche where there is an actual demand for learning, but not that many courses already. 

When the famous copywriter Gary Halbert was asked what advantage he would want if he opened a burger stand, he said all he needed was a starving audience. 

That’s what you should look for when picking a niche for your online course – a starving audience. 

Look at the courses on the popular platforms to see who’s going hungry. 

  • What niches are there not many courses for?
  • What niches have a few courses, but all are poorly rated?
  • What are the new sub-niches within the broader niches?

Play to Your Strengths

While we said that following your passion is not always the best approach, you do need to speak with some authority on your chosen niche. 

And you’ll only be able to speak authentically and with authority if you can maintain an interest in your niche. The world moves fast today, and many online course niches have new developments that you’ll need to weave into regular course updates. 

You likely also need to consistently create content and other marketing materials to promote your course. 

If your chosen niche doesn’t interest you beyond the initial course development, then your course will ultimately lose out to other instructors who teach the topic with enthusiasm. 

But, don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert, just one step in front of the people you are teaching. 

It’s OK to learn something, experiment a little to get experience, then create a course all about it. Remember, the critical skill in developing and launching online courses is the ability to teach. 

Understand Your Audience

This step is key to your success. You have to understand your audience.

The best way to understand your audience is to create a customer avatar. A customer avatar is an imaginary person you make who represents the ideal person to take your course. 

You give them a name, a job, an age, and a gender.  You imagine the websites they read, even the TV they watch to relax. 

Creating this fictitious person helps you design your course with one person in mind. As the saying goes, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. 

For example, launching a general course about blogging is a terrible idea: there are far too many of them already. If you create a blogging course for new freelance graphic artists, you have a specific audience to aim it at.

So you should create a customer avatar of the average person who starts a career in graphic design. You want to really get inside their head.  Hang out online where they hang out. What blogs do they read? What sites do they use to find work?

Taking this step will help you identify the type of language you need to use and the lessons you’ll need to cover.

 Put the Pieces Together

Picking the right niche or sub-niche for your online course is something you should take a little time over.

You’ll live and breathe your course niche for a long time as you put your course together, so don’t make a quick decision that you later regret.

Thankfully, launching an online course is a reasonably low-risk business venture. The main cost is the time you spend putting the lessons together and recording them. So you can afford to fail at your first attempt.

You may even find yourself creating several courses before getting all the elements right and creating a winner.

But if you follow these tips, you’ll give yourself the best chance of creating a course that sells well.

  • Pick a niche or sub-niche in which you can maintain interest. 
  • Review the existing competition; is there a starving audience? 
  • Familiarise yourself and learn all about the niche.
  • Create an ideal customer avatar.
  • Hang out online in the same place as your ideal customer to get inside their minds. 
  • Choose your course platform.

Choose Your Course Platform

There are several approaches to delivering an e-learning course online. 

Online Learning Marketplaces

Many first consider the big online learning marketplaces like Skillshare and Udemy. These platforms are popular because they have a lot of visitors looking to buy courses. 

The downside is that the online learning marketplaces take a hefty slice of your course fees. They are perhaps better for building an initial audience then directing your course takers to further courses you host on your website. 

Online Course Standalone Platforms 

start selling on thinkific
Check Out Thinkific.com

These websites host your course for you but don’t provide extra tools to market to students like email marketing services or advanced sales funnel building capabilities.

You’ll need to make an additional investment in digital marketing tools and devote time to building an audience for your courses. 

On the plus side, they have all of the inbuilt tools and technology to help you deliver an outstanding learning experience and take payment. 

A few of popular online course platforms are:

Online Course and Digital Marketing All-In-One Platforms

make money with Kajabi

This option is the best of both worlds. You get class-leading tools to deliver engaging e-learning courses. And a suite of digital marketing tools to promote your course and attract students.

Kajabi is extremely capable and popular. At the same time, ClickFunnels is a decent option to create a membership site or host a course.

Key Takeaways for Selling Online Coures

There is currently a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the explosion in demand for online learning and launch an online business.

Anyone can launch a course, and you only need to be one step ahead of the students you’re teaching.

The key to launching a successful course is to choose a profitable online course niche where there is lots of demand but not enough choice or quality to meet that demand.

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