How To Create An E-Course On A Budget

Before we dive into this, let’s define “on a budget”. It means you have some money to spend but not a whole heap. For what I will tell you now you’ll probably need around $300. Some would argue that this is not “on a budget” while others can sniff a cheapskate scam here, right?

I leave it up to you.

Let’s get to it.

Here is how you create an awesome e-course while watching the pennies:

  1. Create a mastermind group with one or two of your closest entrepreneurial minded buddies and develop your initial idea into a fully blown e-course concept. I’m talking content here, not the technical details. Offer your mastermind buddies a spot in the e-course by interviewing them in an expert call. Or offer your e-course customers a free strategy call with your mastermind buddies as a bonus (which is very likely going to bring business back to your helpful friend). Always give and take, right?
  2. Let’s spin this exchange thing even further. Are you a business or life coach? Or have something else highly valuable to offer? Find out if you can work with your chosen contractors (like copywriters, virtual assistants, graphic designers etc) on an exchange basis. This means no money will change hands. You will trade your hours for the hours they put in. This happens more than you think and again, it is mutually beneficial if done right and fairly.
  3. If you can’t get all the work done through exchange arrangements, look on Elance for contractors. There are amazingly talented people living in the countries of Eastern Europe for example who charge a quarter or less of what a US contractor with the same experience charges. Yes, you have to consider time zone differences and language barriers. But if you take the time to select your Elance contractor carefully, you will soon see the financial benefits of working with someone talented from Romania rather than California. (Hint: Always pay attention to the Elance ratings. If there are a lot of completed jobs unrated, this is a glowing red warning sign. Stay away from those!)
  4. To build your e-course learning environment, use free WordPress themes and free plugins like s2Member (a membership plugin that integrates seamlessly with PayPal).
  5. There is no need for a shopping cart unless you’re planning to offer an affiliate program straight away. If this is the case, Wahmcart is the best option for anyone who wants a fully fledged shopping cart for less than $40 per month.
  6. Host all your audio and video files as well as documents on Amazon S3. It’s free for the first 12 months and you can rest in knowing that your files are secure. Your audios and videos can be embedded in your learning environment easily by installing free plugins (check out WP Audio Player and Flowplayer).
  7. And last but not least: Do you want your e-course customers to interact with each other in discussion forums? Consider Buddypress. A free WordPress plugin, it comes with great features straight out of the box and is dead easy to install (just add it like any other plugin). Who needs Ning when this powerful little helper takes you from zero to social network in less than 10 minutes — for free?

Can you see how easy it is to create an awesome e-course on a budget? There are plenty of free resources out there. There are talented people in countries where your dollar will buy you more time or service (thanks to dollar-friendly exchange rates). Plus, never forget to tap into the skill set and knowledge of your friends and biz buddies.

So, do YOU have a tool or tip up your sleeve that we can add to the list? Share it in the comments below. I’m curious!

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Kat Csengo is the driving force behind Paperclip Fox, a virtual assistant business based in Berlin, Germany. She’s been helping wildly creative busy folk manage their online businesses as well as create e-courses with them since 2009. Connect with Kat on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Awesome! Thank you for publishing my post. Lots of love, Kat

  2. This was hugely helpful! It’s effectively blown away any obstacles I thought I had in getting started on an authentic e-course. Tweeted and liked! Thanks.

  3. Thank you Kat, this is just what the doctor ordered! I was just talking to my friend about this, great tips, hints and ideas to implement.

  4. Great tips, Kat! :) I’ve gotta figure out BuddyPress… I have it installed, but not sure what to do with it now! lol.

  5. Hi Girls! Thanks so much!

    Laura I had so many of these questions written down for our Q&A B-School call, but Katalin has just answered them all!! Thank you, thank you. Saved me a phone bill called from Down Under (Australia :)

  6. What a wonderful article, Kat. I’ve been thinking about developing an e-course for my clients, but didn’t know quite where to start. I especially appreciate the list of specific resources to use for various tasks; it takes away a lot of the fear. Thanks for sharing an approachable, actionable plan to help kick my butt into gear.

    • I know how overwhelming it can be to even think about creating an e-course. So I’m glad that my tips helped to eliminate the fear and overwhelm for you, Liv. :)

  7. Thanks! Great info. Much appreciated. Amazing.

  8. Great post! Thx for the tips!!


  9. Inspiring! You really created a clear picture.
    It’s my job created for myself.

  10. Janet Garcia says:

    Great article Kat. I have heard of Budypress before but haven’t experienced it yet. It was good to see the sample blogs in their site. This is something that I will consider for sure.

  11. Denise Duffield-Thomas says:

    Absolutely AWESOME article Kat – thanks for this!

  12. Brilliant and timely post for me! Thanks so much Kat for sharing these tips!

  13. Love this post, Kat! I have been tossing around the idea of offering an e-course, but was stymied by the logistics. Thanks for creating a really clear path to success… now I actually have to DO it! ;)

  14. awesome tips and the first step is the most important… you just have to do it and then tweak as you go.

  15. OOOH Baby!
    Perfect timing!
    This is exactly the info, i’ve been scouring pages for..
    It can get so overwhelming investigating so many different options.
    Looking to make this simple…
    Looks like all the cool kids are doing ecourses..
    It’s my turn to give it a whirl!
    Thank you Goddess!
    XO Jessamina

  16. Kat,

    Perfect timing for your article. I’m in the process of designing a program and I want to provide a few different learning options/formats.

    You suggestions with s2Member, BuddyPress, and Amazon S3 will help me out a lot.

    Thank you,

  17. Excellent post, This post is helpful for eCourse budget

  18. These are the articles I love – short, concise and packed full of goodies. I will definitely keep you in mind when I get to that point. Bravo Kat!


  19. hi! great post. but…looks like WAHMcart is about to be shut down. or rather, won’t be taking on new customers as of Aug. 1. and from now until then, you can join – but only at the lifetime subscription price of $997, which is quite a gamble for those of us who have no experience with the service.

    do you have any other similar services you would recommend, for someone who is starting on the small side and looking for an inexpensive but feature-rich shopping cart option? or is that an oxymoron? :)

    many thanks! best regards, jenni

    • You are right Jenni, Wahmcart is closing its doors for new customers on August 31. You can sign up for lifetime membership in the next 30 days for a one-time fee of $997 which can be paid in full or in 6-month installments. Considering that a 1Shoppingcart subscription will cost you $99 every month, every year this is a great deal and a wise investment. Wahmcart’s support is amazing, they really look after their customers.

    • I just came across Cartville who offer a Starter Package, this might be an acceptable alternative to Wahmcart:

      • thanks cat, i appreciate that! i was curious about the wahmcart option but signing on for a lifetime at nearly $1K was a big commitment, as i had never used them before. i will probably try this other option first. thanks much! :)

      • You’re welcome Jenni! Let me know how it goes :)

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