Amazon is one of the largest retailers. So listing your online course for sale on the platform could be a big help for your business.
But is it possible? I did some research to find out.
Can you sell an online course on Amazon? Yes, sort of. Amazon doesn’t allow third-party sellers to offer online courses directly. But you can get around this by turning your online course into an ebook, video, audiobook, or physical product. Each option comes with separate pros and cons.
In this article, you’ll learn whether you can sell online courses on Amazon. As well as alternative ways to sell information products on the Amazon platform.
The answer to this question is a bit more complicated than I expected it to be.
After reading forums and even speaking to several different Amazon support people, I’ve come to the conclusion that the average person can’t simply post an ‘online course type’ listing.
Amazon considers products that are made available by digital download to be “prohibited listings.”
Amazon does directly sell their own online courses, software, and digital games. This includes access codes for courses on third party websites, software keys, and product activation codes.
But in order to have Amazon sell your digital product, you need to partner with them directly. That’s why you can buy digital items on the platform, but only from large video game and software companies that have partnered with Amazon.
As a small business, Amazon would consider you a “third party seller” and not allow you to sell access to online courses or other most digital products on their platform.
I suspect that Amazon doesn’t allow the sale of individual online courses on their platform to maintain their positive reputation and avoid unsatisfied customers. Since they can’t directly control the quality of every course and inspect each one individually, it’s a big risk to allow course sellers on their platform.
If Amazon allowed anyone to list online courses for sale on their website, I suspect that overnight the site would be filled with thousands of low-quality courses. This would lead to tons of customer refunds, bad reviews, and generally be a public relations nightmare for Amazon.
They’ve spent years establishing themselves as a trustworthy company, and I think that having spammy online courses on the site could really tarnish that.
Amazon selling a few programs they’ve vetted on their own is a totally different situation. It’s their website, and they can sell what they want.
There are a number of ways to sell digital products on Amazon and you can utilise these to sell an online course.
Here are a few creative ways that you could re purpose your existing course to meet Amazon’s seller guidelines.
If your existing online course is mostly comprised of text or PDF documents, making it into a book that you can list for sale on Amazon is quite a simple process.
Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) allows you to upload documents, set your own pricing and royalty share options, and design your own cover for your book.
You can make your book available either in ebook format or to purchase in paperback.
Amazon will print physical copies of your book on demand as people buy them, which is nice. If you wanted to get a book made most other places, you’d need to order large quantities in advance and store them until they sell.
The downside to making your course into a book is the limited pricing options. You can earn a 70% royalty share on all copies you sell, but only if the book is priced between $2.99 – $9.99 for digital versions. Otherwise, you’ll only earn a 35% royalty rate. There is also a maximum price of $200 for a digital copy of a book.
For shorter and more simple courses that can be explained entirely through writing, publishing your course on Amazon as a book can be a great option. But it’s not ideal for more expensive or complex courses.
You can sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing at kdp.amazon.com
You can sell videos on Amazon through their Prime Video Direct service. This section of Amazon helps independent filmmakers, distributors, and studios reach a worldwide audience.
You earn royalties based on how many hours prime members stream your videos. There’s also a revenue share if people purchase or rent your video, and you can even earn money on ad impressions.
Amazon does have some quality requirements for the videos they allow on their site. You can’t just upload any video. There’s a quality screening process to ensure your video is professional (HD) quality.
The other downside is that you can’t really split your course up into separate smaller videos, you’ll need to make one comprehensive video that completely explains the subject you’re trying to teach.
You can access Prime Video Direct to sign up for an account at videodirect.amazon.com
Audible.com is owned by Amazon. You can use it to release your course in audiobook format. That way people can listen to your course even while they’re driving or working out at the gym.
Audible is great if you’ve already turned your course into a book to sell on Amazon. It isn’t much extra work to make it into an audiobook as well.
There are a few different options when it comes to turning your course into an audiobook.
You can record the audio yourself to keep a maximum amount of the sale price.
You can do a royalty share. In this case, Audible will match you with a narrator to read your course and you’ll each get 20% of the retail sales. This can be an excellent way to save money up front, since you don’t need to pay a narrator directly.
You can also opt to pay a flat fee for production instead of doing a royalty share. With this option you pay more up front, but you get a larger percentage of sales later on. If you grant Audible exclusive rights to distribute your audiobook you’ll get 40% of sales. If you opt for non-exclusive distribution rights so you can put your audiobook on other platforms, Audible will only pay you 25% of the sale price.
Just because you can’t sell digital copies of your course on Amazon doesn’t mean you can’t sell physical copies!
You can make copies of your course on CD or DVD and ship them out to customers that way.
The downside to this more manual approach is that you’ll have to physically mail out your product. That means you’ll be making weekly trips to the post office at least, and the cost of shipping and burning CDs will cut into some of your profits.
Amazon also has a service called Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) where you can ship a whole box of products to their warehouse and they’ll store them and ship them out on your behalf. This might be a more convenient option, although you’ll pay slightly higher fees for Amazon to handle your product.
You can access Amazon Seller Central at sellercentral.amazon.com
Whilst Amazon’s huge customer base makes it an obvious choice to try and sell your online course, it’s just one of many options you have. You could also decide to list your course(s) on e learning marketplaces like Udemy or Skillshare, or you could decide to host it on your own WordPress website, or use a 3rd part online course platform like Teachable or Kajabi.
-> check out my guide to choosing an online course platform for a more in-depth look at these options.
Log into the appropriate Amazon site (KDP, Seller Central, etc) using your existing Amazon account or create a new one.
You’ll need to review and electronically accept a contract with Amazon and set up your company information. This includes your name and banking information, as well as tax information. Non-US citizens can opt out of the tax that US sellers would normally have to pay.
Once this is done you’ll have access to upload your course in ebook, video, or other formats.
One great feature I found that Amazon offered is the ability to let virtual assistants and other employees connect to your account. This is something that other sites like Udemy and Skillshare don’t offer.
This way you can have other people upload content to your Amazon accounts without having to give them your personal login and password.
To set up someone new on your Amazon account, click Your Account on the top menu, then Users & Roles and add the email address of the person you want to give access to.
Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.
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