As a training provider, how do you know if a membership-based course is better than a one-off purchase course? The best way to decide what is best for your training company is to be prepared and do your research. You will need to determine the scope of your courses, the limits of your resources, and what your audience is prepared to spend on course materials. In this post, we walk you through the ins and outs of selling courses individually vs subscription selling.

Selling Courses Individually vs Subscription Selling

Let’s start with what it means to sell courses individually and what it means to sell courses through a subscription. Selling individually means you charge a one-time payment for a specific course. Examples of this kind of transaction are selling courses to your customers through e-commerce sites like Shopify or selling B2B to large customers directly. When selling course subscriptions, you are charging recurring payments, and customers retain access to your course content for as long as they are paying. An example of this kind of transaction would be selling a client access to your entire course library for a monthly payment.

Depending on your training business needs, there are many reasons that you should or shouldn’t offer a membership or subscription. In order to determine the right selling model for your business, you should fully understand the needs of your business. Does the material that you offer need to be updated often to keep up with industry changes? If so, that could be ideal subject matter for a subscription-based course. However, if your material will stay static, selling your courses individually for a one-time payment is probably better.

Selling your courses as a subscription does mean you can gain monthly cash flow. But selling individually for a one-time payment may mean you can put your courses at a higher price point. Determine what your audience is most likely to buy and use. The best price is the one that your audience will pay.

Are You Ready to Run a Subscription-Based Program?

One of the best ways to decide whether to try a subscription program is to determine your resources. Can you commit to constant updates and running an ongoing learning community? You may need additional employees and more staff hours to keep up with course updates and a membership community. If that’s not something that your training business can commit to right now, you probably shouldn’t consider a membership program. Selling courses individually can be less time consuming and more profitable if done right. You can build a course once and sell it repeatedly.

Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that using a multi-tenant LMS will offer additional benefits and resources. First, a multi-tenant LMS can enable you to set up one client site specifically for subscription-based courses, while running other client sites set up for individual selling. This allows you to have the best of both worlds. Second, a single content update is reflected for all clients and courses in your ecosystem, saving you time and providing all of your customers with the most up-to-date content. 

Determining How to Charge

How you charge for your courses depends on many different factors. The criterion for charging is different for selling courses individually vs subscription selling. It may also depend on how big your audience is. A big client base will have different needs than a small learning community, and you may be able to settle on a lower price point when you have a larger number of clients.

Also, consider the scope and design of your material. Complex topics can sell for a higher price, as can courses that are designed with more comprehensive learning strategies such as branching, scenarios and gamification. Do your industry topics require continuous updates? Are you designing traditional, narrative-based training, or are you incorporating storytelling techniques to foster learner empathy and improve learning retention? These scenarios can call for a higher price point. As with any course creation, following best practices for creating and managing online training courses will help your content shine and support you in building your training business.

Another way to determine what you should charge for courses is to check out your competition. Are your competitors selling one-off courses or subscriptions? Determine what selling option they are using and their price points. If possible, analyze their materials and look at the similarities and differences to your courses. This can give you a clear view of what your prices should be in comparison.

Lastly, be sure of what your audience is prepared to pay. After you analyze the competition’s courses and prices, you should evaluate your audience. You want to determine ahead of time what they are willing to pay. You don’t want to give prospective members sticker shock—you must convince people that your course is worth the price. While you want to pick a price point that your customers are comfortable with, you also don’t want to sell yourself short. Use common best practices on how to sell your courses so you can run a successful and profitable training company.


Determining whether you should be selling courses individually vs subscription selling can be tough. But with data, introspection, and planning, you can easily decide what method of selling will work best for your training company. Use this post as a quick-start guide to figure out the ideal way forward. First, educate yourself on both types of pricing. Then, determine which method is suitable for your business. Finally, take all the information and data that you’ve gathered, set your prices, and get ready to sell!

Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.

Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!