The 2 Most Profitable Types of eLearning Business Models

eLearning is one of the quickest growing industries globally, not to mention its popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 March, over 1.367 billion students were impacted by worldwide school closure, which opened up lucrative opportunities for EdTech businesses. With the massive demand for online education and remote learning, there is no better time than now to build an eLearning business

The eLearning industry is expected to continue to prosper as technology contributes to new innovations. However, to thrive in the competitive industry, you must adopt the best business models that can help you build a scalable and profitable eLearning business. 

What is an eLearning business model?

An eLearning business model is nothing but a framework that serves as a guide for your online teaching business to generate revenue. It is essentially a roadmap to your business plan and helps you define the long-term values of your business. There are a lot of business models followed by eLearning business, but we have put together the most successful and profitable business models for you. 

The night school model

The night school model is a classical business model that was derived from the concept of night classes at local community colleges. Just like people with jobs used to attend night school to pick up skills, learners can access and pay for classes and courses individually. The night school business model is flexible and can be adapted by online elearning businesses of any size and shape. However, its best suited for:

  • New eLearning businesses: If you are rolling out online courses to see target learners’ reactions, this business model can be a great pick to receive feedback and generate revenue at the same time. 
  • Large businesses: Businesses are looking forward to selling high ticket online courses. For example, if your online course is priced at $3000+ value, selling a few courses can help you make a good amount of revenue.
  • Online course-only businesses: You can adopt the night school model if you are an eLearning business that sells only self-paced courses. 


  • Lucrative: You can create and sell a broad range of eLearning products and sell them at a high price
  • Low overhead: It is easier to create online courses in cheap formats like PDF. 
  • Evergreen: Once you create an online course, you can sell it for years to come; it remains evergreen forever. 


  • No recurring visits: Learners would pay for online courses once and might not reinvest. 
  • Time intensive: If you want to create multiple courses, you will have to invest lots of time and effort. 
  • Constant launching efforts: To make sales, you will have to launch and relaunch online courses constantly. 
  • Non-recurring income: There is no subscription tied to this business model, so there is no recurring revenue scope.

Academy business model

Contrary to the night school model, the academy business models where you build a comprehensive online school where you provide all the skills your learners need to reach their desired goals. The business model supports learners to acquire multiple skills and provides an extensive range of courses, videos, and other learning resources. Learners receive several perks for this business model like live Q&A sessions, interactive learning, support groups, and one-on-one private sessions with tutors. 

This business model covers a broad range of subjects and gets in-depth when it comes to the details helping to attract students who want to learn multiple skills. The academy eLearning business model is subscription-based, where the eLearning site operates as a virtual online school. If you’re going to adopt this business model, look for the best online tutoring software that can help you build an eLearning platform that can accommodate different types of online learning products. For example, Pinlearn can be the best pick, being an efficient white label tutoring software to host both one-one online classes and self-paced courses. 

This type of business model is best suited for:

  • Niche experts: Tutors or businesses that want to teach a broad range of skills in a given subject area.
  • Creative tutors: Educators who want to teach different artistic practices
  • Enterprise trainers: Who want to offer training to large enterprises


  • Simple and easy to implement: You just have to prepare a single plan and strategy for multiple offerings
  • Better customer retention: As businesses offer subscription packages, learners would be hooked to your services. 
  • Scalable: It is quite easy to grow your eLearning business by leveraging the academy business model. 
  • Better pricing: You can bring new learners in with several perks at a low cost. 
  • Stable income: As subscriptions bring in recurring revenue, you get to enjoy a stable income. 


  • Regular content updates: You will have to offer something new every time to keep your learners hooked.
  • Constant innovation: To grow your eLearning business, you will have to come up with new innovation plans. 
  • Low earnings initially: It might take time to establish your business.

Combined business model

This business model doesn’t actually count as a standalone business model. It is a combination of the two business models, the night school and academy models mentioned above. This model offers a combination of one-time fees and subscriptions, making an innovative business strategy. By combining both approaches, you not only can reap the best benefits of both, but you can also cater to the preference of a wide range of learner base as well. 

When adopting the combination model, you can consider the following approach. 

  • Use the academy model as a primary offering.
  • To offer add-ons in your subscription packages, you can leverage the night school model.

This works great when your learners would like to access single courses from your database or when you want to offer some live sessions to your students that are worth paying extra for. 


eLearning is the future of education and will expand exponentially worldwide even post COVID-19. But, with the increasing competition in the already crowded industry, it becomes really critical to choose the best approach to launch a feature-rich eLearning platform. 

Now that you have clearly understood the two main eLearning business models, it becomes easy to find the most suitable fit for your business. Assess the two options based on your core competencies and choose the right fit. 

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