Just two years ago, online education was a rare beast many people found inferior to a face-to-face experience. But after the pandemic, online events have become a permanent detail on the training industry landscape.
Some trainers have adapted their classes to the virtual format. Some of them just present the course material the same way it was before. And others are designing their programs for online from the start.
Despite remote learning being a usual thing now, many trainers are still asking themselves how much to charge for online workshops and whether to lower the price in comparison to offline events.
Although some on-site expenses are indeed irrelevant to online and should be excluded, there are other unique factors that can affect the price.
Start with cost and value
In-person and virtual learning are the same in their cores and the general scheme for calculating ticket prices will be similar too.
First of all, you need to understand the raw cost of creating and presenting your workshop and its value for your customers.
Raw cost is the minimum profit you should get to break even. Whether you plan to earn this sum for one event or get it back gradually by repeating your workshop, it’s better to know how much this training program costs.
Value is what your workshop is worth regardless of the time and resources you spent on creating it. And that’s what your customers pay for. Remember that you and your clients can see this value differently.
Another point to keep in mind is that facing students via a video call instead of being in the same room with them does not diminish the value of your workshop in any way, just changes the medium.
The step-by-step instruction to calculate a workshop cost and define its value, as well as to differentiate yourself from your competitors is described in this Workshop Pricing Guide. If you are calculating a price from scratch, we recommend taking a look at it first and returning to this article.
Here we will explain the specifics of online workshop pricing and cover the unique factors related to it.
The perceived value of online workshops has grown
As it was mentioned at the beginning of the article, the perception of online training has changed.
Before, many people didn’t take online learning seriously and were unwilling to risk their money for this kind of content. Therefore, high prices weren’t really an option.
Pandemic convinced the world that online provides no less quality than hands-on experience in many spheres including education. And for businesses that switched to remote work, virtual classes and courses have become the main way to satisfy their employees’ need for professional development.
Knowing that there is a demand on the market, you can feel more confident in pricing your public workshops and setting corporate training rates.
Online also gives more confidence in creating the training schedule. Since a location doesn’t matter anymore, you can attract more people to your classes and expect higher profit than from in-person workshops.
On-site expenses are excluded from the price
A significant part of the price for face-to-face training is organizational expenses:
- Hand-out materials
- Parking lots
- Travel and accommodation.
If you are adapting your program to online, you should subtract these fees from the overall cost and recalculate the price.
New expenses are added
Online events are not just a cheaper version of their offline counterpart. They have their own additional fees.
Internet and electricity bills
The most important technical factor in running effective online workshops is a fast and reliable Internet connection. No level of content quality is going to compensate for constant disruptions or lags. And a good Internet provider can come costly.
Electricity bills can go up too as you will be using more equipment and for a longer period of time, than when you are working from an office.
If you see that these costs have a significant impact on your budget, you should consider adding them to your workshop cost.
Interactivity in virtual workshops compensates for the lack of physical presence and encourages learners to participate in a learning process. But interactivity requires different kinds of software you need to pay for.
You can divide software subscriptions into two big categories:
- Those you need to create or redesign your workshop
- Those you need during a workshop (to run it or to present a certain task).
Adding the first group to the training cost is optional. If you plan to redeliver this workshop over and over again, it’s better to make it more accessible and exclude creation costs. But in case you plan to present it online once or only for a short period of time and have to pay subscriptions for this transition, they need to be included in the total workshop cost.
The second group is what you need for every session. You will have to maintain these subscriptions constantly to run workshops online on a regular basis. We recommend including this group in the cost and emphasizing the increased workshop value when running a promotion campaign.
In order to provide a high-quality virtual workshop, high-quality equipment is a must too. Sitting in front of a blurry camera can hardly guarantee a good experience.
If you plan to run online workshops regularly, you will need:
- Camera to provide a stable image
- Microphone to make sure everyone hears you clearly and doesn’t have to suffer from noise instead of focusing on the material
- Lights to allow everyone to clearly see your face and provide a better sense of presence
- A second monitor (optionally) if there are complex operations that need to be controlled separately.
These one-time expenses will pay off over time but you still have to consider them and their impact on the budget when thinking about the price.
If you are transitioning from face-to-face training, you may plan to leave the same duration as it was before. However, it's necessary to take into account several factors which accompany online activities. They can affect the duration of a session and, subsequently, the price.
Even if you are sure of your Internet connection and your equipment, your attendees may be different. Waiting for everyone to connect and set up their earphones, cameras, and microphones can eat up a lot of the workshop time.
Adding this preparation stage to your workshop duration could be a good idea because this way the class won’t take longer than you planned.
Another solution is asking attendees to check their equipment beforehand, although it can’t be a 100% guarantee. If you are using a training management system like Workshop Butler to control all administrative tasks for your events, you can configure automated reminders and include the request to double-check technical conditions there.
Setting the rules
Online might have become part of our lives, but people are still getting used to it and not always quickly adapt to the virtual environment. It takes longer to make sure everyone is on the same wave than when you are in one room with your audience.
In addition, students will need time to get accustomed to the software if you use any in your course.
The time required for these stages will depend on the technical competence of your students. Tech-savvy attendees or those who frequent virtual events will get the gist quickly, while people who don’t interact with online in their day-to-day lives might struggle longer.
Knowing your audience and the difficulty level of your workshop will help you assess how much time you need for preliminary explanations.
Changing the way of communication
The simplified process of organizing remote events is outweighed by difficulty in its execution. Motivating your audience or establishing a comfortable atmosphere are not easy tasks to achieve being on the other side of the display from everyone else. Even presenting the material itself and keeping students’ attention becomes a challenge.
When estimating the workshop duration, take into consideration several obstacles that can usually be encountered during online training
Difficulty in keeping students engaged. Ways of engagement in online and in-person learning are different. If you are transitioning your course content from offline, this aspect could become the one that you have to change the most.
Difficulty in presenting content. Many people find it hard to concentrate on online activities when being at home. A student might be determined to focus on the learning process, but get distracted inadvertently. It will require a significant amount of energy and skills from you as a facilitator to keep the audience’s attention and run a workshop effectively under such conditions.
Difficulty in creating the right atmosphere. Breaking the ice at the start, helping students get to know each other and feel at ease working together — all of it will take longer in the virtual classroom and we advise paying extra attention to these points when planning your event.
These difficulties and your ability to overcome them will affect not only workshop duration, but the value of your course in general. If you are making your first steps in virtual training and are not sure how it turns out, try offering a lower price or even a free session to test your abilities. When you are confident that you can reach people in an online class and engage them in a discussion despite all the obstacles, you can increase your fees.
The world is still learning how to conduct online training properly, but it is also learning to see its real value. It’s essential for trainers and facilitators to understand how much their own work online costs so that they can explain the pricing to their customers and help them see the value of virtual workshops.
Online events come cheaper in their organization than on-site courses. It makes the former more attractive to potential students.
At the same time, they become more complex and expensive on the technical part, requiring a facilitator to carefully consider how this complexity will be reflected in pricing.
Duration of a session is affected by not always obvious factors that can make it longer than expected and more difficult to facilitate in comparison to a face-to-face class.