Forbes estimated in 2018 that the e-learning industry will be worth £225bn by 2025, supported by a sharp increase in the number of entrepreneurs entering the marketplace.

At a time when students place more value on education and ease of access to online courses has improved, it has become easier for these entrepreneurs to market themselves as specialists in very niche topic areas.

In what is becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace, creativity is winning. The Unique E-learning League, a recent campaign run by The CPD Standards Office, reported the top 10 unusual online courses available on the web, showing the most unconventional topics can draw a big audience.

The campaign highlights that over £2m has been made from niche courses that offer no work-related skillset or provide any form of accreditation at the end of them.

Though this total represents just shy of 1% of the market value estimated in 2025, it does represent a significant portion of the market that remains relatively untapped.

Opportunity for businesses

The CPD campaign suggests conventional products and services can be marketed through one of these unusual courses.

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A “Learn the secrets of zombie apocalypse preparedness” course ranked first and yielded over £934,000.

Though this course only teaches basic survival skills, information which is available free of charge all over the web, it has driven over 4,600 students due to the unique way it has been packaged up and sold.

A mobile operator or photo editing app developer would have done well to create the “Selfie masterclass” course that came in a close second with over £517,000 worth of sales generated. The course taps into a ubiquitous topic and satisfies a demand for a key skill that is relevant to the target audience.

Offering an online course can establish a business’s expertise in a market, offering more time to communicate with prospects and provide depth, insight and intelligence into a market by solving a problems and building a perception of expertise.

It can also help establish brand awareness and loyalty, tapping into a less competitive marketplace and presenting a unique spin to stand out from the rest. Video content can also make it easier to build relationships by speaking on camera.

It doesn’t necessarily take expensive video production equipment and agencies to create the best courses; content is what counts. Most courses can be created on a smartphone using the many apps available to give a professional finish.

Once a business has created the content, it can be repurposed across other channels such as social media and email.

The key to winning in the e-learning market is creativity. Growing demand for niche topic areas has permitted specialists to tap into uncompetitive market places and get their businesses in front of thousands of students wanting to learn more.

Read more: Three tips to create a culture of productive disruption from a Google exec