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Why Online Courses Are Bad? Watch Out For These 4 Things

It’s only appropriate to discuss why online courses are bad and what are the reasons behind it. This post is written from the perspective of online course business and not from the traditional school education point of view.

Buying and enrolling in an online course online and attending an online course in school are totally different topics. This post focuses on you, considering to buy an online course.

The reason for online courses being bad is the fact that the course might promise results, while not giving them. The course might be short on the information needed, and there’s usually not too much direct support after taking an online course. The course might also have outdated information of which you are not aware of.

Whenever a person takes an online course, the outcome is either good or bad. The bad being that you did not get any results from taking the online course and thus wasting your hard-earned money.

But why is that?

Why is it that so few actually achieve results from online courses. The answer is pretty simple. Everyone starts from different stages, spots, and situations in life.

So everyone is starting with a different footing, so to say.

In this post, we will discuss why online courses are bad and why you should not buy one or attend one.

The four key things to watch out for are:

  1. Results promised but not given
  2. Shortage of information
  3. Lack of support after the purchase
  4. Outdated information

1. Results promised but not given

This is the number one thing to watch out for before you buy an online course. 

What online course sales pages do well, is manipulation and inspiration. The sales pages main point is to make you buy the course. Convince you that the course is the only thing you need in your life. 

And the way the sales page does it is to convince you that you can achieve the same results as the course creator. Or achieve the same kind of results that the other students have achieved after taking the course.

You are being promised results after results, and when you go and buy the course and not get the same or close the same results. You will probably be disappointed.

Sales pages use manipulative tactics, inspirational tactics, persuasion, and proofs to get you to buy the course.

The most significant inspirational factor being the results that someone else got by going through the course. However, here lies the trap.

Beta results

This is probably the biggest thing the course creators avoid telling you. And it’s that the results someone else got might not have been from the course itself but through a beta coaching program.

This might confuse you a lot, but let me explain.

More than often, a course goes through a beta launch phase were people sign up to a beta version of the course and get private beta coaching. Beta coaching inside the online course is a very different experience than going through the online course by yourself.

The course creator has such knowledge and wisdom on the topic that it might not be easy to transfer that to a course. So in the beta stage, the course creator guides the students through the online course AND gives coaching to them.

This way, the students are getting way better results because the course creator is coaching the students. Coaching always wins self-paced learning. 

So when you see results from others. Always question the way the results were reached.

Results of others

Let us imagine the course didn’t have a beta phase and let us imagine that people did get real-life results with the online course. 

So the appropriate thought would be that you will also get results, even if not the same, still some results.

However, here lies the second trap of results promised.

You see, you are coming from a certain point in your life. You are starting the course with the knowledge you have. You start from ground zero.

However, it could be that you are too far away from the point in life/business where you should be for you to get results with the course.

Some course creators do state this on their sales page in the form of ‘Who this course is NOT for.’ You should read that. As it usually gives good information on whether you should even buy the course or not.

If the sales page lacks this, it’s better to ask this from the course creator than buy the course and be disappointed when you didn’t get results.

Online courses are bad if the results promised are far from the reality of you achieving what is being sold to you.

2. Shortage of information

This is very much tied to the last one. If the online course you take does not have enough information for you to succeed. Then the online course is bad.

It’s bad from the perspective that the sales page did not give enough information, whether it is suitable for you or not. It’s bad if you got the course only to realize that you are missing so many of the fundamentals of business, for example, that you will gain nothing by taking the course.

Sometimes (and I’ve seen this happen with one online course I took on blogging) the online course lacks so much information that it’s almost impossible for you to achieve results with it.

Let’s say you took a weight loss course, and while it offered you a massive amount of information on how to do train correctly and efficiently in the gym. It didn’t establish a good and healthy food diet for you. It didn’t share the information on how to rest properly or how the muscle growth works.

So for you to get the very best results, you would have to make sure that the online course offers ALL the needed elements for you to succeed and get results.

Remember beta coaching. Yet again, this is a perfect example of how the coach could have asked from you if you had eaten correctly.

Online courses usually don’t provide that sort of support for you.

But how do you know whether the online course is complete or not?

You don’t.

The way I see the online courses I’ve taken in the past is that the more knowledge I have and get, the more I know what the online courses lack.

It’s kind of trial and error with these things. And that is one thing that makes online courses bad. 

You genuinely don’t know if you get ALL the information you need to succeed.

3. Lack of support after the purchase

As mentioned briefly before, you usually don’t get direct support from the course creator after the purchase. Online courses are created for their passiveness. 

Online courses are usually created once and then sold “forever.” That is the typical way online courses are created, and thus, the holy grail of passive income. 

Online courses are meant to be self-paced, which means that the course taker can consume the material as fast or as slow as possible.

The course creator never intended to take part in the learning journey. The reason for an online course to be created is precisely the freedom it gives for the creator. The creator is no longer bound to be in contact with the customer, and this frees up the time from the creator to do other things.

However, this creates the issue of students not necessarily getting results. 

One trend that is currently present is that the course creator creates a Facebook group. A group dedicated to the course takers to join and discuss their troubles and shortcomings.

That is a great way to transfer responsibility from the course creator to the customers and the community. However, it should be noted that there’s the danger of when and if “a blind leading a blind.”

Sometimes luckily, the course creator joins the discussion on the group and advises the students.

This is a welcoming sight and one that course creators should take note of.

Everyone needs different amounts and different types of support, and it’s the course creators’ best interest to give results to the students and support them to achieve what was promised.

4. Outdated information

The last point of why online courses are bad is that the course might be old and have outdated information.

As said before, course creators like to build it and leave it. The online course is meant to be passive, and it’s intended to provide income passively.

It wouldn’t be passive income if you would have to update the information in the course constantly.

As the course is passive in nature, you can not be 100% sure the course has the most updated information on it.

Even if the course creator states that the information is accurate and up-to-date, you still can’t really be sure.

What worked today might not work tomorrow.

You can’t be sure about the date of the information if you don’t see it in the training material. 

One way to make sure that the material is updated and the course creator is still doing something within the topic, is to check whether the creator creates blog posts, YouTube videos, posts on Instagram, or is otherwise active online.

While that tactic is somewhat good, it still doesn’t guarantee that the person updates his/her course content steadily.

A final note

The online course industry is in decline, according to Statista. That can be traced back to results not reached, lack of support, lack of topic covered, and outdated information. 

28% decline in self-paced e-learning industry

All of the mentioned points lead to failure and why online courses can be thought to be bad. There’s a loss in trust. Trust towards online courses and getting tangible results from them.

It’s interesting to note that while the industry is in decline, the popularity of online course searches in Google is in incline.


So this means that people do search for online courses, but they don’t buy them so much anymore. 28% decline in the self-paced e-learning market value is quite a lot, and the trend is going down.

Meaning that there has to be a change in how online courses are taught. Or a change in who the online courses are for. 

Online courses, in general, are not bad, but you have to be very cautious about what courses you do buy and at what price.

What makes online courses bad is solely on the creator and the way the course creator informs you ‘the customer’ whether the course is right for you or not. 

There should also be a mention of what is required from you for you to succeed. Online courses itself won’t teach you anything. 

You have to immerse yourself in the course and be willing to learn the things taught to you.

If you are the type of person who needs more of a coach and someone to kick your butt to do the work required, then an online course probably isn’t for you. There won’t be anyone shouting to you to do the work, or guiding you around the pitfalls that might follow you when embarking on the journey.

Online courses usually teach one specific topic and everything surrounding that one topic is left to another course or to another program.

So you might not get the complete picture of what is needed to succeed.

That leaves room for failure, and you might not find what you were looking for.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.