LinkedIn Launches a Course Content Business Model

It’s no Trump University, but LinkedIn is getting into publisher territory swiftly with Linkedin Learning.

In April 2015, LinkedIn bought for $1.5 billion and this September they launched LinkedIn Learning, a subscription website for online skills training. This course business model that they stepped into is an entirely new revenue stream for them, and a new product for their 450 million members.

When a publisher has a course content business model, they may create a single course or collection of lessons or activities that the user can mix and match to create his or her own course. However, the publishing frequency, unlike a magazine, could be relatively low.


Every successful publisher we know launched their digital existence with at least two content models. One is a portal content business model, and the other is usually a magazine content business model. However, most publishers we work with have several other content models, including digital online courses.

So what does that all have to do with LinkedIn? Well, it’s clear they’re getting into the content game (publisher’s territory), way beyond user-generated content.

LinkedIn Learning launched with over 9,000+ digital courses “taught by industry experts and cover a wide range of business, creative and technical topics, from leadership “soft skills” to design principles to programming,” according to LinkedIn’s official announcement.  And, unlike the slowboat magazine publisher mentioned above with a course business model, they say they’re adding at least 25 courses per week.

Now, if was already your competitor, LinkedIn isn’t a new competitor, they just had a makeover. And with the purchase of LinkedIn by Microsoft, who knows what other facelifts will come. It’s just interesting to watch and see different businesses turn to premium content-producing business models. And they said people would never pay for content.

It looks like LinkedIn is trying to be a central location to find jobs, get trained for jobs, and get hired. Techcrunch reports, ” in India, the company now has an online job placement service that tests an individual’s skills and then suggests jobs that might be suitable for him or her. It doesn’t take the extra leap to include training, but you could imagine how LinkedIn Learning could fit into that product, too.”

TechRepublic reports, “LinkedIn released a list of the skills most sought after among global employers, and employers in the US and 17 other countries, after analyzing all recruiting activity on the platform since January. Cloud and distributed computing topped the list, followed by statistical analysis and data mining, mobile development, storage systems and management, user interface design, and network and information security.”

Meanwhile in the course business model space, Rodale U launched last year. It’s a collection of paid online courses presented by their brands, like Men’s Health and Runner’s World. Courses are purchased individually, however unlike LinkedIn’s 25 new courses per week, Rodale’s initial ambition was just 8-10 new courses per year. They now have 26 courses in total.

But they’re hip to the trends. “Over the past three years we have seen tremendous growth in consumer learning—a new segment of online learning and commerce, where individuals are turning to their trusted brands, such as Rodale, to improve their lives and careers.” said Barry Kelly, CEO of Thought Industries, the company Rodale chose to work with on this project.

And what we love about Rodale U is that they use it to upsell to their magazine. Clicking on any of their courses gives you an option to enroll and also an option to get the course plus the magazine for $5 more. An example offer says, “With the SILVER program, you’ll get access to the 21-Day Meditation Challenge, plus a 5-issue subscription to Rodale’s Organic Life magazine! Not only will you learn the true promise of meditation: more ease, greater flow, and the opportunity to experience life as a journey to be savored, you’ll also continue to be inspired with Rodale’s Organic Life magazine. In every issue you’ll find actionable, inspired ideas for good eating, home design, gardening, and personal well being.”

We think courses are an excellent revenue model for publishers, and for LinkedIn too.



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