How Much Should eLearning Cost?

How Much Should eLearning Cost?

Ian and Susan both need a 30 minute eLearning course. They reach out to BLP and request a proposal for the project. We gather the necessary information and give each client a quote. Ian’s course costs $12,000… and Susan’s course costs $52,500. What gives?

Budgeting course development is a tricky tightrope to walk. It takes some precise planning to meet learners’ needs while staying within budget. Cost for a single eLearning course will vary widely depending on the state of the content being presented, number of reviewers and stakeholders involved, and your multimedia expectations.

…And depending on your need, a quick and inexpensive eLearning project just might not be enough to solve your performance challenge. On the other hand, a course full of animations, videos, audio, and other bells and whistles might be overkill if the concept is simple.

Chances are your budget for an eLearning course developed by an outside vendor is somewhere  between $12,000 and $55,000. Hopefully Ian and Susan’s scenarios will help you budget wisely.

Ian’s $12,000 eLearning Course

eLearning Cost EstimatorLet’s take a closer look at how Ian’s 30 minute eLearning course ends up costing $12,000 to produce. Assume $10,000 as a baseline, starting amount:

Available Content: All of the content for the course is already in a document; we just need to organize. $0

Learner Experience: The content is straightforward, so Ian has us “keep it simple.” Learners will read information and take a post-test. $0

Multimedia Expectations: The course should have a few simple animations, but nothing that blows the budget. $2,000

Number of Reviewers: Two. $0

Number of Review Cycles: Two. Ian’s team wants to see a design, then one programmed draft of the course. $0

By having content already organized, keeping the number of reviewers and review cycles small and opting for a simple learner experience, Ian was able to keep his cost low for this basic course.

Susan’s $52,500 eLearning Course

eLearning Cost EstimatesA straightforward $12,000 eLearning course might be ideal for a basic topic, but cheap does not equal better when things get more complex. Let’s look at Susan’s eLearning course to see how her costs added up. Once again, assume a starting amount of $10,000.

Available Content: Nothing exists yet. We’ll have to interview multiple experts. $2,500

Learner Experience: Susan wants something unique and fun. No page turners, please. $8,500

Multimedia Expectations: Audio throughout the course and an animation and video on almost every screen. $15,000

Number of Reviewers: Six. $8,000

Number of Review Cycles: Seven cycles, including two drafts of the design and script, two drafts of the programmed course and a legal review. $8,500

Susan’s project is more demanding and requires many more hours by more people to complete. Her organization’s need for an expanded review process also adds to the cost.

Simple Ways to Reduce the Cost of eLearning

For some reason, straightforward, realistic budget scenarios like these can be hard to come by. Since your needs for eLearning development likely fall somewhere in between Ian and Stephanie’s extremes, you should now find it easier to project the real cost of an eLearning program.

When you’re looking for ways to save money on eLearning development, consider the following tips:

  • Less reviewers: Control the size of your review team, if possible. More reviewers means more differing opinions, more edits, and more time spent on making small changes to a course.
  • Less review cycles: How many review cycles do you need? Adding extra review stages can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a course.
  • Use multimedia strategically: Only use audio and video when it enhances the learning: Don’t use it as a decoration. Audio, video and fancy animations should all be serving a purpose in a course. If they are making a key point and essential to the learning, great. If not,

Resource for Projecting eLearning Budget and Timeline

Need more help budgeting your course and figuring out a project timeline? Fill out our contact form and we’ll send you a PDF to get you started.

  • Guest

    We put a little calculator together that may help to determine e-Learning costs.

  • jason

    great article! We just went thought that process with ezelrn. we had a 45 min course and didnt pay anywhere near that price. I hope that cost is just an example!