How To Set the Budget for the Creation of an E-learning Project!

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The cost of creating an electronic course depends on its complexity. If the project is simple, then $1,000 will be enough for it. But if you need a full-scale course with graphics and complex gamification, then such a product will cost dozens of thousands. In any case, it takes a little time to understand your needs and accurately calculate the costs of developing an online course. Let's look at the aspects to look out for when planning a budget.

What Things To Consider at the Very Beginning

First of all, you need to answer four sets of questions:

  • What is the target audience of the online course? Are you creating lessons for beginners or skilled learners? Do these people know the subject? What will be new for them in your course?
  • Why should they take online training? What problems will the electronic course solve?
  • What are the primary purpose and key benefits of the course? What should listeners learn, and how will it improve their lives in the future?
  • How to understand that the business has achieved its goals? What instruments will be used to measure this?

The answers will help you determine if you need to use interactive elements, game mechanics, professional voiceover, and animation in the course. By formulating a more precise course objective, you can better identify the resources needed and choose the course type.

There are three main types of online courses:

  1. Informational. These are traditional courses with slides. Their main goal is to deliver specific information to students. Moreover, it's suitable for online courses that require a lot of theory. In this case, you don't need to add some interactivity and gamification. It's much more critical to take some time to prepare the text and graphics of the class.
  2. Motivational. Their purpose is to induce specific actions. For example, a person has significant problems with time planning, and an urgent project needs to be completed by the end of the week. Motivational courses use both theoretical and practical lessons. Therefore, it's necessary to develop various games and tests for students.
  3. Training videos. In this case, we are talking about full-fledged training of specific skills. An online training course has a minimum of theory and a maximum of practice. Ideally, it should have a clear plot with a specific story. It will entertain the audience as much as possible.

Once you have decided on the type of course, you will better understand the scope of your online learning experience. After that, you can start planning your budget. If you chose a developer from your team, you could use the following formula for calculating:

(Cost per hour of developer's work) * (Overall time spent in hours) + (Cost per hour of work of an expert) * (Overall time spent in hours) = Cost of developing an online course

However, if you have conceived a complex project or don't have time to complete it, you will have to turn to freelancers for help. In this article, we will analyze every detail of e-learning development and estimate the cost of the work of professionals. We use data on prices from the Tagline digital agency (for the Russian market) and the Upwork freelancing platform (abroad).

Online learning development consists of four stages: scriptwriting, design creation, page making, and testing. Let's consider each level in more detail.


It's an essential part of the development of motivational courses as well as pieces of training. A well-crafted course makes it easier to cover complex topics and excites listeners.

In this case, you don't need the script if your task is to deliver a cold theory. For example, a short microlearning video covers one topic in 8-10 minutes. Therefore, thinking over the characters is not needed.

In e-learning, a particular specialist is responsible for creating a script - a methodologist. He is competent in developing a curriculum and puts teaching elements and principles of pedagogical design in the plot. The reason is simple: the plot should be fun and useful.

The work of a scriptwriter-methodologist from the CIS will cost at least 30,000 rubles. For this money, you will receive a script for a short online course that meets all the methodological recommendations.

A foreign specialist with Upwork will ask for at least $50 per hour of work. Therefore, a simple script with a linear plot, which will be written in 20 hours, will cost from $1000.

How To Save Money on the Script

The first option is to create the script independently or just find suitable material on the course subject. The less time a methodologist spends collecting data and writing a script, the more money will be saved.

You can also use ready-made content as a learning base (e.g., articles, videos, presentations, etc.). Complex tutorials will also be helpful, but they have to be adjusted to suit your course's needs. Therefore, in this case, you won't be able to get a discount.


A freelance designer from the CIS takes about 1800 rubles per hour of work, and a similar specialist from the United States will require a payment of $ 40 per hour. It will take about five hours to design pages or slides according to corporate style — pictures, text, and infographics.

You also need to pay due attention to the characters and locations accompanying students throughout the course, and it takes 3-5 days to draw them.

In general, the minimum budget for a designer from the CIS is 30 thousand rubles (or $1000 for a freelancer from Upwork).

Therefore, it's better to get an expensive design for materials that should form a positive opinion about the company offering online training.

How To Save Money on the Design

There are hundreds of eLearning templates available on the internet. Often, you can find free samples on the Dribbble and Behance platforms.

The templates for presentations are available on the official page of Microsoft and aggregator websites (PoweredTemplates, Slidesgo, SlidesMania, and others).

In addition, educational platforms offer comprehensive solutions for creating online course designs. A convenient constructor holds hundreds of styles, icons, and photos to create a top-notch design for online training.

Page Making

Often, designers don't just send the rendered images but also make the pages or slides independently. So, the layout designer sets up navigation, adds buttons for navigating between pages, an interactive menu (if necessary), and practical tasks (for example, quizzes, games, etc.).

For an hour of work, a layout designer from the CIS asks for about 2,000 rubles. The short course with a final test of 25 questions in the last lesson will take about 5 hours of work. Total: 2,000*5 = 10,000 rubles is the minimum amount you need to spend on the layout of the electronic course.

Now let's calculate the budget for the Upwork layout designer. The minimum rate is $60. Therefore, a short course with a final test will be typeset in 5 hours and cost 60*5 = $300.

However, this number can be higher if it's necessary to create a simulation of computer programs, interactive simulators for sales managers, or a full-fledged multi-level game. Such activities require more time to develop. In this case, the hourly rate of a layout designer with programming skills will be higher - from 3,500 rubles (or $80/h for a specialist with Upwork).

How To Save Money on the Page Making

It's a great idea to develop a universal template for creating new e-courses in the future. It will save money for the further development of online learning and maintain the same style of all materials.


The final step of work is the pilot launch of the online course. It's a kind of rehearsal for a full-fledged start of the educational business. For testing, a small group of students is selected. At the end of the training, they leave feedback on possible mistakes and improve the course. The best way to do this is filling a questionnaire, which consists of five points:

  1. Tips for improving the course. How convenient is the educational platform? What features need to be added or changed?
  2. The usefulness of the e-course. What new knowledge and skills did you gain after completing the course? What information will be most useful in the future?
  3. Illustrations and photos. Does the graphics help you learn the topic faster?
  4. Content presentation logic. How is the teaching material presented consistently? Are there grammatical errors and other faults?
  5. Practical tasks. Here students describe their experience in solving tests, and for example, how well the assignments correspond to actual work experience.

As for the budget, its minimum amount is 20 thousand rubles (or $500 for a QA specialist from the US). Moreover, this money is not for testing itself but for correcting possible errors.

Example of Calculating the Cost of the Course

To do this, we will choose an average 1-hour soft-skills course (about 70 presentation slides). It's necessary to involve to work:

  • methodologist (total time - 90 hours)
  • designer (total time - 90 hours)
  • developer (total time - 50 hours)
  • QA tester (total time - 20 hours)
  • manager (total time - 70 hours)

The total time spent on the development, editing, and approval of the project is 320 hours.

This is an example of calculating the course cost for freelancers from Russian and American freelancing platforms. The average rate for a specialist from the CIS is 1600 rubles per hour and $45 for a US-based freelancer:

Additional Expenses

If you want to add more interactive elements to your course, you should consider the additional development costs:

Narrator's work from 600 rubles for 1 minute of reading (from $100 for Upwork)

Voiceover helps make the course more lively, and the students will understand the topic of the course faster. Also, the translation of the text into audio format relieves the learning a little. You can save money if you do the voiceover dubbing of the lessons yourself.

Shooting a video - from 3000 rubles (from $150 for Upwork)

The videos help explain some of the complex aspects and processes. They are mandatory when teaching design, programming, or project management.

The average price for an operator from the CIS starts from 1800 rubles per hour ($50 for a US-based specialist). After that, you get high-quality footage (Full HD or 4K). Next, you need to involve an editor who will create a full-fledged video with effects. An hour of work for this specialist will cost at least 1200 rubles, and a similar editor from the United States will ask for $50.

Motion Design - from 18,000 rubles (from $1,500 for Upwork)

Motion Design is creating animated graphics and visual effects. It uses three channels of information perception at once - picture, text, and sound. Therefore, students will be able to work with the material more straightforwardly.

Visual effects are often used in image courses (for example, introductory classes on a broad topic or materials on working with specific products).

As for the price, one minute of finished animation will cost $600.

You can also add other options to your expenses (e.g., professional photography and translation services into foreign languages). Remember: all features need to meet your business demands.

Checklist: How Not To Overpay for the Course

  1. Provide the specialist with the complete source pack before starting work. Then the expert will estimate the volume of work correctly and name the final cost of services.
  2. Organize all materials. It will reduce the time spent by the methodologists who develop the script for your future course.
  3. Set clear goals and objectives for e-learning. It will reduce the number of edits along the way.
  4. Coordinate the staff who will agree on the course. Ideally, your employees should see each other's revisions and submit all comments in one document.

We hope you found our article helpful. If you have any questions about calculating the budget of the e-course, leave them in the comments below. We will be happy to answer them. See you in the following articles!