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Online education platform Kajabi helps creators earn money for sharing their expertise

Kajabi, the video education and web hosting platform for content creators to sell, manage and market online courses, announced today that its 60,000 creators earned a combined $5 billion in lifetime gross merchandising value (GMV).

The company claims that its GMV has increased by 528% since 2019 and more than doubled since the end of 2021. The $5 billion figure is a significant jump from March 2020, when Kajabi had over $1 billion in creator revenue, former chief marketing officer Orlando Baeza previously told TechCrunch.

Founded in 2010 by Kenny Rueter and Travis Rosser, Kajabi gives “How to,” Do-it-Yourself (DIY) and other knowledgeable content creators the ability to monetize their online courses and other digital products like virtual meetups, coaching programs, membership websites and podcasts.

Kajabi is now valued at over $2 billion, according to the company.

The GMV milestone comes on the heels of Kajabi launching its AI Creator Hub product, which gives users access to six AI-powered tools that help generate content such as course outlines, landing pages, sales emails, course lessons, social media content and sales video script. The tools, which are free for everyone to use, rely on GPT-3, OpenAI's language model.

Another AI-powered feature, Creator Studio, launched in beta recently and transcribes a video, reads through the script and identifies key sentences to create a summary of the video.

“What [AI] does for people who want to build businesses is give them a nudge in the right direction to actually get going,” Ahad Khan, CEO of Kajabi, told TechCrunch. “[The tools] actually help you get going which is, a lot of the time, the thing that slows people down.”

Kajabi found that it takes an average of over 80 hours to create an online course. By entering a prompt into the new AI Creator Hub, the company hopes content creators will be able to brainstorm ideas easier and minimize time typing email campaigns and other content.

In addition to helping users “sell their knowledge,” so to speak, Kajabi’s toolkit includes a website builder, email marketing software, sales funnel software, a payment gateway, as well as analytical tools to help creators determine the best sales strategy. Essentially, Kajabi aims to be an all-in-one platform for users by consolidating the necessary tools to run a video education business.

“That [software] toolset, historically, has been really fragmented,” Khan added. “You use X for your website, use Y for your [products] and use Z for your checkout. What Kajabi does is consolidate all that stuff into one easy-to-use platform…it's a lot simpler to have it under one roof, and also a lot cheaper to have it under one roof.”

In 2022, Kajabi launched a built-in live video feature with a recording capability, so creators can virtually meet face-to-face with their clients and have the recorded sessions automatically emailed to them. The company also acquired the community platform Vibely last year to roll out Kajabi Communities, where creators can chat with their followers (or students) in real-time as well as have live calls, challenges, leaderboards and more.

The company plans to venture into the mobile world and eventually launch creator-branded apps, Khan told us.

The most enticing part about Kajabi is that users keep 100% of their earnings. That being said, Kajabi charges a pretty penny for its subscription plan, which has three pricing tiers: Basic ($149/month), Growth ($199/month), and Pro ($399/month). There’s also a 14-day free trial.

For comparison, the online course platform Thinkific also has a 0% transaction fee yet offers plans that range from $49, $99 and $199 per month. However, Kajabi claims to have more in-house marketing tools than Thinkific, such as the ability to build out sales funnels, create blogs and use email marketing that includes built-in features like autoresponder, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), templates for email campaigns and more. Kajabi also offers a mobile app whereas Thinkific has yet to launch one.

While some creators continue to rely on ads or brand deals to make money, other creators are turning to additional sources of income like online education, a market that was valued at $30 billion in 2021. According to Custom Market Insights’ recent market research study, the online education market size and share value are expected to reach about $200 billion by 2030.

Notable content creators that have signed up for Kajabi include YouTubers Matt Steffanina, a dance choreographer, and Cassey Ho (Blogilates), a fitness instructor that specializes in Pilates workout videos. Steffanina and Ho have approximately 30 million and 10 million followers, respectively, across social platforms.

“[Kajabi] allowed us a place to put content where the rules will never change… ideally, you want to have an element of social platforms that’s also providing an income because, at the end of the day, you never know when the algorithm or the rules are going to change. And that's something that I've learned over the years, as there were times when I was making most of my income from YouTube…and now, it’s Kajabi,” Steffanina shared in a statement.

Lesser-known creators have also found success with Kajabi. For instance, Wendy Conklin joined in 2019 with a DIY chair upholstery course. At the start, she had 114 students and earned $34,000 in one week, Conklin told TechCrunch. “I got close to $100,000 in the first year of opening and closing that first course,” she added.

Since then, Conklin has launched various other courses and founded her business, Chair Whimsy. Currently, she teaches more than 7,000 students and has made a total of over $1.5 million on Kajabi.

Kenny Keller, a certified helicopter flight instructor, launched his company in Kajabi in 2012. Helicopter Online Ground School (HOGS) provides training videos to people that want to become helicopter pilots. Keller has earned over $2 million in revenue with Kajabi and has more than 5,000 customers. HOGS has 37,000 YouTube subscribers.

The average Kajabi creator makes about $40,000 in annual income, according to the company, with one in three full-time content creators earning over six figures a year. Kajabi claims that most users who have reached $100,000 in revenue have a minimum of 400 customers on average.