Do you want to sell online courses? Here’s the thing: There’s no better time to create and sell online courses than now. There are so many beginner-friendly course creation software to choose from, pretty much anyone can do it.
But there lies another problem. Which are the best online course platforms and how do you know which one you should use for your business?
Let us help. We’ve narrowed down the list to seven. Let’s talk about the strengths of each course builder so you can decide which of these is a better fit for your business.
What is the best online course platform?
- Thinkific – Best overall online course platform.
- Podia – Best for those who want to sell courses and other digital products.
- LearnWorlds – Best for budget-conscious course creators.
- Teachable – Best course platform for beginners.
- LearnPress – The best online course plugin for WordPress.
- Udemy – Most popular online course marketplace. You lose some control and revenue but get access to their built-in audience.
- Skillshare – Another popular online course marketplace. Similar to Udemy but more exclusive.
Now, let’s take a look at each platform in full.
If what you need is an easy-to-use course software that lets you launch your course in just a couple of minutes, then you can’t go wrong with Thinkific.
Thinkific gives you a bit of everything. You can create online courses using drag-and-drop functionality. That means you don’t need any special skills to publish and sell courses. This platform also lets you insert multimedia content like video lessons, quizzes, surveys, discussions, and Captivate files.
It also has features that improve your online classes such as private courses, prerequisite lessons, multiple instructors, drip schedule content, and membership infrastructure.
Creating a landing page is just as easy. There are themes for you to choose that you could tweak to match your branding. You can drag-and-drop elements to customize your page and use your own domain if you already have one.
There’s also a student tracking feature so you can monitor your student’s progress at any time.
This online course platform also comes with marketing tools to help you promote your online course creation. The payment solutions available make sure that you get paid immediately. It accepts all credit cards.
The best part about it is that Thinkific has a free plan. And while it only gives you limited access, it’s more than enough to get a feel for how it works.
Price: Basic Plan ($49/month), Pro Plan ($99/month), Premier Plan ($499/month)
Learn more in our Thinkific review.
Podia is a good online course platform for those of you who want to go beyond selling online courses. If you have plans on selling other digital products like ebooks, audio and video files, guides, and PDFs, then this is the online course platform for you.
Like other online course platforms, you get all the creature comforts you’ve come to expect like the ability to add text and multimedia files. There’s no ceiling on how much data you upload. You get unlimited bandwidths, products, and customers.
You can have customers access all of your content at once. Or you can use drip content to control the pace at which they progress. You can do quizzes and engage users through the comments section.
The interface itself is clean, making it appealing to those who tend to get overwhelmed easily. You can adjust your site’s look to match your branding. And thanks to the live preview, you get to see all the changes you make in real-time.
Podia offers free migration and live chat customer support. You can also communicate with the team via email.
On top of all that, you get access to features like memberships, webinars, customer messaging, and email marketing tools.
You can sign up for the 14-day free trial or the live demo to learn more about this platform’s course builder services.
Price: Mover ($39/month), Shaker ($79/month)
Learn more in our Podia review.
LearnWorlds is one of the more affordable course platforms on this list. And yet, it still manages to pack in features that make it worth every penny.
Here you can create an online course business quickly. The page builder is not only fast and reliable, but you can also optimize landing pages for search engines. There are templates available that will allow you to create a site without the need for coding. You can also insert animations, timers, and pop-ups.
You’ll have more than enough tools to make your site stand out from other course developers.
As for the online course creator features, there are lots to like here. Aside from the features that you’d come to expect, there are additional ones like synchronized transcripts and interactions.
Interactions let you add questions, titles, pointers, and other elements that make your course more engaging. And the best part? You can add interactions on the fly. No need for post-production work.
And yes, there are also tools that will aid you in growing your audience. You can introduce coupons and promotions. You can do memberships, subscriptions, and bundles. You can even use affiliate marketing to have students sell your course for you.
This online course platform even has white-labeling capabilities.
Once students take your online course, you can monitor their progress using the built-in analytics tools. This platform really has everything you might need to be competitive on online course marketplaces.
Price: Starter ($29/month), Pro Trainer ($99/month), Learning Center ($299/month), High-Volume & Corporate (Contact LearnWorlds for Quote)
Learn more in our LearnWorlds review.
Teachable is one of the best online learning platforms for newbies because it’s well-balanced. It manages to keep things simple while offering all the features you need to compete with other course creators.
This platform lets you start making online courses right away. It’s as simple as filling in details and adding the elements you need.
From the dashboard, you’ll have a glimpse of all the options made available to you. You can configure your landing pages, develop your online courses, go over the reports, manage your students, set your pricing and drip content, and look at comments.
For those of you who plan on subscribing to either the Pro or Business plan, you have the ability to create certificates of completion. Some students look for courses online that provide certificates so this could boost your sales.
Other features include third-party integration that enables marketing automation.
All plans include unlimited video, courses, and hosting. You also get integrated payment processing. You can create basic quizzes. And the platform automatically handles EU VAT for you.
The Basic plan does have a 5% transaction fee. But for the rest of the plans, there are zero transaction fees.
Price: Basic ($39/month), Pro ($119/month), Business ($299/month)
Learn more in our Teachable review.
LearnPress is one of the learning management systems (LMS) built for WordPress. What does a WordPress LMS plugin do exactly? You can look at it like software that manages and tracks training and development of e-learning programs including online courses.
LearnPress does not have a free plan because the plugin itself is free to use. Of course, this wouldn’t do you any good if you’re not a WordPress user. Also, since this is a WordPress plugin, you won’t find some of the features present on other course platforms online.
So what can you do with the LearnPress learning management system?
You can create, manage, and sell courses. LearnPress supports billing methods like PayPal, WooCommerce, and Stripe. It’s also possible to interact with your students through the WordPress forum.
The plugin might look bare-bones but it is one of the few WordPress plugins that allow you to easily come up with an online course for profit. Sure, it doesn’t have features like a mobile app or email marketing features. But it is a simple e-learning platform that’s a great addition to any WordPress site.
Udemy is the best platform for people who only care about one thing: creating their course.
As you may have noticed, the other platforms in this list let you manage your site down to the last detail. And for most people, that’s exactly what they want.
But then, there are those who’d rather spend their time making the greatest course they possibly can. If you belong in this camp, then you’d love Udemy.
Udemy eliminates the need to build a website. You won’t even have to bother with finding an audience. Udemy already has a community that’s just waiting for new courses to come in.
All you have to do is plan your course, record your video, and then take care of the audience you develop.
How does it work?
You don’t have to pay Udemy to open an account or to submit a course. However, Udemy will take a cut of your sales. You take 25% to 50% revenue share depending on whether you used Udemy to promote your course or not.
You can read about Udemy’s revenue share model here.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether this is the right revenue model for you or not.
Who hasn’t heard of Skillshare at this point, right? Anyone who’s thought of online teaching surely looked into this platform. Skillshare’s top earners get around $100,000 a year. So yes, this online learning platform is definitely a great place to make a living.
It works in a similar way as Udemy. You can create courses for free. And the platform will take care of the backend along with the marketing challenges.
In exchange, you split the profits with Skillshare.
As noted on their site, Skillshare prefers its teachers to be working professionals, experts, and subject-matter enthusiasts. However, Skillshare allows you to create a course so long as it meets its class quality guidelines.
The transaction fees for this online course marketplace are a bit tricky to compute. That’s because, unlike other online course platforms, Skillshare is a subscription service that uses a royalty pool system.
Skillshare will compute how long paying members watched your content. Here’s Skillshare’s explanation of how its royalty-based revenue system works.
Again, you would have to decide if this is how you want to earn money. The built-in audience is great. But if you want more control over your course sales, you should look into the other course website platforms we discussed earlier.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the most asked questions on the topic of online course platforms.
What is the best online course platform?
Thinkific is the best online course platform on our list. However, LearnWorlds isn’t a bad option either because of its features and affordable pricing.
But in the end, your decision should be based on what you need. If you’re a WordPress user, for example, then you’d have no choice but to use a plugin like LearnPress.
Which free software is the best for online learning?
Thinkific has a free plan but it is limited. If price is the one factor that’s stopping you from building your course, then you should start using Udemy or Skillshare. These platforms will let you create a course and take a cut of your revenue. But they do give you an audience in return. They also give you a place to post your courses.
What is the best learning management platform for online courses?
We were quite happy with what LearnPress has to offer despite having limitations. It’s more than capable of helping you make a profit from the courses you publish.
How do I create an online training course?
You need to have a plan. Think about the topic you want to discuss then do some research. Once you’re ready, you can go ahead and create your training course. Make some video edits. When you’re done, then you should quickly upload it and promote the new content.
Can I earn money teaching online?
Yes, you certainly can. Skillshare’s top earners get around $100,000 a year. That’s not a bad payday at all. You can make even more money if you use platforms that do not take profit directly from your bank account.
There are even platforms like Podia that lets you download other digital products. This is great especially if you’re looking to upsell products like ebooks, music, videos, PDFs, and other products of a similar nature.
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