Get the Best Online Course Platform for Your Knowledge Business

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This is the definitive guide for picking the best online course platform. 

I created it from real-world experience and extensive reviews of the top course creation platforms. My recommendations are informed and logical with specific advice on what to do that you can rely on.

In other words, this post differentiates the best of the best so you can make the right decision for your needs.

So, if you want to:

  • Learn about the best online course platforms
  • Understand their differences and thus suitability
  • Read in-depth reviews of each one
  • Learn more about online course creation

Then, you’ll love the super-detailed information in this post.

Note – it starts with my recommendations first, then goes through the in-depth analyses & reviews that underpin them.

The Best Online Course Platforms for 2021

  1. Recommendations
  2. In-Depth Reviews
  3. What is an online course marketplace?
  4. How to choose the right platform?
  5. FAQs

Disclosure: This site is a free resource that is supported entirely by its visitors. If you purchase a product or service here a referral fee may be received. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps create lots more useful content. Thank you.

1. Recommendations

Before we get down to it, it’s important to note that these course creation platforms are the best of the best.

For this reason, they’re all exceptionally good at the basics:

  • Fully managed solution – no technical knowledge required
  • Intuitive dashboard & user experience
  • Create and sell online courses
  • Web page builder with a custom domain
  • Effective customer support
  • Major business tool integrations (e.g. email marketing)
  • Learning analytics & course statistics
  • Totally reliable & secure hosting performance

So, you can’t really go wrong with any of these course creators. But, to help you make the very best decision I’ve specified exactly why they’re recommended based on their stand out features.

After reviewing them extensively I can honestly say the best online course platforms are:

  • Teachable
  • Thinkific
  • Kajabi
  • LearnWorlds

Which one suits you best?

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Teachable

Best for All-Round Value, Starting Out and Coaching

From $39 per month

Teachable is perfect if you want to get set up quickly, keep things clean and simple, and offer workshop and coaching sessions.

  • Set up multi-media lectures, workshops or coaching, very easily
  • Engage learners with polished courses and 1:1 call sessions
  • Minimise ‘build’ time by customising pre-made sales pages
  • Easily spread the word with your own affiliate marketing scheme
  • Save downtime with automated taxes and filing

Start a 14-day free trial here:

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Thinkific

Best for Brand Building, Beginners & Ease-of-Use

From $49 per month

Thinkific offers the perfect balance between value & features for the vast majority of course creators.

  • Enables truly engaging course creation
  • Market and sell courses with a full suite of business tools
  • Build your own student forums & community
  • Affordable pricing with zero transaction fees
  • Industry-leading support team for peace of mind

Get started with their free plan here:

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Kajabi

Best for Growth, Sales & Marketing and Business Owners

From $149 per month

Kajabi offers everything under one roof including built-in sales and marketing tools to actively grow your audience and revenues.

  • True all-in-one solution – powerful, convenient & empowering
  • Genuine value because all sales & marketing tools included
  • Drive the growth & engagement with your student community
  • Maximise revenue potential with unique sales features
  • Deepen your marketing skills by learning from the platform

Start a 14 day free trial here:

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LearnWorlds

Best for Creating Interactive & Unique Learning Experiences

From $29 per month

LearnWorlds enables the creation of unique interactive courses that increase engagement, maximise learning efficiency and guarantee satisfaction.

  • Digitise your knowledge in unique ways to maximise potential
  • Set your courses apart with incredible interactive learning
  • Build and grow thriving student communities that know you
  • Grow a strong brand with a stunning website and your own app
  • Build your own team of affiliates to generate leads & sales

Start a 30 day free trial here:

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Podia – Best for digital product sales & downloads (e.g. eBooks)

from $39 per month

In short, Podia enables you to easily sell digital products and downloadable content as well as uncomplicated online courses.

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LearnDash – Best for WordPress Course Creation & Selling

from $19 per year

LearnDash enables you to run everything from your WordPress dashboard. Create and sell courses without restrictions by having a near-limitless number of add ons and plugins for added functionality.

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Academy of Mine – Best for Professional Development, Institutional Training & Certification

$10k per year

Academy of Mine is aimed at corporate and institutional customers. Through live virtual training and webinars it combines the best of both worlds – online courses and in-person training all from within the platform.

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Still not sure?

In that case, there’s only one thing to do…

2. In-Depth Analysis & Reviews

Here you’ll find a deep investigation of the best online course platforms and subsequent findings that underpin my recommendations above. 

Get comfy, grab a nice drink and settle in.

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Teachable

Best for Overall Value, Starting Out & Coaching

Teachable came to be in 2015 after it’s predecessor, Fedora, grew continually over the previous two years by offering better customizations and more profitable payment system.

Nowadays, Teachable is one of the largest online course platforms with more than 100,000 instructors that have earned over $£500 million to date.

What’s more, they offer great support and some services that have expanded beyond the norm that now include workshops, authorship, coaching services, and annual tax filing.

As online course platforms go, Teachable is the probably the most simplistic both in terms of set up but also customisations. This suits those beginners who lack confidence with new software and are happy to keep things straight forward.

Teachable’s super-simple user experience and set up process makes it ideal for those getting started.

After signing up, you can immediately begin building courses to your liking with ready-made templates. Customizations are simplistic and therefore very easy to apply meaning you’ll make real progress quickly.

The dashboard is your single point of operation and a great interface that also covers pay-outs, taxes, affiliates, and sales beyond the basics.

Notable Features:
  • The simplest and easiest to use online course platform
  • Managed Solution – no technical knowledge or skill required
  • Varied course content – quizzes, staggered content, multimedia lectures
  • Different learning options – coaching, workshops, live sessions
  • Customise pre-made sales pages with a custom domain
  • Help others raise awareness with affiliate marketing tools
  • Talk to your students live with one on one sessions
  • Student feedback & engagement using forms and surveys
  • Course analytics – get insights on your audience’s learning
  • Offer payment options – subscriptions, memberships, coupons, bundles

Benefits:
  • Set up multi-media lectures, workshops or coaching, very easily
  • Engage learners with polished courses and 1:1 call sessions
  • Minimise ‘build’ time by customising pre-made sales pages
  • Easily spread the word with your own affiliate marketing scheme
  • Save downtime with automated taxes and filing

Pricing 

All paid plans include a 30-day refund policy, unlimited courses & students, and an excellent customer care team.

Annual sign-ups are discounted to $29, $99 and $249 per month respectively.

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Thinkific

Best for Simplicity, Affordability and Beginners

Thinkific was conceived by co-founder Greg Smith to do one simple thing with his course: reach more students. Today, it is used in 190 countries and enables over 50,000 course creators to do what they love.

The founding value of ensuring you, the course creator, have complete control over your content and data underpins everything at Thinkific.

As a result, their all-in-one platform is primed for you and your audience with a genuine support team that’s widely regarded as industry-leading.

Thinkific’s course builder works with different types of content (videos, quizzes, surveys for eg) which can then be delivered in various ways. You can make unlockable learning paths with respective prerequisites, stagger the content, issue certificates and form a dedicated student forum.

Thinkific offers unbeatable value for course creators who want to grow a student community under their own brand.

Brand building is the other strength at Thinkific. It’s possible to fully customise modern and impactful website themes into highly engaging sales pages with your domain and logo.

Notable Features:
  • Superb Interface & Aesthetics – nice and clean user experience
  • Fully Managed Solution – no technical know-how required
  • Build Your Course – upload videos, create quizzes then drag and drop
  • Website Builder – fully customizable to showcase your brand
  • Offer memberships, subscriptions, coupons & free trials
  • Create & issue certificates for courses and learning paths
  • Support Your Students – course discussions & automated progress emails
  • Business & Marketing Apps – integrate with over a 1000 tools
  • Global reach – change your site language with one click

Benefits:
  • Enables truly engaging course creation
  • Market and sell courses with a full suite of business tools
  • Build your own student forums & community
  • Affordable pricing with zero transaction fees
  • Industry-leading support team for peace of mind

Pricing 

All paid plans include a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, unlimited courses & students and the #1 support team in online education.

What’s more, Thinkific will never take a cut of your revenues and annual sign-ups are discounted to $39, $79 and $399 per month respectively.

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Kajabi

Best for Growth, Sales & Marketing and Business Owners

Since their launch in 2010, Kajabi has enabled over 50,000 users in 120 countries whilst serving 60 million students in exchange for $1.5 billion in sales.

By bringing together all pieces of a successful course business on one convenient platform, Kajabi lets ambitious course creators and entrepreneurs (like you) get started and grow faster.

As Kenny Rueter, co-founder and CEO, explains “Kajabi helps serious business owners get unstuck and just keep going.”

With Kajabi, you can host, promote and sell your courses which can be made up of different types of content and structures. The whole thing has a ‘premium’ feel which adds up to a highly engaging professional experience for your learners.

The jewel in the crown is the sales and marketing features which include everything you need to grow an audience and revenues. From fully automated marketing campaigns to sales funnel blueprints for lead generation, product launches and webinar promotion, it’s all there.

Kajabi is for knowledge entrepreneurs who are intensely focused on growing their course business all-under-one-roof.

The website design options are impressive with numerous themes that can be heavily customised and also incorporate your logo and domain. Additionally, you can create learning paths, assessments and even a fully functioning blog if content marketing is on the cards.

Notable Features:
  • Creation options – teach, coach, train and consult
  • Integrated tools – landing page, course & website builder
  • Full suite of promotional tools including content marketing (blog)
  • Guided sales pipelines and funnels for maximum conversion
  • Broad monetization – subscriptions, gated content, memberships
  • Community engagement – forums, discussions and live events
  • CRM – automate key customer interactions with insightful metrics
  • Authentic all year round customer support

Benefits:
  • True all-in-one solution – powerful, convenient & empowering
  • Genuine value because all sales & marketing tools included
  • Drive the growth & engagement with your student community
  • Maximise revenue potential with unique sales features
  • Deepen your marketing skills by learning from the platform

Pricing 

All paid plans include a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, unlimited courses & students and excellent customer support.

Annual sign-ups offer a 20% discount to $119, $159 and $319 per month respectively.

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LearnWorlds

Best for Creating Interactive & Unique Learning Experiences

As a platform, LearnWorlds focuses on the learning experience and creating long-lasting connections between you and your students. It does this by offering immersive ‘learning ecologies’ that allow them to interact with the content, you and each other.

LearnWorlds offers a fully customizable, white-label solution with unique interactivity features for truly engaging and connected learning.

Features that set it apart are being to able to create interactive videos & eBooks, custom private courses, and advanced assessments. What’s more, learners can discuss issues, ideas, and share their experiences with each other both privately or in groups.

Additionally, it has a uniquely powerful page builder that offers fully customizable templates, varied design blocks, functional widgets, adaptive content and even a blog if you wish.

LearnWorlds is a complete solution with exceptional built-in sales & management tools to grow your audience and increase revenues.

Notable Features:
  • Concierge onboarding to get set up properly
  • Interactive video editor & eBook reader
  • Advanced quiz & assessment engine
  • Automated certificates & learning paths
  • Student community builder & private groups
  • Adaptive website content for different users & devices
  • Integrate with all the major business tools
  • Offer promotions, subscriptions, course bundles, free & private courses
  • Affiliate program – set up partnerships to increase sales

Benefits:
  • Digitise your knowledge in unique ways to maximise potential
  • Set your courses apart with incredible interactive learning
  • Build and grow thriving student communities that know you
  • Grow a strong brand with a stunning website and your own app
  • Build your own team of affiliates to generate leads & sales

Pricing 

All paid plans include a 30-day refund policy, unlimited courses & students, and an excellent customer care team.

Annual sign ups are discounted by 20% to $24 (save $60), $79 (save $240), and $249 (save $600) respectively.

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Podia

Best for Digital Product Sales

Since 2014, Podia has remained committed to building the most creator-friendly tools to help you sell online courses, digital downloads, membership subscriptions.

Podia is an online platform that enables the creation and selling of online courses, memberships and digital downloads (eBooks for eg). As of this year, it has 25,000 creators registered and continues to grow with a solid reputation.

In short, Podia is perfect for selling digital downloads alongside modern-looking & uncomplicated courses.

As online course platforms go, it has unique strengths but also a couple of key weaknesses.

On the one hand, Podia enables you to easily sell digital products and downloadable content. What’s more, these act as lead magnets and lead to increased sales opportunities (upsell an online course at checkout).

On the other, however, the course creation tools and website builder are not as powerful as the competition. Whilst the pages look great out of the box, the builder isn’t as sophisticated so they’re not as customisable.

Due to its out of the box simplicity, Podia is a streamlined setup experience that includes a free migration (of existing content) and is very easy to get going (because there’s less to do).

Notable Features:
  • Intuitive & streamlined user experience
  • Managed Solution – no technical knowledge or skill required
  • Sell your knowledge – courses, webinars, memberships & lectures
  • Simple, clean and modern aesthetic throughout
  • Adequate storefront & course builder (incl dripped content & paths)
  • Engage your membership with dedicated material
  • Affiliate & email marketing tools to grow sales
  • Unique live chat function to interact with your students
  • Customer support by real people who care

Benefits:
  • Quickly create & sell your knowledge products
  • Out-of-the-box convenience that’s affordable
  • Uncomplicated functions & marketing tools unlock success quicker
  • Peace of mind on the technical side

Pricing 

All paid plans include a 30-day refund policy, unlimited courses & students, and an excellent customer care team.

Annual sign ups save $78 & $158 respectively.

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Academy of Mine

Best for Professional Development, Institutional Training & Certification

Academy of Mine is unlike the other options in this review because it is aimed at institutional customers. For this reason, the value it represents is different along with the price which includes custom course design and building.

They will bring your training to life with self-paced courses using raw content from video, audio, PDF, PowerPoint, HTML, SCORM, TinCan, quizzes, assignments, and discussions.

Live virtual training and webinars allow you to combine the best of both worlds – online courses and in-person training all from within the platform.

Create beautiful sales pages for your courses that link the LMS to your website thereby showcasing your course catalogue. As a result, visitors can browse everything your eLearning platform has to offer.

Notable Features:
  • In-person & virtual course creations
  • Free custom development included in price
  • Dedicated account manager
  • 100% white label a custom platform as your own
  • Extensive eCommerce functionality
  • Course drip & locking
  • Group onboarding service
  • Limitless software integrations made to order if necessary
  • 24/7 customer support

Benefits:
  • Solve all your training needs on one custom platform
  • Deliver engaging professional training, development & certifications
  • Leverage your platform to onboard new employees effectively
  • Distribute knowledge and training to underpin business growth
  • Unbeatable value all from one platform & service provider

Pricing 

Academy of Mine pride themselves on being priced reasonably without hidden charges. Everything is discussed up front.

Group Onboarding feature: sell course seats in big numbers and delegate the complete student management process to Academy of Mine.

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LearnDash 

Best for WordPress Course Creation & Selling

LearnDash enables you to run everything from your WordPress dashboard and create courses without restrictions. What’s more, courses are structured using leading online learning principles to maximize your content delivery and increase completion rates.

The user interface is easy to use despite having sophisticated marketing & sales features. Simply, set your price and payment schedule then start taking orders. From on-time purchases, memberships and subcriptions, to course bundles and bulk access, you have complete control.

LearnDash is best for anyone who’s already using WordPress and wants full control over their course business.

Notable Features:
  • Distraction-free branded learning portal for your learners
  • Dynamic content delivery like drip-feeding or require viewing
  • Advanced quizzing with question banks & custom messaging
  • Award official badges and certificates
  • Course-specific discussion forums
  • Gamification using course points to unlock new material
  • Wide-reaching app integrations (eg ConvertKit, Zapier, WooCommerce)

Benefits:
  • Super convenient yet powerful course creation in your website
  • Radically increase engagement with your website visitors
  • Create new revenues by digitising your knowledge
  • Grow your business brand and stand apart from your competition

Pricing

Prices start at $159 per year.

All paid plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee, unlimited courses & users, and 1 year of support & updates (renewed annually).

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3. What is an online course marketplace?

Online course marketplaces are not the same thing as online course platforms. The two terms are used interchangeably and offer the same thing in theory: you upload content, create a course and sell it to people.

However, there are two significant differences.

Firstly, marketplaces typically allow you to create a course for free but take a share of the revenue, typically between 25-75%. The course will become part of a catalogue and whilst you can customise the course landing page, you can do little else.

Secondly, a course marketplace has, by definition, an existing student base to sell to which is a major advantage. To put this in perspective, Udemy reported over 35 million students and 57,000 instructors as of January 2020.

What does this mean for a course creator?

There is no right or wrong answer, obviously, just a few facts to bear in mind.

Whilst you get a ready made audience on a marketplace, you’re giving up a lot of revenue in return.

Also, it’s not possible to build your own knowledge business, and brand, on a marketplace. They don’t give you any of the features needed for that unlike the platforms recommended above.

I’ve actually taken courses on Coursera, Udemy, Edx and Udacity and got a lot out of them. There is nothing wrong with these marketplaces; they’re respectable places to learn and sell courses.

However, they’re competitive by nature and, as a result, tend to be more about volume-based sales.

‘Stack it high, sell it cheap’ might work for you if your topic is popular or trending. Of course (no pun intended), if this isn’t the case you might end up spending a lot of time and effort for little reward.

The best thing to do is check them out yourself and work out where your knowledge and teaching is best suited. Better still, take one of the top courses in your subject.

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The Best Online Course Marketplaces

Coursera

Launched in 2012 by two Stanford professors, Coursera has grown massively over the past few years to become one of the largest learning platforms offering some of the best open access lessons in the world. They Partner with 190 companies and universities to provide fully remote and self-paced learning opportunities. 

At the end of your chosen course, you receive a digital certificate at undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. User satisfaction is high with 87% of users reporting career benefits after using the platform.

Coursera runs over 3,900 courses and offers specialized programs in the following areas; computer science, business, arts/humanities, physical science/engineering, and language learning. 

Udemy

Udemy is considered the largest online learning platform currently available, they offer over 150,000 courses in 65 languages.

Students who pay for premium content are given access to all premium features such as direct messaging, Q&A, and certificates (offered at the end of your chosen course)

Udemy courses are divided into 11 comprehensive categories ranging from health and fitness to office productivity and photography. There are also personal development courses available on the platform designed to help users manage stress, improve self-esteem, and build meaningful relationships.

eDx

eDx, which is one of the major Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms is a combined enterprise between Harvard and MIT.

There are over 2,500 courses offered in partnership with 140 universities covering popular subjects such as data science and humanities. Students can also take computer science courses like front-end and full-stack development, coding, and cybersecurity.

eDx uses an open-source learning system that enables technologists and educators to enhance their MOOCs freely and include tools that help meet the unique needs of their numerous students. 

Besides the professional certificates on offer, students have the option of earning college credits through the MicroBachelors and MicroMasters programs.

With eDx, you can even attain complete online graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines.

Udacity

Udacity is a for-profit MOOC platform with an emphasis on career development. They achieve this by offering vocational and technical courses online. They have courses divided into six areas of study including cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. 

There are also programming classes in Blockchain, C++, and Android development available. The platform also offers MOOCs on product management and marketing analytics skills. 

Besides these useful courses, Udacity provides full career services like personalized job coaching, best practices for LinkedIn, and guidance on resume writing.

With the Udacity Talent Program, users can create detailed profiles and engage with leading employers like Mercedez Benz and Google.

Canvas Network

Canvas Network is a platform whose focus is on providing professional development classes for school administrators, teachers, and other educational authorities. Their MOOCs are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Canvas operates like other related platforms by offering free and self-paced online courses. Educators gain an extra benefit from Canvas’s open licensing options that enables them to share and re-use contents freely and also integrate third-party tools to help them achieve their objectives.

Teachers are able to create and run their own MOOCs to reinforce conventional classroom teaching.

Cognitive Class

Cognitive Class is a platform created by IBM to ensure a widespread data education through free classes for both students and experienced IT professionals. They were originally known as Big Data University. 

Students can take the courses at their own pace, there is no set timeline for completion. The topics covered in Cognitive Class’ MOOC include digital analytics, Python for data science, as well as regression and reactive architecture.

Learners have the option of taking some more general learning paths which may mean taking a series of classes on wide subjects like scala programming and deep learning.

Cognitive Class does not just offer pre-recorded programs, they allow students to practice what they have learned in a virtual lab environment. At the end of the courses, students receive verified digital badges that are shareable and recognized within the industry.

FutureLearn

Futurelearn is an excellent open online learning platform established in the United Kingdom in 2012 through the collaboration of 12 universities including the University of Leeds and King’s College London. There are about 418 courses available on the FutureLearn platform.

These courses span areas like the future of globalization, ecology and wildlife science, digital product management,IT, cyber and business. Students can also obtain micro certificates from major universities and top companies.

FutureLearn also offers affordable online academic programs that enable users to gain a Master of Science in cybersecurity or Bachelor of Arts in international business. Their platform differs slightly from other platforms in their course structure. 

FutureLearn courses are structured through narrative, with weekly to-do lists that help students remain active. Students who need one-on-one support can get that from a network of teachers.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is built on the philosophy that education is a human right. To achieve their set objectives, they provide full online courses that combine instructional videos, a personalized learning dashboard, and practice exercises. 

Khan Academy’s platform can be used by younger students with courses like English Language education, pre-algebra, AP chemistry, as well as U.S government and Civics. Most platforms do not offer courses at this level.

Learners are allowed access to preparation materials for standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, NCLEX-RN, GRE, along with the Praxis exams. Khan Academy also provides resources for teachers and parents who can allocate standards-aligned course materials and track student progress. With the networking tools made available by Khan Academy, users of the platform can connect with students and teachers around the world.

Kadenze

Kadenze is a for-profit organization launched in 2015 with 18 partner institutions which include the Rhode Island School of Design and Princeton University.

They provide MOOC courses on creative technology, visual arts, music, and other fields of study lagging behind as a result of the popularity of STEM education. Students are provided with self-paced, mobile-friendly content that allows them to display their abilities with expert portfolio tools.

Individual classes are available for project management for designers, cinematic storytelling, and sound production in Ableton. While most of Kadenze’ MOOCs are free of cost, students can pay to gain access to in-depth feedback and other high-quality content. There are curated programs available on Kadenze that allow for specialization.

Iversity

Iversity has its base in Berlin. It partners with numerous non-governmental organizations, companies, and universities across Europe to provide over 60 courses in German, English, and French.

The platform upholds industry standards with the aid of UX developers and web designers ensuring a user-friendly platform and student engagement. The platform also provides corporate training services through its “Iversity for Business” platform.

There are traditional MOOCs and fast-paced “Expresso” classes for students to choose from. These classes are in such areas as climate change and health, data-driven marketing, and international labor standards. There are also ‘Pro’ courses available on Iversity for which students are required to pay tuition. To save money, students can bundle their ‘Pro’ classes.

4. How to choose the right online course platform?

First things first, stop browsing.

Before you begin checking out all the options for creating online courses, it is vitally important to form a learning strategy. This will also need to weave into your business strategy as well, assuming you have one.

By trying to run before you can walk there’s a very high chance that you’ll waste a lot of time and effort, and worse still, make the wrong platform choice.

There are dozens of online course platforms and, respectfully, most aspiring course creators don’t know them well enough to discern one from another. Option overload sets in because you’ve no clear idea of what you need which results in a kind of mental paralysis.

The other risk is that all the bells and whistles begin influencing platform choice. Consequently, your course risks being more style than substance because you might try to shoehorn it into some ‘cool’ feature.

Clarify you’re learning strategy and objectives so there is a high-level plan of what you’re trying to achieve before you begin browsing platforms.

Don’t compare chalk to cheese.

This builds on the previous section which explains the differences between an online course marketplace versus a platform.

Ultimately, you need to work out which type of course platform is most appropriate. As I previously mentioned, the right answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve both at a learning and business level.

If its for a side hustle then a marketplace makes sense on a number of levels; if you want to build a knowledge business, it’s an online course platform every time because you need all the control they offer.

Whatever you do, make these decisions long before you go shopping. At least then you’re comparing viable options that are of the same nature.

Clarify the granular requirements properly

Once you’re clear about your strategy and the type of platform needed, it’s time to document some detailed requirements. By this, I mean the actual features you need the platform to have.

Again, don’t get caught up in what is ‘cool’. The features you need should be driven by your course content and the desired learning experience.

Of course, your priorities might evolve, particularly when you learn more about what is possible. There’s bound to be a bit of ‘pathfinding’ here which is ok because that’s how your course will come to life.

Refer back to you’re learning and course objectives regularly though to ensure your choice is influenced by real needs, not bells and whistles.

Remember, it’s not all about the platform.

As great as all the platforms in this review are, the most important piece of the puzzle is, of course, you.

If you follow the steps above and maintain focus on your objectives you can’t get this decision that wrong.

Ultimately, success will be borne out of engaging your students and teaching them something new, most of which will come from your brilliant course content.

Find the best platform option for your needs now, and the foreseeable future, then get going.

5. FAQs

What are Online Course Platforms?

An online course platform is a Learning Management System (LMS) that allows people to buy, or sell, digital classes. Nowadays, online courses are very similar to traditional ‘offline’ lessons.

In essence, a teacher provides engaging learning material through text, illustration, audio, and video. Students engage with the content and interact with exercises and assessments to test and retain the knowledge.

Online course platforms like Thinkific, Kajabi, Teachable and LearnWorlds are feature-packed so that course creators can develop top quality learning experiences.

Typically, the platforms charge monthly subscriptions on a tiered basis depending on the features offered.

What Types of Online Course Platforms Exist?

The different types of course platform can be broken down into loose categories:

Fully Hosted Platform

These platforms are most common and exist separately from your website (or any other). They’re powerful entities that provide everything required to create beautiful courses, as well as many other business-related tools and integrations. Thinkific and Teachable are perfect examples of hosted online course platforms.

All-in-One Platform

A true all-in-one platform offers the same as a standalone hosted platform but includes more advanced sales & marketing functionality. For example, Kajabi is just like Thinkific but also comes with powerful sales funnels and marketing blueprints for email campaigns, for example. It costs more money but justifies this, rightly so in my opinion, because everything you need really is under-one-roof.

WordPress Integration

It’s possible create and sell online courses on an existing WordPress website using a plugin. Plugins are functional add-ons for WordPress.

The best WordPress LMS plugin is LearnDash which is unbelievably easy to use. Not only that, it gives you absolute freedom and control to take your knowledge business anywhere you like.

Online Course Marketplace

As previously explained, these are large online entities where you can upload your courses for free and sell them to an existing customer base.

This makes things notionally easier, but you have virtually no control over anything but the sales page. Also, they take a sizeable cut of the sales proceeds unless you drove the buying traffic to your course directly (i.e. the customer did not originate on the marketplace).

What are online courses so popular nowadays?

eLearning offers people a way to learn new skills or broaden their expertise outside of the rigours of everyday life. Learners can study anytime they want and at their own pace.

Given that so many people want to upskill, change career and/ or earn extra money on the side it’s no surprise that online learning has exploded.

Can I connect a custom domain to my online courses?

Yes, and much more.

Pretty much all online course platforms allow you to use your domain name with the built-in website/ page builder. In other words, it can appear to be branded.

The best ones allow you to fully customize the website and sales pages with your branding (eg colours, logo and so on). This is critical if you’re building a knowledge business and also helps with sales conversions because it imparts credibility, professionalism and trust.

How much money can be made from selling online courses?

How long is a piece of string?

No online course platform will ever cap how many sales they’ll let you make (for obvious reasons!). So, in theory, the sky is the limit. Some people make serious money from selling their knowledge; others much less because they’re happy keeping it as a side hustle.

My advice is to focus less on the possibilities and more on the course creation and marketing. Making money is a by-product of nailing these two things.

What equipment do I need to create online courses?

Like all things involving technology, you can spend a small fortune on the very best equipment should you want to. But, producing high-quality course content doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Here are the essentials to get started properly:

  • Computer or laptop
  • Decent lavalier microphone
  • HD webcam or modern smartphone
  • Screen recorder
  • Audio & video editing software
  • Ring light and tripod

Which online course platforms have a blog feature?

Blogging is one of the cornerstones of content marketing which is defined as stimulating interest in products and services by educating people about them.

Most small businesses should probably consider starting a blog if building an audience of some kind is part of their strategy. Having said that, it is an extremely time-consuming task that requires full-time attention in order to succeed.

Platforms like Kajabi, Teachable and LearnWorlds all have in-built blog functionality from within the platform. Whilst this is ‘convenient’ they’re nowhere near as powerful as WordPress.

How do I start an online knowledge business?

The short answer is by selling fantastically engaging courses in your area of expertise that students love and want more of. Do this and the rest takes care of itself!

It’s not that simple, obviously, but in reality it’s actually not much more complicated either.

At the most fundamental level, a business is defined by its customers – no customers, no business. So, start there! Clarify the expertise you want to teach people then form your learning strategy which is how you’ll deliver said knowledge. Give your course(s) experience a name – it could be your name or something catchy and memorable.

Focus on these simple things then, in turn, pick a platform to create and sell your amazing courses.

Get this right, and let your students define your brand and business for you (which they will whether you like it or not ;-).

Can I create an online course for free?

There are a variety of online course platforms that offer free tiers, but the best is Thinkific. Whilst this allows you to build out and sell your course, it lacks some important features.

My advice is to treat any free plan’ (for any service) as a ‘try before you buy’ which you should upgrade from if all goes well. This is what they’re designed for which means their limitations are purposeful and often important.

Summary

Well… if you’re still with me, I hope you’ve learnt valuable insights into picking the right online course platform for your needs.

The e-learning and online course market is estimated to be worth $325 billion by 2025 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Digitising your expertise is a wonderful way to capitalise on being you. Get the right platform and a solid strategy and you could well run your own knowledge business down the line.

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