Are you looking for the right online course platform, but not sure exactly which you should use for your idea? Here at profitpermonth.com we have helped many online businesses build a sustainable income through online courses. Here we have compiled a list of the top online course platforms we think you should consider and why.
But first – here are the 4 important aspects you should be looking for in an online course platform – and why we think these components will help you decide which online course platform is best for you.
The Most important aspects of an Online Course Platform
(These are the 4 main encompassing features every great online course platform has). These are the 4 essential components for every successful online course.
- Online Course & Member Engagement System: This include member’s only area & locked training course pages – How well does the platform efficiently manage paid content automatically (without you needing to manually organize each piece of content)? This also includes systems for engaging your members over time through features such like drip-feeding and creating a community where your members can network.
- Frontend Website Design: Design of the main pages of your website – Homepage, Blog, and Sales Page. We want to make sure these pages look modern & professional and the overall customer-facing site of the platform is clean.
- Payment Gateway & Sales: Your online course platform will need to capture payments and organize members into their respective level so they can have access to your paid content. We want to make sure your online course platform integrates will the major payment gateways (Paypal & Stripe), and also has Sales Page features/integrations you can edit and improve your sales page.
- Sales/Marketing Tools: What tools does the online course platform include that will help you on the sales & marketing side of the business? Features such as affiliate programs & member engagement are important for growing your revenue.
Most of the platforms mentioned in this article are all-inclusive online course platforms, meaning they combine all 4 major aspects of a online course/membership site into one service to make creating an online course as easy as possible for you.
Other considerations when selecting one of these best online course platforms:
- Pricing: Some of these platforms cost significantly more than others – for example, you can setup your online course with drag & drop setup on Kajabi for $150/mo. OR, you could put a little more work in behind the scenes yourself using WordPress for next to $0/month (You would only need to buy your domain since it’s open-source and has many addon plugins that make building a website easy).
- Flexibility & Integrations: If you have any services you are certain you want to use (such as a email service provider or affiliate platform), we want to make sure these are compatible with your online course platform. Additionally, you’re online course is a adapting and growing business – we want to make sure you don’t start out on any platforms that are going to lock you in to that one service, or hinder your longer term growth potential. These platforms listed in this article are the best online course platforms so you won’t have to worry about growth problems with these.
Kajabi is the drag and drop solution for building an online course – great if you don’t want to mess around with the ‘techy’ side of stuff, and are just ready to create content and share it with your audience, Kajabi is the platform for you. You’ll be able to design your entire website, and have a fully operational online course website within a few hours.
- Extremely easy to setup and use
- Best All-In-One Drag and Drop online course platform
- Sales & Marketing Funnels to help you build your member base
- Starts at $149/month
- $199/month for more products, Email contacts, & members
- $399/month for more higher limits & code editor
- (Most pricey platform)
Thinkific is another online course platform which focuses on helping you build and grow membership websites. It may not be not as extensive as Kajabi in aspects such as sales page builders and marketing addons – they focus more on building a solid foundation for an online learning platform. This is a online platform is great for corporate/professional courses as Thinkific has and assists a lot of these high end clients. This is a great option for an online course platform if you are ready to upload videos & content and start selling them to your audience now.
- Includes essential online course components
- Resources to help you build & grow your online course
- Starts at $39/month
- $79/month is the most popular option
- $399/month full option offers unlimited sites and more development features
Udemy is one of the most popular online course options, with a large existing audience of people ready to take online courses. Thousands of people are already on Udemy ready to spend money – but is this a good platform for building your online course? We actually think that there are much better options for building an online course business. First of all, Udemy doesn’t have much freedom for customizing your course – you simply upload it onto their site and the rest is done. Seperately, Udemy course sales are a one-time payment transaction. This is a flaw because the most important aspect to building sustainable recurring revenue is building a relationship with your customers and giving them information and help over time.
WordPress is our favorite platform for building online courses because of its extreme flexibility and affordability. It iss the most popular website building platform, used by millions of websites around the world and supported by thousands of developers. WP is free to use and install and is a great base for any website – you can add in individual plugins to build your site exactly how you want it.
WordPress takes slightly longer than the other platforms to build your online course website from scratch, but will cost less in the long run and offers you full control of your website. This solution is not as ‘drag and drop’ as other platforms such as Kajibi or Thinkific, and requires more time to fully build an online course site. However, WordPress has much more development flexibility, so is better for people who want more control over their online course platform in the long run.
- Full control over every aspect of your website
- More plugins, features, and development support than any other platform
- Will require your own personal hosting/domain
- Free to use platform
- You will just need a WordPress membership plugin (paid or free, you decide)
A great option for keeping your setup simple, Memberful is a membership site platform that keeps course building simple without forfeiting the functionality of your site. What we love about Memberful is that they closely integrate with Zapier – a tool which makes integrating between services easier. This means you can easily connect your membership site with a community platform such as Slack/Discord, or give your members access to a certain tool or service.
- Can integrate with your already existing website (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc)
- Excellent Zapier integration gives you extreme control over what you can do with your memberships, without having to code
- $0/month +10% of your membership transactions
- $25/month + 5% of your membership transactions
- $100/month + 5% of your membership transactions
- Each plan allows for more features and integrations, with the highest plan adding in group subscriptions, and removing the Memberful branding.
You might be wondering why we added WordPress and Memberful to this list of the best online course platforms, since these platforms are mostly for building membership websites. Our view here at profitpermonth.com is that building a membership website as opposed to a single course, and creating a relationship with your audience rather than a one-time transaction is going to be better for building sustaining, recurring revenue long term. With an online course you sell your information one time, and the transaction is over. Creating a recurring revenue stream is essential if you want the ability to scale long term.