Best Online Course Platforms: Ultimate Review Guide
Choosing The Best Online Course Platform For You
All-in-one Course Platforms are services you can build a course on and sell under your own brand. They often include additional services like email marketing and sales integrations to help you build an online business and find customers.
WordPress Course Builders are plugins you can add to your WordPress Site to create a course. This is our favorite option because you have full control over the design and functionality of your site.
Online Course Marketplaces are sites with thousands of courses from different authors. You can upload your course here for many customers looking to purchase courses to look at.
We reccomend choosing an All-in-one platform or WordPress so you can build your own brand and create monthly recurring revenue through building relationships with customers. – as opposed to selling your course for a one-time payment on a marketplace.
All-in-one Online Course Platforms
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. However, this option is more expensive and really only reccomended if you have an existing audience or revenue.
- 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
- Free option to try Thinkific
- $79/month is the most popular option
- $399/month full option offers unlimited sites and more development features
Teachable is a lot like Thinkific – but without the added gizmos of extra sales integrations and add-ons. This option is more specifically for building a course and sharing it with your audience. Choose from a selection of course templates and easily get plugging away on your course.
- Great course building functionality and design options
- 1-page checkout process, great for getting sales
- No Free Option
- $29/month + 5% of sales fees
- $99/month + no fees
- $249/month + no fees
Wordpress Course Builders
WordPress is our favorite platform for building online courses because of its extreme flexibility and affordability. It is 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.
When using WordPress you’ll most likely want to add-on a LMS (Learning management Plugin) so you can build your course and take subscription payments.
Memberpress is an awesome option for WordPress because you can both use it to create a proffesional looking course on your website, and also take payments from customers into your Stripe/Paypal account.
Memberpress integrates with several other platforms such as email services, marketing addons, and community discussion platforms so you can create a fully-fledged subscription business
For a full video review of Memberpress, check out the best membership plugins for WordPress
- Starts at $149/year
- $249/year and $349/year upgrade options
- This option is cheaper than monthly alternatives after a full year
Learndash is an excell LMS (Learning Management Software) plugin which allows you to create and design a course on your WordPress website. You’ll have lot’s of customization options for setting up a course how you want it.
Also, Learndash is feature rich with everything from quizzes to certificates for your students. You’ll also be able to integrate with popular platform to extend the functionality of your course.
$159 to purchase the full plugin, which comes with a full year of updates & support. You won’t have to pay for another year of service unless you want one of the plugin updates.
Online Course Marketplaces
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.
Not to mention, you are only making 25%-50% of the revenue from selling your own course. Check out the revenue structure:
Skillshare is similar to Udemy in the sense you can offer your course to Skillshare’s audience for a fraction of the sales. The main benefit here is that you can access Skillshare’s thousands of existing customers. This may be a good option if you want to test the waters with your course and see if people would purchase it.
However, if you are already building a full course, you might as well put it under your own website and brand so you can get the full benefit of generating a sale for your course.
Instructor Revenues: You get a percentage of Skillshare subscribers payments equal to the total percentage of minutes watched on your courses compared to other instructors. However, only 30% of the subscribers revenue is distributed among instructors.
Most Important Parts of an Online Course Platform
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.
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.