Online learning is a rapidly expanding industry. In the past year alone, online courses made over 46 billion dollars. If you have knowledge or skills to share, you can earn money teaching and selling online courses at any of the best online course platforms revealed in this article.
Keep in mind, outside of this “website stuff” I'm a bonafide college professor (See my Linkedin here).
I've been teaching online for roughly 8 years and I REALLY know my stuff when it comes to online course software. My recommendation is based on years of experience that you won't find in most other places.
That said, thanks to the advancement of technology, the barrier has dropped significantly to make courses, and there are now hundreds of tools dedicated to teaching and selling courses online.
But, because of this, it’s now harder than ever to figure out the right online course software for you. To help you cut through the clutter, I’ve researched dozens of the many options that exist right now to bring you the ones that offer truly unique features packed full of value.
In this guide, you’ll discover the best online course platforms to teach and sell online courses in 2020, as well as how to choose the right one to suit your needs.
For those of you that don't have the time to read this entire guide, my top recommended online course platform is Thinkific.
Not only do I use this platform myself for my own courses, but it has so much functionality that many of the other platforms are lacking. Pair that with the generous (and exclusive) free trial of their Pro+Growth plan, and I think this is a clear winner for beginners.
- What are Online Course Platforms?
- What are the Best Online Course Platforms?
- What are the Best Online Learning Platforms?
- How to Create Online Courses in 11 Steps
- What Should You Look For in an Online Course Platform?
- Easiest Online Course Platform For Beginners
- Best Online Course Platform For WordPress
- Best Online Course Platform For Entrepreneurs
- Best Free Online Course Platform
What are Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms are learning management systems (LMS) designed to offer easy access to digital classes.
Similar to offline lessons, virtual courses allow instructors to provide students with an engaging and organized learning experience through text, video, audio, image, and PDF files.
Students can follow along via the LMS software. They can take notes, and complete activities, exercises, and exams.
Online course platforms can be categorized as follows:
Standalone Course Creation Software: Options like Zippy Courses offer many customization features and are ideal for small businesses and solo edupreneurs.
All-in-One Course Platforms: Teachable and other similar platforms allow you to conveniently run your website and your course site together.
Course Marketplaces: In a marketplace, the course you create becomes part of a catalog and you get a pre-made market to sell online courses to. Examples of course marketplaces include Udemy and Skillshare.
WordPress Plugins or Themes: Online course platforms like LearnDash are ideal options for anyone who wants to keep it all within WordPress.
Basic plans for the different platforms range from free (Thinkific, Skillshare) to about $499/month (Academy of Mine), and are generally based on the level of features, number of courses, students, storage space, and so on.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the right software to teach and sell online courses.
But, by having a clear idea of what the different types of online course platforms are, as well as the pricing for each option, you will have a much easier time choosing the right one for you.
Are you more focused on engaging with your students?
Then you’ll want a course creator that offers interactive tools.
Do you want to free up more of your time so you can work on, instead of in, your business?
You need an all-in-one tool with powerful marketing automation features. If you choose the right one, it'll allow you more time as a solopreneur.
Are you looking to grow your brand quickly?
If so, then you stand to benefit from a course marketplace where you can leverage an existing audience.
Each of the tools listed below is a strong choice with a unique selling point. Depending on your specific requirements, any one of them could be a great fit. Read through the list to discover the right option for you.
What are the Best Online Course Platforms?
A great web-based platform ideal for building an online course from scratch (FREE or $39/month).
Thinkific is my favorite online course platform by far. They boast 51,000 course ceators and have helped people earn $340 million. So much so that I actually use the platform myself for my own courses.
This tool is an all-in-one solution that is extremely easy to navigate, even for complete beginners. It allows you to customize your course to match your existing brand.
The cloud-based software also lets you manage your clients, payments, course materials, integrations, and much more from the user-friendly dashboard.
Thinkific is best for businesses and entrepreneurs who want to keep things simple and run their entire business from a single convenient place.
- Drag and Drop Feature: Easily organize web content using this feature.
- Course Expiry: This tool allows you to set an expiry for each course.
- Whitelabel Capabilities: You can white-label your course materials for a more professional look.
- Facebook and Google Ads: The platform supports Google and Facebook advertising, and more.
- Reporting and Tracking: Thinkific offers advanced tools for effective reporting and tracking.
Pros of Thinkific:
- Provides full access to HTML and CSS
- Easy management and support for learners
- Supports more than 30 languages
- Robust marketing automation tools
- Free to start
Thinkific offers a free test drive that lets you try out all the software’s core features without investing any money upfront. Plans start at $49/month for the Basic package, and the Pro plan is $99/month.
What Are People Saying:
- “Thinkific offers the power and flexibility to help us achieve our business goals. If we had only started using Thinkific 1 or 2 years earlier, we’d have gotten to where we need to be so much faster.” Ryan Chynces – Hootsuite.
- “I use Thinkific because it’s the best online learning platform. It enables me to interact with my students, answer their questions, see how they’re doing – all without having to worry about building that technology for myself.” Kim Werker – Make it Mighty Ugly.
- “When I found Thinkific I knew I had found my perfect solution. It's honestly the best e-learning platform. If that isn’t enough to convince you, they are made up of the most helpful, kind, and generous people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.” Sarah Cordiner – Edupreneur Academy.
The best platform to transform your knowledge into an online course ($29/month).
Teachable is a close second on my list of the best online course platforms. It's a cloud-hosted solution that offers a user-friendly course builder interface. You don’t need any advanced skills to create and sell online courses on this platform. The simple drag and drop course builder tool lets you create a course with just a few mouse clicks.
This is (statistically) the largest online course platform on the market. They have over 100,000 instructors on the platform and have helped people just like you and me earn over $500 million dollars.
Plus, some big names have chosen to use Teachable over all other platforms. I'm talking about people like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, and David Perell.
All you have to do is insert your content in the ready-made templates which you can then customize to look and function the way you want.
Everything can easily be set up via the dashboard, including payments, sales pages, and your affiliate center. There’s also an in-house payment processor to handle payments for you.
One other thing, Teachable has recently added “Discover” – which is an online course store on their platforms and they're putting a lot of effort into it right now, so I think that's poised to grow in the future. I can only imagine that if your course got featured, it may be a great way to increase sales.
Teachable is best for entrepreneurs and businesses that want quick setup and ease of use in order to have their online courses live in the quickest time possible.
- Import Content: Quickly import content from Google Drive, One-drive, and Dropbox.
- Course Certificates: Issue certificates to students who complete your course.
- Multi-Media Lectures: Create engaging courses with video, text, audio, and PDF files.
- Integrate Google Forms: Use Google Forms to get feedback from your students.
- Convenient Payment: Accept payment from students in over 130 currencies.
Pros of Teachable:
- It offers a custom domain
- One-click checkout process
- Intuitive navigation functions
- Reliable technical support
- Powerful tracking and reporting
Teachable plans differ in price based on different features, which is great because you only have to pay for the features you need. Plans start at just $29 and each comes with unlimited students and courses. You can try out Teachable for free by signing up on the website.
What Are People Saying?
- “I made $169,000 from the launch of my first two online courses. Teachable made it incredibly easy to create high-quality products from scratch.” Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income.
- “What really has clinched it for me, why I chose Teachable, and why I love it and will continue to do my online courses with Teachable, is the great support that they have.” Julia Stoian, Live. Write. Thrive.
- “Ninety-five percent of my income comes from online courses. They are literally the perfect product. They’re scalable, fun to make, and you help a lot of people. ” Mariah Coz – Marketing for Course Creators.
This web-based software is perfect for putting up your new digital storefront ($39/month).
Podia is an easy-to-use software that has everything a digital publisher needs to create and sell courses online. The platform is third on our list of the best online course platforms and is designed to let you do everything from downloads to webinars to memberships without ever having to worry about the technical side of things.
It also offers live chat for easy communication with your students. With Podia, everything you need is at your fingertips. You can easily manage all aspects of course creation and marketing from your dashboard.
This includes course content, student communications, payments, affiliates, and much more. The user-friendly interface makes this tool a perfect one for anyone who wants to design eye-catching courses without a steep learning curve.
Podia is best for beginners and non-techie people who want a powerful, yet easy-to-use platform to help them get their online courses as quickly as possible.
- Combine Courses: This software lets you combine similar courses.
- Digital Downloads: Easy downloads of PDFs, checklists, ebooks, and more.
- Locked Content: Grant or remove access to content for any particular student.
- Email Marketing: Podia has powerful in-built email marketing automation features.
- Multimedia Courses: Include video, audio, PDF, images, text, etc. in your courses.
Pros of Podia
- Easily customizable to match your brand
- Live previews for your online courses
- Create individual ‘posts’ for students
- Integrate with various tools and services
- Free migration from other course platforms
Podia plans start at $39/month for the ‘Mover’ package. The ‘Shaker’ option is $79/month and it allows you to scale your online course business. You can try out the platform with a free 14-day trial.
What Are People Saying?
- “Podia literally allows me to put food on my table for my family while doing the work that I love.” Justin Jackson – Podcast host, teacher, and author.
- “The presets are amazing but even better is the customer service!! I had a few issues and questions and they were so quick to respond and helped me in every way possible. Will def be back.” Kelly Bessery – Photographer.
- “Whatever the weather or if Mercury is in retrograde- these guys will go on a limb to help you out. Fantastic presets but most importantly their customer service is amazing and that’s what makes a good small business! Happy to support :)” – Maria Kanno.
The best option for selling online courses from your own website ($24/month).
LearnWorlds is a robust online course creation tool that is designed to help you start monetizing your skills and knowledge immediately. If you already have an audience, this is the best platform to help you market your online course to them.
The sales pages and payment process are all optimized to get you high conversions and increase sales. Anyone can easily create a course on this platform, thanks to the simple drag-and-drop editor. No prior experience is needed.
You get everything you need to build high-quality courses and sales pages from your user-friendly dashboard, including responsive templates and marketing automation. This software has all the tools necessary to satisfy every digital information publisher’s needs.
LearnWorlds is best for both beginner online course creators and advanced digital trainers who want powerful marketing features like popup text, interactive ebooks, and social learning tools.
- Powerful Page Builder: Fully customizable quick-start templates to help you create fantastic pages.
- Multilingual Support: LearnWorlds offers technical support in various languages.
- Assessment Engine: Advanced quizzes, exams, assignments, and more.
- Built-in Social Network: You and all of your students can easily connect and communicate with each other.
Pros of LearnWorlds:
- Easy logo and style customizations
- Ability to build a blog natively
- Copyright protection for content
- Offering free courses is possible
- Pre-ready course catalog available
You can get started on LearnWorlds for free. If you decide this is the platform for you, plans start at $24/month. Plans come with numerous features and you can easily upgrade as your business grows.
What Are People Saying?
- “LearnWorlds is the best course sales software that provides students on time courses and manages all the issues related to course handling. It has a demo that can make the user feel confident when working.” Ayesha Nasee – G2 Crowd.
- “It took me a long time to find a great platform for my online schools. LearnWorlds is a robust platform that is very easy to use and setup and it is also affordable for those that are just getting started.” D’Andrea – Bolden Ministries.
- “I am in love with this platform and I would never change it for another. I feel cared for by the amazing support team that knows my name, my work, my problems, and needs.” Teya B. – Capterra.
This web-based tool is perfect for people starting an online business ($27 – $97/month)
Systeme.io is an all-in-one marketing software that has everything an entrepreneur needs to start and run their online business.
Launched in 2018, it has steadily grown to 5000+ users who depend on its multiple features to run their online businesses smoothly.
On the dashboard, you can find the funnel builder, email marketing tool, automation rules, and much more.
- Funnel Builder: This software allows you to build sales funnels and landing pages in under a minute.
- Email Marketing: systeme.io has a powerful email autoresponder built into it. With it, you can send email newsletters, set up email campaigns, and send unlimited emails.
- Product Selling: You can connect your Paypal or Stripe account and sell your products. You can also add upsells, downsells and order bumps to your sales funnel.
- Online Courses: You can build and launch online courses.
- Multimedia Courses: You can include video, audio, PDF, images, text e.t.c in your courses.
Pros Of Systeme.io:
- An online course can be created within minutes
- The tool is easy to use so you don’t have to be a tech enthusiast to be able to use it.
- Free migration from other platforms is offered as long as a paid plan is taken up.
- You’re able to integrate with other platforms however since almost everything you need is offered in the platform, there probably won’t be a need for that.
Systeme.io has three pricing plans:
- Startup Plan – $27. This plan is perfect for someone just starting and offers everything you’ll need to run your business. You can have 3 membership sites on it.
- Webinar Plan – $47. This plan offers the best value and you’re able to have 2 custom domains, run 3 evergreen webinars and you can have 5 membership sites on it.
- Enterprise Plan – $97. For bigger businesses, this plan allows 5 custom domains, unlimited membership sites and you can run unlimited evergreen webinars.
What Are People Saying?
- “Coming from a couple of years of Clickfunnels, I looked into Systeme and it looks fantastic!” – Neil Hamilton, business owner.
A popular web-based tool best for marketing courses on autopilot ($119/month)
Kajabi is a popular course creation software with powerful automation features to help you market your online courses more effectively. The platform is a complete cloud-based system and has multiple customizable site themes that you can use to create beautiful and unique courses.
Thanks to the different levels of features, this tool is perfect for both beginners and advanced users, alike. The user-friendly dashboard is ideal for non-technical users. Thanks to the drag-and-drop feature, you’ll be able to get your customized digital courses up and running without the need for any special design skills.
If it’s your first time running a course business, Kajabi’s marketing suite of tools will give you the advantage you need to get your knowledge in front of your target audience.
Kajabi is best for any course creator who wants to use email marketing and advanced automation tools directly within their dashboard.
- Drag-and-Drop Editor: Allows you to build good-looking pages with no coding skills.
- Multiple Site Pages: Create as many pages as you like for your static site.
- Live Event Capability: Kajabi has a great function that allows you to add live events.
- 24/7 Technical Support: Users receive technical support around the clock.
- Powerful Email: The software has an in-built email marketing solution.
Pros of Kajabi
- Great blogging and video streaming features
- Integrations for third-party services
- Expertly designed templates and themes
- Android/iOS mobile app
- Marketing automation for higher sales
Kajabi’s pricing starts at $119/month for the Basic plan. The Growth plan is $159/month billed annually. You can try out the platform for free for 14 days before you commit.
What Are People Saying?
- “Great option for e-learning and automation. Overall, I am very pleased with Kajabi. My monthly expenses are 50% of what I was paying, having different platforms, and now I know that all my automation runs smoothly.” Gabriela L. – Coach E-Learning.
- “Makes running an online biz a breeze. We're so happy to host our course and membership on Kajabi and will stay with them for years to come. So beautiful and clean looking.” Kate M. – Digital Consultant, Marketing & Advertising.
- “The Best Online Course & Website Platform Out There. My experience has blown me away. The customer service is unmatched. They go above and beyond when answering my questions. They are always available to help.” Mercedes E. – Owner, Market Research.
Get Started With Kajabi
This course-creation software is great for hosting webinars ($74.75/month).
Ruzuku is a course creation tool that can help you build and launch your online courses in the shortest amount of time. This powerful and sophisticated software gives you the ability to quickly create an outline for your course curriculum.
The simple user interface makes it easy for beginners to build beautiful course pages and it’s easy to integrate the software to other tools and services online. In addition to all the great features that you’ve come to expect from a reliable online course creator, Ruzuku also offers an amazing teleconferencing system that you can use to conduct webinars for your students.
Ruzuku is best for anyone who wants to create stunning multimedia courses and run webinars using a simple interface that requires only basic skills to navigate.
- Video and Audio Streams: Ruzuku lets you host both video and audio streams.
- Technical Support: Your students get helpful support on how to use the platform.
- Optimized Checkout: One-click checkout process to help you generate more sales.
- Webinar Hosting: Run webinars through the robust teleconference interface.
- Email Integration: Easily integrate with Mailchimp email marketing software.
Pros of Ruzuku
- Run unlimited webinars for your students
- Send course announcements via email
- Add subscriptions to specific course types
- Copy previous courses and run them again
- Host video broadcast with group chat, slides, etc.
Ruzuku offers a 14-day free trial. When you decide to sign up, plans start at $74.75/month and you get unlimited students and courses with each plan.
What Are People Saying?
- “I’ve been using Ruzuku for nearly a year now and have found it to be the perfect solution to my online course creation needs.” Steve Schwartz – Uses Ruzuku to help people pass the LSAT at Lsatblog.blogspot.com.
- “So I’d been thinking about how to put the course together, AND what methods to use to launch it. All questions now answered.” Anne Brannen – Uses Ruzuku to help people arrive at their most creative, vibrant, giving, fruitful self at Annebrannen.com.
- “Ruzuku is offering a great product and awesome customer service. I love creating courses and Miriam is so nice that sometimes I just want to call and say hi!” Sharon Rudyk – Uses Ruzuku to help people find their joy at Yogamatrika.com.
Get Started With Ruzuku
The best WordPress LMS plugin for businesses and digital publishers ($159/month).
LearnDash is among the most popular WordPress LMS plugins on the market right now. It’s great for anyone who wants to run everything from their WordPress dashboard. With this self-hosted tool, you will be able to set up and run your online courses quickly and have full control over the creation and customization process.
This powerful tool doesn’t have the limits of other hosted alternatives. You get an intelligent course builder that comes with course completion badges and certificates. It integrates with countless plugins, and no technical skills are needed to get everything done.
If you’ve already been using WordPress, then navigating this course creation software will be a breeze.
LearnDash is best for course creators who are already using WordPress and want full control over every aspect of their course business, including customization, branding, and customer information.
- Course Awards: You can award anyone who passes a quiz successfully.
- Advanced Quiz: The software lets you create complex quizzes and assessments.
- Course Progression: Prevent students from advancing until they’ve completed previous lessons/quizzes.
- Learner Progress: Keep track of learners’ progress via the sleek profile area.
- White-Labeling – You can white-label all materials to your own business.
Pros of LearnDash
- Give video, image, or text hints to students
- Huge community of helpful users
- Create custom messages for each learner
- Users can review questions and answers on-site
- Arrange courses in any order you please
The basic plan from LearnDash costs $159/month. It includes one site license and unlimited online courses and users. As your business grows, you can upgrade to the Pro package which costs $329/month.
What Are People Saying?
- “The others before me have said it all. LearnDash is top-notch. Your commitment to your customers is awesome and inspiring. With LearnDash, I hope to build a similarly affordable and quality product for my students.” – Andrea.
- “I’ve got to say that the LearnDash integration was a real breeze due to well thought out features and documentation. All the hooks we needed to integrate this with Infusionsoft were easily accessible.” – David Bullock.
- “We feel supported by your close attention to help us resolve our doubts and solve our problems of new implementations in another language.” – Mario Dehter.
Get Started With LearnDash
A complete, sophisticated e-learning platform to teach and sell online courses ($499/month).
Academy of Mine allows you to create your very own customized e-learning platform. It’s ideal for professional development, continuing education, and certifications, as well as B2B training.
With this all-in-one solution, you will be able to white-label all your courses to match your brand. The software allows you to build a fully-fledged website so you can host and market your digital training from one convenient place.
The platform is customizable and scalable. Its user-friendly interface makes it great for beginners and expert marketers alike. It’s also easy to share your expertise and knowledge with your students. This software is undoubtedly among the best ways for businesses and educators to market their online courses.
Academy of Mine is best for any organization or individual that needs an e-learning platform that is custom-built. This includes coaches and businesses in education, healthcare, law, safety training, and more.
- Integrated Website: Get a new fully-integrated site or connect your own.
- Interactive Content: Engage students with interactive video, PDF, and PPT content.
- Customized Features: Customize the different features to suit your specific needs.
- Self-Paced Courses: Learners can complete courses at their own pace.
- 3rd-Party Integrations: Academy of Mine software integrates easily with other tools.
Pros of Academy of Mine:
- Custom-built solutions for different needs
- Easy integration with other marketing tools
- Gamification for higher student engagement
- Certificate awards for course completion
- Convenient self-paced courses
You can get started on Academy of Mine for $499/month. The platform doesn’t offer a free trial, but you can schedule a demo that will give you a glimpse into what’s possible when using this software.
What Are People Saying?
- “We were in need of an LMS to create a program that would function differently than a traditional online course. To accomplish this, we needed several customizations, which AOM quickly completed.” Chitra Patel – Owner, Health, Wellness & Fitness.
- “The BEST feature is the Support Team! Hands down, always reliable and always responsive to our needs. Oh yeah, the price is awesome too!” Randy Fuller – VP, Southern Technical Institute.
- “I wish we found you guys years ago! I can’t wait to start transferring our students over to AOM! I think they will love it because it’s so much more user friendly and easier to navigate. I just wanted to say thank you!” Karen Baynes – Manager, 1st Choice Real Estate School.
Get Started With Academy of Mine
An affordable, easy to use LMS and virtual classroom software ($20/month).
WizIQ provides a complete solution for businesses and tutors who want to deliver online classes. It also allows you to launch self-paced courses for your students. The platform has a user-friendly interface that gives you the ability to use your own branding in all your course materials.
Students can access courses on any device and from any location. The training portal has a course builder, virtual classrooms, test and assessment builder, eCommerce and reports, and various other amazing features.
You also get customized mobile application features. All in all, this is an amazing tool that can help you replicate a physical classroom learning experience online.
WizIQ is best for teachers and educators that want full engagement with their students via live interactive virtual classes.
- Virtual Classroom: Deliver engaging live lessons with HD video conferencing.
- Mobile Learning: Learners can access course content on the go.
- LSM eCommerce: Easily sell self-paced and instructor-led courses.
- Reporting and Analytics: Track your learners’ growth and performance easily.
- Course Assessments: Create multimedia tests and assessments in different formats.
Pros of WizIQ:
- Real-time messaging for unlimited participants
- Customizable learning portals
- Train external stakeholders, partners, or promoters
- Mobile options for on-the-go learning
- Discussion boards for easy communication
WizIQ pricing is based on rooms, attendees, and registered users. It starts at $20/month for the basic plan. They don’t offer a free version, but you can try out the software with a free 14-day trial.
What Are People Saying?
- “User-friendly and ‘No-headache' LMS. The process is quick and a simple structure is helpful. I think the overall concept and model is very good and useful for online teaching and virtual classes.” Gautam P. – CEO & Principal Consultant, Education Management.
- “Wonderful Tutoring Experience. Based on my 2 years experience I really recommend this VC hosting provider for anyone that aims to arrange online classes or meetings.” – Emy S.
- “Online Teaching is best through WizIQ. The best thing about their tool is that it provides multiple classrooms at a single session, which is very helpful to conduct tests and exams.” Hudha I. – Operations Coordinator, Education Management.
Get Started With WizIQ
A premium all-in-one platform with capabilities far beyond courses ($99/month).
Kartra is an interesting solution because it doesn't just stop at courses. With Kartra, you have so much functionality at your fingertips including fulles, checkouts, memberships, and you can even host your own affiliate program.
I feel that this platform is benficial for those that are not simply looking to create courses, but want to grow a business beyond the simplicity of a course platform. When you use this platform, you'll be able to use advanced tools and functionality to market your course along with being an administrator.
Kartra is best for individuals looking to create a community around their course and have advanced functionality in the future to grow their business.
- Internal Checkout Platform: Kartra allows users to checkout using software that they've built which eliminates the need for a third[party integration.
- Kartra Pages: This function gives users the ability to easily launch high-converting landing page, which should increase your ability to collect emails and get visitors to take action.
- Funnels and Campaigns: Having the ability to run different funnels and campaigns is extremely valuable as it will allow you to control the path users take in an effort to convert them to students.
- Memberships: With this all-in-one platform, you can go far beyond one or two courses. They allow you to create a membership community.
- Helpdesk: Assisting students with tech problems is more common than you think. The platform has a helpdesk component as part of it's core offering to assist with that.
- Additional Integrations and API's: While Kartra has plenty of amazing functions, they understand you may want to work with other platforms you're familiar with. So, they offer integrations with hundreds of other platforms.
Pros of Kartra:
- All-in-One platform, everything works together
- Less stress and less tech, a great solution to keep things simple
- Can scale as your course demand and community grows
- 100% in the cloud, no need to worry about your work being deleted
- Cheaper than all platforms combined to achieve the same functionality
On the most basic plan, Kartra costs $99/month. They determine their pricing based on actions that visitors take on your platform, which is nice because you pay for your own results. They have a 25% discount if you pay for an annual plan and although they don't have a free trial, they do have a 14-day trial available for $1.
What Are People Saying?
- “I love Kartra's advanced features for creating email sequences, tags, funnels, etc. It makes it so easy to target your audience's interests and give each subscriber a customized experience.”
- “They truly care about their people and it shows; it's like a family.”
- “I liked that I could see who had purchased tickets for a wellness summit that I was an affiliate for recently. I was able to have a customizable link and each sale gave me a portion of the profits.”
Get Started With Kartra
The all-in-one tool for teaching and selling online courses ($99/month).
Zippy Courses is a complete set of tools that are designed with features to help you create, launch, teach, and sell your online course quickly.
This software bridges the gap between online course creation tools that are optimized for course creation and those that are optimized for course marketing and sales.
With this standalone course building platform, you have the ability to simplify the entire process of building and marketing your online course. You can also customize your course material and sales pages to match your branding.
The user interface is simple, sleek, and professional-looking. It also has an intuitive dashboard that is extremely easy to navigate.
Zippy Courses is best for course creators and educators who want simplicity and ease in creating and marketing their courses from one convenient place.
- Full Customization: Easily customize your course to match your existing brand.
- Drag-and-Drop Editor: Create online courses faster with the drag and drop editor.
- Drip-Content: Allows you to release your training materials in installments.
- Launch Windows: Lets you enroll more students using ‘evergreen’ courses.
- Access-Tiers: Allows you to sell many different versions of a single course.
Pros of Zippy Courses:
- Very sleek and professional appearance
- Ability to create infographics and complex quizzes
- Multiple payment options available
- No technical experience needed
- Responsive and knowledgeable support
Zippy Courses plans start at $99/month and include unlimited free and paid courses. There are no transaction fees, and you also get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Fee-Free platform that allows for unlimited courses ($49/month).
Teachery is one of the newest platforms on my comparison and it's definitely worth including. I think Teachery is a great choice for beginners because they purposely limit some of the confusion design and function aspects to give people exactly what they need.
They differentiate themselves by using a guided tutorial to help new instructors get up and running quickly. Their biggest differentiation from other platforms is they are extremely beginner-friendly and help novice course creators get something up to sell to their audience.
A few nice things about Teachery is that they have no monthly fees, the platform is very simple and intuitive, and you can upload unlimited files to your courses.
Teachery is best for instructors who are completely new at this online business stuff that want to get started quickly and without a bunch of transaction fees.
- Simple Templates: They give you two templates to create a course. This is to limit overwhelm and give you a simple solution.
- Easy to Use Course Editor: They have a very user-friendly course editor to quickly adjust things you need without tech headaches.
- Payment Plans and Membership: Allows you to easily input a payment plan or membership option for your students.
- Sales and Landing Pages: Allows you to easily create new sales or landing pages to drive traffic to.
Pros of Teachery:
- Focused on Beginners
- No extra transaction fees
- Unlimited everything
- Simplicity over advanced functionality
- Drip emails
- Many integrations
Teachery plans start at $49/month and include unlimited uploads and courses. They have a two-week free trial you can take prior to making any payments.
What are the Best Online Learning Platforms?
Many people use these terms ‘online course platforms’ and ‘online learning platforms’ as if they were synonymous. But, they actually refer to two different things.
An online course platform is a tool or software that allows you to create a course and publish it online. You can then market that course to your audience.
An online learning platform, however, is an educational portal that is filled with content on a wide variety of topics. It’s focused on providing learners with the information and tools they need to grow and advance their knowledge.
But, some platforms offer a combination of these two sides to cater to both students and course creators. These sites often have large audiences and traffic that you can leverage as a course creator.
Listed below are the top online learning platforms available right now:
The best online learning platform for teaching creative skills ($8.25/month).
Skillshare is a platform that is dedicated to helping students to learn in an easy and engaging way. It offers courses on a diverse range of topics, including analytics, graphics design, eCommerce, cooking, music, and much more.
The platform also has a large community of helpful developers who are always ready to help and support other content creators and learners. With Skillshare, learners and instructors have a convenient way to access a massive range of topics all in one place.
When you create a course here, it becomes part of the catalog, which means that there is nothing for you to change or customize. This, in turn, makes using this learning portal extremely easy.
Skillshare is best for anyone who wants to share their creative skills and start earning immediately even if they don’t have an audience of their own.
- Active Engagement: Skillshare classes are designed to encourage active engagement.
- Mobile Learning: Allows students to continue learning anywhere and on any device.
- Earn Monthly: Course creators earn monthly royalties from their content.
- Built-in Audience: Instantly start making sales from Skillshare’s existing audience.
- Social Media Links: Link to your social profiles to increase your exposure.
Pros of Skillshare:
- Passive income opportunity
- Engaging classes taught by real creators
- On-the-go learning from any device
- Easy to scale and grow online course business
- No technical skills needed to get started
Skillshare lets you start learning for free. You have unlimited access to all classes for the first 14 days, and then you can pay $8.25/month for continued access.
What Are People Saying?
- “I love Skillshare for its variety of classes they offer. You can learn anything from knitting to cooking, writing, logo design, analytics, photography, and so on. The platform has thousands of classes on any topic you can think of.” – Michaela P.
- “I've spent the last year building my own start-up, and I used Skillshare to augment nearly every step of that process. We are officially launching in one week, and I couldn't have done it without you.” – Will M.
- “There is SUCH a wide array of skills and topics covered in some form or another. And the team does a great job of maintaining high-quality content from the instructors and their presentations.” – Amanda D.
Get Started With Skillshare
The online learning platform with the world’s largest selection of courses (Free).
Udemy’s e-learning platform allows you to easily create and publish courses on a wide variety of topics, such as marketing, business, entrepreneurship, web design, and much more. It allows students to go at their own pace, making it the ideal platform for busy people who want to advance their skills and knowledge in their spare time.
As a course creator, you don’t have to build your own audience. Simply take advantage of Udemy’s massive audience of over 30 million students to start marketing your courses and make sales immediately. The platform is very easy to use, and you’re guided every step of the way during the course creation process.
Udemy is best for businesses and individuals who want a powerful course creation platform with a ready-made marketplace so they can start marketing their courses immediately.
- Monitoring Tools: Udemy has robust monitoring tools to keep track of student progress.
- Branding: The platform allows you to create and grow your personal brand.
- Integrations: It allows various integrations with Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, etc.
- Multiple Languages: You have the ability to teach courses in different languages.
- Video Recording: The software has great features for recording high-quality videos.
Pros of Udemy:
- Massive marketplace
- Advanced behavior monitoring feature
- Plan lectures in Google Docs or Excel
- Easily record video lessons
- Mobile learning app
Udemy is free to use. You can get started creating courses right away. The platform even offers free lessons on how to go about this. When you start selling courses, a share of your revenue goes to Udemy for the service they provide in connecting you to their massive marketplace.
What Are People Saying?
- “ Udemy has given me the opportunity to reach a global audience for my classes that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.” Jean Lurssen – Watercolorist.
- “Launching my first course on Udemy allowed me to quit my full-time job and start my own company. I went from working 60+ hour weeks to setting my own hours and schedule.” Colt Steele – Developer and Bootcamp Instructor.
- “There's no greater success on the Udemy marketplace than hearing that you've helped a student achieve their goals. Teaching on Udemy has brought me new relationships from wonderful and insatiably curious students.” Stephen Grider – Engineering Architect.
The best online learning platform to enhance creative and technical skills ($19.99/month).
Linkedin Learning is an online learning platform that allows teachers and coaches to quickly set up and market courses online. It offers features to upload video content easily and be a part of a massive community of like-minded educators imparting their knowledge in an easy and convenient way.
The great thing about Linkedin Learning is that they don’t accept poor-quality videos, which means that your courses will be in good company. If you want to share your expertise and skills in a professional environment, then Linkedin Learning is a great place to do so. You also get immediate access to the social site’s large following of eager students.
Linkedin Learning is best for businesses and individuals that want to create high-quality video courses and immediately start making sales from a ready-made audience.
- Unique Course Templates: Quickly upload content into ready-made course templates.
- High-Quality Content: The platform holds teachers and instructors to a high standard.
- Interactive Learning: Linkedin Learning specializes in immersive social learning.
- Personalized Recommendations: AI-driven recommendations get your content seen by the right people.
- Multiple Languages: This learning portal has courses in seven different languages.
Pros of Linkedin Learning:
- Large range of templates available
- Powerful user management features
- Easy access on all devices
- Ability to add quiz questions in course
- Market your course to a ready-made audience
Students pay $19.99/month (paid yearly) for access to courses on LinkedIn Learning. To become an instructor, you must first apply via the website, and Linkedin Learning will contact you if your application matches their developing content needs.
What Are People Saying?
- “As an instructor, you’re passionate about your subject matter. The thing I love about working with LinkedIn is, they help you bring it to life in really exciting ways.” Lisa Earle McLeod – Sales Leadership Consultant & LinkedIn Learning instructor.
- “I really like this platform as you get many choices and lectures given by experienced people in their respective fields.” Deepti S – Intern.
- “The best thing about LinkedIn Learning is that it is integrated with your LinkedIn account. The tool has access to your job profile, subjects of interest, skills, and areas of expertise. Due to this, the right courses are automatically recommended to the right people based on their profile.” Shreshthi M – HRIS Manager.
Get Started With Linkedin Learning
The best online platform for professional development courses ($29.99/month).
Coursera is a robust online learning platform with a focus on higher education. As with all its competitors like Udemy, Skillshare, and Linkedin Learning, this learning portal is completely online and has an impressively diverse range of course topics to choose from.
However, unlike the others, this platform also offers awards and certificates for course completion. It’s a great site for both beginners and advanced course marketers thanks to the different levels of features and functionality available.
On this site, some courses are paid, while others are offered free of charge. Either way, this is a great application for students to start learning practical skills and for instructors to build awareness for their work through the marketplace’s audience.
Coursera is best for businesses and edupreneurs looking to provide additional business skills in high-demand niches like AI, IT, cloud engineering, and more.
- Behavior Tracking: Coursera allows you to track learner skills and improvements easily.
- Personalized Browsing: Course students get tailored suggestions for relevant lessons.
- Customized Homepage: Allows students to resume their course in one click after login.
- AI Recommendations: The software matches the right content to the right students.
- Cloud Import: Faster content management through Google Drive and Dropbox integration.
Pros of Coursera
- Easily create question banks
- Learner skill tracking
- Great forum for help and support
- Integration with helpful 3rd-party tools
- Awards and certificates for completion
You can join Coursera for free. Students can get immediate access to free courses and access to paid courses starts at $29.99/month. For Coursera instructors, you need to apply directly on the Coursera website.
What Are People Saying?
- “Coursera has been rewarding and helps me think more deeply about a concept while keeping the explanations succinct.” Amit Yadav – India.
- I am excited to be part of this innovative program where I can deliver real-life applications in concise projects to students around the world.” Ari Anastassiou – Johannesburg, South Africa.
- “As an instructor, I get to share my passion for AI safety by helping learners build deep, technical machine learning, and AI understanding.” Snehan Kekre – Bangalore.
Get Started With Coursera
A great platform to learn coding, web design, and more ($25/month).
Treehouse is a powerful digital learning portal that offers courses in web design and development, game development, and mobile development. The platform has a team of expert instructors that cater to both beginners and advanced learners.
The majority of courses are designed for individuals who are just starting out on a career in the tech industry and need to learn coding skills. Although it’s a relatively new platform, it is exploding in popularity thanks to their commitment to helping students acquire in-depth knowledge of today’s technical world.
If you are an instructor with vast knowledge and skills in this niche, this is the perfect platform to help you share what you know with thousands of students from all over the world.
Treehouse is best for businesses and instructors looking for an affordable and easy-to-use platform to teach and sell online courses.
- Exportable Reports: Allows you to analyze session metrics and team usage.
- Gamification: Helps make learning engaging and fun to keep students motivated.
- Tech-Focused: This is a platform that is dedicated to technical knowledge and skills.
- Learning Tracks: Students can use tracks to help them master new subjects.
- Course Library: Well-curated library of courses, workshops, and tracks.
Pros of Treehouse:
- Massive team of great instructors
- Badges to represent student progress
- Great visual presentation of course materials
- New learning programs published monthly
- Dedicated mobile app for Android and iOS
Pricing for Treehouse starts at $25/month and ranges all the way up to $199/month depending on the plan students choose. As an instructor, all you have to do is apply via a form on the website.
What Are People Saying?
- “The courses are tailor-made to suit my team and there are great tools to track progress.” – Code Black Belt.
- “Easy to learn, mastery-based, positive, incentivized curriculum, and instruction.” – Covenant Community Schools.
- “Skill up quickly and have fun doing it! I love the short sequences that allow you to squeeze your learning into whatever time you have available! I love earning badges and having something that represents my progress.” – G2 User in Design.
Get Started With Treehouse
How to Create Online Courses in 11 Steps
Creating an engaging course doesn’t have to be hard. All you need is to have a step-by-step plan that you will follow to success.
Whether you’re a mission-driven edupreneur or a small education and training business that wants to make an impact through selling courses online, it is now extremely easy for you to create digital courses and sell them online.
Use the steps listed below as your guide to help you create a well-structured, practical, and engaging course that will help your learners achieve clear goals.
Step #1: Choose Your Course Topic
Think of three topics that you could teach. Choose something that:
- You’re very passionate about;
- You’re extremely knowledgeable about;
- You have lots of experience on the subject.
Once you’ve come up with the three possible topics, your next step is to understand the competition and demand for those topics.
This is important because you don’t want to choose a topic you’re passionate about that no one will be willing to spend money to learn. Whatever you choose, it should have a ready market of students who will pay to learn what you know.
Step #2: Check For Market Demand Using Keyword Tools
When doing research for market demand, there are many keyword tools you can use, including Google’s free keyword tool.
Do a search for keywords related to each of the three topics you chose. Google will show you how many searches are performed each month for various keywords and phrases related to your topic.
If no one is searching for what you want to create online courses about, that’s not a good sign. Keep looking until you hit on a topic with a healthy number of searches per month.
Step #3: Come up With Learning Objectives
Once you’ve decided on a topic with great profit potential, it’s time to come up with learning objectives for your course. You must determine who you’re going to be teaching and what you want to help them achieve.
Where do you want your learners to be by the time they get to the end of your course?
Start with the end in mind and focus on solving problems.
Don’t try to share all the information you know with your students – all you need to teach them is what they need to know in order to achieve the result promised by your course.
So, for instance, if you were teaching students how to use photoshop, your learning objective might be: “By the end of my course, learners will be able to use Photoshop CC 2020 to edit the lighting in photographs”.
Step #4: Outline Your Course
Your next step is to create an outline that will be the foundation for your online course. This process involves deciding how you’re going to visualize and structure your course content.
Make sure to address learning objectives clearly in each section of your outline. Here is an example of an outline template for creating your course.
Step #5: Decide on Complimentary Learning Material in Sections
Now that you have your sections all planned out, it’s time to decide on how you will teach each lesson.
- Are you creating a PDF or text course?
- Do you need to include a quiz?
- Will students require exercises, activities, or study guides?
- How can you reinforce the lessons?
- What types of materials will be best for the students to practice what you’re teaching?
Answering these questions will help you map out the kinds of materials and media formats you’ll need for your course so you can start gathering the necessary equipment.
Step #6: Filming/Recording/Writing the Course
Now that you’ve gathered everything you need, you can get started filming, recording, or writing the lectures. You need to ensure that you’re using the best equipment to produce high-quality content.
For instance, if you’re including videos in your course, make sure that you are using a camera that is capable of capturing videos in HD.
You may also need screencasting software such as Camtasia Studio or Jing. If you need to capture audio, make sure you have the best quality microphone to create the content you need.
Step #7: Editing the Course
Once you’ve written, recorded, or filmed your course, it’s time to edit it to ensure that you deliver only high-quality content packed full of value.
Make sure your course flows perfectly and focus on things like visual hierarchy, alignment, spacing, and other content formatting best practices.
If you’re not adept at video editing, you may want to enlist the help of a freelance professional who will get the job done well.
If you’re including written text, get a copy editor to proofread your text before publishing your course to avoid embarrassing grammar and spelling mistakes. The last thing you want is to look like an amateur instructor because of poorly edited course content.
Step #8: Set up the Course on an Online Platform
Now that your course is done, you can set it up on your chosen online course platform. There are things to consider at this stage, such as the pricing, packaging, and naming of your course.
It's also important to note that sometimes, new platforms pop up that may be worth considering. Once such platform I recently discovered is Airtract.
Once you’ve settled on the right choices for your course, you can proceed to upload your content onto the course platform.
Step #9: Set up Your Course Funnel
Your next step is to think about how you’re going to get your students to your course. Marketing your course can be made simple by using automation tools.
Some of the online course platforms listed above offer sales page creation, email integration, and other marketing tools to help you build a funnel to get students to your course.
Step #10: Launch Your Course
Now comes the fun part – launching your online course! The first thing you must decide is whether you’re going to launch your course as a product launch or an evergreen course.
If you choose to go for an event-based launch, it means course enrollment will be closed after a specific window. Evergreen course sales are always available for learners who want to join.
Step #11: Create Content for Your Ideal Students to Get Them to the Course
After your course is live, you need to promote it by creating content to attract your target students to it.
Whether your students find the course through your own marketing efforts, organic search, or promotions from your course platform, you need to write landing page copy that helps them decide that your course is exactly what they need to help them achieve a specific goal.
So take the time to craft a compelling course title, description, lesson previews, and more to ensure that you maximize your conversions.
What Should You Look For in an Online Course Platform?
Online course platforms allow you to do a lot more than simply publish pages online. They allow you to offer an organized educational experience, which is vitally important for anyone who wants to create effective digital training.
In order to start offering your own digital training, you must choose a reliable course platform. Not all platforms are made equal, and if you’re going to pick the best one to suit your needs, you’ll need to understand what features to look out for:
- Established Reputation: Choose an established online course platform that has a good reputation and tons of positive reviews from real users.
- Ease of Use: Consider your own skill level, as well as that of your students. Choose a platform that you and your learners will find easy to use.
- Appearance: You want a provider with tons of unique and professional-looking themes and templates, as well as full customization features.
- 3rd-Party Integrations: Choose a platform with many 3rd-party integrations to other software and services, including student information systems.
- Marketing Automation: Some platforms come with tools, such as email autoresponders, to help you automate different aspects of your course marketing.
- Technical Support: This is vitally important for you and your students. Choose a platform that has a responsive and knowledgeable technical support team.
- Cost: Is the online course platform affordable or does it require significant investment upfront or every month?
- Special Features: What other special features does the course creation website/software offer that differentiates it from others?
- Ready-made Market: This is something to consider if you don’t have an audience of your own to market your course to, and it will help you make the right choice between course creation software and a course marketplace.
As you’ve gathered from our list above, there are dozens of great options available for you to choose from, each of which offers a unique set of features.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to creating great online courses, knowing what to look for will help remove the confusion and frustration from making the right choice.
Easiest Online Course Platform For Beginners
Podia is among the easiest online course platforms for beginners because it includes all of the different tools you may need. It allows you to create and sell memberships, digital downloads, and online courses to your audience through the use of simple, intuitive tools that require no technical knowledge.
This platform also makes it easy to build a beautiful storefront within minutes so you can start marketing your course immediately. You can handle everything from one dashboard, including content creation, email marketing, processing payments, and much more.
Also, Podia migrates you for free if you want to move from another online course platform. As a beginner, you’ll find that this course creation tool has everything you need to start making money with your online courses.
The great thing about the platform is that it’s designed to help you scale your business, as well. This means that you won’t have to worry about shifting platforms as your business grows. You can simply upgrade to a different plan that has all the advanced features you’ll need.
Best Online Course Platform For WordPress
The best online course platform for WordPress is LearnDash. It’s the ideal option for businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and entrepreneurs. No matter what size your business, LearnDash has the capability to help you as a course builder create a thriving online course business from right within your WordPress dashboard.
This plugin is the number one choice for many companies and training organizations thanks to its robust features and ease of use. As a WordPress user, you will have everything you need in one place.
You’ll also have the advantage of being able to maintain full control over the creation and customization of your course, as well as the student information, and all the other aspects of your course creation and selling process.
At this point, some people start to wonder why they can’t just use WordPress’s site builder instead of an online course plugin.
While it’s certainly possible to build your own training portal using a website builder, you’ll likely spend a ton of your time and money trying to reinvent things that are already available out there. A pre-built solution will not only save you money and time, but it will also make for a must better user experience for your learners.
Best Online Course Platform For Entrepreneurs
Teachable is the best online course platform for entrepreneurs. It is dedicated to serving everyone from the everyday instructor who wants to create quick passive income to the entrepreneur looking to scale and grow their online course business.
With Teachable, you can create your courses and have full control over the branding, pricing, student data, messaging, marketing, and more – all from one convenient place.
Best Free Online Course Platform
Thinkific is the best free online course platform. It has a free version and offers a free trial for their paid plans. This all-in-one course platform has something for everyone and is great for all types of instructors, including coaches, consultants, experts, speakers, authors, and trainers.
It’s also ideal for professional associations, enterprises, membership organizations, universities, and more. With it, you will be empowered to create stunning courses quickly and easily and start educating your learners without paying a cent. If you're a bootstrapped solopreneur, this is the one for you.
Creating and selling an online course is a great way to leverage your knowledge and skills. Use this guide to help you choose the best online course platform to suit your needs.
Mid-Range Options: Course platforms like Zippy Courses, Learndash, and Kajabi are perfect for instructors that want to expand their online course business
High-Priced Options: Tools like Academy of Mine are ideal for institutions with lots of students that need to create an online learning experience similar to physical classrooms.