Best Online Course Platforms for Course Creators

Creating and selling online courses can be very lucrative. It’s one of the best ways to make money online. There are many online course platforms, and some are a lot better than others. Choosing the right one is essential.

In this article I’ve reviewed the best online course platforms for course creators. I trust it will help you make an informed decision on which platform to choose.

Best online course platforms

What's an Online Course Platform?

An online course platform is a platform that’s specifically designed for course creators. You can use it to create your own school with multiple courses. It will host all the course information you upload, handle payment integrations, and make your course available to your clients.

Your school will by default appear as a subdomain of the platform, e.g. school.platform.com. You have the option to link your own custom domain or subdomain to your school. You’ll also be able to add your own branding, such as your logo and color scheme.

The online course platform will provide you with all the tools you require to make a success of your school. However, it’s up to you to promote your school and courses.

What Features Do You Need?

The most important features you need from an online course platform are:

Email Integration

You want to have the ability of capturing the email addresses of your students. This way you can build a relationship with them, and advise them of new courses. You can even promote relevant products from third parties to them as an affiliate.

Having a targeted list of buyers you can contact at any time is a very valuable asset.

Bulk Email Students Using Platform

Email integration with your own email service provider is important. However, using a good email service provider costs money. You want to be able to reach all of your students using the platform’s built-in email service.

Your Own Affiliate Program

The success of your school will depend on how much traffic you can drive to it. Getting affiliates to promote your school and courses is one of the best ways you can boost your income. This is especially true if your affiliates are students that have already bought a course from you before.

Unlimited Courses, Students, and Uploads

Many online course platforms have restrictions on how many courses you can publish, or how many students can enroll. Many also have restrictions on the amount of data you can upload.

The best online course platforms won’t charge you more as your business grows.

Flexibility – E.g. Coupons, Bundles, and Payment Plans

The best online course platforms will give you all the tools you need to market your courses.

By offering time-limited coupons you can often get more sales as it creates a sense of urgency. Bundling your products together for a reduced price can lead to more revenue for your school. If your course(s) are expensive it can help if students can pay you over two or three months.

Integration with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel

It’s important to know how many visitors you get, where they’re from, and how long they stay on your site. It gives you valuable insights into your audience and can help you improve your school.

If you’re planning on advertising on Facebook, you really need to install the Facebook Pixel. It will help you to improve your ad campaigns and reach more people in your target audience.

Online course

5 Best Online Course Platforms

Here’s my list of the 5 best online course platforms. It’s based on the following criteria:

  • Suitable for all types of course creators – You should be able to share your knowledge on any topic.
  • Easy to use even if you’ve never created a course before – You don’t want to go through a course on how to use a platform! It should be easy and straightforward.
  • Fast and efficient support – If you get stuck or are unsure of anything you want someone to help you asap.
  • Easy payment integration – It should be quick and easy for someone to buy your course, and for you to receive the payment. 
  • All the features you need – The platform should offer all the features you may need to become a successful course creator.
  • Should be easy to scale your business – You want to use a platform that will support and encourage your growth, and that you won’t outgrow.
  • Value for money – You want a cost effective solution that won’t cost you a fortune.
  • Refund policy and / or free trial – You should be able to test the platform risk-free.
  • Visually appealing and professional looking course page – Your course template / page should look professional. You should be able to customize the look and feel of it.

Based on the above criteria, I’ll rate every platform between 1-star and 5-stars. There are no bad platforms on the list. I didn’t include any platform I’m not comfortable recommending to my xUSD subscribers and personal finance blog readers. 

The below platforms represent the cream of the crop for course creators. You can’t really go wrong choosing any one of them.

Ultimately, make your decision based on your own unique goals and objectives, and resources.

1. Thinkific

Rating
4.6/5

With Thinkific it’s easy to create and sell online courses and membership sites under your own brand. It’s a very popular platform and they have an excellent reputation. Thinkific has 51,000+ course creators who have earned a combined sum of $340 million+ on their platform.

How Does Thinkific Work?

Build your own online course / membership website on their platform using their drag & drop builder. You don’t need any technical skills, or design skills. 

Using Thinkific you can create an online course website using their default domain, e.g. school.thinkific.com. You can also link your own custom domain or subdomain for a seamless student experience. All plans include a secure SSL certificate for the protection of your client’s personal information.

Thinkific online course platform

When and How Do I Get Paid?

Thinkific offers built-in payment integrations for Stripe and PayPal. 

When a client pays you, you’ll be paid directly by Stripe or PayPal. The money goes straight to you, not Thinkific.

Transaction Fees: Thinkific doesn’t charge any transaction fees, not even on their free plan.

Support: Email and phone support.

Refund Policy: All paid plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Lecture Content: Upload and embed Videos, PDFs, and Audio Files. You can also create a multimedia lesson by including websites, and embed content already hosted elsewhere.

Thinkific Pricing & Features

Thinkific prices vary from Free to $499 per month for their most expensive plan. Most course creators won’t need to spend more than $99 per month though. Let’s take a closer look.

Free Plan (No credit card needed)

The main features of their free plan are you can have:

– 3 Courses. (Free or Paid)
– No transaction fees.
– Unlimited uploads.
– Unlimited students.

It’s not bad for a free plan!

The main issue I have with their free plan is you can’t integrate it with your own email service provider. This wouldn’t be such a huge problem if they gave you the ability to bulk email your students. Unfortunately they don’t, so you have no way of simultaneously emailing all your students.

Basic Plan – $49 per month, or $39 per month if paid annually.

The main features of their Basic Plan include:

– No transaction fees.
– Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
– Create coupons to promote your course.
– Can email students (one at a time).
– Get affiliates to promote your course(s).
– Use your own custom domain name.
– Integrate with Google Analytics & Facebook Pixel.
– Email integration with AWeber, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, or Mailchimp.

The highlight of this plan, in my opinion, is that it includes an affiliate feature. You won’t find this feature for as little as $49 (price of Basic Plan) in the other online course platforms.

Pro Plan (Their most popular plan) – $99 per month, or $79 per month if paid annually.

The main features of their Pro Plan include all the features of their Basic Plan plus:

– Create memberships for recurring income.
– Create product bundles.
– Offer add-ons, such as selling coaching time.
– Offer students subscriptions and payment plans.

Is Thinkific Right for You?

Pros

  • Offers a free plan. No credit card required.
  • Unlimited uploads, students, and students on paid plans.
  • No transaction fees, not even on their free plan.
  • Create coupons on paid plans.
  • Funds are paid out directly to you by PayPal and Stripe.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Affiliate reporting available on Basic Plan for only $49 per month.

Cons

  • No free trial offered.
  • No custom domain option or email integration available on the free plan.
  • The bulk email feature is an add-on you have to pay extra for.
  • You are responsible for paying your affiliates.
  • No marketplace. You have to promote your own school.

My Recommendation

Thinkific is an excellent online course platform.

It’s a pity they don’t offer a free trial. However, you can use their limited free plan to already start selling your courses and upgrade to a paid plan later.

You can have your own affiliate program on their basic plan which only costs $49 per month. Other online course platforms charge more for this feature. 

Overall, you can’t go wrong with Thinkific. They have proven themselves over and over as one of the best online course platforms on the market.

2. Teachable

Rating
4.6/5

Teachable is one of the best online course platforms for course / membership creators.

It has 100,000+ creators who have sold $500 million+ in courses and coaching. That’s a massive achievement and bears testimony to just how popular this platform is with course creators!

According to Teachable their average instructor earns $5,426 with each online course.

How Does Teachable Work?

Build your own online course / membership website on their platform using their drag & drop page editor. It’s easy to customize your page even if you don’t have any technical or design skills.

You can use the default Teachable subdomain, e.g. myschool.teachable.com or use your own custom domain or subdomain. Your course will be hosted on their platform. All plans include a secure SSL certificate – https instead of http that’s not secure.

Teachable online course platform

When and How Do I Get Paid?

* Teachable Payments

Schools operating in the USA, Canada, or U.K. are paid through Teachable Payments. Client payments are processed through Stripe Express or PayPal. Your earnings are paid out by Teachable to your bank account via Stripe.

You can choose to be paid daily, weekly, or monthly.

Note: Daily earnings take two business days to be processed, so payments received on Monday are paid out on Wednesday. Payments received on Friday are paid out on Tuesday.

Teachable withholds a 10% reserve from each card transaction (after fees and commissions) to cover refunds, chargebacks, and fraudulent charges. Reserves are paid out 45 days after the transaction took place.

* Monthly Payment Gateway

If you’re ineligible for Teachable Payments you can use Teachable’s Monthly Payment Gateway to get paid through PayPal. Payments are made on the first working day of every month, 30 days after the transaction date.

For example, January sales will be paid out on the 1st of March. February sales will be paid out on the 1st of April.

Transaction Fees: Teachable charges a 5% transaction fee on their Basic Plan. They don’t charge a transaction fee on their higher plans.

Support: Email support. Live chat is available for teachers with a Pro Plan.

Refund Policy: 30-day refund policy.

Lecture Content: Video, Images, PDFs, and Audio Files – Embedded and / or downloadable.

Teachable Pricing & Features

Teachable prices vary from $39 per month to $299 per month for their most expensive plan. Most course creators won’t need to spend more than $119 per month to get what they need.

Free Plan? 

Teachable discontinued their free plan for new subscribers from the 15th of July 2020. It wasn’t a great plan and you could only enroll 10 students. They are now offering new users a 14-day free trial to their Pro Plan instead.

Basic Plan – $39 per month, or $29 per month if paid annually.

The main features of their Basic Plan include:

– 5% Transaction fee.
– Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
– Create coupons to promote your course.
– Can bulk email students.
– Use your own custom domain name.
– Integrate with Google Analytics & Facebook Pixel.
– Create memberships for recurring income.
– Create product bundles.
– Offer add-ons, such as selling coaching time.
– Offer students subscriptions and payment plans.
– Email integration with Sumo, Mailchimp, or ConvertKit.

This plan offers you an enormous amount of value for only $39 per month. The downside is the 5% transaction fee and that it doesn’t have an affiliate feature.

Pro Plan – $119 per month, or $99 per month if paid annually.

The main features include all the features of their Basic Plan plus:

– Get affiliates to promote your course(s).

The main attraction of this plan isn’t only the affiliate feature, it’s that Teachable can also pay your affiliates! Teachable is the only online course platform where you have this option.

Note: Teachable offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

Is Teachable Right for You?

Pros

  • Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
  • 14-Day free trial on Pro Plan.
  • Create coupons to promote your course.
  • Create memberships for recurring income.
  • Teachable takes care of VAT payments to EU counties.
  • Offer students subscriptions and payment plans.
  • Teachable can pay your affiliates. (Pro Plan)
  • Can bulk email students on all plans.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.

Cons

  • No free plan. (Discontinued 15 July 2020)
  • Transaction fee of 5% on their Basic Plan.
  • Waiting period to receive payments.
  • No marketplace. You have to promote your own school.

My Recommendation

Teachable is by far the most popular online course platform and it’s obvious why they’re so popular.

It’s a pity they no longer offer a free plan, even though their free plan wasn’t great. They did make up for it by offering a 14-day free trail of their Pro Plan.

Teachable is the only platform on the list that can pay your affiliates. This can be a huge advantage if you have built up a small army of affiliates!

I highly recommend Teachable. You can’t go wrong using their platform.

3. LearnWorlds

Rating
4.4/5

LearnWorlds isn’t nearly as well know as some of the other online course / membership platforms on this list. However, they’ve been around since 2014 and is one of the best online course platforms out there.

How Does LearnWorlds Work?

With LearnWorlds you can create your own online course website using their platform. Your website is hosted on their platform but you can use your own custom domain or subdomain to link it. This will make it look like a standalone website or as part of your existing website.

You can also choose to use the default LearnWorlds URL in which case your URL will look like myschool.learnworlds.com. All plans include a secure SSL certificate.

LearnWorlds online course platform

When and How Do I Get Paid?

LearnWorlds offers a number of payment gateways, namely Stripe, 2Checkout, PayPal, and Shopify. Their platform only supports one payment gateway at a time. You’re paid directly by your selected payment gateway so your funds should normally be available immediately.

Learnworlds also offers some local payment gateways that are popular in Europe.

Transaction Fees: LearnWorlds charges a $5 fee per course sold on their Starter Plan. There are no transaction fees on their other, more expensive, plans.

Support: Via email – 24/5 for their Starter Plan & 24/7 for their Pro Trainer Plan.

Refund Policy: 30-day money back guarantee.

Lecture Content: Upload and embed Videos, Images, PDFs, and Audio Files. You can also embed content that’s hosted elsewhere without having to upload it.

LearnWorlds Pricing & Features

LearnWorlds pricing vary from $29 per month to $299 per month. Most course creators won’t need to spend more than $99 per month to get all the features they need.

Starter Plan – $29 per month, or $24 per month if paid annually.

The main features of their Starter Plan include:

– Unlimited uploads, students, and courses. (No free courses)
– Build a 3-page site – homepage, course catalog, and after login page.
– Use your own custom domain name.
– Create coupons to promote your course.
– Integrate with Google Analytics & Facebook Pixel.
– Email integration with Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Aweber, and ConvertKit.

Pro Trainer Plan – $99 per month, or $70 per month if paid annually.

The main features include all the features of their Starter Plan plus:

– Build unlimited landing pages.
– Create memberships for recurring income.
– Offer students subscriptions and payment plans.
– Get affiliates to promote your course(s).
– Create product bundles.

Note: LearnWorlds offers a 30-day money back guarantee and all plans come with a 30-day free trial. They don’t even require your credit card details for the 30-day free trial.

Is LearnWorlds Right for You?

Pros

  • Unlimited uploads, students, and students.
  • More payment gateways than the other platforms.
  • Funds are paid out directly to you.
  • 30-day free trial. No credit card required.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.

Cons

  • No free plan option.
  • $5 Transaction fee for their Starter Plan.
  • You can’t bulk email students.
  • You are responsible for paying your affiliates.
  • No marketplace. You have to promote your own school.

My Recommendation

Their entry level Starter Plan is very well priced at only $29 per month. They don’t have a bulk email feature but do offer email integrations on all their plans.

Offering a 30-day trial is a good move. It will be a huge advantage for many course creators that don’t have Stripe or PayPal that they can use 2Checkout to get paid.

Overall, LearnWorlds is a very good online course platform. They have a good reputation in the market and I can certainly recommend them.

4. Podia

Rating
4.7/5

Podia is a lot more than just an online course platform!

It’s an all-in-one ecommerce solution that also allows you to sell memberships, digital downloads, and even webinars. It has a built-in email platform, messaging service, and you can create unlimited pages for your website / blog.

Podia is used by 25,000+ creators and has an excellent reputation in the industry.

How Does Podia Work?

Like other online course platforms, with Podia you use their platform to build your website and sell online courses. 

Your website is hosted on a free subdomain such as mystore.podia.com. You can however use your own domain or subdomain to link to Podia. This way your site will appear as a standalone site.

Podia also offers a free SSL certificate, which is essential for an ecommerce website.

Podia online course platform

When and How Do I Get Paid?

Podia integrates with Stripe and PayPal. You’re paid directly by either Stripe or PayPal so normally your funds will be available immediately.

Transaction Fees: Podia doesn’t charge any transaction fees.

Support: Live chat and email.

Refund Policy: 30-day money back guarantee.

Lecture Content: Upload Videos, Images, PDFs, and Audio Files. You can also use and embed external links such as YouTube videos.

Podia Pricing & Features

You would expect Podia to be quite expensive considering all the features that are not generally available on other platforms. However, this is surprisingly not the case.

Podia offers two paid plans at $39 per month and $79 per month respectively.

Mover Plan – $39 per month. (Save $78 when paid annually)

The main features of their Mover Plan include:

– No transaction fees.
– Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
– Unlimited digital downloads.
– Unlimited webinars – Host webinars, sell them or give them away for free.
– Unlimited email marketing – Send newsletters, drip emails, segment lists.
– Create coupons to promote your course.
– Use your own custom domain.
– Create product bundles.
– Messages – Built-in live chat. (The only online course platform that offers it)
– 7-days a week support via email or live chat.
– Email integration with GetResponse, Drip, AWeber, MailerLite, ConvertKit, Mailchimp, or Active Campaign.

Shaker Plan – $79 per month. (Save $158 when paid annually)

The main features include all the features of their Mover Plan plus:

– Create memberships for recurring income.
– Get affiliates to promote your course(s).
– Integrate with Google Analytics & Facebook Pixel.

Is Podia Right for You?

Pros

  • Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
  • No transaction fees.
  • Create coupons to promote your course.
  • Get paid instantly by Stripe or PayPal.
  • Live chat support.
  • 14-day free trial. No credit card required.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Unlimited digital downloads, webinars, and emails.

Cons

  • No free plan.
  • No marketplace. You have to promote your own school.

My Recommendation

Podia is a very impressive platform that offers a lot of value for money! 

They offer many additional features such as webinars and live chat for your school that none of the other platforms offer.

Talking about live chat, I used their live chat function a couple of times while writing this article. They don’t always reply immediately but they don’t take long to reply. It’s a huge advantage that you can get fast and efficient support when you need it.

Both their plans are very well priced. Since they offer a 14-day free trial it may be worth trying them out before signing up with a more expensive platform.

5. CourseCraft

Rating
4.5/5

Despite being less known than the other platforms on this page, CourseCraft is one of the best online course platforms. It was established in 2012 and has a solid reputation.

How Does CourseCraft Work?

As with other online course platforms, your online course(s) and content are hosted on CourseCraft. You get a secure SSL certificate and you can link your domain or subdomain to them.

CourseCraft online course platform

What and How Do I Get Paid?

With CourseCraft you can accept payment via Stripe and / or PayPal. Funds are deposited directly into your Stripe or Paypal account. CourseCraft doesn’t handle the funds.

Transaction Fees: 9% on their Free Plan, 5% on their Club Plan, and 0% on their Society Plan.

Support: Live chat and email.

Refund Policy: No refunds.

Lecture Content: Upload Videos, Images, and downloadable course materials.

CourseCraft Pricing & Features

CourseCraft’s pricing vary from free to $59 per month.

Free Plan

The main features of their Free Plan include:

– 9% transaction fee.
– Up to 100 students per course.
– Up to 2GB uploads per course.
– Unlimited courses. (Paid and free courses)
– Integrates with website.
– Integrate with Google Analytics & Facebook Pixel.
– Can use coupons to promote your course(s).
– Email integration with MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, AWeber, Constant Contact, and ConvertKit.

Club Plan – $29 per month, or $23 per month if paid annually.

Their Club Plan includes all the features of their Free Plan plus:

– 5% transaction fee.
– Unlimited uploads, students, and courses.
– Set up payment plans.
– Sell add-ons with course.
– Create product bundles.
– Customize course URL.

Society Plan – $59 per month, or $47 per month if paid annually.

Their Society Plan includes all the features of their Club Plan plus:

– 0% transaction fee.
– Use your own custom domain.
– Configure sales tax. 
– Get affiliates to promote your course(s).

Is CourseCraft Right for You?

Pros

  • Offers a Free Plan.
  • Create coupons to promote your course.
  • Very reasonably priced paid plans.
  • Offers good support through live chat.

Cons

  • No refunds.
  • No free trial.
  • High transaction fees on Free Plan (9%) and Club Plan (5%).
  • Only 100 students and 2GB uploads per course on free plan.
  • Can’t create memberships.
  • Can’t bulk email students.
  • Can’t use custom branding such as your own logo on the Free Plan.
  • Can only use your own custom domain on their Society Plan which is $59 per month.
  • No marketplace for customers. You have to promote your own course(s).

My Recommendation

CourseCraft is a bit of the underdog of online course platforms. They have been around for as long or longer than most of the major players in the industry. Somehow they just never took off like their competitors did.

Their plans are very reasonably priced and this makes them a good option to consider.

 Don’t need a membership feature? Happy to email students using your own email service provider? If yes, then CourseCraft may be the right online course platform for you! 

Sign up for a free plan to test the platform and then upgrade to their Society Plan. For $59 per month you can get most of the features that come with more expensive platforms.

Online Course Marketplaces

I am not a huge fan of online course marketplaces. Many blogs put them in the same category as online course platforms but the business model is completely different.

The main advantage of selling on an online marketplace is that it won’t cost you anything to list your course. In addition, some marketplaces get a lot of traffic. So, in theory, you don’t have to do much to promote your course. However, it’s not as good as it seems.

By selling your course on a online course marketplace you’re competing for attention with thousands of other course creators. It’s very difficult to stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re new. And, there are many limitations!

The two most popular online course marketplaces are Udemy and Skillshare. They are both marketplaces but work very differently so let’s have a look at them individually.

Udemy

Udemy online course marketplace

Udemy has 50 million+ students and 295 million+ course enrollments. It’s a massive marketplace that gets a lot of traffic every month. It has some advantages but unfortunately it has some severe shortcomings as I’ll explain below.

Udemy works on a revenue-share model.

As an instructor you’re paid 97% of the price of your course for students that enroll thanks to your efforts. This is when students find your course through a coupon you issued or your course referral link.

For organic traffic like when someone searches for a course on Udemy and finds your course, you’re paid 50%. If you get a sale thanks to an Udemy promotion / ad campaign or an Udemy affiliate you’ll normally get 25%.

Udemy pays instructors via PayPal or Payoneer. Sales made in Month 1 will be paid in Month 3 as follows: Price – refunds x revenue share.

Pros

  • Free to join as a course instructor.
  • Create unlimited courses and sell to unlimited students.
  • Can use coupon codes to product your course(s).
  • Udemy promotes their platform to drive more traffic to it.

Cons

  • Difficult to gain traction, especially if you’re new to the marketplace and don’t have a lot of student reviews.
  • Long waiting period to get paid.
  • Udemy lists competing courses on the same page as your course.
  • Udemy often has fixed price promotions for $10. Many buyers have become used to these promotions and won’t pay more than $10 for a course. Some will wait for a course to go on sale before buying or buy another course that’s already on sale.
  • Can’t bundle courses together.
  • Can’t get affiliates to promote your course(s).
  • Can’t build an email list. You don’t get to see the email addresses of your students. You’re also not allowed to share external links with your students.
  • Can’t sell a membership. You have no possibility of getting a recurring monthly income.
  • Can’t offer payment plans. You can only sell your course for a one-time fee.
  • Can’t do much in terms of branding / customization.
  • Restrictions on how much you can charge  for a course – You have to charge between $19.99 and $199.99 per course. (Most courses sell for around $19.99 and it’s very difficult to get sales if your course is more expensive)
  • Restrictions on course content. The standard Udemy course is video based and must contain at least 30 minutes of video and 5 lectures / modules.

Conclusion

Selling on Udemy can work if you’re prepared to accept to limitations of the platform. You will have to accept that you’ll often earn less than $10 a sale, if you want sales. Even when you drive traffic to your own course Udemy will still show competing offers on the same page.

Udemy may be the right option for you if you have no money in invest in an online course platform. It can also be the right option if you have no interest to promote your own course(s).

I am not a huge fan of online course marketplaces for all of the above reasons. However, Udemy has it’s place in the market and many course creators earn a nice passive income from Udemy.

Skillshare

Skillshare online course marketplace

Skillshare has 28,000+ online classes on their marketplace. They operate on a membership / subscription model. As a teacher you don’t actually sell your course(s) on their marketplace.

With Skillshare you’re paid $10 for every student you refer to them that signs up for a Premium Membership. You also earn royalties based on the number of minutes watched in your classes every month.

Each month, 30% of their Premium Membership revenue is set aside in a royalty fund for teachers. You must get a minimum of 30 Premium minutes watched across all your classes in one month to receive a payment.

According to Skillshare, first-time teachers earn, on average, about $200 in their first month. Top teachers earn upwards of $3,000 per month and can make $100,000+ per year. They don’t specify what percentage of their teachers are top earning teachers but I suspect it’s a small percentage.

Note: The minimum length of a class is 10 minutes. Skillshare suggests the sweet spot for classes is between 20-minutes and 60-minutes. You can upload new classes as often as once a week.

You’ll receive payments for each month on the 16th of the following month, via PayPal. So, January earnings are paid out on the 16th of February.

Pros

  • Free to join as a teacher.
  • Create and upload unlimited courses.
  • Built-in audience.

Cons

  • Can’t build an email list. You can send an email to all your students from the platform but you can’t see their email addresses.
  • With 28,000+ classes on their marketplace it’s easy for your class to get lost in the crowd.
  • You get paid royalties only on Premium classes, not free classes. You can use free classes though to build up a following.
  • None of the traditional ways where you set your price, get affiliates to promote your course(s), etc. apply.
  • Skillshare is not ideal if you want to promote your own brand / business.

Conclusion

Skillshare doesn’t give you a lot of control over your business. It’s highly unlikely you’ll make a lot of money from a single 20-minute class. However, if you have 10 or 20 classes it can make a huge difference!

If you’re not comfortable promoting your courses then using Skillshare can be a good option. There are also many niches or topics people love to learn more about but are reluctant to pay for. In such cases, Skillshare can also work well.

For example, many people would like to learn how to paint, draw, or manage their time more efficiently. It’s more of a nice to know than a pressing need. Many of them won’t spend money on a standalone course. However, if they can watch your course on Skillshare without paying extra for it they will grab the opportunity.

WordPress LMS / Course Plugins

I wouldn’t recommend a WordPress Learning Management Systems (LMS) plugin for creating and selling an online course. 

None of them offer all the important features of a good online course platform. Even an online course marketplace is better due to the built-in traffic they offer.

WordPress.org (not the free WordPress.com) is a great blog / website platform. It’s by far the most popular platform of its kind in the world. However, it has its limitations.

I would highly recommend having a blog from where you can promote your online course(s). But, I would not use a WordPress blog as my online course platform. There are just too many things that can go wrong.

Let’s have a quick look at two of the most popular WordPress course plugins. It will give you a good idea why I don’t recommend going this route.

LearnDash

LearnDash WordPress LMS

LearnDash is a very popular WordPress LMS plugin. It costs $159 per year and is one of the best WordPress course plugins. Unfortunately, it lacks one of the most important features a course creator needs, namely an affiliate program.

I couldn’t find any information on their website so I wrote to them. This was their reply:

For this, you’d need to use WooCommerce, our WooCommerce add-on and then an affiliate plugin such as AffiliateWP.”

No thank you. This is the problem with many plugins. You have to add more plugins. And, the more plugins you have the higher the risk for plugin conflicts. In addition, big plugins can slow your site down which opens up a whole new can of worms.

Thrive Apprentice

Thrive Apprentice by Thrive Themes is another popular WordPress LMS plugin. It costs $67 and for that price you’ll get 1 year of support.

There is a lot of hype on their very long sales page. I also found many of the comments about their competitors unfortunate. 

Their homepage states: “Everything You Need to Build Professional Online Courses, Straight Out Of the Box.” If by that they mean free courses, then maybe. Their plugin has very limited features. Apart from creating free courses there’s not much else you can do with it.

In other to monetize your course(s) you’ll need to install additional plugins. They offer deep integration with SendOwl but SendOwl will at least cost you between $15 and $39 per month.

I can’t recommend Thrive Apprentice to any serious course creator who wants to make money from selling courses.

Screen Recording Tools

Regardless of what online course platform you decide to use, your videos need to look professional. Even if you’re sharing great content with your students, they won’t be happy if your video & sound quality is poor.

Here are a couple of recommendations to help you when you’re recording your screen.

For great audio quality use Blue Yeti (quite expensive) or Blue Snowball. You can also use a Lav Mic which works well and is only about $15. (Often called lavalier microphone, lapel mic, clip mic, or body mic)

For good video quality, I recommend the Logitech C922 webcam.

To record and edit your videos, use screencast-o-matic. They have a good free plan but for only $1.65 per month you can get all the features you need to record your screen. You can also consider a great video editing tool such as DaVinci Resolve that’s free to download.

That's a Wrap

Selling online courses is a great way to make money. Some people will say it’s the best way to make money online. Even if it’s not the best way, it’s certainly one of the best ways you can make money online.

Every single one of the platforms mentioned in this article has their place in the market. What may be the best online course platform for me may not necessarily be the best one for you. I am confident though you should be able to find the right one for you after reading this article.

Thinkific and Teachable are the two most popular online course platforms. Teachable has a good free plan and don’t charge any transaction fees. Teachable is the only platform that can pay your affiliates. This can be a huge time-saver if you have many affiliates.

LearnWorlds is a great option if neither PayPal nor Stripe are supported in your country as they integrate with 2Checkout.

Podia is so much more than just an online course platform. They offer many great features you won’t find in any other platform, and don’t charge extra for it. Their live chat support is second to none.

CourseCraft is the underdog it’s a good platform to use for online courses. They have a solid free plan and for $59 per month you get a lot of value! They also offer live chat support which is an advantage.

Let me know in the comments below which online course platform you like the most.

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