Online learning is experiencing enormous growth due to the increase in social distancing due to the acceleration of online learning.
In fact, it is estimated that the online course and e-learning market is going to be worth $325 billion by 2025.
Can you see yourself tapping into this market and selling online courses in the near future?
There is no doubt that you will need the best platform for your online courses.
In order for you to be able to do that, you need to find a platform that lets you provide your faculty with a customized, professional learning experience that is so amazing, your students will have no idea that you’re using a platform at all.
For those who are not familiar with course platforms, these are browser-based services that allow you to:
- Create an online course website (or integrate your course with an existing website).
- Create sales landing pages.
- Calculate the price of your course and collect payments (either one-time or in installments).
- Engage with your students by uploading your videos, adding assignments and quizzes, and creating interactive content.
- Create membership communities.
- Organize live webinars.
This guide is a comprehensive comparison of 17+ of the best online learning platforms, based on factors like student experience, features, pricing, ease of use, ease of integration, support, etc.
Table of Contents
What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?
This year, these are the best platforms to teach online.
- Academy of Mine
Best Overall Online Course Platform (Free or $49/mo)
There is no better overall platform to sell online courses than Thinkific.
Since the pricing is exactly the same as other affordable options on this list, this is my #1 choice to deliver a high-end course experience.
- You would never guess the websites were Thinkific since they can be customized.
- Optimised sales pages look great.
- Dashboards for students look nice and can be customized (videos, text, and downloadable files can be added to the same page).
- Either you can send out your entire course at once, or you can dole it out over time.
- It’s free to host videos with Wistia (a huge advantage).
It’s really all that you need to have a good course website when it comes to optimizing it.
Thinkific’s plans start at just $49/month, but big brands like Fiverr are using the platform to sell online courses to their customers.
The team from Thinkific showed me this massive database of learning and I wouldn’t have guessed that it was part of Thinkific until they told me:
For those who would like to try out their best plan (and most popular), one month of trial is offered to try it out.
The first thing that this plan offers you is the possibility of creating an unlimited number of courses. It also offers memberships and bundles, advanced pricing options, landing pages, certificates, as well as marketing tools.
Take a look at this little preview of the course creation process on Thinkific.
Creating and customizing your course with their drag and drop tool is as easy as could be.
Secondly, you upload your content and then choose the template that you would like to use for your website.
In the final step, you’re going to set up your payment methods (which are available in over 100 different currencies).
Moreover, a great deal of customization options are available to you as well. Whether you are looking to build a completely custom site or are just trying to integrate a few elements, they have an onboarding team that helps you get it up and running.
Pros of Thinkific:
- Automated marketing and email features.
- Start for free with the simple plan.
- You can edit the code of your course site.
- Certificates that can be customized.
- Domains with custom names.
- Help with affiliate marketing and reporting.
Thinkific users say the following about it:
- “You need to get on Thinkific. The team is creative, reliable, and offers unbeatable support. They always make sure all my bases are covered and, as a business owner, that’s invaluable.” – Lewis Howes
- “By teaching our audience how to scale and grow their business through online training, we’ve grown ours. We couldn’t have done it without Thinkific.” – John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneurs on Fire
- “I seriously can’t be more impressed with your customer support team. They are the perfect blend of efficient and personable. It’s like having my very own IT department.” – Kim Garnett
- Basic ($49/month): Unlimited courses and students, drip (scheduled) content, custom domain name, email integrations, and coupons are included.
- Pro ($99/month): Includes the basic features plus memberships, bundles, private courses, certificates, advanced HTML and CSS editing, assignments, live lessons via Zoom, and priority support.
- Premier ($499/month): Pro features, plus 50 admins, an onboarding package, and unlimited growth packages (most suitable for large teams).
I would consider the Learnific platform to be my #1 recommendation for course creators and entrepreneurs who are serious about creating, marketing, and selling their own course content.
Best Interactive Learning Software ($24/month)
Using Learnworlds, course creators can interact with their students in unique ways with their students.
Think interactive videos, quizzes, gamification, etc.
Students have an unattractive experience, but it is unique in that it offers them interactive eLearning content.
Pros of Learnworlds:
- Videos, e-books, gamification, and downloadable attachments.
- Free courses are an option.
- Transcripts can be extracted from your courses.
- White-labeled content and a custom domain name.
- Notes can be taken and important points can be highlighted.
- Completion certificates.
- Custom mobile app on iOS, of course.
- Coupons and discounts can be created.
- Integration of social media.
- Optimize your sales with a new analytics platform.
- Creating membership sites is possible.
- A strong knowledge base.
- 24/7 support.
- Starter ($24/month paid annually): Courses, custom domains, unlimited courses, page builder tool, coupons, and 4 payment gateways.
- Pro Trainer ($79/month): There are no transaction fees, five admin accounts, subscriptions and memberships, custom checkout pages, audio and web-based live classes, assignments, and affiliate management.
- Learning Center ($249/month): The Pro Trainer features, plus branded corporate academies, premium cloud servers, flexible billing, premium support, and premium account management services.
Online course platform for professionals ($119/month)
The best high-end course builder for information businesses, not just small course creators, is Kajabi.
If you’re looking for email marketing automation, then it’s the way to go. Pre-sale emails, pre-webinar emails, drip course emails, and upsell emails rely heavily upon automation – and Kajabi does it very well.
The ‘Pipelines’ feature of their software helps you to set up fully-automated marketing campaigns and marketing funnels. They are pre-built frameworks that are ready-to-use for lead generation, with copy that is already pre-written for conversions.
There are also a handful of powerful features offered by the course site and the ability to sell digital products, as well as a customizable checkout feature and blogging functionality.
Overall, it’s the best high-end course platform we’ve tested with more tools built in and features than any of the others, but it costs a bit more than some of the other ones.
- A truly information-driven business requires an all-in-one solution.
- The video hosting service provided by Wistia is excellent.
- Marketing and sales tools are a major focus.
- Tools built into the platform are more numerous.
- Offers subscriptions that automatically renew each month.
- Stripe and PayPal are integrated.
- Kajabi is used by many big names, including Amy Porterfield.
Basically, Kajabi pricing is based mainly on how many courses you have and how many active members you have:
- Basic ($119/month): 1 website, 1 admin, 3 products, 3 pipelines, 10,000 contacts, and 1,000 active members.
- Growth ($119/month): 1 website, 10 admins, 15 products, 15 pipelines, 25,000 contacts, 10,000 active members.
- Pro ($319/month): 3 websites, 25 admins, 100 products, 100 pipelines, 100,000 contacts, and 20,000 active members.
Kajabi is really exceptional when it comes to its marketing automation tools. You can segment users in your list with advanced triggers, send email messages at specific times based on advanced triggers, and send messages that are branded professionally.
Kajabi’s advanced platform is a great choice for established businesses looking for one of the more advanced solutions on the market, Kajabi is an excellent choice.
Kajabi is offering a 14-day free trial to anyone interested.
The Best Online Course Platform for Beginners ($29 – $249/month and One Month Free)
If you are looking for an easy and quick way to create courses, Teachable is a good option.
For beginners who are getting their feet wet in course world, it’s the best option for them as it’s one of the cheapest and the easiest to use.
If you have a free account with them (with $1 + $0.10 for all transactions), then you can either pick from one of their three pricing plans that range from $29/month to $299/month.
It’s a good idea to check out their most popular Pro Plan at $99/month as it is the first plan that has no transaction fees.
- It is very easy to set up.
- Everything is unlimited – bandwidth, students, courses, and coaching services.
- Checkout with one click.
- Storefront and sales pages optimized.
- Zoom offers live courses on their pro plan.
- Payment plans in 130+ currencies.
- Quizzes that are graded.
- Certificates of course completion customized to your specifications.
- Customizing the theme of a website.
- On their pro plan, users can have up to five accounts.
- Basic ($29/month): 5% transaction fees, two admin users, drip content, course builder, members-only community.
- Pro ($99/month): Features include no transaction fees, five admin users, advanced reports, and course certificates.
- Business ($249/month): Features include 20 admins, bulk student enrollments, and group coaching calls.
It is the best all-in-one online course platform for webinars, downloads, and memberships (for $39/month)
Podia is one of the world’s leading platforms for online courses that has over 50,000 members and is a great tool for digital downloads, webinars, and online memberships.
It offers a variety of courses, including:
- A stand-alone course that contains images, video, and audio files, MP3x, PDFs, quizzes, and more.
- The pre-selling process involves taking payments before the launch of your course.
- Cohort-based courses with a future start date.
- You can deliver your course in a section-by-section format with drip courses.
- It is possible to add coupons and memberships to the website.
The membership options available to them truly make them one of the best out there. In order to build your own online community, you can interact with members, bundle products for specific groups, and offer tiered membership plans along with connecting with Facebook Groups and Slack.
The Podia platform can also be used as a webinar platform to host live or on-demand webinars.
Podia also comes with the rather awesome feature of being able to set up your own affiliate program. There are a variety of helpful reporting options to help you manage your affiliates, and you can also set up your own commission structure and make payouts accordingly.
In three easy steps you will be able to get your course website up and running in no time. There is 24/7 support, no transaction fees, and no hidden fees.
They currently do not charge any fees, but their payment processors do charge a transaction fee of 2.9% + 30¢.
- Mover ($39/month) – You can sell courses, digital downloads, and send 5k emails per month with no transaction fees.
- Shaker ($79/month) – All the features of Mover plus the ability to create membership communities, add affiliates, and send 15k emails per month.
- Earthquaker ($179/month) – Everything included in Shaker, plus a dedicated account manager, a personalized onboarding process, and 50k emails sent each month.
If you’re looking for strong membership functionality and the ability to increase your sales through affiliates, Podia is an excellent course builder to test out if you’re in the market for membership functionality.
There is a 14-day trial period for you to check it out and see if you like it.
The best LMS to manage online courses ($13.25/month) for WordPress users
You can sell courses through WordPress with LearnDash, a WordPress plugin that enables you to create and manage courses quickly and easily.
The LearnDash WordPress LMS plugin is currently used by some of the biggest websites such as Yoast, Infusionsoft, the University of Michigan, and WP Elevation.
In order to help students stay focused on the task at hand, they have a feature called “Focus Mode,” which blocks out all distractions while they run through the course.
LearnDash’s comprehensive course builder integrates well with the email drip campaigns sent by this company. If you want to build a great online course of your own, you can create an online course page on your site, and set up an email drip schedule according to your program to send lessons.
Gradebook* is a technology that takes the LMS to another level. It is a great technology that can simplify the evaluation process for teachers by allowing them produce a weighted average based on the answers they have submitted on quizzes and homework.
There are various forms of awarding students points and badges in addition to grading, and students can also receive certificates for course activities.
In my opinion, the LearnDash LMS Plugin is the best LMS plugin for teachers if you’re looking for effective grading systems that coincide with college curriculums.
Platform for Ridiculously Easy Online Courses ($74.75/month)
The Ruzuku platform allows you to create an online course with a step-by-step process, integrating PDFs, and text files, in minutes. You can easily create outlines for your courses, edit them and reorder them according to your needs, launch your course, and generate sales within minutes.
In order to accept payments, Ruzuku uses tools like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, as well as payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal – plus they don’t charge any transaction fees.
In addition, they are also known for their desirable community. You’re not just buying a teaching tool when you join Ruzuku; you’re basically joining a community to help your students succeed.
Lastly, this platform offers an unlimited number of courses to an unlimited number of students on all paid plans.
Start with a 14-day free trial and have the option of returning your money within 30 days.
8. Academy of Mine
Enterprise Online Course Platform Custom-Built for Your Business ($499/month)
In order to satisfy each client’s specific needs, Academy of Mine has developed an eLearning platform based on personalized customer success and customization.
This is definitely a learning management system that can be used in a wide range of different business niches. In any plan, you will find totally free development hours included to facilitate the setup and launch of your course with custom integrations.
There is more than just helping you start up and launching your business on the platform. Furthermore, they will also help you market your course using their marketing tools, which you can access from their dashboard of analytics.
An important part of its strategy is that it focuses on personalization. What if you are a healthcare company which plans to establish a full curriculum for Continuing Education Credit (CEC)? If you need help with that, they can assist you.
Are you an insurance company that needs to maintain ongoing training because the legal code of a particular state has been changed constantly? What are your plans for creating online courses as part of your facility management?
That is also not a problem with Academy of Mine.
It is true that these enterprise offerings may appear to be overkill for a lot of users, but they are an absolute necessity for companies of all sizes looking for a robust training system for their employees and clients.
It sounds as if this might be the eLearning solution you have been looking for, and you can start exploring it today through the 30-day free trial.
Live Virtual Online Classrooms at an Affordable Price ($27/month)
Educators and teachers can establish virtual classrooms, allowing them to teach live, interactive online classes via WizIQ, in an easy and convenient way. WizIQ has been deployed to over 400,000 instructors across 200 countries to teach over 4 million students virtual classes.
In addition to providing the latest tools for live training – such as discussion boards, video streaming, mobile options and assessments – the company also offers analytics and reporting tools.
It is free for the first 14 days to try their service if you are an educator or corporate leader who wants to be able to reach their audience around the world live and in real time.
How Do Online Course Platforms Work?
Learning management systems (LMS) refer to the programs that provide a user with the option to access a digital class from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual courses are similar in many ways to offline classes: the instructor delivers an engaging educational experience through video and image files, as well as text, audio, and PDF files.
With the use of the LMS software students follow along, take notes, do exercises, and complete mock exams in order to test their knowledge.
The tools Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Podia, and Ruzuku all provide a robust set of features for creating courses.
There are a variety of features offered by course software, including features like an easy-to-use website experience, easy content uploading, the ability to modify the class’s look, marketing options, course completion certificates, a sales funnel, and many more.
Basically, they provide you with everything you need to sell an online course from start to finish. It is possible to build a course for free from some of these platforms.
There are a number of options out there when it comes to learning management systems (LMS). In case you’re a school or university looking to replace your on-premise classes with online learning, you may want to check out my other guide to choosing the best LMS for you.
Typically, course creators use a platform to create their courses, then charge a set fee for their students to access the content.
What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?
Let me now present the point of view of the student.
In this age of social distancing and the move of many colleges to online classes, there are loads of options to choose from in terms of educating yourself from home.
This is often referred to as massive open online courses (MOOCs) and are a bit different from the platforms that offer paid courses. Students do not need to host files themselves as courses are in a marketplace in which they can pay for them directly, or buy them through subscriptions.
You can leverage these websites to reach a new audience thanks to these websites, which is extremely beneficial for course creators. On the downside, you will not earn as much money from every sale, and would have to contend with stiffer competition.
I recommend you make use of one of the providers mentioned above in order to sell your courses.
Those of you who are looking for an online learning platform to learn new things, here is my list of the best sites for online learning.
One of the best places for learning online is Udemy, which is home to over 24 million students, 35,000 instructors, and an unbelievable 80,000 courses. As a premium instructor, the first step in creating a course is to sign up on the website.
After your account is approved, you are able to begin creating your courses instantly. Make sure that you keep in mind when you are creating your video content that the material must have at least 30 minutes and that you will provide five lectures in the video.
You can also promote your course within Udemy’s platform if you add your course to their platform; this is another benefit of adding your course to Udemy. With their marketing features, you can take advantage of site-wide discounts, be included in their marketing emails, or become compliant with their affiliate program with a tiered commission structure.
What does Udemy cost?
The service is free of charge. They charge a rev share of 3% if students purchase your course through instructor coupons, 50% if students find your course using organic search (SEO), and 75% for purchases made through paid search advertising.
A good example of a good online course platform is Udemy, which is in my opinion one of the best. In the first place, you will have access to a broad user base of people. You can be sure that Udemy’s 40 million users are all gonna pay you for your course if they are interested in it. It’s true that the fact that you’re on their platform does not automatically imply that you’ll start to get sales on the spot.
If you want your business to succeed, you must develop a solid marketing and sales strategy, much like a new online retailer, author, or real estate agent. There is nothing more important than getting your name out there.
The revenue share for tuition fees from these companies is substantial. In addition to setting their own course price, instructors receive 100% of the tuition fee for new users, and 50% for existing users. This is a considerable amount of money for commissions on sales, and being able to use their platform is a huge advantage.
It is possible for you to participate in the marketing promotions that are run by them. Their platform will occasionally run promotions that will help you reach out to a larger audience on a program like this. This type of marketing promotion is being offered on an opt-in basis, so instructors can choose whether they wish to participate or not.
It is a reliable company with reliable technology. They provide free 24/7 support as well as a vast library of articles you can refer to for additional help.
It is very competitive with the other courses that are available. The placement and appearance of instructors on the Udemy website is controlled by algorithms that control the algorithms that control the placement of instructors.
The first few months on the platform can make it difficult to outrank other instructors on specific topics.
Moreover, there is a stiff competition among the publishers of other courses. Udemy is not the only platform where your course topics will appear in search engine rankings for your course topics.
It is important to note that other educational marketplaces like iSpring Learn, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and Skillshare compete with Udemy when it comes to organic search, which can be a detriment for instructors.
The policies of the company regarding returns are quite lenient. In the event that a student requests a refund within 30 days, the student will receive a full refund. This, in turn, can lead to students taking your course, finishing it within 30 days, and getting a guaranteed refund – decreasing your sales.
Udemy Review: Final Verdict
First and foremost, it is one of the most popular, well-regarded, and professional online course marketplaces out there. It’s a very robust revenue sharing model, a large audience base, 24/7 support, as well as marketing features, which makes it an ideal platform for marketers to use.
Even though there is a healthy competition between the company and other providers of similar courses and platforms, it is likely that the company will maintain its lead in the market.
Udemy is offering a free trial period for you to try it out.
2. Shaw Academy
There is a platform called Shaw Academy, which offers students access to online accredited courses taught by professionals. By signing up with Shaw Academy, students will be able to access their long-form courses at their convenience and at their own pace.
Among the courses available, there are three that are categorized: those aimed at hobbyists, those aimed at professionals, and those aimed at entrepreneurs.
They offer an internationally recognized course on Digital Marketing for professionals, for example, under their “For Professionals” category. There are 32 videos in the course and it is estimated to take 16 weeks for the course to be completed.
What Does Shaw Academy Cost?
For the first four weeks, the courses will be offered without charge. After that, you can continue learning by paying for a monthly plan that suits your needs.
From $49.99 up to $60 a month, this service is available.
Shaw Academy Pros
These courses are all global-recognized and offer certifications designed to help you advance your career. If you are a working professional with experience in Microsoft Excel, Photoshop, and Digital Marketing, then their classes on those topics can really help you advance your career.
The entrepreneur can also take classes on topics such as viral marketing, wedding photography, wedding planning, social media marketing, and many others.
You can take their courses on your own schedule, as all of them are flexible. Additionally, they offer helpful support and the opportunity to download class recordings so that you can watch them whenever you like.
It is also great that there is a four-week free trial plan which you can take advantage of as well.
Shaw Academy Cons
There are a lot of good courses offered by this company, but depending on your specific interests, you may not find the one that is right for you. Furthermore, they do not have the same volume as other platforms, such as Skillshare, when it comes to hobby classes.
Shaw Academy Review: Final Verdict
This platform offers flexible, accredited courses that you can start completely free of charge for 4 weeks if you are a professional looking for an affordable, convenient learning platform.
Skillshare is an online marketplace focused on teaching creative skills to people around the world. A variety of topics will be covered in the course, from graphic design to music production to fine art and cooking.
There are also classes on topics such as analytics, data science, and e-commerce which cover more technical topics. Skillshare has over 5 million users and has paid over $5 million in compensatory stipends to teachers.
Classes are 20-60 minutes long and are broken up into shorter lessons. In addition, students are required to complete projects and participate in community discussion forums.
I believe that open discussion would be very beneficial to their creative topics, as students would have the opportunity to share their progress and receive feedback from others. Premium members can also get assistance with production, course planning, and even online course creation at their New York studio since they also have a production department.
What does Skillshare cost?
The service is available for free for those who want to create premium courses. Instructors receive $10 for each membership referral as well as monthly royalties for watching each minute of content.
There are a large number of creatives and entrepreneurs who use their services. In terms of getting noticed on Skillshare, if you offer content that is suitable for a creative audience, then it’s one of the best platforms to use.
Lessons concerning web design, identifying and building a list of subscribers, photography, painting, personal branding, and the like are the most popular.
Classes are of good quality and the instructors are very friendly. Among the courses they offer are professional, high-quality ones. Having their expertise in outlining courses based on their audience’s needs, and also helping with production, will lead to success with your course.
There is a royalty system that determines how much you earn. 30% to 50% of Skillshare’s royalty revenue is given back to teachers.
The remaining funds are allocated to marketing, promoting classes, and running the platform. A royalty system works well for established teachers, since the more hours you watch, the greater the revenue share you receive.
When instructors are just getting started, this makes it difficult for them to receive much compensation. The royalty pool only includes half of the minutes from students watching at 2x speed.
There is also the disadvantage of only offering email support. They have helpful articles for support, but the only means of contacting them is through email.
Skillshare Review: Final Verdict
With more than 4 million students, skillshare is one of the most promising online course marketplaces today. There are a vast number of creators and entrepreneurs who use this platform, making it an excellent tool to teach students practicing creative arts.
Their classes are high quality as well, and they can facilitate your class so that it meets the needs of their audience and has the greatest impact possible.
With the use of a marketplace however, you may be able to generate a lot more sales due to the royalty system for earnings, and being able to sell without receiving any live support. In case you’re a creative course creator who wants to reach out to a new audience, then their online courses may be worth a shot.
4. LinkedIn Learning
Its predecessor, Lynda (formerly LinkedIn Learning), is another marketplace for business professionals to look for online courses. As a platform built for working professionals who are trying to keep their skills up-to-date, they offer over 1,000 business courses on topics such as project management, web development, and digital marketing.
Furthermore, they also offer certifications that you can incorporate into your LinkedIn profile, further showcasing your expertise and improving the position you hold in the online world.
What does LinkedIn Learning cost?
Those fees are tied to an annual LinkedIn membership, which is $24.00/month or $29.99/month if you pay monthly.
You can get one month free if you try LinkedIn Learning today.
In an effort to promote democratization of education, Treehouse has come out with a relatively new marketplace. A central tenet of their platform is “their commitment to provide access to education for all students, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background.”
This website provides over 300 technical courses on coding and development, more than 50,000 students, and over 27,545 videos (and counting).
Among the companies Treehouse partners with, you will find Microsoft, IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa, and Google Developers.
What does Treehouse cost?
You can try Treehouse for free for 7 days. After you select a plan, you are taken to a page where three plans can be selected between $25 and $199 per month.
A typical basic plan includes access to their online community, on-demand educational content and interactive practice sessions.
The pro plan gives you access to download content, beta features, as well as bonuses.
If you have a desire to build a portfolio and get job-ready skills, the Techdegree program gives you real-time feedback, real-time support, and a customized curriculum to help you get started.
You can try Treehouse for free today.
The online marketplace Coursera offers virtual classes from some of the biggest universities across the world such as Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Duke, with some of the best companies in the world.
There are about 4-6 weeks for Coursera courses, and the modules include video lectures, peer-reviewed assignments, and discussion forums.
What does Coursera cost?
Joining Coursera is free, and the information on pricing on individual courses is only available to those who are logged in. At Coursera, there are three different levels of classes available.
The main courses are run on a subscription basis and are priced between $29 and 99 per month. Taking one of these courses typically takes 4-6 weeks, and you will receive a course certificate by email upon completing it.
Specialist courses are designed to master specific career skills, and they range in cost from $39.79 per month to $79.79 per month. You will be tasked with solving real business challenges by working on real business projects and studying more intensively.
You can earn a degree online through a variety of degree programs. If you’re searching for a more advanced education, you are even able to enroll in university-recognized online degree programs. There are generally three years for these projects to be completed and they can cost anywhere between $15 and $25,000.
Take a look at Coursera and see if it is right for you.
What are the steps to creating and selling online courses?
You need to start with the end in mind when selling online courses, and work your way backwards from there. You have to ask yourself how you are going to make an impact on the lives of your students and what will they be like after completing your educational program?
When you design your course, you should consider the transformation your students are going to undergo.
Take a look at what people are asking about your topic in forums related to the topic you are teaching, and try to understand what they are expecting from you. There is no better place for this than Quora.
The first thing you will have to do after understanding your student’s situation is to create a clearly defined learning process that will lead them to the goal that you have previously set for them. It is important that your students are made aware of their outcomes at every step of the journey.
The more clearly defined the end goal of the learning path is, the more engaged and active your students are likely to remain with your content over time.
The following are the top 10 ways to create and sell online courses.
1. Calculate the cost of developing your online course
Learning platform development costs are determined by many factors, including the depth and complexity of your content, the nature and extent of your research and analytics budgets, and the marketing budgets you decide to use. An estimate from a study found that the production cost of an online course ranges from $5,850 to $15,600.
Nevertheless, this is a pretty high estimate considering the work required to develop the professional video, pay a subject matter expert (SME) to teach the course, conduct market research, use email automation software or webinar software, and promote the course.
If you’re starting out and would like to create your own course, it can be much more economical. In the example given above, if you have a quality webcam, microphone, screen sharing tools, and a video editing program, you can create a course for under $200.
Time is the most significant investment that you’ll make in your business. Please be aware that with each effort you make, the cost will rise. An engaging instructor, analyzing your audience’s interests, performing market research and creating an outline is only part of the cost. There’s also more work involved in creating a compelling media presentation with a quality production.
2. Use the best equipment and software
It’s not as easy as adding a webinar to a website. The course must first be produced!
Content that is of high quality requires the use of software and equipment. This is in fact a virtual course that is meant to replace the in-class experience, so it is important that the course be visually appealing.
To get started, you do not need the most expensive, most high-end equipment to get started – but there are a few things you will need.
Microphones are an essential part of any recording studio. It is much easier to detect unhinged audio than unsettled video, and a good microphone is essential to make your course sound excellent.
Make sure the microphone you choose is the best you can afford. The microphone can be a lavaliere mic or even an in-ear headset, but I recommend that you use a USB microphone.
It is hard for me to choose a favorite from the Blue Yeti collection. Lastly, do not forget to buy some microphone accessories to enhance your audio quality even more. It’s really important to have pop filters, foam balls, shock mounts, and acoustic panels when you’re recording in a small room.
An excellent pair of noise-canceling headphones will prove to be extremely helpful when it comes to editing. Also, they can be useful for conducting interviews and capturing information from those being interviewed.
3. Screen recording program
When you create a class on how to use a computer program or piece of software, you will be required to show the screen to highlight what you are doing. If you are looking for a screen recording software there are many choices available to you, but Screencast-o-matic has been my favorite for quite some time.
4. USB Webcam
The majority of online courses that you will find will contain live teacher-led webinars or videos of the instructor for a more personalized classroom experience.
Depending on the scope of the event, recording equipment may be as simple as your iPhone or a webcam, or it may be as complex as a professional DSLR camera. Budget is the most significant factor when it comes to your decision.
5. Audio and video editing software
Getting your course shooting is only half the battle. The real magic happens when you edit your course. One of my favorite options is Apple Final Cut Pro followed closely by Adobe Premiere Pro. It is more than likely that Adobe After Effects will be able to help you spruce up your animations.
6. Lighting and accessories
In order to ensure that your instructor shines (pun intended), it’s crucial to have a quality three-point lighting setup. Depending on your needs, you can either purchase a complete studio light set for your iPhone or only purchase some accessories.
In either case, you need to investigate interview lighting techniques to make sure you look professional at the interview.
3. Creating valuable content
There’s no doubt in my mind that this one is the best. You need to create a detailed picture of who your ideal student is and what they are interested in learning.
Can they earn an online certificate if they want to better their skills and develop new ones? Are they willing to assist in the growth of their own business? The first step in designing a course you should take is understanding your audience’s pain points.
Develop video courses that appeal to a wide range of learners. Utilize video along with worksheets, PDFs, and quizzes to engage your students on a deeper level through the use of different elements. You should also avoid writing long paragraphs – no one wants to read long paragraphs. Plus, you should condense the learning into shorter sentences.
4. Make Your Website Unique
Identify your niche and make sure to think about your unique value proposition (UVP) and provide the best content based on that niche. In order to become a top-level course provider at a focused niche you must specialize and become the best at it, unless you wish to become the next EdX.
It is a good idea to put together a hook statement that will distinguish your course’s benefits right off the bat. The first question that comes to mind when you think of my course is: what distinguishes it from the rest?
If your niche is graphic design, do not create a course called “Graphic Design for Beginners.” This is too broad and does not pertain to graphic design. Taking a course called “Adobe InDesign for Ebook Publishers” is a better option, since it is more focused and more natural to market.
Focus on a few different areas rather than trying to cover all the bases at once. This means that you should design your online course to have one point of focus and not stray too far from it or veer off topic. If you are planning to branch out into other topics, then you will need to see some initial success with your teaching.
5. Invest time in marketing your business
The work you have put into creating a course is just about to get underway after the hours have been put into it. After you have created your product, you need to market it.
There is a need to create a website dedicated to your business. Creating a web presence that can help people find you and view you as a credible expert in your field is a crucial step. Ideally, your website should have an active blog with relevant content that is search engine friendly (SEO-optimized) and relevant to your niche.
Develop a social media following through the use of social media. Establish a Facebook page for your business so that you are able to engage with your community. Make sure that your latest updates are shared on Twitter and Instagram.
Maintaining a regular schedule for your social media posts and providing engaging content will help you create a community behind your brand.
6. Take control of your brand
The control of your brand should be completely in your hands. This app should allow you to set your own pricing and policies, incorporate your company’s logo, and tailor the experience to meet the needs of your business.
When you are developing your brand, you have to be the face of the course and you should be able to display your personality in the way your classes are designed.
7. Deliver a world-class learning experience
There should be a strong emphasis on delivering a great educational experience through the platform. I think you should include multiple types of content like audio, text, documents, etc. You should also look for a feature that will allow you to make quizzes and award completion certificates, add forums, send drip-cooked courses to students over a period of time, and other useful features.
8. Integration with Other Tools
Consider integrating the product with other solutions by choosing a platform that allows easy integration. There is nothing more important than making sure that your learning platform can function in conjunction with other tools, such as e-mail marketing solutions, analytics solutions and other features.
There are many popular integrations with tools like MailChimp, Google Analytics, WordPress, and even more. Having said this, if you have started a blog and you are selling courses through your WordPress site, you will need to choose a platform that is easy to integrate into your current website.
There are several plugins available for creating an online course business with WordPress. Using the plugin directory for WordPress will help you pick the right plugins:
9. Consider Your Budget When Aligning Sales
A flexible pricing option and a platform that fits your budget are important. Selling online courses can be a difficult process if you don’t spend money on them in the beginning. However, if you look at pricing before making your decision, you can get a much better idea of the potential return on your investment.
If you want to sell your courses through different platforms, it is important to be aware of whether they charge hidden transaction fees on your sales.
As you create your online course and select your online learning platform, you will notice that most paid plans eliminate the heavy transaction fees.
10. Take advantage of customer support if you need it
There needs to be excellent customer service and training for the platform. There are a great number of services that offer free resources and training, a dedicated account manager, and a helpful community of instructors to assist you.
Use those resources if you need help – don’t be apprehensive to ask for help if you are stuck.
Which Online Courses Are Popular?
In order to sell online courses on your website or through another platform, it’s crucial to know which classes are the most popular this year.
Creating engaging ideas for the students can be challenging when you have a limited amount of time. Recent data released by The Online Course Report shows that the top 80 most popular on-demand courses are listed.
They offer some of the most popular and highly rated online courses in the world, including:
- EdX: The Science of Everyday Thinking
- Udemy: The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0
- Udemy: SEO Beginners: How I Get 1,000 Visitors a Day with SEO
- Coursera: An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python
It is the most popular class for developers.
Seeing this list, it is clear that students are seeking highly informative and impactful education. Your success doesn’t depend on ranking high.
In addition to creating engaging classes, you need to ensure your students learn about topics they are passionate about.
Do your research before deciding how to choose the best online course platform: consider student experience, marketing features, and pricing when making your decision.
It is certainly true that all of the best platforms for creating online courses allow you to upload your content easily, provide training for your students, and earn course revenue as well.
There are several companies which offer the ability to create and manage online courses.
It is your actions that will ultimately determine the success of the project.
Your course will succeed and you will be able to sell your courses online if you have both quality content and can effectively market yourself and your course.
An application platform is exactly what it sounds like, an application platform.
Yes, it’s a branded piece of media that’s engaging and interactive where you can share your knowledge and experiences, but it still needs planning, market research, development, and marketing, as well.
My top three picks are as follows:
- Thinkific: Best Overall Online Course Platform
- Learnworlds: Best for Interactive Learning
- Teachable: Best for Beginners
- Kajabi: Best for High-End Information Businesses
Thinkific provides all the high-end features you need, along with a very affordable price, making it the clear winner in the overall comparison.
Let’s face it, with an endless amount of topics to teach, and millions of students ready to get started right now, why would you wait any longer?
Thinkific is an online course creation and sales platform for anyone who is ready to start creating and selling online courses.