The online course market is set to rocket to $325 billion USD by 2025. This is due to traditional education in lecture theatres, moving towards virtual classrooms, which is allowing anyone to start their own course and sell it online.
Forget creating expensive websites, landing pages or sales funnels. Within 60 minutes you can create your own course, using hosted online course platforms.
I've reviewed and ranked the 5 best online course platforms and provided 5 ways to create and sell online courses.
This ultimate guide looks at the New Zealand market, although pricing is in USD. It also looks at features, marketing tools, technical support, pricing and free trial information.
What Are Online Course Platforms?
In short an online course platform is a type of learning management system (LMS) that allows students to access digital classes. You may have used something similar if you've been at University in the last ten years called 'Moodle.'
These are new platforms that allow anyone to create their own courses under the umbrella of a brand name and allow one or multiple instructors to engage with students through video, image, text, audio and downloadable PDF files.
Additionally you can offer students quizzes, drip feed content on a daily or weekly schedule, let them take notes, offer 1-2-1 video calls and so much more.
There's many tools out there such as Teachable, LearnWorlds, Teachery, Podia, Thinkific, Ruzuku and Kajabi.
They provide an interface that allows you to point and click, drag and drop, upload and download your content into your very own online course platform.
You then choose a pricing model and charge your students to access their courses.
What Are The Best Online Course Platforms?
The best online course platforms make it possible for anyone to create their own course and spend time teaching students and increasing enrolments, rather than wasting time learning to code or build a flashy website.
If you're looking to learn how to start a blog and sell online courses, look for features you actually need. A lot of online platforms have many features that can cost a lot of money each month. You may only need the lowest or even free plan if one is available.
Here are my top picks for the best online course platforms to create a course:
Teachable.com is a website that allows users to share their knowledge with the world and earn money while doing so!
Content is able to be customised into a unique online course via any compatible device including smartphones, tablets or laptops, and websites can be easily modified with users able to choose from the existing layout or add their own pages and creative multimedia content.
There are 3 pricing plans available that each allow for unlimited courses to be created and an unlimited number of students. These are all billed annually but there is also a free plan that has a limit of 10 students.
The paid plans start at $29 a month for the basic plan and increase to the professional plan (most popular) at $79 a month, and the business plan (most exclusive) at $399 a month.
The main difference between the plans is the number of admin-level users who can access the site and teach, with the business plan allowing 100 different admin users, the professional plan allowing 5, the basic plan allowing 2 and the free plan only allowing 1.
For free plan customers there is a charge of $1 + a 10% fee for each paid course purchased by students, and those on the basic plan are charged 5% per purchase. The professional and business plans do not have any transaction fees.
Best Overall Online Course Platform
LearnWorlds.com is an online education platform where users can create custom courses that showcase their expertise and knowledge.
The platform acts as a school where users can teach their content in an engaging and interactive manner so that the learning experience is fun, encouraging student success.
Features include the ability to offer coupons, upsells and bundles, a community or social network, templates for website design, editors for branding and themes, ability to upload video content, compatibility with portable devices like phones and iPads for on-the-go learning, customisable languages so students can choose in their desired tongue, generation of leads, tracking of conversions, access to ongoing customer support, marketing assistance to grow your brand, and more.
It is free to sign up and access a 30-day risk free trial. Afterwards, there are four pricing plans and users can save by making annual payments.
The starter plan costs $29 a month (or $24 a month when paid annually), allows for 1 admin and issues a $5 fee for every course sale. The pro plan costs $99 a month (or $79 a month when paid annually), allows for 5 admins and charges no transaction fees.
The learning centre plan costs $299 a month (or $249 a month when paid annually), allows for 20 admins and also charges no transaction fees. All courses give access to unlimited course creation.
Best For Professionals
Teachery is an online platform that enables users to create their own courses and charge for their content. The course creation process is simple with nothing to install and nothing to learn, so that courses can be up and running quickly without any technical knowledge required.
There are 2 course templates that have proven effectiveness in achieving results for students and allow the content to shine.
Users can track and manage their students’ activity by accessing analysis charts and basic graphs that give insights into student learning and course progression which includes statistics like the time they spend on each website page.
Users can then use these stats to improve their courses and student outcomes. There are 2 paid plan options which include monthly payments at $49 a month, and yearly payments at $470 a year (20% discount).
Both plans offer full features with no transaction fees and users can experience a 2-week free trial to ensure the platform is the right fit for their teaching.
Features are the same for both plans and include unlimited courses, students and landing/sales pages, a 24/7 customer support team, custom domains, promo codes and discounts, lesson drip scheduling, customer analytics, the ability to export customer data, and more.
The biggest highlight on offer is the no transaction fees that ensure no extra payments are required regardless of how popular and successful a course may become.
Best Platform For Beginners
Thinkific allows users to turn their own knowledge and expertise into teachable content via custom online courses that have the ability to become a sustainable online business.
This company enables users to earn an income online and is changing the structure of how people learn online. Users are completely in control of their content and data and can make every business decision based on their own goals.
4 pricing models are available, all with a 30-day money back guarantee so that users can ensure the program is right for them.
The basic plan is $49 USD a month which is billed annually. The pro and growth plans cost $99 USD a month (billed annually) but the growth plan charges an extra 10 cents for each active student with the first 100 students free. The premier plan costs $499 USD for the year.
There is a free plan available that has a limit of 3 courses able to be created and all plans allow for unlimited students. Apart from the free plans, all other plans allow for unlimited course creation.
The premier plan offers multiple course administrators which means up to 50 people can access the account and teach content and 5 people can log in as site administrators.
The pro and growth plans allow for 5 course administrators and 2 site administrators, whereas the basic and free plans allow for 1 administrator only.
The Most Trusted Platform
Podia is an online learning platform that gives access to the tools required to create online courses, digital downloads, membership subscriptions and more, and then deliver these to their target audience.
Using 5 easy steps, users start by creating their own online store and finish the process by eventually selling their product to students.
The store is fully customisable to suit the user’s tastes and aesthetics which leads to the attraction of the students who will benefit from the course.
Already existing content is simple to list in the online store and users can easily design new courses and products to also add.
There are two pricing models available called mover and shaker. These models both offer 14-day free trials before payments begin.
The mover plan costs $38 a month with users able to save $78 by paying annually. This plan does not allow users to offer memberships to students and does not include affiliate marketing, third-party codes, a blog or free migration, which are all features only available on the shaker plan.
The shaker plan costs $79 a month with users able to save $158 by paying annually.
Both plans offer the features of unlimited product listings, unlimited customers, unlimited emails, and unlimited sales and hosted files.
Each also gives users their own storefront as well as email marketing, a built-in live chat tool, zero transaction fees, and 24/7 customer service support. Unlimited course creation and unlimited digital downloads are also offered on both plans.