16 Best Online Course Platforms of 2023 (With Free Options)
Are you looking for reliable online course platforms to help you create, market, and deliver online courses and build a successful online course business? Read on to discover 16 of the best online course platforms in 2022.
Creating and selling an online course is one of the best ways of making money online.
However, for your course to be successful, you have to make sure that you’re using the right online course software. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but there’s one small problem.
There are just too many platforms to choose from, which can result in analysis paralysis.
How do you tell which one is best for you when you have 50+ options, with each claiming to be the best?
To save you from all the hustle of testing multiple platforms, I have tried them for you and compiled a list of 16 of the best online course platforms, complete with the strengths and weaknesses.
What Are The Best Online Course Platforms?
Below are my top picks for the best online course platforms in 2022.
Best Overall Online Course Platform
I love Thinkific's high level of control it offers to course creators and how customizable it is. Deliver the exact kind of learning experience you want by customizing every student touchpoint, including your sales pages, your pricing, and the look and feel of your courses.
Thinkific is one of the best online course platforms for anyone looking for a hosted solution for creating, delivering, marketing, and selling courses.
One of the best things about Thinkific is that it gives you total control over your brand. With Thinkific, you get to build your own website that suits your brand, complete with your own domain.
Thinkific simply provides you with the tools you need to build your knowledge business, and then it gets out of the way. Your students won’t even know that you are using Thinkific.
The user experience on Thinkific is superb, both for teachers and students, and they offer excellent customer support.
Thinkific is an excellent choice for videographers, writers, podcasters, and other creators who want to diversify their income with courses.
- Total control: Thinkific gives you complete control over every aspect of your knowledge-based business, from the look and feel of your Thinkific school to the course data, pricing, and revenue. This allows you to give your students exactly what they want without limitations.
- Powerful site builder: Thinkific comes with a powerful drag-and-drop site builder that allows you to design your course website without having to write a line of code. You don’t need any technical expertise to build your Thinkific website. The site builder also offers dozens of elegant website themes.
- Custom domain: Unlike some platforms where you have to use the platform’s domain name, Thinkific allows you to add your own domain name. Having your own domain makes it easier for you to build your brand.
- Multiple content types: Thinkific allows you to use various content types in your courses, from text and PDFs to videos, surveys, and quizzes. You can also create self-paced courses, give assignments, hold live classes, issue certificates to your students, and so much more.
- Selling tools: Thinkific gives you access to essential selling tools that will help you boost your sales, including affiliate marketing options, coupons, multiple payment methods, 1-click upsells, membership sites, and course bundling.
- Thinkific App store: You also get access to an app store containing hundreds of third-party apps that you can integrate with Thinkific to give your students an even better experience.
- Data analytics: Thinkific gives you access to all the data from your students. You can then use this data to gain insights that will help you develop better courses in the future and make better marketing decisions.
- Thinkific Academy: Once you subscribe to Thinkific, you get access to the Thinkific Academy, which contains premium courses and webinars that will teach you how to grow and scale your online courses business.
Thinkific offers a free plan with limited features and courses and three paid plans starting at $39, $79, and $399 per month. In addition, Thinkific offers a 30-day free trial on their premium plans.
Thinkific charges zero transaction fees across all their plans.
Best Online Course Platform For Interactive Courses
While LearnWorlds doesn’t offer the most impressive user experience, I love how focused they are on interactivity. So if you want to build a highly interactive course, LearnWorlds is your best option. I also love their managed service, which takes care of the hard stuff, such as creating your online course for you and setting up your LearnWorlds school.
LearnWorlds is a great online course platform that has gained popularity over the last couple of years.
If you are looking to create and sell interactive courses, LearnWorlds is your best option since it focuses on providing a highly interactive learning environment.
The user experience on LearnWorlds is not as good as what you’ll get on Thinkific, but the features are pretty impressive.
- Highly interactive: Make your course engaging and allow your students to interact with your course material by adding overlay images, questions, links, pointers, titles, surveys, and so much more to your course content. LearnWorlds also supports the gamification of courses.
- Beautiful, customizable course player: LearnWorlds comes with a simple and elegant yet powerful course player with multiple learning pathways, such as free navigation or sequential course navigation. The course player also allows your students to highlight key points and take notes.
- Powerful page builder: Build beautiful pages for your online course website with LearnWorlds’ powerful page builder. LearnWorlds also allows you to add e-commerce features such as coupon codes, subscription plans, and payment processing to your website pages.
- Managed service: LearnWorlds has a premium managed service that takes care of complex tasks, such as customizing your LearnWorlds school, developing courses, uploading and converting your course content, and so on. With these activities taken care of, you can focus on the one thing that brings money into your pocket – your course sales.
- Synchronized transcript: To make your video lessons easier to understand, LearnWorlds automatically extracts the words from your video content and overlays them on the videos as synchronized, interactive transcripts.
- Sophisticated testing engine: LearnWorlds advanced testing engine allows you to test your students’ knowledge with various kinds of assessments, including assignments, tests, and quizzes. Once your students have demonstrated their competence, LearnWorlds even allows you to award them branded digital certificates.
- Video interaction stats: LearnWorlds gives you access to data and statistics showing how your students interact with your course content. You can then use insights gained from this data to develop better course content in the future.
LearnWorlds offers three main pricing plans costing $24, $79, and $249 per month, as well as a High Volume & Corporate plan that offers custom pricing.
LearnWorlds doesn’t have a free plan, but they do offer a 30-day free trial on their plans, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best All-Rounded Online Course Platform
Kajabi comes with all the tools you need to create, market, and sell online courses, making it an excellent option for professionals looking to scale their knowledge business. I also love the fact that you are not limited to courses. You can also sell other kinds of digital products through the platform.
Kajabi is an all-rounded online course platform that provides all the bells and whistles you need to market, sell, and deliver your courses under one roof.
In other words, it is more than an online course creation platform – it also gives you the tools you need to attract, engage, and convert people into buyers.
Kajabi is one of the best online course platforms for high-end course creators who charge top dollar for their knowledge, rather than tiny course creators who are just getting started in the e-learning industry.
- All-in-one platform: Kajabi gives you access to all the tools you need to build and sell highly successful courses. You get a course creation platform, a website builder, a landing page builder, an email marketing platform, marketing automation tools, payment tools, and data analytics, all wrapped in one powerful platform.
- Multiple product types: Courses are not the only products you can sell on Kajabi. You can also use Kajabi to sell membership programs, coaching programs, newsletters, podcasts, bundled products, file downloads, training portals, and many other types of digital products.
- PayPal and Stripe integration: Kajabi comes with native PayPal and Stripe integrations, allowing you to get paid quickly and seamlessly. It also supports different payment options, including one-time payments, trial plans, recurring subscriptions, and one-click upsells.
- Elegant course player: Kajabi has an elegantly designed course player, which gives your courses a premium look and feel.
- Pre-built templates: Choose from 6 professionally designed templates to quickly build a good-looking online course website. The templates are highly customizable, which means you’ll still be able to achieve a unique look for your website.
- Powerful email builder: Kajabi comes equipped with a robust email editor that allows you to design beautiful emails that lead to more conversions. What’s more, Kajabi will enable you to set up email marketing campaigns that run on autopilot, thus boosting your conversions and helping you build stronger audience relationships.
- Pipelines: The Pipelines feature allows you to build fully-automated lead generation campaigns with custom triggers and conversion-optimized pre-written copy. This will enable you to give your audience personalized experiences and attract more customers without extra effort.
Kajabi offers Basic, Growth, and Pro plans starting at $119, $159, and $319, respectively. There is no free plan, but there’s a 30-day free trial for the three paid plans.
Like Teachable, Kajabi charges zero transaction fees.
Best Platform For New Creators
I love Teachable’s simplicity and ease of use, which is why it is my top recommendation for those who are just starting with online courses and don’t want to get embroiled with technical details.
Teachable is another popular and robust online course platform that has been in the game for several years now.
The platform currently boasts over 100,000 course creators, collectively selling courses and coaching programs worth over $1 billion.
Teachable is pretty easy to use, making it an excellent option for people just getting started with online courses.
It is also quite affordable, which is great for novices who are not ready to spend lots of money on a platform.
Unlike some other platforms, however, Teachable focuses majorly on helping you create and sell online courses. As a result, its site-building and marketing tools are pretty limited.
- Multiple content types: Teachable supports different kinds of course content, including videos, text, PDFs, and quizzes. You can also host live one-on-one coaching sessions, create drip content, and award certificates to your students.
- Powerful sales features: Get access to tons of valuable tools that will help you increase your sales conversions. These include 1-click upsells, a highly optimized one-click checkout, coupon codes, sales tax handling, affiliate marketing tools, and so on.
- Custom domain: Teachable schools use a subdomain of Teachable.com by default. For instance, if we had a Teachable school named FounderJar, our default address would be founderjar.teachable.com. However, paid plans allow you to add your own domain and turn off all Teachable branding on your online course website.
- International payments: For those offering their courses and coaching services to students from across the globe, Teachable makes it easy for you by supporting payments in 130+ currencies. You don’t have to worry about where your students are.
- Multiple pricing plans: Teachable supports numerous pricing options, allowing you to offer pricing plans that work best for your students. Some of the available options include subscriptions, one-off payments, memberships, bundled payments, and so on.
If you are looking for more than the free plan offers, there are Basic, Pro, and Business plans starting at $29, $99, and $249 per month, respectively. Unfortunately, Teachable does not offer free trials on their paid plans.
Teachable offers a free plan that is one of the best you’ll find in the market. The free plan gives you access to unlimited courses, unlimited students, unlimited coaching services, unlimited hosting, and lots of useful features you won’t find on other platforms.
Best Platform For Online Coaches
I recommend Podia for entrepreneurs who want to incorporate online coaching into their knowledge business and those who want to build a community of engaged students.
Podia started its life as Coach, a platform designed primarily for online coaches.
The platform has since evolved to support courses and other digital products like webinars, your own private membership site, and digital downloads. However, it remains the best choice for online coaches.
Aside from courses and coaching, Podia is also an excellent choice for entrepreneurs looking to build online communities.
- Robust features for coaches: Podia provides powerful features that make life easier for online coaches, from managing bookings to accepting payments. The platform also integrates with popular calendar applications like Calendly and Acuity for easy session scheduling.
- Multiple product options: Podia does not limit you to courses and coaching services. You can also host webinars, sell digital downloads like eBooks and audiobooks, or build a community.
- Multiple course options: Podia supports various types of courses, including standalone courses, structured online courses, self-paced courses, bundled courses, pre-launch courses, and cohort courses with specific start dates. Supported file types include text, images, videos, PDFs, quizzes, audio files, links, certificates, PSD files, and many more.
- Robust membership features: Building online communities is a breeze with Podia’s comprehensive set of membership features. You can create communities where members can interact, offer tiered pricing plans for different groups, create product bundles exclusive to specific groups, and connect your online community to Slack and Facebook groups.
- Email marketing: With Podia, you don’t need a subscription to expensive email marketing software tools. Podia has an email marketing feature that you can use to send email broadcasts and set up automated email campaigns.
- Affiliate marketing: Boost exposure for your course by running your own affiliate program and partnering with your students and other online marketers. You can set your own custom commission terms through the affiliate marketing feature, view all your affiliates, invite new affiliates, make commission-based payouts to affiliates, and generate reports showing how your affiliate program is performing.
- Live chat widget: Podia also allows you to add an on-page chat widget to your online course website. This provides a great way to engage with your customers and turn site visitors into paying students.
Podia offers three pricing plans – a Mover plan starting at $39 per month, a Shaker plan starting at $89 per month, and an Earthquaker plan starting at $199 per month.
Podia doesn’t have a free plan, but a 14-day free trial is available for the three plans.
Best Learning Management System (LMS) Plugin For WordPress
LearnDash is not a standalone online course platform. Instead, it is an award-winning WordPress plugin that allows you to add and sell courses on your WordPress site seamlessly.
Despite being just a plugin, LearnDash offers an impressive set of learning management features, which explains why it is used by top businesses and universities globally, including Infusionsoft, Yoast, WP Elevation, and the University of Michigan.
- Drag and drop course builder: Building courses and adding them to your WordPress site is a snap, thanks to the intuitive drag and drop builder that comes with LearnDash.
- Focus mode: Distractions are one of the biggest challenges for online students. To make it easier for your students, LearnDash has a “Focus Mode,” which provides a distraction-free environment so your students can concentrate on the course.
- Superior quizzing capabilities: LearnDash has an advanced quizzing engine that allows you to keep your students engaged with up to 8 different quiz types and automation sequences for questions. LearnDash even has Gradebook technology that grades students based on their performance on quizzes and assignments.
- Multiple pricing models: Whether you want to sell your online courses as one-time purchases, monthly subscriptions, course bundles, or memberships, LearnDash supports all these different pricing models. The plugin even comes with automatic renewal notifications for pricing models that require recurring payments.
- Multiple payment gateways: LearnDash comes with WooCommerce integration, which allows you to accept payments from Stripe, PayPal, 2Checkout, and hundreds of other popular online payment gateways.
- Integrations: Want to add some external functionality to LearnDash? By integrating LearnDash with popular third-party platforms and apps, you can easily do this. Examples of apps that can integrate with LearnDash include Mailchimp, Slack, WooCommerce, ConvertKit, Zapier, Gravity, GamiPress, and SamCart.
- Robust user management: LearnDash allows you to form groups and subgroups of learners, enroll specific groups into a course, automatically withdraw course access for particular groups, define different membership levels for learners, and so on. You can also create forums to encourage discussions between learners within the same group or subgroup.
- Engagement triggers: You can also set up automated actions triggered by learners’ engagements with your course. For instance, if a student is lagging, the platform can trigger an email to ask whether the student requires some assistance with the course content.
LearnDash offers three pricing plans – a Basic plan that supports one site at $159, a Plus Package that supports up to 10 sites at $189, and a Pro Package that supports up to 25 sites at $329. These prices are a one-off payment, not a monthly subscription.
There’s no free plan or trial, but all plans come with a 15-day money-back guarantee.
Sturdy Online Course Platform That Is Ridiculously Easy To Use
Ruzuku is a great online platform course that makes a very bold promise – that it will help you teach fantastic courses people will love by making it ridiculously easy for you to teach online.
One of the first things most people notice about Ruzuku is how simple the platform is. This platform was made for amateurs who don’t have any prior experience with online courses, which is reflected in Ruzuku’s ease of use.
- Easy learning curve: Ruzuku has a straightforward onboarding process that leaves nothing to chance. Once you sign up, they’ll take you through a structured guide that will teach you how to set up your school, how to create online courses, how to market it effectively, and so on. You can go from signing up on Ruzuku to registering your first student in less than 2 hours.
- Flexible course pricing framework: Ruzuku doesn’t limit you to one pricing model. Whether you want to sell your online courses as subscriptions, memberships, one-time purchases, you can do precisely that with Ruzuku. You even have the option of allowing your students to pay for your course in installments.
- Student progress review: This platform comes with a dashboard that allows you to track how your students are faring. If you notice that some students are not progressing as expected, you can engage them and find out if they need assistance.
- Webinars and teleconferences: Make your courses more engaging by hosting live webinars and teleconferences. Note, however, that Ruzuku teleconferences have a limit of up to 200 students at a time. On the other hand, Webinars will accept up to 1,500 students simultaneously. You can also record the webinar and make it available to students who missed it.
- Discussion forums: Promote interaction and engagement among your students by creating discussion forums where students can connect with and continue learning from each other. Ruzuku even allows students to create their own personalized profiles, which is crucial when building a community.
- Course analytics: All data collected from your students belong to you. You can access this data and use it to guide your decision-making as you create and market your future courses.
Ruzuku has a Bootstrapper, Up-and-Comer, and University plan priced at $74.75, $83.08, and $125 per month. You also get a 14-day free trial with all three plans.
8. Academy Of Mine
Best Online Course Platform For Professional Training, Continuing Education, And Certifications
Academy of Mine is a highly customizable, all-in-one high-end learning management system whose goal is to help you create, manage, and deliver high-quality courses.
Academy of mine puts a lot of emphasis on providing the tools organizations need for their employees’ training and continuing education. Still, it is also an excellent fit for entrepreneurs who want to build their own online course business.
- Drag and drop course builder: Creating your course is a simple affair with Academy of Mine’s easy-to-use drag and drop course builder. Everything is easy and intuitive, from adding modules to your course curriculum to defining how to deliver the course content.
- Flexible website builder: If you already have a website, you can easily connect it to Academy of Mine with a few clicks. If you don’t have one, Academy of Mine has a flexible website builder that allows you to build a beautiful website with a powerful WYSISYG editor. They also have dozens of pre-built templates that you can use to speed up the process of setting up your website.
- Powerful exams and quizzes: Academy of Mine allows you to create different types of exams and quizzes, including short answer questions, fill in the blank questions, multiple-choice questions, and true/false questions. You can also set the minimum percentage for a pass, give a provision for retakes, provide explanations to answers, and so much more.
- Multiple content types: Create online courses with varying content types, including text, audio, PDF, video, quizzes, SCORM, webinars, and live streaming.
- 100% white label: Take control over your branding and student experience by removing all Academy of Mine branding and adding your own logos, colors, and other branding elements.
- Translations: Targeting students who speak a different language? Academy of Mine offers multiple language translations, including English, German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Analytics and reporting: Academy of Mine gives you detailed students and course analytics, which you can use to gain ideas on how to design better courses and market your courses better. You even have the option of exporting your reports as Excel files.
Academy of Mine has an Essentials plan costing $599 per month, a Professional plan costing $899 per month, and an Enterprise plan that offers tailored pricing. Academy of Mine also allows you to request a free trial for the Essentials and Professional plans.
Simple Affordable Online Course Platform That’s Best Suited For Beginners
Teachery is a simple platform designed for those who want an easy way to get started with online courses. The interface is user-friendly, creating courses is simple, and the platform is quite affordable.
It’s good to note that Teachery is not the most powerful platform you’ll find on the market. Instead, Teachery focuses on helping aspiring course creators stop dreaming and start building their courses.
- Simple course builder: Teachery’s has an elementary online course builder that makes the course creation process very easy. Teachery claims that its online course builder is so simple that anyone who can compose and send an email on Gmail has all the necessary skills to create a course on Teachery. What’s more, you get two rock-solid course templates to choose from, as well as step-by-step guidelines on how to set up your course.
- Unlimited everything: There are absolutely no limitations on Teachery. Whether you want to create 1,000 courses, set up 10,000 landing pages and dozens of payment pages, or register 1,000,000 students, Teachery will never charge you extra for taking advantage of their excellent features.
- Email integration: Email plays a huge role in marketing an online course, which is why Teachery comes with native Mailchimp and ConvertKit integrations. Whether you simply want to build an email list of potential students or set up an email marketing campaign to promote your new course, Teachery’s got you covered.
- Custom domains: Teachery allows you to host your course on their domain name, but if you want to give your course a more professional appearance, you can connect your own domain to your Teachery account. What’s more, when you add a domain, Teachery gives you an SSL certificate at no extra cost.
- Affiliate marketing: Teachery has an affiliate feature that makes it easy to partner with affiliate marketers to market your course in exchange for a commission. Teachery takes care of tracking affiliate sales and making payouts, so all you need to do is find affiliates to promote your course, while Teachery takes care of everything else.
Teachery is quite affordable. If you pay monthly, the service costs $49 per month, or $470 per year if you pay annually, saving you 20%. In addition, Teachery allows you to try the service with a 14-day free trial.
Top LMS Software For Virtual Classes
WizIQ is an affordable and easy-to-use learning management system that provides educators and teachers with the tools for creating and delivering virtual classes and online courses.
The platform boasts over 400,000 instructors and over 4 million students from more than 200 countries.
- High definition live learning: WizIQ comes packed with impressive features that allow you to deliver high-definition live learning. These features include echo-free audio, high-resolution video course streaming, live chat, online whiteboard, polling, and many more.
- Mobile learning: Your students don’t need access to a computer to keep up with their classes. WizIQ has an Android and iOS app that allows students to access learning material through smartphones and tablets.
- Reports and analytics: WizIQ provides you with data and analytics showing the performance of your courses, your learner’s progress, and other relevant data that can help you become a better course creator.
- Robust testing: Set up tests in 9 different formats using the WizIQ online exam builder and make the tests more engaging and interactive by adding pictures and other media. You can also customize the tests with rules and guidelines and generate scorecards and reports to grade and analyze your students’ performance in the tests.
WizIQ plans and pricing start at $25 per month, with different plans for live classrooms and the learning management system. The service's total cost will depend on the features you want on your plan.
What Are Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms are websites, online course creation software, and learning management systems that allow people to productize their knowledge, skills, and experience and package them into online courses and coaching services. The creators then make money selling courses and coaching services to students.
Also known as online teaching platforms, these platforms save you from the trouble of having to build your own dedicated online course website from scratch, which requires technical expertise and considerable investments in time and money.
Most of these platforms come equipped with online course builders, which allow you to create your online course within the platform.
You can add course content in text format through the online course builder and upload images, PDF files, and videos to the course. Some provide hosting services for your video content, while others work with videos hosted on third-party hosting sites.
These platforms also allow you to build a website to promote your online website. Such online course websites typically have sales pages, landing pages, payment pages, as well as a members’ area that your students will use to access the courses they’ve subscribed to.
The platforms will also give you access to payment gateways to help you accept and manage payments from your students.
What Are The Best Online Learning Platforms?
Unlike online course platforms, which focus on providing creators and educators with the tools they need to create and sell online courses, online learning platforms, also known as online education platforms, focus more on learners.
The best online learning platforms make it easy for learners to search for, pay for, and take online courses. You can think of them as marketplaces for online courses.
These platforms make it easier for you to find learners to buy your online courses, but they don’t give you much control over things like the learning experience, pricing, or your students’ data.
If you’re looking to drive more sales to your online courses through online learning platforms, here are six of the best you’ll find in the market today.
Best Online Course Marketplace With 40 Million+ Students
Udemy is one of the largest and most popular course marketplaces, boasting over 50,000 instructors, 40 million students, and over 100,000 courses. You’ll find some of the best online courses on this platform.
The 40+ million students are all potential students who could buy your course, making Udemy an excellent option for instructors looking to increase their sales.
Udemy allows you to set the prices of your online courses, but with one limitation. You have to price your course between $11.99 and $199.99.
Therefore, if you want to create a very high-quality course and charge premium fees for the course, Udemy might not be the best platform for you.
Pricing And Payments
Udemy does not charge instructors any fees to list their online courses on the platform. However, the platform takes a percentage of all the sales made through the platform.
If a student buys your online course due to your own promotions or using your unique coupon or referral link, you get to keep 97% of the net revenue, while Udemy receives the remaining 3%.
In situations where a student finds and purchases your online course by browsing through the platform or Udemy’s promotions, Udemy will keep 63% of the net revenue, while the instructor gets 37%.
12. Shaw Academy
Best Platform For Online Degree Programs
Shaw Academy is a premium online learning platform that gives students access to high-quality online courses across three distinct categories: entrepreneurs, professionals, and hobbyists.
One of the most significant advantages of Shaw Academy is that its courses are accredited. When you complete an online course at Shaw Academy, you get awarded a diploma recognized in multiple countries around the globe, including the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, India, and South Africa.
Their online courses being accredited means that not everyone can sell their online courses on Shaw Academy. All the teachers are highly qualified and vetted by Shaw Academy, and you have to work solely for them.
Since it doesn’t allow online courses from independent course creators, Shaw Academy is not the best choice for everyone.
However, if you are looking for an opportunity to make a steady income from creating online courses, you can apply to join them as an educator.
Shaw Academy is also a good option for course creators looking for high-quality and accredited courses that they can use to improve their skills.
For students, Shaw Academy offers four weeks’ free access to all courses, after which students then pay a monthly subscription fee, which starts at $49.99 per month.
Best Marketplace For Selling Creative Courses
Skillshare is another popular online course marketplace that allows anyone to create their online courses and make them available for sale on the platform.
The site mainly focuses on creative classes, though these are not the only courses you’ll find on the platform.
Since its founding in 2010, Skillshare has paid over $5 million to its online course creators and currently boasts over 5 million students.
Skillshare allows you to upload courses featuring video classes between 10 to 60 minutes long, with each class accompanied by a class project. Skillshare even offers creators help in creating and uploading high-quality classes.
They also offer tips and guidance on boosting your online presence, both on Skillshare and outside, to drive traffic to your online courses.
Note, however, that on Skillshare, you won’t be able to sell your courses to individual students. This is because Skillshare doesn’t sell courses individually. Instead, students subscribe to access all the content available on Skillshare.
Pricing And Payments
Creating and uploading your online courses on Skillshare is free. Creators get paid a monthly royalty for every minute of their content watched by Skillshare users. However, you have to get at least 25 students to enroll in your classes before you become eligible for royalties.
Skillshare also pays a bonus of $10 for every student you refer to the platform. According to Skillshare, some of the top earners on the platform make over $100,000 per year.
14. LinkedIn Learning
Best Platform For Certified, Business-Related Courses
Started as Lynda.com before LinkedIn bought it, LinkedIn Learning is yet another well-known online learning platform geared toward business professionals. It is the platform of choice for professionals looking for the best online course to bolster their resumes.
The platform currently hosts over 1,000 online courses covering various business-related topics, including digital marketing, web development, and project management.
One advantage of LinkedIn Learning courses is that they offer certifications, which learners can add directly to their LinkedIn profile as proof of their expertise.
To start selling your online courses on LinkedIn Learning, you have to apply to become an instructor.
If you sign up, LinkedIn will bar you from creating similar online courses on other platforms if the courses cover the same topic and target the same audience.
Pricing And Payments
Creating and publishing your online courses on LinkedIn Learning is free once your application is approved. LinkedIn Learning instructors get paid in royalties, based on the contribution of your courses to LinkedIn’s revenue.
LinkedIn Learning also gives you the option of getting a royalty advance, which means you get paid your royalties in advance. LinkedIn then uses revenue generated from your courses to pay off the advance.
Once they recoup the advance, LinkedIn will now start paying you monthly royalties based on the revenue generated by your course from that point onwards.
Best For Tech-Related Courses
Treehouse is a niche online learning platform heavily biased towards tech-related courses, including web design and development, gaming development, and mobile development.
The platform currently boasts 50,000+ students and over 300+ technical courses.
Being a tech-focused online learning platform, Treehouse has partnered with some top companies within the tech industry, including Google Developers, Microsoft, Amazon Alexa, and IBM Watson.
To have your online course on Treehouse, you have to apply to become a guest teacher on the platform. Once your application is approved, they’ll then provide you with guidelines on creating high-quality courses to be published on the platform.
Best For Professional Courses
Coursera is a giant online course marketplace that focuses on professional courses.
The platform features courses from expert teachers and some of the world’s leading universities and companies, including Google, Imperial London College, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and IBM.
To create and publish your online courses on Coursera, you have to apply to become an instructor and submit the course you want to teach for approval. For a course to be approved, it needs to have at least 10,000 words of lectures or 25 pages.
It’s also good to note that even after your course is published on Coursera, you still retain the rights to your course.
Pricing And Payments
Coursera does not charge instructors any fees to have their online courses published on the platform. Instructors get 40% of the revenue earned from the sale of their online courses, while Coursera keeps 60%.
How Do I Create And Sell Online Courses?
Creating and profitably selling online courses involves the following five key steps:
Step 1: Figure Out The Costs To Develop Your Online Course
The first thing you need to do before you start working on your online course is to determine what it will cost you to develop the course and whether this is an investment you are able and willing to make.
Skipping this step will significantly increase your chances of failure. For instance, if you don’t have video editing skills, you might need to hire a video editor.
If this is not something you had budgeted for, your online course will stall before completion because you don’t have the money for it.
Fortunately, creating an online course is not a costly undertaking, especially if you already have the necessary equipment and skills. Some of the costs include:
- Online course platform subscription costs: $0 – $500, depending on the platform and preferred plan.
- Equipment costs: $0 – $2,000. Optional if you already have your equipment.
- Video editor: $20 – $100 per hour, depending on experience level. Optional if you have the skills.
- Graphic designer: $20 – $70 per hour, depending on experience level. Optional if you have the skills.
- Voice over artist: $40 – $100 per hour. Optional if you do it yourself.
When calculating the cost of developing your online course, don’t forget to factor in your time investment. Creating a 1 hour long professional online course could take up to 80 hours of your time.
Step 2: Choose The Right Online Course Platform
After determining what it will cost you to develop your online course, the next step is to pick the online course software you’ll use to create, host, and sell your course.
First, think about your requirements. Are you looking for a platform that will make it easy for you to create your online course while allowing you to determine your students’ user experience, how to price your course, and so on? If this is what you want, go with a standalone course platform like Thinkific.
If you want a platform that will handle everything for you, including sales and marketing, you’ll be better off with an online learning platform like Udemy or Skillshare.
Note, however, that you will have less flexibility in setting the prices for your courses with online course marketplaces. Therefore, these platforms are not a good option if you’re looking to sell high-priced courses.
Second, you need to think about the ease of use. Assuming that this is your first time creating an online course, go with a platform that offers a straightforward online course builder.
This allows you to focus on building your course rather than spending all your effort figuring out how the platform works.
Finally, think about your budget. When starting, it’s always a great idea to pick a reasonably affordable platform.
At this point, you’re wetting your feet, so there’s no point spending hundreds of dollars on a platform only to end up making one or two sales.
Step 3: Use The Best Equipment And Software
Today, consumer technology is so advanced that you can record your online course with nothing else but your smartphone.
If you want to create high-quality online courses that you can sell at premium prices, however, your smartphone won’t do. You’ll need to invest in some professional equipment.
Below are some of the best equipment and software you need to invest in to create premium quality online courses.
Assuming you will have audio or video content in your course, you must get a high-quality microphone to record your voice. Low audio quality makes you unprofessional and affects your students’ learning experience.
Examples of high-quality microphones that you can invest in include the Logitech – H390 USB Headset with Noise Canceling Microphone, the Blue Yeti, and the Pop Voice Professional Lavalier Microphone.
Having a good set of headphones is very useful during the editing process. You’ll want to hear all the subtleties in the recorded audio and ensure it is crisp clear.
Some of the best headphones that we recommend include the Logitech – H390 USB Headset with Noise Canceling Microphone, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, the Sony ZX Series Wired On-Ear Headphones, and the Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Headphones.
Screen Recording Program
Sometimes, you might need to record your computer screen to demonstrate something on your computer or display a slideshow presentation. In that case, you’ll need access to a screen recording program.
There are many screen recording programs in the market, but I’ve found Screencast-O-Matic, TechSmith Camtasia, and Telestream ScreenFlow to be among the very best.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a high-quality USB webcam for recording videos for your course content. The webcam will also come in handy if you’re going to be holding live classes with your students.
An excellent example of a reliable webcam that will give you a high-quality video feed is the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam.
Audio And Video Editing Software
After recording your course content, you’ll need to edit the audio and video to ensure everything looks and sounds professional.
This might mean adjusting the video lighting, cutting off unnecessary parts from the video, removing background noise from the audio, and so on. Of course, you need access to video and audio editing software to do all this.
Some of the best software applications for video editing are Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and iMovie. For audio editing, you can use Audacity or Adobe Audition.
Lighting And Accessories
To improve your video quality even further, it’s a good idea to invest in some good lighting and other filming accessories.
Some of the things you might need here include a stand for your webcam or a lightweight tripod, a ring light or a standalone lighting kit, a teleprompter, and so on.
Step 4: Design An Online Course That Delivers Results To Your Target Audience
You have already figured out the best online course platform for you, and you have all the necessary equipment. It’s now time to design and build a result-oriented online course.
In this step, you’ll need to:
Define Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience is an essential step. Who are you creating your course for?
Your target audience determines the topics you will cover in your course, how you will structure the course, and even where and how to market the course.
When identifying your target audience, one thing to keep in mind is that you should not target a very broad audience. With a wide audience, solving the problems of everyone within the audience will be a considerable challenge.
A better option is to target a niche audience and then focus on one problem that is very specific to that niche audience.
Determine The Key Outcome Of Your Course And Create Course Modules
When designing your course, don’t try to fit in all the information you can find about your course topic. Instead, think about the expected outcomes. What result do you want your audience to achieve when they complete your online course?
People don’t buy online courses because they want to fill their minds with information about a topic. Instead, they do it because they have a problem they want to solve or a specific result they want to achieve.
For instance, someone doesn’t buy a course about Adobe Photoshop because they want to learn everything about Photoshop. Instead, they do so because they want to learn how to use Photoshop to edit photos, create graphics for their social media, create digital art, and so on.
Therefore, don’t try to teach everything in your course. Instead, focus on a specific result you want to help your students achieve.
Once you know the expected learning outcomes, you can figure out the best course format, develop course modules that will help your students achieve the desired results, and create and record your course content.
Define Pricing And Launch Strategy
After you’re done recording and editing your course content, it’s now time to figure out how to price and launch your course.
The best way to develop a pricing strategy for your online course is to think about the costs of producing the course, marketing costs, the quality, and its impact on students’ lives.
You’ll also need to develop a strategy to launch your course profitably. Ideally, you should aim for a big launch that will allow your course to start attracting buyers and making money from day one.
Step 5: Market Your Online Course The Right Way
Creating a high-quality course is only half the journey. If you want to make money from the course, you have to put equal, if not more, effort into marketing your course.
So, what’s the right way to market your online course?
There are two primary strategies you can use to market and drive traffic to your online course.
Strategy #1: Building Your Audience
With this strategy, the first thing you need to do is to set up a WordPress blog and use it to showcase your expertise in your chosen field and build an audience.
As your audience grows, you’ll then need to build an email list, which allows you to keep your audience engaged and reach them whenever you want. You can quickly build an email list using ConvertKit and a high-quality lead magnet.
Once you’ve built a sizable email list, you can then start promoting your course to your email subscribers.
From time to time, you can also host high-value webinars to build more trust with your subscribers and sell your course. Webinars typically have higher conversion rates compared to all other digital marketing channels.
To host a webinar, you’ll need a reliable webinar platform like WebinarJam. First, use your email list to promote your webinars and increase attendees, and then use the webinar to convert the attendees to course buyers.
Strategy #2: Sell Your Courses On Online Learning Platforms
With this strategy, you’ll need to sign up on an online learning platform and upload your course to the platform.
This strategy is relatively easy since the online learning platform will help drive traffic to your course.
On the downside, however, there is a lot of competition on online learning platforms since hundreds of thousands of instructors target the same audience.
In addition, the online learning platform gets to keep a significant portion of your sales revenue, which translates to lower profit margins for you.
Types Of Online Course Platforms
There are several types of online course platforms, each geared to the needs and requirements of different course creators. Some of the most popular types include:
- Dedicated online course platforms: This is a type of online course creation software designed with one sole purpose – helping course creators set up their online schools and create their courses. These platforms give you total control over every aspect of your online school, including the branding, the learning experience, the pricing, and so on. Examples include Thinkific and Teachable.
- All-in-one online course platforms: All-in-one course platforms do not restrict you to courses only. You can also use them to sell other kinds of digital products. They also give creators the tools they need to market their courses, such as audience building tools, email marketing tools, marketing automation tools, webinar platforms, landing page builders, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and so on. Some examples include Kajabi and Podia.
- WordPress online course plugins: These are not online course platforms per se. Instead, they are plugins that allow anyone to add course functionality to their WordPress site. If you already have an existing website and are looking for an easy way to start selling courses on the site, WP online course plugins are your best bet. A good example is LearnDash.
- Enterprise learning management systems (LMS): These online course platforms focus on organizations and enterprises rather than individual creators. They help businesses create and manage courses and training material for their employees. They are also an excellent option for big creators who want to scale their online course business. Examples of enterprise LMS platforms are WizIQ and Academy of Mine.
- Online learning platforms: Also known as online course marketplaces, these platforms give learners access to thousands of online courses. They put your courses in front of millions of potential learners and help you market the course. In return, they keep a share of the sales revenue. Examples include Udemy and Skillshare.
Online Courses FAQ
There’s no limit to how much money you can earn with online courses. You can make as little as $100 or as much as $50,000 in a month.
According to a report by Teachable, 18% of course creators selling their courses on the platform make $10,000+ every month. According to the same report, some schools bring in over $400,000 within a month from their courses.
The amount of money you can potentially earn from online courses will depend on the size of your audience, the price of your course, and how good you are at converting your audience into buyers.
There are several reasons why creating an online course is a great idea.
First, online education is a $325 billion industry. Creating and selling online courses provides you with an avenue to get a share of these billions.
Second, online courses are a great way to earn a passive income. Courses allow you to keep earning even when not working, making them a great side hustle idea.
Once your courses start bringing in significantly more money than your full-time job, you can even quit your job and make online courses your full-time job.
For instance, Kat Norton, better known as Miss Excel, quit her job as a consultant to create online courses teaching Excel. Since then, her courses have brought in over $1 million. She even made $100,000 in a single day.
Third, creating and selling online courses gives you the freedom to live where you want. Selling online courses is a remote online business model, which means you get to work whenever you want, from wherever you want.
Feel like moving to some tropical island? No problem. You can even become a digital nomad and keep making money while traveling around the world.
Some of the most popular topics for online courses include:
– IT and software, including cyber security, ethical hacking, and AWS certification
– Personal development, including personal productivity, time management, leadership, and communication skills
– Development, including Python, machine learning, and web development
– Data science
– Business, including financial analysis, SQL, and PMP (project management certification)
– Design, including Adobe Photoshop, drawing, and graphic design
While these are the most popular online course topics, you don’t have to create a course around one of these topics to become successful.
You can make money creating courses around any topic, provided a significant audience is willing to pay money to learn about the subject.
Some of the factors you need to consider when choosing an online course platform include:
– Do you prefer a hosted platform like Thinkific or an online course marketplace like Udemy and Coursera?
– How easy is it to create and customize your course content?
– Does the platform support the content formats you intend to use on your course?
– Does the platform allow you to set up pre and post-lecture quizzes and tests?
– Does it give you total control over your branding elements, such as logos, fonts, and colors?
– Does the platform give you the data and statistics behind your courses?
– How affordable is the platform? Is it within your budget?
Online course platforms are pretty affordable. Most have plans that fall in the $20 – $100 per month range. Many also offer free forever plans, though these will often come with some limitations.
That said, however, you should expect to pay a lot more if you are looking for highly advanced features.
The highest pricing plans offering the most advanced features often cost hundreds of dollars per month, with some costing north of $500 per month.
Yes. There are several reasons why offering a guarantee and refund for your course is a great idea.
First, offering a refund removes fear from potential customers’ minds.
Before purchasing your course, customers don’t know whether it will help them solve their problems. They are taking a risk.
By offering a refund, you’re making your course a risk-free investment for them. Your students know that if the course doesn’t meet their expectations, they can always get their money back. This removes fear from the customer’s mind and leads to more conversions.
Second, offering a guarantee and refund helps you build trust with potential customers. It shows you’re confident in your course and its ability to help learners positively.
People with poor quality courses don’t offer a money-back guarantee, because they’ll have to refund everyone who buys their course.
Some of the advantages of taking online courses include:
– They are an excellent way to increase your knowledge and skills.
– They are significantly cheaper than paying for classes in a formal educational institute.
– Attending online classes is more manageable since you don’t have to attend a physical class. Instead, you can attend an online class from your couch or even from a hotel room while traveling.
– Taking and completing an online course is an excellent way of improving your self-discipline. With online classes, there is no one to follow up with you at every single moment and ensure you’re taking your classes. Therefore, you need self-discipline to complete the course.
Pricing your course is a delicate balance between value and affordability. Charge too little, and potential customers will assume that the course offers little value, leading to lower sales.
Charge too much, and most of your target audience will not afford the course, again leading to low sales.
So, what’s the sweet point?
You can price the course anywhere in the $50 – $300 range for mini-courses. More advanced, comprehensive courses can fall in the $999 to $3,000 range.
You’ll note that I have given a vast pricing range for courses. This is because the price of a course will depend on its quality, development and marketing costs, and its impact on students’ lives.
For instance, if you have an entrepreneurship course that teaches people how to earn $10,000 monthly from an online business, many people would be willing to pay $5,000 for it.
However, the same people might not be willing to spend the same amount on a course that will teach them how to make an extra $500 a month.
Our Top Picks: Ready To Create And Sell Your Online Course?
All the online course platforms covered in this guide are great options for anyone looking to start creating and selling their courses.
You simply need to pick the best one for you, based on your requirements, budget, and the kind of learning experience you want to provide to your students.
If you’re still torn between the different platforms, however, here are our top 5 online course software recommendations: