Many of us could teach, and all of us can learn just about anything you can think of online. The best avenue for this is an online course platform. So what, you might be asking, are the best online course platforms right now?
Well, I’ll answer that question in this very post!
Please note that Learning Management System (LMS) is another term for online course platforms.
An LMS is a specialized platform or website that houses and distributes all of your course information to students. They exist solely to make the course production process easier for you, the course designer. Regarding online course platforms, there are three basic options:
I’ll discuss the differences among the three in the section below.
The 3 Types of Online Course Platforms
Creators would frequently turn to WordPress before the rise of standalone platforms for creating and selling online courses.
WordPress is typically used for the creation of blogs and web pages, not for the creation of online courses. However, because WordPress is so adaptable, there are a number of innovative WordPress plugins that can transform an ordinary website into an online course platform.
It takes a little more technical knowledge to set up WordPress in this method. It takes a little longer to get started. They also don’t perform or look as well as separate platforms, in my opinion.
LearnDash, LifterLMS, and LearnPress are all examples of WordPress-based online course platforms.
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You can choose a standalone online course platform to start your own school or website. They don’t host or promote any other courses that aren’t their own.
These platforms are ideal for establishing and growing your own business. On the downside, you’ll have to put in more effort to market and sell your course. Other traffic sources, such as your own website or YouTube channel, drive people to your online course.
If you persevere with it, solo online course platforms can be the most beneficial because you don’t have to give up as many earnings as you would on shared platforms.
Teachable, Thinkific, and Podia are examples of standalone online course platforms.
The shared online course platform is a course index that houses thousands of courses from a variety of producers, including yours.
When opposed to independent platforms, these platforms benefit from having a massive visitor draw. Thus you receive the added benefit of contacting more students.
However, you will typically give up more of your profits in exchange for this marketing power. Udemy is an excellent example of a shared platform.
The Best Online Course Platforms
Let’s have a look at some of the top online course platforms available today, which I’ve listed below.
Podia is a fairly new standalone LMS that is quickly gaining traction. It does not provide a free account; monthly subscriptions begin at $32.50 (annual billing). They do, however, provide a 14-day free trial (no payment details required).
Podia won’t charge you any transaction fees on any of their plans, which is a huge reason to use them to offer your online course. Yes, you get to keep all of the proceeds from the sale (after paying any PayPal or other processing costs, of course)!
All options include limitless everything (hosted, students, courses, and so on) as well as the opportunity to create coupon codes.
Additional capabilities, like the option to construct a membership site, are available if you upgrade to their Shaker plan. Students can pay a recurring subscription to gain access to instructional materials and courses if you have a large enough following. This has the potential to bring in a lot of money!
In addition to a free trial, Podia offers a live demonstration of their system once a week. So go to their website and register for their free live webinar.
Coursera is an online learning platform that allows students to take academic courses and receive a university diploma for a fraction of the cost of attending such classes or programs in person. Subjects covered include arts and humanities, arithmetic and logic, information technology, languages, and more.
Over 4,000 courses from over 200 colleges and corporations, including Yale, Google, and the University of Pennsylvania, are available on this platform.
A typical course, for example, may cost $39 and take four to six weeks to complete, whereas an online degree might cost $9,000 and take one to four years to complete.
Regardless, you’ll receive a certificate at the conclusion of your course or program, which can help you find work or get a raise. The course experience may vary significantly, but students can expect to see video lectures, self-paced quizzes, group forums, and hands-on projects on the schedule.
Coursera, like the other platforms on this list, is mobile-friendly, allowing you to learn from wherever you are.
It’s also worth mentioning that Coursera offers hundreds of free courses that prospective students can use to have a feel for the platform.
Teachable is a freemium site, so you can sign up for a free account! This makes it the ideal option for those who have never built a course before.
All options include unlimited hosting, unlimited courses, lecture comments, and simple quizzes as standard.
The Teachable Premium Plans start at $29 per month (billed annually) and include unlimited students, custom domain support, cheaper transaction fees, and the opportunity to create promotional codes.
You need Teachable’s most popular package, Pro, for $0 transaction costs. Their Pro plan costs $99 per month (billed annually) and includes the ability to add course completion certificates as well as the removal of any Teachable branding from your teaching institution.
LearnWorlds is an excellent choice for developing an online course that emphasizes social learning.
There is no free account at LearnWorlds, but you can sign up for a 30-day trial to explore what it can do.
Their Starter subscription is $24 per month (billed annually) and gives you access to unlimited students, paid courses, coupons, interactive ebooks, and quizzes. There are a lot of features on the Starter package, but there is a $5 transaction fee for every course sale.
To avoid transaction fees, you must subscribe to their Pro Trainer plan, which costs $79 each month (annual billing). This subscription also includes the opportunity to design bespoke certificates for students and a complete website builder with a blog and free courses.
LearnWorlds’ emphasis on establishing a social learning platform is perhaps the most compelling feature that sets it apart from the competition. It’s a site similar to LinkedIn, where students each have their own profile and participate in the community.
LearnWorlds’ social network focus is an intriguing way to online learning that you should consider if you want to develop a specific course.
If you don’t want to pay anything, Thinkific is definitely the most excellent online course platform.
Because Thinkific offers a Free price plan with no transaction costs, it’s an ideal alternative for producing your first online course. In fact, their Free plan allows you to build up to three courses.
Unlimited hosting, unlimited students (although some plans have an additional charge), student quizzes, and rapid access to any sale revenues are some of the basic features provided on all Thinkific subscriptions.
The Basic Plan, their entry-level premium membership, costs $39 per month (annual payment). This includes the ability to provide discounts for promotions and the opportunity to install a custom domain to align your course portal with your brand better. With their Basic plan, you can also create an infinite number of courses.
Pro, their most popular plan, offers sophisticated course price options, course completion certificates, memberships and bundles, priority assistance, and much more for those with more demanding needs. There’s no reason not to give Thinkific a shot now that it’s free to try!
Another freemium online course platform with a lot of unique features is TalentLMS.
Webinar integrations, unlimited storage, gamification, and unlimited admins/instructors are all included in all TalentLMS memberships.
The gamification element is a fun reward system that boosts student engagement. Students get points for performing various tasks, such as completing a lesson. These points allow access to additional sections of the course.
You can start using TalentLMS for free and create up to ten courses, but you are limited to only five students. Despite these limitations, the capabilities available make it an excellent choice for establishing an online course before subscribing to a premium plan.
Standard and Active are the two types of premium plans available.
Standard plans are subject to the number of students that sign up for your course and have their profile set to “active.” These plans have a lot of limitations. Monthly plans start at $59 per month (annual billing).
The number of registered users is infinite with active plans. It’s priced by the number of students that use the site each month. Monthly active plans begin at $129 per month (billed annually).
Kajabi is for experienced course authors with a large audience. It’s is a one-stop-shop for expanding your online presence. It’s more than just a learning management system. In addition to creating online courses, Kajabi can also generate landing pages and websites and offers a robust set of marketing tools.
All of these benefits, however, come at a price with no free account available. There is a 14-day free trial to give their site a try before paying $119 per month (billed annually).
Kajabi plans provide limitless landing pages and student emails as standard.
Basic, their most affordable plan, can manage up to 10,000 contacts and 1,000 active users. An individual who has logged in at least once in the last 30 days is considered an active member.
You can develop up to three items and pipelines with Basic. An online course is one type of product, while digital downloads are another (e.g., an ebook). A pipeline is an automated sales funnel that helps you increase your sales — and Kajabi excels at this!
Kajabi might not be the best place to start if you’re new to designing online courses. However, I think it’s worth signing up for their trial for a no-cost look under the hood.
Academy of Mine
The most expensive online education platform on this list is Academy of Mine. Its monthly fees start at a whopping $599! But, as you’d expect for that price, you get a lot of features.
Every month, you can acquire up to 2 hours of unique programming time with their first package, Essentials. Academy of Mine will collaborate with you to design a custom online course school that is tailored to your company. This distinguishes it from other online learning systems.
All options feature unlimited students, unlimited courses, quizzes, assignments, badges/gamification, certificate templates, and much more, in addition to the customizing assistance.
If you’re just getting started, Academy of Mine may appear to be excessive. If you’re serious about your online course side hustle, it might be worth considering in the future.
Creative Mind Class
For creators, Creative Mind Class provides a unique pay-as-you-earn cost mechanism.
Creative Mind Class, a platform for creative teachers such as artists, has introduced a really unique pricing strategy to the online course platform industry.
When you sign up for a Creative Mind Class account, there are no monthly or yearly fees. Instead, you will be charged a variable transaction fee based on the level of services you desire for your online school. So you only pay when you sell something.
A transaction fee of 8% is charged on their Basic plan (plus payment and processing fees). You will receive a ready-to-use teaching platform that can accommodate an endless number of classes.
You can upgrade to the Pro plan if you wish to include more student involvement elements like debates and feedback sessions, but with a 12% transaction fee.
Choose the Empire option to get everything Creative Mind Class has to offer, including landing pages with upsells. In exchange for the increased marketing ability, creators will be paid a 16% transaction fee. Signing up for a Creative Mind Class account is absolutely free, so it’s worth a try.
WizIQ is a one-stop-shop for businesses and tutors looking to offer online education. It also enables you to provide your students self-paced courses. The platform includes a user-friendly interface that allows you to brand all of your course materials with your own logo.
Students can access their courses from anywhere and on any device. There’s a course builder, virtual classrooms, test and assessment builder, eCommerce and reporting, and a lot more on the training portal.
You’ll also get features for your mobile app that are tailored to your needs. Overall, this is a fantastic tool for simulating a physical classroom learning management experience online.
WizIQ is ideal for professors and educators who want their students to be fully engaged in live interactive virtual classes.
WizIQ offers a variety of price choices based on the number of rooms, attendees, and registered users. The most basic package costs $20 per month. Although there is no free version, you can check out the software for 14 days for free.
There are no transaction fees on all of Ruzuku’s plans; however, if you’re looking for a free account, Ruzuku isn’t the place to go. Instead, they provide a 14-day trial period (no payment details required).
The trial contains all of the platform’s features with no restrictions, so it’s a terrific way to explore what it can do for you.
Unlimited courses, unlimited students, unlimited storage, coupons, and daily backups of your school are included in all price options.
For their Bootstrapper account, prices start at $74.75 per month (yearly payment). This plan has a lot of features. However, it does not include unlimited webinars, quizzes, or subscription and payment options.
You’ll need their Up-and-Comer plan, which costs $83.08 a month if you wish to add those missing features (billed annually).
Their most expensive plan, University, is $125 per month (billed annually) and is geared at people with large schools. You can add your own domain and multiple teachers to this plan.
Another online course platform that offers a free plan is CourseCraft. You can create as many courses as you want for up to 100 students with a free CourseCraft subscription. Coupon codes, instant payouts, and a discussion forum are among the additional features.
Transaction fees are high at 9% in exchange for these advantages with no upfront expenses.
Club, their entry-level premium plan, is $31 per month (billed annually) and includes unlimited students, unlimited storage, and no transaction fees.
The opportunity to sell add-ons to your course, such as private consultation time, is a fantastic feature of the Club Plan. This revenue-increasing upsell tactic is excellent.
Society, their most expensive plan, costs $63 per month (billed annually) and includes the option to construct a membership system, add a custom domain, set up an affiliate program, and set up tax on purchases.
A Teachery account comes with an unlimited number of courses, students, and landing/sales pages, as well as no transaction costs.
Membership payment plants, custom domain support, the ability to create coupon codes, and email provider connections are also available.
Unfortunately, there are no quizzes or course completion certificates incorporated into Teachery. As a workaround, you can develop these with third-party tools and import them into your Teachery school.
Does Teachery sound interesting to you? Start by watching a demo or signing up for a 14-day free trial to determine if it meets all of your requirements. If you’re still interested after that, everything is $39 per month (yearly billing).
DigitalChalk is an online course platform that offers developers a straightforward payment structure. Unlike most online course platforms, it has a single monthly subscription plan of $25. And this plan includes everything you’ll need to start creating online courses.
DigitalChalk includes a number of essential features, including unlimited courses, storage, certificates, gamification, and personalized branding.
You will be charged an $8 registration fee for each student who purchases a course; think of it as a transaction cost. Because this isn’t a percentage, it implies you’ll make more on high-ticket transactions.
You can also choose for their Active Users plan, which charges a higher monthly subscription fee based on how many active users you have.
Unfortunately, DigitalChalk does not provide a free trial, but you may request a demo, which I highly recommend before purchase.
Udemy is the world’s largest online learning portal, with over 150,000 courses available.
It is the king of online course hosting in terms of market share. Over 40 million students have attended their courses.
It is completely free to host and develop an online course on Udemy, and there are no limits to the amount of courses you may offer. However, in exchange for marketing your course, Udemy can take a sizable percentage of the sale.
You will receive 50% of the transaction rate if a student purchases a course that they found on Udemy. When compared to standalone online course systems, this represents enormous savings.
You will collect 97% of the sale if a student purchases your course on Udemy after clicking on a course referral link on your website or using a coupon code you provided.
Despite these restrictions, Udemy offers the advantage of promoting and doing the legwork for you. They have a unique review system and can easily attract new pupils. As a result, you may make less money per course sale, but you may sell more than if you used a freestanding online course platform.
Similar to Udemy, Skillshare focuses on giving shorter classes. Students pay a monthly fee to gain access to their online class portfolio through Skillshare. Their platform has grown in popularity in recent years, with over 2 million students and counting.
If you’re planning to create a short but sweet online course, Skillshare is an excellent place to start. Skillshare distributes highly effective classes rather than extensive, super-detailed online courses. In fact, their most popular lessons are only 20-60 minutes, with each video lasting about 2-5 minutes.
Skillshare claims that their top-earning teachers earn $100,000 or more each year. So, don’t be concerned about the length of your online course (class); with Skillshare, it’s all about quality over quantity.
On that basis, the platform’s commercialization of classes is pretty unique. Because Skillshare is a membership site, you’ll be paid royalties depending on the number of minutes watched, as well as bonuses for enrolling new students.
LifterLMS is another WordPress LMS that comes with a variety of add-ons. LifterLMS, like LearnDash, does not provide a free account. Instead, customers may get a 30-day trial of the plugin for just $1. If you’re still on the fence about LifterLMS, this is a minor fee to pay.
Prices for LifterLMS start at $120 per year, which includes access to the core LifterLMS plugin. However, if you want to add more features, you’ll have to pay for separate add-ons, which can cost up to $99 each year. It might be advisable to invest in their Universe Bundle if you want to save a lot of money.
The Universe Bundle is $360 per year and includes 14 add-ons, saving you $1,200 over the course of a year. PayPal and Stripe payment functionality and many design add-ons are included in the Universe Bundle.
If you’re interested in LifterLMS, I recommend signing up for their 30-day trial. It’s only $1, so it’s a tiny thing to pay for a glimpse into their capabilities.
If you’re looking for a WordPress-based LMS, LearnDash is definitely the best option.
LearnDash, like most WordPress-based online course platforms, is a premium plugin that costs $199 a year.
All LearnDash plans include the capacity to build an infinite number of courses, as well as the ability to manage an unlimited number of students, quizzes, and course completion certificates.
If you want more advanced capabilities, such as thorough analytics, you’ll require their ProPanel add-on ($229 per year), which is included in their Plus Package.
It’s a WordPress learning management system that over 2.5 million people have used.
AccessAlly is unquestionably one of the most extensive WordPress LMS choices available. The plugin includes everything you’ll need to build, develop, and sell your online course using WordPress, as intended.
As for its features, there’s a drag-and-drop course builder, student quizzes, homework submissions, and gamification.
AccessAlly works with a variety of marketing platforms, including Active Campaign and ConvertKit.
One-time charges and subscription plans are two options for pricing your online course. There’s also the opportunity to make gift certificates, which is a novel feature for an online course platform.
Prices start at an exorbitant $82 per month up to $2,500 per year. You want to make sure AccessAlley is perfect for you at that pricing.
Luckily, there’s a free demo available to discover more about their features. If you decide to buy, there is a complete 30-day money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind.
LearnPress is a free WordPress learning management system with paid add-ons.
It might be right for you if you’re looking for a free WordPress-based online course platform. The core plugin includes features for creating, managing, and selling online courses.
They also have a number of free add-ons, such as Course Review, which allows students to rate and evaluate your course, and BuddyPress Integration, which will enable you to add a forum to your school.
To further enhance your LearnPress website, premium add-ons and themes are available. Assignments, certifications, and various payment gateway compatibility, such as Stripe, are examples of premium LearnPress add-ons. These add-ons usually are $39.99 for a one-time cost.
Premium packages, on the other hand, can be purchased for $249.99. All premium add-ons, lifetime upgrades, and six months of technical support are included in their Pro bundles.
Systeme.io is an unfailing full-service marketing platform that primarily focuses on sales funnels. Managing a newsletter is one of the best features, but the best aspect is that it allows you to manage your entire venture from one place.
Systeme.io is one of the most user-friendly platforms for launching and scaling your internet business, including virtual courses.
This platform is specifically built for smaller companies and entrepreneurs who want to sell their items online. Best of all, you don’t need any technical skills or experience to use this platform.
The Startup package costs $27 per month and includes up to 5000 users. Of course, this plan has its limitations, such as the inability to create webinars or configure a custom domain.
The Webinars plan costs $47 per month. This plan also includes up to 10,000 subscribers, the ability to set up two custom domains, and the capacity to create up to three webinars.
The Enterprise subscription is $97 per month. It allows you to create up to 5 custom domains and a contact list of up to 15,000 subscribers, as well as unlimited access to all other capabilities.
Coursecats offers a Concierge Service that allows you to delegate the technical aspects of your course to the professionals.
Unlike the other WordPress LMSs on this list, Coursecats goes the extra mile and handles the WordPress setup for you. So don’t be concerned if you don’t know how to set up and configure websites.
All of this will be handled by their Concierge Service. Coursecats provides a multitude of step-by-step tutorials after you’re up and running to ensure you can get your content onto their platform.
With Coursecats, you have no limitations; you can build as many courses as you want and provide information to as many students as you wish.
You can pay monthly ($59) or annually ($497) to get Coursecats; the latter will save you $211 throughout the year!
If you’re interested in learning more about Coursecats, I recommend signing up for their 30-day free trial to explore what they have to offer.
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I hope this list has sparked some ideas for you as you consider which platform to choose to build and sell your online courses.
The sheer amount of options available can make you feel overwhelmed — I know because I’ve been there!
My recommendation is to experiment with as many different online education systems as possible. Most of them either feature a free plan or a free trial, so do your homework. Then choose the one that best suits your requirements.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve chosen a platform. I’m curious as to what you guys will use and why. Happy hustles!