So you’ve had the glorious idea to create and sell an online course. More than that, you want to provide meaningful value to students. Ecourse platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and EdeX make instructional content easy and often free to access. With low budget options available like cheap cameras, screen sharing software, and microphones, even the most strapped for cash entrepreneur can create an online course without spending millions.
Best Online Course Creation Platform
The first thing you need to think about before you identify your online course platform is determining what type of content you’ll be hosting. Most small business owners and content creators think of videos, text, and digital files such as PDF’s as a way to house helpful information for their students. Perhaps you have some elements of live components such as group coaching, 1:1 sessions, or even have students submit assignments. Once you map out your course outline and lesson plan, it’s important to consider the many different aspects of what each course platform has to offer. But where do you start? There are multiple different payment plans, pricing options, and many different reviews. In this article, I’m going to take a deep dive into providing my honest review on the best platform to build, create, and sell an online course.
Thinkific offers a free course hosting plan that allows you to sell courses for free with a 10% transaction fee. The next tiered plan is $49/per month with a 5% transaction fee. See Thinkific’s full pricing and plans here. All paying plans include email marketing, affiliate integration, coupon code generation, assessments, and drip content (meaning you can release content over periods of time). I’ve personally used Thinkific for hosting my online courses because of the advanced types of content that this software allows me to host including interactive content such as assignments and even integration with Accredible which provides badges when students complete a lesson. Some of the cons of this platform are that the sales landing pages don’t provide as much customization as other landing page builders like Leadpages or even WordPress powered Elementor. The good news is that I use external sales pages and cart checkout software to fix this and I’ve found it’s quite an easy way to get around this dilemma.
Teachable’s lowest payment option takes the largest transaction of 5% for each sale for an annual amount of $29 per month/ billed annually $348. Their sales page customization options are limited. Teachable also offers a great affiliate dashboard for your course. The next program pricing option is for $79/billed annually for $948. Again, the sales page optimization of Teachable’s course platform is limited, but they do have a great application. If your students are frequently on the Teachable app, it makes the course content easy to review while on the go. This is one of the features that I believe has made this course platform a very popular one, especially for content creators like bloggers. The major disadvantage I’ve heard from some of my clients and other course creators is the lack of ability to support assignment uploads. There is a work-around this option, which I go more into depth about in my Course Designer’s Toolkit Course, but it is not something that is inherently inbuilt in the Teachable platform.
Podia provides unlimited digital products including ebooks and courses, as well as memberships. The lowest payment option does not offer affiliate marketing. This would be for $39/month. Their next tier of $79/month offers an embedded sales cart checkout. I personally like Podia because of the beautiful sales page customization options such as fonts, colors, and logos compared to Teachable and Thinkific’s limited customization options. However, I don’t like that their lowest payment option for hosting an online course does not allow you to incorporate affiliate marketing and the sales page checkout options are limited to Paypal on the lowest payment plan. Podia is a great start for new course creator’s that don’t have a lot of upfront funds to invest in other more expensive competitors like Kajabi.
Kajabi offers their lowest plan with $119/month for $1,428 annually. Kajabi offers multiple customizations for this option but only allows for 3 digital products at a time. The major perks of this course platform is that it acts as an all-in-one solution including website content, courses and digital products, optimized cart checkout, as well as customizable sales and landing pages. The customization features for Kajabi are easy to edit and use making it a go-to for many small business owners. One of the biggest downsides I see to this software is the high cost of investment. Even at the lowest payment plan, affiliate options are not available making it difficult for a new entrepreneur without a large following to make a profit. So while this may be a good option for higher revenue companies, the small business owner and blogger might find it difficult to cough up the funds for this all-in-one solution.
Best Platform To Sell An Online Course
While it may be one thing to develop your online course on one of these course platforms, it’s quite another ordeal to have to sell your course. A big setback that people realize after developing their course is how to market and sell. That’s why I recommend people use customized cart checkouts. Leadpages, SamCart, Clickfunnels, and ThriveCart are all similar competitors that help online businesses monetize their online content through sales page customization and cart checkout optimization. And though course platforms like Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific offer cart checkouts, potential customers might not always convert into paying customers because of a lack of incentive. I’m going to give you my review of some common sales page and cart checkout software, but note that the best solution is something that you’ll have to customize based on your course and marketing needs.
Lead Pages offers three price points and includes monthly and annual plans. The best plan is $48/annual plan which includes checkout, 3 customized domains, and email marketing. The annual cost without sales tax is $576. Sales pages can be customized including checkout timers. Leadpages is my recommendation for Squarespace users that don’t have the time or tech-savvy to customize their Squarespace website sales page. There are also multiple Leadpage templates out there than can help you customize your cart checkout and consumer opt-in experience.
SamCart offers a monthly base fee of $49 which allows for email integration, cart checkout, and sales page customization. Sales pages can be customized. Sales pages can be customized including checkout timers. The annual cost without sales tax is $588 not including sales tax. Samcart also offers affiliate marketing and customized discount codes. I like SamCart because it offers a smaller monthly fee as well as sales page optimization including countdown timers.
ClickFunnels offers $97 per month for 3 customized domains and multiple payment gateways. It includes advanced email integration, digital downloads, and sales page customization. Even with its higher monthly fee, many people find a lot of success using this platform. I personally prefer recommending people to use SamCart or Thrivecart due to its ease in setup and affiliate marketing opportunities.
ThriveCart early in 2020 offers lifetime access for $495 including digital download hosting, email marketing integration, upsell offers and discount codes. Their pro version also includes sales tax customization, a powerful affiliate center for an additional amount of $195. I personally feel that ThriveCart is a great option if you are looking to scale and offer multiple online digital products, coaching, or membership subscriptions. Although it is a larger investment, the overall benefits of purchasing access to a software like this can help to really maximize and convert your digital products into real revenue.
Creating an online course is something that is well worth your time. And while your success may not happen overnight, it’s something that can be beneficial for you and your students. I always knew that helping other people was what I wanted to do with my life. And I believe that you have the power to change the lives of your students by creating a course. Make sure you check out my Free Course Creator’s Starter Outline which is jam-packed with helpful information for you to get organized and start building your course.