Looking for the best online course platforms to boost your eLearning business? You are in the right place!
We’ve scoured the market to find the best online platforms to help you create, market, and sell online courses. We then tested each of them to put together this in-depth comparison post.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about all of our top picks, including their key features, pros and cons, and pricing systems.
And to make it easier to sort through your options, we’ve divided this post into two sections:
In the first section, we’ll look at the best online course platforms you can use to create and sell online courses through a website you own.
In the second section, we will look at online learning platforms. These are marketplaces where you can list your course alongside courses from other vendors and reach a much larger audience.
Plus, stick around until the end and we’ll also show you what to look for in a course platform, how to promote your course online, how to price your course, and more!
Clever? Let’s start!
- to pave – Best for most users. All-in-one platform to sell courses and more. It includes affiliate marketing, email marketing, customer messaging, etc. Great for beginners. Affordable + free plan available.
- thinking – The best dedicated platform for online courses. Extremely popular and has a significant set of features. 100% focused on online courses. Affordable + free plan available.
- LearnWorlds – Powerful course platform with a focus on learning tools. It includes unique features such as the ability to create a branded mobile app for your school. It is compatible with SCORM courses.
- LearnDash – The best WordPress course plugin. This will add more complexity to the sale of the course, but also gives you more control.
The best online course platforms compared
First, let’s take a look at the best online course platforms. These platforms allow you to create your own landing and sales pages, build your course curriculum, and sell course access directly through your own website.
This gives you much more control over your online business compared to selling on a course marketplace. And in most cases, you keep 100% of the profits.
#1 – Podium
to pave is our best platform for online courses. It’s an all-in-one eCommerce solution that you can use to build your website and start selling online courses, webinars, subscriptions, digital downloads, and more from an online store. And it comes with some great marketing tools built in.
Over 150,000 creators use Podia to power their online courses, and it’s clear why. It is one of the most powerful online course platforms on the market, with a user-friendly interface and some cutting-edge features.
The course creator is very intuitive. He can start with one of Podia’s templates and then customize them. Podia supports almost any type of media, so you can add images, videos, audio files, links, PDFs, quizzes, and more to enrich your lessons.
And unlike most course platforms, Podia comes with unlimited video hosting included. Therefore, you can upload your video content to the platform directly instead of embedding it from somewhere else.
This means you don’t have to rely on third-party sites like YouTube or Vimeo to host your video content and maintain full control and ownership.
You can create online courses and create custom landing pages for each one. You can then sell them as stand-alone courses or drip courses.
With drip courses, you deliver section-by-section content to your students at set intervals to keep them engaged and encourage them to stay subscribed to your course subscription program.
If you wish, you can also bundle courses together with your other Podia products and sell them as a single package.
You don’t even have to wait until you’ve finished creating your course to start generating sales. You can use Podia to pre-sell it before launch. This is a great way to validate your idea and build momentum before launch day.
Another thing we like about Podia is that it allows you to create cohort-based courses, courses that are set to start at a future date so that all of your students start at the same time. This can help create a sense of community and increase engagement.
And speaking of engagement, Podia allows you to issue certificates and rewards to students to incentivize course completion and keep them engaged.
You can also add multiple-choice quizzes at the end of each lesson to make sure they’ve been paying attention, track students’ progress to see how they’re doing and where they’ve gone, and even send them emails and page messages via of the widget the chat!
Everything is customizable in Podia. You control the look of your site, landing pages, and courses with flexible layouts. No coding is required and the interface of the website builder is very intuitive.
And of course, let’s not forget to mention the marketing tools. Podia comes packed with tools you can use to promote your course and increase sales.
For example, you can start by offering a free magnet to build your mailing list, then use Podia’s integrated email marketing toolset to send email broadcasts and set up automated email campaigns to nurture your leads.
Once you’ve moved them into your sales funnel and they’re ready to buy, give them a boost by sending them a personalized coupon for their first purchase.
You can also use the built-in affiliate marketing tools to set up your own affiliate program and turn your customers into sales reps. Set up custom commissions, invite new affiliates to the platform and start generating sales.
- Automatic tax collection. If you enable the «Charge Tax» feature, Podia will automatically charge customers the correct amount of tax based on their location.
- membership options. Set up your own private membership site and build an online community with private access only.
- additional sales. Increase your average order value with automated sales.
- instant payments. Podia pays instantly with no waiting period so you get your money as soon as you make a sale.
- unlimited everything. With Podia, there are no limits on courses, students, emails, or sales, so you can grow infinitely and sell as much as you can without worry.
- Zero transaction fees. Podia won’t take a cut of the sales if you sign up for a paid plan, so you get to keep 100% of the profits.
- Flexible payment options. Let customers set up payment plans or make one-time payments through Stripe, PayPal, etc.
- Free course migration. Move your course content and clients to Podia from your previous online learning platform for free.
- Set your start date. You can schedule classes to start on a certain date in the future, which is great for group classes.
- chat widget. Send messages to customers and site visitors through the chat box on the page to increase sales and engagement.
- exceptional support. Podia offers excellent live chat support seven days a week.
- website builder. Create your own mobile-friendly website with a free Podia subdomain or link to your own URL on plans Payments.
- simplified house. House Podia is turning like crazy. It’s quick and simple, so customers are less likely to churn.
- Free course migration. Move your course content and clients to Podia from your previous online learning platform for free.
Pros and cons
|Build your own community||No open API|
|Built-in live chat feature||Rigid page layout|
|Multimedia courses||Limited analytics (relies on third party integrations like Google Analytics)|
|Sell all kinds of digital products.|
|Easy to use|
Podia offers a free plan that includes most of the basic features and allows you to sell a training product and download. However, free users are subject to an 8% transaction fee on all sales.
You can upgrade to a paid plan starting at $33/month, which allows you to sell unlimited courses, training products, and downloads with no transaction fees. The money you’ll save on transaction fees should more than cover the monthly cost of the subscription.
Higher priced plans with advanced features like webinars, affiliate marketing, etc. are also available.
#2 – Thinker
thinking is one of the most popular online course platforms on the market. It has tons of cutting-edge features that can take your online courses to the next level, including live lessons and community building features.
Creating a course on Thinkific couldn’t be easier. The first step is to choose a preset template or theme. There are templates for everything from mini-courses to flagship courses, webinars, presale pages, and everything in between, and they all look great.
Course templates are pre-populated with rich features like quizzes, downloadable files, surveys, etc. and they are highly customizable. You can use the drag and drop editor to add/remove content and change the layout until everything is set up just the way you want it.
Your courses can include all sorts of file types, from video, text, and images to interactive elements like quizzes and polls.
But what we like most about Thinkific is the Communities feature. It allows you to supplement your online course by providing members-only content.
For example, you can set up virtual spaces to host discussions on different topics and interact with your students. Students can create their own student profiles and use @mentions to connect with each other, create threads, and reply to comments. This creates a shared learning experience where students learn from each other and from the instructor.
In addition to course creation and community building features, Thinkific also includes all the other eCommerce tools you need to run your online business from the ground up. This includes a website builder, built-in marketing tools, a built-in payment processor, student accounting, management and analytics tools, and more.
And if that’s not enough, you can extend its functionality even further with integrations through the Thinkific App Store. You can use third-party apps to automate email campaigns, create coupons, offer product bundles, convert leads, etc.
One last point to mention is that Thinkific offers the best support I have seen. There’s 24/7 online and phone support, plus an extensive knowledge base and creator community forum where you can find answers to all your questions.
- Drag and drop course builder. Use templates and a code-free interface to create online courses.
- app store. Use 80+ third-party apps that integrate natively with Thinkific and extend the functionality of your online course website
- live lessons. Increase engagement by streaming educational content live to your students.
- Evaluation functions. Add quizzes, assignments, and tests to check student progress and award certificates to those with good results.
- multimedia support. Embed videos, interactive content, images, PDFs, and more into your content.
- Website Builder. Create your own showcase with ready-made assignments and use it to promote your online course.
- Community. Create your own community with student forums and member-only content.
- E-commerce features. Checkout, payment processor, one-click upsell, tax and accounting functions, etc.
Pros and cons
|Highly extensible with third party applications||no mobile app|
|excellent templates||Communities are only included in higher level plans|
|Evaluation and participation of students|
|No transaction fees (even on the free plan)|
Thinkific offers a free plan that includes all the basic features and allows you to have unlimited students with no transaction fees!
When you’re ready to expand, you can upgrade to a paid plan with more advanced features, higher usage limits, like unlimited courses. Various pricing tiers are available starting at $39/mo.
#3 – Worlds of Learning
LearnWorlds is another fantastic online course platform that caters more to serious creators who care about education, academic institutions, and in-house training. It stands out for its focus on engagement and excellent selection of online learning tools. Some of its important features include interactive videos, custom user roles, and support for SCORM courses.
Like the other platforms we’ve reviewed so far, LearnWorlds offers everything you need to create courses and sell them online, including course creation tools, marketing tools, analytics, and customizable templates.
However, there are a few things that make LearnWorlds unique from its competitors. For example, unlike most other platforms, LearnWorlds is SCORM compliant, giving you more flexibility to switch between platforms if you wish.
It is also one of the only platforms that gives you the ability to create your own branded mobile app for iOS and Android that students can learn from on the go. It is 100% white label and supports in-app purchases and push notifications.
But what we love most about LearnWorlds is how interactive it is. It’s the only platform we’ve seen that offers a fully interactive video player. You can add hotspots, quizzes, links, overlays, tables of contents, and more to your videos so that instead of just watching the lesson, students can interact with it.
Not only that, but students can even highlight text as they read it and add their own notes to come back to later.
This type of interactivity increases student engagement and creates a more fun learning experience for your customers.
- Custom user roles. Control access to your school with predefined user roles and customizable permission levels, allowing you to collaborate effectively with your team.
- Hosted video content. LearnWorlds offers video hosting so you don’t have to upload them elsewhere and embed them separately.
- Deep analysis. See how learners engage with your videos, track completion rates, and gather actionable insights to inform your strategy.
- Customizable course player. Control your course layout and decide how students can navigate through pathways flexible.
- Note-taking features. Improve learning outcomes by allowing students to add notes and highlights to course content from the platform interface.
- ratings. Implement quizzes, tests, assignments and more. And they offer branded digital certificates to reward students who do well.
- marketing tools. Drive traffic, collect leads, and increase sales with affiliate management, coupons, high-converting sales pages and channels, SEO-friendly URLs, and more.
- website builder. Build your school website with world-class templates and widgets
- Mobile app. Access the mLearning marketplace with the Mobile App Builder. Customize the look and feel of your app to match your brand and control both your site and app from a unified interface.
Pros and cons
|The best platform for interactivity||No free plan (free trial only)|
|Unique features like note taking and interactive videos||High transaction fees on the Starter plan|
|Create your own branded mobile app|
|Extensive customization options|
Unfortunately, LearnWorlds doesn’t offer a completely free plan, but you can try it out with a 30-day free trial, no credit card required.
The starter plan is the lowest priced option and costs $24 per month plus a transaction fee of $5 per sale. Plans with no transaction fees start at $79 per month, also include unlimited courses and more features.
#4 – Teachable
Docile is another very popular online course platform. It is used by over 100,000 creators and is ideal for both beginners and experienced course creators.
As an all-in-one platform, Teachable comes with all the tools you need to build your website, launch your course, drive sales, and manage your students.
It supports more payment methods than most other platforms, so you can offer your customers more ways to pay. Don’t just limit yourself to PayPal and Stripe; You can also accept payments through Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more. Y to pay in more than 130 currencies.
You can even set up flexible payment options like free trials, subscriptions, paid plans, etc. And Teachable handles the fees for you so you don’t have to collect them manually, which saves a lot of time.
Another one of our favorite things about Teachable is the personalized certificates of completion. Course creators can create their own certificates for students who complete course modules, helping to increase engagement.
Other nice features include course compliance tools. You can set mandatory prerequisites that students must meet before they can progress through the course. For example, you can require students to reach a certain minimum score on an exam before moving on to the next module.
And of course, it also comes with all the marketing tools you’d expect, including email marketing, affiliate marketing, and referral marketing.
The templates are professionally designed and you can customize them a bit. If there’s something you can’t do in the editor interface, you can edit the code directly from the Power Editor.
- Intuitive drag and drop builder. Create courses, training services, sales pages, checkout pages, and more in a drag-and-drop interface.
- Extensive integrations. Teachable natively integrates with MailChimp, Google Analytics, Zapier, and many other popular software solutions.
- Characteristics of student engagement. Encourage interaction with features like quizzes, certificates, and feedback.
- Business Administration. Customer User Roles and Automatic Payments.
- Marketing and sales tools.. Affiliate and email marketing, upselling, upselling, coupons, etc.
Pros and cons
|Fiscal management||Customer service could be better|
|Easy to use||Transaction fees in the free and basic plan|
|Flexible payment options|
Teachable offers a free plan for up to one course. It lacks some important features (like email marketing tools) and free users are charged transaction fees of $1 + 10% of order value on all sales.
The basic plan costs $29/month and comes with additional features. Basic users can create unlimited courses, but you’ll still be charged a small 5% transaction fee on each sale.
Higher priced plans with no transaction fees and even more premium features start at $99/month.
#5 – Kajabi
Kajabi is an all-in-one online course platform built for knowledge entrepreneurs. You can use it to create, market, and sell all kinds of knowledge products, including online courses, training programs, and subscriptions.
You can use Kajabi to manage every step of the course creation process, from building your website to creating your curriculum, setting up your marketing and sales channels, and more.
It comes with a built-in CRM and a complete set of marketing tools that you can use to manage your students and promote your products.
One of our favorite things about Kajabi is the Product Blueprints feature (these are basically pre-made templates). There are Plans for all kinds of digital products, including mini-courses, longer online courses, drip courses, subscriptions, and more.
There are also piping plans. Pipelines are ready-to-use sales funnel templates. All you have to do is choose a template (there are Pipelines for product launches, promotional offers, etc.) and Kajabi will create all the pieces you need for your entire marketing campaign.
It will generate the necessary landing pages, forms, email marketing sequences, checkout pages, etc. and will connect them all to build a complete sales funnel.
- product plans. Create courses and digital products quickly and easily with professionally designed templates
- mRCC. Kajabi has an integrated customer relationship management platform.
- pipeline. Create complete sales channels and marketing campaigns with just a few clicks.
- Blog functionality. Generate SEO traffic by publishing blog posts on your Kajabi site
- Course information. Track your students’ progress with detailed course information.
Pros and cons
|Extensive feature set||Interface can be overwhelming|
|Excellent marketing tools||No free plan|
|High converting templates||More expensive than other platforms|
Kajabi plans start at $119/mo when billed annually and there are no transaction fees for any plan. No plan offers unlimited courses, but with all plans you get unlimited landing pages and marketing emails.
There is no free plan, but you can get started with a 14-day free trial.
#6 – Strong networks
strong networks is a full-featured community online course platform with a native course builder. It primarily focuses on community building features, so it’s great for building a paid community around your online course.
You can start by using Mighty Network’s powerful native course builder to create your content, and then transfer that content to a members-only area. You can charge for courses individually or sell recurring subscriptions.
To add value to your course, you can create your own private community space for your members. This is where Mighty Networks really shines. It has many advanced community building features that other course platforms do not offer, such as rich member profiles, direct messaging, live events and meetings, live streaming, etc.
Mighty Effect™ customization technology is a real game changer. Personalize the content your members see in your community spaces with curated content just for them.
You can have unlimited members so you can grow your community without worrying about going over your plan limits. And every time you get a new member, you can head over to the Welcome and Discover sections to find the content you’re looking for.
To help you grow your following, you can take advantage of the Mighty Network Ambassador program. This is essentially an affiliate marketing system that allows you to provide incentives for your existing members to refer new members.
- Personalized content for members. Might Effect technology offers personalized content for your members.
- rich profiles. Members of your course can create their own user profiles, just like on social networks.
- Ambassador Program. Leverage the power of affiliate marketing and turn your customers into brand ambassadors
- perspectives. Download member data and discover insights and benchmarking data from the analytics dashboard.
Pros and cons
|Ideal for community building||No free plan|
|Mobile app||UX could be better|
|Flexible pricing options|
Plans start at $33/month when billed annually and a free trial is available.
#7 – LearnDash (WordPress Only)
LearnDash is a learning management system for WordPress. Unlike the other solutions we’ve seen so far, LearnDash is not a standalone cloud-based platform. It is a WordPress plugin. so you can create and launch your course from your WP dashboard.
All you have to do is install and activate the LearnDash plugin and you can start creating and selling your courses right away with more control than you would have with regular cloud-based online course platforms.
One of the things we like the most about Learndash is its assessment features. It claims to have «the most powerful survey engine in the industry,» and that statement rings true.
There are many types of questions you can incorporate into your course, from essay questions to multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blank questions, free-choice questions, and more. You can also take advantage of advanced assessment features such as graduation levels, certificates. , badges and automations.
LearnDash integrates well with WoCommerce and is compatible with almost any payment gateway, including Stripe, PayPal, and over 300 other options. You can set up flexible pricing with packages, subscriptions, etc.
It has a slightly higher learning curve than regular online course platforms, but if you already have a WordPress website and are familiar with the WP backend, you should be able to master it in no time.
- wearable technology. Assign grades to students based on their performance evaluation
- focus mode. Block out distractions while your students learn to stay focused and engaged.
- Multimedia. LearnDash supports any type of media, from images and videos to PDFs, audio, and more.
- payment method. LearnDash supports over 300 payment gateways
- Total control. Because LearnDash runs inside your WordPress, rather than a third-party platform, you have full control and ownership.
Pros and cons
|Flexible online course platform||Reports could be better|
|Advanced laptop technology||big learning curve|
|Flexible payment options|
|Many rating options|
LearnDash costs $119.40 for the first year and renews at $199 per year for one site. The higher priced plans are available for 10 sites or unlimited sites.
There is no plan or free trial, but they do offer a 15-day money-back guarantee (be sure to check the terms and conditions).
#8 – Thrive Apprentice (WordPress Only)
prosperous apprentice is another WordPress course plugin that is part of the larger Thrive suite. The drag and drop course builder is very easy to use and comes with a setup wizard to help you get started, making it a good choice for beginners.
Of course, it works well together with other Thrive Suite plugins and themes, such as Thrive Architect and Thrive Optimize. So if you are already using Thrive on your WP site, it could be a great option.
The course builder at Thrive Apprentice is surprisingly intuitive. Simply drag and drop lessons, chapters, and modules onto the screen to create your learning path.
The fact that there are three levels of organization (modules, chapters, and lessons) makes it easy to organize larger courses.
You can add any media format to your courses, such as text lessons, video lessons, and audio lessons, and add additional resources for your students, such as links and PDFs, with a single click.
Thrive Apprentice also helps you to create all your course pages like home page, overview pages, sales pages etc. You have complete design freedom and can customize everything in the powerful visual editor. And to make the process easy, Thrive Apprentice comes with many pre-made templates.
Another thing we love about Thrive Apprentice is the drip feature. You have a lot of options when it comes to drip courses and you can choose from different settings like perennial repeat and scheduled repeat.
You can choose to unlock content on specific calendar dates or use custom event triggers. You can even unlock lessons when students receive a certain quiz result in Thrive Quiz Builder. This is a great way to ensure students fully understand the content of one module before moving on to the next!
There are many more things that Thrive Apprentice does very well and we could talk for hours about all its advanced features. But the best way to discover all it has to offer is to try it for yourself!
- Conditional display. Deliver personalized content to your website visitors based on their status (ie whether they are visitors, leads, or customers).
- dynamic labels. Show different labels in your courses based on the visitor’s course status.
- Customizable login and registration pages. In addition to course and landing pages, you can also customize Thrive Apprentice student registration and login pages.
- Translation. Translate your courses into different languages and expand to the global market.
- Progress bars. Enhance the student experience by adding progress bars that dynamically update as they complete content to help them track their progress.
- Quiz Creator. Engage your students with quizzes and advanced assessments. Ask all kinds of questions and limit progress based on results.
Pros and cons
|Many advanced features||big learning curve|
|Advanced customization||No free plan|
|Powerful survey engine|
You can purchase the standalone Thrive Apprentice addon for $97/year or get access to the entire Thrive package (including Thrive Apprentice) for $299/year.
Thrive also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
#9 – LearnPress (WordPress only)
LearnPress is a free learning management system for WordPress that you can use to create and sell online courses through your WP site. It offers all the basics, including a course builder, student management, and free eCommerce features.
The lightweight and powerful plugin allows you to create lesson plans, lessons, and quizzes for your students in a user-friendly interface. You can create a powerful and functional online course website with no coding skills required.
Although LearnPress is a free plugin, you can purchase optional add-ons to unlock even more powerful features. For example, you can purchase assignment and certificate add-ons, quizzes, and more, as well as co-instructor add-ons. You can also buy plugins for additional payment options like Stripe and 2Checkout.
Overall, LearnPress is an extremely comprehensive and useful plugin that is great for creating online courses with WordPress.
- Easy course creation. Easily create, import, and export courses from your site.
- Multiple payment methods are accepted. Record payments using PayPal, Stripe, WooCommerce, and more.
- Tons of useful plugins. Enhance your course creation with tons of optional plugins like certificates, random quizzes, content drip and more
Pros and cons
|Always free||Some plugins require payment|
|Easy to use|
|Works with WordPress|
LearnPress is a free plugin. However, some of the add-ons are charged separately.
#10 – Ruzuku
Ruzuku is a simple yet powerful online course platform. You can use it to set up your online course in minutes. Ruzuku is a fully featured option and offers everything you need in a course platform. You can create courses, free and paid, and accept payments through Stripe and Paypal.
You can also host live courses, create on-demand courses with drip content, and even create self-paced open access courses.
It can host and display various file formats, including PDF, PPT, and Word documents, making it easy to create course materials in any format you’re comfortable with. Plus, your students can submit images, PDFs, and even videos in their responses, which is great for encouraging engagement and participation.
Ruzuku also has features that can help you keep track of your student’s progress and courses. For example, you can use the course health feature to analyze student activity data, feedback rates, and more. Students can also mark each course as complete when they have finished the content.
One of the best things about Ruzuku is its support options. They offer hands-on support via phone, Skype, and email, and they also have a Facebook group, knowledge base, and tutorials that can help you get the most out of the platform.
In addition, Ruzuku also takes care of technical support for their students if they have difficulty accessing the course materials they signed up for.
- Live courses. Schedule live events and send automatic email notifications
- Course health monitoring. Track key analytics like student feedback, completion, and activity.
- On-demand and open access courses. Create drip courses or standalone courses
- Excellent support. Get help and support by phone, email or Skype
Pros and cons
|Good support options||More expensive than other options|
Plans start at $74.75/month and include unlimited courses and creatives and students. Ruzuku also offers a 14-day free trial.
The best online learning platforms compared
Next, let’s take a look at the best online learning platforms. Unlike regular online course platforms that allow you to create your own membership site, learning platforms are online marketplaces where hundreds of different course creators list their online courses in one place.
The advantage of selling through online learning platforms is that you have access to a large audience of existing customers. As such, you don’t need to spend as much time and money on marketing to drive traffic and sales.
The downside is that you don’t have as much control as if you sold it through a third party site. And the learning platform will usually take a part of your earnings, which may affect your income.
#11 – Udemy
udemy is one of the best online course marketplaces in the world. You can sign up as an instructor and sell online courses to Udemy’s huge user base of over 49 million students.
You do not need to create your own membership site to sell online courses on Udemy. All you have to do is register as an instructor, then create and publish your course on the Udemy platform.
To help you create your course, Udemy puts many tools at your fingertips. You can use the Marketplace Insights tool to find a topic that is in demand and that matches your area of expertise.
Once you’ve chosen a topic, you can explore the resources in the Learning Center to learn more about creating the best online course. And when you’re ready, you can record your videos and start your course. Please note that videos must be at least 30 minutes long and contain at least 5 lectures.
As soon as you have launched your course, it will be discovered on the Udemy platform and visible to the millions of Udemy students.
That said, just because you’re on the platform doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make sales. It helps you boost your course through marketing. The good news is that Udemy also provides tools for this.
You can use the custom coupon tool to offer subscription incentives and opt in to your global marketing promotions to drive traffic.
And because Udemy is such an authoritative course site, there’s a good chance your course will rank organically in search engine results and get sales through SEO. Additionally, Udemy even runs paid ads for courses on their site.
Even though you will be selling your course through someone else’s website, you still have control over your own pricing and can set your tuition rates. However, Udemy operates a revenue sharing model, so you will not keep 100% of the revenue. This is one of the main disadvantages.
The other big downside to selling on Udemy is that you have stiff competition to deal with. There are plenty of other courses on the platform, so it can be hard to cut through the noise. You are at the mercy of the algorithm and if you are unlucky, your run may end up buried under a sea of competitors.
- Marketing promotions. Udemy periodically conducts marketing campaigns to promote courses on its site.
- 24/7 support. You can contact him Udemy support team for feedback and advice or browse the help center at any time.
- Coupons. Use the coupon tool to offer discounts and encourage students to sign up.
- market information. Find a promising topic with Udemy’s market intelligence tool.
Pros and cons
|easy to start||Udemy takes a substantial chunk of revenue|
|Huge user base to tap into||intense competition|
|No subscription or registration costs|
It’s free to sell your courses on Udemy, but the platform keeps a portion of your income.
Udemy gets a 3% share of sales that come from your coupons or referral links, and a 63% share of other sales, such as those that come from students who find your course on the marketplace or through Udemy ads.
#12 – Shared Ability
shared skill is another popular online learning platform that connects instructors with students from all over the world. As an instructor, you will film and upload short courses and post them on the platform. You will then earn monthly royalties for each Skillshare member who follows your courses.
The amount you earn will be based on the number of minutes of content your students watch, but it seems that the highest earning teachers make upwards of $100,000 per year. In addition to your royalties, you will also earn a bonus for every student you refer to the Skillshare platform.
You can always publish your course through our course uploader. All new classes are reviewed by the Skillshare team to ensure they follow our rules.
Skillshare works on a membership model, so your class will have a built-in audience from the start. We also have lots of tips to help you promote your class in your own community to help maximize your success.
You can teach just about any subject on Skillshare, but popular categories include business, animation, design, illustration, photography, and writing.
You can teach almost any subject on Skillshare; there are only a few subjects that are prohibited. Most courses cover creativity, design, entrepreneurship, the arts, lifestyle, business, and photography.
To get started, simply sign up and record your first Skillshare course (make sure you follow the Course Rules), then publish it using the course uploader.
Video lessons are typically 30-40 minutes long and each Skillshare class should also have a hands-on class project that requires students to use the skills they learned during the lesson.
After you upload your class, the Skillshare team will review it. Once approved, you are ready to start selling. Skillshare’s membership model means your classes will have a built-in audience from the start, but if you want to be as successful as possible, it will help you promote your class in your own community and grow your following.
- New program for teachers.. Skillshare runs new teacher programs to help new teachers learn the ropes and maximize their chances of success.
- community discussion forum. Skillshare is very community-focused. Students can interact in an open discussion forum to share their progress and get feedback from others.
- Large user base. Skillshare is one of the most popular e-learning platforms with millions of learners.
Pros and cons
|Large user base||Competitive|
|Ideal for courses aimed at a creative audience||Earnings depend on viewing time|
|easy to start|
|Great teacher support|
It’s free to sell online courses on Skillshare. The platform uses a royalty system and takes its share before paying the teachers.
Students pay for a skills exchange membership to access the entire course catalog and 30% of membership proceeds go to a royalty fund; the remaining 70% goes to skill sharing.
The royalty pool is divided among teachers based on their share of the total number of paid minutes watched by students. In other words, the more time students spend watching your classes, the more you earn.
#13 – LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning it’s LinkedIn’s own eLearning marketplace. It was known as Lynda before being acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 and is aimed at working professionals.
Most of the courses that sell well on LinkedIn Learning are on topics related to business and technology, such as project management, digital marketing, leadership, customer service, finance and accounting, etc.
You’ll need to apply to LinkedIn Learning as an instructor before you can sell your courses, and it’s not easy to get accepted. LinkedIn Learning prides itself on its focus on quality, so you’ll need to be a thought leader with proven experience in your field to be approved.
You will also need to submit a sample video lesson, which will be evaluated when your application is reviewed. On the plus side, if you are successful in getting accepted, you will be able to reach millions of students and earn very good royalty income. .
Your earnings will depend on how popular your course is and how much income you generate for LinkedIn, but some instructors report earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. You also have the option to receive a royalty advance before you generate income for LinkedIn. If you accept it, you will be paid half of the copyright in advance and the other half once published.
LinkedIn instructors work on contract and have a long-term relationship with the platform. You’ll work alongside a content manager and producer who will help you choose a topic, plan your course, and create the content.
The courses are divided into chapters and videos, with each chapter having several short videos that are approximately 5 minutes long.
- Featured instructors. LinkedIn Learning features curated instructors on your home page, increasing your visibility.
- Collaborate with other professionals. As a LinkedIn Trainer, he’ll work with some of the best producers, editors, designers, and executives in the industry to create the best content possible.
- Active community. Connect with other instructors to network and share information.
- Recording studio. Once you have planned your course, your producer will arrange for you to record it in the LinkedIn studio or remotely.
- course analysis. Once your course is active, you will be able to access course analytics to track your performance.
Pros and cons
|Less competitive than other course markets||hard to be accepted|
|Dedicated content producer and manager||LinkedIn instructors cannot sell the same courses on other platforms|
|High earning potential|
|Large audience of potential customers.|
It’s free to apply to join LinkedIn Learning as an instructor. You will be paid in royalties based on the popularity of your course.
#14 – Coursera
steed is a professional online course platform aimed more at educators and serious learners. It is known for its world-class educational content and is used by some of the world’s leading universities and companies, such as Imperial College London, IBM, Google and more.
Most courses on Coursera lead to recognized credentials, such as diplomas, certificates, and other professional qualifications. As such, it’s not really suitable for independent course creators – it’s more geared towards educational institutions and enterprise-level organizations.
Many of Coursera’s courses focus on technical skills; Popular topics include programming languages (Python, Java, etc.), content writing, artificial intelligence, data science, web design, and marketing skills.
Courses typically take 4-6 weeks to complete and include a mix of video lectures and peer-reviewed assignments. Students can interact in the community discussion forums.
Pros and cons
|Ideal for universities.||Not suitable for independent course sellers.|
|High quality courses|
If you want to become a Coursera partner, you’ll need to contact them to discuss your needs.
If you are a student, the cost of courses can range from $15 for foundation courses to more than $25,000 for full university-recognized degrees.
#15 – Tree House
Tree house is an online course marketplace where users can learn to code online. It offers hundreds of courses, most of which focus on technical skills like programming, design, development, and data analysis.
Treehouse isn’t as well known as other eLearning marketplaces like Udemy or Skillshare, but it’s growing fast. And it has an admirable mission: to diversify the technology industry and make it more accessible through affordable online education.
There are tens of thousands of students already using Treehouse, with more signing up every day. The platform is associated with some big names in the tech industry, including Amazon Alexa, Google, and Microsoft.
Unfortunately, you can’t sign up and upload courses to Treehouse like you can with Udemy and Skillshare. If you are interested in creating a course on the platform, you will need to contact them to see if it is possible.
Pros and cons
|Ideal for technology courses.||No subscription for creators (students only)|
|Admirable mission statement|
|High quality courses|
|Thriving student community|
Students can sign up for Treehouse with a free 7-day trial.
There are several subscription plans available starting at $25 per month that give you access to expert-led video courses. You can also enroll in their work-ready Techdegree programs for $199/month.
How to choose an online course platform (features to see)
As you can see, there are many great online course platforms to choose from, so how do you know which one is right for your business? Well, here are some features to consider when comparing your options.
Supported Media Files
The first thing to consider is what type of media you plan to use in your course, i.e. video, audio, images, text files, etc.
For example, if you’re doing a video course, you might want to choose a platform that comes with video hosting or at least gives you the option to embed videos. If you want to provide downloadable PDF files in your lessons, choose a platform that supports it.
The best online courses keep students engaged. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose a platform that allows you to generate engagement in your course through interactive quizzes, rewards and certificates, and other gamification elements.
All of these types of features will help you keep students engaged and improve course completion rates.
Student interaction and community building.
If you want to be able to interact directly with your students, look for a platform that offers feedback features. Some platforms also support live streaming, where you can interact with students in real time and answer their questions.
Even better, some platforms even allow you to create your own members-only community forums where students can discuss your course and interact with each other. This can help you build a thriving community around your business.
Think about how you want to deliver the courses to your students. Do you want clients to have immediate access to the entire course? Or do you prefer to give them access section by section?
In the latter case, you will need to choose a platform that supports drip courses. With drip courses, you receive regular payments and provide access to additional modules or lessons at set intervals, such as every month or every time the customer renews their subscription.
If you don’t already have an existing audience to reach, you probably need to market your course if you want to make sales. That’s why it’s worth choosing an all-in-one course platform that has built-in marketing tools like email marketing, affiliate marketing, sales funnels, etc.
Alternatively, you can purchase the marketing software separately and integrate it with the course platform. If you want to go that route, check out our roundup of the best email marketing services.
Customizable page templates
Most online course platforms come with templates to help you create your landing and sales pages. Look for a platform with lots of high converting, professionally designed templates and make sure they are easy to customize.
Alternatively, you can create your landing pages separately using dedicated landing page software and integrate them with the course platform. This approach generally gives you more control and broader customization options.
Another thing to consider is how you plan to price your online course. Some platforms support more payment processors and pricing systems than others.
For example, depending on the platform you choose, you can set up recurring subscriptions, product bundles, discounts, etc. Be sure to choose a solution that can configure the type of pricing system you plan to implement.
Take a close look at the supported integrations before deciding on a course platform. If you want to sell courses on your existing website, you’ll need to choose one that offers easy integration with your CMS, such as through a WordPress plugin or the Shopify app. It should also integrate well with the rest of your tech stack, like your email marketing software, CRM, etc.
And of course, the price also matters. You can get started for free with some online course platforms, but be aware that most free options will charge transaction fees and take a portion of your sales.
If you plan to sell a lot of courses, you’ll usually be able to save money by signing up for a paid platform that doesn’t have transaction fees.
Cheaper plans generally have fewer features and may limit the number of courses you can create or the sales you can make. Pick something that fits your budget, but make sure it makes sense for your business.
FAQs about the best online course platforms
Online Course Platforms vs. Online Learning Platforms: Which One Should I Use?
Both online course platforms and online learning platforms (marketplaces) have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re a new course builder and want to test the waters, we recommend starting with a learning platform like Udemy. This will give you the opportunity to validate your course topic and content before spending time building your own website and launching marketing campaigns.
Once you start selling, you will know if there is a high demand for your course or not. If there is, you can continue to use an online course platform like Podia to launch your own site and migrate everything.
How do I promote my course?
create your online course and membership site is only half the battle. If you want to make sales, you will need to promote them and build your audience. Here are some popular marketing strategies that you can try.
If you sign up with a platform like Podia, you can set up your own affiliate program and turn your members into sales reps. It works like this:
First, users sign up for your affiliate program and receive their own unique affiliate code. These affiliates then promote your course to friends, family, etc.
When someone buys your course through your affiliate link, you pay a commission to the person who referred the sale. You can choose the commission you offer to affiliates, but most people offer between 10% and 20%.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is its very low effort. You don’t have to do any marketing because your affiliates do it for you and keep a cut of the sales.
And because you only pay when you make a sale, it’s a risk-free marketing strategy that guarantees you a positive return on investment.
Email marketing offers one of the best ROI (return on investment) of any marketing channel. It works like this.
First, you build your mailing list by encouraging people to sign up. One way to do this is to create a landing page that offers a free incentive (lead magnet) to users who sign up, such as a free short course or digital download, and then drive traffic to the respective page.
Once you’ve grown your mailing list, start emailing your subscribers with lead nurturing emails that interest them the most in your online course and sales funnel.
Ultimately, the goal is to get them to make a purchase, so you may want to send them an exclusive discount or promotional offer when you think they’re ready to buy.
You can set up these automated email nutrition campaigns using your email marketing software. Again, this is built into all-in-one online course platforms like Podia.
Another way to promote your course is to post blog content on topics that your target customers are looking for. Next, optimize your blog and website content for SEO to rank at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a photography course. You can write blog posts on related subtopics, like «photographic lighting tips.» If you can rank high for that keyword, you can bet that many internet users searching for it will click on your blog post, driving organic traffic to your site.
You can then convert these website visitors into leads and encourage them to join your mailing list etc.
If you plan to use SEO as a key marketing channel, make sure you choose a platform with blogging functionality. You should also make sure you choose a platform that loads quickly and offers customizable SEO metadata.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, but if you want to see results quickly, paid ads may be a better option. One of the easiest ways to get started with paid advertising is to run PPC (pay per click) campaigns in Google Ads or Facebook Ads.
With PPC ads, you pay every time someone clicks on your ads, so it’s important to make sure your targeting is such that the only people who click on your ads are those who are likely to convert. It’s also important to send ad traffic to a high-converting landing page to maximize your return on ad spend.
social media marketing
Social media can be another great marketing channel. You can use it to drive traffic to your course website and landing pages.
Using a social media calendar tool will make it easy for you to ensure that you have fresh content posted to your profiles on a regular basis.
But how do you build an audience on social media?
There are numerous ways to approach this, but one of the most effective is to use contests and giveaways. For example, you can ask people to share the giveaway to enter and make it viral and offer free access to your course as a prize. You can use these social media contest tools to set up your giveaways.
You can also try partnering with popular influencers in your target market to promote your course to their followers, run social media ads, or build your own organic social media following.
What are the most profitable online course niches?
There is a high demand for online courses, but certain subjects are more in demand than others. Some of the most profitable online course niches include:
- IT skills (eg programming, web design, web development, machine learning and AI, etc.)
- Digital marketing (eg SEO, social media marketing, copywriting, etc.)
- Health and fitness (eg muscle building, weight loss, nutrition, yoga, etc.)
- Wellness (eg meditation, stress management, etc.)
- dating and relationships
- Business and Entrepreneurship
- life coaching
- arts and crafts
- Graphic design
These are just a few ideas you might want to try. But ultimately, any niche can be profitable. If you have a certain skill or experience in a certain area, you can bet there are people willing to pay for it.
And often the very specific and less popular online course niches are the most profitable because there is less competition.
How do I charge for my online course?
One of the first decisions you need to make when starting your eLearning business is how to price your online course.
Many first-time course sellers make the mistake of charging too little because they think it will make the sale easier. But in reality, it is just as difficult to sell cheaper courses as it is to sell more expensive courses.
In fact, pricing your course too low can hinder sales because it makes the course look cheap and degrades its value. On the other hand, you also don’t want to charge too much. You should aim somewhere in the middle.
So what is the sweet spot when it comes to pricing? Good deal E-Learning Statisticsthe average price for an online course is around $177.
This can be a good benchmark to base your price on, but it all depends on how valuable your course is. At the higher end of the market, courses can cost upwards of $1,000. On the low end, some courses even cost $50 or less.
Another thing to consider is your pricing model. Some course builders sell full lifetime access to all of their course modules for a one-time fee, while others charge a monthly subscription and deliver course content to subscribers regularly for a recurring revenue stream. It is up to you which direction you want to go.
How much can you earn selling online courses?
The online course industry is booming and it is possible to make a lot of money if you find the right product for the market. According to one study, 39.4% of online tutors earn between $25,000 and $50,000 per year, a full-time income on most people’s books. And another 27.9% earn more than $75,000 a year selling online courses.
The most profitable online courses can bring in six or even seven figure incomes. It’s not easy to come up with numbers like that, but if you build a great course and market it, the sky really is the limit!
How long should an online course be?
There are no hard and fast rules about the duration of an online course, it depends on the subject.
However, as a general rule of thumb, I’d suggest aiming for a total of 10-25 hours in most cases. That said, shorter courses can be 5-10 hours long, and very long courses can be 25-100 hours or more.
But remember that most people have short attention spans, so your course should be divided into several sections or modules, and each module should be divided into individual lessons. Each lesson should not last more than 15 minutes to 1 hour.
What is the average completion rate for online courses?
Average completion rates can vary substantially from course to course, but tend not to be very high.
In general, the average completion rates for online courses are around 15%, which means that the vast majority of your students will drop out before completing the entire course. In fact, on Udemy, the average student only completes 30% of the course.
There are a few things you can do to improve your course completion rates. One tactic you can try is to add gamification to your course by offering rewards when students reach certain milestones. This encourages them to continue.
You can also try shortening your course or looking for «blocks» where most students tend to drop out and review the content in that section to make it easier.
Choosing the best online course platforms for your business
This concludes our detailed guide to the best online course platforms. Still not sure which online course platform is right for you? You can’t go wrong with any of our top three picks:
- to pave is the best online course platform for most users. It is an all-in-one platform that allows you to sell courses and any other type of digital product. And it comes with all the marketing tools you need, including email marketing, affiliate marketing, and a chatbot.
- thinking is the best dedicated online course platform. It’s not an all-in-one platform like Podia, as it’s designed solely for selling online courses, but it has one of the best feature sets we’ve seen.
- LearnWorlds is another powerful course platform best suited for serious educators. It has a strong focus on learning tools and comes with some unique features, including a tool that lets you create your own branded app and support for SCORM courses.
However, if you prefer not to use an online course platform and prefer a WordPress plugin to create and edit your courses from your WordPress dashboard, try any of the learning management systems on the list, such as LearnDash Y LearnPress.
We hope you have found this useful. Now is the time to choose a course platform and launch your course to the world.
The good news is that some of the above platforms offer limited free plans or free trials, making it easy to get started.
Divulgation: This post contains affiliate links. This means that we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.