Online course platforms can be highly effective in creating a passive income online.
E-learning has lead to a rise in income in the US, and according to a research report by Global Market Insights, E-learning is predicted to exceed $375 billion by 2026.
Given this data, it is within your best interest to create an online course for your audience. In this guide, we’re reviewing the best online course platforms on the market.
Thinkific is a platform that helps you create, deliver, market, and sell online courses. Thinkific lets you have complete control over your pricing strategies, company policies, and user data.
You can structure your courses, upload all types of content, and manage payments under your brand.
Thinkific promotes the growth of individual brands by letting users retain 100% ownership over their content when using the platform.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thinkific experienced an astounding 368% growth in new course creation in the last two weeks of March 2020.
Thinkific key features:
- Free Wistia video hosting
- You can send the entire course all at once or drop it out with time
- Free plan to start
With the plans Thinkific offers, you can create and customize your course using the drag and drop editor. Then, choose one of Thinkific’s website templates and upload your content. Lastly, set up the payment methods.
With Thinkific, you can grow your business without worry about scaling the platform.
Other pros of the platform are that it is fully hosted, which means you won’t have to worry about backup, software, and other technical aspects; it provides complete access to HTML and CSS, and it supports more than 30 languages.
What does Thinkific cost?
The range of features you get with the free plan is terrific, and it gets even more amazing with the advanced plans.
Thinkific lets you test-drive all of its core features without paying any money upfront, and there is no credit card required. The platform also doesn’t charge transaction fees on any of its plans.
- The Basic paid plan costs $49 per month, which offers most features, including marketing and email integrations via Zapier, drip content, unlimited courses and students, coupons, and a custom domain.
- The Pro plan costs $99 per month. It includes the basic features, plus private and hidden courses, memberships and bundles, live lessons via Zoom, advanced customization, certificates, assignments, communities, priority support and 5 course admins.
- The Premier plan costs $499 per month, and it offers an on-boarding package, an unlimited growth package, and 50 course admins.
LearnWorlds helps you set up an online school website with a course catalog and multiple teachers.
It is a platform for individuals and businesses looking to interact with their students in innovative and unique ways, like interactive videos and gamification.
You can add lecturers and select the course you want them to teach. The lecturers can author the courses, but they cannot change general settings or publish a new course.
LearnWorlds key features:
- Pre-ready course catalog available
- A possibility of offering free courses
- Interactive video content
To create a school in LearnWorlds, read the step-by-step guide located in the section “School wizard” at the top of the dashboard.
Creating a school is fairly easy; you just need to name your course and specify your time zone, language, and currency. Once you’ve created the online school, start adding your digital courses.
You will need to name your course, customize its URL, select the type of course you want to create (invisible draft, upcoming, free, paid, etc.), select a price, upload an image, and add a description for the course.
Some of the pros of LearnWorlds are that it can extract transcripts from your courses; it offers e-books, gamification, and downloadable attachments; it has a mobile app on iOS; you can create coupons and discounts, and there is support available 24/7.
What Does LearnWorlds Cost?
You can try LearnWorlds free for 30 days.
- The basic plan starts at $29 per month (for newbie course creators).
- The Pro Trainer plan costs $99 per month, with 15% off for 6 months.
- The Learning Center plan (their most popular plan) costs $299 per month, with 15% off for 6 months.
The company charges $5 per sale on its starter plan, but it doesn’t charge any additional fees on its other plans.
Teachable is a platform that offers a fast and easy way to build a course. It offers many options to customize the look and feel of your course, which can help you create a website that truly reflects your ideas.
Teachable has an in-house payment process that will handle payments for you. You can set up everything through your dashboard, including sales pages, payments, and your affiliate center.
Teachable key features:
- Easy set up
- International payment plans in 130+ currencies
- Graded quizzed
All you have to do to use Teachable is insert your content into the templates and then customize them to function and look the way you want.
Some of the pros of Teachable include: An intuitive navigation function, one-click checkout process, robust tracking and reporting, a domain you can customize, it also has custom course completion certificates and international payment plans in 130+ currencies.
What Does Teachable Cost?
All versions of Teachable offer multi-language support and an integrated blog that helps you to improve SEO.
- The Basic plan costs $29 per month, with 5% transaction fees, drip content, members-only community, course builder, and 2 admin-level users.
- The Pro plan costs $99 per month, with no transaction fees, basic features plus advanced reports, course certificates, and 5 admin-level users.
- The Business plan is $249 per month, with no transaction fees, pro features that include coding customizations, bulk student enrollments, group coaching calls, and 20 admin-level users.
Kajabi is a platform with features like automation that allow you to create and sell your courses more effectively.
The platform has many customizable themes which you can use to create a beautiful online course.
The best features are its marketing automation tools, through which admins can segment users and send branded emails at specific times based on advanced triggers.
Kajabi key features:
- Great video streaming and blogging features
- Android/iOS mobile app
- 24/7 technical support
To create a Kajabi site, add a site name, URL, page description, and page image. You can preview the site by clicking the button “Preview” on the top right corner of your dashboard.
You can further customize your website by clicking the section “Appearance”.
To add products (courses), click on the section “Product details”. Through “Offers” set the price for your courses.
Some of the perks of Kajabi are that it has very well-designed themes; marketing automation for higher sales; more built-in tools than other platforms; can offer monthly recurring subscriptions; and the Wistia video hosting is excellent.
What does Kajabi cost?
- The Basic plan costs $119 per month, and it includes 3 pipelines, 3 products, 1,000 active members, 10,000 contacts, 1 website, and 1 admin user.
- The Growth plan costs $159 per month, and it includes 15 pipelines, 15 products, 10,000 active members, 25,000 contacts, 1 website, and 10 admin users.
- The Pro plan costs $319, and it includes 100 pipelines, 100 products, 100,000 contacts, 20,000 active members, 3 websites, and 25 admin users.
Podia offers a simple process to set up your course website, and there are no transaction fees.
This platform allows you to establish a membership community, create download content, host a webinar (live or on-demand), and it even offers a live chat for communication.
The live chat widget that Podia offers is a unique feature, and it can lead to an increase in engagement of your students.
Podia key features:
- Pre-launch courses
- Coupons and memberships
- Live reviews for your online courses
To set up a site, you need to go to “Settings” and fill in details like your website name.
Then, go to “Product” to create a Digital download (for instance, worksheet, PDF, or an eBook), an Online Course, or a Product Bundle. If you already have existing content, just drop it into the editor. Once you’re ready, change the product setting to “Published”.
With Podia you can create individual posts for students to increase their engagement. Other pros of this online course platform include: sales pages, leverage drip courses, migration from other course platforms at no cost.
What does Podia cost?
You can give Podia a test run before paying any money by signing up for a free 14-day trial.
- The Mover plan costs $39 per month, and it offers online courses, digital download, webinars, email marketing, 7-days-a-week support, daily live Q&A sessions, free migrations, and unlimited everything.
- The Shaker plan costs $79 per month, and it offers the previously mentioned features, plus membership, zoom integration, blog, affiliate marketing, third-party code, and offsite buy buttons.
LearnDash is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. Through this self-hosted tool, you can run your online courses efficiently and have complete control over every aspect of your course business, like branding, customization, and customer information.
One of LearnDash’s most popular features is their “Focus Mode”, which removes all the distractions when students learn a course.
LearnDash key features:
- Users can review questions and answers on-site
- Creation of custom messages for each student
- Arrangement of courses in any order you please
You can install the LearnDash Plugin on WordPress by clicking on “Plugins”. Next, click on “Add New” and upload the zip file from your LearnDash account. You will want to install a Learn-Dash-Compatible WordPress theme.
Create your first course by clicking on “LearnDash LMS” and “Courses”. Then, click the “Add your first Course”, and give the course a name and a description.
LearnDash offers course awards for students who have passed a quiz successfully. Other perks of LearnDash include: you can prevent students from advancing until they’ve completed previous lessons.
The software lets you create complex assessments and quizzes, and you can also keep track of your students’ progress through the sleek profile area.
What Is the Cost of LearnDash?
- The Basic package costs $199, unlimited courses, unlimited users, course content protection, drip-feed lessons, demo site template, advanced quizzing, certificates and badges, course forums, free integration, 1-year support and updates, and 1 site license.
- The Plus package costs $229, and it includes the previously mentioned features plus 10 site Licenses.
- The same goes for the Pro package, which costs $369, and it includes all of the features plus 25 site licenses.
Ruzuku is a platform that provides entry-level tutors with many tools to create their courses, customize and organize them accordingly.
It is an incredibly easy platform to use for creating and selling online courses. It integrates with tools like Infusionsoft, MailChimp, and payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe, without any transaction fees.
Ruzuku key features:
- Course analytics
- A free trial
- A flexible subscription system
Ruzuku dashboard looks similar to the one WordPress has. To start building a course, you just need to click the “Create a Course” button and enter the course name.
To add a course lesson, click on the “Create Lesson” button. Everything you need – students’ information, course lessons, notifications, and so on, can all be accessed in one place.
With Ruzuku, you can add video content with ease, and you hold webinars. Ruzuku also has an easy learning curve, you get to review the student course progress, and as we already mentioned, there are no transaction fees.
What is the cost of Ruzuku?
- The Bootstrapper plan costs $74.75 monthly, and it includes a single instructor, unlimited courses and students, unlimited video, audio and data hosting, and comprehensive support.
- The Up-and-Comer plan costs $83.09, and it includes all of the before from the Bootstrapper, plus unlimited webinars, pools and quizzes, and subscriptions and payment plans.
- The last plan is the University plan, which costs $125 monthly, and it includes all of the features from the Up-and-Comer plan, plus your domain, multiple instructors, and multiple site managers.
WizIQ provides lecturers and teachers with a solution for launching online courses with many different educational tools, like video streaming, virtual classrooms, discussion boards, assessments, and many more.
The software interface is simple and lets its users easily facilitate discussions, set up courses, track student progress, and engage their listeners.
WizIQ key features:
- Fairly easy to use
- A virtual classroom
- Mobile learning
To create a WizIQ virtual classroom, all you need to do is click on “Live Class” and then on the “New Live Class” option. Next, enter the title, subtitle, date and time, description about the class, and who can attend.
WizIQ users have easy access to the support team, and the support team addresses the users’ concerns and problems promptly.
The Live Classes feature this platform offers provides students and lecturers with audio and video chat during a live class. Another perk is that students can review the work by recording past live classes.
What does WizIQ cost?
- The Elite plan offers test with multiple-choice questions, discussion forum, assignments, learner mobile app, certificate of completion, conditional access to content, integrated payment gateway, co-branded web app, vanity URL, 2 hours of personalized instructor training, and 25 GB storage, all for $80 per month.
- The Infinite plan includes everything in the Elite plan, plus a custom domain, your own custom Stripe Gateway, a white-labeled web app, custom SMTP, dedicated on-boarding and customer success manager, and 50 GB storage, at the price of $107 per month.
Academy Of Mine
Academy Of Mine is a very customizable and scalable platform. It is great for experts and beginners, and it is ideal if you want to offer continuing education, professional development, BRB training, and certifications.
Academy of Mine key features:
- Gamification for better engagement of students
- Responsive and fast support team
- Awards for completion of courses
To create a course on Academy Of Mine, you need to select “Courses” then “Add New”, enter the title, description, pictures, curriculum, and further customize it.
This platform’s marketing features are the affiliate program, live webinars, and email marketing.
Academy Of Mine provides self-paced courses with custom-build solutions for different needs, and it can be easily integrated with other marketing tools.
What does Academy Of Mine cost?
Academy of mine pricing starts at $9,997 per year. It includes free 8 hours of on-boarding help, 24/7 customer support, integration with marketing site, webinar integration, webpage builder, secure dedicated servers and hosting.
Furthermore, Academy Of Mine also includes quizzes and assignments, integrated eCommerce, custom user fields, custom payment gateways, advanced reporting, group on-boarding, bulk export and import data, API developer access,activity audit logs and Academy of mine is SCORM compliant.
Academy Of Mine doesn’t have a free plan, but they do however offer the opportunity of a free demo so you can see what the platform offers.
As the name suggests, Skillshare is ideal for photographers, writers, bloggers, designers, or entrepreneurs who want to teach their craft online.
There are many types of creative skills being taught on Skillshare, including cooking, hand painting, photography, doodling, and so on.
Skillshare key features:
- No technical skills needed
- Easy video learning from any device
- Built-in audience
To create a class in Skillshare, all you need to do is click “Teach” and “Create a Class”, located in the upper right corner.
Then, click “Start a Class” and go to “Video Lessons”. Finally, click on “Upload Videos”. Add your class title, description, class type and image, and click on “Publish”.
Skillshare offers tons of classes on many topics, and it has a built-in community element which makes it much more fun.
What does Skillshare cost?
Skillshare is free for creating a premium class. When you create a course, it becomes part of the catalog and you get a revenue share of the membership fees of the people watching your courses. You can also get $10 for a membership referral.
Teachery is great software for beginners because of the minimalistic function and design and the guided tutorial they provide. It is very intuitive and simple, and it guarantees that you will set up your online school in no time.
Teachery key features:
- Drip email sequences
- Simple to use
- Focused on beginners
To create a course, all you need to do is go to your dashboard to the section “Your Courses” and click on “Create new course”.
Go to the “Overview” page to set your course font, start and expiration date, header image, and other settings.
Teachery’s future upgrades will be included in the existing plan, plus it has no transaction fees and a dedicated support team.
What does Teachery cost?
You can try Teachery free for 14 days. Teachery offers a monthly plan for $49 and a yearly plan for $470.
Kartra can help grow a business not just by creating courses, but by hosting your own affiliate program, creating a membership site, and using many more advanced tools.
Kartra key features:
- Can scale if your brand grows
- Cheaper than most platforms
- Helpdesk component
To put your product out there, you just need to click on “My Product” located on the left sidebar.
Then, click the plus sign button, and add your product. The software will walk you through the next steps.
Kartra has an internal checkout platform, which eliminates the need for third-party integration. You also don’t need to worry about anything being deleted since it’s all 100% in the cloud.
What does Kartra cost?
- The Starter plan costs $99 per month, and it includes 1 helpdesk, 1 additional team member, 2 membership sites, 20 products, 50 videos, 100 pages, 50 GB bandwidth, 15,000 emails, 1 custom domain, 2,500 leads, and agency not included.
- The Silver plan costs $199 per month, with unlimited helpdesks, team members, membership sites, products, videos, pages, bandwidth, emails, 3 custom domains and 12,500 leads.
- The Gold plan includes everything from the Silver Plan, except it has 5 custom domains and 25,000 leads, and it costs $299 per month.
- The Platinum plan has 10 custom domains and 50,000 leads, and it costs $499 per month.
Systeme.io has everything you need to sell your online courses. Generally speaking, Systeme.io is pretty templated, and even though you can customize many of the designs and functions, you don’t have to be a coding expert to use this software.
Systeme.io key features:
- Free migration from other platforms
- You don’t have to be a tech expert to use the software
- Powerful email autoresponder
To set up a course, go to “Product/Sales” and click on “Courses”. Then, click on “Add a new course”, fill in the necessary fields, and click on “Save”.
One of the many perks that Systeme.io offers is its ability to automate many tasks, thanks to its marketing automation features. With Systeme.io you can also build a profitable sales funnel, helping you reach a wider audience.
What does Systeme.io cost?
- The Startup plan is $27 per month, and it includes unlimited member site members, storage space, blogs, sales funnels, emails, 1 click upsells, order bumps, 24/7 email and chat support, run your own affiliate program, PayPal and Stripe integration and 5,000 contacts.
- The Webinar plan is $47 per month, and it has the previously mentioned features, except it has 10,000 contacts, coupon codes, A/B tests, 3 evergreen webinars, and 2 custom domains.
- The Enterprise plan is $97 per month, and it has all of the before mentioned features, except it has 15,000 contacts, 5 custom domains, unlimited evergreen webinars, and a 1-on-1 kickstart coaching session.
Samcart has a very sleek and simple look making it is very easy to navigate.
This software is very useful for those who want to integrate course content or a membership site directly into their existing WordPress site.
Samcart key features:
- Multiple payment methods
- Creation of complex quizzes and infographics
- A professional look of the platform
To create a course, you need to click on the “Samcart Courses” sidebar item and then on “New Course”.
Then, customize your course through the following tabs: “Course Details”, “Units and Lessons”, “Public Details”,” Additional Content” and “Email lists”.
With Samcart you can easily create your courses with the drag and drop editor and customize it to match your brand. This software also lets you sell many different versions of the same course.
What does Smacart cost?
The launch plan is $39 per month, it includes one admin user, email support a virtual onboarding and weekly webinars.
The grow plan is $79 per month, it includes three admin users, enhanced integrations, one day email support, virtual onboarding, post purchase upsells, built in SEO and multiple customer payments options.
The scale plan is $159 per month, it includes ten admin users,custom CRM, API integrations, priority email support, virtual onboarding webinars and a dedicated Samcart expert (annual plans only).
Coursera has virtual classes from some of the world’s best universities and companies like Google, IBM, University of Illinois, Duke, University of Stanford, Michigan, and more. The platform features invite-only instructors, and the courses themselves are very high quality.
Coursera key features:
- Learning offline through the app
- Wide variety of courses
- Big names offering the courses
To create a course, you need to click “Create Course and then select “Create New”. Once you’ve entered the initial information about your course, you can click on “Continue” and “Create course.
If you don’t need a certificate for completion, you can enjoy most of the courses for free. Another pro of Coursera is that it offers specializations, which are great if someone wants to master a career skill.
What does Coursera cost?
Coursera is free to join. To see the prices of individual courses you must be logged in.
BitDegree is a great platform where people acquire workplace, business, and digital skills. With many visitors on the platform on a monthly basis, it offers a big audience for your courses.
BitDegree key features:
- Tools for analytics
- Live classes
- Teacher’s academy
After signing up as an instructor for BitDegree, you will be taken to an interface where you can upload your videos and fill out the information need to proceed.
BitDegree offers detailed and comprehensive articles available for the teachers to help you in creating, planning, and managing their courses. You can also easily track your earnings, ratings, course enrollments, and other numbers that are crucial for your brand.
What does Bitdegree cost?
- The Instructor plan is free, and it offers a single admin license.
- The Business plan is $49 per month, and it offers 20 admin licenses.
- The Enterprise plan is on request and it offers unlimited admin licenses.
Udemy is a platform where you can offer your courses to a large user base. On Udemy, you can create courses, assignments, quizzed, coding exercises, and discussions.
Udemy key features:
- Training sessions progress is stored online
- Mobile app you can use
- Multi-platform streaming
To create a paid course on Udemy, you need to sign up to be a premium instructor and wait for your approval. Once your account is approved, you can start creating online courses.
Udemy offers teachers and experts support and guidance when it comes to their courses.
If you’re not sure that your video is up-to-par, you can get feedback on video and audio by submitting a sample. Udemy also offers the Teach Hub for tips on planning a course, shooting the video, and similar subjects.
What does Udemy cost?
- The Team plan for 5 to 20 users costs 360$ per year plus taxes, and it includes access to 5,500+ top-rated courses, iOS and Android app for offline viewing, and a custom URL.
- The Enterprise plan for 21 or more users includes the previously-mentioned features, plus an international collection of courses, custom categories, and it allows you to create custom content and customized learning paths. You need to contact sales for the pricing of the Enterprise plan.
Easygenerator is a platform that will help you produce valuable e-learning materials. It is an easy tool to get into, and it’s really simple to create courses.
Easygenerator key features:
- User-friendly interface
- Cloud solution
- 24/7 support
To create a course, click on “Courses” and “New Course”. Then there is a list of available content and question items on the left side menu, which you can drag and drop into the course section.
With Easygenerator you can easily apply your own branding while customizing the courses, and there is technical support available if you’re experiencing any problems.
What does Easygenerator cost?
- The Pro plan is €83 per month, with 100 learners, 10 courses, and 1 author.
- The Team plan is €413 per month with unlimited learners and courses and 5 authors.
- With the Enterprise plan, all of the features are unlimited, and you have to contact them for pricing.
Adobe Captivate is a great way to rapidly create learning content in a format that is both entertaining and engaging.
This platform provides great versatility and an extensive array of functions. It will allow you to create everything from virtual reality lessons to PowerPoint presentations.
Adobe Captivate key features:
- Lots of presets
- Excellent interaction with other software
- Suitable for experts and beginners
To create a new project, click on “New” and select the type of project you want to do. Then, click on “Create” to start working.
You are provided with videos that you can simply plug into your course, a content library, animated characters, and ready-to-use templates. It also allows you to create content that can be adapted to various devices, such as a mobile phone, an iPad, or a desktop computer.
What does Adobe Captivate cost?
It costs $33.99 per month. You can also download a free 30-day trial, which doesn’t require any credit card information.
Xperiencify is a software that allows lectures to turn learning into a more engaging experience by gamifying the courses. When a student completes a module, there earn experience points. Instructors set the experience points every module brings.
Xperiencify Key features:
- Focuses on course completions
- Uses psychological triggers
To create a course, go to your Admin Dashboard. Click on “Courses” and “Add course”, and then add the name, image, and URL of the course, payment options, content pages, secret sauce (celebrations, sound effects, and experiences), and promotion.
Xperiencify is a high-quality platform that helps you engage students in a fun way. You can send your students personal messages of congratulations or shoutouts onto your channels and social media groups.
What does Xperiencify cost?
- The Launch plan is $49 per month, with 4.9% transaction fees, 3 options for drip content, and core automation.
- The Growth plan is $149 per month, with no translation fees, 4 options for drip content, and advanced automation.
- The Scale plan is %499 per month, with no transaction fees, 5 options for drip content, and advanced automation.
If you’re ready to start creating and selling online courses, I recommend you go with Thinkific. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section and please feel free to share this post.
Online course platforms FAQ
What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?
With so many platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to choose which one is the best for publishing and selling your materials.
Each platform offers different features in terms of customer support, educational content, user interface, and provision of resources.
What Are Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms enable you to create and manage learning programs.
Online courses are pretty similar to real-life classes – a lecturer provides information through audio files, PDF, text, and video. The students take notes, do assignments, collaborate, and take exams.
What Is the Difference Between a LMS (Learning Management System) and an Online Course Platform?
The difference between online course platforms and learning management systems (LMS) is that LMS is software usually used to help companies train their employees and customers or in a school setting.
In contrast, online course platforms are generally designed for individual creators and businesses aiming to earn money by selling their courses. The LMS market is predicted to reach $29.9 billion by 2025.
How Do I Create and Sell Online Courses?
To successfully create and sell online courses, you fill firstly need a couple of things:
Use the best equipment and software. Microphones are essential for your course to sound good. No one wants bad audio while they are listening to a lecture.
- Headphones can also come in handy when conducting interviews or while editing videos to cancel out the noise.
- Screencast-o-matic is a great screen recording software that will let you show the screen to your students so they can know what you are doing.
- Depending on your budget, recording equipment can include a USB webcam, your iPhone, or a professional camera.
- To make sure that your videos look professional, you will need to get proper lighting equipment.
- If you want to add visual effects after you’ve finished recording your course, use video editing software like Adobe After Effects.
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