ATF 010: Five Best Platforms For Creating And Selling Online Courses

Last Updated on September 18, 2020 by Fabrizio Van Marciano

In this episode of the Above The Fold podcast show, we take a look at five top platforms for creating and selling online courses. So, if you're thinking of creating some online training and earning some income, this show is for you.

Transcript for Episode 10

What is going on everybody? Fabrizio Van Marciano here from Magnet4Blogging. Welcome to Episode 10 of the Above The Fold Podcast show for bloggers, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and anyone who cares to listen.

This show is all about me sharing with your valuable tips, ideas, strategies, and resources for building and growing your blogging business. In today's episode, we will go over five of the best platforms to create and sell your online courses. Let's get to it.

Music From - SoundStripe (Affiliate link)

Hey everyone, welcome to another podcast episode, and before we get started, I want to apologize if I sound muffled slightly. I’m just recovering from a head cold, and I should be back to normal in a few days, hopefully. So let's start by answering the following question -

Why is creating and selling online courses such a big deal these days?

Well, you know you hear so many marketing gurus, entrepreneurs, and bloggers going on about the importance and the benefits of creating online courses. Let's take a look at some statistics to start.

  1. Since the year 2000, the growth of the e-learning industry has been 900%. (Source: https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/301248/15-facts-and-stats-that-reveal-the-power-of-elearning)
  2. The entire e-learning market is expected to exceed $300 million by 2025 (Source: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/elearning-market-size)
  3. Using online courses is a great way to scale up your business to reach more profitable clients.

Creating and selling online courses is also a very profitable way to grow your online business, regardless of what niche or industry you're in. If you have something valuable to teach others, you should do it. Now, let's take a look at some platforms and solutions that are available for creating and selling your online courses -

I’ll start by sharing with you the tools and solutions that I’m using in my blogging business and why, and then I’ll go through some of the available alternatives.

#1. LearnDash

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As some of you guys may know, listening to this. And if you follow me over on my blog, I'm currently creating my online course using LearnDash and WordPress.

I did my research carefully before deciding on LearnDash, and out of all the platforms and solutions available, this is the one I recommend the most for bloggers since a lot of bloggers use WordPress. And so here are some additional valid reasons.

  1. Control and Ownership - If you plan to use LearnDash with WordPress - Since you're hosting your course content on your own platform using WordPress, with some web hosting such as Bluehost or SiteGround (Affiliate link), you're always going to have complete control and ownership of that content. It's not on a third-party platform, so you won't need to worry about who owns the course, the content, or what happens if that third-party platform you're using suddenly goes squat! And since you have complete control, you can change absolutely anything about your course at any time in an instant. And let's say someday you decide to move it on or sell the course, since you own the course, the platform, the domain, the branding, etc. you shouldn't have too many problems. If you decide to create your course with a platform like Teachable or Thinkific, not to slate them in any way, you might struggle with trying to sell your course on as an end product.
  2. Customizability - Now, this is a big one for me because most of the all-in-one course creation software and platforms out there do offer some customization options, like the ability to change a logo or some colors, but certainly not on the same level as something like LearnDash and WordPress. Everything from your course content, the layout, and styling of your theme, to your pricing table, call-to-actions, landing pages, checkout pages are customizable in LearnDash. And if you use something like Thrive Theme Builder or Oxygen Builder to build out the theme for your course, then the possibilities are going to be endless. That's my opinion.

So, LearnDash (Affiliate link), if you haven't guessed by now, is an all-in-one Learning Management System (LMS) for WordPress. It is used by major universities, Fortune 500 companies, bloggers, entrepreneurs all over the globe.

LearnDash board
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For peeps using LearnDash for the first time and not familiar with WordPress, there is a little learning curve to be experienced, but once you find your way around, which doesn't take long at all, it's one of the most straightforward tools to use for creating and selling your online courses.

LearnDash includes everything you need to build your online course. You can add features such as videos, quizzes, dynamic forums, drip-fed content, email marketing, etc.

You can also monetize your course using one-time purchase, subscriptions, shopping carts, memberships, course bundles, course licenses, certificates, and badges.

Price-wise, LearnDash is one of the more affordable solutions. The price starts at $199 per year. But, there's usually a special deal from time to time, where you can save anything up to 40%, so keep an eye out.

Also, if you sell a course, there is no transaction fee to burden you. There is, however, Stripe's or PayPal's fee for processing sales transactions. But, you are paid instantly. That means when you sell a course, and the money goes into your PayPal account, the money is yours. You're not waiting around for 30 days for your money to be paid to you.

So, LearnDash is what I use and recommend to anyone using WordPress, but more importantly for anyone who wants to create a course and ultimately have 100% control over everything. Let’s now dive into some other alternatives -

Click here (Affiliate link) to view the latest price of LearnDash.

#2. Teachable

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Next, we get to Teachable, which also happens to be one of the most popular all-in-one course building platforms. Now, this is truly an all in one solution, where all you need to do is add your content, a logo, some payment options, and that's it.

Teachable is for the entrepreneur that's not looking to spend too much time fussing around building an online course from the ground up. So, if you have your course content ready and all you want to do is host it somewhere and sell it, then this might be for you.

When it comes to branding and customizations, that's where it gets a little sticky for me. You're quite limited with your options. As I said, you can upload a logo and adjust some colors, but that's about it.

If you want to customize things like landing page headings, font styles, CTA buttons, or even add additional components and elements where ever you want, it's going to be close to impossible to do those things.

Now, that said, Teachable does come with some pretty cool and useful features. Some of these include -

  1. Simple analytics to track sales and course completion
  2. Ability to use your domain to link to your course
  3. Unlimited students
  4. Drip course content
  5. Integrated email marketing
  6. Get instant payout, but not if you set up a monthly payment gateway.

Now, let's talk about the cost. The Basic Plan on teachable will set you back $29 per month - paid annually, and that's correct at the time of recording this podcast.

There are other plans; there's a Pro Plan at $99 per month and a Business Plan at $249 per month. There is also a 5% transaction fee for each course you sell. I'm guessing that's not including Stripe's or PayPal's transaction fee on top of that.

On the upside, Teachable can calculate VAT for you. If you want to get paid for the courses, you sell instantly, bear in mind that you will only receive payment once a month if you set up a monthly payment gateway.

#3. Thinkific

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Thinkific is another popular platform designed to make it easy for anyone to create, market, and sell online courses. Much like Teachable, this is an all-in-one platform. Over 50,000-course creators use Thinkific in over 190 countries.

Features include -

  1. Customizable course content and layout to match your brand.
  2. Drag and drop editing, similar to features in LearnDash.
  3. Multimedia support, i.e., to include videos, downloads, quizzes, discussions, etc.
  4. Free video content hosting.
  5. Customizable course systems, i.e., private courses, drip content, evergreen and expiring content, memberships, etc.
  6. Advanced marketing tools.
  7. Connect with the email marketing platform of your choice.
  8. It integrates with over 1K external apps.
  9. Get paid immediately.

There are a few stand out features in Thinkific that I like a lot. 

  1. You get access to a drag-and-drop course builder, so deeper customization capabilities. 
  2. You can seamlessly link it with your existing domain. 
  3. You can market and even sell your course later down the line.
  4. You can create and reward affiliates for promoting your course.

Now, how much does it cost to use Thinkific?

Well, to get started, it's completely free. With the zero-fee plan, you get access to all of the core features. You can create up to three courses and have unlimited students. You can also add quizzes, host content, and more.There is, however, a 10% transaction fee for each course you sell.

The next plan up from that is the Basic Plan at $39 per month paid annually, which, of course, offers more features and 0% transaction fees. Other plans include Pro and Premier.

#4. Udemy

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OK, so next we get to Udemy, which I'm pretty sure you've come across at some stage or another. This platform is prevalent and is used by thousands of course creators around the globe.

In fact, as of 2020, Udenmy has more than 130K courses available on the website.

The site was founded in 2010 in San-Francisco, and the courses hosted on the platform has instructed over 50 million students. If you're thinking of hosting and selling your course on Udemy, note that you're going to be competing with hundreds if not thousands of creators in your niche or industry.

That said, Udemy is probably one of the best places to start with selling your online course. For instructors, it's completely free. There are quite a few success stories from instructors making a ton of revenue from this platform.

Often the site promotes heavily discounted courses, now that might be great for someone buying a course, but in my opinion, such massive discounts can dilute the value of your course. That's just my opinion.

Keep in mind that Udemy is not an LMS like LearnDash; it's merely a marketplace that allows you to host, present, promote, and sell your online courses.

#5. Kajabi

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OK, last but certainly not least, we get to Kajabi!

What is it?

It's a complete solution for integrating subscriptions, courses, gated content, and digital products. So, this is more than a course creation tool; it's a full marketing software for any digital product that you're planning on creating and launching.

Features include -

  1. Convert content into online courses.
  2. Build and launch a fully-integrated website.
  3. Integrate PayPal and Stripe payment gateways.
  4. Add email marketing.
  5. Build dynamic pages
  6. Automate marketing with sales funnels
  7. Custom analytics and reports
  8. A mobile app, and more.

Price-wise, Kajabi is not the cheapest option out of the five here. Starting at $119 per month, billed annually. For the basic plan, you can create three products, three pipelines, unlimited pages, and marketing emails, have up to 10K contacts and active members, host one website, and have one admin user. Other plans include Growth and Pro.

So yeah, Kajabi sounds like it's a complete business solution for selling digital products online.

I should also mention that Kajabi offers a 14-day free trial if you want to take it for a test ride.

It's a wrap!

Alright, folks, so that is all I have for you in this episode. If you're thinking about creating and selling online courses, I hope you've found this podcast informative. You have quite a few options available. I know I haven't covered all of the platforms and services available in this show. I encourage you to do further research before settling on a platform for your course.

And again, speaking, of course, from my own experiences, the one solution I would recommend if you are already using WordPress is LearnDash LMS.

With LearnDash, I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the courses I'm creating will always be mine, hosted on my own platform where I have full control of everything. It’s my own domain, content, design, branding, etc. And from a conversion perspective, I can test, improve, add new features and do a lot more.

If you decide to go with LearnDash, don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for video tutorials on how to use this platform. OK, that's it. I want to wish you the best of luck in your course creation projects.

Don't forget, if you enjoyed tuning in, you could leave me a short review over on iTunes if you wish. If you want to support this podcast in any way, check out my Tools and Resources page and also my Patreon page. I'll link to both of these in the show notes. Until the next episode, take care and peace.

Podcast tools used In This Episode

Hardware

  1. 13" Macbook Pro (Affiliate link)
  2. Focusrite 2i2 Audio Interface (Affiliate link)
  3. Rode NT-1 Microphone (Affiliate link)
  4. Neewer Mic Suspension Arm (Affiliate link)
  5. Neewer NW-3000 Monitoring Headphones (Affiliate link)

Software / Tools / Resources

  1. Garageband (Tutorial for recording and editing podcasts)
  2. Auphonic (Audio leveling)
  3. Fusebox (Affiliate link - Podcast Player)
  4. Libsyn (Podcast hosting)
  5. Podcast Artwork
  6. SoundStripe (Affiliate link - Podcast Music)

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products, services I use and recommend for bloggers and entrepreneurs. This means if you click on one of these links and make a purchase of a product or service, I will earn a small commission, at no additional charge to you. Thanks for your continued support.

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