Do you want to start your own online course? Do you have an idea for a product that could be released as an online course? But have no clue where to begin? Or do you have a great product but don’t know how to turn it into a successful online course? You came to the right place.
Infolearners.com is a useful hub for students and educators who long to improve their learning skills. Here, you can find a lot of tools and guide which can help you in learning anything from professional issues to entrepreneurial skills. Infolearners offers you with numerous courses based on the latest technologies and business ideas. This helps you with the overall success of your business.
With the acceleration of online learning due to social distancing, online course platforms are experiencing huge growth.
In fact, the e-learning and online course market will be worth $325 billion by 2025.
Are you ready to tap into this market and sell online courses?
You need the best online course platform.
Here’s the secret: you need to pick a platform that gives your students a custom, professional learning experience so amazing that they’re completely unaware they’re using a platform. 🤯
If you’re unfamiliar with course platforms, these are browser-based platforms that help you:
- Create an online course website (or integrate your course with an existing site).
- Build sales landing pages.
- Price your course and collect payments (either one-time or in installments).
- Upload your videos, add assignments and quizzes, creating interactive content, and engage with your students.
- Create membership communities.
- Host live webinars.
Listen while you read: After our real and honest testing, here’s a video with our top 3 online course platforms and a preview of their dashboards:
Video created by AdamEnfroy.com and Codeless.
Let’s get started.
What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?
Here are my top picks for the best online course platforms to use this year.
Best Overall Online Course Platform (Free or $49/mo)
I personally love Thinkific and use them for my own online course business, selling my course Blog Growth Engine. They provide an awesome student experience, easy integrations with Stripe and checkout providers to make collecting payments easy, and they have an expert support team that’s been super helpful. Overall, I recommend Thinkific wholeheartedly a7s my #1 recommendation for selling online courses.
Free – $79/month
Yes – Save 20%
Thinkific is the best overall platform to sell online courses.
It’s my #1 choice because the pricing is exactly in line with other affordable options on this list and it can deliver a high-end course experience.
- Course websites can be customized and you’d never guess they were Thinkific.
- Sales pages are highly optimized and look great.
- Student dashboards look nice and are customizable (you can add videos, text, and any downloadable file type to the same page).
- You can either send your entire course at once or drip it out over time.
- Free Wistia video hosting (a huge value).
That’s honestly all that you need for an optimized course website.
In fact, even though Thinkific plans start at just $49/month, huge brands like Fiverr use Thinkific to sell online courses.
I would have never guessed that this massive learning database was a Thinkific site until their team told me:
Their best (and most popular) Pro Plan offers a one-month free trial to get started.
First, this plan gives you the ability to create unlimited courses. It also features memberships and bundles, advanced pricing options, landing pages, certificates, and marketing tools.
Here’s a little preview of the experience creating a Thinkific course.
All that you do is create and customize your course with their drag and drop editor:
Next, you upload your content and choose one of their website templates:
Lastly, you set up payment methods (you can collect payments in over 100 currencies):
There are also a ton of customization options. If you want to build a completely custom site, their onboarding team takes your vision and helps you turn it into a reality.
Pros of Thinkific:
- Marketing automation and email features.
- Simple free plan to get started.
- Can fully edit the code of your course site.
- Customizable course certificates.
- Custom domains.
- Affiliate marketing help and reporting.
Here’s what people are saying about Thinkific:
- “You need to get on Thinkific. The team is creative, reliable, and offers unbeatable support. They always make sure all my bases are covered and, as a business owner, that’s invaluable.” – Lewis Howes
- “By teaching our audience how to scale and grow their business through online training, we’ve grown ours. We couldn’t have done it without Thinkific.” – John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneurs on Fire
- “I seriously can’t be more impressed with your customer support team. They are the perfect blend of efficient and personable. It’s like having my very own IT department.” – Kim Garnett
- Basic ($49/month): Unlimited courses and students, drip (scheduled) content, custom domain, email integrations, and coupons.
- Pro ($99/month): Basic features, plus memberships and bundles, private courses, certificates, advanced HTML and CSS editing, assignments, live lessons via Zoom, and priority support.
- Premier ($499/month): Pro features, plus 50 course admins, onboarding package, and unlimited growth package (best for big teams).
Overall, I recommend the Thinkific platform as my #1 choice for course creators and entrepreneurs who are serious about creating, marketing, and selling their own course content.
You can get started today with a One-Month Free Trial of their Pro Plan with my link below.Try Thinkific
Best Course Creation Software for Interactive Learning ($24/month)
I think Learnworlds is one of the best course platforms for interactivity. If you’re looking to give your students an engaging course, with quizzes, interactive videos, surveys, and certificates, Learnworlds is a good choice. While it doesn’t have the ease of use of Thinkific, it does have strong student community features.8.8out of 10
Yes – Save 20%
Learnworlds is a platform that’s best for course creators looking to interact in unique ways with their students.
Think quizzes, gamification, interactive videos, etc.
While the student experience isn’t as nice looking as a Thinkific course, it’s unique in that it offers students more interactive eLearning content.
Pros of Learnworlds:
- Interactive videos, e-books, gamification, and downloadable attachments.
- You can offer free courses.
- Can extract transcripts from your courses.
- A custom domain name and white-labeled content.
- Students can take notes and highlight important points.
- Certificates of completion.
- Custom mobile app on iOS for course.
- The ability to create coupons and discounts.
- Social media integrations.
- A new analytics platform to optimize your sales.
- The ability to create membership sites.
- A strong knowledge base.
- 24/7 support.
- Starter ($24/month paid annually): one admin, $5 fee per course sale, custom domain, unlimited courses, page builder tool, 4 payment gateways, coupons, and drip feed courses.
- Pro Trainer ($79/month): Starter features, plus no transaction fees, 5 admin accounts, subscriptions and memberships, custom checkout pages, live classes via Zoom and Webex, assignments, and affiliate management.
- Learning Center ($249/month): Pro Trainer features, plus a branded corporate academy, premium cloud servers, flexible invoicing, premium support, and premium account manager.
Best High-End Online Course Platform for Professionals ($119/month)
In my opinion, Kajabi is one of the best platforms for professionals that want to scale their business. With so many features included in their plans, you can develop your online training just the way you want it, and build out as many features within your platform as needed. Whether you want to send newsletters, host podcasts, or even build membership sites, Kajabi can work for your needs.8.4out of 10
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Kajabi is the best high-end course builder tailored toward information business, not tiny course creators.
It’s best when it comes to email marketing automation. Automation is a crucial component of pre-sale, pre-webinar, drip course, and upsell emails – and Kajabi does it best.
Their “Pipelines” feature lets you create fully-automated marketing campaigns and funnels. These are pre-built frameworks for lead generation, with pre-written copy optimized for conversions.
It also features powerful course site themes, the ability to sell digital products, a customizable checkout, and blogging functionality.
Overall, it’s the best high-end course platform with more built-in tools and features, but it costs a little more than others on the list.
- Best all-in-one software for a true information business.
- Wistia video hosting is excellent.
- Major focus on sales and marketing tools.
- More built-in tools than other platforms.
- Can offer monthly recurring subscriptions.
- Integrated with Stripe and PayPal.
- Big names use Kajabi, including Amy Porterfield.
Kajabi pricing is mainly based on the number of courses and active members you have:
- Basic ($119/month): 1 website, 1 admin, 3 products, 3 pipelines, 10,000 contacts, and 1,000 active members.
- Growth ($119/month): 1 website, 10 admins, 15 products, 15 pipelines, 25,000 contacts, 10,000 active members.
- Pro ($319/month): 3 websites, 25 admins, 100 products, 100 pipelines, 100,000 contacts, and 20,000 active members.
Where Kajabi really excels is its marketing automation tools. You can segment users in your list, send emails at certain times based on advanced triggers, and send professionally branded messages.
If you’re an established business and want to try one of the more advanced platforms on the market, Kajabi is a solid choice.
Start your free 14-day trial of Kajabi today.Try Kajabi
Best Online Course Platform for Beginners ($0-$249/mo)
I think that if you’re just starting out and want a solid foundation to build your business, Teachable is the way to go. This online course platform allows you to focus on sharing your knowledge without getting bogged down with the technical aspect. This is why I recommend it for those that are at the startup stage in their business.8.2out of 10
Yes – Save 17%
Teachable is an option if you want a fast and easy course builder.
I consider it the best for beginners getting their feet wet in the course world as it’s one of the cheapest options and easy to use.
You can choose to use their free plan (with $1 + $0.10 for all transactions) or select one of their three plans ranging from just $29/month to $299/month.
I recommend their most popular Pro Plan at $99/month as it’s the first plan with zero transaction fees.
Teachable also gave me a unique and limited-time promo code (200 left):
Use PROSOCIATE1MFREE at checkout to get one month of their Pro Plan for free.
- Very easy setup.
- Unlimited everything – bandwidth, students, courses, and coaching services.
- One-click checkout.
- Optimized storefront and sales pages.
- Live Zoom courses on their pro plan.
- International payment plans in 130+ currencies.
- Graded quizzes.
- Custom course completion certificates.
- Website theme customization.
- Can have 5 user accounts on their pro plan.
- Basic ($29/month): 5% transaction fees, 2 admin users, drip content, course builder, members-only community.
- Pro ($99/month): Basic features, plus no transaction fees, 5 admin users, advanced reports, and course certificates.
- Business ($249/month): Pro features, plus advanced coding customizations, 20 admins, bulk student enrollments, and group coaching calls.
Best All-In-One Online Course Platform for Webinars, Downloads, and Memberships ($39/month)
Want to sell any of your digital work online? I think Podia is definitely a platform to consider. With the ability to sell online courses, digital downloads, host webinars, and even build a community, Podia is a platform that can adapt based on your needs.7.8out of 10
An All-In-One Solution
Yes – Save $398/yr
Podia is an all-in-one online course platform with over 50,000 members that is great for digital downloads, webinars, and memberships.
Its main types of courses include:
- Standalone courses that include images, video and audio files, MP3x, PDFs, quizzes, and more.
- Pre-sell your course by taking payments before launch.
- Cohort-based courses with a future start date.
- Drip courses deliver your course in a section-by-section format.
- The ability to add coupons and memberships.
They truly excel with their membership options. You can grow your own online community by interacting with members, bundling products for specific groups, offering tiered plans, and connecting with Facebook Groups and Slack.
Podia also acts as a webinar platform to host either live or on-demand webinars.
Another awesome feature is the ability to run your own affiliate program inside of Podia. You can view all of your affiliates in one place, view helpful reporting, and make payouts based on your own customized commission structure.
There is 24/7 support, no transaction fees, and a simple three-step process to get your course website up quickly.
Although they don’t charge fees, their payment processors have transaction fees of 2.9% + 30¢.
- Mover ($39/month) – Unlimited everything, zero transaction fees, sell courses, digital downloads, and 5k emails sent per month.
- Shaker ($79/month) – Everything in Mover, plus the ability to create membership communities, add affiliates, and 15k emails sent per month.
- Earthquaker ($179/month) – Everything in Shaker, plus dedicated account manager, personalized onboarding, and 50k emails sent per month.
Overall, if you’re looking for strong membership functionality and the ability to increase your sales with the help of affiliates, Podia is a unique and worthwhile course builder to try out.
You can sign up and give it a test run with a free 14-day trial.Try Podia
Great Online Course Software LMS for WordPress Users ($13.25/month)
LearnDash is a WordPress plugin and the one platform you need to sell courses with a WordPress site.
This popular WordPress LMS plugin is used by some big websites using LearnDash include Yoast, Infusionsoft, the University of Michigan, and WP Elevation.
One of their first helpful features is their “Focus Mode,” which blocks out all distractions when students run through a course.
LearnDash’s full-featured course builder meshes well with their email drip campaigns. You can build a great online course on your own website and match your content with an email drip schedule to send lessons according to a program.
Their Gradebook* technology takes LMS to another level. This technology gives students an overall grade based on quiz and homework scores, creating a weighted average for teachers to review.
In addition to grading, course points award points for actions, and badges and certificates award students for course activities.
If you’re a teacher looking for grading systems that compete with the features of college curriculums, LearnDash is the best LMS plugin.
You can get started today with a $40 discount and a full 30-day money-back guarantee on their annual plans.Try LearnDash
The Ridiculously Easy Online Course Platform ($74.75/month)
Ruzuku allows you to create a step-by-step online course with their learning platform, PDFs, and text in minutes. You can quickly create course outlines, edit and reorder your steps with ease, launch your course, and generate sales in no time.
Ruzuku integrates with tools like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, and payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal to accept payments – and they don’t charge transaction fees.
They’re also known for their desirable community. When you join Ruzuku, you’re not buying a teaching tool; you’re joining a team to help your students learn.
Called “the ridiculously easy course creator,” Ruzuku comes with some excellent features listed below:
Finally, their platform offers unlimited courses to unlimited students on all paid plans.
You can get started with a 14-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.Try Ruzuku
8. Academy of Mine.
The Enterprise Online Course Platform Custom-Built to Your Business ($499/month)
Academy of Mine is a high-end eLearning platform founded on personalized customer success and philosophy of customization.
It’s truly a learning management system that works best in different business niches. A standard feature of any plan is completely free development hours to help set up and launch your course with customized integrations.
One of their goals is not just to set you up and help you launch. They also want to help sell your course with their marketing tools and analytics dashboards.
Personalization is at the heart of its strategy. Are you a healthcare company that wants to create a full curriculum for continuing education credits (CECs)? They can help with that.
Are you an insurance company that requires continued training due to constant changes in a particular legal code at the state level? Are you looking to create online courses to manage your facility?
That’s also no problem with Academy of Mine.
While these enterprise offerings may be overkill for typical users, they are necessary for small to medium-sized businesses needing a robust training system for their employees or clients.
If this sounds like the eLearning solution you’re looking for, you can get started today with their 30-day free trial.Try Academy of Mine
Affordable Live Virtual Online Classrooms ($27/month)
WizIQ offers teachers and educators an easy way to set up virtual classrooms for live interactive online classes. Over 400,000 instructors have leveraged WizIQ to teach over 4 million students virtual classes across 200 countries.
They provide the latest tools for live training such as discussion boards, video streaming, mobile options, assessments, and analytics.
If you are an educator or corporate leader that wants to reach your audience live anywhere in the world, you can get started with their 14-day free trial.Try WizIQ
What Are Online Course Platforms?
Online course platforms are types of learning management systems (LMS) that provide users with access to digital classes. These virtual courses are similar to offline classes in a lot of ways: an instructor provides an engaging educational experience through video, image, text, audio, and PDF files.
Students follow along with the LMS software, take notes, perform exercises, and complete exams to test their knowledge.
Tools like Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Podia, and Ruzuku all feature a robust feature set for course creators.
Course software includes features like a fully responsive website experience, easy content uploading, the ability to edit the look and feel of the class, marketing features, course completion certificates, a sales funnel, and more.
Basically, they give you everything you need to sell an online course. Some even allow you to build your course for free.
If you’re an educational institution looking to replace your on-premise classes with online learning, you can check out my other guide to choosing the best learning management system (LMS).
Course creators choose a platform to use, then charge their students a set fee to access their courses.
What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?
Now for the student’s point of view.
With social distancing becoming the norm and many colleges moving to online classes, there are plenty of ways to educate yourself from home.
Often called massive open online courses (MOOCs), they are slightly different than paid platforms. Instead of hosting files yourself, courses are in a marketplace where students pay for them directly, or via a subscription.
The benefit for course creators is that you can leverage these websites to reach a new audience. The downside is you won’t earn as much money per sale, and there is stiffer competition in the market.
Ultimately, I recommend using one of the providers above to sell courses.
If you’re looking to sign up for a platform to learn new things, here are my picks for the best online learning platforms.
Udemy is one of the best online course platform marketplaces with over 24 million students, 35,000 instructors, and unbelievable 80,000+ courses. The first step to creating a course is to sign up to be a premium instructor.
Once your account is approved, it’s effortless to get started creating your courses. When creating your video content, keep in mind the material has to be at least 30 minutes long and contain five lectures.
Another benefit to adding your course on Udemy is that you can easily promote your class inside their platform. You can use their marketing features to be included in site-wide discounts, be placed in their marketing emails, or join their affiliate program with tiered commission rates.
What does Udemy cost?
It is free to use. They charge a 3% rev share for sales through instructor coupons, 50% for students who found your course through organic search (SEO), and 75% for transactions made through paid search marketing efforts.
Udemy is one of the best online course platforms for professionals. The first advantage is that you get access to a large user base. Udemy’s 40 million users are all potential students who will pay for your course. But just because you’re on their platform, it doesn’t mean you’ll start raking in sales right away.
You have to develop a strong marketing and sales strategy, much like a new e-commerce company, author, or real estate agent. It’s all about getting your name out there.
They provide a substantial revenue share for tuition fees. Instructors set their course prices and receive revenue at 100% of the tuition fee for new users and 50% for existing users. That’s a substantial commission on sales and a massive benefit to using their platform.
You can participate in their marketing promotions. Every so often, they run promotions that can help you reach a larger audience on their platform. These marketing promotions are opt-in, so instructors can choose to participate or not.
They have reliable technology and support. They offer free 24/7 support, and they also have a vast library of helpful articles.
There is intense competition with other courses. Instructors are at the mercy of the placement and appearance on the Udemy website, which is controlled by their proprietary algorithms.
It can be difficult to outrank other instructors on particular topics if you’re new to the platform.
There is also stiff competition with other course publishers. Udemy isn’t the only course marketplace ranking on search engines for your course topics.
Other marketplaces like iSpring Learn, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and Skillshare can compete with Udemy in organic search, which can be a disadvantage for instructors.
They have lenient return policies. Refunds are guaranteed to all students within 30 days for any reason. Because of this, students could take a course, complete it within 30 days, and get a guaranteed refund – decreasing your sales.
Udemy Review: Final Verdict
First, they’re one of the most well known, widely used, and professional online course marketplace out there. With a robust rev share model, a vast audience to tap into, 24/7 support, and marketing offerings, you can’t go wrong with their platform.
Although there is healthy competition with other course creators and platforms, the company is likely to maintain its lead in the market.
Get started with Udemy for free today.Try Udemy
2. Shaw Academy.
Shaw Academy is a platform that gives its students access to professional, accredited online courses. Students sign up for Shaw Academy and get access to all of their long-form courses.
They offer courses in three distinct categories: for hobbyists, for professionals, and for entrepreneurs.
For example, in their “For Professionals” category, they offer a globally-recognized Digital Marketing Course. This course includes 32 videos and takes an average of 16 weeks to complete.
What Does Shaw Academy Cost?
Courses are offered for free for the first four weeks. You can then continue learning by paying for a monthly plan.
The cost then ranges from $49.99 to $60 per month.
Shaw Academy Pros
Their courses are all globally-recognized and offer certifications to help you in your career. If you’re a working professional, their classes on digital marketing, project management, web development, Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel are very in-depth.
Entrepreneurs can also access helpful classes on social media marketing, viral marketing, wedding, photography, etc.
Their courses are all flexible and you can complete them on your own time. They also offer helpful support and the ability to download class recordings to watch them offline.
The four-week free plan is also a great bonus too.
Shaw Academy Cons
Although they offer a lot of good courses, you may not find the right one for you depending on your industry. They also don’t have the same volume of hobby classes as platforms like Skillshare.
Shaw Academy Review: Final Verdict.
If you’re a professional looking for flexible, accredited courses that you can start completely free for 4 weeks, this platform is a great choice.Try Shaw Academy
Skillshare is a large marketplace focused on creative education. Topics include anything from graphic design and music production to fine art and cooking.
They also have classes on more technical topics like data science, analytics, and e-commerce. Skillshare has more than 5 million users and has paid over $5 million to teachers.
Each class is 20-60 minutes broken down into shorter lessons, plus projects and a community discussion forum to connect with other students.
The open discussion is very beneficial for their creative topics, as students can share their progress and get feedback from others. They also can help premium members with production, course planning, and can even help with online course creation at their studio in New York.
What does Skillshare cost?
It is free for creating a premium course experience. They pay instructors $10 for paid membership referrals and monthly royalties for each minute of content watched.
They have a large user base of creators and entrepreneurs. If you are offering content that would be suited for a creative audience, Skillshare is a great platform to get noticed.
Lessons on web design, building your email list, photography, painting, personal branding, and creative topics are the most popular.
The quality of the classes is reliable. They pride themselves on professional, high-quality courses. They can help with outlining your course based on the needs of their audience, and can also assist with production.
Earnings run through a royalty system. Each month, between 30 and 50% of Skillshare’s premium subscription revenue goes to a royalty pool for teachers.
The remaining funds go to marketing and promoting classes, supporting the platform, and running day-to-day operations. This royalty system works for well established teachers, as the more minutes watched, the more revenue share you receive.
However, this makes it difficult for new instructors to receive much compensation when they’re just starting. Plus, students who watch at 2x speed only count as half the minutes toward the royalty pool.
Another disadvantage is they only offer email support. Although they have helpful support articles, the only option to contact them is via email.
Skillshare Review: Final Verdict
Skillshare is an up and coming online course marketplace with over 4 million students. With a large user base of creators and entrepreneurs, it is a great option for instructors in creative fields.
Their classes are all high quality, and they can help make sure that your class will best match the needs of their audience for maximum impact.
However, based on the royalty system for earnings, and no live support, you may be able to make a lot more sales with a marketplace. If you’re a creative course creator and want to reach a new audience, their online courses are worth a try.
Sign up with Skillshare and get 2 months of free classes.Try Skillshare
4. LinkedIn Learning.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) is another online course marketplace tailored to business professionals. With over 1,000 business courses on topics like project management, web development, and digital marketing, they’re an excellent platform for working professionals looking to keep their skills up-to-date.
They also offer certifications that you can add to your LinkedIn profile, showcasing your expertise and improving your online resume.
What does LinkedIn Learning cost?
Monthly fees tie to a premium LinkedIn membership, which is $29.99/month or $24.00/month if you pay annually.
Try LinkedIn Learning today and get one month free.Try LinkedIn Learning
Treehouse is a relatively new marketplace that believes in the democratization of education. Their platform is “committed to making education accessible to students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds.”
They feature 300+ technical courses on coding and development, over 50,000 students, and over 27,545 minutes of video (and counting).
Treehouse partners with some big names, including Microsoft, IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa, and Google Developers.
What does Treehouse cost?
Treehouse offers a 7-day free trial. Then you can choose from three different plans ranging from $25 to $199 per month.
Their basic plan features on-demand courses, interactive practice sessions, and access to their online community.
The pro plan gives you access to bonuses, beta features, and downloadable content.
And if you’re looking to create a real portfolio and get job-ready skills, their Techdegree plan gives you personalized feedback, real-time support, and a custom curriculum.
Try Treehouse today.Try Treehouse
Coursera is a professional online course marketplace with virtual classes from some of the world’s best companies and universities like the University of Michigan, Duke, and Stanford.
Instructors teach Coursera courses at some of the world’s top universities, take about 4-6 weeks to complete, and include video lectures, peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums.
What does Coursera cost?
Coursera is free to join, and you must be logged in to see pricing information on individual courses. There are three tiers of class offerings at Coursera.
- Main courses run on a subscription basis and cost $29-99/month. These take the standard 4-6 weeks to complete, and you receive an electronic course certificate upon completion.
- Specialization courses are for mastering a specific career skill and cost between $39-79/month. In these online courses, you tackle real business challenges with hands-on projects and more rigorous coursework.
- Online degree programs. If you’re looking for a more advanced education, you can even take part in university-recognized online degree programs. These take 1-3 years to complete and cost anywhere from $15 to $25,000.
Give Coursera a try.
What makes a great online course platform?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
For this piece, we only considered platforms for building and selling an online course, which means we didn’t consider learning management systems (LMS). While the terms are often used interchangeably, LMS software is generally used either in a school setting or to help companies train their customers and employees. The platforms covered below, on the other hand, are designed for businesses and individual creators to earn money by selling their courses.
Online course creation platforms can be broadly divided into two categories:
- Course marketplaces
- Course creation software
In a marketplace, your course is a part of a catalog, and you have the option to customize your course landing page but not much else aside from the course content. Most marketplaces let you publish a course for free but take a share of course sales. The major advantage: course marketplaces provide you with an existing student base, so if you don’t have much of an online presence yet, you might want to dabble with these first.
Course creation software, on the other hand, offers many more customization options. You can create branded landing pages, choose from multiple content formats when building your course, and get the necessary tools to market your course. These usually charge a fixed monthly fee, and some platforms also charge a transaction fee.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a profitable course. Your ideal course creation platform is unique to your needs and goals. Are online courses your bread and butter? Then you need a platform that helps you reach the maximum number of students. Does teaching and engaging with students excite you? Then a course creator with interactive tools would work well. Are you creating a course to engage your existing audience? Then you’ll want a tool with robust marketing features.
While every platform has its own unique selling point, we’ve judged the platforms below based on certain criteria:
- Content formats supported, including video, audio, PDFs, and images
- Editing features and customization options
- Whether or not they’re realistically affordable for small and medium businesses
- Support for assessments: quizzes, exams, certifications, etc.
- Marketing and payment features
Ready to share your trade secrets online? Take a look at the best platforms to help you get the job done.
Online course marketplaces
Best online course marketplace for launching your first course
Udemy (Web, Android, iOS)
While the earliest massive open online courses (MOOCs) made learning accessible, Udemy took it a step further: it made teaching online possible. Today, the platform has over 40 million students enrolled in its courses and an instructor base of more than 65,000.
To create a paid course on Udemy, you first have to apply to become a premium instructor. Once approved, you’ll see a series of easy-to-follow steps to help you create your first course. As you plan course content, keep in mind that all courses need at least 30 minutes of video and five lectures. You’re also welcome to add quizzes, assignments, coding exercises, and discussion prompts.
Why launch your first course on Udemy? Because the platform offers loads of support for creating and marketing a course. For example, if you’re not sure if your video lessons are up to snuff, you can submit a sample for review and get feedback on video and audio, along with suggestions for equipment. And for tutorials on planning a course, filming your first video, and related topics, Udemy offers the Teach Hub with tips and tricks.
If you’re struggling to make your first few sales, Udemy’s tailor-made marketing programs will offer support. Get your course featured in their email blasts, be a part of site-wide discounts, or opt for Udemy’s affiliate marketing program. All of these programs are optional, and depending on the promotional channel you choose, Udemy takes a share of course sales.
Finally, Udemy’s marketplace insights help you select the perfect course topic and see how it stacks up against other courses on the platform—which is important because of the size of the marketplace you’re competing with. Similar to Google Analytics, this feature tells you how popular a topic is on Udemy, its search volume, and related keywords. You can also see the number of existing courses for a topic, top-earning courses in the category, monthly revenue earned, and best promotion channels (Udemy discovery, Udemy search, external sources, paid ads).
To put it simply, with Udemy, you’re in good hands.
Udemy Price: Free for selling a premium course. Udemy charges 3% revenue share on course sales made by instructor coupons and 63% revenue share on all other course sales. (Note: Revenue share does not include processing fees charged by PayPal or Payoneer, or mobile platform fees for mobile course sales.)
Best online course marketplace for teaching creative skills
Skillshare (Web, Android, iOS)
If you’re an entrepreneur, designer, writer, photographer, or blogger looking to teach your craft online, Skillshare is great for teaching creative skills. You’ll find courses on all kinds of topics, both popular and niche: marketing, photography, cooking, hand painting, doodling, and even wall hanging.
The platform offers a membership plan for students that gives them access to all of its 35,000+ premium courses. As for creators, it’s free to sign up and publish a course, but if you want to get paid, it must be a part of Skillshare’s premium catalog.
Free or premium, Skillshare classes have three major moving parts: video lessons, a project, and community discussion. Each class includes 20-60 minutes of video, broken down into 2-5-minute lessons. The practical project then ensures hands-on experience. For instance, a social media class project might require students to promote their Instagram account, or a writing class might require students to draft a pitch. Finally, the community portion of a class allows students to post their work.
Instead of favoring final outcomes, Skillshare encourages students to share their progress, gather feedback, and tweak their work accordingly—which is perfect for the creative topics you’ll be teaching.
Skillshare Price: Free for creating a premium class. Skillshare pays instructors $10 for premium membership referrals and royalties for minutes watched in a premium class each month.
Online course creation software
Best online course creation software for building an online school with advanced marketing
Teachable (Web, iOS)
Teachable helps savvy course creators grow and nurture an online audience. To begin with, the platform offers various options to customize the look and feel of your course. Build a website that reflects your brand, create sales pages for launching your course, and if you happen to know some code, use the Power Editor to tinker with it. If not, edit the templates available. Teachable’s course builder accepts files from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, among other content formats.
There’s flexibility when pricing your course too. You can offer courses on their own or in bundles, and choose between a one-time fee, a payment plan, or a subscription. When you’re ready to launch, create coupon codes to see a quick boost in course sales. To build a sales team for your course, use the platform’s built-in affiliate marketing option: simply add affiliates and they will get a percentage of course sales. No third-party integration required.
Teachable’s native email marketing tool lets you filter and message students when they enroll in a course, redeem a coupon, or complete a course. The platform also helps you collect student feedback and uncover insights about your course using Google Forms and surveys. If you’d like to keep in touch with students after they’ve completed your course, add them to your email list with Teachable’s integrations. As they say, the money is in the list.
You can do more with Teachable when you connect it to your favorite apps through Zapier’s automated workflows. Automatically add your students to your marketing campaign, track them in a Google Sheet, and more. Here are a few pre-made workflows to get you started, but you can connect Teachable with almost any app you use for your business.Add new Teachable students to ActiveCampaignUse this ZapLog new Teachable sales in Google Sheets rowsUse this ZapSee more Teachable integrations powered by
Teachable Price: The Free plan includes unlimited students and courses, with transaction fees of $1 + 10% per transaction; paid plans start at $29/month for the Basic plan, which includes custom domain, email marketing, coupon codes, drip course content, and a 5% transaction fee.
Best online course creation software for selling digital products and memberships
Podia lets you build an online store for your digital content. Create online courses, digital downloads, and even membership sites, all as part of one digital storefront.
All Podia storefronts have a similar template, which is helpful if you find too many options overwhelming. Each store’s landing page includes an overview, a “What’s included” section, a content section, FAQs, and creator bios. And all courses, memberships, and digital downloads have a separate landing page.
Once you create an online course, you can publish it immediately or pre-launch it to collect emails. If you have additional resources to supplement your course—cheat sheets, eBooks, videos, audio, text, checklists—sell them as a digital download. You can also bundle and sell the two together.
Online content creators often try to nurture an online community on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This can work, but you’re often at the mercy of algorithmic changes and the rules of the platform you choose. Podia allows you to create your own private membership site, with different membership plans, perks, and content for members. Share updates with your community, notify them about new products, and watch your business grow.
Connect Podia to the other apps you use most through Zapier’s automated workflows. Automatically add your students to your marketing campaign, enroll new purchasers in your course, and more.Subscribe new Podia customers to Mailchimp listsUse this ZapEnroll Samcart customers in a Podia courseUse this ZapCreate Google Sheet rows from new Podia salesUse this ZapSee more Podia integrations powered by
Podia Price: From $39/month for the Mover plan for unlimited everything, email marketing, and zero transaction fees.
Best online course creation software for building a course from scratch
Putting together your first online course can be daunting. How many lessons should you include? Where should you add assignments and quizzes? What other file types should you include? Thinkific takes the guesswork out of course creation with its simple and ready-to-use templates.
There are two parts to creating a course on Thinkific: course material and landing page. To get started, choose from the following templates: pre-sell, mini-course, flagship course, membership resource library, and webinar replay. Unlike other course builders, where you start with a blank slate, Thinkific templates provide helpful cues and tips to build a valuable course. Apart from video lessons, the templates are pre-populated with sample quizzes, downloads, surveys, and instructor messages, at regular intervals throughout the course. Add or remove content as you see fit, or follow the template as is.
Thinkific’s website builder is one of the easiest to use. Choose the pages you want to include, add your copy, pick a theme, and you’re done.
Want to include testimonials on your website? Here’s a neat trick to collect them on Thinkific: turn on student reviews for your course and add the ones you like directly to your landing page.
And by connecting Thinkific with Zapier, you can do things like automatically add your students to your marketing campaign or get an SMS message when a course is purchased.Create ActiveCampaign contacts from new Thinkific ordersUse this ZapSubscribe new Thinkific students to MailchimpUse this ZapGet an SMS for new Thinkific ordersUse this ZapSee more Thinkific integrations powered by
Thinkific Price: Free for 1 course and unlimited students, full eCommerce, and no transaction fees; from $39/month for the Basic plan, which offers most features, including unlimited courses and students, a custom domain, and drip content.
Best online course creation software for marketing a course on autopilot
Kajabi (Web, iOS, Android)
Kajabi gives marketing superpowers to busy course creators. Its marketing blueprints, called Pipelines, help you create an entire marketing funnel—from landing page and opt-ins to emails and course checkout—with just a few clicks.
Here’s an example: The freebie pipeline consists of three touchpoints. The first is a landing page where you collect emails in exchange for a free downloadable, such as an eBook or cheatsheet. When a visitor enters their email, they’re subscribed to your freebie email sequence, where you can thank them for signing up and upsell your course. If they choose to purchase, they’re taken to a thank-you page. And that’s it.
You can also choose what to do with the emails you collect. Add them to an email sequence, remind them about your special offer, or send them a thank-you note after they purchase. Kajabi has templates for all kinds of pages. Select a Pipeline, add your content, and your marketing machine is all set.
Templates can be handy, but if you want to create your own automations, Kajabi offers a number of if-then scenarios to choose from. When a student completes an assessment, fills a form, cancels a subscription, or has been inactive for a while, you can send them an email, register them for an event, or unsubscribe them from an email list. Given that email is at the core of all its features, Kajabi also has a native email provider that helps you track how many of your emails are opened.
You can do more with Kajabi when you connect it to your favorite apps through Zapier’s automated workflows. Automatically get email notifications for new purchases, give new purchasers access to your product, and more. Start with one of the workflows below, or connect Kajabi to any of the other apps you use.Get email notifications for new Kajabi purchasesUse this ZapGrant new PayPal customers access to an offer on KajabiUse this ZapAdd new Kajabi customers to Keap Max ClassicUse this ZapSee more Kajabi integrations powered by
Kajabi Price: From $119/month for the Basic plan for one site, 3 products, 3 pipelines, and unlimited marketing emails and landing pages.
Best online course creation software for creating an online school
LearnWorlds (Web, Android, iOS)
Ever dreamt of starting your own school? Now you can. LearnWorlds helps you set up an online school website with multiple teachers and a course catalog. Add instructors and select the courses you want them to teach. While instructors can author courses, they cannot publish a new course or change general settings. As admin of your school, offer as many courses as you like, with various pricing options. For an added fee, you can even get a branded app for your school.
LearnWorlds’ course builder has a number of unique tools. When adding content to your course, upload videos from your computer or Vimeo. Then, choose from a range of editing options such as adding text, images, pointers, logo, titles, and interactive buttons to your video. You can also add course content from SoundCloud and YouTube, among other formats.
LearnWorlds enables connections with students and teachers via an online community that accompanies every school. Most discussion forums focus on reviewing course-related material, but LearnWorlds’ communities are designed for social interaction. While students are free to post questions about coursework, the idea is to foster engagement and exchange of ideas. To help students build their network, each student has a public profile that showcases their courses and achievements.
And by connecting LearnWorlds with Zapier, you can do things like automatically track new course purchases in a Google Sheet, send an email when a course is completed, and more.Log new LearnWorlds purchases to a Google SheetUse this ZapSend emails for LearnWorlds course completionUse this ZapLog new LearnWorlds certificates to a Google SheetUse this ZapSee more LearnWorlds integrations powered by
LearnWorlds Price: From $24/month for the Starter plan for custom domain, unlimited paid courses, built-in community, coupons, 4 payment gateways, and $5 fee per course sale.
Best online course creation software for building a paid community
Mighty Networks (Web, Android, iOS)
Mighty Networks helps you build a vibrant, active paid community around your online course. The app focuses broadly on community-building, which includes paid groups, events, and—you guessed it—online courses.
Users can sell individual courses, community membership, or bundle a combination of the two. Memberships can be priced as a one-time payment or subscription, and pricing is 100% custom. Each course can be priced separately or offered for free to paying members.
Every course comes with an Activity Feed built in that works to foster engagement and conversation as members complete your course. Members can share all kinds of content, too—from quick text posts to images and links. As the instructor, you can set topics to drive the conversation and build live events (both online and IRL) into your courses. Add icebreaker questions to get the ball rolling, and create polls to engage your audience and gather feedback.
Uniquely, the app offers a small but mighty feature (pun intended) that enables instructors to change the verbiage used in their community. For example, your table of contents can alternatively be called syllabus, course material, or any custom label you choose. Instructors can be professor, TA, teacher, or another custom name.
You can do more with Mighty Networks when you connect your favorite apps using the Zapier integration. Bring conversations across channels, automate new member invitations, sync events to your calendar, and more with these (and other) pre-made workflows.Create new events in Mighty Networks when you add events to Google CalendarUse this ZapCreate posts in your Mighty Network from New Messages in a Slack channelUse this ZapInvite members to your Mighty Network when new contacts are added in SalesforceUse this ZapSee more Mighty Networks integrations powered by
Mighty Networks price: Plans that include online courses start at $81/month for cohort courses and Zapier integration.
Best online course creation software for building action-oriented courses
With Pathwright, you can launch an online course that’s designed to be 100% actionable for learners. The app’s course creator is one of the most fluid and intuitive of the software we tested—that action-oriented approach to course curriculum is no exception.
Start by building out the outline of your course syllabus, then add specific actions for students to complete. When you add each step, Pathwright enables you to choose the action students need to perform from a dropdown menu: watch, read, take, submit, attend, listen, or to-do. The result is a clear path (their term) that leads learners through the course material.
Once your syllabus and actions are outlined, Pathwright helpfully adds a “Needs content” note to each step. Another bonus: While quick design customization is limited, the sky’s the limit for CSS-savvy users who want to code a completely customized look and feel for their courses.
And by connecting Pathwright with Zapier, you can do things like automatically add new students to your email list, send course invitations to new customers, notify students about new grades, and more.Subscribe new students from your Pathwright school to Mailchimp when they opt-in on signupUse this ZapSend invitations in your Pathwright school when new ClickFunnels purchases occurUse this ZapSend emails to students when new submissions to steps in Pathwright schools are scoredUse this ZapSee more Pathwright integrations powered by
Pathwright price: The Starter plan runs $99/month for up to 1,000 members, unlimited courses, and free course design classes.
Best online course creator for gamifying your online courses
Online courses have a notoriously low completion rate across the board, with many learners abandoning the course long before they finish. That’s what Xperiencify aims to remedy. By allowing instructors to gamify courses and turn learning into a more engaging experience, the app promises to boost your completion rates by as much as 10-30%.
For each module students complete, they earn experience points (called XPs). Instructors can set the XP value of each module and elements within it during the course creation process.
In addition to points, instructors can design their own celebrations marking key milestones in each course. A new beta feature also lets instructors automate course experience flows with event-triggered emails, SMS, and more.
While video content is Xperiencify’s bread and butter, you can also add supporting resources to your lessons, which can include everything from PDFs to slides to MP3 files and more. And you can do even more with Xperiencify by connecting it with your favorite software using Zapier.
Xperiencify pricing: Launch plan is $49/month for unlimited courses and students, 4.9% transaction fee, and Zapier integration.
Best online course creator for managing your business
Simplero (Web, iOS, Android)
If you’re looking for a capable, customizable online course builder, you can’t go wrong with Simplero. Creating and outlining your course curriculum is super quick: click the Create a new course button, and a few screens later, you’re ready to build out your curriculum and add your learning content.
But Simplero isn’t just a course creation app—it’s more like a CRM, marketing automation, and online course tool in one package. That’s reflected in the robust automation and list management features included in the app. You can build, publish, and market courses; track sales and financials; and maintain your customer list all in one app.
Head over to Marketing > Done-For-You Campaigns, for example, to install the Course Launch Challenge, a 21-day automated sequence. All you need to do is customize the emails and choose when the automation flow should run. It’s a perfect all-in-one solution for when your online course is your business.
And with Simplero’s Zapier integrations, you can do even more with the platform, like adding new students to your email list automatically or creating new Simplero subscribers from form submissions.Turn Simplero subscriptions into Mailchimp subscribersUse this ZapCreate Simplero subscribers from Gravity Forms submissionsUse this Zap2Log new purchases on Simplero as offline conversions in Google AdsUse this ZapSee more Simplero integrations powered by
Simplero pricing: The Build plan starts at $29/month and lets you create draft courses; when you’re ready to publish, upgrade to the Launch plan at $99/month for 1,000 contacts, unlimited courses, and up to 5 products.
Ready, set, teach
Whether you’re passionate about teaching, want to grow your audience, or are just looking to earn an income from your courses, there’s a platform to help you achieve your goals.
When picking a tool to launch your course, consider your budget, time constraints, current online following, and earning potential. If you’re simply testing the waters, start with a course marketplace. Once you’ve validated your course topic and content, only then proceed to launch your own course website. Don’t worry about migrating content from one platform to another. Most platforms support this, whether for free or for an added fee.