With online education at an all-time high, and with estimations putting the online course industry to be valued at over $300+ billion by the year 2025, now is the time to start investigating the best online course platforms.
By selling courses online you can start profiting from your most valuable skills.
That's right. Online courses are a great way to monetize your creative work. Think of it as a passive form of teaching. The active work takes place at the beginning. But once the course is set up, the work becomes fairly passive and the income quite automatic.
Similar to selling ebooks, selling online courses is a lucrative way to make money from your blog or social audience (in addition to display ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing).
That said, if you want to attract people to purchase your course, you need to set it up through an attractive, easy-to-use platform. Not all are created equal.
That's why in today's article we'll be taking a look at the best online course platforms perfect for launching your first course.
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What Are The Best Online Course Platforms?
Before picking a course platform, you first need to decipher what type of course platform you are looking for. Indeed, there are several kinds and each will vary in purpose and features.
- All-in-one online course platforms
- Online course marketplaces
- E-learning learning management systems (LMS)
- Plugins and LMS' built for WordPress
This guide features the top choices of each type of online course platform.
However, for most individuals, entrepreneurs, content creators, and business owners, the best online course platform will be one that is dedicated, all-in-one, or standalone – such as Teachable or Thinkific.
This is because these platforms offer the best solution for launching a course with ease, functionality, and design that is customizable to fit your brand and business.
That said, here are the top online course platforms to choose from.
- Pricing: $29/mo Basic, $99/mo Pro, $249/mo Business | 30-day free trial
Teachable is the number one online course platform for selling online courses and one-on-one coaching services. With the aim to encourage all to “share what you know,” Teachable has soared above and beyond to deliver one of the best online course platforms on the market.
To date, Teachable has hosted over 100,000+ creators collectively selling over $1 billion in courses and coaching services. Signing up and getting started creating your course is super easy.
Unlimited courses, videos, and hosting are included in all plans, plus features like quizzes, coupon codes, and instant payouts. You also benefit from a 30-day free trial, award-winning support, and access to free webinars.
Note that there is a 5% transaction fee on the Basic plan, but it's free for the Pro and Business plans.
If you're just getting started or are a content creator, blogger, entrepreneur, or business of any size, then Teachable is at the top of the list for being the best in online course platforms.
- Pricing: $49/mo Basic, $99/mo Pro, $499 Premier | 30-day free trial
Thinkific is an all-in-one solution to your online course needs, from small creators and entrepreneurs to large businesses building an education empire. In terms of popularity, Thinkific comes in at a close second behind Teachable, with 50,000+ creators earning over $650+ million in over 190 countries.
As for features, this is where Thinkific takes reign. Not only can you create a course online with a professionally-designed template, but you can also customize it to match your brand aesthetic with a handy drag-n-drop visual site builder, custom domain, and more.
Thinkific also includes a whole marketing suite, allowing you to effectively sell and market your online course to students once it's ready to launch.
If you are wanting “the whole package” and a professional platform packed with features, consider Thinkific.
- Pricing: Free | Transaction and revenue share fees may apply
Udemy is the largest online course marketplace in the world, with over 35+ million students worldwide.
Unlike other platforms like Teachable or Thinkific, Udemy already comes with an existing audience. That means marketing your product isn't necessary and people everywhere can begin to purchase your online course straight from Udemy's catalog.
One of the major pros about using Udemy is that it's entirely free and you don't have to pay a monthly subscription. In exchange for its massive audience, however, Udemy does take a 3% commission in cases where the students users a coupon or course referral link and, if a course is purchased organically via the marketplace, the revenue share is 50%.
If you don't have your own affiliate blog or social channels (aka no existing audience) but have skills you want to share, then Udemy would the best online course platform to sell your own courses and make money.
- Pricing: $24/mo Starter, $79/mo Pro Trainer, $249 Learning Center | 5% transaction fee per course sale
LearnWorlds isn't exactly a course platform more than it is a sales platform that you can set up to sell courses from your own website or “online school” and/or use it to offer business training.
With LearnWorlds, interactivity is at the forefront. You can use quizzes and games to your benefit, all while providing professional-quality features and learning activities such as one-click transcripts, note-taking, videos, ebooks, and more.
Then, once you're done setting up your online course(s), LearnWorlds comes packed with the must-have tools to effectively market and sell it to your ideal student.
LearnWorlds may not have the status of its competitors, but it does have stellar aesthetics, branding, and offers perhaps the easiest to use and most interactive course platform out there. That said, it is most ideal for entrepreneurs, trainers, and those in the e-learning sector.
- Pricing: $39/mo Mover plan, $79 Shaker | 14-day free trial
Podia is an all-in-one solution for selling digital products – from ebooks and pdf downloads to full-blown online courses and memberships. Currently, over 25,000+ creators choose Podia to sell and market their online courses.
One of the biggest attractions to using Podia over some of the other course platforms is that there are no limitations on the number of students, videos, or courses you can create. There are also zero transaction fees (only a flat monthly membership).
Podia has all the basic tools you could need to create your own website, courses, and products and market them. It also includes access to often high-paying features such as course bundling, pre-selling, drip content, and pre-launch accessibility.
If you want a simple, no-fuss solution that takes the hassle out of the technicalities of selling your own online courses, then Podia just might be right for you.
- Pricing: $159 Basic, $189 Plus Package, $329 Pro Package | Renewable annually
LearnDash is WordPress's number one LMS plugin created by e-learning experts. Its latest update to LearnDash 3.0 (LD3) is gaining in popularity in the online course platform industry for being one of the best at creating and delivering online courses.
One of its major core features is its new user-interface designed in partnership with 3.7Designs to deliver a delicate balance between design and engagement so that your online course content can truly shine.
Other features include content recycling via the streamlined drag-n-drop builder, integrality with Elementor and BeaverBuilder, content sectioning, and builders for quizzes, lessons, and topics.
Lastly, LearnDash is also the number one choice among Fortune 500 companies, making them one of the best at what they do. It is mostly ideal for digital publishers and companies with existing WordPress websites more than small creators or bloggers.
- Pricing: $49/month or $470/ year (20% savings) | 14-day free trial
Teachery is one of the best online course platforms for simplicity and flexibility. It was designed by course creators who know the name of the game. That said, perhaps its coolest feature is that you don't ever pay transaction fees and you can have as many students or create as many courses as you'd like.
When building your dream course, Teachery offers you the choice between its Minimal Template and its Sidebar Template, both of which are fully customizable to fit your brand and course aesthetic.
Adjust colors and fonts endlessly, add video, audio, or text to lessons, and easily create a converting payment page. Plus, manage and track customer behavior, set up your own affiliate program to entice new users, and more!
If you love both simplicity and customization, Teachery will deliver both and more.
- Pricing: $99/mo Bootstrapper, $149/mo Up-and-Comer, $199/mo University | 14-day free trial
Ruzuku is the “ridiculously easy” way to build and sell online courses. Getting started is just as easy as building a successful course outline and design.
With Ruzuku, you can host an unlimited amount of courses with unlimited student enrollments, integrate with payment options like Stripe or PayPal, and engage in discussions and questions/prompts for activities.
There is a 14-day free trial for all of Ruzuku's plans, but the memberships are quite expensive compared to other online course platforms. The upside? There are no transaction fees, which can seriously add up on platforms like Teachable, whose Basic plan comes with a 5% transaction fee per course sale.
9. Zippy Courses
- Price: $99/mo Standard, $199 Professional | $1 trail for 7 days
Zippy Courses by Social Trigger is one of the most balanced online course platforms, as it has both advanced creator tools to build and teach your course with ease as well as effective marketing tools to get your course in front of the right viewers and start making sales.
With Zippy Courses, you won't be missing out on any feature or integration. Seamlessly integrate with Mailchimp, ConvertKit, InfusionSoft, Stripe, and PayPal to streamline your business. You also get 10,000 emails and 100 GB per month with the Standard plan.
Another cool thing about Zippy Courses is that you can offer “premium” versions of your course with their unique Access Tiers feature, effectively increasing your sales by 25%. Like with Ruzuku above, Zippy Courses comes at a higher cost but you don't have to pay any transaction fees.
- Pricing: Free to teach
Skillshare is one of the world's online learning communities, with courses taught by leading experts and practitioners. As a teacher on Skillshare, you can earn money by teaching that which you are most passionate about, whether it be graphic design, videography, photography, and more.
Instead of earning money per sale, you earn money per watch time by students enrolled in Skillshare's Premium membership plan. The amount you earn is through monthly royalties based on the number of minutes watched in your classes (courses).
Top earning teachers earn over $100,000+ per year by passively teaching on Skillshare.
Since there is no cost to publishing a class, it is a great way to monetize your skills online through video lessons without having to build and market your own course package.
There are dozens of online course platforms out there, but which one you should join will ultimately depend on your overarching goals and skills.
If you want a simple and quick way to build online courses, you can't go wrong with Teachery or Ruzuku.
On the other hand, if you are seeking a platform that offers a bit more advanced features and the reassurance of its popularity from users, then you might want to start out with the leading platforms like Teachable or Thinkific.
Whichever platform you end up choosing, rest assured you're in good hands as these are some of the best online course platforms that exist on the market today.