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In this issue
  1. Are Online Courses the Right Move for Your Online Business? 10 min read
  2. How to Review an Existing Online Course to Make Yours Even Better 11 min read
  3. The Complete Timeline to Build a Successful Online Course 12 min read
  4. Researching Your Course: Find a Problem Worth Solving for Your Audience 7 min read
  5. How to Create a Clear and Engaging Content Outline for Your Course 8 min read
  6. Online Course Platforms: A Well-Researched Guide to Choosing the Best One for You 8 min read
  7. The Exact Gear You Need to Record Videos for Your Online Course 5 min read
  8. How to Set the Right Course Price for You and Your Audience 11 min read
  9. The Anatomy of a Compelling Course Sales Page (And How to Make One Yourself) 18 min read
  10. How to Create Your First Email Course in a Single Weekend 12 min read

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Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

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Issue #7 • July 2017

Online Course Platforms: A Well-Researched Guide to Choosing the Best One for You

Business Models

After you’ve done your research on your audience, you created a course outline, and you’ve pulled together your materials, it’s time to put it all into action. It’s time to actually create your online course! How excited are you?

There’s been a lot of prep work to get to this stage, but there’s still one more decision to make– which one of the many online course platforms will you use?

There are so many different avenues to approach online course creation and each platform is tailored to either specific types of creators or how the creator chooses to teach. For example, you might really enjoy getting in front of a camera to teach a lesson while another teacher would rather create intricate slide shares as their main content material. The good news is there is an online course platform out there for each of you.

If you’re ready to find your answer to this question, here are the online course platforms most used by our users:

Teachable

Teachable - online course platforms

Cost:

Freemium, Subscription

From $39 per month

Teachable was created to be a simple, all-inclusive course platform filled with the features instructors need to create and sell online courses. They believe that everyone has valuable skills to share and so created a way that anyone could easily build a beautiful course to share those skills.

Currently, Teachable has more than 20,000 active courses, more than 5 million students, and more than 10,000 instructors online. Those instructors choose Teachable for its simple and powerful learning tools, the complete ability to customize their assets, and the advanced marketing and analytics capabilities.

How to make money on Teachable:

If you’re on the Free plan, Teachable will take 10% of your course price. If you’re on the Basic plan, they will take 8%, and if you’re on the Professional plan, Teachable will take 5% of your course price.

Teachable works best for course creators who:

  • Want full control of their course- design, branding, list building, etc.
  • Are looking to get solid features for a reasonable price.
  • Want the ultimate marketing integrations. Teachable’s marketing and analytics are extremely powerful, and you can also integrate with many ESPs.
  • Want to build an empire of online courses.

Pros:

  • Easy to use- No coding experience necessary with their template-based website builder to re-brand and customize themes.
  • No video quota- You can create an entire course in just slide shares and other visuals.
  • Connect course with your own website or build new pages in Teachable.
  • Group your courses into branded schools based on similar topics.

Cons:

  • Sometimes the text editor can be buggy, requiring you to refresh the page. 
  • There is a 30 day delay on payout on the Basic plan. (You can upgrade to decrease that time.)

Skillshare

Skillshare - online course platforms

Cost:

Freemium

Skillshare was built for passionate teachers and students that want to learn for the sake of learning. That means you won’t find any get-rich-quick or schmoozy self-promotional videos. It’s all about empowering students and teachers to improve their lives and pursue the work they love.

Skillshare’s over 16,000 course marketplace runs the gamut of creative endeavors (photography, film, writing, culinary skills, etc), but the most popular classes focus on design, personal branding, and marketing. Each class runs between 10-25 minute and is broken down into short, bite-sized videos so students can watch and learn at their own pace.

And with $5 million in teacher revenue so far, it’s safe to say that what they’re doing works.

How to make money on Skillshare:

After you have 25 students enroll in your class, you earn $10 for every person who signs up for a Premium Skillshare membership via your referral link. You’ll also get a portion of the “royalty pool.” It’s a bit complicated, so you can check out how that is divvied up here. For a quick gist– it usually breaks down to $1 to $2 for every Premium member who enrolls in your class.

Skillshare works for online creators who:

  • Focus on video production.
  • Are interested in teaching a wide variety of quick tips and trick.
  • Are ready to build a passive income stream, but still keep a full-time job.

Pros:

  • Provides a built-in marketplace with over a million students.
  • Instructors can get personalized help from knowledgeable community managers.
  • Short, self-paced classes promote student retention and completion.

Cons:

  • Instructors don’t earn money until 25 students have enrolled in their class.
  • Not connected to email marketing.
  • Can not test students with quizzes, etc.
  • Requires a student deliverable- Each class must have a project that your students work through after/while they watch your videos.

Thinkific

Thinkific - Online course platforms

Cost:

Freemium, Subscription

Starting from $49 per month

Thinkific’s mission is to make it easy to teach online. And they did just that. With the combination of an intuitive course builder, email marketing capabilities, and insanely responsive customer support, it’s no wonder that more than 35,000 instructors choose this platform for their online course creation needs.

Thinkific provides a full-featured solution to help you create, deliver, market, and sell your online courses. And it’s for more than just online entrepreneurs. Speakers, authors, independent experts, and companies alike use it to quickly create courses on their own sites.

How to make money on Thinkific:

On the Free plan, Thinkific charges 10% of transaction fees, and on the Essentials plan, they charge 5%. The Business plan and above do not have transaction fees. All funds are sent directly to your Stripe account where you can choose how often to receive a payout.

Thinkific is best used for course creators who:

  • New to creating courses and want a powerful but easy-to-use solution.
  • Are part of small to big businesses looking to create courses for their employees.

Pros:

  • Features built around student engagement and success
  • Well-known for great customer service.
  • Friendly user interface.

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive for basic plan (but similar to other platforms the more advanced you get)

Podia (formerly Coach)

Podia - online course platforms

Cost:

Starts from $39 per month

Podia is the new kid on the block. While it started as an online teaching platform for tutors, it eventually pivoted to serve online entrepreneurs who wanted to build their business by creating and selling products.

While other course creating platforms are just that, Podia is an all-in-one solution. You can create branded online courses, products, landing pages, and a storefront to house them all in. And it’s simple and intuitive setup, creation, and payment structures are an online creator’s dream.

How to make money on Podia:

You keep 100% of your course. (Minus credit card transaction fee).

Podia works for online creators who:

  • Have a decent following and are looking for a place to host their course.
  • Want to set up their own storefront to house all their courses and products.
  • Want complete control of branding .
  • Want email marketing built into their course creating platform.

Pros:

  • Can either create a course or a product.
  • Customizable storefront, landing pages, and courses.
  • Instant payout- As soon as you make a sale, your money will be deposited directly into your bank account within 2 business days.
  • Built-in drip email marketing.
  • 24/7 live chat.

Cons:

  • Depends on your volume of sales, but the consistent monthly fee could be a con if it doesn't keep up with sales. 

Note on the graphic at the end of this post, it was created when Podia was named “Coach”, so keep that in mind when comparing the chart!

Udemy

udemy - online course platform

Cost:

Free

If Podia is the new kid on the block, then Udemy is the veteran. Udemy is by far the largest online course creating platform with over 12 million students and more than 20,000 instructors. It may not be as flashy or as beautiful as some of the newer platforms, but with that many students roaming their marketplace, it’s safe to say their network is unmatched in the online course creating world.

Udemy offers a simple, straightforward way to assemble content like PowerPoint slides, PDF documents, and videos into a coherent course experience. While you give up a lot of the customization options of other platforms, some consider the large marketplace access enough of a give and take.

How to make money on Udemy:

If someone comes to your course through Udemy’s marketing efforts, they take 50% of the enrollment fee. But if you bring them in yourself, you get 97% (Udemy has a 3% transaction fee).

Udemy works best for course creators who:

  • Don’t have the technological/ financial ability to create their own website.
  • Don’t already have a following and need access to the millions of students in the marketplace.
  • New and need to learn the basics of course creating.

Pros:  

  • Udemy drives traffic to the site and has a community of millions of users.
  • Very simple platform and user friendly.
  • Community is great at leaving reviews.

Cons:

  • Udemy keeps 50% of each sale that does not come directly from an instructor generated affiliate link.
  • Easy to get lost in the vast marketplace.
  • Video quota- Udemy requires 30 minutes of video content (or 60% of the entire course must be in video). That leaves 40% for slides and others visuals.
  • You are unable to build an email list for your marketing efforts.

Start creating your online course today!

Did you find an online course platform that fits your needs? Make sure you take a look at all of them before you make up your mind. You want to make sure that the one you land on will be one you are happy with for a long time.

Online Course Platform Comparison Chart

What are some things you’re looking for in online course platforms? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

Experience this issue your way

Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.

  • I would highly recommend including http://www.NewKajabi.com on this comparison as it is one of the most popular course delivery platforms out there and provides a native integration with ConvertKit.
    Thanks!

  • Danielle Bruflodt

    Coach is now called Podia and I think has some new features that were not included in this initial round-up.

    • Caroline Cohen

      Yes, I just confirmed with Podia that they do not offer quizzes anymore.

  • AOM

    Great article! Here at Academy of Mine, we provide an “all-in-one” hosted LMS platform that features an extensive array of course creation and learning tools, in addition to offering advanced marketing and analytics integrations. If you’re interested, we’re currently offering a free 30-day trial, and can also assist with platform migrations – come check us out!

  • Dani, that’s an awesome comparison you’ve done her and love the chart – so clearly explained the differences..!

    I wanted to add some thoughts on Skillshare and Udemy.
    I’ve tried Udemy (we launched a course and got it to 2000 students with all kinds of promotions) and now I would never recommend anyone to go this RENTED property path.

    You don’t own students data and yeah, I read in rare exceptions how some people get lucky – publish course there, go skiing and come back with 2000$ made effortlessly. But these are unicorns.. and ugly truth is that 99% cases won’t be that lucky.

    These course marketplaces make sense ONLY if you can leverage their marketplace..but don’t bring your audience there! This is KEY.

    As for course platforms, I vote with two hands up for both Thinkific and Teachable!
    Both are free to start and are very similar!

    These are two best choices out in there market.. here’s helpful guide to help make final decision – https://foundertips.com/thinkific-vs-teachable/


    But basically it comes to your preferences..as one is not better than another – just DIFFERENT in subtle parts.

    Before anyone goes WordPress plugin self-hosted path or even course marketplace path they should explore course platforms first.. here’s why: https://foundertips.com/best-online-course-platforms/

    90% cases will be better with 3rd party course platform, which is something I use myself.

    Just my two cents, hope it helps!
    Loving Convertkit and the blog you have here!

    Cheerio!

  • GilbertVaillancourt

    How come Udemy is non-paid? I’ve been supporting them for past years and
    stopped since I found equally free content at BitDegree.

  • Arpita Jain

    Very informative blog has been shared by you. You can a really good online training platforms https://www.igmguru.com/

  • Ada Gilbert

    CreateOnlineAcademy is one best and affordable online course creation platform with lot of features which helps you to sell online courses in front of targeted audience, so you can make good money here will your custom course content. https://goo.gl/BZtsY1

  • Sean

    I used to list my courses on Udemy and Skillshare, but felt that both of these sites lack some features (as it’s clearly visible in the comparison chart). However, I also recently stumbled across Bitdegree website and it seems like a potential platform to list the courses as well. From what I have read the listing is free and they’re planning to introduce an affiliate program so that’s even better!

  • helpful article,I willing to create some online courses,this article really helps me a lot,keep doing this great work and keep sharing with us.

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