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Issue #7 • July 2017

A Well-Researched Guide to Choosing the Best Online Course Platform 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– What online course creating platform 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 platform

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 platform

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 platform

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)

Coach

Coach - Online course platform

Cost:

Freemium,

Starts from $39 per month

Coach 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, Coach 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 Coach:

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

Coach 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:

  • Limited support documentation.

Udemy

udemy - Online course platform

Cost:

Free

If Coach 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 a course creating platform? 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!

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