Creating an online course is the perfect way to share your knowledge, passion, and expertise with others. Many entrepreneurs and businesses also use them as a lead generation tool, and if you do things right, they can even become your primary source of income!
Now, if you want to set up and promote a successful online course, one of the most important things you will need to do is choose the right platform. There are many options available, but not all of them are the same. Some offer unique features that will come in handy for different use cases, and they will all have distinct models that will determine how you can promote your content and get paid for it.
In this article, we will show you the best online course platforms for creating and selling your online courses in 2023.
Why Should You Create Courses in 2023?
2023 is a great time to start creating online courses. The e-learning market has recently surpassed the $315 billion mark, and Global Market Insights projects this trend to continue in the coming years. From that perspective, it’s never been a better time to earn money selling online courses. So, why are courses doing so well?
Some of the principal growth factors include a rise in content digitalization, growing demand for English courses in Asia and Latin America, and LMSs (Learning Management Systems) switching to cloud-based systems, among others. But perhaps one of the main reasons for this impressive expansion is the fact that there are now multiple user-friendly online platforms that make it very easy for trainers and coaches to launch a business building and sell courses.
Courses are not just great products in their own right. If you’re planning on selling other related services, your lessons can be used to foster trust with clients and grow your business as a whole. Clients who, after getting educational content from you once, will know you’re an excellent source to go to for their needs!
What to Look For in a Course-Creation Platform
There are two main types of course-creation platforms available online. On the one hand, you have the tools that offer hosting – meaning you can place your course content on their website. These platforms typically pay you according to their terms. On the other hand, we have solutions that work on your own domain and hosting. These tend to provide you with course functionality and full control over your content.
Regardless of which type you choose, if you want to create a course and sell it online, you will need a platform that is able to perform certain essential functions. For example, one that allows you to create lesson pages and accept payments. On top of these, there are some additional features that – though not necessary – can make your life as a course creator a little easier and help you attract more users!
So, let’s look at the must-haves first. Basic features you should look for in an online course creation platform include:
- Design and Branding: You will want your solution to allow you to add your own branding or identity elements. This will mean your audience always knows they’re looking at your course content and not someone else’s.
- Multimedia Support: A user-friendly course builder that supports different types of media (such as videos, digital downloads, interactive quizzes, discussion forums, and podcasts) will allow you to make your lessons more engaging.
- Student Management and Communication Tools: You should look for a solution that allows you easily track your students’ progress, make assessments, and support online training feedback. And ideally, also give you different communication tools to talk to them.
- Payment Gateways: If you want to sell your courses, you will want to use a platform that accepts payments; if possible, one that also allows for regular subscriptions, an affiliate program, and coupons and works with different payment types, such as credit card, PayPal, bank transfer, and Stripe, that can encourage more course sales.
The Top 9 Platforms to Sell Courses Online
We’ve gone through the most desirable features you should look for when choosing a course creation tool. Now, let’s look at the best solutions out there and what makes them unique.
AccessAlly is more than simply a course-creation platform; it is an all-in-one tool made with coaches in mind. This solution can provide you with all the functionalities necessary for providing your students with a full e-learning experience.
AccessAlly works with your WordPress website and has a lot of impressive and powerful features, including:
- All in One: The plugin was created as the all-in-one platform for coaches that need a robust tool to give their communities engaging course content.
- Host and Market: With AccessAlly, creators can build multimedia courses that provide a better learning experience, design a beautiful website to host their content (their website builder offers several powerful customization options), and market it effectively to their communities and target audiences easily.
- Integrations: Some of AccessAlly’s advanced features include deep integration with CRMs, out-of-the-box support for payment, automation tools for cross-selling and upselling as well as gamification, and a points system for students to keep them engaged in your content.
- CommunityAlly: CommunityAlly offers excellent communication and management tools for communities, including the ability to create groups, profiles, and goals that students can share to keep each other motivated.
- Marketing Tools: AccessAlly offers extensive functionality for email marketing and affiliate marketing. What’s more, these tools are all included within the same plugin, so you don’t have to combine lots of disparate systems.
- Easy Scalability and No Per-Student Cost: The solution is ready to support your needs no matter how many students you gain as you grow. It also offers bulk course enrollment for easy processing of group sign-ups.
Teachable is a beginner-friendly platform that allows you to build and create online courses. Many course creators choose this solution because it’s easy to learn; however, this also means that your lesson won’t be particularly customizable. Still, Teachable includes some good course-creation features and tools for promotions and sales.
Some of the most popular Teachable features are:
- A collection of free basic templates to design your course or webinar.
- The option to use a provided domain or connect to your own.
- Pricing plans depend on the number of transactions you will need (linked to how many students you expect to have). This means that, technically, you won’t be charged transaction fees based on the number of courses you offer but rather on how many people buy them. So, scalability with Teachable is rather expensive.
One thing to keep in mind with this platform is that Teachable will sell all the content on your behalf, which means they have complete control over your earnings.
Thinkific is an online course creation platform where you pay per month to host your lessons and sell them. Some of the solution’s main features include:
- A set of tools to build and design unlimited courses to sell on the platform.
- A landing page to push sales and certificate templates for when people complete your course.
- The possibility to host live lessons for instructors that wish to do that (something you can’t usually find within other similar pay-per-month solutions).
- A variety of design options to make your page look your own and not like a generic course on a marketplace.
Udemy is one of the most popular course platforms on the internet and is well-known by individuals and businesses due to the broad range of lessons they offer.
One important consideration is that Udemy is neither a pay-per-month platform nor a plugin for your own website. Rather, the company works under a complex system of payouts and fees for course creators that include referral fees, revenue shares, marketing fees, and percentage cuts for hosting your platform on their site.
Some of Udemy’s most attractive features are:
- Support for video course content.
- Different lecture formats.
- Practice tests, captions, auto-generated subtitles, and homework assignments are all included in the solution.
One of the biggest downsides of Udemy is that you will be encouraged to create free content to build an audience on the platform (you can create profitable courses later, but most users start with free lessons). You also won’t have much control over design or branding on the sales pages, as all content tends to be branded to fit Udemy.
Skillshare is a popular course-sharing platform and marketplace. Most of its users are looking for crafting courses, though the website has a few other categories like writing and business.
Some things to keep in mind when uploading an online course to Skillshare:
- This solution is a membership site where a single monthly payment gives learners access to all tutorials, classes, and course content.
- Skillshare does not offer one-on-one classes.
- Most students are interested in design projects that encourage inventiveness.
- The company owns your course and sells it, paying you out according to the minutes watched by users. The number of people that signed up for a course does not matter.
Kajabi is a platform that helps creators build a website to host their content by providing them with a custom domain that is hosted under their service. This platform offers a lot of the customizability, support, and templates that tools like AccessAlly have, without the actual ownership of the site – which is under Kajabi.
Some popular Kajabi features include:
- Multimedia course content, unlimited video hosting, quizzes, and course insights so you can better understand your students.
- Built-in marketing tools, such as landing page templates, embedded sign-up forms for your email list, subscriptions, and trials.
- Different payment plans.
One important thing to keep in mind: although Kajabi offers a free trial, removing your content after signing up for a platform where it’s all hosted is costly and complex. This typically also results in the loss of your progress, following, and sometimes even your course material.
Podia is a good platform to create courses and sell memberships. We think of it as one step above Teachable and Udemy because it still offers to host your website for you for a monthly fee, but you can fully customize the design.
Some of the best Podia’s features are:
- As a course creator, you can build video courses and drip-feed them to your students.
- You can also create packages and sell them to potential customers.
- Podia offers some interesting marketing tools to promote your lessons, although these are limited to your payment plan.
For beginners who have a small following that will respond well to their branding, Podia is an excellent option that involves minimal commitment. However, an important limitation is the fact that you don’t actually own your website; you basically rent space. You also can’t create unlimited courses on a free plan or basic plan account.
LearnDash is an LMS plugin you can add to your existing site to give it additional online course functionalities. This means that you can still choose your own domain and hosting according to your preferences.
Popular LearnDash features include:
- You can create and build multimedia courses and sell them online.
- It’s easy to communicate with your students about their performance and reach out for course feedback.
- LearnDash offers a reasonable degree of course customizability.
The main downside is that you will not be given much help regarding marketing. All promotion needs to be done by you. This could result in you having to turn to other plugins, tools, an internal team, or a mix of all of the above to attract new students to your course.
9. Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a platform that allows you to create and sell courses and build a stable following. The latter is this platform’s main selling point. As its name suggests, Mighty Networks offers a membership model for course creators.
Some of this solution’s features include:
- If you already have a following, you can bring them to Mighty Networks to access your courses.
- You can organize your knowledge into lessons, live streams, and other dynamic content that users can access through the website or app.
- Both the website and app are white-labeled to look how you want. It also all works under a pay-per-month payment model.
As with all platforms that offer hosting for your courses, the downside of Mighty Networks is that, despite everything looking neat and beautiful under your brand, the platform actually owns everything you upload. This means it can be quite difficult to move to another platform or open your own website. You will also have little to no control over payouts.
Start Selling Your Online Courses With AccessAlly
As we’ve covered, there are two main types of online course creation platforms: Those that offer hosting for your lessons and those that work with your own website. Each has its benefits and downsides.
For instance, if you choose to host your courses with third-party platforms, it will take much less time to set things up – but the cost of creating courses has the potential to get rather expensive in the long term, and you won’t be able to customize your courses. With the second, you might require more skill and an existing community of followers where you can promote your lessons.
The only tool that has it all is AccessAlly. This plugin offers all the basic course selling features, but it also includes dozens of additional tools for marketing, community engagement, sales, and much more.
A huge upside of AccessAlly over most of the platforms we covered is that you will always have full control over all of your course content, pricing, and branding. This WordPress plugin is not just a course creation platform; it also acts as a tool to promote your growth instead of using your content for theirs.
Try AccessAlly and start selling your online courses today.