Review: The Top 11 Platforms To Publish and Sell Your Online Course
Deciding to create an online course can be a big and potentially life-changing decision. If you have a special skill, talent, or insight people could be willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for your information product or “infoproduct”. Info products can be pdfs, videos, live streams or a combination of all three designed to teach a certain audience a specific skill or trade.
In order to create a really successful course, there is a lot of research you need to perform in order to make sure you make the course is as good as humanly possible, release it in a timely manner, while also making sure you stay within your allotted budget. The expenses that come with creating a course can add up extremely quickly when looking at microphones, cameras, editing software, and much more.
However, while it can be easy to get caught up in which camera or microphone you should choose, picking the right platform (also called “Leanring Management System”) to build and release your course with can be the difference between success and failure when launching your online course.
Unless you are a developer or have an extremely large budget, building your own customized site from scratch is probably not an option for people just starting out. Luckily there are dozens of platforms that make it relatively easy to start your own course without having to worry about hosting, securing transactions, and building a website from scratch.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look into the most popular online course platforms and softwares currently available on the market. While some hosting platforms are clearly better than others the best option typically revolves around several variables that are different for each course creator. The best fit for you will vary based upon your existing audience, budget, and marketing skills in order to maximize your course’s student base and ending profits.
Although courses literally range around thousands of topics we have decided to break up online courses into two groups for the purposes of this article: Course Marketplaces and Course Creation Software.
Curse Marketplaces are platforms that showcase thousands of courses over a variety of topics. One example of this is Udemy. One of the best reasons to create a course on Udemy is because they already have tens of thousands of students going to their platform to look for courses. In a lot of ways it can be looked at as the Amazon of online education. People are going to Udemy with the intention to purchase something another person is selling through their platform. Course Marketplaces usually require much less work on the creator’s part although the tend to give up control on what the customer experience is like, how much they pay in fees, and how much they can charge for their course. Typically listing a course on a market place is much cheaper than paying for a ongoing subscription with course creation software.
Course Creation Software
The other avenue for course creators is Course Creation Software. Course creation software ranges widely in both features and price, but gives course creators much more control over their audience, and a brand building experience. Course creation software allows creators build their course through their own website and interact directly with their audience. Course creation software typically takes more technical knowledge than a course marketplace, and the course creator is responsible for driving all their traffic through either ads or an existing audience. In many ways course creation software is similar to Shopify or WordPress. It allows creators to build their own experience without having to do any coding to set up their store. The course creation software also handles all transactions so you do not have to worry about returns of processing credit card transactions. Course creation software usually charges a monthly fee but offers tools to customize many aspects of the course including branded content, free trials, building email lists and lookalike audiences, and much more
Clickbank (Market Place)
Clickbank is a cross between a online Marketplace and course creation software. While students do not typically log on to Clickbank to look for courses, they have thousands of affiliates who constantly promote courses on a variety of topics. The topics include virtually every subject available from investing to health and diet products. These affiliates constantly scour Clickbank for products they can promote through their own channels. However, the Clickbank software is extremely basic and typically best for courses which are mainly comprised of courses in PDF and e-book format.
Unlike most online course creation platforms and software Clickbank does not have any pricing tiers. Every account that is made is required to pay an activation fee of $49.95, and clickbank takes a 7.5% transaction fee + $1 for every course you sell. While the commission fees can add up if you are selling a lot, no monthly subscription allows you to keep costs extremely low when the alternative is paying for a monthly subscription.
Account Activation Fee: $49.95
Clickbank Transaction Fee 7.5% + $1
- Low Start Up Costs
- Access to affiliates allows you to drive sales without paying for ads
- Clickbank handels all transactions
- No coding or web design experience required
- The platform does not allow much customization
- No opportunity for organic growth
Infoproduct.com Rating: 4.5 Stars
Clickbank is a great option for someone with low capital and no affiliates. Clickbank’s built in affiliate network can allow you to get your course in front of thousands of marketers who will help you sell your course. If you are looking to build a network of influencers and affiliates Clickbank is a great place to start.
Udemy is unquestionably the most popular platform in the world to create and sell online courses. It brings in tens of thousands of students every day and gives course creators access to hundreds of thousands of paying students every month. The platform also allows basically anyone to create a course as long as they know how to upload their materials. All courses are hosted on the Udemy marketplace so there is no need to buy a domain, or integrate your course with additional software for someone just starting out the platform is also a great option because there are no monthly fees for Using the Udemy platform.
This platform is best for people who do not want to create their own “website” or do not have the budget to pay for a monthly subscription and advertising necessary to get sales on their own.
Free (But if a student finds your course while searching on Udemy they take a 50% cut). You keep 100% of sales brought in by your own traffic. Also the most expensive course you can make costs $199.99
Udemy takes a 3% administrative fee for every sale
- Beginner Friendly
- Lots of Existing Traffic
- Template Is Extremely Easy To Follow
- Udemy takes a 50% transaction fee if your course is found organically on their site
- Most you can charge is $199.99
- Because you do not have the ability to integrate with outside software, you only get the data and insights Udemy gives you (which is not much).
Infoproduct.com Rating ⅘ Stars Great way to get started, but you give up some price control and the ability to have your own website.
Teachable is currently one of the most popular online course builders on the market. This is largely due to the fact that it is extremely customizable and allows every teacher to give their website its distinct brand and feel. It has customized email software, gives automatic payouts, and even has built-in affiliate marketing software which allows teachers to grow by leveraging the brands of other people in their space.
Teachable currently, has 154,000 active courses and more than 62,000 active instructors. Since the company’s inception in 2014 Teachers have earned more than $260,000,000 in revenue. The software is relatively cheap considering they offer email marketing, custom affiliate software, and the ability to test students with quizzes and tests inside their platform. Teachable also offers integrations with software like Google Analytics which allows you to capture data just like a normal website.
Teachable Currently has three types of memberships, which all require a monthly payment. Teachable also takes one of the smallest transaction fees of any course on the market. The basic plan only takes a 5% transaction fee per course, and the Professional and Business fees do not take any transaction fee whatsoever.
Monthly Payment Plan
- Basic $39 +(5% transaction fee),
- Professional $99,
- Business $499
Yearly Payment Plan
- Basic $29 +(5% transaction fee)
- Professional $79
- Business $399
- Ability to create an extremely unique and personal experience with customers.
- Relatively small monthly fee.
- Ability to Integrate with Platforms such as Zapier, Mail Chimp, affiliate programs, and much more
- No fees for pro or business level accounts
- Completely dependent on your own traffic
- While Teachable offers teachers the ability to create basically any experience they want, it also requires basic web design knowledge and
- You are responsible for all of your own traffic. Without an existing brand or marketing experience, it will be extremely difficult to have any sales
Infoproduct.com Rating: 4.5 Stars, Best for Teachers with intermediate web design and advertising experience with an existing brand or following. If you have already built some traction with an existing blog or Youtube Channel Teachable is a great place to start.
Thinkific is another type of course creation software known for its ability to make a completely customized experience with virtually no web design experience required. The platform is built out so you can basically do anything without having to code. Everything is drag and drop so it is extremely similar to Wix and Square Space. It also offers a free option, unlike Teachable. Like Teachable, Thinkific does not have a market place This means course creators are responsible for generating all of their own traffic. Thinkific is even more beginner friendly than Teachable when it comes to setting up your course site. It is extremely similar to Wix whereas Teachable is more comparable to WordPress. Both are beginner friendly, but Thinkific has much less of a learning curve
Unlike Teachable Thinkific offers a completely free option although the transaction fee is extremely high. If you begin to sell a lot of courses it would make sense to upgrade to the basic or pro versions in order to pay a relatively low upfront fee.
- Free: $0 10% Transaction Fee
- Basic: $49 5%Transaction Fee
- Pro: $99 No Transaction Fee
- Premier:$499 No Transaction Fee
- Can start for free
- No costs until you make a sale
- No coding required
- Premium versions allow you to integrate additional tools
- Free Demos on the website
- High Transaction Fee For Free and Beginner Plans
Infoproduct Rating 5/5 This is a great platform for anyone looking to launch a course without paying anything up front in subscription or membership fees. If you begin to sell a lot of courses, you will most likely need to pay for a Pro or Premier Plan. We highly recommend this platform to someone who wants to quickly launch a course without investing much in it upfront.
Podia is an online platform that operates in three main categories: selling online courses, selling memberships, and digital downloads. Podia operates under a “white label” approach so when you create your course it is under your own website that you design, but Podia gives you easy to make templates. Similar to platforms like teachable and Thinkific this means you will be responsible for generating all of your own traffic. While this platform is very beginner friendly it does help to have some basic web design experience. If you are planning to use affiliates to help market your course you will also have to choose the more expensive “Shaker Option”. Thinkific and Teachable both offer much cheaper plans for someone looking to immediately leverage affiliates.
Podia offers a free 14-day trial for anyone interested in the software. After the trial there are two plans available, and neither charge any type of transaction fee.
- Mover (Basic Plan)- $39/month
- Shaker- $79/month
- 0 transaction fees
- Free Demo in order to try out the platform
- Beginner Friendly
- You must purchase the more expensive plan in order to have access to affiliate marketing
Infoproduct.com Rating ⅘ Podia is a great option for any who will be charging a lot for their course. While a transaction fee of 5%-10% may not seem like much the money can really add up when your course is hundreds or thousands of dollars. Podia’s popularity has also surged in recent months and it now boasts more than 16,000 active courses.
Ruzuku is another online course software that makes it extremely easy to get a course up and running. Ruzuku has a lot of added features compared to most online course platforms such as dedicatedaccount managers, unlimited data storage, unlimited courses, daily backups, and the ability to live stream and set timers for when content displays. For someone who is looking to create a class where lessons are released over the course of weeks or months Ruzuku is a great fit.
Ruzuku is also one of the only platforms to boast 0% transaction fees for every plan. However, their basic membership fees are premium compared to the rest of the market. In order to get the super fast customer support, an easy to use interface, and hosting services with no transaction fees you are going to pay a premium.
Ruzuku also has the ability to directly interface with social media and can interface with hundreds of plugins similar to WordPress. If you are not extremely technical and are willing to pay a premium platform could be a great fit for you
- BootStrapper- $99/mo
- Up and Comer- $149/
- University – $199
- Ability to add polls, quizzes and live webinars to better interact with students
- Great For streaming content
- 0% transaction fees for every plan
- More expensive than many alternatives
Infoproduct.com Rating ⅘ Ruzuku has many features which are ideal for teachers looking to try and simulate the “classroom environment”. It’s ability to integrate live stream, quizzes, and webinars between students and teachers make it much more versatile than most software on the market. If you already have a large following and want to be able to interact with students Ruzuku is a great option. However, if you are just starting out you will be paying a premium for features you most likely will not use.
Educadium was created in 2008 as a way to help teachers and technologists create passive income in order to continue researching what they are passionate about. Educadium was created with the idea that teachers will make multiple classes or ciriculums for their students, and offer discounts through bundling multiple courses. Each level of Educadium gives course creators access to dozens of prebuilt designs, unlimited course hosting, surveys, courses.
Educadium is also great for companies who want to put employees through online trainings but do not want to create their own training webistes or portals. Because the system is able to integrate large amounts of employees it is more expensive than most alternatives on the market.
- Standard- $250
- Preferred- $299
- Premium- $359
- Unlimited Courses
- Custom domain
- Great for developing multiple classes
- Free Trial
- Extremely expensive
- Responsible for generating all of your own traffic
Infoproduct Rating ⅗ Educadium is much more expensive than more economical alternatives like Teachable and Podia. If you are only planning on starting one course initially there is probably a better option for you.
Clickfunnels is an extremely versatile software that can be used to develop courses (infoproducts), e-commerce stores, blogs, lead generation sites, and much more. Clickfunnels has hundreds of themes and uses a simple drag and drop format that anyone can use to develop their own site within minutes. However, Clickfunnel’s best functionality lies in its sales funnel ability. The platform allows multiple ways to upsell, cross sell, and downsell. Clickfunnels also allows multiple types of split testing and integration with many affiliate programs. The pricing is high compared to alternatives, but its ability to split test basically anything you can imagine without having to use any code makes it ideal for people looking to optimize their sales processes. Similar to teachable and Podia, Clickfunnels does not have any sort of market place so you are responsible for generating all of your own traffic.
Click funnels offers two different packages which have a variety of options and integrate with Mailchimp, Zapier, salesforce, and drip. The basic Clickfunnels plan has limits on the amount of pages, split tests, and funnels you can build. Etison (the premium version) offers unlimited split tests, and funnels.
- Clickfunnels $97
- Etison Editor $297
- Excellent Split Testing Software
- Ability to create unlimited landing pages
- No Coding required
- Monthly Subscription is expensive
Infoproduct Rating 5/5 Clickfunnels is designed to allow any course creator to optimize their course and site to the best of their ability by constantly split testing different landing pages and funnels. It also comes with the capability to add additional courses and even sell physical products as your grow and expand your brand.
Kajabi is the perfect platform for anyone looking to grow a website in addition to creating and hosting their own online course. Kajabi not only allows course creators to upload and host a course but also allows regular website features such as blogging and powerful email marketing with a wide range of analytics such as open rate, CTR, and the time spent reading a particular email or page. The platform also has thousands of high quality designs you can choose from to make your site look great. Kajabi has the ability to function as a regular website in addition to hosting and processing the fees for as many courses as your want. While you are responsible for generating your own traffic, Kajabi’s unique set of marketing tools allows you to generate organic traffic through SEO while also setting up a good looking website for branding purposes
- Expensive but 0% transaction fees
- Basic $103 Per Month
- Pro $311/mo
- Premium $719
- Lots of tools and integrations
- Custom email marketing software
- Ability to send out quizzes and surveys
- High end design work on all their themes
- 0% transaction fees
- Allows hosting, your own domain and blogging to help attract visitors through google search (SEO)
- Ability to add upsells
- Expensive for someone just starting out
- Extra functionality unnecessary for someone not looking to build out an entire website
Infoproduct Rating 4.5/5
It’s ability to leverage SEO to drive traffic is a huge advantage that many other course creation softwares and platforms ignore. While it is more expensive than many other platforms it allows course creators to build up a brand that can exist outside of their course. However, if you are just looking to create a course without an adjoining website there are more economical options out there for you.
WizIQ is an online course creation software designed to allow both live classes and uploads. WizIQ has two main features which are Online Academy and Virtual Classroom. This feature is great for anyone who wants to create a course classes are uploaded over a period of time to simulate a real classroom environment. WizIQ also gives teachers the ability to create assessment, tests, and quizzes in order to grade students on the work they have done. On the other side of the spectrum WizIQ also Virtual Classroom which allows web hosting and live streaming so teachers can communicate with their students in real time. This is best for courses which incorporate presentations and group projects into their curriculum. While it may seem inconvenient to have live calls with students WIZIQ gives instructors to charge students for live chat calls which in some cases can double or even triple the price students pay.
WizIQ offers several affordable options for anyone looking to make a course and does not take any transaction fee outside of the stripe fee for payment processing. VC Essential and VC Extended are great for anyone using ads to drive traffic, but if you are looking to pair your course with a real website you should go with the VC Enterprise option because it give you a real custom domain that you can grow independent of WIZIQ. The VC Essential and VC extended options are basically sales pages within WizIQ’s home site.
- VC Essential $27/mo
- VC Extended $43/mo
- VC Enterprise $68mo
- Easy to interact with students
- Live coaching calls allow increased cash flow through upcharges
- No Coding required
- Uncecessary Features for teachers who do not anticipate interacting with students on a regular basis
Infoproduct Rating 4/5 WizIQ is a great option for a teacher who wants to have interactions with students. However, if you are looking for a more hands off realtionship there is a lot of functionality that will be wasted. The VC Essential option is still great for anyone just starting out.
Academy of Mine
Academy of Mine is highly regarded as a top platform for making and selling your own online courses. It provides a full website for you to start selling your online courses and launch your brand. Academy of Mine offer a complete learning management system that allows you to sell video, audio and text courses. It offers customization and a fully hosted template with provides landing pages, galleries and course offering pages. The platform provides a wide spectrum of features from timed quizzes, assignments, certificates and badges, to gamification, unlimited courses, chapters and units, forums and discussion boards. These features allow you to build a community around your course and manage your brand with ease.
Academy of Mine offers two types of plans, essentials and managed. The essentials plan is paid on a monthly basis and includes basic storage, a limited amount of web page templates, as well as other basic features and the option for add-ons. This plan is ideal for a smaller budget and allows for basic support and 2 hrs/month of customization by a personal development team. Managed plans come in two options, Professional and Enterprise. These plans are offer a personal development team that provides customization and coding for you, building your page off of the content you provide. Managed plans are great if you need lots of customization for your product and business. Ideally, managed plans work better when you have an existing business and a clear vision about where you want to take your platform. The managed plans are paid on a yearly basis.
- Essentials plan – $449/mo
- Professional plan – $9,500/yr
- Enterprise plan – $14,500/yr
- Offers complete customization
- 24/7 priority customer support
- Learning System Management provided by AOM
- Custom-made third party integration
- Broad range of features
- Extremely high pricing
Infoproduct Rating 3/5 While Academy of Mine offers highly customizable features and intensive support it extremely hard to rationalize the monthly fees unless you already have thousands of students.