The global e-learning market will reach $325 billion by the year 2025!
That’s crazy to think about, especially when not so long ago, we still had to go to classes and sit down in person to learn.
But that’s enough stat talk.
Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our comparisons and recommendations. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.
These days, if you have a skill worth teaching, using an online learning platform to run your own course is one of the best ways for you to start monetizing this skill.
The single biggest benefit of teaching online is SCALE.
You are not bound but the limits of classroom size.
A course can be attended by thousands of students and best of all, once you have created the course, it requires minimal maintenance.
The content you put out will stay live on the online course platform and as long as students are signing up to your course, then you can continue to make money.
So let’s go started and see a few online training platforms that you can start creating content on:
What are the best online course platforms?
That's a good question and one we're here to find the answer to. If you've been lookin for online teaching tools that pack a punch then your search is over.
Thinkific - All around best online course platform
Thinkific is an online learning platform that provides the full suite of tools to help business owners launch their own education course. From the course tool to building a website, Thinkific wants to be the go-to tool you use.
Unlike the giants mentioned on this list, Thinkific does have a smaller user base, but in return, can offer a more robust support service, such as a 24/7 monitoring and a 99.9% uptime.
When you start with the service, they offer a 30-minute consultation call to help you get up and running.
In addition to that, it has an emphasis on clear reporting so you know exactly what's working for you (and what isn't). You can adjust strategy in mid-stride to focus on the areas that are having the max impact.
One of my favorite aspects is the fact that it has a drag and drop course editor. Upload content and rearrange it until it's in the right order so your students get the maximum amount of value from it.
Thinkific allows you to drip out content for your course and create different cohorts so people are taking the course together.
While you do have to market the course on your own, there are a number of tools provided by Thinkific like coupons, bundles, payments, free trials, and more.
Thinkific deserves the number one spot because of it's exceptional customer service, solid feature set, and a continuously evolving platform.
- Customisable website for your front end
- Can host the course on your own domain
- Full access to HTML and CSS for maximum customisation
- Drag and drop course creator
- Support for downloadable content
- Quizzes and surveys for students
- Drip content
- Different types of courses such as private and hidden
- Supports coupons and promo codes
- Can't do live office hours
- There's no oboarding course to get you up to speed
Thinkific has a free plan to help you get start, letting you release up to 3 courses. It's paid plans start at $39/mo and gives you the full suite of features and unlimited courses.
Teachable - Best for managing multiple business functions
Teachable is an established online education platform, boasting over 18 million students which have achieved $500 million in course sales. With industry leaders such as Pat Flynn teaching email marketing to Lauren Hom teaching handwriting, the spread of content on Teachable is quite broad.
What sets teachable apart from many of the other platforms is its versatility. You're able to create different types of courses for your students. It can be an online course for that helps you generate leads or income - Teachable doesn't limit you.
Of course, you can map your domain to the platform and get access to a wide range of integrations.
Teachable is number two on the list because it brings solid course creation tools to the game, has a host of marketing features, and exapnds on that by helping you run other aspects of your business.
- Super easy to use and setup.
- Professional course player design.
- Has an iOS App.
- Offers learning tools like graded quizzes, content dripping, certificates, course compliance, etc.
- Powerful course reporting and analytics tools.
- Handy sales & marketing features including a well-optimized checkout process, 1-click upsells, etc.
- Supports Apple Pay and Google Pay on native gateways.
- Also supports integration with other payment processors like Stripe
- Handles EU Digital Goods VAT Tax
- The biggest disadvantage of Teachable is that it's mainly a platform for those with an existing audience. It does not market the courses for you, like it's competitors Skillshare or Fiverr.
- Doesn't have a free plan for begineers
Teachable starts at $29 a month for its Basic plan which allows you to host one course.
Podia is an online course and membership platform with a suite of tools to help you with not just launching an educational product, but the marketing behind it too. They also have the tools to help you set up a membership site, and a downloads site too, so you have everything you need from start to finish.
- live chat support
- full suite of products from the core set up to the marketing tools
- integration with major marketing tools
- custom URL
- multi-currency and language support
- Set up drip content
- Support for different payment plans
- Can set up downloadable files to use as lead magnets
- Upselling and cross selling built-in
- Manage webinars directly from the course platform (and monetize replays)
- The advanced features don't offer as much customization
Podia offers a free 14 day trial and start at $39 a month afterwards to access its online storefront, courses and webinar setup.
LearnWorlds is an online course tool where you can create and sell your course on one. Similar to a few others on the list, LearnWorlds is an all in one education platform, but unlike others, LearnWorlds pushes it's social aspect of learning, with it's integrated private social network, so your students can discuss and ask questions within the platform.
- All in one platform
- Different formats for selling courses such as subscriptions, bundles, free courses, and more
- Built in social network
- Built in website and landing page builder (large number of templates)
- Affiliate management tools
- Map your school to a custom domain
- 24/7 customer support
- Large number of email marketing and CRM integrations
- Simple editing of videos such as overlays, inserting questions, pointers, links, etc.
- Webinar integration
- Course builder isn't very flexible and doesn't support bulk uploading.
- No mobile app
- Basic course reporting tools.
- Doesn't allow you to offer both card/Paypal options together.
- Checkout process isn't optimised for conversions.
LearnWorlds start at $24/mo and offers you unlimited courses with a limited front end website.
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS (learning management system) plugin that let's you build an online course onto your exisiting WordPress site. If you've done any sort of digital marketing, you're probably like me where you favourite WordPress as your website builder, based on it's flexibility and ease of use when doing marketing on it. On top of building courses, LearnDash has additional functions such as a built in forum and certification tools too.
- WordPress integration
- Built in quizzes and testing
- Course licensing
- User profiles
- detailed reporting
- Multi-theme support
- Mobile compatible
- High one off purchase fee (could be a positive if you don't like on-going payments)
LearnDash starts off at $159 for a 1 site licence.
Kajabi is an all in one platform that lets you not only host your online course, but market it too, with their website builder and email marketing platform. Basically, with Kajabi, you can run most of your core business on there. As an established platform for over 10 years, it has over 50,000 users and has amassed over 1.5 billion in course sales to date.
- All in one platform
- Built in payment processors
- Webinar support
- Email marketing tools
- assessments through quizzes and surveys
- 24/7 support
- Built in templates for landing pages / website
- Detailed analytics about usage, revenue, and everything in between
- Its starting price is much higher than most of their competitors (though it does offer much more functionality than most).
Kajabi starts at $119 a month, which allows you to launch 3 products under 3 separate pipelines.
If you spent your fair share of time learning online (and I’m sure you have if you’ve come across my blog) then you’ve probably heard of Udemy. As one of the earliest online teaching platforms, Udemy has over 24 million students and around 35000 teachers.
Unlike Skillshare, Udemy requires you to have a premium instructor’s account first before you can start creating courses. But don’t let that deter you from this platform.
Why launch your first course on Udemy?
Because the platform offers loads of support for creating and marketing a course. For example, if you're not sure if your video lessons are up to snuff, you can submit a sample for review and get feedback on video and audio, along with suggestions for equipment. And for tutorials on planning a course, filming your first video, and related topics, Udemy offers the Teach Hub with tips and tricks.
- Teach Hub
- Training Videos
- Retargeting Ads
- Course Catalog
- Email Campaigns
- Coupons and Discounts
- Course Quality Checklist
- Udemy has the power to remove your course if it doesn't fit with their branding
- Can be risky to build your business up on another platform
In terms of revenue and royalty share, Udemy gives its teachers a fair share:
- Instructor Promotion: 97% revenue share on sales made by instructors where the student purchases their course using an Instructor’s coupon or course referral link (there is a 3% administrative processing fee, 4% in the territory of Japan)
- Udemy Organic: 50% revenue share on organic Udemy sales where no Instructor Coupon is used. Udemy and the instructor share equally on these sales, which might occur after a user browses the Udemy marketplace for courses, or makes a purchase via a Udemy promotion
Udemy is definitely a great platform for both students and teachers. Although it isn’t free to create a course, the platforms strong network of sales affiliates and resources makes the fee worthwhile.
Ha… Didn’t expect Fiverr did you? If you’ve spent a fair share of time in the online world, you’ve probably come across the gig marketplace giant Fiverr.
If you haven’t, Fiverr is one of the largest marketplaces on the website that you can find talent. However, unlike traditional hiring, on Fiverr, the experience is more transactional. You simply… buy the gig and then you work with the talent.
The platform started itself off by selling cheap but still valuable $5 gigs. These days, the platform has come a long way, although $5 gigs are still available if you want a cheap logo designed or some photos edited, the platform also prides itself on having quality freelancers selling gigs for thousands of dollars on the platform.
So… you’re probably now wondering… is this a platform for teaching?
Yes. Let me introduce to you Fiverr Learn.
This is Fiverr’s play to enter the online education space.
Offering digital marketing courses, the platform plays into it’s biggest strength, being able to sell to an audience of digital marketers, that are used to buying and learning online.
If you want to get on Fiverr to teach, it's a little more involved than other online course software. The process is stricter than Skillshare or Udemy. Rather, you need to sell yourself on what makes you special.
You may be wondering now if you don’t own a million-dollar business, let alone, a social media following of fewer than 100 people, how can you stand out?
I strongly believe that everyone has a unique past. If you’re new to the digital teaching world, think about what experiences you have outside of digital marketing? If you have skills in teaching, customer service or even sales. These are all skills that you can brand yourself as an expert in.
You are the one that spent years honing your craft. All you need to do is to brand it in a way to make yourself sound like a rockstar.
Now that you have an angle, this is how you should led in your Fiverr teacher’s application, and in fact, use it as an introduction for yourself on other platforms too.
Skillshare is an education platform that allows users to learn from videos and usually will have worksheets or course notes bundled in with their lesson.
With a creative focus on the platform, Skillshare does look like as though it’s trying to promote courses that are educating people in arts and design, but it does have lessons in other niches too such as technology and business. That said, if you’re planning to start a course on the creative side, then definitely opt for Skillshare.
- Shared Learning Experience
- Publishing Classes
- Class Creation
- Promoting Class
- Compensation for Teachers
- Catalog of Premium Classes
- Free Classes
- Offline viewing-Premium Students
- Group Classes
- High-Quality Learning Materials/Courses
- Lack of one on one teaching functions
- Strict on the content you post up, they will remove your videos and courses if they deem it 'too commercial'
- It can be a risky move to build your business on someone else's infrastructure, rather than use your own
Skillshare operates under a subscription model, which means that students pay a monthly or annual fee for a Premium Membership, which includes unlimited access to our entire catalogue of Premium classes, and other Premium features like offline viewing through our mobile app.
As a teacher, there are two ways you can make money on the platform. You can make money via a referral bonus you get from getting students to sign up and you can earn royalties for the number of minutes watched on your videos.
- Earn Premium Referrals: Get $10 for every student you bring to Skillshare that signs up for a Premium Membership.
- Earn Royalties: Earn royalties based on the number of minutes watched in your classes every month.
Skillshare claims their top teachers earn over $100,000 a year and we don’t doubt that. There’s a lot of potential to make great money on the online education space, and working with a large and reputable platform like Skillshare will just increase your chance of success.
What is an online education platform?
An online education platform is a tool that you can use to both host and sell your online course. We discussed two options mainly in our list today, tools that let you host your course on your own platform, where you can get full control of the content you put up and platforms where you host it on someone else's platform. I'm a big believer in taking control of core business operations, hence I will always recommend hosting a course on your own platform and go with something reputable like Thinkific or Teachable.
What to look for in an online course platform?
There are many factors to consider when choosing an online learning platform platform, but it's not a decision you should stress over.
Here's a rundown on what to look for:
- costs (upfront and on-going)
- customer support
Secondary Factors (Good to have but not essential)
- mobile compatibility
- access marketing tools
- 3rd party integrations
To wrap it up, don't stress and overthink when choosing an online education tool. If I were to help you make a decision, then go with a reputable software such as Thinkific. As an all in one online education platform with the course hosting, marketing and sales transaction modules all under the one roof. With a 4.6 out fo 5 review on Capterra, it's a software you can trust.