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Unlock Potential: Top Online Course Platforms In 2023

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Online learning has taken center stage as the new medium in which students and professionals are refining their skills, especially during a global pandemic. If you are an expert in a field or someone with teaching experience, you can sell online courses to share your knowledge while getting paid. But first, you have to make sure you’re on the best site to create and sell online courses.

To meet this need, there are multiple learning platforms out there to create an online course, and each has millions of students eager to learn. To get started, you have to pick the best course website for you. Keep in mind that learning platforms can vary on features like course builder, course sales revenue share, transaction fee, mode of learning, customer support, and just how overall easy to use their site is to market and sell on. To help you get started, we picked out the best online course platforms and explained what each platform offers.

Can’t Wait? Here are Our Favorites

As you can see, a lot depends on what your needs are. However, this list has something for everyone.

Teachable is Our Best Overall

Teachable is one platform with a lot of name recognition on the market, and that’s for a reason. It is usually the first online platform that content creators consider when looking for a site to create and sell online courses, and most often, they don’t have to look anywhere else. Teachable is easy to use, affordable, and has many features for content creation.

Try Teachable

5 million students are learning through Teachable on over 20,000 active courses. So yes, there’s a lot of traffic.

Keep students engaged in your course by utilizing Teachable’s numerous features like graded quizzing, certificates, content dripping, and more. Your content can range anywhere from video, audio, PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. You can also connect Teachable to Zapier to use even more features and integration.

Teachable also offers real-time analytics, so you know what’s got students hooked. Which is awesome to build on a course’s success in the future.

While Teachable used to have a free plan, their cheapest plan currently is $29 per month, with a 5% transaction fee. Hardcore instructors can upgrade to pricier options that eliminate the transaction fee and increase access. However, there is a limited free plan if you want to try it. Read our article about Teachable pricing to learn more.

Try Teachable

Want to know more about Teachable? See how it stacks up to other competitors:

But the list doesn’t end there. If this one doesn’t exactly sound like what you’re looking for, take a look at some other top-rated online course platforms below.

Thinkific: Best for Easy Course Building

Another leading online learning platform, Thinkific has an easy to use interface. They have features like the best course builder, email marketing, and 24/7 customer support ready to answer any questions you might have while building your course business.

Try Thinkific for Free

Product Highlights

Thinkific offers a one month free trial on their Pro plan, so you can get the look and feel of their business before deciding to invest.

Unlike Teachable, Thinkific has marketing features such as the ability to create an email list, making it easy to garner an audience. You can use this one learning management system (LMS) to create, sell, and market your online course.

They offer a free plan on which they charge a 10% transaction fee, and you have a limit of three courses. The next step up is the basic plan for $39 monthly, with a 5% transaction fee and the ability to create unlimited courses for your students.

Read our article on Thinkific pricing to know more.

Why It’s Awesome

Thinkific is well known for its responsive customer support. Customer support is available 24/7, so you would even be able to shoot them a question when you’re pulling an all-nighter to make sure the course is ready for launch the next morning. Other online course platforms, like Skillshare, usually have only an online form that takes 2-3 business days to get a response.

It has various integrations with popular software, so if you already have a toolbox for your online creation sales tools, such as a website or marketing software, Thinkific will mix well into the blend.

Try Thinkific for Free

How It Can Be Improved

Thinkific’s basic plan is on the higher end of the budget compared to other leading platforms’ starter plans. If you have a small business or if you’re not ready yet to invest in online course teaching, there are cheaper options out there for you. A couple of platforms are entirely free and just take a revenue share––take a look at Udemy.

Udemy: Best for Bringing in Students to Your Courses

Right now, Udemy is by far the largest online course marketplace. There are over 12 million students in Udemy’s virtual classrooms. Udemy is a veteran in the world of online learning, and no matter what subject you’re teaching, you’ll find students eager to learn.

Product Highlights

There is no monthly subscription to Udemy. It is a free plan, but they take 50% of the enrollment fee revenue if students discover your online course through them. However, they provide you with a link for affiliate marketing, and if you bring in the students yourself, you keep 97% of the profits, and it only costs a 3% transaction fee.

Try Creating Courses on Udemy

You can create courses using a combination of PDFs, PowerPoint slides, and videos on Udemy. Their interface, while not as flashy as competitors, is very user friendly.

Why It’s Awesome

Udemy is excellent if you don’t already have a large following because of the number of students in their course marketplace. You don’t have to make your website; you can post your course directly on Udemy. It’s easy to use, so you don’t need to be a tech wiz to get started: it will teach you the basics of content creating.

If your course content is not bringing in the steady income needed to pay an online platform a monthly fee, or maybe you simply don’t want to, Udemy is free for instructors.

How It Can Be Improved

50% is a pretty hefty revenue share, so if your students are mainly coming in through Udemy’s course marketplace, enrollment fees might not amount to much when you first get started.

You need to sell a lot of courses to make any money. 

Udemy requires courses to have at least 30 minutes of video content, or be 60% video. If that is not your most comfortable mode of instruction, it can be hard to get yourself on their course marketplace.

There are disadvantages to putting yourself out on a large course marketplace: there are over 20,000 instructors and countless site courses on Udemy, so competition for students is high. Content creators just starting should make sure they can create an eye-catching and high-quality site course.

On Udemy, you are unable to create an email list to market your course content, so that is one tool you won’t have by signing up with them.

Skillshare: Best Marketplace

Skillshare was created for passionate teachers and students learning for the sake of learning, so there’s a strong emphasis on real, applicable skills (cooking, photography, writing, etc.) rather than clickbait-y self-promotional videos.

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Product Highlights

Like Udemy, Skillshare has a free plan for instructors. But their payment system is set up differently than Udemy’s revenue share: instructors on Skillshare make money through monthly royalties on their video content and affiliate marketing on premium membership. Royalties come in by each minute of video content watched per month, which is advantageous if your most comfortable method of course creation is video.

The interface is very user friendly. Each course is accompanied by a ‘class project’ that students need to hand in at the end of the course.

Why It’s Awesome

Skillshare has shorter classes––classes range between 10-25 minutes and consist of multiple short videos. You can create courses with self-paced, high-quality videos because of these shorter bursts for course content to maximize student engagement. The monthly royalties on video content watched are considerable for video creators and can create long-term passive income right into your bank account.

Features like the ‘class project’ authenticate virtual classrooms, and can create a look and feel of a real class. Seeing your students’ work at the end might bring great satisfaction to online teaching.

How It Can Be Improved

Content creators only start earning money once they’ve gained 25 students, so this may not be the best option if you have a smaller online presence or you’re looking for immediate gains.

There is also no feature like quizzing on the system, so if you are looking for a traditional class structure, this may not be for you.

Like Udemy, email marketing is not a feature on Skillshare. Keep in mind; you will not be able to build an email list.

Kajabi: Best For Experienced Creators

Kind of like an all-in-one platform, Kajabi is not just a learning management system (LMS) for course content like Udemy but has features like a web content management system (CMS) and customer relationship management tools (CRM). If you want to boost your already active online presence and business, Kajabi is the way to go.

Try Kajabi

Product Highlights

With Kajabi’s basic plan, you get your website, three products, three pipelines, unlimited landing pages, marketing emails, and up to 1,000 members and 10,000 contacts. They will provide you with strong marketing resources; unlike Udemy, this includes email marketing. Along with selling online courses, you can use their platform to sell most digital products.

Their beautiful web design will keep your students engaged. Their site builder has the most to offer out of any platform, with 10+ pre-built site themes.

Why It’s Awesome

Kajabi is loaded with features. While you might need additional tools to help manage your online business on other platforms, Kajabi is an all-in-one learning management system.

On this one system, content creators can market, sell, and deliver online teaching, as well as create their website. Kajabi can take a creator or business with zero web presence thus far, and provide them with all the online essentials.

How It Can Be Improved

For content creators who already have their own website and marketing tools, Kajabi might be excessive.

Their price is on the higher end of the market (their basic plan is $149 per month), although there is zero transaction fee, and they offer multiple services.

The cost may be too steep for teachers who are exclusively looking to sell online courses, so make sure this is a price your business can sustain.

Basically, if you’re just starting out and don’t know how big your course will be (or if you’ll even enjoy courses), you should stick to a more basic system like Podia.

Try Kajabi

Podia: Best Beginner Online Course Platform

If Udemy is a veteran, Podia is the latest rookie sensation. They joined the internet in 2014, but have been gaining traction in the last couple of years. It is excellent for digital downloads and webinars, which can be hosted in real-time.

If you’re nervous about betting your money on a new, emerging platform, Podia offers a 14-day free trial to get a look and feel.

Try Podia for Free

Product Highlights

The interface is easy to use and navigate, with a uniquely modern style. As a new and contemporary online course platform, Podia has distinguished itself by its cartoon-like branding.

On Podia, content creators primarily sell online courses, but they can also sell digital downloads, membership, e-books, and other digital products. Webinars, hosted either in real-time or on-demand, can be sold or posted for free to build your customer email list.

The monthly fee to use Podia is $39, with no transaction fee aside from the payment processor. You get to keep 100% of your enrollment fee revenue. If you want to learn more, you can check out our Podia review.

Try Podia for Free

Why It’s Awesome

As a new and emerging platform, Podia has fewer instructors, especially compared to Udemy’s 20,000. The lower volume means that there will be slightly less competition with other experts in your field for online course students.

On top of unlimited courses, Podia offers unlimited bandwidth, file size, and sales. Unlike Udemy, email marketing is built-in in on Podia, and there is no limit on subscribers or emails sent.

There are plenty of more customizing options on Podia, for creators looking to create a personal online course. Storefront, landing pages, and the logo and branding color of each product are all customizable on Podia’s basic plan. For most online course platforms, you have to purchase the most expensive plan to gain that freedom.

Podia is focused on more than just online courses; it will help your overall online business. There are countless digital products you can sell using their platform, and affiliate marketing focus is strong on Podia.

Try Podia for Free

How It Can Be Improved

Once again, if you are a small business and you’re unsure if your course sales will cover the cost, the monthly fee, as opposed to a revenue share payment system, might not be optimal.

However, if you want to actually run a sustainable business, I think you need your own platform and Podia is a great option. 

Similar to Kajabi, Podia is an all-in-one platform for any of your digital products. If you are focused primarily on becoming an online instructor, you will need a platform more exclusive to online course learning.

Try Podia for Free

LearnWorlds: Best for Student Interaction

If you have a passion for teaching and cultivating skills in your students, LearnWorlds is the best online platform for you. They are great because of their focus on providing an interactive learning experience for students.

LearnWorlds offers a free 30-day trial, as well as a simulator, you can test out their builder, so you can know the product front and back before you decide to get on a plan.

Try LearnWorlds For Free

Product Highlights

LearnWorlds has many interactive features that set them apart from the other online course platforms. Features like an interactive video player, interactive e-book reader, advanced quizzing and testing, and a students’ discussion forum create a highly interactive and social environment that showcases the capabilities of virtual classrooms.

LearnWorlds costs $29 per month, including a $5 transaction fee on every sale, with the option of upgrading to a $99 per month plan with no transaction fees.

Try LearnWorlds For Free

Why It’s Awesome

The interactiveness that LearnWorlds offers can create a more enjoyable teaching environment. Courses that are typically marketed at a higher price because of these flashy features, you can expect a more significant profit per sale.

In terms of monthly fees, $29 is pretty budget-friendly for beginners and is definitely on the lower end of the market.

Try LearnWorlds For Free

How It Can Be Improved

It lacks in certain key features, such as an email marketing system. The course builder on LearnWorlds isn’t as intricate, and it doesn’t support bulk uploads, so you will be waiting for your content to upload for a longer time.

Other Great Course Creation Tools (For Specific Needs)

Below are some of our favorite other course builders for those who have specific needs. For example, hosting a course on your website, or creating a course you don’t intend on selling (like an internal training course).

AccessAlly: Best Course Creation WordPress Plugin

AccessAlly is an awesome course and membership site creation tool that is a plugin for your WordPress website. That means you can host the site on your pre-existing website.

Now, there are pros and cons to hosting your own course. However, if you’ve decided on using your own site, AccessAlly has it all. There’s even a great creation wizard (shown below) that’ll guide you through the process.

If you want to learn more, read our AccessAlly review.

Try AccessAlly

MemberSpace: Best Course Creator for Squarespace Users

If you want to host a membership site or course on your Squarespace site, MemberSpace is the best option for you. It also works well for other website builder tools like Wix and Weebly.

It’s a classy all-in-one platform if you want an easy self-hosted option. You can read our MemberSpace review for more information.

Try MemerSpace For Free

TalentLMS: Best For Small Business Training

If you want to create a training program for employees or clients, then TalentLMS is easily the best option. There’s a heap of features (too many to list here) that’ll get you on track.

Honestly, if it had better marketing tools, it would be the best course creation tool period. 

The best part that though, is that it’s clearly made as a training solution. That means that you get the features that you need, without all the other BS.

If you want to know more, check out our TalentLMS review.

Try TalentLMS For Free

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a learning management system?

A learning management system is a system that helps move learning and instruction into virtual classrooms. They offer online testing, digital download, course uploading, discussion forums for students, etc. to create a virtual environment for instructors to teach. Online course platforms are learning management systems, and usually include other systems such as marketing as well.

What is a landing page?

A landing page is a single webpage that students on online course platforms are directed to through affiliate marketing, search engines, ads, etc. that highlights the key features of your course. It’s kind of like a sales pitch that should persuade them to buy your product. Most online course platforms have tools to help you design the best landing page possible.

How do I create an online course?

The first step is to find an online course platform. The best ones are highlighted in this article. Once you get started on a plan with an online course platform, they have tools and builders to help you build your course. Learning platforms will usually let you upload supplements for your courses such as digital downloads, PowerPoints, PDFs, videos, and more.

Final Verdict

Out of the countless online learning platforms out there, Teachable is our top pick to help you get started on your online business and get connected to students. Asides from Teachable, we’ve highlighted the best online course platforms depending on your needs: Thinkific, Udemy, Skillshare, Kajabi, Podia, and LearnWorlds. The best online course platform for you depends on your budget, marketing needs, mode of instruction, and much more. Join the new wave of teachers and experts in virtual classrooms today by using one of these carefully-picked sites to launch your online course.

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