If you’re ready to create your first course and have zero budget, no worries! It’s 100% possible to create an online course for free (or at least, at a low cost) and increase your investment as your business grows.
The key is to work quickly and efficiently while taking advantage of free or inexpensive trials. For example, Marjorie Torrie purchased Kajabi’s three months for $99 promotion in July 2021, and launched her first mini-course in three days. Four days after opening her cart, she earned $1,700, reimbursing her initial investment and laying the foundation for a profitable knowledge business.
But that’s just one way to go about creating an online course at a low price. Let’s explore the software and tools you can use to create your course with little to no upfront investment.
Tools for creating an online course for free
The tools you use for course creation make all the difference in your success. They help you create a quality product that your students will love. They help you automate your processes and save time. They also help you sell to more people, so you can increase your profits.
1. Kajabi: free trial + affordable tech stack
Kajabi is one of the most popular course builders on the market, equipping you to build, market, and sell your online course all in one platform. Since 2010, creators and experts have used Kajabi to sell more than 300,000 digital products, earning them over $3.9B.
Used by first-time course creators all the way to multi-million dollar entrepreneurs, Kajabi streamlines your business so you can focus on what you do best: creating courses, coaching programs, memberships, and other digital products that serve your customers.
In addition to its online course builder, Kajabi provides everything you need to create your first course and grow your business, including:
- Website builder
- Landing page builder
- Sales funnel builder
- Email marketing software
- Course video hosting
- Order pages
- Payment processing
Kajabi has a free 14-day trial, which gives you time to create an online course for free and possibly begin selling it before having to upgrade to a paid plan. Who knows? You could start earning the first day you launch your course, just like Joshua Ledbetter, a sign language coach.
Kajabi’s Basic plan ($119 a month, billed annually) allows you to build 3 products, 3 sales funnels, unlimited landing pages, and unlimited marketing emails to as many as 1,000 customers.
2. Filmora, iMovie, and Davinci Resolve: free and affordable video recording and editing software
One essential software for online courses is a video recorder and editor. Wondershare Filmora not only lets you record and edit your videos in the same workspace, it’s flexible and easy to use.
You can use it to create talking head videos as well as screen captures — a feature that you won’t find in similar products for creators.
If you’re a newbie to video editing, Filmora gives you templates that make it easy to create polished, professional videos. If you’re an experienced video editor, you’ll enjoy its more advanced features, including keyframing, split screen, motion tracking, present templates, and auto beat sync.
Filmora is available for desktop, iPad, and mobile devices. All three versions can be downloaded free, but to access advanced features and remove the watermark, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version.
The annual plan is $49.99 per month.
Or, if you have an Apple computer, you already have access to iMovie in the App store. It’s free and easy to use for importing and editing video. Plus, you can record audio and add slides. It’s great for a first-time video or online course producer looking to put together a simple video
If you have more advanced video-editing skills, DaVinci Resolve is another software that’s free and not limited to Mac users. It includes audio post-production, color grading, and color correction. But, because of this functionality, it may be more complicated to use.
3. Zoom: free virtual meetings and recordings
If you need a 100% free video recorder, Zoom may be your best bet. Host a meeting, hit record, and start teaching. While it doesn’t include a video editor, it does have features that facilitate teaching.
Zoom’s Free plan gives you unlimited meetings up to 40 minutes long. It also has automated captions, simple screen-sharing capabilities, and editable whiteboards. If you prefer to host live lessons, Zoom’s Free plan allows you to host up to 100 participants.
After your “meeting,” your recording will be saved to the cloud or your computer (your choice). It gives you an audio file (M4A), a video file (MP4), and a text file of your chat.
For $149.90 per year, you can upgrade to Pro, but the free plan gives you everything you need to create a high-quality course.
4. Canva: free and low-cost graphics
Whether it’s video thumbnails, course handouts or social media posts promoting your course, you’ll need to create graphics. Canva is a free design tool that makes it easy to create beautiful graphics that suit your brand and personal style.
Canva Free gives you more than 250,000 free templates, more than 100 types of graphics, and 5 GB of cloud storage. If you want to use images or elements that are premium, you can use them for a small fee.
Canva Pro unlocks unlimited access to premium elements, a brand kit, folders for organizing your projects, and a background remover. You’ll also get 1TB of cloud storage. At $119.99 per year, it’s an affordable upgrade for discerning designers.
Here’s how you can use Canva and Kajabi together to create your brand’s look!
5. Snagit: low-cost screen capture (free trial)
Another option for creating graphics and videos is Snagit. Available free for 15 days, a lifetime license requires only a one-time fee of $62.99. That gives you a standard single license for Windows and macOS and the first year’s Maintenance.
While other screen capture tools are available for free, none give you the quality of Snagit’s captures. Snagit gives you high-def graphics and videos, an editor that allows you to trim your videos, mark up your screenshots, and create animated GIFs.
You can use it to create your course videos, as long as your lessons are one hour or less. Plus, it can double as a simple editor to resize images and edit graphics and videos. It’s a smart low-cost investment for course creators.
6. MailerLite: Free email hosting
Email marketing software is another essential software for online courses. You’ll use it to build a list of customers and prospects who love what you do.
MailerLite has a Free plan that allows up to 12,000 monthly emails and 1,000 contacts. It includes an email automation builder, a website, 10 landing pages, and sign-up forms and pop-ups. It also has e-commerce integrations, so you can collect payments from your MailerLite landing page.
If you use MailerLite to build a website and landing pages, they’ll be assigned a random URL: “subscribepage.com” for landing pages and “mailerpage.com” for websites. You must upgrade to a paid plan to assign a custom domain.
While this isn’t ideal, it equips you to start building your email list and sell your online course for free. Once you start making money, you can upgrade to a paid plan or switch to Kajabi for an all-in-one solution.
7. YouTube: free video hosting
Some course builders are able to offer free or low-cost plans by not including video hosting in their platform. Users must find another way to host their course videos.
The quickest and easiest solution is YouTube, which gives you free, unlimited video hosting. When uploading your video, the key is to set its visibility as “unlisted.” That way, it won’t show up in search results.
YouTube is tied to your Google profile, so it’s easy to get started: sign in to YouTube, click your profile picture, and create a channel.
You can upload videos from your phone, desktop, or recording apps. YouTube assigns a link to your video, which you can use to upload your video to your course builder.
YouTube is a good option for video hosting on no budget, but it has its drawbacks. Unlisted videos can still be shared out, meaning people who don’t pay could still access your course material. And, at the end of every video, YouTube recommends other related videos to watch next. This may distract your students and cause them to click away from your course rather than progressing to the next lesson.
8. Veed: free video and low-cost video hosting
If you want to avoid “watch this next” recommendations at the end of your videos, Veed offers free video hosting for videos under 10 minutes. Your videos will have a watermark, removable when you upgrade to a paid plan.
Veed lets you record, edit, share, collaborate, and host videos in one place. Use the platform to record, edit, and host talking-head videos on the same platform.
You can produce MP4 videos with a 720p resolution up to a maximum file size of 250MB on the Free plan. You’re limited to 2GB of file storage.
For higher limits, you can upgrade to the Premium plan ($18 a month). That allows 25-minute videos and 1080p resolution. For 4k videos up to 2 hours long, you’ll need to upgrade to the Professional plan for $30 a month.
9. Landingi: affordable landing page builder
Landingi calls itself the Canva of landing pages. Just point, click, edit, and publish. It gives you 300+ templates, so you never have to start from scratch. It also allows you to change color palettes, images, fonts, and more, so you can create a cohesive brand strategy.
Landingi’s Core plan is $29 a month, and less if you pay annually. This gives you unlimited landing pages for 1,000 unique visits a month, with one custom domain. To integrate with your email marketing software or Zapier, you’ll need to upgrade to the Create plan ($65 a month). This raises your traffic limits to 20,000 unique visits per month and two domains.
You can try Landingi for free for 14 days, which may be enough time to start selling your online courses for free!
10. PayPal: affordable payments
Now that your course is created, you need to sell it. With a free PayPal business account, it’s easy to accept payments online without a merchant account. You can set it up for one-time or recurring payments and subscriptions.
PayPal is a good option for accepting payments because it integrates seamlessly with most landing page builders and shopping carts. If you don’t have a landing page, no problem. You can accept payments by sending a PayPal.me link to your customers.
Unlike merchant accounts, which can cost $500 or more a month, you only pay PayPal when you sell something. When a new customer buys your course using your PayPal integration or button, PayPal takes a small percentage of the purchase price before depositing your income in your PayPal account.
11. Stripe: affordable payments
Another popular payment method is Stripe. Like PayPal, you only pay for Stripe when you sell something. It lets you accept credit cards and debit cards, and then deposits your profits directly into your bank account, so you don’t have to transfer funds to easily access them.
Stripe integrates with most landing page builders, but you can also create your payment page directly through Stripe.
Stripe Checkout gives you a prebuilt, hosted payment page to sell one-time purchases or subscriptions. Its features include auto-complete addresses, one-click payments, real-time card validation, card-brand identification, and built-in fraud prevention and compliance.
Other ways to collect payments with Stripe include shareable links, flexible invoicing, and in-person payments.
With Stripe, when someone successfully purchases your course, you’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30.
12. Zapier: free and affordable integrations
When thinking about how to create an online course for free, you need to understand how tools integrate with one another. Many of the software for online courses play nice with one another. But when they don’t, you’ll need an easy way to create an integration.
Zapier can automate your work across 5,000+ apps with simple workflows, conditional logic, and data formatting. You can get started for free and upgrade to the Professional plan when you’re ready.
Kajabi: one platform that does it all
We’ve given you 12 tools that can help you get started with little to no upfront investment. This solves the challenge of creating online courses for free, but it introduces other issues.
Using different tools, you’ll need to integrate them into a single tech stack and make sure they integrate for a smooth customer experience. You’ll also have to jump from one platform to another when building your courses, funnels, or email campaigns.
The cost with this approach starts at around $200 and can rise as high as $10,000 to create your course. That means you have to find a lot of customers before you start turning a profit.
An all-in-one platform like Kajabi can save you time, money, and stress. Kajabi lets you:
- Create a mobile-responsive, user-friendly and professional-looking website with no design experience. Just drag and drop to create an unlimited number of web pages.
- Use your own domain name to create a branded online presence for your website and online courses.
- Set up email marketing and sales funnels. Create email campaigns, automated email flows, re-marketing campaigns, and more with drag-and-drop simplicity. With built-in marketing pipelines and step-by-step guidance, you can build and market to your list easily and efficiently.
- Create upsells, downsells, and free trials. There’s no need to deal with clunky programming or conflicting plugins. Kajabi makes it easy to create multiple upsells, downsells, and free trials for your loyal followers.
- Build and lay out your course with ease. Kajabi’s course builder gives you plug-and-play templates for the most common types of courses. With a few clicks, you can lay out and organize your course, including assessments, quizzes, videos, and worksheets.
- Accept payments online. Kajabi integrates with Stripe and PayPal, making it easy to take payments directly through your website.
- Build more than just an online course. Kajabi includes memberships, paid newsletters, podcasts, and coaching. If you can imagine it, you can build it with Kajabi.
You can start with a low-cost investment in Kajabi’s Basic plan. This allows you to build three products and gain 1,000 active customers before you need to upgrade to the Growth plan.
Kajabi’s free educational portal, Kajabi University, gives you advanced tutorials and guides that show you not just how to build a course, but how to turn your course into a profitable business.
Best of all, you can try Kajabi absolutely free for 14 days. To create online courses for free, there’s no better way to get started.