In the dynamic digital landscape, the need for online learning platforms isn't just climbing, it's rocketing off the charts! And this isn't a trend that's slowing down, according to the 2023 Changing Landscape of Online Education report. We're witnessing an education revolution, as physical classrooms evolve into online courses, offering global access to top-notch content.
So why are online course platforms becoming the bread and butter of creators and educators everywhere? Simply put, they provide an exciting digital stage for your knowledge. These platforms offer unrivaled flexibility, accessibility, and adaptability — everything you need to monetize your knowledge directly through courses that both educate and inspire, reaching your audience no matter where they are on the planet.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll not only dig into 10 of the best online course platforms on the market, we’ll also be sharing how to get started with online course creation and how profitable it can be.
How to Become an Online Course Creator
Becoming an online course creator can be a rewarding journey. It can also be a complicated one. But it doesn’t have to be. Here, we break down the steps you need to take if you’re interested in establishing yourself as a successful online course creator.
Step 1: Identify Your Niche
First things first, you need to find your niche. Think about what you're good at, or passionate about, whether that's coding, cooking, or calligraphy. The best online course creators are the ones who love what they teach!
Need some inspiration? Check out how 6 Kajabi creators turned their passions into thriving, 6-figure businesses.
Step 2: Understand Your Audience
Next, get a clear understanding of your audience. Who are they? What are they interested in? And crucially, what challenges are they facing that your course can help overcome?
Step 3: Plan Your Course
Planning out your course content is an important part of creating an online course. Ensure your students get value by breaking the subject into digestible, engaging units. And remember, creating online courses isn't just about information, it's about transformation.
Step 4: Choose Your Online Course Platform
Now it's time to choose your online course platform. This should be a platform that's easy to use, has a great customer support team, and of course, allows you to create unlimited courses. Need help choosing? Keep reading to learn more about the best online course platforms to assist you.
Step 5: Create and Publish Your Course
Create inspiring, high-quality course material and get ready to publish your course. Most online course platforms make it easy for you to upload videos, PDFs, or quizzes.
Step 6: Market Your Course
Last but not least, promote your course. Use social media, email marketing, and SEO to reach your audience. You've put in the work to create your course, now it's time to get it noticed.
Is Creating an Online Course Profitable?
With the burgeoning popularity of online learning, you might wonder if creating an online course is a profitable venture. To put it simply, yes, online courses can be extremely lucrative. However, profitability hinges on various factors, such as your niche, audience, marketing efforts, and the quality of the course.
Revenue in the online education market is expected to reach $166.6 billion in 2023 with a projected market volume of $239.3 billion by 2027 (Statista). This growth is driven by factors such as increasing access to the internet, demand for flexible learning options, and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on traditional education systems.
As an online course creator, you can capitalize on this upward trend by offering relevant, engaging, and high-quality content that meets the expectations of today's discerning learners.
Ready to get started? Here are 6 factors that have an impact on online course profitability:
In-demand topics like technology, personal development, and health and fitness often command higher revenues for online courses. As we mentioned earlier, though, it's vital to strike a balance between choosing a subject you're passionate about and knowledgeable in, and one that appeals to a large audience.
A well-defined customer avatar helps you create content that resonates with your audience, ensuring they derive value and return for future courses or refer others.
Marketing and Promotion
You may create the best online course on the planet, but if people can't find it, it won't generate revenue. Allocate time and resources to marketing your course via social media, email marketing, or collaborations with influencers in your niche. If you can get eyes on your content and pique buyers' interest, you're already halfway to success.
Some creators enjoy incredible success marketing their course through their YouTube channels. Don’t have a channel of your own yet? Here’s a beginner’s guide to starting a YouTube channel to get you going.
Quality and Engagement
A high-quality, engaging online course fosters customer satisfaction, an essential ingredient in profitability. Happy learners are more likely to complete your course, leave positive reviews, and recommend your course, fueling both short-term and long-term revenues.
Building a community is a great way to add value and increase engagement. In fact, 60% of businesses currently have their own branded online communities. Communities are great for generating brand loyalty, building your revenue, and giving you a sense of ownership that social media platforms might not.
Don't undervalue your course. While competitive pricing is essential, don't be afraid to charge slightly more if you're offering superior content and better engagement. The key lies in justifying this increased value proposition to potential students.
Creating online courses has the potential to generate considerable profits. The critical factor is to offer high-quality, engaging content that caters to your audience's needs and stands out in the crowded online course marketplace. With a well-structured course, strategic promotion plan, and an understanding of the factors influencing profitability, you're on your way to reaping the financial rewards of being an online course creator.
What to Look for in an Online Course Platform
In the sprawling world of online education, the right online course platform becomes your classroom, your community, your bridge connecting you with eager learners. But with the plethora of online course platforms flooding the market, how do you select the one that fits your course creation vision? Here's the blueprint: 5 key features that distinguish the best online course platforms from the rest.
User-Friendly Course Creation Tools
First things first, ease of use. As an online course creator, you need a platform that allows you to create, streamline, and deploy your course content without a technological hiccup. From setting up quizzes and assignments to building an email list, an easy-to-use interface fuels creativity and minimizes friction.
Flexible Course Management and Delivery
The platform you opt for should offer features like scheduling, batch uploads, progress tracking, and more. Moreover, allow your learners the luxury to learn at their own pace by providing self-paced modules along with the live sessions.
Robust Community Building and Engagement Features
Creating an online course isn’t just a one-sided affair. As an online course creator, you'd want your students to engage with the material, discuss with peers, ask questions, and create a buzzing learning community. Look for platforms that facilitate these interactions, helping breed a nurtured, engaged online learning environment.
Ecommerce and Marketing Features
Unless you intend to deliver your courses for free, your platform needs to stand tall on ecommerce fundamentals. These include easy transactions, multiple payment gateways, promotional features, course bundling, and even a chance to run a free trial.
Stellar Customer Support
In a technologically-driven venture, sometimes things don’t go as planned. When that happens, having a stellar customer support system is crucial. The best online course platforms provide round-the-clock support to help you navigate any challenges swiftly.
10 Best Online Course Platforms
Now that you know what to look for, here are our picks for the 10 best online course platforms for creators.
Imagine a platform that not only aids you in creating and selling online courses but also doubles as a dynamic digital hub for your community interactions, content marketing, and more — all without taking a cut of the revenue you’ve worked hard to earn. Welcome to Kajabi, one of the best online course platforms in today's digital ecosystem.
Kajabi positions itself as an all-in-one platform, a Swiss army knife for ambitious online course creators. At its core, it offers robust course creation tools that are both welcomingly intuitive and remarkably easy to use. Whether it's quizzes and assignments for your course material or membership sites and landing pages for your online marketing, Kajabi stands tall as an impressively versatile platform.
Let's get down to business: what makes Kajabi shine in the world of online course platforms?
- Course creation, a breeze with Kajabi. The platform's user-friendly course builder is powered by AI, which helps you create online courses in minutes.
- Flexible course management and delivery are inherent in Kajabi's DNA. Schedule content uploads, track your students' progress, and offer a variety of self-paced and live course modules.
- Robust community building, realized with built-in live videos, collaborative notes, and community forums that allow your students to engage and thrive in a gated member community.
- Ecommerce and marketing features in Kajabi include innovative functionalities like automated funnels, pre-built landing page templates, email campaigns, and indeed, 0% transaction fees.
- Stellar customer support that stays with you every step of your journey, 24/7. A comprehensive resource center (Kajabi University), live webinars, a thriving community of Kajabi users, and a dedicated support team solidify this platform as a top player.
With its comprehensive, simplified approach to online course creation and sales, Kajabi empowers you to focus more on your content and less on the technicalities, making it a standout choice for both beginners and seasoned online course creators.
We're rating Kajabi 9.6 out of 10 on the online course platform scale. It ticks off all our boxes, adding to it the promise of diving into an online course creation journey that's as rewarding as it's seamless. Get started with a 14-day free trial, and experience what the platform has to offer.
Thinkific is an online course platform that merges simplicity with reliability. The platform hosts intuitive course creation tools while endorsing community-building features, supporting a holistic learning environment. In terms of ecommerce, Thinkific brings essential tools to the table, aiding in course pricing, promotion, and transactions.
Despite Thinkific's robust offerings, it's not without shortcomings. Though its course design is user-friendly, it might limit creative customization. Advanced ecommerce features, such as in-depth marketing analytics, could necessitate third-party integrations or don't exist. And while they offer solid support, feedback shows occasional slow responses during high-traffic hours.
In summary, Thinkific offers:
- Course creation: Streamlined interface for trouble-free course creation.
- Course management and delivery: Scheduling and learner progress tracking.
- Community building and engagement: Interactive spaces and forums.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Basic tools for course pricing and promotion.
- Customer support: Guides and a creator community.
Thinkific gets a 9.4 out of 10, appreciating its all-encompassing features and support. Here’s how Thinkific compares to Kajabi.
Teachable offers a comprehensive suite of features suitable for any online course creator. The core of Teachable is its intuitive course builder, allowing creators to develop personalized courses effortlessly.
When it comes to business-related features, Teachable integrates routine functions like automated payments and third-party collaborations, making it a practical choice for creators looking to sell online.
While users find Teachable's design user-friendly, they suggest a need for more advanced customizations. Its community-engagement tools could benefit from real-time chat features. Even though Teachable supports major third-party integrations, some users find the setup challenging. Finally,their swift customer support can be dependent on your chosen plan.
Here’s an evaluation of Teachable's offerings:
- Course creation: Straightforward course builder facilitating customizable course creation.
- Course management and delivery: Multi-format learning materials.
- Community building and engagement: Encourages learner interaction through in-course features.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Efficient payment processing and external integrations.
- Customer support: Help center, developer hub, and community forums.
We give Teachable a 9.2 out of 10 on our online course platform rating scale. Its creator-focused tools and extensive features make it a reliable platform to consider. Learn more about how Teachable and Kajabi compare.
With LearnWorlds, you can quickly assemble and invite learners to your courses, free, private or paid, and stupendously enhance your online learning presence. The platform's course builder is strikingly user-friendly, allowing for hassle-free crafting of interactive courses.
While LearnWorlds shines in many areas, it's not without room for improvement. Its course builder, while intuitive, may lack advanced customization sought by tech-savvy creators. While learner interactions are catered for, it misses real-time features like live chats. While ecommerce and marketing tools are comprehensive, managing bulk operations, such as numerous enrollments or bundle sales, can be challenging. Last, customer support availability and efficiency may depend on your plan.
Here’s how LearnWorlds measures up:
- Course creation: Easy-to-use course builder augmented with engaging learning activities.
- Course management and delivery: Unrestricted, sequential, or custom pathways for course delivery.
- Community building and engagement: Enables varied learner interactions through note taking and mixed-format content.
- Ecommerce and marketing features: Comes equipped with comprehensive marketing tools for course offerings, including bundles, subscriptions, and coupons.
- Customer support: Help center, daily webinars, and a 5-star support team.
We’re rating LearnWorlds an 8.8 out of 10 among online course platforms. Its accent on course creation flexibility and diverse market approach makes it worthy of consideration for all educators.
Podia is an online course platform that offers a variety of course creation and selling features. The platform makes it easy to sell online as it handles complicated parts such as video uploads and taking payments. You can also create your entire online course for free before you decide to spend anything.
Despite Podia's impressive offerings, it has a few drawbacks worth noting. One of them is the lack of built-in test or quiz creation, which may limit course interactivity. While it does offer diverse course management tools, it lacks extensive content dripping customizations. Its marketing features are commendable, but lack sophisticated ones like sales funnels or landing pages. Lastly, customer support responses could be slower during peak times.
Let’s see how Podia's features stack up:
- Course creation: Can handle various content types including text, images, videos, audio files, quizzes, and more.
- Course management and delivery: Different course types like standalone courses, drip courses, and pre-sell courses.
- Community building and engagement: On-page chat widget allows for increased engagement with course customers.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Coupons, bundling of courses, pre-selling, and an affiliate program.
- Customer support: Available seven days a week via chat and email.
We rate Podia 8.7 out of 10 for its comprehensive offerings coupled with always-on customer support.
LearnDash is a trusted and efficient online course platform, recognized as the leading learning management system for WordPress. The platform allows creators to build professional and engaging courses in just a few clicks and merges seamlessly with the rest of your site.
While LearnDash boasts strong WordPress integration, remember, it's not a standalone course platform. Hence, it needs a working WordPress site, potentially a drawback for non-WordPress users. Its membership and billing options are somewhat limited, requiring third-party plugins for advanced ecommerce strategies. Customer support, while helpful, is ticket-based and may have slower response times, lacking live chat support.
Here’s an overview of how LearnDash's features compare:
- Course creation tools: WordPress LMS plugin enables the easy integration of LearnDash into your WordPress site. The platform also includes advanced analytical tools, an easy note-taking feature, and a communication tool.
- Course management and delivery: Prerequisites, required lessons, and drip-feed content options.
- Community building and engagement: Two-way communication tool, notes.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Standard ecommerce features.
- Customer support: LearnDash Academy, webinars and videos, and a help center.
We give LearnDash a rating of 9 out of 10 for its capabilities as an online course platform due to a great user experience and its range of features.
Udemy is one of the leading online course platforms, serving as a global marketplace for learning and teaching. It offers flexibility in course creation and a vast audience, enabling creators to share their expertise with learners worldwide.
While Udemy's extensive reach is undeniable, it's not a perfect fit for everyone. For content creators focusing on profit, Udemy's significant sales cut might be concerning. Its broad audience could affect creators targeting niche markets. Udemy's control over pricing and habitual discounts can undervalue top-notch content. Lastly, their customer support, mostly reactive, may not rapidly resolve queries.
Now, let’s see how Udemy’s features stand out:
- Course creation: Easy-to-use course builder that allows creators to customize course landing pages and drive student enrollments.
- Course management and delivery: Manage course curriculum, from arranging and marking lectures to scheduling learning milestones.
- Community building and engagement: Interactive learning platform, with a discussion page promoting communication between students and instructors.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Multiple transaction modes to suit different needs.
- Customer support: Teaching center and help center for both instructors and learners.
Udemy gets a 9.2 out of 10 from us. The platform offers well-rounded features and a focus on democratizing education we can get behind.
Xperiencify focuses on keeping learners coming back for more, helping creators improve their course completion rates. With its unique approach to course creation and delivery, Xperiencify helps educators to create online courses and achieve unprecedented student results.
While Xperiencify excels in fostering learner engagement, it's not without its issues. Its straightforward interface may lack advanced customizations that seasoned creators crave. It could improve by adding real-time chat for better community engagement. Despite offering payment integration and marketing tools, advanced features like sales funnel mechanics are missing. Lastly, customer support is mainly through a help center, without options for real-time assistance.
Here’s the lowdown on Xperiencify’s features:
- Course creation: Easy-to-use interface.
- Course management and delivery: Supports various media formats, quizzes, and gamification.
- Community building and engagement: Promotes community by allowing students to interact with one another and their course leaders.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Marketing tools and strategies as well as integrated payment systems.
- Customer support: Help center.
We’re giving Xperiencify an 8.9 out of 10 for its emphasis on engaging, exciting, and addictive learning experiences.
Mighty Networks is an all-in-one platform designed to engage members and grow communities. Creators can build online courses, establish an online community, or just build a blog or webpage. The community features are what really make this online course platform stand out.
While Mighty Networks shines for its community focus, it's not without areas for improvement. Its course tools might seem basic to creators seeking advanced interactive features or customization. Its flexible course management may overwhelm novice instructors managing many participants. With e-commerce, it primarily supports basic transactions and needs more sophisticated marketing and data analytics tools. Lastly, customer support largely operates through a help center, potentially delaying individual responses.
Here’s more detail on Mighty Networks' features:
- Course creation: Build custom courses integrated into a community.
- Course management and delivery: Flexible management of courses and how content is delivered — be it through a series of instructional videos, quizzes, or discussions.
- Community building and engagement: Excels in forging a sense of community around courses.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Built-in ecommerce element.
- Customer support: Help center for hosts and members.
Mighty Networks is a solid 9.1 out of 10, largely due to its community building features.
TalentLMS is designed to fill in the gaps where traditional training falls short. It's a cloud-based learning management system that works as an online course creator as well as an efficient tool that adapts to various training needs — from employee and onboarding training, to compliance and customer training.
Despite TalentLMS's extensive features and adaptability, it comes with a few limitations. Its course tools, while efficient, might not fully cater to advanced customizations preferred by seasoned creators. Its community engagement methods, although competent, lag behind in modern interactivity. It's ecommerce suite may not tick all boxes for in-depth data analytics and marketing automation. Plus, the lack of real-time customer support, like live chat, may lead to delayed responses.
Here's a review of TalentLMS's features based on what you should look for in an online course platform:
- Course creation: Pre-set templates, straightforward options to get your course set-up quickly, and multi-language support.
- Course management and delivery: Optimizes diverse forms of content delivery.
- Community building and engagement: Allows for the establishment of an online school to engage learners in a community through collaborative learning.
- Ecommerce and marketing: Effective marketing tools, trustworthy transaction systems, and easy access on any device.
- Customer support: Help center, podcasts, webinars, and more.
TalentLMS merits an impressive 9.5 out of 10 for its comprehensive features.
Final Thoughts: Finding Your Ideal Online Course Platform
There you have it — a comprehensive exploration of the top online course platforms that dominate the digital landscape..
As online course creators, your mission is to create rich, interactive learning experiences that drive student engagement and success, and the right online course platform acts as your faithful digital ally, providing you with course creation tools, customization options, and crucially, the features needed to sell online courses successfully.
Before you make your final choice, it’s important to remember one thing: the best online course platform is the one that fits with your teaching style and online learning vision. It's about finding a partner that provides everything you need to empower your learners and thrive in the online education space.
Now it's your turn to turn your knowledge into an online business and create your first course with Kajabi! From easy-to-use course creation tools to marketing support, Kajabi is the all-in-one digital business partner you need to make your course a roaring success. Sign up for a free trial today!