How To Launch An Online Course: A Beginner’s Guide
Part IV: How to choose an online course platform
The next step to creating a financially successful online course is finding the right platform.
Online course strategies have developed a lot over the years, which means there’s a lot of options for you to choose from. All options come with their own benefits and negatives so it is important to find the best platform for your financial budget and course needs.
Best Course Platforms and Learning Management Systems (LMS)
One important decision that you must make about your online course is how to upload it onto the internet. You will upload it via a platform. In general, you have two main platform options: self-hosted or hosted.
Let’s go through each of them:
Self-Hosted Online Course Site
One way that you can host your online course is through your own website. The benefit of hosting your course on your own website is that you have complete ownership over the site, do not have to pay a lot of money for its use, and can better brand your products. Many new creators find creating their website difficult because they do not have any experience in coding or web development.
This difficulty often causes new creators to immediately turn to an all-in-one platform but this is not always necessary because you can create your own website with no coding experience.
The most popular way to create your own website is through WordPress. WordPress is an open-sourced Content Management System (CMS), which is a software application that is used to manage, create, and modify digital content.
WordPress is the most popular because it is free to use, easy to learn, and powerful when used correctly. In fact, 30% of the internet uses WordPress, and that includes big companies like the Walt Disney Company and Home Depot.
You should use plugins designed for online learning to optimize your website. If you publish your website online and realize you need to make some tweaks, don’t worry. WordPress is easy to correct and modify down the line.
Here are some online course plug-ins for Wordpress:
Hosted All-In-One Online Course Platform
If you are new to online courses, you may prefer an all-in-one platform hosted by a third-party. These platforms are designed for LMS solutions because they provide everything you may need for your online course.
This includes formats, fonts, sales page, and more. The downside of all-in-one platforms is that you have to pay a monthly a yearly subscription to use their service, do not have full control over your site, or are limited in how you interact with customers.
Many creators are willing to sacrifice the money, ownership, and freedom for the flexibility and accessibility that all-in-one platforms provide. Unlike creating your own website, using an all-in-one platform will allow you to better focus on the content since the website design is up to the platform’s capabilities.
If you choose to host your online course on an all-in-one platform, you then have to decide what platform to use. There are plenty of online platforms available now. So, it is important to find the one that’s best for your course and budget.
The three most popular platforms are Teachable, Thinkific, and Kajabi.
Teachable is easily the most popular all-in-one platform for online courses. It is extremely affordable, creates a professional look, and is user-friendly. Additionally, many students prefer the look and access of Teachable over other all-in-one platform options. This platform supports videos, audios, PDFs, and images.
Teachable also comes with a sales page builder, offers affiliate additions, and can handle the payment and taxes if you set it up as such. In other words, it allows you to customize your course without the hassle of creating your own website.
Teachable is also more affordable than other all-in-one platforms. You have the choice to select from four different payment plans. If you make $1,000 or more on your courses a month, it is recommended to use the professional plan over the free or basic plan.
Thinkific is also a popular all-in-one platform. In many aspects, it is comparable to Teachable, but it has fewer users. Thinkific can help you to create, market, and sell online courses. Better yet, it allows you to maintain your own brand and own your customer base. This platform supports videos, audios, PDFs, and images. It also allows you to build a sales page and content very easily. So, this platform is very similar to Teachable.
Thinkific stands out from Teachable in its affordability though. It has a free plan, a basic plan for $39 a month, and a pro plan for $79 a month. All three options have no transaction fees, which is great for creators on a budget.
Kajabi is another great all-in-one online course platform. With Kajabi, you can create and market your online course, create and market your own website, host webinars, and use it as an email marketing advisor. So, it is truly an all-in-one platform. Like the other two platforms, Kajabi supports videos, audios, PDFs, and images, all of which are forms you should use in your online course. The downside of Kajabi is that it is much more expensive than the other two options. The basic plan is around $119 a month. With that, you can only add 3 products and have 1 admin user.
In the next article, I will explore how to plan your course content.
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