A profitable online course can earn you a good living.
It’s a dream come true for a lot of people nowadays.
On the internet, there are loads of success stories of people that created and launched an online course successfully. And you can do this too. But only a good idea or expertise to teach is not enough.
Next to that, you need the right set of tools to build your online course.
And the most important tool that you’ll need is an online course platform. A good e-learning platform is the backbone of a successful online course business.
If you search the internet, you’ll find tens of platforms. There are so many you can’t see the wood for the trees. I handpicked the 8 best and most popular online course platforms around at this moment for you.
In this article, I will help you to pick the best online course platform by comparing the most popular online learning platforms on their strengths and weaknesses.
What Is An Online Course Platform?
An online course platform enables you to create and sell online courses. You can build the structure for your online course in it. In your structure, you can upload text, images, audio, video, and pdf files. In most online course creation platforms, you can create quizzes with different question types to check a student’s progress.
Next to this, an online learning platform manages learning activities for your students and gives students access to your online courses.
There are broadly 3 types of online course platforms:
1. Hosted Online Course Platforms
Hosted online course platforms are mostly SAAS (Software as a Service) applications. With a hosted platform, you have access to the online hosting platform by paying a monthly fee. Hosting, updates, and new features are all included in the monthly fee price. A big advantage is that you don’t have to worry about back-ups or to secure your website. If you use a hosted online course platform, it’s all been taken care of.
All tools in this article are hosted online course platforms.
2. Self-Hosted Online Course Platforms
With a self-hosted online course platform, you host the online course platform on your own webserver. Therefore you have full control over the platform. Still, you’re also responsible for updates and security. When I talk about self-hosted online course platforms on this website, I mean WordPress websites with WordPress LMS Plugins or Membership plugins.
View a comparison of the best WordPress LMS plugins.
3. Online Market Places
Online market places are platforms where anyone can create and sell their own online course. You’ll find loads of courses with different topics and of varying quality. The advantage of putting your course on an online course marketplace is the potential audience of millions of people that visit the marketplaces.
A drawback is that it is hard to differentiate yourself from your competition, and the marketplaces have the power to give huge discounts on your course price.
The 8 Best Online Course Platforms To Create Online Courses
Now it’s finally time to look at what I think are the 8 best online course creation platforms in the market. Here is my list:
You can click on the links above to go directly to the platform of your choice.
Now let’s start the platform comparison.
Teachable is an online course builder used by online tutors numbering thousands. Since it launched on the internet, many have used it to dispense knowledge, and many more have used it to learn valuable skills. This website also allows you to connect your website domain to the Teachable website for flexible coordination.
Teachable Key Features
To really understand Teachable in detail and how it works, it will be very important to be aware of some of its features:
- Creation of engaging multimedia Lectures: There is a popular saying that a picture is worth more than a thousand words and it is common knowledge that people learn faster through videos. By combining texts, pictures, and videos, Teachable can be used to create courses in a multimedia format that your students will truly appreciate. To enrich your course, you can add audio, video, text, and PDF Files. You can also import content from your Google Drive, DropBox or OneDrive
- Develop a Beautiful Website: Teachable has functional plugins and features that allow you to create attractive pages on the platform, which can then be linked to your personal website with the intuitive drag and drop builder.
- Mobile Version: There is a mobile version that makes your course website a lot more responsive and accessible. It enables students to access the contents you post through their tablets and smartphones.
- Power Editor: Advanced customization is made possible with the Power Editor as you can dig up codes to edit your landing pages in ways that meet your requirements. You can publish new course pages on the go.
- Connect Teachable to your Domain: This feature enables you to start with your very own free domain. You can choose to host your own domain or link it to Teachable for more conversions. With this feature, you will be able to reach out to students wherever they may be located in any part of the world.
- Language Modification:Modify the language used in any of your pages to support international audiences.
Teachable has four pricing plans that come with unlimited courses and students.
- Free plan: This plan is free and has limited amount of features. And limited to 10 student enrollments.
- Basic plan: $29 per month (billed annually). This plan contains all the base features. One drawback is that this plan comes with a 5% transaction fee for all payments.
- Professional plan: $99 per month (billed annually). includes all the features found in the Basic level with extras such as 5 admin-level users, graded quizzes, advanced theme customizations, and the removal of the Teachable brand from your course pages.
- Business plan: $299 per month (billed annually). This plan comes with an upgraded 100 admin-level users, bulk enroll student enrollment.
Read more More information about Teachable pricing plans.
All plans include:
- Unlimited video
- Unlimited courses
- Unlimited hosting
- Integrated payment processing
- Student management
- Lecture comments
- Basic quizzes
- No fees on free courses
- VAT (value-added tax) for EU
Want to read more about Teachable? View my Teachable review here.
Thinkific is a powerful and fully integrated platform used in the creation and teaching of courses to an online audience. It is equipped with advanced plugins and system automation.
Thinkific Key Features:
To better help users succeed as tutors and entrepreneurs, the developers of Thinkific have included the following features for improved usability.
- Powerful Customization: With only a click of a button, you can customize features in their hundreds as you deem fit. Setting up courses and building your membership site can be done with Thinkific’s advanced page customization. It requires no Coding.
- Business Flexibility: As an online tutor, you have 100% control over the business arm of your online tutorship. You can price your courses as you wish and get paid for your effort instantly. You also own the full right to any course you post on the platform.
- Functional Automation: This feature lets you operate the system with less worry as all the technicalities are taken care of. This feature allows you to onboard students at any time, send them messages, and lots more. In addition to all these, you can integrate as many business tools as you wish to make your work easier.
Before we review Thinkific’s pricing policy, we have to let you know that all their plans come with a 30-day Money back guarantee and support services. Creators who choose to buy an annual plan also get a 20% discount on all plans.
Thinkific has four pricing plans:
- Free Plan
- Basic Plan
- Pro Plan
- Premier Plan.
The Free Plan is made available to new creators to test run the platform’ core features for free. With this free Plan, you can access unlimited online population, host content on the platform, access your funds, and enrich your content with surveys and quizzes.
Now let’s zoom in on their paid plans.
Basic Plan: Costs $49 a month and is curated for creators who are launching their content on Thinkific for the first time. Besides the benefits enjoyed by users of the Free Plan, Basic plan subscribers can offer coupons to their students to stimulate sales, send out mass emails, Drip and drop scheduled contents timely, customize their domains, apply Zapier triggers and manually enroll students.
Pro Plan: At a price of $99 a month, all the features of the Basic Plan is included in the Pro Plan with a lot more features. If you subscribe to this Plan, you can make some of your courses private or hide them completely. You can operate 2 admin accounts at a time, register up to 5 authors or admin, use advanced pricing to value your course, issue certificates to students who have made the grade, and page customization. Pro Plan Subscribers also enjoy unlimited customer care support and access to Thinkific’ online community.
Premier Plan: The Premier Plan costs $499 monthly and is the most advanced Plan on the platform. This Plan is meant for experienced tutors and institutions who have gathered quite a following over the years. It is designed to help users deliver optimum benefits with no restrictions. Premier Users enjoy all the benefits of a Pro Plan but with greater flexibility. Under this Plan, 5 site accounts may be registered, up to 15 group analysts, and as much as 50-course admins or authors. The Plan also has an onboarding package and a single sign-on portal.
For more information read my Thinkific review.
Kajabi is a multipurpose online content platform that aids in the creation of contents, designing landing pages and websites, and the marketing of such websites so as to attract the desired traffic.
Kajabi Key Features
Kajabi helps creators engage their audience in the best possible way. Let us explore some of Kajabi’s advanced features to gain clarity.
- Customized Themes: Kajabi has customized themes with an aesthetic interface. Creators can package their contents in a manner that their audience will find pleasing. If you have several contents teaching the same or different things, you can customize them individually for uniqueness.
- Mobile version: These days, quite a lot of people learn using their smartphones and connecting with this universe, you need to present your content in a mobile version that they can access. This feature is for mobile users, and the themes are fully responsive and distinct for smartphones and tablets.
- Video Hosting: The Video Hosting feature enables you to upload videos powered by Wistia, which may be viewed by your audience at any time, provided they have an internet connection.
- Downloads: Course Instructors can upload or download files, images, presentations and general contents suitable for their school
- Communication channel: Kajabi’s communication channel is entirely responsive so you can keep the communication flowing between you and your students. Students can also interact with one another through email notifications once they receive a message.
- Drip Content: This feature helps you to organize which of your audience gets what when. Based on a student’s order, you can release content to subscribers and have them automatically notified by email.
For more information read my extensive Kajabi review.
Kajabi offers new users the chance of a 14-day trial period to enjoy their platform before charging any fee. New users on the two weeks trial period can enjoy the same features used by users on a Basic plan even if it is for a short time. As for the actual pricing, Kajabi offers its platform to users at a Basic, Pro, and Growth Plan. For subscribers who subscribe annually, there is a 20% discount on all annual billings. All Plans come with automatic automation, quizzes, surveys, and customer support.
- Basic Plan: This Plan is perfect for beginners who are new subscribers to the platform. It cost $149 a month to subscribe to this Plan. It includes 3 products and 3 pipelines apiece. You also have access to over 10,000 contacts plus 1,000 active members. There is no transaction fee included and you get to enjoy using unlimited landing pages and marketing emails.
- Growth Plan: For $199 a month, you get to enjoy all the benefits of the Basic Plan, including activating an active affiliate program to boost sales, the inclusion of 15 products and pipelines each, the removal of Kajabi branding, 25,000 contacts and 10,000 active members.
- Pro Plan: This Plan is the highest Kajabi Pricing Cadre of the three. Subscribers enjoy all that the Growth Plan has to offer including the ability to host 3 websites at a go, millions of marketing email sending, access to 200,000 active members, and 100 products and pipelines each
Podia is a platform where you can host and sell online courses, downloads, and memberships. With and through Podia, you can turn your passion into a regular income stream by raising membership and selling online courses. There is virtually no limitation to what you can do on Podia.
Podia Key Features:
There are specific attributes of Podia that set it apart from every other platform we have reviewed so far. Podia is designed to afford users maximum benefits at the least cost, as you will find with its features.
- Unlimited Usage: Podia has no Bandwidth limitation of any kind. You can upload any file size, upload as many courses as you want and increase your student base and sales with no set limit.
- Payment Plans: There is a versatile payment structure for every creator to offer their students flexible payment options
- Upload varieties of file type: With Podia, you can upload your content in any format ranging from Videos to Mp3, texts, PSD, PDF, etc.
- Gauge interest: Podia has a prelaunch feature which enables you to gauge public interest regarding the content you are about to put out by collecting emails of interested respondents.
- Drip Courses: This feature allows you to deliver a single content at a go or to dish them out in segments. The choice is yours.
- Customized coupons: To facilitate sales, you can offer customers discounted coupons to encourage them to subscribe to your content.
Want to learn more about Podia? Read my Podia review for more information.
New users can enjoy a free 14-day trial period. Moving forward, Podia operates a dual pricing plan, which is the Mover Plan and the Shaker Plan.
- Mover Plan: Podia’s Mover Plan is the basic plan priced at $39 a month, and to boost membership, subscribers of this Plan enjoy discounts of 20% if they pay for a full year. They also get 2 extra months free for an annual subscription. The Mover Plan facilitates the creation of online courses, execute digital downloads, marketing by email, and 24/7 customer support at no extra transaction fee.
- Shaker Plan: The Shaker Plan is right for subscribers who already have a hang of how Podia works. I recommend this Plan for those who already have quite a following. This Plan costs $79 a month, but if you pay for a year, you get a 20% discount and two free months to the booth. The Shaker Plan has all that the Mover Plan has including, third party coding, free migration, affiliate marketing, and an embedded checkout.
Teachery is one of the more unknown online course platforms in this comparison, but certainly not less than the others. It’s founded in 2014 by Jason Zook and Gerlando Piro.
Teachery tries to make the course creation process part as easy as possible. Teachery requires no development skills and you don’t need to install anything. Teachery claims that you can have your online course up and for sale in a matter of minutes.
Teachery distinguishes itself from the other online teaching platforms by three things:
- Zero monthly fees: Teachery has two plans with no additional fees for anything
- Really ease of use: Building an online course is really simple
- Unlimited everything: There are no limits when you use Teachery. You can create as many courses as you want, with as many students as you want with no additional costs.
Teachery Key Features
Teachery has two plans and In both plans all teachery’s features are available. Let’s look at the most important features below:
- Unlimited courses and students: If you’re planning on creating 2 or 10.000 courses, teachery’s price is the same. They don’t charge any extra if you want to scale your online course business. 200 students or 100.000 students. It’s al possible for the same plan.
- Simple Live Course Editor: In Teachery you start with a standard template. In the course editor, every element of the template is editable so you can make the look and feel of your courses exactly as you want.
- Embed Video, Audio, Images, and Slide Presentations: Teachery doesn’t have the option to host video, audio, images and other files. This is for a reason. You are completely free to choose the platform of your choice for hosting your online course assets.
- Style Editor: Teachery gives you the option to go nuts on how your online course will look. You can customize everything from button hovers to background colors.
- Affiliates for your courses: Are you a solopreneur and want that your course is promoted and sold by affiliates? No problem. Teachery has a really simple affiliate program. With a few clicks, you can create your own marketing army.
Teachery has the most simple and transparent pricing model of al online course platforms in this comparison. They have two plans:
- Monthly plan $49 per month
- Yearly plan: $470 per year
Both plans have all the features available that Teachery offers. The only difference is the $118 you save when you choose a yearly plan over a monthly plan. And what’s also really great is that Teachery does not charge any transaction fees at all. There are no hidden costs. The $49 per month and the $470 are the prices that you pay and that’s it.
If you want to give Teachery a try this is possible with their 2-week free trial. In this trial, you have access to all the features. Do you want to see a demo course that’s built-in Teachery? Click here.
LearnWorlds is an all in one e-learning platform for creating and selling online courses and learning experiences. It’s one of the fastest-growing online learning platforms in this comparison. It’s founded in 2014 as a side project and has grown to SaaS online learning platform with offices in the UK, Greece, and Cyprus.
LearnWorlds key features
In LearnWorlds you can’t just create and sell courses. LearnWords has all the features to create an online school exactly the way want. Let’s look at the most important features of LearnWorlds
- Great looking sales pages: In LearnWorlds you can create stunning landing and sales pages to engage users to buy your courses.
- Interactive video options: LearnWorlds offers an interactive video player where you can add titles, overlay images an questions to enhance your video’s
- Create interactive ebooks: LearnWorlds let you create interactive e-books directly on the platform. Students can take notes, highlight text and mark important parts of an ebook. They can save it so it is easy to restudy the most important parts of an e-book.
- Online quiz and assignment engine: The quiz and assignment engine lets you create both informal as formal quizzes and assignments. It’s really easy to set up quizzes and add different question types.
- Social learning functionalities: With the social learning features in LearnWorlds you can build your own online community. Students Learners can discuss topics, exchange ideas and tips, share their experiences.
- LearnWorlds and SCORM: LearnWorlds is one of the few platforms that offer the opportunity to upload SCOM files directly in your online school. You can upload SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004 3rd Editio, Captivate CAM 1.3 zip package and HTML5 packages.
- LearnWorlds Academy: The last great feature LearnWorlds academy where you can learn how to monetize your knowledge, teach people online and create a Beautiful online school in LearnWorlds from Scratch.
For more information about LearnWorlds, read my extensive LearnWorlds review.
LearnWorlds has 3 normal pricing plans and one custom plan for really high volumes and corporates.
- Starter plan for newbie course creators: This plan is priced at $29 /mo when billed monthly and $24 /mo when billed annually. With this plan, there’s a $5 fee per course sale.
- Pro Trainer plan for professional trainers: This plan is priced at $99 /mo when billed monthly and $79 /mo when billed annually. From this plan, LearnWorlds charges no transaction fees when you sell a course.
- Learning Center plan: This plan is priced at $299 /mo when billed monthly and $249 /mo when billed annually. This plan includes full white-label options and Single Sign-On (SSO).
LearnWorlds offers 30-days money-back guarantee on all their plans. If you decide to cancel your account during the first 30 days, LearnWorlds will refund without any questions asked.
Ruzuku is founded in 2012 by Abe Crystal and Rick Cecil it’s an online teaching platform that helps you build online courses your students will love. Ruzuku’s philosophy is that is must be extremely easy to create online courses.
Ruzuku Key Features:
- Visual outlining tool for course building:
- Webinars: From the Up-and-Comer plan Ruzuku has the feature to have webinars and live events directly in your courses. You can have up to 100 students in video broadcast and even up to 200 students when you’re hosting an audio teleconference.
- Forum/discussion: Just like LearnWorlds, Ruzuku has a feature on board to set up discussion forums in your courses. This way you can empower students to help each other out. Students have social profiles, bios, and photos in the course community
- Course, lesson, and activity copying for easily scheduling new cohorts:
- Student dashboard:
- Host your assets on Ruzuku: Host and stream audio and video, Host and display PDFs, Word, PPT, and other files, Host just about any file for download
- Global Content Delivery Network (CDN): Students have social profiles, bios, and photos in the course community.
Want to know more about Ruzuku? Read my detailed Ruzuku review now.
Ruzuku has three pricing plans:
- Bootstrapper: $ 74.75 /mo when billed annually. This plan is a single instructor only and doesn’t include polls and quizzes and subscription and payment plans. This plan is only useful for really simple informative courses.
- Up-and-Comer: $ 83.08 /mo when billed annually. This plan is also for a single instructor but comes with polls & quizzes and subscription and payment plans. You’ve can host an unlimited amount of webinars with this plan.
- University: Starting at $125 /mo Billed Annually. This plan includes multiple instructors and multiple site managers.
All Ruzuku’s plan includes unlimited students, courses, audio, and video uploads and data storage.
Ruzuku does not charge transaction costs in any plan. It has a free 14-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee on its plans. It’s also possible to up or downgrade your plan at any time.
Kartra is an online course platform by the makers of EverWebinar en WebinarJam. Actually the online course platform is just a part of Kartra. You do Kartra short with that. Kartra is an all-in-one platform like Kajabi that can run your online business. From e-commerce to landing pages from email automation to online courses. You have all the tools to create and sell online courses in one package.
Now let’s check out some of the key features that Kartra offers.
Kartra Key Features
- Checkouts: Kartra offers all the options to sell your products and services. You can offer different payment plans to your customers. You can offer 14-day trails, single sales, subscription and coupon codes. It also offers upsells and cross-sels. This gives you the option to not only sell your online course but also cross-sell a membership in the same checkout. Kartra covers all sales tax and shipping costs and has a bunch of great one-page checkout templates.
- Leads: With Kartra’s leads tool you can follow the whole journey from your leads to customers and compose a timeline with their actions on your platform. You get valuable information and can detect breaking point where leads flow out of your funnel so you can bring them back in. If you already use another CRM system it’s really easy to import all your contacts in batch in Kartra.
- Memberships: Kartra memberships offer your students a full learning experience. You can easily create training courses with the drag and drop interface or set up a community for your students. Kartra has several automated actions that you can set. When a student completes a course you can display custom messages, unlock next content or subscribe to them in a specific user mailing list.
Kartra has 4 pricing plans
- Starter $79/month when billed annually: In this plan, you can build 2 different membership sites. You can have up to 2,500 leads host 100 pages and sell 20 different products per month. This plan comes with a 50 GB bandwidth restriction per month.
- Silver $149/month when billed annually: With this plan, you can build unlimited membership sites. You can have up to 12,500 leads and send 125,000 emails per month. This plan has a 125 GB bandwidth restriction per month.
- Gold $229/month when billed annually: In this plan, you can have up to 25,000 leads and send 25,000 emails per month. This plan comes with a 250 GB bandwidth restriction per month.
- Platinum $379/month when billed annually: This is Kartra’s top plan where you can have up to 50,000 leads, 10 custom domains and send 500,000 emails per month. This plan has a 400 GB bandwidth restriction per month.
From the Silver plan, Kartra Agency is included. With the agency model, you can serve other people’s online business and customer accounts from one console.
Kartra has an almost free trail for 14 days for all their plans. They bill you $1 dollar so you can check out Kartra and decided if this all In one platform is suited for you.
Online Course Platforms: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is An Online Course Platform?
An online course platform is a platform that enables you to create and sell online courses. You can build the structure for your online course in it. You can upload text, images, audio, video, and pdf files. In most online course creation platforms, you can create quizzes with different question types to check a student’s progress.
Are online courses profitable?
Yes online courses are very profitable if you focus on the right target group. You create an online course once and because it’s a digital product you can sell it endlessly without selling it out.
Which online course platform is best?
Which online course platform is best depends on your situation. Under ‘My verdict’ you can find which online course platforms are the best and for which situation the are suited.
What is the difference between an online course platform and LMS?
The terms LMS and Online Course Platform are often used interchangeably but are not the same. LMS systems are almost always SCORM compliant and Online Course platforms most of the time aren’t. LMS systems are used for monitoring students. Online course platforms are used to create and sell online courses.
Why do I need an Online Course Platform?
If you want to make mony creating and selling online courses you need an online course platform. In an online course platform it’s easy to create online courses and they have functionalities to support you sell your online courses.
My Verdict – What Is The Best Online Course Platform?
Building an online course website on your WordPress website isn’t something that is done in a few hours. However, an LMS plugin that fits your needs definitely helps you speed up the process.
That being said, here are my top recommendations:
After comparing the LMS plugins I think LearnDash is the overall winner. It is the best choice if you want to create and sell professional online courses. LearnDash has the most powerful online course builder and lot’s of integrations to extend your e-learning platform.
LifterLMS comes in second place just behind LearnDash. – LifterLMS has also lots of powerful features to create and sell your own courses. LifterLMS has also a free core plugin so you can give it a try if you’re just starting your online course adventure.
So if you’re looking for the absolute best LMS plugins, my two recommendations are:
Both plugins are regularly updated and the teams behind LearnDash and LifterLMS developing new features. LifterLMS looks cheaper at first sight but if you want all features it can be more expensive then LearnDash. So think about which features you need for you’re WordPress online course platform and choose the plugin that suits your needs best.
- What Is An Online Course Platform?
- The 8 Best Online Course Platforms To Create Online Courses
- Online Course Platforms: Frequently Asked Questions
- My Verdict – What Is The Best Online Course Platform?
What are the best online course platforms?
This are my top picks for the best online course platforms to start creating your online course:
1. Thinkific – Best online course platform (Free or starts from $39 /mo)
2. Kajabi – Best all-in-one online course platform (starts form $149 /mo)
3. LearnWorlds – Best premium online course platform (starts from $24 /mo)