Top 10 Online Course Platforms: Ultimate Guide in 2021

best online course platforms

Online learning has increased significantly over the years, and particularly in 2020 due to the global pandemic.


Not only can you now do online courses, but the opportunity to develop and sell your own course has become more accessible. 


This guide will explore the best platforms for you to create and sell your online courses. 

1. What is an Online Course Platform?

An online course platform is a type of Learning Management System (LMS) that enables learners to take digital classes


Course creators use certain platforms to develop and run their courses. They charge students a fee to access the course. 


The platform that you choose should provide you with the tools to create an engaging and stimulating course for your students to interact with.

1.1. Who Can Use an Online Course Platform?

Simply put, creating online courses is for anyone who wants to share their knowledge with others. 


If you’re well informed about a certain topic, want to start a side hustle, or enjoy teaching then you can create an online course. 


If you’re an educator and you want to branch out and teach on your own terms, you can create an online course. 


If you want to start a digital learning institution, this is where you begin.


Let’s explore the best platforms for creating and promoting your online course. 


2. What are the Best Online Course Platforms?

2.1. Systeme.io

Systeme.io logo

Systeme.io logo

Systeme.io’s simplistic and straightforward setup makes developing your online course quite easy, especially as a beginner.


As an all-in-one platform, systeme.io provides every tool needed for creating your course, including sales and marketing tools. 


Systeme.io is one of the only course-creating platforms that includes a sales funnel builder.


By using the email marketing, automation, and integration features you can sell your course and keep up with sales progress.  


Systeme.io is also one of the most affordable platforms out there.  


Let’s look at their pricing.

  • The Startup plan costs $27 per month and offers 5,000 email subscribers, 3 membership sites, and unlimited emails sent.
  • The Webinar plan costs $47 per month. With this plan, you’ll get unlimited emails sent, 2 custom domains, 5 membership sites, and 10,000 email subscribers. 
  • If selling online courses is your main goal, you’d get value for money with the Enterprise plan. It costs $97 per month and gives you unlimited courses, 15,000 email subscribers, unlimited membership sites, and 5 domains. 

All plans include marketing automation, unlimited members, and unlimited funnels. 


Systeme.io also offers a free 14-day trial for all their plans. 

2.2. Teachable

Teachable logo

Teachable logo

Teachable isn’t an all-in-one platform. It focuses solely on creating courses. 


They offer content and learning tools, and marketing features like sales page templates.


They provide a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor, tools that let you create interesting multimedia lectures, and multilingual support.


Teachable has a couple of pricing options: 

  • Their Basic plan costs $39 per month ($29 per month annually). It includes unlimited students, 2 admin-level users, and integrated email marketing.
  • Their most popular plan is the Professional plan, which costs $119 per month ($99 per month annually). Key features include unlimited students, no transaction fees, 5 admin-level users, and course completion certificates.
  • Their Business plan costs $299 per month ($249 per month annually). This plan provides up to 20 admin-level users, advanced customization, and group coaching calls. 

All their plans offer unlimited courses and unlimited hosting. 


The Professional plan offers a free 14-day trial, but the other plans don’t.

2.3. Udemy

Udemy logo

Udemy is a platform that makes it easy to create courses with their tutorials and guidelines.

 

They focus mainly on video content, but you’ll still be able to use materials like PDF and audio. 


Udemy offers training on how to create courses and tips on how to create your first video. 


It’s free to sign up and become an instructor, but there are some conditions: 

  • If Udemy provides you with students and sales, they are entitled to 50% of the sale. (if it comes directly through their website.)
  • They are entitled to 75% of the sale price if it comes from paid user channels. 
  • If you bring in your own students using an instructor coupon, you keep 97% of the profit and Udemy gets 3%

If you’re struggling at the beginning, these options are there to bring in students for you. 


By using one of Udemy’s promotional channels, like email marketing, coupons, or affiliate marketing, you can bring in sales faster. 


Udemy also has a separate Business division focusing on team training.


Business division pricing: 

  • The Enterprise plan offers custom pricing, where you can request a demo explaining your needs and you’ll be assisted with a custom plan.This plan is recommended for 21 users or more.
  • The Team plan costs $360 per user, yearly. It’s recommended for 5-20 users and offers a free 14-day trial.Both plans offer access to unlimited courses.

2.4. Thinkific

Thinkific logo

Thinkific logo

Thinkific is another platform that mainly focuses on creating and selling online courses. 


Thinkific has many templates and landing page builders that you can edit as you go, making it simple for beginners.


Some of their features include drag-and-drop editor, multimedia content, customization, and marketing tools. 


Here are Thinkific’s pricing options: 

  • The Basic plan costs $49 per month ($39 per month annually).It includes unlimited courses, unlimited students, coupons, and email integration.
  • The most popular plan is the Pro plan which costs $99 per month ($79 per month annually). It includes unlimited courses, unlimited students, 5 admin users, Zoom lessons, and course certificates. 
  • The Premier plan costs $499 per month ($399 per month annually). It is specifically for institutions - education on a big scale.Features include unlimited courses, unlimited students, 50 admin users, and an unlimited growth package with extra features. 

Thinkific also has a free plan that allows you to have 3 courses, unlimited students, and content hosting. 

2.5. Podia

Podia logo

Podia logo

Besides creating courses, Podia is focused on digital downloads and selling memberships


The structure makes it easy to navigate your way around the platform, and the membership feature allows you to build a community.


You can use additional resources and sell them as a package along with your course, or sell the resources separately. 


Podia’s features include unlimited hosting, integrations, customization, and marketing. 


Podia has two plans to choose from: 

  • The Mover plan which costs $39 per month. The features include email marketing, webinars, digital downloads, and no transaction fees. 
  • The Shaker plan costs $79 per month. The features include Zoom integration, affiliate marketing, a blog, and memberships. 

Podia offers a free 14-day trial, where you will have access to all of the features. 

2.6. Kajabi

Kajabi logo

Kajabi logo

Kajabi, an all-in-one platform, has many templates that simplify the process of setting up your course. 


Its focus is on in-depth courses and some of the features include email marketing, automation, customization, and digital products. 


Let’s move to pricing. 

  • The Basic plan costs $149 per month ($119 per month annually) and offers you 3 products, 1 website, 1 admin user, and 1 000 members.
  • The Growth plan costs $199 per month ($159 per month annually) and offers you 15 products, 1 website, 10 admin users, and 10 000 members. It also includes advanced automation, an affiliate program, and the choice to remove the Kajabi branding. 
  • The Pro plan costs $399 per month ($319 per month annually). It offers you 100 products, 3 websites, 25 admin users, and 20 000 members. 

All plans include assessments, webinars, no transaction fees, and a free 14-day trial. 

2.7. LearnDash

LearnDash logo

LearnDash logo

LearnDash is an LMS plugin for WordPress, which makes it easy to integrate with your existing WordPress site. 


Some of the main features include a drag-and-drop builder, selling memberships, email marketing, and grading. 


They also have many add-ons, ranging from free to premium, if you find that you need more features than the plan offers.


LearnDash has recently updated its pricing:

  • The Basic plan costs $159 yearly. It includes unlimited courses, unlimited users, email marketing, 1 site, and free integrations. 
  • The Plus plan costs $189 yearly. It includes an add-on called ProPanel, which enhances the admin aspect of the course, and up to 10 sites. 
  • The Pro plan costs $329 yearly. It includes the ProPanel add-on and up to 25 sites. 

LearnDash doesn’t offer a free trial, but they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee

2.8. Skillshare

Skillshare logo

Skillshare logo

Skillshare focuses on teaching creative skills, like designing, cooking, and photography. 


It allows you to create short classes, which is great if you’re new to the world of creating courses. 


Both plans include unlimited access to their courses and admin functionality. 


Each plan suits different needs:

  • The Starter plan costs $99 per user, yearly. It is ideal for a team of 5-49. Some features include digital workshops, course projects, and offline capabilities. 
  • The Enterprise plan uses custom pricing

You can request a demo by telling them what your exact needs are, and you’ll be guided through the platform and assisted with a custom plan. 


This plan is ideal for teams of more than 50 people and offers integrations, analytics, and private workshops. 

2.9. Clickfunnels

Clickfunnels logo

Clickfunnels logo

Clickfunnels doesn’t typically advertise themselves as a course host, but the platform can be used for creating online courses. 


Clickfunnels focuses on marketing and sales more than advanced course building features.


It would be most beneficial to people who already have Clickfunnels accounts that are already comfortable with using the platform.


Key features include affiliate programs, membership sites, webinars, and email marketing. 

  • The Standard plan costs $97 monthly. It offers templates, a drag-and-drop editor, and 20 sales funnels.
  • The Platinum plan costs $297 monthly. This plan is recommended if you’re looking for more unlimited features and more sales options.

Clickfunnels offers a free 14-day trial for both plans. 

2.10. OpenSesame

OpenSesame logo

OpenSesame logo

OpenSesame is focused on building training programs for corporate and business purposes


They offer courses like IT, HR, and business skills.  


OpenSesame will promote and market your course on their site once you create a profile and upload a course.


They integrate with any LMS.


OpenSesame is free to join but will charge 50% of the sale price once your courses start selling. 

3. Conclusion 

When choosing an online course platform, remember that each platform suits different needs.  


It might be easier to select a course-building platform that can also manage your sales.


If you’re looking for an affordable, simplistic, all-in-one platform, consider systeme.io. 


With its course-building options and additional features, you are getting a package deal at a lower cost.  

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