Online learning and training have become an essential part of every online business. Creating and selling online courses can be very profitable and rewarding as well.
Many professionals achieve 6 and 7 figure incomes through selling their online courses!
The whole e-learning market is expected to exceed $300 Billion by 2025, and that includes both individuals and corporations spending more and more on online learning.
Moreover, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a surge in demand for online courses and the trend is here to stay.
Online course platforms have opened up hundreds of opportunities for e-learning, either for students, young learners, professionals or simply people who felt the need to improve and enrich their skills.
So, how do you build and sell a great online course?
How do you provide the course material, assess the learners and provide feedback? How do you manage payments and access to the course?
This is where a great online course platform comes in!
These platforms are designed to help you build and manage your courses, engage with learners and, of course, collect your payments.
So, what makes a worthwhile online course platform? And how do you choose one for your project?
To find out, we tested and reviewed the best 12 online course platforms. We evaluated each tool’s deliverables for customization, beginner-friendly online course creation, marketing features and payment gateways.
Here are the 12 top online course platforms we tested to find the best of the best:
Excited to find the perfect online course platform to sell your courses?
Let’s get into the test results and reviews!
From all the best online course platforms we tested, these are the top picks:
Best Online Course Platforms
Our P2P Rating
Keep reading for the full reviews, test results and examples!
To determine the best online course platforms, we need to define what makes audience-centric online courses that will accelerate your bottom line.
There are so many online courses free and paid. But not all this learning material gets the attention their creators expected.
So, what makes excellent online courses, and how should your online course platform support this?
These are the top elements you need for sales-driven online courses:
When you combine all these components you get impactful online courses with high retention and engagement rates and low bounce rates.
The best online course platforms have the features and functions to perfect all these elements. This saves you a lot of time, as you can rely on software that has built, marketed, and managed thousands of online courses before.
So, do the best online courses get the job done? Do they take on marketing too? And how much human intervention is required?
To find out, we tested 12 online course platforms to find the perfect one for your project! And here’s how we did it:
To choose the best online course platforms we tested, we looked at user reviews and available features.
We found the best online course platforms for free and paid. But to get down to the bottom of it and determine if each online course tool was worth it, we signed up for each platform and tested it.
To give every digital course tool a fair chance, we used our affiliate marketing course content to create course materials. We also used a standard criteria you can read about below.
The main objective of testing the best online course platforms was to determine which platform made it super easy to create, sell and market high-quality online courses.
This is the 6-point criteria we used to evaluate and score the best online platforms:
Now let’s jump into the best 12 online course platforms we tested.
Summary: How We Tested and Evaluated the Best Online Course Platforms
These are the top elements you need for sales-driven online courses:
These are the 12 online course platforms we tested:
Overall, the online course platforms we tried and tested did make creating online courses much easier and quicker. The platforms all shared basic features to create online courses using various forms of content, like videos, images, and text. Some platforms, like Thinkific and LearnWorlds, leaned a lot more towards video content for engaging courses than others.
However, there were some notable inconsistencies between these platforms, which made comparing them to one another tricky at times.
Some specialized in course content creation only, while others provided a range of marketing and sales features, others provided limited options to assess and engage with learners, while others great engagement features but lacked in other areas.
However, of the 12 platforms we tested, the five that emerged as the best were: Thinkific, Udemy, Might Networks, Teachable, and LearnWorlds.
We chose these platforms because they scored best against our six criteria, and made creating and marketing courses beginner-friendly. These platforms will all enable you to do everything you need, from A to Z, to create and implement a profitable online course.
The six that didn’t make the cut fell short in various key areas, most notably ease-of-use, customization options, and a lack of features needed for the full end-to-end process of creating, selling, and updating an online course.
Now that you know the best online course platforms, and how we chose them, let’s explore what each platform offers:
Thinkific aims to enable professional course creators and mid-sized businesses. This online course platform offers much more than building and marketing digital content. You can create websites, landing pages, and more for lead generation and sales.
The features Thinkific offers are:
It’s easy to create a Thinkific account. You’ll need to add your email address, name, and surname, and choose a password. Then, Thinkific will take you through a four-step onboarding process to create your digital learning hub.
You’ll add your business name, niche, bio, photo, team size, and estimated revenue. There are also loads of questions to personalize your experience. Thinkific considers your online course-building experience and goals.
You can also opt to start with an online course or create a community. We chose to start with an online course. This is how it went!
We clicked on “Create a Course” from the dashboard and were quite surprised! Thinkific is more technical than most online course platforms. The software takes you through stages of building your online course, starting with planning your content, outlining your course, and choosing your price.
Afterward, you can add a few final touches to your course and publish and market it. All these stages are robust, and Thinkific provides worksheets to help you progress through each step.
Here’s an example of the worksheet for content planning:
You can double-click any of the options to get into Thinkific’s course builder tool. Starting with the curriculum, you can add chapters and lessons. You can enable free lesson previews and open lessons for student discussion. There’s a bulk content importer to get your online course ready in record time!
There’s a lot to customize including, your course image and description, your site colors and course player, and how students can access your videos. You can also add social sharing, automate completion certificates, add admins, partners and affiliates and optimize your SEO.
Thinkific offers lead generation tools too, like landing page builders, popup form builders, website builders, and online formers builders. Plus, there are built-in marketing and sales tools, and advanced reporting to track your student’s progress.
This online course platform doesn’t go wrong with community marketing either. You can strike up student discussions, create groups and develop feedback channels.
Thinkific has a fantastic content creator and editor that makes it super quick and easy to create course content that isn’t too clunky. While there aren’t a heck load of customization options, beginners can develop engaging courses and tailor their settings and payment gateways to what this online course platform allows.
Here’s a preview of the course content we created with Thinkific. Notice how the content is easy to look at and scan. It’s easy for students to navigate your online course and progress through the chapters. Because of how intuitive this platform is we were also able to split content up into more lessons.
Yet, the biggest drawbacks we came across while testing Thinkific are:
Our Review Scores:
Final Score: 44/60 (73%)
Udemy is one of the most credible and popular online course marketplaces. There are thousands of online courses varying in different niches, making this ideal for businesses of all sizes.
Like online course marketplaces, Udemy has built-in ranking features to get your course in front of the right people.
Here are some of Udemy’s features:
Signing up for Udemy takes only a few minutes. You’ll complete a simple registration form requiring your name, email address, and password. Then, Udemy will take you through a three-step onboarding process to personalize your online teaching experience.
After this, you’ll arrive on your dashboard, where you have quick action buttons to create an online course, record your video lectures, and grow your audience. On the left-hand menu, you’ll also notice navigation buttons to Udemy’s marketplace insights, teaching community, your courses, resources, and tools.
What we like about Udemy are the support and resources they provide for beginner online teachers. We chose to start with creating an engaging course and this is how it went!
You can opt between creating a course or a practice test. Udemy will first require you to name your course. They will also ask 4 questions to help you develop your course.
Once you get to the course creator, there are three stages: 1)Plan your course, 2)Create your content, and 3)Setup and audio test. These steps make it super easy to create an online course with Udemy.
When you create your content, you can add interactive content like quizzes and assignments in a few clicks. You can also add videos and resources but not any links!
Another excellent aspect of Udemy is how well you can target your online courses. You can set specific languages, reading levels, captions, and the topic and sub-topic of your content.
Unfortunately, we can’t publish the course on Udemy as it takes time to get approved. Because this is an example, it probably wouldn’t! But here’s a preview of the course content:
And here’s a preview of the Udemy landing page we created:
The most significant cons I found for Udemy include:
Our Review Scores:
Final Score: 43/60 (72%)
Looking for an intuitive all-in-one online course platform that makes building, managing and growing online courses and communities a breeze? Mighty Networks is a fantastic place to start!
Mighty Networks offers features like:
Get started with Mighty Networks by creating an account with your name, email address and password. Mighty Networks doesn’t take you through an onboarding process, but only requires your network’s name.
At first glance, this software is really smooth and easy to navigate. You can tell it acts as an entire student hub rather than just an online course creator and marketer.
The idea is to attract digital schools, and high-level eLearning endeavors. This would be perfect for those organizations, but too complicated for individuals and small brands.
Mighty Networks offers you the best opportunity to build and grow a community. The features are focused on community marketing, and this can be a little distracting for simple online course building.
From the dashboard, you can post to your feed, create events, manage members and use polls and questions. Amid all these functions, in the bottom left-corner there are two options: 1)Create a Space and 2)Create a Collection.
We clicked on the second option, and from there, “Cohort Course”. They give you a default template to start with, and you gotta add your course name, collection (if it belongs to one), tagline and privacy.
You can add people to your space or view it. There’s a tab for “Course Community”, “Course Materials”, “Discovery” and “Members”. In the “Course Materials” tab is where you can add your lessons.
Might Network allows you to edit each lesson to add a title, description and toggle with the lesson settings. It’s really quick and easy to add course materials on Mighty Networks. You can format text to your desired headings, create bullet and numbered lists and add quotes. While there isn’t a lot of customization flexibility, this online course platform makes it ridiculously easy to develop online courses and grow a thriving digital community.
When you’re done creating your course materials, here’s how it would look on your dashboard:
If you click into your course lessons, it should look like this:
After using Might Network here are the cons I came across:
Our Review Scores:
Final Score: 44/60 (73%)
Teachable is well known for the all-in-one platform of online course creators and coaching business.
With more than 10,000 users, it’s an easy to use platform with basically everything you need to start your boutique online course business.
Here are Teachable’s key features:
Creating an account with Teachable takes a few minutes, and they have a one-page form to find out more about your business and online course creation.
Arriving on your dashboard, you’ll notice that Teachable has all the bells and whistles of an all-in-one online course platform. Nonetheless, it’s still super intuitive to navigate on Teachable. On the left-hand menu, you’ll find options to navigate to your community, analytics, website, sales, emails, courses, coaching, and resources.
Because of its wide range of features, businesses can use Teachable to develop and grow online communities, websites, and digital courses.
What we love about Teachable is how much customization this platform offers. You can set your branded theme to reflect in your online courses and landing pages. You can also customize your URL domain in a few clicks, and set up payment gateways for your course material.
From the dashboard, we clicked “Create a Course” and Teachable starts by requiring your course name. Unlike most online course platforms, Teachable allows you to add upsells to your course lessons. You can add quizzes and assignments too!
Creating an online course with Teachable was really quick, and it’s not difficult to add your content. The courses are also aesthetically pleasing. Have a look below:
Business: $299 p/m for everything in the Professional plan + custom user roles and bulk student enrollment
Our Review Scores:
Final Score: 49/60 (82%)
LearnWorlds is the top learning platform for creating, managing and selling online courses. It is a scalable platform that grows with your needs and provides an excellent e-learning experience at all levels.
LearnWorlds comes with all the basic features, such as:
When you start with LearnWorlds, you must create an account and add your email address. A second field requires your school name, which you can come up with yourself!
LearnWorlds will take you through an onboarding process where you can add your school name, localization settings, school appearance, and school context.
Off the bat, it’s easy to use LearnWorlds and customize it to your branding. There are loads of pre-built templates to tailor your online courses. Businesses can also configure custom settings based on their teaching goals and company structure.
From your dashboard, you can create your first online course alongside landing pages and your first mobile app. When you build your first online course, you’ll start with a course name, custom URL, and the type of access for your content (free, paid, etc.).
If required, you’ll have to choose your price next and whether to offer a discount. Next, you’ll add a course description and image. You can also enable the Drip Feed feature and automatically schedule your posts.
It’s fun to edit your online course, and the customization options are endless. The available lead generation features include popups and landing pages, and you can integrate a payment gateway. Another fantastic feature is that you can customize access for different sections. So one of your sections may free while learners have to pay to dive deeper into the topic.
You can also view analytics for each separate section which helps if do offer gated content.
There are also many built-in marketing features, like affiliate management, data, and analytics, user management, forms, NPS scores, and promotions. You can create and customize a mobile app for your online courses.
Adding to how handy this online course platform is, it’s simple to edit past content. You can do this through your dashboard and edit each page and section.
Here’s a snippet of the course we created with LearnWorlds. Notice how we’ve customized it a bit with different colors and a random logo.
As students scroll down your homepage, they’ll come across your course sections. If your sections are mostly text, I wouldn’t recommend the layout we chose. Instead choose a more compressed layout for your home page. But if you’re using a lot of video, it shouldn’t be an issue.
However, there are some negative aspects of LearnWorlds, and these include:
Our Review Scores:
Final Score: 45/60 (75%)
There are many online course platforms to create and sell courses in your niche. And guess what? This market is forecasted to boom!
By 2027, online learning is expected to boast an annual growth rate of 2.15%, equally a market value of over $63 billion.
There’s no surprise in the popularity of digital learning. It’s more convenient and personalized than traditional learning. Not to mention, users aren’t restricted to their locations.
Online courses are essentially digital downloads, far more premium than e-books, and can be priced accordingly. Also, no stock is required, and no shipping processes or costs. They can consist of text, video, audio, or file downloads and any combination of these types of content.
They’re easily accessible, instantly or on demand, from anywhere, and on any device. Look at this handy video by Sunny Lenarduzzi to see how to sell online courses with very little knowledge.
Businesses and individuals notice these E-learning perks as 80% of companies and 50% of university or college studies have used online courses. Almost 30% of companies use E-learning for compliance training. Online courses could boost employee engagement rates by 18%.
But online courses aren’t limited to corporations. Individual learners love this learning route too! Learner retention rates for E-learning are an impressive 25 to 60%, while one-on-one tutoring has a retention rate of 8 to 10%.
Online course platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare accurately prove the excitement around online courses. Udemy has over 40 million students, with Coursera at 87 million and Skillshare having over 5 million users.
There are many online course platforms and websites to create and sell your digital courses. With so much hype and engagement around online courses, there’s never been a better time to get in on this action!
The main types of online course creation software include all-in-one platforms, standalone platforms, online course marketplaces, WordPress LMS Plugins, and Academy and Enterprise LMSs.
All-in-one platforms for online courses provide creators with a full range of tools and functions to research, develop, publish and manage their online courses. You can also use practices like email marketing and community marketing to grow your user base.
All-in-one platforms are ideal for beginners who want one, robust tool to manage all their E-learning marketing and sales efforts.
Online course marketplaces work in favor of the course creator and student. You get to list your online course for free, and the online course marketplace will offer it to targeted users. It’s possible to get extra exposure from these marketplaces by paying them a predetermined commission from each course sale.
Standalone platforms specialize in nothing more than helping you build your online course from scratch. These online course platforms and websites suit course creators with established audiences and need an intricate course builder. You can integrate third-party apps for marketing, analytics, and payment management.
Academic and Enterprises Learning Management Systems LMSs are online course platforms for enterprises and academic institutions. These platforms are super high-level and offer organizations ample customization capabilities to adapt the platform to their organization’s branding and user base.
This is a course creation plugin available on WordPress. If you’re a WordPress user who wants to host your courses on your WordPress site, this option would be ideal. However, you’ll need to rely on more plugins for online course payment management and marketing.
For this review the types of online course platform’s we’ll explore include all-in-one and standalone platforms and online course marketplaces. We won’t be evaluating academic and enterprises LMSs and WordPress LMS Plugins.
Summary: Creating & Selling Online Courses in 2023
Online learning is booming and it’s only going to expand in the coming years. There’s no surprise in this as online learning is quicker and more convenient than traditional learning. The types of online course platforms to create and market your course material include:
We have reviewed 12 different platforms for creating, hosting and selling online courses and included options to suit different needs, with different price points.
Overall, and according to the criteria that we set, the best online course platforms include LearnWorlds, Thinkific, Udemy. Might Networks and Teachable.
These are easy platforms to use, and they provide customization for businesses of all sizes. There are also built-in features for marketing, sales and community development.
And remember, a business is a living entity. It needs nurturing so it can grow over time. Having your first launch and sales is only the beginning.
Learn from your first project, go back and improve your processes, bring more people on and work to optimize your sales funnel!
Then, you can go on to publish your second course, and then the next and the next.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: No one knows your business better than you do. Also, no one knows what it needs for it to keep going, and to become a big success in the online world
Having said that, you still need to update your knowledge in the online strategies and business models and incorporate useful techniques and marketing tactics that will help your business thrive in the new normal.
Creating and selling your online courses is the way to go forward. The growing e-learning trends are here to stay.
Online courses are flexible since they can consist of text, video, audio or file downloads and any combination of these types of content. They're easily accessible, instantly or on-demand, from anywhere and on any device. Read the full article for more details. You need to consider the key features of the platform, website building capabilities, marketing opportunities, and pricing. You can check out the full guide for more details. Online course platforms have opened up hundreds of windows for e-learning, either for students, young learners, professionals or simply people who felt the need to improve and enrich their skills. Read the full guide for more details. The best online course platforms include LearnWorlds, Teachable, Thinkific, Udemy and Mighty Networks. These platforms check all the boxes for elements successful online courses must have. Read this article for more on the best online course platforms and how we tested them. To create an online course start by sigining up for any of the best online course platforms. Your online course should have social proof and credibility, human-like interaction, a dedicated website or landing page, and a clear plan for student wayfinding. Read this article for more on how to build successful online courses. The best place to sell online courses are on platforms like Udemy, Thinkific, LearnWorlds, MightyNetworks and Teachable. There are many more online platforms to create, sell and market online courses. Read this article for more. To sell an online course on your website, choose the best online course creator platform for you. Many of these platforms allow you to seamlessly create landing pages or link your website to the online course. A few of these online course platforms include Udemy. LearnWorlds and Teachabe. To sell your course on Udemy start by creating an account. Then, you can create an online course within a few clicks. Udemy allows you to add payment gateways and you can use various content formats like video, files and text for your course. Udemy has built-in marketing features to promote your course to it's vast audience of online learners.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of content do online courses have?
What to consider when choosing an Online Course Platform?
Are online courses even helpful for consumers?
What is the best online course platform?
How do I create an online course?
What is the best place to sell online courses?
How do I sell a course on my website?
Can I sell my course on Udemy?
Online courses are flexible since they can consist of text, video, audio or file downloads and any combination of these types of content. They're easily accessible, instantly or on-demand, from anywhere and on any device. Read the full article for more details.
You need to consider the key features of the platform, website building capabilities, marketing opportunities, and pricing. You can check out the full guide for more details.
Online course platforms have opened up hundreds of windows for e-learning, either for students, young learners, professionals or simply people who felt the need to improve and enrich their skills. Read the full guide for more details.
The best online course platforms include LearnWorlds, Teachable, Thinkific, Udemy and Mighty Networks. These platforms check all the boxes for elements successful online courses must have. Read this article for more on the best online course platforms and how we tested them.
To create an online course start by sigining up for any of the best online course platforms. Your online course should have social proof and credibility, human-like interaction, a dedicated website or landing page, and a clear plan for student wayfinding. Read this article for more on how to build successful online courses.
The best place to sell online courses are on platforms like Udemy, Thinkific, LearnWorlds, MightyNetworks and Teachable. There are many more online platforms to create, sell and market online courses. Read this article for more.
To sell an online course on your website, choose the best online course creator platform for you. Many of these platforms allow you to seamlessly create landing pages or link your website to the online course. A few of these online course platforms include Udemy. LearnWorlds and Teachabe.
To sell your course on Udemy start by creating an account. Then, you can create an online course within a few clicks. Udemy allows you to add payment gateways and you can use various content formats like video, files and text for your course. Udemy has built-in marketing features to promote your course to it's vast audience of online learners.