How to choose an online course platform to build and sell courses in 2024

How to choose an online course platform to build and sell courses in 2024

The evolution of digital education has opened up myriad avenues for educators and entrepreneurs to share their knowledge with the world. Think about it—just 20-30 years ago, we were confined to mostly resources in our own countries and languages. 

However, with online education as a whole projected to be worth $87 billion in 2024, choosing the right online course platform has become a critical decision for those looking to build and sell courses. 

This comprehensive guide aims to ease the decision-making process, highlighting key features, benefits, and the top platforms available in 2024. 

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The current market for selling online courses today

The e-learning market has seen unprecedented growth over the past few years, accelerated by global shifts towards remote work and learning. Experts believe that the global market will reach $462 billion by 2027, with North America leading the charge.

This surge in demand for online education is not just a temporary trend but a fundamental shift in how people acquire knowledge and skills. As a result, the market for selling online courses today is vibrant and competitive, offering a wealth of opportunities for content creators and digital business owners. 

A prominent downside is perhaps the fact that anyone and everyone has a course nowadays. Nevertheless, creators can use this as an opportunity to outshine the competition, emerge as experts, and provide their audience with encouragement and knowledge. 

Benefits to look for to create and sell your course

When embarking on the journey of selecting an online course platform, several critical benefits and features should be at the forefront of your decision. Of course, this may change as time passes, but if you want to build online courses properly, you need a platform with: 

AI features

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the online education sector. Platforms equipped with AI curriculum generators can significantly reduce the time and effort required to create engaging and personalized courses. These features can analyze learning patterns and adapt course material to meet the individual needs of students, ensuring a more effective learning experience. 

But most importantly, AI-powered online platforms also let you cut down on the tedious work and lesson-building process, with features such as summary generation, quiz building, FAQs and other time-consuming, but beneficial tidbits. 

Learning style adaptability

Every learner is unique, with preferences ranging from visual and auditory to kinesthetic. Platforms that offer adaptability to various learning styles can help maximize student engagement and comprehension. 

This includes providing diverse content formats such as videos, quizzes, engaging activities, and written materials. Teachable includes all of this, with the goal of providing learners with an interactive experience that seeks to mimic real-life situations as effectively as possible. 

Financial management tools

Managing the financial aspects of selling online courses can be daunting. Platforms that offer tax automation services and chargeback help can alleviate these burdens. These features streamline the financial operations of your digital business, ensuring compliance and protecting your revenue.

Even though selling online courses is a relatively centralized stream of revenue, it can be difficult to keep up with individual purchases. With the right automations, course creators can easily generate tax statements, calculate revenue and even visualize performance on a month-to-month basis. 

Community building and student engagement

After finding an audience, building a community around your courses can significantly enhance the learning experience and foster loyalty among your students. Look for platforms that offer community-building features, digital downloads, and easy communication channels. 

Engaging your students through forums, live sessions, and group discussions can create a vibrant learning environment. Once again, Teachable is the perfect fit for this, allowing your students to connect, share knowledge and even exchange lesson-related files. Of course, 

Seamless payment processing and progress tracking

A smooth payment process is crucial for converting prospects into students. Platforms offering easy payment processing, along with robust student progress tracking tools, ensure a hassle-free experience for both creators and learners. 

These features help in monitoring student progress and providing timely support, thereby enhancing student satisfaction and course completion rates.

9 online course platforms for content creators and digital business owners

Now, what online course platform should you choose? While most people would claim there is an outright best option for creating and selling online courses, the answer depends on your goals and your learners’ preferences. With that in mind, the following online course platforms at the top choices in 2024.

Teachable

Teachable is a premier platform that empowers creator educators to create online courses, digital downloads, memberships, online coaching and community - market them, and sell them — an all-in-one solution. Its intuitive user interface simplifies the course creation process, making it accessible for instructors of all skill levels. 

Teachable stands out for its comprehensive payment processing capabilities, allowing creators to offer multiple payment options to students. 

Additionally, the platform provides analytics, custom branding options, and a flexible page editor, offering creators the tools needed to build a professional online presence. 

With features designed to enhance student engagement, such as quizzes, mini-courses, course completion certificates, and discussion forums, Teachable is an excellent choice for those looking to create a dynamic learning environment.

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Thinkific

Thinkific offers a powerful, user-friendly platform for entrepreneurs and educators to create, market, and sell their online courses. It distinguishes itself with extensive customization capabilities, enabling creators to design unique learning experiences that truly reflect their brand. 

Thinkific includes a range of features such as drag-and-drop course builders, advanced data tracking, and marketing tools to drive course sales.

The platform supports multimedia course content, including video, quizzes, and downloadable resources, ensuring a rich and varied learning experience for students. 

Additionally, Thinkific provides exceptional customer support and an active community, making it a supportive environment for both seasoned instructors and those new to online education.

Kajabi

Kajabi is an all-in-one online course platform designed for serious entrepreneurs and educators who want to build, market, and sell digital products. It goes beyond course creation to offer powerful tools for email marketing, landing pages, and website building, essentially providing everything needed to run a successful online business. 

Kajabi’s standout feature is its automation capabilities, which allow creators to set up sophisticated marketing funnels to convert leads into students. 

The platform also offers detailed analytics to track engagement and sales, alongside membership site capabilities, making it ideal for creators looking to offer a more comprehensive learning experience.

Podia

Podia is a versatile platform that caters to creators looking to sell online courses, memberships, and digital products all in one place. It's known for its simplicity and ease of use, offering a streamlined experience from course creation to sales. 

Podia shines with its zero transaction fees policy, allowing creators to keep more of their earnings. The platform supports a wide range of multimedia content, including videos, PDFs, and audio files, enabling creators to craft engaging and diverse courses. 

Podia also excels in community building, providing tools for email marketing, live chat support, and a membership feature that encourages student interaction and engagement.

Learndash

Learndash is a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) plugin for WordPress, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for creating and selling sophisticated online courses. It's particularly suited for those already using or planning to use WordPress for their website, providing deep integration that allows for extensive customization and control. 

Learndash’s standout features include advanced quizzing, course management, and certification capabilities, making it ideal for educational institutions and professional training organizations. 

The platform also supports gamification elements like badges and leaderboards, enhancing student engagement and motivation.

Teachery

Teachery is an online course creation platform known for its simplicity and affordability, offering unlimited courses and students without any transaction fees. This makes it an attractive option for beginners or those with a limited budget. 

Teachery includes all the essential features for course creation, such as customizable course templates, email integration, and basic analytics. 

While it may lack some of the advanced marketing and sales tools of its competitors, Teachery's ease of use and straightforward pricing model makes it a compelling choice for creators focused on content rather than complex sales strategies.

Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks takes a unique approach to online course creation by focusing on building a community around your content. It allows creators to bring their courses, memberships, and communities together in one place, fostering a strong sense of belonging among students. 

The platform offers a range of engagement tools, including polls, quizzes, and live events, encouraging active participation. 

Mighty Networks is particularly suited for creators looking to establish a vibrant, interactive learning environment that extends beyond traditional course boundaries.

Skillshare

Skillshare stands out in the crowded online course market by focusing on creative, technology, business, and lifestyle courses. It operates on a subscription model, offering students unlimited access to a wide range of courses for a monthly fee. 

This model encourages exploration and continuous learning among students. For teachers, Skillshare provides an opportunity to reach a large, engaged audience without the need to market individual courses. Revenue is generated based on the total watch time of your courses, incentivizing the creation of compelling, high-quality content.

Udemy

Udemy serves as a vast marketplace for online learning, featuring a diverse array of courses in numerous categories. It provides instructors with the tools to create and sell courses to a global audience of millions of students. 

Udemy's pay-per-course model allows creators to set their prices and offers promotional tools to increase course visibility. While the competition on the platform is high, Udemy's extensive reach and established reputation can offer significant opportunities for exposure and revenue to instructors willing to invest in marketing their courses.

Online course platform vs online learning platform: What's the difference?

Understanding the distinction between an online course platform and an online learning platform is crucial. 

Online course platforms are primarily designed for creators to outline, market, and sell online courses, providing tools for course creation, student management, and sales. Think of them as the backend of courses, something that learners don’t see. 

Whenever a creator implements changes into, let’s say, a description of a sub-section of a lesson, he does so in Teachable’s backend settings. After the settings have been confirmed, the learner-facing interface will change accordingly. 

In contrast, online learning platforms function more as marketplaces, connecting learners to courses from a variety of creators. They catalog a wide range of online courses focused on different topics, functioning similarly to an app store. Learners can browse, compare, read reviews, and purchase access to courses that interest them. The focus is providing learners access to educational content, not supporting course creators.

Understanding this key difference is essential for course creators. Online course platforms give you the tools and control to custom build and run your online courses, while online learning platforms should be viewed as distribution channels to reach new students. Following trends on both types of platforms allows creators to understand demand in the market as well as how best to attract students.

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Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies, Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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