15+ Best Online Course Platforms in 2024

Last updated: May 2024

It is no secret that online courses are more popular than ever. The latest data shows the eLearning market will grow to $325 billion in 2026! Publishing your own course is a big opportunity with so many people eager to learn.

But you’ll need the right tools to craft and sell an online course. You need an online course builder. I know. I’m building a course myself. In this guide, I review the best online course platforms for you. So take a breath, and let’s dive in.

In this guide:
1. The best Online Course Platforms
   These are the best platforms where you create and host your online courses:
   ThinkificBest overall online course platform (free or $74 / month)
   TeachableBest platform for starters (free trial or $29 / month)
   Podia – Simple and to the point course platform (free trial or $39 / month)
   LearnworldsCreate most engaging, professional online courses (free trial – $29 / month)

2. The best All-in-One Course Platforms
   These are the best tools to build your course, website and marketing all from one platform:
   ThinkificBest overall online course platform (free trial or $74 / month)
   LearnworldsCreate most engaging, professional online courses (free trial or $29 / month)
   KajabiA complete, high-end online course platform with community ($119 / month)
   Academy of Mine High-end enterprise eLearning environment ($599 / month)

3. The best WordPress LMS Plugins
   Install and host your online courses on your own WordPress site:
   LearnDashBest overall WordPress LMS Plugin ($189)
   LifterLMSModern WordPress LMS Plugin ($360 / year)
   MasterstudyWordPress LMS Theme with Plugins included (starts at $55 )

4. The best Online Learning Marketplaces
   Learning platforms to take courses, where you could also sell your course.
   UdemyBest for general knowledge learning and trainers
   SkillshareBest for creative courses and teaching
   CourseraBest for Academic courses
   Code AcademyBest for programming

5. How to quickly launch your first course + tips

Selecting the best online course platform the quick way (and how I was dumb to “waste” 50+ hrs in research)

One thing you need to know upfront. Most e-learning tools aren’t made for selling your online course or marketing your business.

Nope, most online course software is made for corporate and internal training. An LMS (Learning Management Systems) like that is extremely customizable and can cost a fortune.

But if you are looking to sell or market your online course, it’s a lot easier. There are only 4 different types of online course software.

I was dumb, worked through all of the platforms, and listed all of their features. I got overwhelmed twice along the way. Don’t repeat my mistake please.

Looking in the right category makes it super easy to pin down the best online course platform. So I divided this article up into the types:

If you want to…You’ll need an…
• Create and host your online course.Online Course platform
• Have your course, website and course marketing together in one platform.All-in One Course Platform
• Host your courses on your own WordPress site. (only for those technical enough to do it.)WordPress LMS Plugin
• Put your course on their site, so they try to sell your course for you. (also called online learning platforms).Course Selling Marketplace

You know, after hours and hours of researching there are only a few top course platforms. Provided you first pick the right flavor. Know the type you want, and you are down to one or two good choices.

All of the listed online course platforms are good choices. That’s also what the online course reviews by new and longtime users tell. And with creating courses, don’t waste too much time on the platform selection: just get started. Getting started is the hard part.

Based on your preferences, any of these can be your ideal tool. Also, if a company has an affiliate program, we will usually join. It is no cost to you, and we can see how much new business we drive to them and get you some discounts because of that.

I have personally tried and vetted most of the online course software listed here, but STARTED WITH ZERO EXPERIENCE on online course tools, just like you. And we are building online courses on all of them now, to give the insider scoop.

Time to review which online course creation tools there are!

What is an online course platform? and how will it help me be successful?

The online course platforms

An online course platform is a tool that helps you build your online course, host it, and market it to your customers.

A virtual course can be much like an offline course in a lot of ways:

  • Students are enthusiastic about a new course the heard about and enroll
  • The teacher gives an inspiring class through video, slides, presentation, text, and downloadable course material.
  • The students follow the course through the learning management systems (LMS) software. They can take notes, watch videos, complete exercises, and test their knowledge in exams and assessments.

An online course platform gives you a clean framework for these steps, so you don’t have to worry about the technical side of it. And can focus on the content of your courses.

An online course platform gives students access to digital classes. The best online course platforms offer everything you need to create, market, and sell a successful online course.

You’d be surprised at how much functionality goes into these tools: Web hosting, domain name, landing page designer, video and content hosting, quiz and survey, shopping cart or payment gateway, email marketing…the list goes on.

Everybody has something to teach, but you’ll need the right tools to create and market your e-courses.

The Best online course Platforms

Here is a review of online course platforms with pros and cons. Giving you a comparison of the best e-learning tools. We also look at cost plus on how easy it is to build and sell your course.

The following list of course creation tools is the result of hours and hours of research, I hope will help you quickly choose the perfect online course platform.

1. Thinkific Review – Online course platform

Thinkific online course creation platform

Thinkific is one of the most popular online course platforms. They help you create and sell your digital courses. It includes easy-to-use features, email marketing tools, membership site integration, and 5 star-rated 24/7 customer support.

It is an all-in-one online course system, but you can also use it in combination with your site and marketing tools.

Thinkific standout features:

Thinkific is a great choice as a complete platform to build and promote your courses.

  • Support for all types of media and external resources: file types, including video, PDF, Audio, HTML, quizzes, surveys. But also outside resources such as Typeform, Articulate, and Storyline, which liven up your course for an amazing training experience.
  • Full e-commerce and student enrollment/tracking functionality. It has reporting to keep track of your sales and student progress.
  • Integrations with tools such as Segment.io that means if you want to connect the data with another system, that is easy.
  • Completely white-label your course platform, so no one can see that Thinkific is under the hood.
  • The knowledge base is excellent. Every time you have a question, You will be able to find an answer right away.

Help getting started and creating your online course

What I like very much is that Thinkific is helping you to get started and launch their courses. That is what the Thinkific Fast Track is about.

best online training software thinkific

You can get the Thinkific Fast Track via my link here. That includes a free month of the whole online course maker. Fast Track is a free course where they will take you by the hand and build out your course in 3 hours, so you can launch it in 30 days or less.
Get Thinkific quick launch training

What does Thinkific cost?

I suggest you take advantage of the free trial that Thinkific has. They also have a free course creator version. Thinkific paid starts at $99 per month.

The Grow version $199 has a membership site and more payment and customization options. There are zero transaction fees.

Thinkific discounts and extras

Yes, as mentioned, there is a Thinkific discount of 25% if you go for the annual plan. So the platform becomes $74, no transaction fees.

You can sign up with them here.
Go start with Thinkific or read our full Thinkific review

2. Teachable review – Online course platform

best online course training platforms Teachable

Teachables’ catchphrase is “Everything is Teachable.” I see what you did there! 😀

Teachable is a very popular online course creation software. They have over 124,000+ instructors and over 28 Million students. That’s a lot!

The course pages look beautiful. Set-up is simple and you don’t need any technical knowledge.

Teachable is best for course creators

Teachable is great for course creators that want to get started fast. You won’t be able to customize every single small detail of your pages, but in return, it is easy to use and quick to set up. The platform has perks like unlimited courses, unlimited students, and full course hosting included. You can customize the site and add personal branding.

Teachable is easy to use, both for building smaller courses and more advanced / longer online training and membership sites.

Getting started with the Teachable Online Course Builder

Once you sign up for free, you’ll get access to the course creation software dashboard.
From there it is simple to start with the online course builder and set up everything including payment system, your course materials, the course landing and sales pages, and the rest.

How to get started with an online course on Teachable

Teachable features and special functions

Why do we like Teachable? Teachable might be the best online course platform for you, because it is so easy to use. But don’t discount these special functions:

  • The Teachable course area has a professional design, which I think is important.
  • Amazing is Teachable Discover, a marketplace where they help their client sell their courses.
  • Video hosting is included, so you can upload your course videos directly.
  • Teachable lets you run an affiliate program, so letting others sell your course (while you sit back?)
  • Teachable has its own payment processor. They might be the only one that does that, there are the transaction fees (just like other payment processors).

A minor point is that you can’t totally whitelabel your course platform if you would like that.

What does Teachable cost?

Teachable has a free online course creator version, so you can start making your course and check out the platform without any risk.

The free course creation tool includes unlimited courses, unlimited videos etc. But it comes with a 10% transaction fee. After that, the starting price is $39/month for the Basic plan.

The teachable business version is for real corporate users. With advanced quizzes, more customization, and 100 users. The business plan has no transaction fees and clocks in on $299, but…. There is a discount which brings us to:

Teachable discount and extras:

There are Teachable discounts. 20% discount if you choose to pay per year. The Basic plan is only $29/month while the Business plan billed annually is $249/month. You get a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.

You can sign up and give it a test run via my link below.
Get Teachable here

3. LearnWorlds Review – Online course and LMS software

Learnworlds best platform to create online courses and sell

Learnworlds is one of the top online course platforms for creating, selling and marketing your online courses. LearnWorlds is nearly an all-in-one teaching tool. It has more functionality for the creation of amazing online courses and training programs than others.

You can add interactive video’s with pop-up texts and quizzes, there is social learning/community, and even interactive eBooks (with note-taking) to add to your course.

LearnWorlds is good for beginners and advanced

LearnWorlds is a good fit for beginners and advanced trainers. Even if you are creating your first online training, you can get your course set-up in a few hours.

Teachers can grow into more advanced features after their first launch.

Learnworlds stands out from the competition because you can make courses with a high level of student interactivity and engagement.

Getting started with the online course builder

Once you sign up, you gain access to the course admin area. All the options you need are on one screen. After a minute you know where all the functions are (in the left side navigation).

best online course platforms learnworlds

You can start adding the lessons in the online course builder, add users, videos, content. Fill your sales and signup pages and all the marketing materials, and lastly look at reports.

LearnWorlds Features and special functions

LearnWorlds is in this list of best online course platforms for a reason. We like it because it has a bunch of unique features that add value to you (and your students.)

  • Interactive eBooks, where learners can make notes while they’re reading.
  • A built-in social network, to connect students with each other, without the need for Facebook groups.
  • Strong course assessments, Test student knowledge, including quizzes, assignments, and exams.
  • An automated newspaper feature, make communication relevant and share article headlines, social posts, etc.
  • Interactive video with pop up text, links to more resources, navigation, and in-video questionnaires.
  • Sell your course with a sales page builder that is easy to use and has hundreds of quick-start templates on every plan.
  • Your own Mobile App. With LearnWorlds you can create a mobile app for your school. Interact on mobile and get in front of new potential customers in Google Play and Apple App Store.

What does LearnWorlds cost?

You can try Learnworlds for free with all functionality. If you like the platform, the paid version is only $29/month. That includes a custom domain and unlimited paid courses. $99/ month gives extra a full site builder with unlimited pages, membership payment options, and no transaction fees.

The biggest version is the online learning center, that is when you want to have a full online school with 20 teachers, and 1000s of students. One of the best online teaching platforms. That is pretty impressive.

Learnworlds Discounts and extra’s

Are there any extra or discounts for LearnWorlds available? Well, yes there are. I’d say to take advantage of their 30-day free trial. And if you want the full experience in a paid plan:

Normally the price would be $29 and $ 99 a month, but you get a LearnWorlds discount of 20% on a yearly plan. Also, full access to their LW teaching Academy with help to make your course.

LW has generously offered you a Learnworlds discount code on top of that. Use code “JVR30” for 30% off for the first month on monthly Pro Trainer plans or above.

You can get started today and get a month free and the Academy for free with my link below.

Get LearnWorlds for free > (Extra’s included)

Best online course platforms (All in one)

Vendors like Kajabi and Thinkific can take care of everything for you. From course building to web security, online course hosting, to marketing your online learning products.

If you want to sell courses and build a business around it, but don’t have other tools like a website or email marketing tool yet, this is the easiest to get started.

In selling your e-learning courses, it is smart to pick the set-up that is easiest to start. So you can focus on the course creation and successfully sell your courses.

4. Thinkific as an all-in-one platform

Thinkific best online training software

Thinkific is also great as a hosted online course platform + marketing + sales + eCommerce + membership tool.

The all in one Thinkific set up is especially interesting if you want to create a course in no time. You get a lot of pre-made resources. And templates to design sales pages, so it’s easier to validate your course idea and take off. Creating the basic offer and test if people are eager to join!

You can still use your own email marketing tool and website CMS like WordPress, WooCommerce, and all of those if you want. But Thinkific has your back on those as well.

  • Full e-commerce and student enrollment/tracking functionality. It has reporting to keep track of your sales and student progress.
  • Included checkout pages – and Payment gateway integration
  • Website and sales page creation a CMS with lots of templates
  • Build sales funnels, lead magnet funnels, webinar funnels, etc.
  • Full Membership area
  • Built-in email marketing / automation tools
  • White-label your course platform completely, so no one can see that Thinkific is under the hood.

Creating your online course in a flash

Thinkific can help you to get started and launch your course quickly. You can get the Thinkific Fast Track for free via my link here. That includes a month of the online course platform and a free course designed to take you by the hand and build out your course. It is 3 hours with power help, so you can launch your course in 30 days or less.

Get Thinkific quick launch training or read our full Thinkific review

5. Kajabi Review – all in One platform: A bit more pricey but complete.

best all-in-one online course software Kajabi

Kajabi is a full online teaching platform. It has an online course builder and all functionality for selling your course. Create landing pages, sales funnels, drip campaigns. In other words: get visitors to sign up for your courses.

You can do all of your email marketing from Kajabi. Including drip and follow up campaigns through their own Kajabi email. The course platform also integrates with email software like Mailchimp, Aweber, or ActiveCampaign.

Good looking out of the box + Theme marketplace

The pages and courses look great right out of the box. They have a good number of standard templates you can use.

kajabi online course themes

And – and this is special – There is also a marketplace for themes if you want something different. Which is a great idea. An online course builder with pre-made designs and templates (from the community) and you won’t see that with Teachable, Thinkific, and alternatives.

Video hosting and streaming is included

Kajabi has Wistia (one of the best streaming video platforms) – standard integrated for your videos. This is all included in the price, baked in, considering Wista pro costs $99, that is a great deal.

Live events, virtual summits, etc. are easy to set up

Kajabi is very strong in live events. Set up virtual summits or conferences. The templates are all there for streaming classes/events. Start a Webinar in Kajabi and customize your funnel by just changing around the text and video links on the registration, promotional emails, and post-event follow-ups.

Customer support and Hero university

We need to mention Hero University, it is an online training and community that helps you as a user. The support and documentation are great, but if that isn’t enough, there is a lot going on in the community, also because companies have created custom themes and a lot of additional blogs online.

Standout features of Kajabi

According to Kajabi users, the most stand out and valued features are:

  • Create an engaging course with video, PDFs digital products and mobile app.
  • Memberships, quizzes, and assignments
  • WordPress-like CMS for your pages and blog
  • Build all kinds of funnels: product launch funnels, lead magnet funnels, webinar funnels, etc. Including with checkout pages – you can add up- and cross-sells.
  • Simple payment cart included and integration with Stripe and PayPal
  • Email and automation tools you will use

What does Kajabi cost?

The starting price for Kajabi is quite a bit higher than other platforms, which is a reflection of the width of all the features. There is a 14 day free trial and 30 day money back guarantee. The platform starts at $149, but there is also a discount which brings us to…

Kajabi discounts and extra’s

Kajabi offers a 20% discount with a yearly payment plan.

Start with Kajabi

6. Podia review – online course software

podia online courses digital dowloads tool

Podia is a different kind of all-in-one e-learning and marketing platform. Podia offers everything you need to sell online courses, downloads, webinars, and memberships, but it limits in what you can tune about it. Upside: you don’t have to worry about the tech.

Strong points are no technical headaches, zero transaction fees, and unlimited everything. You can create a storefront in minutes and start selling your digital products.

Both the frontend (storefront) and the backend (course player) has a clean, modern design out of the box. It is super easy-to-use. But this ease of use comes with almost zero flexibility to customize. Every part of Podia, whether it’s the online course builder, page builder, you’ll find they always go for simplicity over customization options.

Podia launched in 2018 (before that it was called Coach). The freshness shows because the store-front and course design are sleek, minimalistic, and up to date. But there is only one design/theme and it doesn’t allow you to customize a lot. (did I say that already?)

There are fewer features compared to others. Like doing assignments or automatically grading quizzes is missing. You can’t do lessons with mixed media in one lesson. So if you want to do a video and a pdf download, you’ll have to create separate lessons/steps for each.

Who is Podia the best online course platform for?
Podia is simple and to the point. If you want to create a membership site or give a fairly simple online course, Podia could still be a good option. It doesn’t have a full width of features and customization like Podia alternatives.

Email marketing

For some creators, a simple way to email their customers is just what they need, so Podia offers a simple email tool included. Other creators may want more from their email marketing, so Podia integrates with the most popular email service providers out there. Including the ones we have reviewed like
Mailchimp and alternatives, in our Sendinblue review, Mailerlite review and such.

Podia Features and special functions

Podia is in this list under All in One platforms. the interesting thing is that users are not only selling courses, but also digital products (I heard somewhere it is also popular for crowdfunding?!)

  • Podia uses Wistia and offers unlimited video hosting as part of your subscription.
  • Free migration, to move your content from wherever it’s hosted or saved.
  • Storefront and Sales pages
  • Handles EU VAT / digital taxes
  • Easily accept payments through Stripe or PayPal
  • Email capture and email marketing tools for a sales funnel
  • Live chat plugin included.
  • Selling tools like coupons, upsells, affiliates, and more

What does Podia cost?

Podia pricing comes in two plans: Mover and Shaker. Or rather said, simple and full-featured. The notable important difference for shakers is they can offer memberships.

The starting price is $39, but you can always begin with the 14-day free trial.
There is a Podia discount of 2 months on a yearly plan. So that is a $78 to $398 discount on Podia, not so bad. 😀

You can sign up for a Podia trial via my link here

Try Podia

7. Academy of Mine – Enterprise online training software

best elearning platform LMS academy of mine

Academy of Mine is one of those Enterprise training platforms.

The platform is the most expensive on this list starting at $599 per month. It is an all-in-one online training solution, and the team fully customizes your environment. A full website and branding for you to launch your brand and start selling courses online.

Academy of Mine can be a good choice for bigger businesses, with use cases for internal training, HR, your online language or coding school etc. Since it’s a complete course building and learning management system – it is a higher price point, but you get premium service.

  • Create self-Paced Courses with free-form text, HTML, video, audio, Powerpoint, PDF, SCORM, TinCan, and more.
  • Do live Virtual Training
    With video conferencing, live chat, screen sharing, collaborative whiteboard, and presentations.
  • Sell in bulk / Corporate and Group Onboarding
    Because Academy of Mine caters to bigger schools and clients, they have specific functionality for bulk selling, directly to companies and businesses. A Group Onboarding feature allows to sell course seats in big numbers and delegate the student management process to representatives of the company.
  • Advanced functionality includes In-Person bookings, Calendars, E-Books, Downloadable Products and for instance user roles with personal audit trail (no kidding, they mean business).

Academy of Mine

Best WordPress LMS plugins

A WordPress Learning Management System (LMS) is course software you install on your WordPress website. Obviously that only works if you already have a WordPress site and domain name.

In general this is attractive when you are a bit more tech-savvy and want to have (a lot of) additional control on everything.

8. Learndash Review – best WordPress LMS plugin

Learndash best WordPress LMS plugin

Learndash is a WordPress LMS plugin that will turn your WordPress website to a self hosted learning environment. LearnDash is also the most popular WordPress LMS plugin today. With an online course builder and lot of features.

One of the features in LearnDash since version 3.0 is their “Focus Mode”. Students will be void from distractions when they go through your course. (because all other things are hidden from your membership pages).

LearnDash LMS comes with a drag and drop online course builder. You can simply create courses with lessons, videos, quizzes, and more. Email drip campaigns are included. Of course you can offer all the lessons at once, but you can also build your online lessons and then send the content paced via the email drip feed.

Being a WordPress plugin, this Learning Management system works well with bbPress, MemberPress, and other WordPress eCommerce and membership plugins.

The Learndash WordPress LMS lets you sell individual courses, offer subscriptions, memberships, or use the shopping cart for selling access to your online training courses. Use a payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe. Once a student buys your course, a WordPress member profile is automatically created for them.

The automatically generated Certificates and Badges (with for instance their own name and scores) are a nice touch. So you can award your students with official certificates based on quiz performance and on completing a full course.

What does Learndash WordPress LMS cost?
You can start today with a $40 discount and a full 15-day money-back guarantee on their annual plans. You still have to figure out online course hosting, meaning where to host your online course videos, as I wouldn’t suggest uploading your course videos to your WordPress environment.

Get Learndash

9. Lifter LMS: WordPress course software

LMS course software wordpress

LifterLMS is a powerful Learning Management Software plugin for WordPress. You can easily create and sell online courses on your own WordPress site.

You can expand the core functionalities by integrating extensions, including Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and more. Of course you can also integrate with the email marketing or marketing automation platform you use.

Like LearnDash, LifterLMS offers features to engage your students, like certificates, badges, and some social interaction. It can mix with 1:1 coaching. The LMS platform can be used the sell individual courses, but you can also create and sell bundles or offer a membership site type (with discounts).

Get addons. for $120, or the universe bundle for for $360.

Try LifterLMS here for $1.

10. Masterstudy LMS – WordPress online course Plugin and theme

education wordpress course software

Masterstudy LMS is a modern online education and learning management system plugin for WordPress. The pages have a sleek design and it is very responsive thanks to being built completely in vue.js. The template builders at StylemixThemes developed the whole WordPress plugin and themes.
MasterStudy LMS has an easy to use course admin panel, a messaging system, quizzes, and course announcements.

As an online course builder, you can create three types of lessons: text lessons, video lessons, and slideshow lessons.
You can add in additional elements, use templates, and add text blocks per type.

The MasterStudy WordPress LMS Pro version has extra features like a Udemy Course Importer, Prerequisites, Online Testing and assignments, Sequential Drip Content, a Gradebook, Lessons Live Streaming, Group Courses, and WooCommerce integration. The full WordPress Educational Theme comes with more functions, including more customization options.

Look at MasterstudyLMS

The best online learning Platforms (Marketplaces)

Online marketplaces for courses like Skillshare and Udemy are spending a lot of time to attract students (and course creators). They will do some of the selling for you and take a lot of design, hosting, etc headaches away. So we made a list of online learning platforms.

Just be aware that courses don’t really sell themselves. And even in one of the best online teaching platforms / Marketplaces like Udemy there is competition between course creators.

Udemy – best learning platform for general knowledge and business

Udemy online teaching platform

Udemy is one of the most popular online learning platforms today. It certainly is the most visited to buy online courses, with more than 40 million students. The learners on this educational platform can use ratings and reviews to filter the highest quality. But is it a good place to build your course and sell it?

Pros of the Udemy learning platform:

Udemy allows course creation for everyone. You can use training materials like PDF documents, Powerpoint, text, and video content.

  • No setup or platform cost
  • Online course hosting is taken care of
  • Self-paced learning and video courses
  • No need for technical knowledge – at all
  • A large built-in audience that might buy your courses.

The platform tends to promote the courses that are already selling well, so success also depends on your marketing. Udemy has control over the price of your course and often sells with a discount (good for students).

Udemy is good for teachers, instructors, educators, and freelancers who are just starting out with their online courses.

Pricing: You can start for free, the Udemy learning platform charges a 3% administration fee on courses you sold through your links.
The commissions on sales that Udemy sells for you is quite hefty, between 50 to 75%.
Go to Udemy

Skillshare – Best learning platform for Creative learning

Skillshare online learning platforms

Skillshare is one of the best online learning platforms. There are more than 4 million students and 24,000 lessons on their course marketplace.

Course lessons are between 20 – 60 minutes and courses are built with a series of small videos. There are class projects and a member community with interaction through a class discussion forum.

The online training platform has courses in the categories “Create, Build and Thrive”, but actually they are divided into four course categories.
1. Creative topics: This forms the biggest part of the training platform and ranges from Music lessons to graphic design, cooking, etc.
2. Business courses: like marketing, freelancing and business analytics
3. Web and technology: including web development, UX/UI design, and e-commerce.
4. Lifestyle: Learn languages, wellness, interior design, and more.

Nice about Skillshare is that, next to being online course creation software, it has a discussion forum where students can interact and give feedback. And it is a complete package. If a student goes premium, he can take over 20.000 classes for one fee. Some would pitch Skillshare vs Teachable in functionality – difference is of course that Teachable is primarily an online course hosting platform for your classrooms and not a marketplace.

Skillshare is good for teachers who want to make little income on the side. Instructors can make royalties from their courses and be in the Skillshare referral program.
Have a look at Skillshare here

Coursera – Best learning platform for Academics

Coursera online training platform for academics

Coursera is an online learning platform founded in 2012 by two former Stanford professors. Coursera instructors teach at top universities and big companies and offer MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses. Interesting for online learning, but unless you teach at Harvard, you can’t just create a course and arrange your online course hosting on Coursera.

There are the main courses, but also specializations, and online degrees in a variety of subjects like engineering, data science, machine learning, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, etc. Coursera is free to sign up for, the training on the platform are mostly between 4-6 weeks with 2 calls a week. The price of certification and degrees are shown behind the login and run from $29-$99 /month and higher for the specializations.


Code Academy

Code academy learning online platform to learn programming

Code Academy is a learning platform that service offers niche MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for the IT and programming crowd. Code Academy is built so you can start at any experience level, from basic HTML, JavaScript, Python. As online education platforms go, coding is something different, because you also need to do and play with the code.
The classes run up in levels so you can be able to build websites, apps, and many types of advanced programming.

In the free plan, there are 180 hours of learning, the Pro membership is also free for one week.
Learn to code at codeAcademy

Other top online learning platforms would be Linkedin Learning, Masterclass and Treehouse.

How to create and sell an online course

There isn’t one fixed way to build your course, but here are the steps to creating your first course quickly.

1. Let the experts show you how to create your own course

I’d say the easiest way to learn how to create your course is to let an expert take you through it step by step.

Luckily, the platforms in this guide really want you to launch a successful course. Because it is the only way you’ll become and stay a customer.

So these experts often offer free training on how to launch your first course. They are typically set up to help you to launch your online course step by step.

The added benefit is that you also learn about creating courses by taking courses. You can go through the lessons and experience what you like to have in your training.

These are my favorite free trainings to launch your online course:

Learnworlds Academy (free)

fast track start online course

Thinkific Fast track (free)

Take a course somewhere else: $500 bucks and maybe not so good?!

2. Pick a course topic your audience is interested in

Picking a course topic is as easy as knowing what people would like to learn. Everybody can teach something. Something you know just a bit more about than your students.

No need to overthink it. If it is your very first course or training, I would recommend you create a short course as the first one.

The only goal is to learn about course creation and get a feel for the course platform you’re working with.
While building your first course, you learn A LOT for your “real” second course. Later on, you can repurpose this short one to build your email list or even as the intro to your real course.

3 killer ideas for your first micro-course

Idea 1: Pick a smaller subtopic and make a three-lesson course from it.
If your topic is weightlifting: Create the first class about the correct posture
If your topic is email marketing: Create a first training on writing a great subject line.

A lesson structure can be
1: Why is it important and what will you learn.
2: A few do’s and don’ts
3: A few examples and one exercise.

Idea 2: Talk about the four biggest trends in [your topic]. Each trend is a lesson.

Idea 3: Find a big blog article about [your topic] and turn that into a few lessons.

I like the idea of starting with a micro-course / training because now is better than never to start making your online course a reality.

3. Figure out how much creating your online training costs

Some reports say that creating an online course is very expensive, an average of $3.000 – but that is a bit steep. You can go big in budget or keep an eye on costs.

You can build your online course on a very modest budget.

If you have PowerPoint, a laptop, a webcam, and a can-do attitude, you have everything you need to get started in course creation.

you can create a decent online course under $250. Put aside $100 – $500 as a budget to create the course. Your biggest costs will be the time you put into it.

The hosting, marketing, and selling your new course can be done through the course platforms we reviewed. Here is an overview of the 4 best online course platform prices.

Starting Price
Free trial?
View all pricing

You might wonder, are there any free online course platforms? They are all a bit free. Either a free trial or you can start your first course for free. That will allow you to get started for free. After that, I know a free online course platform looks appealing, but realize the biggest investment is usually in time (not the platform).

4. The best equipment for creating an online course

You don’t need the most impressive set-up to craft an online course that sells like gangbusters. You do need some equipment though. Lets walk through your main course gear options.

Microphone:($30 – $99)

Even if your content is amazing, bad audio quality is a big turnoff for ea learning experience. Audio matters more than video.

  • You can try the Samson Go Mic– a small USB microphone with great sound capture, costs around $30
  • I have the Blue Yeti USB desk microphone myself. A bit more pricey, but great quality and you have the quick podcasters / course creator vibe built-in. It is one of the most popular microphones for creating webinars, courses and podcasts.

Webcam / Camera ($0 – $60)

Most laptops and computers come with a built-in camera, so you might not need an extra. But if you need a webcam–or want to upgrade to higher quality have a look at the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD. Place it on your monitor and record 4K video. For some trainings you may want to show off your skills on camera or on location. Fortunately, your smartphone has an amazing quality camera built-in.

Screen capture recording software ($0 – $20)

Monitor and screen capture, mixed with your video is a format often used for online courses and mixed learning. At the moment I am using Zoom.us (for meetings and online live training) and Loom for screen and video capture. They both have free options. Make sure to download all your video’s and let attendees know if they will be recorded with regards to their privacy.

Lighting kit ($0 – $50)

There is a lot to be said about lighting your video course recording. Natural light is usually best to use (and free), just sit close to the window facing it for even lighting. A ring light or desk lighting kit will make sure your training videos are even well lit in the evening.

Cool Course Creators Coffee mug (you know you want it!) $10

So you see that the best course creators don’t need the world to get a great course going. If your video course is a “talking heads” presentation style, it is similar to what you would need for a conference call or webinar!

How to choose the best online course platform for your business

As you’ve realized by now, the best online course platform will depend completely on your needs.

Here are a few recommendations based on specific wishes:

  • You want the best tool to create your online course with engaging content and experience
    – Check out Thinkific or Learnworlds.
  • You need an all-in-one tool for online courses, email marketing, website, memberships and sales funnels
    Thinkific is for you.
  • You’re mainly looking for a quality e-Learning tool, but you still want full email marketing and drip campaigns
    – Go for Teachable
  • Your online course software should have a solid membership and login section:
    Thinkific and Kajabi are the platforms to look into.
  • You are looking to get a running start and help with setting up your training.
    – You’ll find Learnworlds (with their Academy), Teachable, and Thinkific to be very helpful.

If you need help creating content or marketing your course, check out the best freelance marketing websites to hire top talent.

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and analyst. He is the founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, online marketing strategy, software selection, campaign management, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. He tested, reviewed, and wrote about 100+ business software including email marketing services, CRMs, ecommerce platforms, and online course creators. Published in-depth email marketing guides for financial service, ecommerce, travel, restaurant, and fashion industries.
Named one of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. Companies like Scania, KLM, Unilever, AEGON, CZ, FNV, NRC Media have asked me for advice.

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