There are so many online course hosting platforms on the market at the moment – it’s ridic and it can also be a crazy ass nightmare to pick one. I see the same Q’s come up time and time again in my Facebook Group, as well as questions I receive from my community.
“Which online course platform shall I use….? Is X better than Y?”
……..Seriously the list goes on and on! In this post i’m going to deep dive some of the platforms i’ve tested and used for the set up of my clients online course.
When it comes to creating your first online course there are 2 backbone principles you have to keep in mind.
- Work Quickly – This will allow you to actually birth your course idea without it dwindling into a teeny, tiny flame
- Be Resourceful – This is your first course so do whatever is easiest. Who cares if you decide to change your mind later down the line and the course develops into something else. You can cross that bridge when you come to it.
Here’s one of the reasons you may be finding it hard to pick an online course hosting platform is because you’re comparing your first course with other courses available.
I call this…
“Course Envy” – The sickening emotion you feel when you compare your course idea to the finished product of your favourite Online course creator which leaves you paralyzed and unable to move forward for fear of your course not being perfect.
Don’t do that. Procrastination & Fear isn’t a good look!
Trust me, I’m sure your favourite course creators started with some kind of bootstrapped version of their course initially and probably held it together with digital string and nails, and you know what.
If you’ve spent more than 6 mths stewing over what online course hosting platform to choose then you’re focusing on the wrong thing and losing sight of what’s important.
Helping the people that need you is what matters. They need YOUR help.
So stop getting in your own way.
Alright, now that i’ve got that out of the way. I thought i’d make it easy for you and share 3 of my favourite EASY plug and play online course hosting platforms to help you move forward.
I’m talking quick and easy set up…
Online Course Hosting Platforms? What are you they?
Glad you asked. You see, instead of having a platform where you build and code your online course members area or platform from scratch or hire a tech army, there are so many pre-built & pre-designed platforms where everything has been created for you. All you have to do is plug in your course content.
Yes, you pay a little more for these platforms. But trust me. It’s worth it. So that you can spend the rest of your time refining your course content and focusing on the marketing.
So you’re probably going to think I’m just going to talk about the heavy hitters that you’ve seen online like Teachable or Udemy. But I’m not, NO.
I want to shine a light on some of the unsung heroes in the market so you can make a better decision about which platform to choose.
Here are the platforms I reviewed:
These 3 platforms cater to 3 different types of people depending on where you are in your business. This will help you make a better choice about which platform to choose.
The Seasoned Business Owner – 2+ years Been in business for a few years and has a few business systems in place.
The Hustler – 1-2 Yrs Been in business for a while – now you’re ready to create a course
The First Timer – 0 -2 yrs in business creating your first online course
Ok, first up: ClickFunnels
I use it for all my marketing pages: Opt-in pages, webinar pages, thank you pages and all that good stuff. But did you know it has a Members Area function to it?
Ooooh I bet you didn’t know that. Here at Janet HQ, we custom design and build Membership Sites on the ClickFunnels platform and take care of all the back-end techy stuff. So I can’t rate it highly enough. I know for my clients they just want to have everything all in one place, seeing as they’re already using ClickFunnels.
Watch this video that walks you through the features and setup of my product The Coursy Membership Site Template.
Like with any platform there are pro & cons and here they are for ClickFunnels
- The sales funnel pages can lead straight into the sale of the membership site. So they can all be housed in one place. Making for a smooth and easy signup process
- Totally Customisable
- Easy to use interface
- Mobile responsive
- You can drip feed content (based on when people create a new account)
- Integrates with all major email service providers
- There’s wealth of info in the support area, from the support desk and the Facebook Group
- You don’t have the option to add a discussion box at the end of each lesson
- You can’t set up a drip feed so that students get access to the content based on date they signed up.
- No ability to look at course stats unless you have Actionetics (ClickFunnels Email marketing solution)
- You need to use a Video & File Hosting platform so that you can add the links to the lesson pages. This may cost an additional $20 – 50 per month
Who’s this platform ideal for: The Seasoned Business Owner.
If you’ve got a few business tools and systems in place and you’re already using ClickFunnels. Then this platform is for you
Summary: The beauty of hosting your online course on ClickFunnels is that you have everything all in one place. If you’re using ClickFunnels already or you intend to, then don’t shell out unnecessary cash just use what you already have. If you don’t have a ClickFunnels account you can get a 14 Day trial here.
I really rate this platform. I have my Signature Course: Create Your Course Bootcamp hosted in this platform too.
This platform is more of a LMS (Learning Management System) i.e a platform that helps facilitate the learning process so it includes quizzes, forms & exams which the other 2 platforms don’t have. This is one of the reasons I love it.
Check out the walk through video of the platform:
One of the great things and also the downfall of this Online Course Hosting Platform is that it has a tier pricing system – so it can suit anyone at any stage of business.
It’s free to set up a course, but you’ll have a pay a percentage of the sales fees to Thinkific which is anywhere between 5 – 10% (depending on the plan you choose). It can be a little expensive when you start to crunch the numbers and take into account:
- Thinkific Transaction fees, plus
- Thinkific Monthly subscription
- Stripe or Paypal Fees.
Here’s how I’ve used Thinkific in my business.
I’m not currently enrolling participants in my Create Your Course Bootcamp so I downgraded from the Business account to the Free account.
So if you’re planning to create a course where you have an open and close enrollment. I don’t think it’s cost effective, unless you have a few hundred people going through the course and you’re selling continuously through content marketing or paid traffic.
If you’re not, and you plan to have the link for people to purchase your online course on your website and you make one or two sales per month then I personally I don’t think it’s worthwhile and I think you’re better off going either with Course Craft or even ClickFunnels.
Thinkific is great because it integrates with a lot of email service providers such as MailChimp, AWeber, ConvertKit. To connect it to ActiveCampaign you need to use Zapier so that they integrate correctly.
Who’s this platform ideal for: The Hustler
This platform is perfect if you’re looking a for an easy plug & play option to get you started with minimum fuss. Also if you have the budget to pay a monthly subscription and have an additional course you want to create in the future – then Thinkific is a great platform.
I actually can’t fault the platform in general that’s why I didn’t do a Pro & Cons analysis – but detailed how I’ve used it instead.
It has a nice UI, it’s easy to navigate and allows you to jump right in. The only thing I would say is that this platform isn’t for someone who isn’t generating revenue or doesn’t have a strategy in place to sell their course.
I remember hearing about Course Craft about 2 or 3 years ago and I think they had just launched. I had a play around with it and loved the simplicity of it. This is one of my unsung heroes.
The beauty of this platform is that it has a really clean User Interface (UI) and it’s cost effective $50 per course (Pro Plan) and doesn’t need a lot of additional tools to create your course everything is already in the platform i.e video and file hosting. #winning!
Here’s a video overview of a client’s course I set up recently.
Here are the pro and cons of the platform:
- You can create your own forms and landing pages inside the platform so you don’t need to use LeadPages and Clickfunnels.
- View Course Statistics
- Offers Lesson drip scheduling
- Very Basic forms & landing page solution
Who’s this platform ideal for – The First Timer
This is perfect for someone who’s creating their first online course, who’s overwhelmed by all the tech stuff and just wants to get started asap. This tool has a low learning curve and easy setup.
Summary: I wrote this summary a few times and it really didn’t do this platform justice. So I recorded an audio instead – starts around 1 mini mark. Check it out.
4 other Online Course Hosting Platforms worth checking out
I haven’t had a chance to deep dive into these platforms yet. But I’ve had a sticky peak (a little look) and these are fantastic alternatives.
Picking an online course hosting platform to create your first course is bloody hard work. But here’s some advice.
‘JUST PICK ONE! DON’T GET STUCK IN THE APP TRAP’
All of the platforms I’ve chosen are all great for different reasons – but the cons of each of the platforms are minimal. Here’s the deal, all of these platforms are fighting with each other to be the best and the platforms are just getting better and better – which is great! So do yourself and your community a favour and just pick one, so you can help them.
I hope this post has helped you. In the comments below let me know which platform suits you and your business the most. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.