25+ Best Online Course Platforms – Ranked in (Sep 2022)

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Are you looking for a platform to host your online courses and achieve massive student engagement? This is important as the typical online course completion rate is 12.6%!

Look no further!

In this blog post, I’ll review and compare the best online course platforms available.

Unlike other posts, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each one and also giving my top recommendations so that you can make an informed decision about which platform is best for course sales, student engagement, assessments, etc.

These reviews are presented based on my 4-5 years of instructional design experience experimenting with different LMS solutions.

So, if you’re ready to take your online courses to the next level, let’s get started!

PlatformPricing starts atExplore more
Teachable – Specialist in courses 💖$39/moExplore
Kajabi – Best for advanced course creators ⚙$149/moExplore
Podia – Affordable platform with digital product selling feature 💸$39/moExplore
LearnDash – WordPress-based flexible solution $159/yearExplore
Thinkific –  A good Teachable alternative$49/moExplore
LearnWorlds – For academic courses $29/moExplore
Passion.io –  Mobile-centric platform 📱$97/moExplore
TutorLMS$239.20/yearExplore
Systeme.io – ClickFunnels alternative with an LMS$27/moExplore
Thrive Learn – Pay once use for lifetime 🔥$495 for a lifetime Explore
Teachery$49/moExplore
LifterLMS$360/yearExplore
Ruzuku$99/moExplore
Kartra – All-in-one marketing platform $99/moExplore
Udemy – Best course platform for studentsExplore

Best SaaS-based online course platforms

These are the most popular online course platforms and are typically beginner-friendly compared to WordPress-based solutions.

For course creators

Teachable – Specialist in courses 💖

Teachable Logo Symbol Green

Teachable (review) is a course platform that allows you to create and sell online courses. It is popular among digital marketers and course creators for its straightforward course-creation approach.

Teachable lesson types

When it comes to creating courses, you can create sections and add lectures to each section, which can be in the form of video, audio, PDF, links, or any content type.

Some unique features for student compliance are:

Teachable course compliance features
  • Enforce video watching – You can set video compliance features so that students must watch 90% of the training course before being able to click the “mark as completed” button.
  • ‎Enforce lecture order – You can set lecture order so that students must complete lectures in a specific order.
  • Enforce quiz completion – You can set quizzes so that students must complete them before moving on to the next lecture.

You’ll be able to also see the per-student progress level using Teachable’s unique video analytics feature.

These features help ensure that students actually complete the course.

Next comes customization.

Power editor in Teachable

You also have really good customization options with the ability to change fonts, colors, button styles, and more. Plus, with the professional plan, you have access to Teachable’s power editor to play with the HTML and CSS of your website to take customization to a whole new level.

You can add testimonials, guarantee boxes, and sales bullet points on the checkout page. Finally, there’s the thank you page. After making a payment, people will be redirected to this page, where you add various blocks and upsell them to other courses.

Teachable coupons

To advertise your courses, you may use either amount-based or percentage-based coupon codes. Coupon codes may also be configured to have a specified number of coupons and an expiration date. You can consider coupling this up with the affiliate marketing feature to boost your course conversions.

Teachable comes with three premium plans.

Teachable pricing
  • Basic: It comes with all the essential features. But it lacks some features like graded quizzes, advanced theme customization (power editor), advanced reports, etc. A 5% transaction fee for every sale is quite a downside.
  • Professional: It comes with all the features of Teachable except for custom user roles, manual student bulk imports, and enrollments.
  • Business: It comes with all the features that Teachable has ever got to offer.

Apart from these, Teachable also comes with a free plan.

With a free plan, you need to pay 10% of the transaction fee. There are plenty of limitations like not having custom domains, affiliate integration, email marketing, integrations, drip content, and much more.

In the free plan, considering the transaction fee, they charge they could have offered more features.

One more thing I didn’t like is that they also charge a 5% transaction fee for basic plan holders as well. There are some good Teachable alternatives available that don’t charge any transaction fees.

Pros:

  • It supports unlimited courses even in the free plan.
  • It allows you to upload multiple content formats in the same lesson thus enhancing the flexibility to add course content.
  • It supports custom codes enabling you to add HTML/CSS scripts in the lectures. You can add interactive content inside the lessons.
  • It comes with a built-in EU VAT tax calculation. Helpful for people in EU.

Cons:

  • The free plan charges 10% transactional fees, while the basic plan charges a 5% fee.
  • There are no built-in features to customize the course player. For this, you need to use its power editor (available only in a higher plan)).
  • It lacks a drag and drop builder to design the pages and the site. But it has the ability to add simple modules – not like WYSIWYG.

Bottomline: Teachable is a leading course creation platform that offers powerful features to create, market, and sell your courses. It offers upsells, course bundles, coupons, etc., to increase sales. The main strength of Teachable is its course compliance and student-level engagement reports.

Kajabi – Best for advanced course creators ⚙

Kajabi logo

Kajabi (review) is a powerful course creation platform with excellent marketing features. It comes with digital product selling, pipelines (funnels), automations, email marketing, mobile app, events, community, memberships, etc.

Select the product type in Kajabi

Kajabi provides course templates (called blueprints) for online courses, mini-courses, drip courses, memberships, etc. You can add text, images, video, audio, assessments, and add downloads to create the course content.

Kajabi themes

When it comes to customization, you have tons of options. Kajabi provides over 14 themes to customize your course page. You can add course progress, instructor, cross-sales, and custom blocks on the course (product) pages.

Kajabi also supports memberships and communities:

  • You can create various membership levels (tiers) and sell them using offers.
  • When it comes to communities, it is pretty basic. You can create topics and posts, and add a sidebar message. That’s it.
Kajabi automations for emails

For emails, it has:

  • Broadcasts (send single emails for announcements, notifications, share news, etc.)
  • Sequences (series of emails that can be triggered by automation).
Kajabi email campaigns

Kajabi also has automations. You can automate the course completions, emails, offer purchases, etc. If you are on Kajabi’s higher plan, which costs $199/mo, you will get access to its advanced automations. With this, you can add conditional filters to trigger the automation.

The best thing about Kajabi is its mobile app (for both iOS & Android). Students can access their courses, access the community, and take the quizzes, all with the mobile app, at their pace. You can also send push notifications for more engagement.

Kajabi pricing

When it comes to pricing, Kajabi is very expensive. The pricing starts at $149/mo. You can consider going with annual billing to get 20% OFF. If you think Kajabi is not affordable for you, consider looking at its alternatives.

Pros:

  • Kajabi’s automations are very powerful. You can automate the customer’s journey by adding triggers and actions.
  • Its affiliate program is feature-rich. You can offer VIP discounts and automate affiliate tasks.
  • It has a good mobile app with the ability to send push notifications on-demand.
  • Its pipelines (funnels) help you in increasing sales. There are some pre-made templates available to get started easily.
  • It provides video stats with heatmaps to analyze the engagement on your videos easily.
  • It has built-in assessments, surveys, and quizzes.

Cons:

  • It has some learning curve for beginners as it comes with lots of features (especially automation).
  • The pricing is very high, and not affordable.
  • The community features are pretty basic. There are no groups, channels, private messages, group chats, etc.
  • Lacks course compliance features, unlikeTeachable.
  • Its lowest plan (even at $199/month) limits to only 3 products and 3 pipelines which is very restrictive.

Bottomline: If you need advanced marketing features with powerful automations, funnels, events, etc. Kajabi would be the best choice. It is great for industry leaders and advanced marketers if pricing is not a concern.

Podia – Affordable platform with digital product selling feature 💸

Podia logo

Podia (review) is an affordable and easy-to-use online platform to sell your courses, memberships, and other digital products (like webinars, digital downloads, coachings, etc).

Designing course in Podia

Podia supports text, embeds, quizzes, coachings, and files to create course content. There are features like drip scheduling, course completion certificates, lesson-wide comments, pre-launch the courses (to validate your course idea), etc. Also, when it comes to course compliance features, Podia lags behind Teachable, as it lacks them.

Podia lacks a dedicated memberships feature. But you can use its community as membership and sell your content, creating different pricing tiers.

Podia adding upsells

To boost sales, it has coupons, bundles, and upsells. But it lacks order bumps, cross-sells, and downsells for increasing average cart value. Using its email marketing tool, you can send broadcasts and email campaigns with entry and exit conditions.

Podia design and customization options

The customization is at a bare minimum. You can customize the sales pages, the home page, storefront, and other custom pages. For page building, it just provides only 13 blocks. That’s it. There are no templates/themes available to build your site, unlike Thinkific or Kajabi.

Podia pricing

Podia lacks a free plan, unlike tools like Thinkific or Teachable. Its lowest plan starts at $39/mo. The Shaker plan at $89/mo would be ideal for most of the users. You will get a 17% discount if you purchase annual plans.

Pros:

  • Podia is very simple to use. Beginners will love using it.
  • You can sell various digital products, coachings, webinars, etc., and courses. It’s best for digital product selling.
  • It has a pre-launch mode to validate your course idea and collect potential leads before launching the course.

Cons:

  • There is no plan available.
  • It lacks advanced automations, unlike Kajabi.
  • It doesn’t offer any course templates or themes.
  • The customization options are very limited. It doesn’t support custom CSS/HTML.

Bottomline: If you want to sell your digital products along with courses, Podia is the best tool you can choose. Its pricing is affordable. Its upsells, bundles, unlimited bandwidth, and integration with Zoom/YouTube Live make it worth buying. If you are more concerned about customization features, you can consider some other Podia alternatives.

LearnDash – WordPress-based flexible solution

Learndash Logo

LearnDash (review) is a WordPress-based learning management system (LMS) that allows you to create and manage your courses.

LearnDash features

However, as with any other WordPress-based solution, LearnDash requires you to have some technical knowledge and skills in order to set it up and manage it effectively.

I’m personally making use of LearnDash in combination with Elementor (review) and Advanced Custom Fields to create an engaging instructional design experience on my online course platform. With this, you can easily design highly customized learning experiences for your students using LearnDash.

LearnDash course types

As it is a self-hosted LMS plugin, it also doesn’t come with video hosting capabilities built-in, so you will need to use an external video hosting platform like Vimeo or Wistia.

The LearnDash implementation on WordPress costs about $362 each year (LearnDash Plus at $189), Elementor single site, Vimeo Plus, and a free WordPress theme), which turns out to be less than $30 per month.

Pros:

  • Video progression support to hold your students accountable!
  • It also comes with a membership feature (with the LearnDash group’s feature), so you don’t need to use plugins like Wishlist Member on top of it.
  • As it is a WordPress plugin, it allows you to flexibly integrate other plugins like Elementor for better design.
  • It allows you to localize your courses for students who do not speak English as their first language.
  • It comes with inbuilt drip-feed functionality to prevent students from binge-watching courses.
  • It allows you to productively reuse topics and lessons across multiple courses. The topics and lessons are not programmatically tied to specific courses.

Cons:

  • It’s not an all-in-one solution, so you need to have the technical knowledge and install several third-party plugins to create a course. You’ll be nervous when you are hitting that update plugins button on WordPress because of possible plugin compatibility issues.
  • It doesn’t have direct compliance with the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) or Experience API (xAPI). However, for most people, it doesn’t matter.
  • It doesn’t have a free trial, but it being a WordPress plugin,it’s illogical for you to expect a 30-days trial.

Bottomline: But are the technical hassles and additional flexibility it offers worth the cost? In my opinion, the answer is definitely yes – if you have the time and skills to manage it. So if you are looking for a powerful and flexible online course platform, then I would highly recommend using LearnDash together with Elementor.

Provided you have the technical skills to set it up; it doesn’t come in the way of implementing your creative instructional design and student experiences. Your imagination is the only limit. And the pricing is reasonable compared to other popular course platforms out there.

Thinkific – A good Teachable alternative

Thinkific logo

Thinkific (review) is a feature-rich and affordable platform for course creators. Compared to Teachable, it has some powerful features like single communities, groups, live lessons (integrates with Zoom), and advanced course building features (like randomized quiz banks, prerequisite lessons, members-only website pages, Brillium exams integration, etc.).

Thinkific course creation features

Thinkific supports more content types that Teachable. You can add presentations, add multimedia files, live lessons, assignments, exams, surveys, etc. It also supports Adobe Captivate & Articulate Storyline files. But it doesn’t support SCORM files, unlike LearnWorlds.

Learning content - Thinkific

Thinkific has excellent customization options. You have full control over the course player customization. To design your site, it provides three themes (Vogue, Vision & Empire), and you can custom code it using HTML/CSS/Liquid templating.

Note that Thinkific doesn’t support digital product selling (its competitors like Podia offer this feature). If you need the ability to sell digital products along with courses, you need to consider looking at Thinkific alternatives.

Its Growth add on (costs $50/mo) provides powerful features like:

  • Groups
  • Remove Thinkific branding
  • Advanced segmentation
  • Public API
  • Webhooks
  • Communities
  • Infusionsoft integration
  • Zapier actions
  • ActiveCampaign integration
  • Brillium exams integration
  • Import students
  • Bulk enroll students
  • Bulk emails
Thinkific pricing

Thinkific’s free plan is very limited. You can’t create unlimited courses, unlike Teachable. Thinkific doesn’t charge any transactional fees.

Pros:

  • It doesn’t charge any transaction fees, unlike Teachable. This is helpful for people who have high-volume sales.
  • It provides advanced course-building features like live lessons, randomized quizzes, exams, private & hidden courses, etc.
  • It is a completely white-labeled solution and is suitable for agencies providing instructional design services (on the other hand Teachable also comes with branding in the login URL even when using a custom domain)

Cons:

  • It doesn’t provide any course templates, unlike Kajabi.
  • The marketing features are pretty basic. There are no funnels and automation features. You may need to hook it up with Zapier.
  • It doesn’t handle EU VAT.
  • Its free plan limits the number of courses you create, unlike Teachable. But it doesn’t charge any transaction fee.

Bottomline: Thinkific is a highly valued freemium LMS platform. Its free plan is enough for you to get started and is a completely white-labeled solution. If you want more control over your course customization Thinkific is the way to go.

LearnWorlds – For academic courses

LearnWorlds logo

LearnWorlds (review) is an online course platform best suitable for academic institutions and educational organizations. It focuses on student engagement and enhances learning with interactive videos, ebooks, assessments, certificates, SCORMs, surveys, and much more.

LearnWorlds builder

It has an intuitive drag and drop block-based builder. It gives you enough templates and landing pages to design your school.

For marketing, it supports upsells and cross-sells with promotions, coupons, and payment plans. It also has a branded mobile app that is completely white-labeled. The app supports in-app purchases and push notifications.

LearnWorlds pricing

LearnWorlds’ lowest pricing starts at $29/mo. If you are a professional trainer, you can go with a $99/mo plan and get more features like memberships, subscriptions, blog, and no transaction fee (for high-volume sales).

Note that, unlike Teachable or Kajabi, LearnWorlds is not oriented towards individual course creators. Its target audience is educational institutions.

Pros:

  • It is a completely white-labeled solution (good if you’re serving corporate clients).
  • Has iOS and Android apps with in-app purchases and push notifications.
  • Supports upsells, cross-sells, course bundles, etc.
  • It supports SCORM-compliance, best for universities.
  • It has a popup builder for lead generation.

Cons:

  • The lowest plan charges a $5 fee per course sale.
  • The basic plan lacks powerful features like a customizable course player, question banks, affiliate management, custom certificates, etc.
  • To get a completely white-labeled solution, you need to spend $299/mo.

Bottomline: LearnWorlds is the best solution for academic institutions and educators. It provides powerful features to track students’ progress and also to increase their engagement. It even comes with marketing features like upsells, cross-sells, and a popup builder to get leads and convert them.

Akshay recommends:

LearnWorlds vs Kajabi: Which is Best for Course Creators?
LearnWorlds vs Teachable: 13 Aspects Compared in Detail

Passion.io – Mobile-centric platform 📱

Passion.io logo

Passion.io (review) is an online platform that helps people create their own custom-branded apps without having to write any code. You can use it to create apps for your customers, for business purposes, or for teaching.

Creating apps in Passion.io

The app you create with Passion.io will be accessible on many devices, including smartphones, tablets, TVs, and laptops.

You’ll be also provided the option to publish these apps on the App Store and Google Play, where they can be downloaded by anyone.

Pros:

  • It is a mobile-centric platform it takes student engagement to a whole new level!
  • Comes with a built-in messaging tool that allows for push notifications to be sent to target audiences based on segment groups.
  • It has a unique goal tracking feature that helps users check-in and track their progress thus motivating them to achieve more.
  • You have the ability to design custom welcome screens and sales pages without having to use any external tools.
  • It integrates with popular third-party platforms like Calendly and Typeform for even greater functionality, making it easy to book appointments or collect students’ feedback.
  • You can also integrate Passion.io with external analytics tools like Google Analytics for enhanced data analysis.
  • Finally, it supports drip scheduling of content to encourage pro-active learning on the part of students.

Cons:

  • The platform is limited in terms of customization options, which may make it difficult for some users to achieve the exact look and feel that they want for their apps. More app building blocks are in development though.
  • The lowest plan on this platform comes with a transaction fee of 3.9% and is also limited to 100 subscribers, 100 videos, and 1,000 push notifications per month.
  • Some of the more advanced features, such as custom branding, drip functionality, and community features, are only available on the most expensive plan, which costs $297/mo.
  • Passion.io also lacks certain features like a certificate feature and course compliance features.

Bottomline: Overall, Passion.io is a great platform for those who want to create their own custom-branded app that’s instantly accessible on any platform without having to write any code. While it does have some limitations as of now, it also comes with a number of unique features that make it worth considering. If you’re ultra-serious about student engagement and want to go mobile, go for it.

TutorLMS

TutorLMS Black Friday

TutorLMS is one of the most popular WordPress LMS plugins. It is simple to use and provides a lot of features for creating, managing, and selling online courses.

Some of its key features are:

  • Frontend course builder
  • Advanced quiz builder
  • Automatic emails
  • Multi-instructor feature
  • Multiple payment gateways
  • Learning path management (helps you create a linear or non-linear learning path for the courses)
  • Course prerequisite checks
  • Gradebooks
  • Content drips
  • and more…

Although TutorLMS is cheaper than LearnDash, as it is a relatively new plugin there are fewer features, integrations, and 3rd party addons available. All the features available in TutorLMS are also available in LearnDash, plus more (mainly due to integrations being an established player).

But needless to say, TutorLMS feels fresh, and I really liked the UI/UX of the front-end drag and drop builder – it’s one of the cleanest I have seen.

Systeme.io – ClickFunnels alternative with an LMS

systeme.io logo

Systeme.io (review) is an all-in-one SaaS platform that comes with sales funnels, email marketing, a website builder, LMS, automation, webinars, and an affiliate program. This makes it an affordable alternative to ClickFunnels, Kartra, and Kajabi for course creators. If ClickFunnels had LMS features, it would be Systeme.

LMS feature in Systeme.io

Our main interest here is LMS or course creation features.

Systeme.io has a two-level structure for designing the course curriculum; modules, and lectures inside them. It also allows you to drip schedule the lectures but not modules.

Selling course bundles in Systeme.io

Course creators can even create course bundles to sell more.

Systeme.io, on the other hand, does not include many features such as communities, certificates, tests, and course compliance options that Teachable or Thinkific come with.

Map the course to funnel

Although the LMS features are limited, when you combine it with other features like email marketing, sales funnels, webinars, ability to set up your own affiliate program, it leads to the emergence of interesting new use cases to create and sell your online courses.

Thrive Learn – Pay once use for lifetime 🔥

ThriveCart logo

ThriveCart (review) has recently introduced an LMS tool called, Thrive Learn to create the courses right inside the platform. There is a premium version Learn+, which costs an additional fee to unlock extra powerful features.

Creating courses in ThriveCart

Both Learn and Learn+ allow everything unlimited (like unlimited courses, unlimited modules, unlimited lessons, and unlimited students).

Adding behavioral rules to automate the tasks in ThriveCart

ThriveCart has something called behavioral rules that helps automate the course tasks. (Refer to the screenshot above to know all the rules available).

ThiveLearn+ features

The premium features you get with Learn+ include:

  • Advanced sequences
  • Bundles
  • Team access
  • Student import
  • Featured content
  • CName functionality

ThriveCart’s unique selling proposition is its lifetime deal costing $495. Pay once, use for a lifetime.

Akshay recommends:

ThriveCart vs SamCart: Why Is Everyone Switching Away?

Teachery

Teachery

Teachery is a dedicated course platform that is popular for its simplicity. You can get started with it easily in no time.

You can add video, audio, or text as lessons or sub lessons. Like Thinkific, you can completely customize the course player to match your brand.

For marketing, it supports custom domains, affiliates, coupons, upsells, course bundles, etc.

The pricing starts at $49/mo. It doesn’t charge any transactional fees.

LifterLMS

LifterLMS

LifterLMS is one of the feature-rich WordPress LMS plugins that offers powerful features. These include – multi instructor, course export, discussion areas, course reviews, quizzes, quiz timers, content dripping, etc.

For marketing, it supports upsells, coupons, bundles, pre-selling, affiliates, and much more.

For student engagement, it supports:

  • Achievement badges
  • Certificates
  • Personalized email
  • Social learning
  • Private coaching
  • Text messaging
  • Etc.

It also supports memberships for you to earn recurring revenue. The membership features include –

  • Sitewide memberships
  • Course bundles
  • Automatic enrollment
  • Content restrictions
  • Members-only pricing
  • Private group discussion
  • Members-only forums
  • Bulk course enrollment

If you compare LifterLMS with LearnDash, LifterLMS is more expensive but it offers a free plugin to get started. Unlike LearnDash, it lacks focus mode, lesson reuse functionalities, and default payment gateways.

Ruzuku

Ruzuku logo

Ruzuku is a decent course creation platform that comes with limited features and is not feature-rich as Teachable.

It provides course templates for you to create the courses quickly. It allows multiple instructors and managers for each course (best if you are hosting courses with partners). All its plans support unlimited courses, students, storage, and data.

If you compare Ruzuku with tools like Kajabi, Ruzuku excels for its student engagement features. I liked the features it offers for student engagement. These include –

  • Live (scheduled calendar-based) courses with automatic email notifications.
  • It hosts video broadcasts with slides, group chats, and automatic recording.
  • It hosts teleconferences with slides, group chats, and automatic recording.
  • General course-wide Q&A and forum.
  • Discussion questions/prompts for specific activities/content.

Kartra

Kartra

Kartra (review) is an all-in-one marketing solution best for selling your digital and physical products. It is not suitable for courses as it is not a dedicated course creation tool. But it gets the job done with its Kartra Videos tool.

kartra video features

With Kartra Videos, you can sell your individual videos or training (series of videos). The best thing about Kartra Videos is its video engagement features. You can add social shares, call to action, show controls, show the payback speed, tag the leads based on video watch duration (which you can automate further), and much more.

Kartra provides unlimited hosting eliminating the need for external tools like Vimeo or Wistia.

Kartra video analytics

Kartra provides rich video analytics to see how students are engaging with your videos.

Kartra can be considered as an alternative to Kajabi or ClickFunnels. Kartra comes with campaigns (funnels), and has powerful email marketing and visual automation builder (excellent in building complex automations with multiple triggers). You can avail these features at a very cheaper price ($99/mo) than Kajabi or ClickFunnels. If you choose annual billing, you will get a 25% discount.

Having funnel-building functionality right inside of the LMS platform helps a lot. Particularly as Kartra comes with Behavioral Adaptive Marketing to sell the products based on the customer’s previous interaction on the site.

For example – If you are promoting fitness products, you can offer two different packages at the checkout, one for beginners and another for advanced users. Similar to this you can even promote the products based on the tags added, lists they are in, pages they visited, and much more.

The above BAM feature is its unique selling proposition.

Akshay recommends:

Podia vs Kartra: In-Depth Comparison With Review

For students

Udemy

Udemy

Udemy is a platform where instructors can create and sell online courses. It has over 40 million students enrolled in its courses and an instructor base of more than 65,000.

Udemy marketplace insights

For course creators, the marketplace insights provided by Udemy can be helpful in deciding the topic to build a course around. It helps you effectively do supply-demand analysis for online course topics, so that you can more easily stand out in the crowded marketplace.

To create a successful course on Udemy, it’s important to have top-notch video and audio content, as well as engaging discussion, prompts, and assignments.

Most of the courses available on Udemy are related to technology and business topics, so if you have expertise in these fields, Udemy may be a good platform for you to consider.

It doesn’t charge any fee to start selling your course. However, there’ll be 3% revenue share on course sales made by instructor coupons, and a 63% revenue share on all other course sales. So, you need to encourage your students to purchase your course using instructor coupons, rather than through direct sales.

Udemy can be a good way to test the waters as a course creator or to get some initial feedback. However, in order to create a stable, long-term online course business, your own audience and brand are necessary.

Pros

  • Udemy has a big marketplace of potential students, making it easier to get your course noticed.
  • It offers a range of tools (like marketplace insights) and free resources to help you build willing video courses.
  • Students get lifetime access to your course materials.

Cons

  • Udemy’s revenue share is very high (at 63%) if you don’t encourage your students to purchase through instructor coupons.
  • You don’t own your audience.
  • The courses need to be much longer (typically 5 hours or more) to be successful depending upon the niche.

Bottomline: Udemy can be a helpful platform if you’re just starting out as an online course creator. Since its revenue share is very high, to create a sustainable business, you’ll eventually need to build your own audience and brand.

Skillshare

Skillshare

Skillshare is the perfect place for creatives and creators to thrive. With its focus on creativity, Skillshare is ideal for those who want to create and share their work with the world.

You can find many courses related to creative topics on Skillshare, such as design, photography, and video editing.

However, it is important to note that this is not the only type, of course, you can find it on Skillshare. There are also technical courses available, such as coding and web development.

Whether Skillshare is right for you ultimately depends on you and your audience. But people paying to Skillshare are mostly looking for creative courses, so if you are more focused on technical topics, it may be better to look at Udemy or other platforms.

There are two ways by which you can earn from Skillshare.

  1. Royalty system: Skillshare pays out monthly based on the number of minutes that paid subscribers have viewed your content. If a student views 10 minutes of your video 2x speed, you’ll be paid only for 5 minutes. Teachers earn between $0.05 and $0.10 per minute watched, on average. It’s a volume game.
  2. 60% of the student’s first subscription payment (after the trial) will be paid to you as a referral income. As the subscription fee itself is low on Skillshare, this way of earning from SkillShare is unpopular.

Pros:

  • The platform is very focused on creativity and also demands the courses to be short. This can be a great fit for some instructors.
  • You have the potential to earn more as you get more students watching your videos.

Cons:

  • As you’ll be earning based on the minutes watched, this could lead to a lot of work with a little payoff if your videos aren’t being watched by many people. You need to have a big audience for this to work. At this point, you may be better off with your own self-hosted course.
  • The subscription fee is low, which means that you won’t earn much from referrals either.

Bottomline: Skillshare is a great platform for creative instructors, but it may not be the right fit for technical or business-focused topics. Unless you have a huge audience, you can’t earn good money from their royalties system. It’s a volume game.

Brilliant.org

Brilliant.org

If you’re looking for a way to boost your skills in math, science, and computer science, look no further than Brilliant.org. With interactive lessons that are both fun and challenging, Brilliant can help you build the quantitative skills you need to succeed in any field.

I really liked their interactive classes on computer science, especially Artificial Intelligence. It helped me understand how AI is inspired by our human brain, and how it is used to create better search algorithms.

It really helps students in STEM fields learn the foundational skills from first principles (bottom-up approach), and then apply them in creative ways. It comes with 60+ bite-sized courses to expedite your learning process.

One more thing I really liked is how it challenges you with strategic problems and when you solve them, you not only improve your problem-solving ability but also increase your understanding of the concepts.

After using Brilliant, there’s no going back to old theoretical explanations.

Coursera

Coursera

Coursera is an online education platform that offers courses from universities all over the world. Some top universities that offer online courses through Coursera are Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton.

With more than 5,300 courses, it offers a wide range of subjects, from business and management to science and technology. Take courses taught by experts in your field or explore topics of particular interest to you.

Some of the most popular courses are:

  • Machine Learning from Stanford University.
  • Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects from Deep Teaching Solutions.
  • Foundations of Project Management from Google.
  • English for Career Development from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python).

Plus, many of the courses are free. You just need to sign up on the Coursera website, and you can get started right away. But if you need a certificate to show for your work, you’ll have to pay a fee.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight

If you’re looking to learn about technology (like coding, software development, IT ops, cloud computing, etc.) Pluralsight is the perfect place for you. With over 7000+ courses and 1500+ instructors to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one for you. And with instructors from companies like Google and Microsoft, you know you’re in good hands. Plus, there’s a great self-assessment feature that will help you find the right course for you.

Here are the top features I liked the most with Pluralsight especially compared to Udemy:

  • Paths: Curated selection of courses based on interests and weaknesses, with progress insights on your own personalized dashboard.
  • Flow: Visibility into your work/course progress with the team for immediate feedback and accountability.
  • Skill Assessment: Test to identify the skills you are lacking in and recommend courses.
  • Cloud Labs: Pre-configured cloud station for practicing learnings from courses (for cloud computing).

On the other hand, Udemy courses are just pre-recorded videos (with some quizzes, of course), making pro-active student engagement optional.

When it comes to pricing, you need to pay $19 per month to get unlimited access to Pluralsight. Compared to it, Udemy feels quite cheaper (especially with those $10 coupons). But if you plan on taking multiple courses on a monthly basis, Pluralsight can save you more money.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) helps businesses and professionals to develop the right skills (mainly soft skills & professional skills) to build their careers. With over 27 million users and 17,000+ courses, it is one of the largest online course providers.

It recommends courses based on people’s roles, learning activities, skills, and more. It has a Q&A section to increase the user’s engagement.

To access the quality of the courses, you can sign up for its one-month free trial. If you are keen to adapt to new skills and want to advance in career growth, LinkedIn Learning is the best to go with.

Shaw Academy

Shaw Academy

Shaw Academy gives you online courses in almost all the categories like photography, marketing, business, tech, design, music, and much more. It provides course certifications helping students grow their career.

With a subscription, you will get:

  • Live educator chat support
  • 20+ hours of learning per course
  • Exams & continuous assessments
  • Unique lessons curated by in-house experts
  • Lifetime access to all lessons
  • Globally accredited certifications

Note: Some users say that it is a fraud company and they won’t offer a refund if you cancel the subscription, so you need to be careful while paying for the courses. Better you look at the other platforms on this list, rather than putting yourself in trouble with this platform.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy

Khan Academy helps students learn various academic subjects like math, economics, computer science, history, etc. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a free, world-class education to anyone.

Students can study independently outside of the classroom using exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard. But the one thing students hate with this platform is its reward and punish feature for tests/quizzes (punishing will demotivate the students and resists them in retaking the tests).

If you are genuinely interested in learning the concepts to grow further in your academics, Khan Academy would be the best choice.

Edx

Edx

Edx is one of the most valued platforms with over 3,000+ online courses and 300+ programs available from over 160+ institutions ( these include Texas, Boston, Columbia, etc. You can complete your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at your own pace with Edx.

You will get top courses on AI & digital transformation, finance, investment, data & analysis, blockchain, etc.

Its courses are very interactive and come with graded assignments to ensure students are learning seriously. It is worth spending the money.

Conclusion

This is all about the best online course platforms. For course creators, Teachable would be the top course platform, if you want a SaaS solution.

If you need advanced marketing features along with automations and funnels, Kajabi is the way to go. If you need an affordable platform to sell digital products along with courses, I recommend Podia.

If you need a WordPress-based LMS solution, LearnDash or TutorLMS are the plugins to go with.

If you are a student, you can go with Udemy or Brilliant. The courses on these platforms help in building your career.

Akshay HallurAbout me

Hi, I’m Akshay Hallur. The founder of this blog BloggingX and many other online ventures.

I’m a professional full-time blogger, a digital marketer, and a trainer. I’m here to help bloggers like you to create an outstanding blog and earn money from it.

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I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to the blogging community. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media networks. SHARING IS ♥️

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