Online Course Platforms Decoded: Which One is Right for You?

This in-depth exploration of online course platforms helps navigate the landscape of e-learning businesses. Get insights into each platform's capabilities and discover why WordPress could be your perfect match for online education endeavors.

Online Course Platforms Decoded: Which One is Right for You?
Photo by Lewis Keegan / Unsplash


  • Online courses are a powerful way to share knowledge and create income.
  • There are three primary types of platforms to sell online courses:
    • Marketplaces: Platforms like Udemy or Skillshare with high traffic and zero upfront cost, but it can be challenging to rank high due to high competition.
    • All-in-one Hosted Platforms: Services like Kajabi or Thinkific offer comprehensive features but can lack flexibility as business needs grow.
    • Open-source Platforms: WordPress, combined with LearnDash, provides complete customization and flexibility. New services like LearnDash Cloud make it cost-effective and user-friendly.
  • WordPress, despite its criticisms, offers great benefits and flexibility, making it an appealing platform for selling online courses.
  • Further guidance on setting up an online course using LearnDash Cloud will be shared in an upcoming post.

In our increasingly digital world, online courses have become an enticing offering for individuals seeking to share their knowledge and expertise. The opportunity to package your understanding into a sellable product, accessible by thousands on the internet, can lead to a potentially limitless income stream. As someone who manages websites for individuals selling online courses and witnessing their six to seven-figure earnings, I can confidently vouch for the validity of this concept. However, a primary concern for many aspiring course creators is how and where to sell their online courses. In this blog post, we delve into the three major online course platforms to help you make an informed decision.

Online Course Platforms – An Overview

While there are hundreds of companies that allow you to sell your online courses, they can essentially be categorized into three distinct types:

Marketplaces: Think Udemy or Skillshare. These are platforms where users are already searching for topics and enrolling in courses based on search results. The advantage here is zero upfront cost. Simply upload your course, rank high in search results, and voila, you'll find customers. There's no need for an existing audience or any marketing effort. However, due to the dense population of courses, securing a top ranking can be challenging, making it hard to gain traffic and stand out.

All-in-one Hosted Platforms: Platforms such as Kajabi or Thinkific are often promoted by influencers or business gurus for their ease and accessibility. For a few hundred dollars a month, you gain a comprehensive suite of features, including a community, an online course, a website builder, a funnel builder, and email marketing. However, many users find that as their business grows and their needs diversify, these platforms lack the flexibility and advanced functionality needed. The result is often a hodgepodge of additional services, causing more trouble than they're worth.

Open-source Platforms: Primarily represented by WordPress and associated software such as LearnDash, these platforms allow complete customization to fit your unique business needs. They offer great flexibility and the ability to modify or add to the code to create custom features if a desired plugin doesn't already exist. Another significant advantage is portability - if you're unhappy with your hosting service, you can easily switch without impacting your customers or forcing them to set up new accounts, unlike the all-in-one platforms.

Why WordPress Might Be Your Best Bet

Despite criticisms about its complexity and room for improvement in the sign-up process, WordPress, particularly when combined with LearnDash, offers an appealing solution for many. New services such as LearnDash Cloud have emerged, allowing you to host a powerful website and run LearnDash for as little as $30 a month (or $300 a year, if paid annually). This makes it a cost-effective alternative to the more expensive all-in-one platforms.

Of course, you'll likely need additional services like email marketing software or a landing page builder, but for just testing the waters with a course, it's a financially accessible option. And as your business expands, you can always outsource the management of your WordPress site to experts.

In conclusion, while WordPress has its flaws, the potential benefits and flexibility it offers make it an attractive platform for selling online courses. Services like LearnDash Cloud make the platform more accessible and user-friendly for beginners, meaning you can start sharing your knowledge with the world without breaking the bank.

In an upcoming blog post, I will be setting up my own online course using LearnDash Cloud. If you have any queries or aspects you'd like to know about, feel free to leave a comment below. If you found this guide helpful, consider subscribing for more tips and insights. Until the next post, happy course creating!

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