The online course business is booming. Estimated to hit $1 trillion by 2030, there’s a huge pie out there to divvy up. And whether you’re an established creator or you’re just starting to think about selling your knowledge, it’s still a great time to start.
Although there’s more competition than ever, there’s also more appetite for online courses than ever. We’re getting used to online learning, in some cases with online courses even replacing traditional colleges or universities – as is the case with Google’s new, free courses.
So if you’re ready to build an online course, you’ve probably hit the question all course creators come up against:
“Where can I sell online courses?”
In this article, we’re going to walk you through the best platforms to sell courses online. We’ll tell you what to look for in a course-selling platform, and give you an idea for how to choose.
Let’s get it!
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In this article...
Why sell courses online?
People sell courses online for a lot of different reasons, but there are three that we’ve seen over and over again.
- To share your expertise, experience, or passion. If there’s something that moves you—whether it’s your personal history or your encyclopedic knowledge of ‘90s sitcoms—there’s something to potentially build your course around. And there are plenty of people out there who share your same passions or motivations and who would be stoked to join you.
- To launch a new revenue stream. Let’s be honest. Figuring out where to sell online courses is also about bringing in income. Whether you’re targeting an existing audience or you’re starting from scratch, you can build an experience that’s so valuable, potential members will pay to be a part of it.
- To re-zhuzh or monetize content you’ve already produced. That’s right! You can also monetize older content that you created in the past. There’s a good chance that people will be willing to pay a premium for access, especially if it helps them change a habit, navigate a challenge, or accomplish something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve on their own.
When it comes to creating online courses—or launching an online course, or finding the best platform to sell courses online—there’s just one thing to remember: Your course is less about what you’re teaching, and more about what your participants are learning when they join you.
What to look for in an online course-selling platform?
To best set yourself up for success, there are a few key features to look for in an online course platform. Let’s take a closer look.
A beautiful LMS
Ok, so the actual platform for creating your course should let you build what you want to. This seems pretty obvious, but not all course-selling platforms are created equally. More than one course creator has bumped up against the limitations of their platform.
We’d advocate for a platform that lets you organize and create content well, but that also adds features like course discussions, events, and live streaming.
This caliber of LMS will let you choose between delivering courses live or pre-recorded, as well as dripping content out if you want.
You should also consider how important it is for you to present your own brand in the course. Some of the options below, like Skillshare and Udemy give you almost no branding options, while others give you total control of the brand. You’ll need to think through whether this matters to you or not.
Oh, and one more thing. Apps. If your audience can access your course via an app, it will make them WAY more likely to actually do the course – since fewer and fewer people even have a desktop computer. Trying to access a WordPress course in your mobile browser is a recipe for frustration.
Courses bring together a group of people with shared interests, taking them on a journey to master something interesting together. And as we mentioned above, establishing a community space alongside your course will be superbly beneficial, both to you and to your participants.
When you allow your course members to connect directly with each other—through posts, direct messages, office hours, and more—you give them the chance to tap into each other’s stories and experiences to fuel progress.
Even better? A platform that gives your members a way to offer feedback and share their ideas. Whether it’s via a recurring virtual event—like a weekly live Q&A session—or simply a poll feature, feedback can be crucial to improving your course down the line. Plus, it will help you make sure your course content is in line with what your members want and need.
At the end of the day, that’s exactly what you’re going for. And the best platform to sell courses online will provide just that.
An course-selling platform with options
Picture it: You start using a white label online course platform that offers just that: the ability to run an online course. Eventually, you have to start using another platform to nurture your course community. Then another, to start a membership subscription. Before you know it, you’re juggling a variety of third-party apps which is both stressful and expensive.
It’s not exactly an ideal situation, right?
That’s why it’s so, so important to choose an online course platform that has the potential to evolve with you. Because even if you’re looking to start small (which is a great idea, btw), you’ll want plenty of room to grow.
The best way to do that is to pick an online course selling platform that enables you to do more than, well, just selling courses. Instead, look for an option that gives you plenty of ways to expand. That way, whether you add in a mastermind group, a membership site, or host a couple of virtual conferences, you can do so without a bunch of pricey third-party applications.
A great online course isn’t just about educating your ideal students. It’s also about creating a viable and sustainable course business. The platform you choose should give you the ability to create this business, to charge for access and sell packages, easy checkouts, to make sure you can be profitable without adding a ton of friction in jumping between platforms. Oh, and also, we're looking for options to sell in currencies that aren't the U.S. dollar PLUS the opportunity to use social tokens.
Where can I sell online courses? 9 Options
You’ve made it to the good part! Now that we’ve explored how to structure an online course for success and what features to look for in an online course selling platform, let’s dig a little deeper and look at a few of the best platforms to sell courses online.
1. Mighty Networks
Best platform to sell courses online
Mighty Networks is a powerful cultural software that gives you an all-in-one course and community platform. This lets creators bring courses, community, content, and commerce together in one place, under their own brand, instantly available on the web, iOS, and Android.
Mighty Spaces lets you customize a powerful course-building engine for either cohort courses OR pre-recorded courses -- or you can mix and match. Mighty gives you elegant, intuitive online courses PLUS an amazing community built-in.
With your own Mighty Network, you get a little bit of everything: the tools to create a virtual community, teach an online course, add some killer live events, and much, much more.
- Lots of community-building features. Discussion boards, polls, live-event integrations, and more. Plus, members can also connect on a deeper level with member profiles, a robust activity feed, and private direct messaging.
- Tools to run a course whatever way you like. Remember when we talked about the three different ways to run your course? A Mighty Network enables you to do each one, based on your style. You can run a course live, alongside a dedicated course community, or you can close your course and limit the community aspect.
- A win for availability. A Mighty Network is accessible on the web and native mobile apps (that’s Android and iOS). Creators with even more robust followings can align with Mighty Pro, where they get their own branded app—without years of custom app development.
- It can evolve with you. Yes, a Mighty Network lets you combine course and community in whatever fashion best serves you. But it also gives you room to expand in the future, with the option for paid groups (mastermind, anyone?), membership tiers, and more.
Bottom line: Mighty Networks is the best platform to sell courses online and was ranked the best community platform by the tech-ranking site, G2. It’s the only platform that lets you run a community alongside your course in one place, without having to keep up with a variety of third-party apps. Plus, it makes building a course easy (and beautiful!).
Good course-only platform (no community)
Teachable is a popular online course platform with plenty of features to make building and selling online courses a breeze. It has a great course-building engine that’s pretty intuitive to use.
Still, when it comes to other tools—whether it’s community-centered features or native apps—the platform is lacking.
Pros of Teachable
- A good variety of course features. If you’ve been researching where to sell online courses, Teachable has probably popped up a few times. The platform has a robust set of tools for course creation, enabling you to create anything from multimedia lectures to coaching sessions. Its built-in editor gives you a way to present different types of content.
- Monetization and marketing. Teachable makes it easy to monetize your course and offers you a set of analytics to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. You can even recruit past students or other creators to market your course and sell it with the affiliate program.
Cons of Teachable
- No community building features. While Teachable does offer opportunities for course leaders to connect one-on-one with their students, the platform has no community-building features to speak of. That’s a huge missed opportunity, not only for connecting course members with each other but for impact and growth down the line.
- Missing Android App. Teachable has an app, but only for iOS. Furthermore, it’s limited in scope: Members can access their Teachable course, but they can’t view lectures or attachments, and they can’t stream videos.
Bottom line: While Teachable is certainly a contender for best platform to sell courses online, its lack of community features and native apps means it can only expand with you so much.
Best comprehensive course marketing platform
Kajabi is an online course selling platform that enables users to sell and market their online courses in one place. The platform touts itself as a place to integrate subscriptions, courses, and other digital products in one place, and it’s known for its strong marketing tools.
Pros of Kajabi
- Robust customization. Kajabi has a pretty powerful website builder that lets you create landing pages and product pages without a bunch of coding know-how. And as we mentioned above, the platform also lets users bring together every part of their digital business—from courses to subscriptions—in one place. It’s the complex marketing funnels that really make Kajabi shine, although whether they’re worth the high cost is debatable (below)
- A new mobile app. Kajabi recently released a new mobile app, so creators and members can access online course content on the go. It’s absolutely a plus that Kajabi has recently expanded its focus to mobile availability.
Cons of Kajabi
- No community-building features. Kajabi tends to mention its community features as an afterthought, perhaps because today, those features are pretty limited. Members can interact with each other, but only through a static community feed. With the comprehensive community options being offered by other all-in-ones, this is a miss.
- It’s REALLY expensive. Kajabi is expensive, double what you pay for some of the alternatives. And really, you’re paying for a marketing platform, but not a course platform, community, or the other things that will actually make people fall in love with your brand.
Bottom line: Is Kajabi the best platform for selling online courses? It depends on what tools you need. Kajabi’s features, especially customization and marketing, are very robust. But when it comes to features that enable and nurture those oh-so-essential connections between your members—the same connections that enable your digital business’ growth—Kajabi still has a long way to go.
Best for exposure for creatives
Skillshare is probably the world’s best-known course marketplace. Instead of selling your course directly, you put it up and thousands of Skillshare members can have access to it. But, while the built-in audience can be a plus and a great place to get exposure, most course creators won’t make much on Skillshare.
This makes Skillshare one of the best spots to TAKE a course, but whether it’s the right spot to TEACH your course is a different question.
Pros of Skillshare
- The course marketplace. Members pay a recurring fee to access Skillshare’s marketplace, which is made up of thousands of courses on just about everything (although it’s best-known for its creative ones). The great news is that you can get eyes on your course. The bad news is the money – which we’ll cover below.
- The projects. One of the best-kept secrets of Skillshare is the fact that many of the courses help you build real-world projects, you can see what others have built and, depending on the course creator’s availability, can get feedback on your own project.
Cons of Skillshare
- High competition. Skillshare has a lot of courses on there. If you’re going to make yours seen, you’ll have to have a really specific niche, without a ton of competition.
- Low compensation. Skillshare takes part of its overall membership revenue and divides it among creators according to their watch time. If your course doesn’t have a lot of viewers, especially if you’re starting out, you probably won’t make much.
- Low creativity. Skillshare is a platform creators love. But when it comes to adding your own style to your course delivery, you’re pretty limited. There’s not much of your own brand, and you teach pre-recorded, asynchronous courses, according to Skillshare’s guidelines.
Bottom line: Skillshare is a great place to get seen, and there’s a built-in audience. But it’s pretty uncertain whether you’re going to be one of the lucky ones who can build a successful, predictable stream of income on it.
Best marketplace for courses
Since we’re talking about online course marketplaces, we should talk about one of the other big ones: Udemy. By most accounts, Udemy is a much better platform than Skillshare for creators because of it's revenue model, but it lacks some of the flair for users.
Pros of Udemy
- Marketplace. Like Skillshare, Udemy is a marketplace with thousands of people who come every day looking for courses. This can make it easier to find people to take your course.
- Monetization. While not as good as owning your own platform, Udemy does have a better revenue model than Skillshare for creatives. It lets creators keep 97% of the revenue for users they bring to the site. And if a student finds the course through searching on Udemy, you get 37%. Some might argue that this is worth it because those are customers you wouldn’t otherwise have. Some might see it as unfair that Udemy keeps so much. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you.
- App. Udemy does have a solid app that works across devices, and even streams to Chromecast or Apple TV.
Cons of Udemy
- Monetization. We talked about this above, but only keeping 37% of your revenue from some of your sales could be considered a con too.
- No community. You don’t really have a way to build relationships with your students on Udemy – other than the limited chat function. You can’t even have their emails. You can’t build your customer base – they’re Udemy’s customers, not yours.
- No customization. Like with Skillshare, you’re limited with how you style your course and have limited delivery options.
Best course-only platform
If you’re trying to figure out where to sell online courses, you’ve probably come across Thinkific. Thinkific is a great contender in this space, with a really solid course platform and a lot of design options for landing pages. It gives you different ways to get your content to your students (ie. dripping), and lots of customization tools.
Pros of Thinkific
- Course Platform. The course platform itself is really solid, with different customization options for building your course plus options to build landing pages.
- Monetization. Thinkific gives you a fairly good monetization model, and gives you flexibility in creating subscription fees, paid memberships, coupons, and discounts.
Cons of Thinkific
- No community. Thinkific doesn’t offer a community option, which is a shame because community can add so much value to a course.
- No app. Thinkific still doesn’t offer a mobile app, which is a serious miss. Most people expect to be able to access their courses on mobile, and several of the comparable options on this list do come with a mobile app.
Bottom Line: Thinkific is a good option and solid course platform, but it's missing some of the features of its competitors like Kajabi or Mighty Networks, which both come with mobile apps.
Best WordPress LMS
To round out this list, we’ll include a few WordPress options for the best platform to sell an online course. If you don’t already have a website built on WordPress, skip this section – because the other options will be a better fit and won’t require web development.
Even if you do have a website built on WordPress, it’s debatable that a plugin is really the best way to get an online course. All-in-one platforms can integrate smoothly with WordPress as a subdomain.
But nevertheless, let’s talk about LearnDash.
Pros of LearnDash
- Decent Platform. LearnDash is a pretty decent LMS for WordPress, and it’s inexpensive. It gives you the ability to create an online course, much like you'd create blog posts, and it comes with different features to serve your students, add tests and exams, drip content, and more.
Cons of LearnDash
- Complicated. As a WordPress plugin, LearnDash isn’t simple. Many creators need to hire developers to set it up, and there’s a steep learning curve to get a great course. You’ll probably need another plugin or two to add the actual course checkout and digital download capability, which adds complexity and cost. Plus, WordPress plugins are prone to glitches and require regular updates.
- Customization is hard. If you want to add your own brand to LearnDash, you’re probably looking at hiring a developer again for some custom coding.
- No app
Bottom Line: If you’re a diehard WordPress fan who insists on a plugin for a course LearnDash might be an option. Bonus if you know how to code and can actually customize it. But for most creators, LearnDash is a lot of work and headache for a pretty limited benefit.
WordPress + LearnDash integration for community
When we talked about LearnDash above, we mentioned that you’ll need a different WordPress plugin to get other features for your online courses like sales, gating content, and a community. Memberful is a plugin that can pair with LearnDash to do all this.
Pros of Memberful
- Makes LearnDash a functional business. If you’re using LearnDash, Memberful makes it a complete course package for a business.
- Adds community. It can add community to a LearnDash course, which is a great thing to add!
Cons of Memberful
- Too complicated. As we talked about above, using Memberful + LearnDash is basically just going to give you more complexity, and the two together still don’t have nearly the features of the all-in-ones we mentioned above.
Bottom Line: This combo is only for hardcore WordPress users, ideally with a bit of coding knowledge.
Rounding out our list of the best platforms to sell courses online, let’s finish with Podia. Podia is basically a much cheaper but much more limited version of Kajabi. It’s got some of the same features, like built-in marketing options and email, plus it works for coaches to integrate their calendars to book sessions.
Pros of Podia
- Course features. Podia works well for creating digital products like webinars, selling memberships, or integrating downloads like audiobooks or PDFs. The course platform itself is clean and easy to use, although quite limited in features.
- Marketing. As we said, Podia is sort of like a Kajabi lite. It has a basic email marketing system built in, as well as custom landing pages, and some bonus marketing features like an affiliate program.
Cons of Podia
- Basic. Although it makes for a clean design, Podia’s course features will hardly wow your students. It’s extremely basic and doesn’t look like much more than a blog post.
- No mobile app. With no mobile app, it’s questionable if students can get the value they need from Podia.
Want to try Mighty Networks?
Since you’re looking for the best platform to sell courses online, why not give Mighty Networks a try for free? It’s an elegant and responsive course-building and community platform that will give you a business your audience will love.
It’s also the only platform that gives you plenty of room to grow: Down the line, you can expand with memberships, mastermind groups, virtual conferences, and more. The best part? Your members can access your course anytime, anywhere, whether it’s on the web or via native mobile app.