It’s a great time to join the creator economy and share what you know with an online course. As you’ve probably noticed, we’re living through an online education boom.
Choosing the best software for creating online courses can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur selling a product, a yoga instructor expanding into offering an online course, or an artist looking to create a network for fellow creatives. Choosing the best course creation software is your first major step toward success.
With that in mind, we’re going to define what online course creation software is, tackle the key features to look out for, and look at 10 different options for the most powerful course creation tools today.
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In this article…
What is online course creation software?
Online course software gives you the framework to easily design, build, and deliver awesome course content to your members. The best software gives you different ways to serve your students, including dripped coursework or live lessons.
The best online course software will do four things:
- Allow you to organize your content in an engaging and easily digestible way.
- Enable you to build and foster a thriving community around your online course where your participants can connect with each other.
- Give you a high level of customizability which will help you grow your overall business as the needs of your course community expand and change.
- Let you do all of the above with ONE program – not 10.
Ideally, a piece of online course creation software will provide you a platform with built-in features so you can focus on what’s most important: building a quality online course and experience for your course community.
5 things to watch for when choosing online course software
There are plenty of options available to you when choosing the best online course creation software. And not all course creation software is made equal. Below are our top 5 areas to keep in mind when choosing the best online course creation platform for your business.
- Customization: You want an online course platform that offers you flexibility and customization. When you have the option to grow your course content as you learn more about your community, it will lead to more interaction and revenue.
- Community: The best online course software will allow you to host more than just a course. It will help you foster a community. Look for online course software that provides a wide variety of community-forward features (small groups, discussion boards, direct messaging, etc.) to help interact with your students, but more importantly, for your students to interact with each other.
- Monetization: People pay attention to what they pay for. You’ll want to be able to provide flexibility for payments (think monthly, annual, or one-time fees) and charge not only for your courses but potentially for access to the community itself. And you want to make those transactions seamless for your members.
- Pricing: Just like your members, you too, should care about what you pay for. Many online course creation software solutions will offer similar features and it can be hard to discern which is right for your needs. The pricing structure of the platforms will be a key deciding factor in the end.
- Availability: The best online course software will make your content available in as many ways as possible. If your members can access the community or course from a variety of places they will be more invested. Online course software that can be built for and across the web, iOS, and Android is a must.
The 10 best online course creation software options
All that said, here’s a list of what we consider the best software in 2022 for building online courses and communities that thrive and build revenue.
1. Mighty Networks
Best all-in-one with community
Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that lets you bring courses, community, content, and commerce together in one place, under your own brand and domain name, instantly available on web, iOS and Android.
And Mighty's flexible Spaces have a ton of great community-building tools baked in, like polls, video, live streaming, live events, and full-length articles.
And when it comes to building courses, Mighty gives you elegant and intuitive course creation software that will let you organize, build, and test your course with the choice to deliver content live or pre-recorded.
Best of all, each course brings community into it, meaning that your members engage and meet each other in the course itself. It’s perfect for Q&As, discussions, commenting, and more.
- Customization: If there’s one thing that Mighty Networks does better than any other platform, it’s providing you with the tools you need to build an online community. You can make public and private groups, allow for discussion boards, and direct messaging between members. On top of that, Mighty Networks has the same interaction tools you’d find on social media platforms. Users can post, comment, and cheer each other on. For every course and subgroup, you can also add your own themes and branding.
- Availability: When you use a Mighty Network your users will be able to access your branded community wherever they are across the web and with the Mighty Networks app available on Android and iOS. When you upgrade to Mighty Pro, you can even have your own branded app in the app store! And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the member reviews of the Mighty Networks app are positive.
- Monetization: Mighty Networks offers plenty of options for you to monetize your online course and community through subscriptions and membership pages that can be charged annually and monthly. You can sell courses, community members, subgroup membership, or bundles of any of these, in 135 different currencies or even with token-gating.
- Pricing: When you build your online course on Mighty Networks you can do everything you need: online courses, communities, events, and more for a lower price– starting from $99/mo with course functionality.
- Mighty Networks doesn’t have the complex email marketing systems and landing page builders that some course platforms have. It focuses on a community-led course instead.
Bottom line: A Mighty Network is part of a new breed of network effect platforms that are delivering incredible results, more revenue, and better member experiences for half the cost of combining multiple single feature platforms (or separate course and community platforms). And now there’s even live streaming!
Teachable is an online course creation platform that sells itself as having “painless” customization and focuses on “easy-to-use features and fewer tech headaches.” It’s a popular course platform and is known for its custom landing pages and affiliate program.
- Customization: Teachable boasts robust customization features on its platform. They have a “power editor” that allows creators to build engaging multimedia lectures, videos, and coaching sessions. In addition to live meeting and coaching features, you can post quizzes and third-party surveys to interact with your members.
- Monetization: Making it simple for your members to subscribe to your course and pay is important to the growth of your business. Teachable offers analytics for you to track your sales and members’ activity, and a variety of options for designing enticing sales pages. On top of that, if you’re looking for ways to pay members in leadership positions, Teachable has features for that too.
- Community: While Teachable has a number of great features to customize your course, they have less of an emphasis on building a community with their online course software. You can schedule live sessions with students, but as we said above, adding a community gives a huge boost to course completion and member satisfaction.
- Pricing: If you choose Teachable, you could be paying more for less. While their low introductory price of $29 seems reasonable, this doesn't take into account the money you'll spend on integration to create an online community to supplement your courses like Circle ($39-99/month). And at $29/month you'll be locked out of many of their features and will likely be pushed to upgrade to their standard plan at $99/month. What that means is the $29/month you thought you'd be paying quickly transforms into close to $200/month to get all the functionality you want.
- Availability: While Teachable does have an app, they describe it as ”supplementary” to the website and it’s only available on iOS. That’s not great: Your members’ ability to access your online course anywhere they are is important. And choosing an online course creation software platform that offers a native app should be a top priority in your decision-making.
Kajabi is a well-known online course creation platform with a focus on the marketing and business side of things. Their goal is to “transform your expertise into polished, profitable digital products.”
- Marketing: Without a doubt, Kajabi’s strongest feature is its complex marketing system. It lets you build email sequences and landing pages, plus gives you options to customize and optimize your sales funnel.
- Customization: Choosing an online course creation platform that lets you build your content easily is important. Kajabi has a powerful website builder for you to create a central hub for your online course and community. You can build landing pages and product pages for your courses with no-code software.
- Monetization: Kajabi has excelled at designing a platform where you can monetize your online course. They offer payment options through Stripe and Paypal. They also don’t take a cut of your revenues (a trade-off for higher monthly membership prices).
- Community: At the end of the day, people are what make an online course possible. And we’re learning more and more about the power of online communities to accompany a course. But Kajabi has limited features when it comes to actually building an online community around your course. Many people building courses on Kajabi who want community end up turning to Facebook groups to try to add that function for their students.
- Availability: Recently Kajabi has released a mobile app for creators and members to use the platform on the go. However, they do not offer creators a white-label mobile app for users with bigger brands or for enterprises.
- Pricing: Kajabi is extremely expensive compared to the alternatives. Their "Basic" plan costs a whopping $119/month and that's before any integrations that you'll need to create the experience you want for your business. We've already talked about Kajabi's bare-bones community features, so you’re basically paying for an LMS and marketing features – which you can get elsewhere for less.
Some creators are looking for a place to build a course that has an audience built-in. We call this a course marketplace. While there are many disadvantages to course marketplaces, which we'll talk about, the one advantage is that they come with their own online course software.
One of the best-known course marketplaces out there is Skillshare. Skillshare is especially popular for creative courses.
- Platform: Skillshare makes it easy to build and deliver a course. Although the course creation software is very simple, it does the job.
- Marketing: Skillshare doesn't actually give you all that much in terms of marketing, but it does come with a built-in community of people looking to learn.
- Availability: Skillshare does have a fantastic app available for all devices.
- Community: There's not much on Skillshare to let you build community. With the exception of uploading your projects and giving and receiving feedback, there 's almost no community feature on Skillshare to speak of.
- Monetization: Skillshare is free to build and upload your course, but it also has a terrible monetization structure. It basically takes a portion of the revenue and divides it among creators based on the hours people watched their course. This might sound fair in theory, but it ends up punishing new course creators, especially when Skillshare already has more popular courses or "recommended" courses in your niche that outrank yours.
Thinkific is an online course creation software that comes with a drag-and-drop website creator and a set of course marketing tools.
- Customization: There’s lots of opportunities to customize Thinkific sites and courses, with a drag-and-drop builder and lots of templates to work off of. You can also customize course delivery options, like dripping content.
- Pricing: Thinkific is reasonably priced, and even has a (limited) free option to start with.
- Community: Thinkific does have an online community feature, but it’s pretty limited in terms of functionality. It’s basically just a simple forum, and missing comprehensive community-building features like polls, articles, or live streaming.
- Availability: Thinkific doesn’t have a mobile app, which makes it a lot more difficult to serve your course members and help them finish.
Podia is a membership and digital downloads platform that also gives you the option to sell a course. It has many of the same features as Kajabi, but it's definitely a lot more basic.
Here's what you need to know about Podia:
- Marketing: Podia comes with a great set of marketing features, including built-in email, special offers, and funnels. It's sort of like a budget version of Kajabi; the marketing systems aren't quite as good, but it's much cheaper.
- Monetization: Podia has a good set of monetization features, and makes it easy to sell memberships, digital downloads, courses, and coaching, and to easily connect a payment system.
- Customization: the customization options for Podia are extremely limited. The LMS is very simple, and doesn't have a lot of room to add your own flavor.
- Community: Podia’s community option is basically a simple forum that gives you a few options for posts and adding videos. It lacks many of the features that a more comprehensive all-in-one like Mighty Networks has.
- Availability: Podia doesn’t have a mobile app.
As far as the best online course creation software goes, it’s far from the top. But it IS WordPress specific – which some users might be looking for. It probably also needs to be integrated with another plugin for content gating and sales.
- Customization: LearnDash is customizable. But we should point out that you’ll probably need to do a lot of custom development to actually get the look you want.
- Pricing: The single biggest advantage to LearnDash is its cost. It’s cheap, starting from $159 per year, which is about what Kajabi charges monthly.
- Monetization: LearnDash will probably need to be paired with a monetization and checkout plugin like Easy Digital Downloads to actually make it possible to sell courses from your WordPress site. Again, you might be looking for a developer to tie all this together, and it can slow down your site a lot and introduce longer load times.
- Community: LearnDash is simply an LMS. There’s no built-in community, you’d have to be adding more plugins to get any sort of community functionality or, again, mix it with another platform.
- Availability: LearnDash doesn’t have a mobile app.
Udemy is another course creation software that’s also a course marketplace. Like Skillshare, which we talked about above, this model has pros and cons.
- Marketing: Again, Udemy doesn't have an exceptionally good marketing platform. But it does have a bunch of people showing up who want to buy courses.
- Monetization: While the monetization isn't exceptional, Udemy does have a better structure than Skillshare. With Udemy, creators keep 37% of revenue from students who find the course via the marketplace, and the creator keeps 97% of revenue if students come direct (e.g. through a link shared on social).
- App: The Udemy app is great, and works well for all devices.
- Customization: Although the course builder is decent, there's very little option to customize your course – it needs to match Udemy standards.
- Community: Udemy doesn't have any community to speak of. In fact, you don't really have access to your students' contact info, even if you wanted to invite them to one.
9. Mighty Pro
Mighty Pro is the totally white label community platform, and premium version of Mighty Networks. It has the same powerful course engine that Mighty Networks has, but it allows you to offer courses and programs completely on your own branded mobile app.
It’s the online course creation software used by Marisa Peer, a world-renowned speaker and therapist, where she sells membership and courses completely under her own brand
- Customization: With Mighty Pro, you get complete customization over your course and brand. We’ll work with you to make sure you get the course and app that fits your brand.
- Monetization: Mighty Pro gives you all the power you need to run a million-dollar course business, from integrated payment systems that can be used with currencies around the world, to advanced analytics that we’ll work to help you understand. We want to make sure Mighty Pro makes your business work.
- Availability: Mighty Pro gives you your own, completely branded app, available for both iOS and Google Play.
Book a call with us and we’ll show you what you could do with Mighty Pro!
WizIQ is an LMS and virtual classroom that gives users tools to build a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous courses. It’s more advanced than many of the options on this list, and more comparable to Mighty Pro in that it provides customization and white-label branding.
- Customization: With white-label options and use cases for a bunch of different verticals, WizIQ can be customized to fit a lot of different scenarios. That being said, the branding is often very corporate. There are also a lot of course-delivery options, and you can add tests and assignments, and other advanced LMS features.
- Availability: WizIQ can be adapted to custom, white-label mobile apps.
- Pricing: Many of the features you’d want with a WizIQ course either come as upsells or else are really expensive.
The best online course software gives you customization and control.
That might seem like A LOT but choosing the best online course software is an important part of building a course business you’re happy with. Finding a platform that provides you with a lot of customization and control over your online course and brand is going to save you a lot of headaches and make you more money.
We think what we’ve built at Mighty Networks provides the best of the bunch thanks to our powerful course and community-building features that allow you to build the online course of your dreams.
Better yet, all of our features work across the web, iOS, and Android which gives your members more flexibility and availability to how they interact with each other and your content.
And you can try it totally free for 14 days – no credit card required.