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Creating online courses is one of the best ways to make money online, but finding the best online course platform is difficult.  A simple Google search, and you’ll see dozens of reviews full of generic summaries where authors haven’t even used the platforms.

That’s NOT how this guide was created. 

This buyer’s guide has taken me 40+ hours to develop. Not only have I sold online courses for over 10 years, but I’ve also been a college professor since 2010.  More importantly, I’ve created accounts on each of the platforms, recorded walkthrough tutorials, taken screenshots of the interface, and done an in-depth analysis far beyond other guides available.  For those looking for a quick answer, I have my favorite choices below, followed by an in-depth analysis of each platform.


Thinkific is the best overall platform with a free plan. This is the most affordable solution with high-quality features that scale as your business does. I use this platform myself.


LearnWorlds offers the best learning experience due to its unique interactive tools like ebooks, assessments, certificates, SCORMs, surveys, and more.


Among all of the platforms on this list, Teachable has the most user-friendly dashboard and features for beginners to start building their first online course(s).


Podia is best for you if you'd like to go beyond courses and create webinars, membership communities, downloads, and more without worrying about technology.


Learndash is the best online course platform for those that are looking to host their courses and online school directly on their own Wordpress website.

In the past year alone, online courses have made over $46 billion, according to Statista. The same study indicates that the e-learning market will likely grow to $240 Billion by 2022.

When I first started my online business, I focused 100% on selling online courses.  At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer because you don’t need a large following to make a decent income, and I definitely didn’t have that.

From the start, there were some months I could make over $500, which blew me away. But since then, things have changed, you can make a lot more money, and now there are DOZENS of online course platforms available.

But what is the right online course solution for you?

Based on my decade of experience as a course creator, online entrepreneur, and college professor, I want to help make this decision easier for you, so let’s jump in.

Top 10 Best Online Course Platforms

  • Thinkific: Best Overall Online Course Platform with a Free Plan
  • LearnWorlds: Best for Selling Interactive Courses
  • Teachable: Best for Beginners
  • Podia: Best All-in-One Online Course Platform
  • LearnDash: Best WordPress LMS Plugin
  • Teachery: Best Affordable Course Platform Focused on Simplicity
  • Kartra: Best Premium All-in-One Course Platform
  • Best Affordable All-in-One Online Course Platform
  • Graphy: Best Platform with Live Streaming and a Mobile App
  • Yondo: Best All-in-One Course Platform for Live Sessions

How to Choose the Best Online Course Platform

While all of the options in this post can be helpful to those looking to start an online school, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to look for when trying to find the right fit. With so many options available, it should come as no surprise that there are many options to consider when choosing the best online course platform for your business.

Understanding Different Online Course Solutions

While “online course platform” is an all-encompassing term, it’s important to understand that there are many different options for those that are looking to become a course creator and start teaching online. Some are better designed for schools or organizations, while others are great for businesses or individuals. Let’s examine each of them to better understand the options.

Dedicated Online Course Platforms

For 98% of people reading this post, this is exactly what you want. These are platforms that are solely dedicated to helping you create courses and your own online school with a built-in website builder. This includes my top recommendation Thinkific as well as Learnworlds, Teachable, and Teachery.

All-in-One Online Course Platforms

These are platforms that go beyond simple course creation tools. With platforms like this, you’ll be able to create online classes but also run webinars, develop email sequences, and more. These include Podia, Kartra,, Yondo, and Kajabi.

WordPress Online Course Plugins

WordPress plugins are ideal options for anyone who wants to keep all of their course content within WordPress, and these are for folks who likely already have their own website. This includes Learndash.

Enterprise LMS Platforms

These are learning management systems that would be used to help businesses roll out training materials to their staff or sell courses online at scale and are less focused on individual small course creators. This includes Academy of Mine.

Online Learning Platforms

These platforms are affordable online course marketplaces where students can go to learn skills while on a budget. They typically have hundreds or even thousands of instructors and an established student base but aren’t the best for teaching because you don’t have full control of your student information and pricing. These include Udemy, Codegym, Skillshare, Coursera, and Linkedin Learning. If you’d like to learn more about these, you can read my in-depth online learning platform post here.

Marketing & Selling Courses

All online course platforms come with marketing features & sales tools such as email autoresponders, webinar functionality, online community management, or affiliate program management to help you more efficiently create and sell online courses

Student Management

What features does the online course software offer to manage your students? Can you easily create a course curriculum? Is it easy to stay in touch with students and engage them? Keep in mind that it’s easier to sell online courses than it is to engage the students regularly.

Instructor Design

When you create your online school pages or develop a course, you want a platform that makes the experience as easy as possible so you can focus on what really matters, the content. When you are selecting an online course platform, make sure you pay extra attention to the user experience and choose one that makes content development easy and the interface intuitive.


Is the online course platform affordable, or does it require significant investment upfront? Does it allow you to create unlimited courses? Remember, this is a business and you need to evaluate the ROI of any online teaching platforms you consider using.

Established Reputation

To choose the best online course platforms, you need to consider their reputation and make sure that they have tons of positive reviews from real users to build your online course website.

Technical Support

This is vitally important for you and your students. Choose a platform that has a responsive and knowledgeable technical support team. This is especially important in the beginning while you try to build your course website and input course content.

3rd-Party Integrations

Most online course platforms have 3rd-party integrations to other software and services, including student information systems, payment gateways, Mailchimp, Google Analytics, and other platforms to improve your student experience. Before buying, make sure your online course platform works with the tools you like.

1. Thinkific

Best Overall Online Course Platform With a Free Plan (FREE or $39/month).


My Rating: 10 out of 10
Free Plan: Yes
Pricing: Paid Plans Start at $99/Month
Read Thinkific Review

Thinkific is my favorite free online course platform by far to sell courses. Granted, their free plan has its limitations, but it’s a great place to begin if you don’t want to buy anything just yet.

They boast 51,000 instructors and have helped people earn $340 million.

This tool is an all-in-one solution that is extremely easy to navigate, even for complete beginners. In addition, it allows you to customize your course to match your existing brand and has a very impressive array of marketing and sales tools.

This cloud-based online course creation software lets you manage your clients, payments, course materials, integrations, and much more from the user-friendly dashboard.

Thinkific Tutorial:

Key Features:

  • Pre-Built School ThemesFor those intimidated by technology, Thinkific has themes that can be loaded with a click and completely customized to create your own look.
  • Intuitive Course Creation DashboardOffers a very easy-to-understand dashboard with visual aids to intuitively create online courses successfully.
  • Course Templates: Thinkific offers numerous templates that allow you to quickly pre-populate an outline for any course you wish to create.
  • Student Certificates: After students complete your course, they’ll be able to get a certificate validating their knowledge.
  • Order Bumps and Course Bundling: This allows instructors simple ways to quickly and easily increase their average order size.

User Experience:

Building Your School Website

Thinkific does an amazing job of letting you easily create your own online school on its platform with no coding knowledge whatsoever. Thinkific has an intuitive interface with numerous design features that will save you both time and cost when developing courses.

At present, they have three themes on Thinkific where you can choose the color scheme and the overall layout of your online school. While this sounds underwhelming, the customization options of these themes will simply allow you a basic design to work with, and you can customize it heavily from there to give yourself a very unique look.

Creating Courses

While most people know Thinkific for creating courses, this is where the platform shines. Not only can you create courses on the platform, but you can create communities, memberships, and develop course bundles.

One of the things I really like about Thinkific is that when you choose to create a course, they allow you to use various templates to make the process easy. Naturally, you can choose to create a blank course if you’d like, but they also give you a template for the following:

  • Pre-Sell Landing Page: Create a pre-sell landing page and build a waitlist to gauge the interest of a future course.
  • Mini-Course: Create a free or low-cost mini-course to generate leads for high-priced courses or services.
  • Flagship Course: Build a full online course that can be a cornerstone of your online course business.
  • Webinar Replay: With this template, you can host a webinar replay video to allow registrants to review your presentation and whatever upsells you have.
  • Membership Resource Library: For those that host a membership with Thinkific, this allows you to host downloadable resources to be included in a membership bundle.

Marketing and Selling Courses

Thinkific has a significant amount of marketing and sales tools to help edupreneurs be successful with their online school. Sales and marketing tools are more prevalent on Thinkific than on some of the other online course platforms, and it’s important to realize that the more sales and marketing tools you have, the more likely you are to sell your courses.

Thinkific gives online course instructors access to the following tools:

  • Coupons: If you aim to discount your courses and sell them to your students, you can do this at any time and limit the number of redeemable coupons and when they expire.
  • Order Bumps: These are offers presented on the checkout page, which your customers can add to their order with a single click.
  • Sales Widgets: If you want to highlight a course for sale on various areas of your site, you can design the look of the widget and then copy/paste the code that’ll show your widget wherever you’d like.
  • Affiliate Program: This allows you to open up an affiliate program for other people to sell your course(s) for you and get a commission while doing so.
  • Memberships: If you’re looking to develop a membership community amongst your students, you can do so within Thinkific.
  • Course Bundles: Thinkific allows you to increase your average order size, or sell complimentary courses together within the platform.

Student Management

Selling your course is one thing, but making sure that your students stay engaged is a completely different challenge. Thinkific gives instructors many different tools to manage their students and better understand their behavior within the course(s). Thinkific gives creators the following tools:

  • Users: Here, you’re able to see all of the students you have in your school, the amount they’ve spent, when they joined, their email address, the enrollments they have, and what external source they came from.
  • Groups: This is a great feature if you want to sell your courses in bulk to organizations or groups of individuals. This feature allows you to enable hundreds of people to buy your courses at once with unique sign-up links, and automatically filter customers based on cohort, time, enrollment, job type, or organization.
  • Progress: This allows you to see how much each of your enrolled students has progressed through your courses.
  • Certificates: Certificates are a great way to reward your students for completing courses and keeping them engaged! You can automatically issue certificates each time a student completes a course.
  • Discussions: The discussions feature allows you and your students to chat, ask questions, leave comments and add a deeper dimension to the content they’re learning.
  • Assignments: Assignment submissions are evaluated by the instructor to be approved for the lesson as completed or rejected, requiring a resubmission.
  • Quizzes and Surveys: This is exactly what it sounds like. If you want to have quizzes in your course, or have surveys to be completed by students, you can do this here.

Product Updates

  • 8/4/22: Launched functionality to allow instructors to host live events within their communities of students that they’ve developed.
  • 8/2/22: Gives instructors the ability to get notifications when other students reply to comments within communities.
  • 5/2/22: Launched the Thinkific App Store, which includes over 80 apps for instructors to use to add functionality and integrate other platforms for a more seamless teaching experience.

Pros and Cons

Free planCan become expensive quickly
Substantial student analytics
Very user intuitive
Recurring payments/payment plans/memberships
Email Marketing


  • Free ($0/month): Great to test out the platform and understand how everything works. Accessibility to 1 course, 1 community, 1 administrator, 1000 students, 0% transaction fee, fully integrated e-commerce, quizzes/surveys, and email/chat support.
  • Start ($99/month): Great for those with a growing online school. This plan includes all Free plan features with accessibility to 10 courses, 1 community, 1 administrator, 2,500 students.
  • Grow ($199/month): Great for those with a medium-sized online school. This plan includes all Start plan features with accessibility to 25 courses, 3 communities, 2 administrators, 5,000 students, and phone/email support.
  • Expand ($399/month): Great for those with a large-sized online school. This plan includes all Grow plan features with accessibility to 75 courses, 10 communities, 5 administrators, 10,000 students, and priority phone support.

2. LearnWorlds

Best for Selling Interactive Courses (FREE Trial or $24/month)


My Rating: 9.6 out of 10
Free Plan: No, but 30-day free trial
Pricing: Paid Plans Start at $24/Month
Read LearnWorlds Review

LearnWorlds is a robust online course creation software designed to help you sell online courses with numerous interactive features. For instance, the video player and E-Book reader in the platform are interactive, providing a unique experience compared to other platforms. 

The course sales pages and payment process are optimized to get you high conversions and increase sales. Thanks to the simple drag-and-drop editor, anyone can easily create a course on this platform. No prior experience is needed. 

You get everything you need to build high-quality courses and sales pages to increase your course sales from your user-friendly dashboard, including responsive templates, interactive video functionality, and marketing automation. This software has all the tools necessary to satisfy every digital information publisher’s needs. 

LearnWorlds Tutorial

Key Features

  • Interactive Video Player and Reader: The unique feature of this course creation platform gives your students the ability to interact with the content you create.
  • Powerful Page & Site Builder: Fully customizable quick-start templates to help you create a fantastic school site or course page.
  • Multilingual Support: LearnWorlds offers excellent customer support in various languages. 
  • Assessment Engine: Advanced quizzes, exams, assignments, and more.
  • Built-in Social Media Network: You and all of your students can easily connect and communicate with each other with the internal platform. 
  • Mobile App Builder: Though there is an additional cost to this, Learnworlds allows you to create a customized mobile app to be included in your online school.

User Experience:

Building Your School Website

As you can see from the above screenshot, LearnWorlds does an excellent job in helping instructors create their schools. While they have drag-and-drop functionality to make designing school pages easy, I think the most impressive aspect of their platform is how many templates they have.

Unlike many platforms listed, LearnWords has templates based on use-case scenarios. They have pre-built templates for:

  • Art & Design
  • Coaching
  • Customer Education
  • Nonprofit Organizations (NGO’s)
  • Professional
  • Fitness
  • Healthcare
  • Medical
  • Financial

After looking through these themes, from what I can see, it looks as if they currently have 50 templates to choose from. Granted, this is likely to expand over time, but as of now, that is the number of fully customizable templates that LearnWorlds offers to its instructors.

One of the things I like the most about LearnWorlds is that they have a great onboarding process where they really help you step-by-step through the school creation process.

Creating Courses

Creating courses in Learnworlds has a different interface than many of the other platforms, but I like the way they’ve laid things out because it helps you quickly and easily see all of the aspects related to courses individually.

On the course creation screen, Learnworlds allows you to adjust the following:

  • Layout: This allows you to adjust the course landing pages by clicking/dragging elements, replacing text, and virtually anything you want to do to visually make the page stand out.
  • Contents: This is where you can add all of the lessons and material you’ll have in your course.
  • Access: This is where you can control how people access the course and the permissions of that access. They allow you to create courses and have the following statuses; Paid, Draft, Coming Soon, Enrollment Closed, Free, and Private.
  • Pricing: Here, you can adjust your pricing, discounts, bundles and coupons.
  • Settings: In this area, you can change the images associated with your course and the text to describe everything.
  • Course Player: This allows you to completely customize the course video player. LearnWorlds has some excellent functionality in their player that allows you to control all aspects of the learning journey with interactive elements like sequential navigation and elements that can be added to the videos.
  • Video Library: This area allows you to see all of the files within your course.
  • Dashboard: Here, you can see a quick snapshot of all of your important student metrics like users, revenue, exams, certification, and more.

In addition, LearnWorlds allows you to quickly and easily see a preview of your course at any time. But I think one of the coolest features of LearnWorlds is the click and drag functionality to change the layouts of course landing pages.

As you can see in the screenshot above, they give you a nice default landing page. But, the way you can change everything and customize it to exactly what you want without coding knowledge is a big win.

Marketing and Selling Courses

With LearnWorlds, there is an easy-to-understand navigation that lets you adjust all elements of marketing in one place. Here’s a list of the functionality that they provide:

  • Bundles: This allows you to control the bundling of courses to increase the average order size of your students.
  • Subscriptions: If you want to create a membership for your courses that students have to subscribe to in order to get access, this allows you to do that.
  • Promotions: In this area, you can create coupons and track their usage amongst your students.
  • Leads From Pages: If you want to capture the email information of potential students, you can do that here.
  • Multiple Seats: This is great for large organizations or for instructors who get approached by large organizations looking to purchase the courses in bulk.
  • Form Builder: This is where you can control marketing and course forms to showcase your courses on your site or get additional leads in related blog posts.
  • Affiliate Management: This area allows you to create and manage an affiliate program for your courses.

Student Management

Learnworlds does a great job of helping instructors not only stay in touch with their students but also better understand how engaged they are in the courses. As an instructor, this is crucial not only to accumulate positive testimonials but also to develop repeat buyers over time. They give instructors the following tools:

  • User Progress: Here, you can dive deep into engagement data to understand any individual user behavior in any of the courses that they’re enrolled in.
  • Course Insights: This area provides a great overview of your course engagement and focuses on average study time, scores, enrollments, certificates earned, and social interactions.
  • Scheduled Reports: I love this feature. In Learnworlds, you’re able to set up recurring reports to be sent to you automatically at the time intervals you decide.
  • Exam Analytics: This area allows you to understand the exam scores of all students, certifications, and question banks to manage what your exams ask your students.

Product Updates

  • 7/7/22: Updated significant functionality in various areas, including:

    Features that enable you to build Stellar Learning Experiences: Powerful Assessments, Flexible Self-Assessments, Review Center, 1-1 Sessions, and Groups Sessions.

    Features that help you create Mesmerizing Design Effects: Parallax Scrolling, Site Templates, and Page Templates.

    Features that empower you to Grow Without Limits: Digital Wallets, Buy Now Pay Later, Qualification Survey, NPS Survey, Bulk Seat Management

    Features that inspire you to Re-imagine Training On The Go: Mobile Offline Video, Mobile Guest User Flow, Mobile Integrations, Mobile Analytics, Mobile Reminders
  • 3/24/22: Launched custom user roles to allow for better workflow, privacy, and productivity.

Pros and Cons

Course player allows for engaging elementsNo free plans
Substantial student analyticsFeatures can be buggy at times
Membership and course bundles
Recurring payments/payment plans/memberships
Email Marketing


Starter ($24/month): A good way to begin using the LearnWorlds platform at a low cost. One admin role, $5 fee per course sale, unlimited paid courses, site builder (3 pages), popup builder (2 popups), community, coupons, drip feed courses, and 24/5 email support.
Pro Trainer ($79/month): Starter features with five admin roles, no transaction fees, unlimited courses, landing pages, and popups, subscription and memberships, installments, customize course player and checkout pages, certificates, live courses, form builder, SCORM support, 24/7 email support.
Learning Center ($249/month): Pro trainer features plus 20 custom user roles, white label options, interactive video elements, automated reports, API support, premium onboarding, 24/7 premium support.
High Volume and Corporate (Custom Pricing): Learning Center features plus more admins, bulk enrollment, premium cloud servers, Customized Support and pricing.

3. Teachable

Best for Beginners (FREE Trial or $29/month)


My Rating: 9.3 out of 10
Free Plan: Yes
Pricing: Paid Plans Start at $29/Month
Read Teachable Review

Teachable is a cloud-hosted solution that offers a user-friendly course builder interface built with beginners in mind.

As a course platform, this is (statistically) the most prominent platform to create online courses on the market. They have over 100,000 instructors on the platform and have helped people just like you and me earn over $500 million.

They’ve adjusted their focus so that it accommodates beginners by specializing not only in online courses but also have put a lot of emphasis on coaching as well.

Teachable has also recently added “Discover” – a storefront for online courses on their platform, and they’re putting a lot of effort into growing it right now, which should help new course creators sell in the future.

Teachable Tutorial

Key Features

  • Emphasis on Professional Coaches: While all of the online course platforms can help with coaching professionals, Teachable goes above and beyond and offers tools unavailable in other places.
  • Focused on Launching Fast: Teachable has numerous templates and tools to get instructors with little to no web experience launched quickly.
  • Accepts Numerous Payment Methods: Accept payments in over 130 currencies with numerous payment methods.
  • Customizable Offer Types: Teachable allows instructors to use free trials, subscription payments, installments, and more for added flexibility to increase sales.
  • Helpful Selling Options: Allows instructors to sell with order bumps, bundles, memberships, upsells, coupons, and an affiliate program module.

User Experience:

Building Your School Website

Teachable takes a very simplistic to creating a school website. While they do offer a lot of functionality, they stick to one simple theme that instructors can design from.

With this platform, you can choose to insert a logo, thumbnail, and favicon. Beyond that, they allow you to change your font and color palette.

Other than that, Teachable allows you to create pages as needed. Overall, I’d say that the Teachable school design is both simplistic and efficient but lacks a lot of customization options.

Creating Courses

Creating courses in Learnworlds has a different interface than many of the other platforms, but I like the way they’ve laid things out because it helps you quickly and easily see all of the aspects related to courses individually.

On the course creation screen, Teachable has organized its course creation page in the following ways:

  • Information: Allows the instructor to adjust the course image, details, the author of the course, layout, and default pages.
  • Pages: In this area, you can adjust the sales, checkout, and thank you pages.
  • Curriculum: Here, you’re able to add to and adjust the course lessons. They also allow you to bulk upload details and preview the course at any time.
  • Design Templates: Teachable allows instructors to choose from two different templates, simple and colossal. Simply is, as the name implies, simplistic. While Colossal showcases more information in an organized fashion.
  • Pricing: This area allows you to choose the pricing model for the course, including free, one-time purchases, developing a payment plan, and a subscription.
  • Order Bumps: If you’re looking to increase your average order value, this area allows you to add one-click upsells to increase revenue.
  • Coupons: In this area, you’re able to create coupons for your courses.
  • Drip: Drip allows you to publish lectures over a period of time based on the number of days after your students enroll.
  • Comments: Foster student engagement and interact directly with students when you turn comments on in your lectures.

Marketing and Selling Courses

Teachable is a little different than other options because they don’t necessarily have a marketing and sales section within the school dashboard. Instead, many of the marketing and sales functions are in various areas in the backend, which, at times, can make finding things a little bit difficult, in my opinion. Even though they don’t have a central area for these features, they do provide a lot of functionality to instructors, including:

  • Email Leads: With this function, you can view all current leads who have given an email address but have not yet purchased a course.
  • Upsells/Bumps/Drip Courses: This allows you to use additional tactics to increase average order size or purchases.
  • Payment Plans: Teachable has many flexible payment plans to give options that work for your audience.
  • Email Marketing: Teachable has a full email marketing suite built into its platform to help you stay in contact with students.
  • Coaching: Coaching on Teachable lets you work with clients one on one by defining milestones to track and measure coaching progress, keep notes, and send messages between coach and client in one dashboard.

Student Management

Teachable offers a number of student reports that other platforms have, such as overall students, student engagement, completion, time per lesson, and most of the basic functionality you expect. However, Teachable sets itself apart by also offering very detailed information about how students are interacting with your videos, as you can see in the above screenshot. They do not have a specific reporting module in the dashboard, which can be a bit confusing at times.

  • User Progress: Helps you understand not just the progress for each lesson, but also progress through each of the videos/quizzes within lessons.
  • Completion Reports: This area helps you understand how many different student segments you have (free, discounted, bundles, and full price) and their average completion rates.
  • Dashboard View: In this area, you can quickly and easily segment data between dates and variables like earnings, revenue, course sales, new signups, active students, lecture completions, and course completions.
  • Student View: Here, you’re able to see individual students’ data like their email status, last login, when they joined, number of purchases, and emails you can send.

Product Updates

  • 6/1/22: Cohort reporting with user tagging, limiting product access duration on payment plans, lecture editor updates, options for group coaching, Q&A, and community.
  • 5/1/22: Additional integrations to connect Teachable with other platforms, Public API, coupons for existing subscriptions, and improved text editing in lectures.
  • 9/1/21: Released additional functionality like lecture comments, admin comment management, easier editing, ability to upload files in page editor 2.0, order bumps and coupons, Apple and Google pay integration, and a newly positioned affiliate link generator.

Pros and Cons

Free planTransaction fees on cheaper plans
Allows drip contentNo webinar capability
Membership and course bundles
Recurring payments/payment plans/memberships
Email Marketing


Free ($0/month): Transaction fees of $1 + 10% of each course sale, 1 admin, 1 course, unlimited students, website builder, payment processing, and tax handling.
Basic ($29/month): Free features plus 5% transaction fees, 2 admin users, unlimited courses, custom domain, email marketing, private community launch accelerator, and email support.
Pro ($99/month): Basic features plus 0% transaction fees, 5 admins, public API, affiliate marketing, advanced reporting, live chat, and live group coaching.
Business ($250/month): Pro features plus 20 admin users, advanced theme customization, custom user roles, and bulk import student capabilities.

4. Podia

Best All-in-One Online Course Platform (FREE Trial or $39/month)


My Rating: 9.1 out of 10
Free Plan: Yes
Pricing: Paid Plans Start at $33/Month
Read Podia Review

Podia is the first platform on this list that truly has all of the tools you need to not only build an online school and sell courses but also to effectively grow an online business from the ground up.

As a course platform, Podia allows you to host a webinar, create downloadable content, establish a membership community, and even offer live chat for easy communication with your students to increase student engagement.

But the real benefit of Podia is that it has all of the tools other platforms do but includes access to a webinar platform, which is an extremely powerful tool when used effectively.

Key Features

  • Webinars: Allows users to run webinars in addition to online courses.
  • Coaching and Consultations: Podia has a special area for instructors to run individual consultations with students.
  • Locked Content: Grant or remove access to content in your course management system for any particular student. 
  • Email List Marketing: Podia has powerful built-in features like email marketing automation.
  • Live Chat: Allows users to support their customers with live chat capabilities.

User Experience:

Building Your School Website

As I’ve already mentioned, Podia is an all-in-one platform, and because of this, its interface is significantly different than the other platforms on this list. Instead of having standard school templates like the other online course platforms on this list, Podia offers templates to create a full website that will require more time to customize to get the look you want.

That said, Podia allows you to forego creating an online school website entirely, as you can simply create product pages for each of your online courses and share those directly instead of a full school website. Technically, you can share course pages with the other platforms as well, but this becomes a better option on Podia.

Creating Courses

The Podia course creation interface is easy to understand and very intuitive to the user, in my opinion. While they have all of the tools you need to create a course, one of my favorite things about their platform is that they have two substantive tutorials/walkthroughs right at the top of the page.

While you aren’t required to watch them, I took a look and was really impressed as they are full video explanations from start to finish. Here are the tools that Podia offers to its course creators:

  • Lessons: In this area, you’re able to edit/adjust everything related to the courses. They have options to create text,
  • Details: Here, you can give the details about your course, including image, description, category of course, certificates, and comment visibility.
  • Pricing: Here you’re able to handle the pricing of the course as well as product upsells.
  • Availability: Within this area, you can decide your course status and visibility as well as any time access, start date, or sign-up limits.

Marketing and Selling Courses

When it comes to the marketing and selling of your courses, Podia doesn’t have a clear section for all of the tools. That said, that doesn’t mean the platform is lacking in features to help you sell more courses.

  • Email Leads: With this function, you can view all current leads who have given an email address but not yet purchased a course.
  • Upsells/Bumps/Drip Courses: As mentioned in the previous section, this allows you to use additional tactics to increase average order size or purchases.
  • Payment Plans: Teachable has many flexible payment plans to give options that work for your audience.
  • Email Marketing: Teachable has a full email marketing suite built into its platform to help you stay in contact with students.
  • Coaching: Coaching on Teachable lets you work with clients one on one by defining milestones to track and measure coaching progress, keep notes, and send messages between coach and client in one dashboard.

Student Management

While I love what Podia offers, student management is lacking compared to other platforms. While you can still see who has become a student in your courses and understand how they’ve progressed in an email list, student analytics are lacking significantly.

There really isn’t much to report on student management capabilities for Podia. The only solution they offer is a Google Analytics integration. While this won’t tell you everything you need, it does allow you to see some key metrics like how long users are on certain pages, what pages they’ve visited, and the average view duration of lesson videos.

Pros and Cons

Have coaching module and allows embed from calendlyDoes not host videos directly, it relies on embeds.
Allows for Webinars, which is lacking in most optionsStudent engagement analytics lacking
Allows live chat, which is rare in other platformsRelies on a Google Analytics Integration

Product Updates

  • 8/24/22: Allows instructors to set sign-up limits on courses, coaching, webinar seats, and product purchases.
  • 7/25/22: Added to the checkout flow, including updated payment methods, global tax support, and more.
  • 7/5/22: New update that allows creators to better manage and control community notifications. This update also helps members better control their own notifications.


Free ($0/month): Transaction fees of 8% of each course sale, full website, email marketing, live chat, community capabilities with the ability to offer 1 download and coaching product.
Mover ($33/month): Free features plus no transaction fees and unlimited downloads, coaching, and courses.
Shaker ($75/month): Mover features plus unlimited webinars and an affiliate platform.
Earthquaker ($250/month): Shaker features plus priority support, onboarding calls, and a monthly creator call.

5. LearnDash

Best WordPress LMS plugin for Businesses and Solo Course Creators ($199/year)

My Rating: 8.8 out of 10
Free Plan: No, but 15-day money-back guarantee
Pricing: $199/year
Read LearnDash Review

LearnDash is the most popular LMS WordPress plugin on the market right now. It’s great for anyone who wants a course platform that allows them to run everything from their WordPress dashboard. With this self-hosted tool, you will quickly set up and run your courses and have complete control over the creation and customization process. 

This powerful tool doesn’t have the limits of other hosted alternatives. You get an intelligent course builder with course completion badges and certificates. It integrates with countless plugins, and no technical skills are needed to get everything done. As a WordPress plugin, it’s hard to top the functionality that LearnDash offers.

If you’ve already been using WordPress, navigating this course creation software will be a breeze. 

The LearnDash WordPress Plugin is best for instructors already using WordPress and who want complete control over every aspect of their course business, including customization, branding, and customer information. In addition, Learndash has many add-ons, like the “Instructor Role” plugin created by WisdmLabs.

The instructor role that this plugin creates allows you to enable multiple instructors for your website and create online schools/courses with various teachers like Udemy and other course marketplaces.

Key Features

  • Course Awards: You can award anyone who passes a quiz successfully. 
  • Advanced Quiz: The software lets you create complex quizzes and assessments.
  • Course Progression: Prevent students from advancing until they’ve completed previous lessons/quizzes and learning modules.
  • Learner Progress: Keep track of learners’ progress via the sleek profile area.
  • White-Labeling – You can white-label all materials to your own business. 
  • Unlimited Courses – Because this is a WordPress plugin, there’s never a limit on the courses you can host.


WordPress Plugin ($199/year): This is the full plugin that allows you to create and manage online courses directly on your website. They have their pricing broken down by 1 site for $199, 10 sites for $399, and unlimited for $799 per year.
Learndash Cloud ($29/month): This allows you to create a website directly on the Learndash platform and manage it there.

6. Teachery

Best Online Course Software for Those on a Budget (FREE TRIAL or $49/month)

My Rating: 8.6 out of 10
Free Plan: No, but 14-day trial
Pricing: $49/month
Read Teachery Review

Teachery is one of the newest platforms in my comparison, and it’s worth including. Teachery is an excellent choice for beginners because they purposely limit the confusing functionality/design that other platforms include. Plus, they also have zero transaction fees, which is always positive.

While this is great for simplicity, it does limit the overall functionality.

Their most considerable differentiation from other platforms is they are highly beginner-friendly and help novice course creators get something up and start selling online courses to their audience quickly and easily.

A few nice things about Teachery are that they have no monthly fee, the platform is straightforward and intuitive, and uploading is simple, with unlimited courses and files allowed in your courses. 

Key Features

  • Unlimited Courses, Lessons, and Students: Unlike most other platforms that require membership upgrades for unlimited courses, Teachery lets you do this right out of the box.
  • No Transaction Fees: One of the greatest things about Teachery is its simple cost structure with no transaction fees.
  • Drip Content: Ability to create drip-style courses to allow students to learn in a paced environment
  • Affiliate Program: Teachery has a built-in affiliate program area to help you sell more courses.
  • Comments and Communities: Allows users to support a community with Disqus integration.

User Experience:

Building Your School Website

Although Teachery allows you to create an online school, you’ll need to do so with a bunch of landing pages to individual courses that you create. While other platforms give a central place to visit to see all of your courses, Teachery doesn’t do this.

That said, if you have your own website, you can simply embed or link to these pages to showcase your courses to your following to grow student enrollment.

Creating Courses

After jumping into Teachery, I have to give them credit for how easy it is to create a course. Generally speaking, if you need a bare-bones platform to create online courses, Teachery is it. They don’t have a bunch of features, they don’t have a ton of complicated tools, but they do have a basic framework that makes it very simple to create a course from scratch.

When creating a course, they focus is on lessons and sub-lessons. Within each of these, you can quickly and easily add the information needed for each lesson and move forward. Here’s how the course page is laid out:

  • Landing Pages: This area allows you to design and create landing pages for each of the courses that you create on the platform.
  • Course Pages: This is where the lessons of your course reside. Here you’re able to create and customize content for your students to take when they enroll in your course.
  • Payment Pages: In this area, you can connect your Stripe account in order to accept payments from your students. You can also adjust promo codes and upsells.
  • Login Pages: Here, you can adjust your password and login information as well as adjust recurring payments.
  • Style Your Course: Within this section, you’re able to adjust the visual look and feel of various elements like buttons, test colors, sidebar as well as transcripts.
  • Course Emails: While Teachery doesn’t have a full email marketing suite, you are able to send welcome emails and course-completed emails. They also allow integrations with popular email marketing platforms.
  • Course Settings: Within this area, you’re able to manage various settings like code insertion, CSS, HTML code, and more.

Marketing and Selling Courses

While there isn’t a marketing area within Teachery, there are still various tools to help you market and sell additional courses. Though they are scattered a little bit throughout the back end, the platform has a decent set of tools to help instructors sell additional courses.

  • Promo Codes: This allows instructors to give a specific percentage or amount off of your course’s full price, and set how long a promo code will be active and how many people can redeem your courses.
  • Memberships: You’re able to create a membership for your students within this area.
  • Course Bundles: If you want to sell multiple courses at once in the form of a bundle, you’re able to do so with Teachery.
  • Email Marketing Integration: While Teachery doesn’t offer email marketing from within the platform, they do allow deep integrations with Mailchimp and Convertkit. While this is a bit limiting, it is nice that this is an option.
  • Affiliate Program: Within Teachery you’re able to create an affiliate program so others can sell your courses for you dn get a percentage of the profits.

Student Management

The default analytics for student management within Teachery is not very impressive, as you can see in the image above. While you can see the enrollment analytics and a small amount of how active they’ve been, the best way to get analytics related to your students is to integrate with Google Analytics.

This is pretty simple to do and will allow you to see how long students spend on each lesson within your course and where they’re logging in from, but does lack the significant detail that some other platforms provide.

Pros and Cons

Simplistic for beginnersNo quizzes/tests
Allows drip contentNo student engagement analytics
Membership and course bundlesRelies on a Google Analytics Integration
Recurring payments/payment plans/membershipsNo email marketing within platform


Monthly Plan ($49/month): Unlimited courses, students, landing pages, affiliate program, email provider integrations, analytics integration, promo codes, upsells/bundles, drip lesson scheduling, no transaction fees.
Yearly Plan ($470/year): Same as the monthly plan with a 20% discount.

7. Kartra

Best Premium All-in-One Online Course Platform ($1 14-DAY TRIAL or $99/month)


Kartra is one of the best online course platforms because it doesn’t just stop at courses. With Kartra, you have so much functionality at your fingertips, including checkouts, the ability to create a membership site, and you can even host your own affiliate program. This is why it’s the best online course platform for those who intend to create a true community.

I feel that this platform is beneficial for those that are not simply looking to create courses but want to grow a business beyond the simplicity of a course platform. When you use this platform, you’ll be able to use advanced tools and functionality for marketing your course, along with being an administrator. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read my in-depth Kartra review here.


Best Affordable Platform For Those Looking to Build a Business. (FREE or $27/month) is an all-in-one marketing software that has everything an entrepreneur needs to start and run their online business or be successful when trying to sell online courses.

Launched in 2018, it has steadily grown to 5000+ users who depend on its multiple features to run online businesses smoothly.

On the dashboard, you can find the funnel builder, email marketing tool, marketing automation tools, and much more. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read my in-depth review here.

9. Graphy

Best Platform With a Mobile Application ($999 Onboarding fee & 10% of each course sale)

No list of web-based course creation platforms would be complete without Graphy. Their all-inclusive solution provides a plethora of features for you to create an online course from scratch and market it beyond your existing network through their in-built marketing tools.

Even if you know very little about web development or coding, the no-code branded websites and apps that Graphy provides will be very helpful. They make delivery of online content as easy as pie.

Currently, this course creation platform boasts over 30,000 creators who make over $50 Million in revenue yearly, it’s newer than some other platforms on this list but I think it’s poised to become an industry leader in no time.  With a user-friendly dashboard and advanced instructor functionality, Graphy serves both new and existing instructors in the education economy.

You can test out all of the Graphy core features with any of their plans. The Launch plan requires a $199 onboarding fee, but all other plans have very reasonable rates and are priced primarily on a percentage of each course sale. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read my in-depth Graphy review here.

10. Yondo 

Best for Selling Live Sessions (14-Day FREE Trial then $69/month paid Annually)

Yondo is an all-in-one video platform that allows you to easily create and sell online video courses from your own branded online store. Sell your courses alongside your On-Demand Online Video, Webinars, Online Group Classes, and Live 1-To-1 Video Consultations.  

The platform takes the pain out of every step of the customer journey.  Customers will be able to purchase your online courses from your eCommerce site and video landing pages. With the ability to sell your courses as one-off purchases, time-based rentals, and even subscription memberships, Yondo allows you to customize the way you sell your online courses. The platform is completely browser-based and mobile-friendly, meaning customers can take your courses anywhere! 

11. Samelane

Best for Large Companies (Starts at €2.5/user/month)

Samelane is a learning management system (LMS) that supports companies in digital transformation and process optimization. Get the most out of employee, partner, and vendor training. 

The platform supports large companies, especially those that cooperate with numerous business partners, franchises, and vendors, who must undergo training before performing their roles. It allows you to create extensive training processes, including events, e-learning courses, and augmented reality training, and to automate onboarding and knowledge sharing. In addition, you can track user progress and KPI implementation through competency assessment surveys and detailed reports.

12. Digital Course Hive

Best Women-Owned Online Course Builder (Free trial and then $49/month).

Digital Course Hive

The Digital Course Hive is one of the best platforms to use if you want to stand out from your competition. It is the only drag-and-drop online course builder on the market, perfect for creating custom courses and memberships that will set you apart. 

This all-in-one system allows you to build websites, funnels, courses, and memberships all under one roof. You can also manage your calendar, send emails and automation, and even sell physical products. It is truly an all-in-one system.

13. Pinlearn

Best Live Video Tutoring Course Platform. (FREE or $399 Lifetime)

A versatile eLearning platform builder with built-in features to sell not only self-paced courses but also take 1-to-1 live classes and group webinars. Sell on your own, invite other tutors on your platform, or do both.

Pinlearn is a one-stop solution to all your eLearning business needs. Whether you want to sell self-paced courses, earn from live video lectures, or monetize group webinars, Pinlearn supports them all on a single platform.

It’s an eLearning marketplace solution. You can sell not only your courses but can also allow other tutors to sign-up and sell their courses and classes. All tutors get a dedicated Tutor Dashboard on the front end to manage their profile, courses, classes, appointments, students, and earnings.

The platform gives everything a tutor needs for creating courses, hosting webinars, and taking 1-on-1 lectures via video conferencing. The integrated session recording option makes it even easier to save live lectures for future reference.

14. TrainerCentral

Best Online Training Platform Capabilities (Free or $20/month)

TrainerCentral empowers online trainers with a comprehensive DIY tool kit with end-to-end services to set up their online business. Online trainers can build their own website, upload course videos, create course structures, host live classrooms, manage learner-trainer communications, handle payments and subscriptions, and much more on one unified platform. The platform’s integration flexibility and intuitiveness make it the best choice for online trainers looking to launch or scale their teaching brand.

15. FreshLearn

All-In-One Creator’s Platform with a Free Plan (FREE or $25/ month)

FreshLearn is a robust upcoming platform for you to commence your online journey as a creator. You can get started by signing up for their absolutely free plan without having to punch in your card details.

Sporting an exponential growth curve within a very short span of time, they boast a family of 11,500+ creators.

This all-in-one platform comprises a user-friendly dashboard that lets you create and sell a number of digital products. These include on-demand and cohort-based courses, digital downloads, and live masterclasses, which you can customize your online learning platform with.

Plus, you can access some of the top-notch and advanced features to help you market your courses and engage your learners in an outstanding manner.

16. Payhip

Best for Ease of Use (FREE or $29/month).

Payhip enables anyone to sell courses as well as digital downloads, coaching and more from one simple platform. You can embed Payhip directly into your existing website or you can use the store builder to create your own website.

Payhip has an adaptive pricing model depending on where you are in your online course journey.  If you are just getting started, they have a free plan to help keep costs low and if you are scaling, they reduce the transaction fee to zero.

17. Academy of Mine

Complete LMS E-Learning Platform For B2B And Corporate Entities ($499/month).

Academy of Mine

Academy of Mine allows you to create your very own customized learning management system. It’s ideal for professional development, continuing education, and certifications, as well as B2B training.

This makes it one of the best online course platforms for B2B, as you’ll be able to white-label all your courses to match your brand and use courses to train teams if needed. The software allows you to build a fully-fledged website so you can host and market your online training program from one convenient place. 

This learning management system is customizable and scalable. Its user-friendly interface makes it great for beginners and expert marketers alike. It’s also easy to share your expertise and knowledge with your students. This online course creation software is undoubtedly among the best ways for businesses and educators to market their online courses. 

18. Kajabi

Best Premium Online Course Platform For Professionals ($119/month)


Kajabi is a one of the best online course platforms with powerful features like automation to help you create and sell your online courses more effectively. The platform is a complete cloud-based system and has multiple customizable site themes that you can use to create beautiful and unique courses for online learning.

Thanks to the different levels of features, this tool is perfect for both beginners and advanced users alike. The user-friendly dashboard is ideal for non-technical users. Thanks to the drag-and-drop feature, you’ll be able to get your customized digital courses (or digital downloads) up and running without the need for any special design skills. 

If it’s your first time making online courses, Kajabi’s marketing suite of tools will give you the advantage you need to get your knowledge in front of your target audience. 

19. iSpring Market

Best For Simplicity and Functionality. (FREE TRIAL or $77/month)

iSpring Market

iSpring Market is an extremely easy-to-use but full-featured platform that allows you to set up an online course marketplace in a couple of clicks, upload learning materials in a flash, and start selling courses right away.

With an intuitive course builder, you can combine various types of content in any type of format into structured online courses. Unlike many other platforms, iSpring also supports interactive SCORM courses, quizzes, and role-plays built with an authoring tool.

iSpring Market has a great analytics engine. You can not only monitor your revenue data but also keep track of learner progress and results that can help you see what needs to be improved in a course to increase profits. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read my in-depth iSpring Market review here.

Online Course Platforms FAQ

Considering how many online course platforms there are, many folks have questions about the specifics of the platforms. I’ll do my best to answer those here and update the section with new questions as they come.

What is the Best Online Course Platform?

In my personal opinion, my clear favorite among all online course platforms is Thinkific. While I’ve explained why in great detail above, I’d say the key thing that sets them apart is that their free plan offers great functionality and they do an awesome job supporting instructors as they grow.

How Do I Create an Online Course?

Aside from choosing the best online course platform, the act of creating a course is an entirely different process. It starts out with creating a course outline, but there are numerous other steps including choosing the right topic, confirming demand, establishing learning outcomes, developing course content, and assessing student success. I’d recommend you read my guide on creating an online course for beginners to better understand what’s needed.

How do I Sell Online Courses?

While creating an online course is important, it’s much more important to sell copies of the course to grow your business. Whether you choose to sell courses from your own website or a platform listed above, without doing this, you’re unlikely to continue being an edupreneur.

Other Instructor Monetization Ideas

If you’ve read through this guide and decided that creating an online course isn’t for you, that’s okay.

While I’d tell anyone who’s overwhelmed by the online course process to take a deep breath and focus on one step at a time, I understand that it’s not for everyone. If this sounds like you, I wanted to make a section to help you understand there are many other ways to monetize your knowledge online, and below is a list of ideas to help.

Start a Blog

I know, I know. Starting a blog seems like a very time-consuming and intimidating process and odds are that you don’t know how to code. That’s okay, believe it or not….neither do I. And I’ve made quite a career doing this. If you’re not sure where to start, consider reading my post that explains how to start a blog or take one of my free courses.

Launch a Youtube Channel

Blogs aren’t the only way to build your own community online. For those that feel more comfortable in front of a camera, you can create a Youtube channel. Not only do popular Youtubers make a lot of money on the platform, but it’s something you should consider because there are so many ways to make money you’ve probably never thought of. Not only that, but you’ll be able to grow your own community and (maybe) come back to selling courses later!

Host and Promote Webinars

While not as popular as some other ways of making money online, using webinar hosting software to sell your services, consulting, or even a product is another great way to make money online. While this also requires someone to be comfortable in front of a camera, it’s certainly an option for those who think they’ll enjoy it.

Start a Podcast

Years ago podcasting wasn’t too popular and was started by a select few who had a dream of hosting their own show. Nowadays, things have changed drastically and there are hundreds, if not thousands of shows on nearly every topic you can think of. This is great for those that don’t want to be in front of the camera. Simply choose a podcast hosting platform, record yourself speaking into a mic, and launch. Like the other options listed, there are plenty of ways to make money with a podcast once you have an established following.

Build an Email Newsletter

Of all the options listed here, this is one of the most unsexy suggestions. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. Many folks don’t know that email marketing is extremely lucrative if done correctly. For this option, you need to choose email marketing software and become well-versed in copywriting to keep your content both interesting and enjoyable to read.

Summary And Top Picks

Now that I’ve given you an in-depth explanation of the best online course platforms to start your own online course business, I hope that you’re able to better understand which one will fit your teaching style.

Before you commit to any single online course platform, make sure you understand its course creation capabilities, how they help you market and sell online courses, how the platform supports instructors, and what student management capabilities there are.

While these factors alone won’t sell courses for you, they’re instrumental in being a successful online course instructor.

Here is my List of the Best Online Course Platforms


Thinkific is the best overall platform with a free plan. This is the most affordable solution with high-quality features that scale as your business does. I use this platform myself.


LearnWorlds offers the best learning experience due to its unique interactive tools like ebooks, assessments, certificates, SCORMs, surveys, and more.


Among all of the platforms on this list, Teachable has the most user-friendly dashboard and features for beginners to start building their first online course(s).


Podia is best for you if you'd like to go beyond courses and create webinars, membership communities, downloads, and more without worrying about technology.


Learndash is the best online course platform for those that are looking to host their courses and online school directly on their own Wordpress website.

Creating and selling online courses is a great way to leverage your knowledge and skills to create a profitable business.

While there’s no shortage of online education platforms available for instructors, choosing from the best online course platforms is just the beginning. Once you’ve chosen one, it’s time to dive in and begin sharing your knowledge with the world.

  • Thanks for organizing this blog post! Very helpful and useful information for educators or soon to be educators, especially at the strategy formation stage of their online adventures. It’s also helpful for those in need of a quick overview of the core tools/platforms to focus on right now, in order to customize their own toolkit for educator success.

  • This blog is so informative, you helped guide me to a decision on which platform to use for my first online course. I appreciate your help greatly. Thanks Ron!!!!

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