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How To Choose The Right Platform For Your Online Course

Excited about planning and launching your online course?

You should be!

With all the platforms available, it’s never been easier to create courses online. In fact, the hardest part might actually be choosing the right platform for your course!

Yet this crucial step shouldn’t be rushed. It’s vital to find an online platform that suits your needs and works well with your business.

So, should you self-host or use a platform like Thinkific or Kajabi?

Read on to find out what you should look for and get an overview of the best online course platforms.

Define Your Needs First

Before you start searching for platforms, you should have an idea of how your course will be structured, what kind of content you will use, and how you would like it all to come together.

If you’re not clear on this before you start Googling, you could end up being influenced by all the cool bells and whistles on offer. It may mean you design your content around the platform, rather than using the platform to optimise your content.

I know it’s tempting to dive straight in, but do take time to sit down and clarify your business strategy and learning strategy before choosing your platform. This will help you stay true to your brand.

Of course, if you have never created an online course, it’s hard to know what features are out there or what questions to ask yourself. So, let’s dive in and cover some of those.

Do you have time?

Have you got loads of spare time to get your course set up? If so, you may be happy with a platform that has a more involved set-up process. If your time is limited, a platform that does a lot of the grunt work for you may be better, such as Thinkific.

Are you tech-savvy?

If you are a bit clueless about coding and the technical side of websites, you will need to find a platform that does it all for you. However, if you enjoy that sort of thing, you will be comfortable with a more complex platform, or even self-hosting options such as WordPress.

Can you scale?

Hopefully, your course will be wildly successful. Even if you’re starting small, you want a platform that allows you to scale up if you need to. Ensure there aren’t caps on the number of students, sales, emails, or the amount of content you offer. For example, platforms like Thinkific provide a range of plans. You can start with the “Essentials” option and upgrade to “Business” or “Advanced” as your business grows.

How will you handle payments?

Do you want to be paid via PayPal, Stripe, or another method? Different online platforms have varied payment options. Make sure the available ones suit your needs and can charge in the currency you wish to use.

What tools will you need to make your course successful?

Not all platforms are created equal. Some may include a wide range of features, and others may allow you to integrate various tools. For example, if you want to be able to email your students, use an online shopping cart, or post videos, check that your platform is capable of all these things.

Check for hidden fees

Be crystal clear on how much the course platform will cost you. Some platforms charge transaction fees on top of their pricing plans, which can prove to be very costly if your business takes off. Check the small print before making your decision.

What features do you need?

Bells and whistles can be fun, but not all of them are essential to create a great course. However, some features are deal breakers – here’s a shortlist.

  • Video hosting – make sure your platform can host your videos directly. Posting your video content on Vimeo or YouTube and linking it to your course can be time-consuming.
  • Custom domains – you want people to find your course under your name, so make sure this is part of the deal.
  • Direct payments – ensure your payment method allows you to get paid immediately for online course sales. If not, you might end up waiting 30 days or more to see your cash come in!
  • Mobile-compatible – ensure that your course content can be viewed just as well on mobile phones as other devices.
  • Analytics – the success of your course depends hugely on marketing. To market well, you need to review and analyse your sales data. Make sure your platform supports various marketing tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.

The Best Online Course Platforms

The search results are bursting with the “newest,” “best,” “fanciest” online course platforms. It can feel somewhat overwhelming trying to narrow down the candidates.

Save yourself some time by checking out five of the best platforms.

1. Thinkific

Ideal for building your course from scratch, Thinkific is super-easy to use – even for beginners. There are ready-to-use templates to make course design easy regardless of the kind of content – from video lessons and quizzes to downloads and surveys.

Each template provides tips and advice to optimise your course, and the website builder is intuitive and straightforward. The plans are great value, and they are all hugely scalable, with no hidden transaction fees. Plus, you can integrate a wide variety of tools with your Thinkific course.

Although Thinkific is straightforward to use, it’s by no means a basic platform. There are more advanced site-building features available to those who need them.

2. Kajabi

Kajabi makes marketing your course a piece of cake as it offers a complete package. There are three different plans to choose from. However, be mindful that all of the options come at a considerably higher cost than many other platforms. Kajabi offers subscription services, affiliate program management, and promotions management.

3. Teachable

Teachable offers various plans, from basic to high volume. The free and basic plans include transaction fees, while the higher-level plans stick to monthly payments. The higher-tier plans include instant payouts, graded quizzes, and advanced customisation.

4. Podia

This platform has no transaction fees and unlimited everything, so it is highly scalable. The plans are affordable, and there’s excellent, seven day per week customer support for those who need it, as well as the ability to sell digital products and memberships. On the flipside, it’s not so well-rated for the ability to customise and isn’t as easy to use as Kajabi or Thinkific.

5. Kartra

Kartra has no free option. The lowest priced plan is quite expensive compared to platforms like Thinkific and Teachable, and there are three further advanced plans to choose from. However, the marketing support here is quite advanced and includes funnel templates.

Which Platform Is Right For You?

Choosing the right platform for your course is an important step, but after that, the fun really begins!

I am really passionate about helping my clients build top quality courses that improve their industry authority and deliver excellent value to their subscribers. When it comes to online course platforms, my top recommendation is Thinkific. This platform offers endless flexibility for you to build and customise your course the way you want it. It’s user-friendly and versatile, offering great value for money.

If you have been meaning to get your online course off the ground but haven't been able to find the time, then let’s chat! I specialise in helping busy business owners plan, design, create and implement their online courses. Book a time to chat with me now.

If you’re interested in setting up a course or want to know more about how it all works, sign up for your FREE four-page online course planning checklist, or book in for a FREE 20-minute call with me to find out more.

If you're keen to get started on your online course, my 90 min Zoom Online Course Planning Session might be just what you need.

Checkout my Online Course Creation Packages:

Online Course Planning Session
Online Course Setup Package
Online Course Complete Package

Would you like to check out my preferred online course platform, here's a one month free trial of Thinkific (note this is an affiliate link).


OTHER TASK DIVA SERVICES

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Author

Debbie Mills Robertson
Online Course Creation & Email Marketing
debbie@taskdiva.co.nz
027 345 7000



 

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