15 Platforms to Publish and Sell Online Courses (and Counting)

As I argue in Leading the Learning Revolution, it’s  a whole new world out there if you are an individual subject matter expert or a training/education organization looking to sell online courses.

It used to be that you had to master an authoring tool, license a learning management system (LMS) – or come up with a workaround –  figure out hosting and e-commerce, and then somehow deal with end user support. These days, you can get across the finish line with little more than a Web cam and an Internet connection.

In this post I take a quick look at some of the options that are out there for helping you distribute and sell courses and instructional videos on the Web.

The first part of this list options that may be particularly good for individual experts (speakers, consultants, trainers)  - some of them even have public marketplaces for helping you find customers.

The second part veers toward somewhat more sophisticated LMS and/or content creation features (with a correspondingly higher price tag, in most cases). These options still make it easy to sell your courses, but leave more (or all) of the responsibility for promotion of your courses with you. All of platforms mentioned here are offered on a SaaS (Software as a Service) basis.

Learning-Revolution-CoverIf you’re trying to build a profitable business selling online courses, make sure you have the #1 guide for helping you do it successfully – Leading the Learning Revolution: The Expert’s Guide to Capitalizing on the Exploding Market for Lifelong Learning.  Get your copy today!

Academy of Mine

I’ll admit a bit of bias in putting the Academy of Mine folks at the top of this list: they are doing an excellent job using many of the very tactics I encourage in Leading the Learning Revolution to grow their own learning business, including a very active blog, podcasts, and Webinars that provide value to their audience.  Basically, they are going for relationships – not just transactions. And, of course, they’ve got a platform that makes it easy to get a courses up and running and ready for sale. Pricing starts at $199 a month, but with a special pricing of $10 for an initial month to try it out.

Link: http://www.academyofmine.com

Digital Chalk

DIgital Chalk offers a variety of plans for getting courses online as well as production services to help you do it. If you’ve got the expertise, but don’t want to have to deal with the nuts and bolts of producing a course, this is a choice to consider. The company charges a $399 set up fee and then $4.95 per registration for a basic course. The platform appears to be chock full of great features.

Link: http://www.digitalchalk.com

Ruzuku

The fact that Ruzuku’s home page reads like a section out of Leading the Learning Revolution and the company is (at least partially) located here in my own Carrboro, NC earns the company a high spot on this list. If you are looking for an easy-to -se platform combined with a soup-to-nuts approach to helping you be successful with it, look no further – I’d recommend signing up for their full-year plan (4 additional months free) and getting to it.

Link: http://ruzuku.com/

Pathwright

I had the pleasure of interviewing Pathwright co-founder Paul Johnson on the Learning Revolution podcast, and he also connected me with Jason Blumer, who is using the Pathwright platform with great success. There’s a free Pathwright 101 course that gives a good overview of the platform and using Pathwright is completely free up until the point you start selling. (The company makes money off of taking a percentage of sales once you do start selling.)

Link: http://www.pathwright.com/

SkyPrep

“Don’t let building courses intimidate you,” say the folks at SkyPrep. The company focuses on providing easy tools for getting a course online and delivering it globally. You can license the platform to use as you like, or you can elect to just sell your courses through the SkyPrep marketplace – in which case the company charges a $9 monthly e-commerce fee and takes a 10% commission on sales.

Link: http://skyprep.com/

ProProfs

ProProfs give you tools to add media, quizzes, and certificates to your existing documents, videos & presentations – and then put them into a market place that the company claims reaches more than a million users. Monthly packages start at just under $75 ($60 if you commit to a year) and the company takes 9.5% off of sales through its marketplace.

Link: http://www.proprofs.com

Udemy

The folks at Udemy say “Our goal is to disrupt and democratize education by enabling anyone to learn from the world’s experts.” From what I can tell, they have been doing a pretty good job making waves lately. The Udemy platform gives subject matter experts a simple, straightforward way to assemble content like PowerPoint slides, PDF documents, and YouTube videos into a coherent course experience.You can then publish into the Udemy marketplace and use a variety of tools to promote your masterpieces. Udemy is free for instructors – the company makes it’s money through a 50/50 split whatever you sell. Apparently, as ThinkTraffic reports, some some instructors have been having quite a bit of success.

Link: http://www.udemy.com/teach

MindBites

If video is your thing, MindBites is a great option. The site provides tools and guidance to help you create and publish how-to videos. These can be promoted in the broader MindBites marketplace, but the company also provides the option for you to set up your own customized storefront that you can link to off of your main Website or blog. A free plan is available, and paid plans start at $14 per month.

Link: http://www.mindbites.com/sell

WizIQ

For experts who want to deliver live and on-demand Webinars, WizIQ is an old standby. The company provides a platform through which you can easily offer a live Webinar session – with slides, desktop sharing, audio, and video – that can also be recorded for on-demand access by learners. Courses can be published and sold in WizIQ’s online marketplace. There’s a free 30-day trial, and then paid plans start at $19 a month. It’s unclear from the Web site whether the company also takes a percentage of course sales.

Link: http://www.wiziq.com/

Learning Cart

As the name suggests, Learning Cart is all about hooking e-commerce up to your online courses. The platform can be used to sell just about any kind of online content, and I like the fact that it also has an integrated blog engine to help you with your content marketing and SEO. It also has a number of nice integration – with GoToWebinar and Google Analytics for example. All in all, it is quite sophisticated for $149 per month.

Link: http://www.learningcart.com

OpenSesame

OpenSesame is the first out of this group (as far as I can tell) that allows you to upload courses that you have created using a standards-based (SCORM, AICC)  course authoring package like Articulate Presenter. If you happen to be an expert, or manage experts (e.g., if you represent a training firm or association) that is developing offerings at this level of sophistication, it might be the first place you want to check out. You can also upload video, and the company claims that courses published in its system can be accessed by any learning management system (LMS). So, for example, if you know there are businesses out there that would want your content, but are going to want it on their own LMS, this could be a very powerful option. The company takes 40% of any sales you make through its platform.

Link: https://www.opensesame.com/sell-online-elearning-training-courses

Mindflash

Mindflash aims to give you a simple, straightforward approach to creating and managing courses for a targeted audience (e.g., employees, members) while also having the ability to publish into their public marketplace and make some money from sales there. As might be expected, you can use PPTs, video, and various document types to put together courses, and the system also has a quiz/survey authoring tool. Plans start at $49 per month is you want to train a private audience, but if you just want to publish and sell in the public marketplace, the platform is free. The company takes 15% of your sales. (Note: See the comments section below. It appears Mindflash will close its public marketplace on December 12, 2012.)

Link: http://www.mindflash.com/marketplace/sell-online-courses/

Coggno

With Coggno, you can create courses or upload existing content – including SCORM files. You also have the option to deliver these courses privately or to distribute them through the Coggno marketplace. Coggno also provides the useful twist of enabling organizations to use a branded instance of the Coggno platform for free to offer courses to their target audience (e.g., employees, members) – thus providing yet another distribution option for your content. Organizations that use the LMS in this way pay only for the content they use. For course developers looking to sell their content, pricing starts at $24.95 per month plus 10% of sales.

Link: http://coggno.com/lms/sell-courses

Learning-Revolution-Toolbox-coverIf you’re interested in great tools for creating and marketing online courses, be sure to check out the free (no e-mail required) Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox, a 42-page eBook chock full of great tools and tips!

Litmos

Litmos offers a relatively full-featured LMS with built-in e-commerce options for selling your content (including SCORM courses). If you don’t care about having a marketplace for your content, and are looking for good flexibility for offering both live and on-demand training as well as integrating with other platforms (like, for example, Salesforce), it’s definitely worth a look. There’s a 14-day free trial followed by monthly pricing staring at $49 per month for the Starter edition.

Link: http://www.litmos.com/learning-management-system/sell-online-courses/

Educadium

With its CampusPay LMS services Educadium offers a way to add a simple e-commerce solution to its EasyCampus platform. EasyCampus is, indeed, an easy platform on which to get up and running, but is nonetheless a relatively feature-rich LMS with a range of options for adding on features and services that fit your needs. Pricing for the platform starts at $39 per month and e-commerce fees range from 6.5% to 10% of sales, depending on which subscription package you choose.
http://www.educadium.com/campuspay

Inquisiq

Inquisiq steps up the game quite a bit by offering features like multiple branded site instances (e.g., so that you can set up branded training portals for your business-to-business course sales) and a variety of discount code options for purchasers. Like Litmos, it also provides for issuing certificates to users who complete/pass courses. If you sell primarily to business (as opposed to individual) buyers, you want to be sure to check out this option. There’s a free trial available (for an unspecified period of time), then pricing starts at $200 per month.

Link: http://www.inquisiqr3.com/solutions/sell-your-courses-online/

EZLCMS

While most of the options above have some level of content authoring capabilities, EZLCMS aims to take things a step further with its Adaptive Course Authoring PowerPoint Plug-In. The company says the plug-in ‘will convert your presentation into a mobile-friendly HTML based courseware product that can be delivered on computers and mobile devices.” If you happen to be delivering serious assessments as part of your offerings, EZLCMS also offers item analysis as part of its reporting capabilities. There’s a free 15 day trial and after that pricing starts at $199 per month.

Link: http://www.ezlcms.com/index.php/e-commerce/

If you have used/had success with any of these, or have others you would like to see on the list, please comment and share.

Jeff

Learning-Revolution-Cover-SMIf you’re an expert – or aspiring expert – who wants to create new revenues through online courses and other types of educational content, Leading the Learning Revolution is the comprehensive guide you need. Grab your copy today!

Bonus Option: CourseMerchant

If you happen to have already gone down the Moodle path (widely used open source LMS) for your course delivery needs, then you may want to check out CourseMerchant. While Moodle itself provides a very basic e-commerce option, CourseMerchant helps you take things to a much more sophisticated level – including the ability to bundle courses, offer discounts, and sell multi-seat licenses that allow for the seats to be easily allocated to learners. The CourseMerchant folks are also behind CourseIndex.com, a network that enables you to promote your courses through affiliate marketers.

Link: http://www.coursemerchant.com/
Link: http://www.courseindex.com/

P.S. – If you are looking for a full-fledged learning management system for a trade or professional association, be sure to check out the Tagoras Association Learning Management Systems report.

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for these awesome resources. Some of the very best, clean and easy to use I have found in my research. Cost is always a factor since I am an independent trainer. I have started on Udemy. Will see how it goes. I am also exploring pathwright at the moment. Clean interface, still have to see how it works.

    • Thanks for commenting, Carol – If you have a chance, drop back by at some point, please drop back by and let folks know how your experiences went with Udemy and Pathwright. – Jeff

  2. Lindsey H says:

    Don’t forget DigitalChalk from Asheville, NC as well! http://www.digitalchalk.com :)

  3. Late to the party but AT the party is DojoLearning! http://www.DojoLearning.com :)

  4. BrainCert Makes E-Learning And Passive Earning Painless. BrainCert allows instructors to create courses and upload tests easily and quickly. Once that’s done, the platform integrates with PayPal and Stripe, allowing you to profit from the information you’ve provided. BrainCert is generous with that, too, giving you 90% of the sales revenue from whatever you sell. – https://www.braincert.com/

  5. Thanks for the excellent info.
    I feel that nowadays it isn’t difficult to build your own training website using Paypal as the payment gateway.
    What do you think could be the disadvantages of going your own way?

    • Dinesh -

      Just using Paypal as a payment gateway and one of any number of approaches to managing access to content (like, for example, a membership plugin) can work just fine. The platforms listed here all manage access rights as an integrated part of the software and have done a good bit to streamline the e-commerce process. Many of them also streamline authoring of educational content and make it easier to integrate content, assessments, and social interaction (e.g., discussion boards) into a single educational experience. It all depends on what learning models you plan to use and how adept you feel at taking a more DIY approach. – Jeff

  6. Thanks, Jeff for the great list! I know this will be a valuable resource for many folks.

  7. Jeff –

    Thank you for including OpenSesame on your list. If you or any of your readers have questions or would like to know more, please let me know!

  8. Before rushing off to Udemy….you should read this. Not as great as everyone says.

    http://www.planningforfailure.com/post/63542124884/udemy-takes-more-from-instructors-censors-critics

    Some pretty angry instructors in the comments area.

    Hope this helps

  9. Jeff — I am the Publisher at Siminars. I’d love to get your feedback on our platform. Please check out siminars.com and email me if you have any ideas or questions. Thanks and have a great year ahead!

  10. Hello,

    Have you heard of EDU 2.0 ( http://www.edu20.org). EDU 2.0 is an LMS that has a beautiful user interface and a lot of features that many of the companies you mentioned here doesn’t have. Please check out a tour of EDU 2.0 https://www.edu20.org/info/tour and maybe you can add it to your list. Thank you.

  11. Thanks for the excellent article.

    For the pretty angry instructors on Udemy pricing model, i’d like to suggest Kunerango (https://kunerango.com).

    Thanks

  12. Hi Jeff,

    I have one question, if you can help. Security is always a challenge in e-learning content. Any suggestions to ensure that viewers can not download the video.

    • Most of the video oriented services (e.g., Udemy, MindBites) are going to present the video in a way that it cannot be downloaded. Or you can use something like JPlayer in WordPress, or Vimeo with the download capability turned off. Of course, there’s pretty much nothing you can do to prevent someone from making a screen recording if they really are determined to.

  13. amazing article. There’s another company I just found while searching on the web. They take away 30% better than udemy’s 50/50.

    it’s called scooltv. https://scooltv.com

  14. What about Udacity?

    • Not sure Udacity is really a fit for the type of thing I’m talking about here. I’m not aware that you can create/deliver whatever you want on Udacity – you basically have to be selected by them or one of their partners to do a course. Correct me if I am wrong, though. – Jeff

  15. Is the platform at iteachers.com (which forwards to http://www.myonlinecampus.org/) something that you’ve looked at, Jeff?

    How does it compare to these others?

    Mahalo for this fine information!

  16. I was wondering if you have specific recommendations for platforms suitable for teaching language courses. I’ve looked at several on this list so far and they look very interesting, but it’s not immediately clear to me how well they would integrate with a webinar tool for live meetings/discussions. It’s also not clear which has the most powerful quiz/testing/tracking capabilities.

  17. stephane caron says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks so much for those great infos. That should most definitely help me with my plans to start up a training platform. Thanks to your infos, I can now narrow my search for the best tool to use.

    I wish to put online downloadable checklists, videos and emit certificates. And one thing also that I wish to be able to do is allow my trainees to download mobile device friendly version of my lists and videos.
    Any obvious suggestions ?

  18. Hi Jeff, this is a great list. Click 4 Course is another relevant one to add… especially for companies looking for a very cost-effective platform (starting at just $19 per month). It also includes a company-branded website for students to access the course. It’s super easy to use as well. http://www.click4course.com

    Thanks! Jacob

  19. Many good solutions out there – I’m adding ours to the pile – worldclass.io is a platform with built in quizzing, MOOC, gamification and commerce modules + rich analytics and user mgmt.
    We’re 100% customisable and you can configure the front-end to go with any design or hosting service you’re currently using.

  20. Hello, Jeff – great list, thanks for the detailed insights. A question for you: do you know which of these companies and systems will provide sales and distribution of my existing courses in my existing LMS? It appears that most (all?) required the content to be converted to or loaded into their LMS/CMS.

    thanks!

    • Bob – Apologies for the delay in responding. I was not notified of the comment for some reason. As far as I know, none of these support pulling content from another LMS. That has always been somewhat tricky territory – hopefully something that will be addressed as emerging standards (Tin Can) gets more broadly adopted and implemented. – Jeff

  21. Good list Jeff, its missing us though, Firmwater LMS has been built specifically for training companies to sell, deliver, track and report their online training courses. Here is a link to our patnership with Shopify – http://www.firmwater.com/lms/features/sell-courses-online.php – let me know what you think, I hope to see us added to the list.

  22. If you are looking to sell videos from your website take a look at http://www.HostStreamSell.com, they even have wordpress plugins for easy integration.

  23. Great resources Jeff. It will make it easy for Selling online courses in various platform.

  24. Thanks for the post, Jeff! The info on Udemy is not current, late last year the pricing structure changed. Right now, instructors get 50%. And depending on other factors, you might only get 25%.

  25. Hi Jeff, I know you are planning to update this list soon. When you do please add Skilljar to the list – (www.skilljar.com).
    Thanks! Keegan

  26. Don’t forget Lightspeedvt.com. They specialize in creating interactive video training courses for speakers, consultants, and other experts. They’re based out of Las Vegas and have done work with Bravo (Top Chef’s Cooking Courses), GM, and countless speakers. They’re start-up fees are a little steep for most people, but it’s definitely what you’re talking about in the article.

    Jeff

  27. Michael says:

    Pathright catalog seems to be dead.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Ever been told “You should sell your courses online”?  There are literally thousands of courses online these days and as so many are free, it might be challenging to get people to pay for them.  But if you have something unique…or it is a different kind of learning experience…then go for it!  Have a look at the points at How To Create Courses That Sell Online and then have a browse through 15 Platforms to Publish and Sell Online Courses (and Counting). […]

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    15 Platforms to Publish and Sell Online Courses (and Counting) – Learning Revolution

  3. […] learn about twelve additional venues for creating and selling your own training content by reading this article at The Learning Revolution’s […]

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