Platforms for Selling Online Courses

The list of platforms for selling online courses seems to grow longer daily, making the task of choosing the right platform really daunting. Read on for tips on how to make the right choice.

Selling Online Courses - Photo of Learning Management System return key on keyboard

First, for a relatively short, organized list of platforms to consider (and many more added in the comments), check out:

Keep in mind that if all you need to do is make sure that only paying/registered learners can access your content, it’s possible you don’t need any sort of specialized platform for selling courses. Many membership and e-commerce plug-ins for WordPress and other popular content management systems can handle this level of functionality.

If, on the other hand, you want access to real learning features like quizzes, course-specific discussion, and tracking of learner performance, you probably need a more specialized platform. At the most basic level, a good platform for selling online courses should be able to:

  • Present a catalog of courses
  • Enroll learners through an e-commerce transaction (often through integration with major payment platforms like Stripe, Paypal, Infusionsoft, or 1ShoppingCart)
  • Present enrolled learners with a menu for launching their courses
  • Provide for basic quizzing/testing
  • Provide tools for communicating with learners by e-mail and forum
  • Track learner participation, quiz scores, and completions
  • Provide tools for you to be able manage and report on everything above

Most of the most popular online course platforms are also going to have tools for you to create courses, though keep in mind that this is double-edged sword: creating courses in whatever platform you choose may be the easiest way to go, but it may also be hard to get those courses out later, if you decide to switch platforms. If “portability” of your courses is really important to you, then you may want to check out some of the tools I highlight in Create an Online Course. Keep in mind that relatively few of the platforms that are geared towards solopreneurs support SCORM, which it the set e-learning standards designed to – among other things – help ensure portability of content from one platform to another.

selling online courses - Thinkific is a top choice - Thinkific logoWhile I don’t endorse specific platforms, I do understand that the range of choices can be confusing and it can be helpful for an expert to just say “look at this one, it’s a top choice” if you want to sell online courses. So, here’s one of my top choices: Thinkific. Check it out. You can create a free course right away, and I know you will like what you see. Also, they are very upfront about their pricing and about how the different plans compare. – Jeff

Finally, because they are, after all, platforms for selling online courses, most of the more popular online course platforms are going to provide a range of marketing tools. These may include:

  • Upselling and suggestive selling tools
  • Capabilities for “drip release” of content
  • The ability to create and offer coupons and discounts
  • The ability to establish an affiliate program for your courses
  • Social media sharing buttons
  • Rating and review capabilities for courses in your catalog
  • The ability to create dedicated, SEO-optimized course landing pages

Some platforms – Udemy being by far the most popular – also provide a marketplace in which you can sell your courses.

The bottom line is that both the number and quality of platforms for selling online courses has skyrocket in recent years. So, if you are a subject matter entrepreneur looking to make online courses a part of your business model, you are definitely in the right place at the right time!

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The links on this page go along with The Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox, a free eBook.

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