Last updated October 31, 2019 – News: Teachable has introduced a course marketplace option that readers here will want to know about.
In most cases, though, these posts highlight platforms like Teachable or Thinkific as alternatives. While, technically speaking, these are good alternatives (and I am a fan of both), I suspect that a lot of people searching on “alternative to Udemy” or “sites like Udemy” are really looking for a substitute for Udemy.
Why does it matter?!
Simply put, an alternative represents a different way of achieving the same goal – in this case, selling online courses.
A substitute, on the other hand, is a replacement – in this case, a platform that offers nearly all of the same features as Udemy.
While that may sound like just a bunch of academic hair-splitting, it’s actually a critical difference. One of the main functions of Udemy, after all, is to offer a marketplace, a ready-made destination for people who are shopping for online courses. This is one of the main reasons that edupreneurs flock to Udemy in the first place.
So, sites like Udemy – ones that are really like Udemy – need to offer a marketplace.
While both Teachable and Thinkific – both often touted as Udemy alternatives – offer significant advantages over Udemy in many ways, they do not offer a marketplace – and, as far as I know, have no plans to. (For other options like Teachable and Thinkific, see 15 Platforms to Publish and Sell Online Courses.)
So, what other platforms do offer a marketplace for your courses? That is, which sites like Udemy may truly be a substitute for Udemy rather than (or in addition to) an alternative to Udemy? Take a look at the following:
10+ Alternatives to Udemy:
Note: I update this list frequently. If you happen to notice anything incorrect in it or feel there is a platform that needs to be added, please contact me.
With Coggno, you can create courses or upload existing content – and, unlike most Udemy alternatives, 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 (i.e., more of a business-to-business, or B2B, marketplace). 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 $34.95 per month. Coggno also takes a percentage of sales. This varies depending on the price of the course and how it is sold, so be sure to check out the pricing page.
Like Udemy, Curious is video-focused, providing a set of tools to help teachers organize their videos and add exercises and other types of interactivity. With respect to marketing your content out to its base of learners, the company touts a “multi-channel approach – and classic marketing techniques like organic search (SEO), paid advertising (SEM), direct marketing and most importantly, social media.” Teachers earn money through revenue sharing (Curious says 70% goes to teachers), tips, and what the company calls “referral bounties.” Details can be found on the company’s Teacher Payment page.
edureka! touts live online courses, 24/7 support, and high completion rates. The site is mainly tech oriented at the moment, but there is also a marketing and finance category. I can’t find instructor terms, though someone has posted on Quora that instructors don’t make more than 20 percent. (If anyone can confirm or deny, please comment.)
Learning.ly is a relative newcomer among Udemy alternatives, but give that it has the backing of The Economist Group (publishers of the widely-read financial magazine), you can expect it to be a strong contender. Presumably, given its publishing background, the group already has pretty good reach into a well-educated learner based that is likely to be receptive to lifelong learning opportunities. Courses at Learning.ly consists of a combination of video, audio, and presentations (i.e., slides) and the company offers the interesting option of hiring “a personal concierge who is dedicated to building learning experiences from your content.” (It’s unclear how much this costs – is anyone has done it, please comment.) Teachers earn 50 percent of the revenue on all courses sold.
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OfCourse describes itself as a lifestyle and self improvement online learning platform that hosts and promotes video-led courses to over 9 million people across the UK, in addition to large audiences in Australia, The UAE, and Scandinavia. The company is not clear about the terms that it offers to teachers, but claims there is the potential to “earn £1,000’s in passive income every month.” To get started you have to “register interest,” but it’s not clear what happens after that.
Like Coggno (above) OpenSesame is one of the only options 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. (Udemy does not allow for this.) 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.
Simlpliv focuses online learning for business concepts, software technology, and personal and professional goals. Like most of the sites listed here, the learning is primarily video driven. The company offers two scenarios for course authors to earn money. The first is a 50/50 split on any sales that happen organically through a visitor finding the course on the Simpliv site. The second – which I think many edupreneurs will find quite attractive – is 97% to the author whenever the purchaser uses a coupon provide by the author. Full details about the terms are available here.
Skillshare is probably the best known contender among Udemy alternatives. It provides instructors with tools to create online courses composed of video lessons and a “class project.” (All classes are have these two elements.) Classes are normally 10-25 minutes long, broken down into short videos, and they are all pre-recorded and self-paced. Once you have enrolled more than 25 learners in a class, you become eligible for participation in Skillshare’s Partner Program and can earn money through the royalty pool managed by the company – usually $1-2 per enrollment, according to the company. (Unlike Udemy – discussed below – Skillshare sells subscriptions to all of its content rather than to individual courses.) Once you are a partner, you’ll also get compensated for new Premium Members ($10 per) you bring to Skillshare through your Teacher Referral link. The Skillshare site reports that “Top teachers make up to $40,000 a year.”
Skillwise is brand of Stack Commerce, a company that has built a very large global distribution network for digital content, including online courses.Instructors get 50 percent of sales on sites StackCommerce owns and 30 percent on partner sites (All the details about terms and about Skillwise, in general, can be found here. While Stack does not mandate pricing to quite the degree that Udemy does, it does determine the final price for for your courses, based off of your suggested price. The company notes that typical pricing for a course is between $9 and $49,
For experts who want to deliver live and on-demand Webinars, WizIQ is an old standby. Among the Udemy alternatives, it is the option most focused on Webinars as a form of delivery. 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. WizIQ does also plug-ins for Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard Learn – popular learning management systems in the academic world. There’s a free 30-day trial, and then paid plans start at $33 a month (billed annually) plus a 5 percent per transaction fee of use of WizIQ’s payment gateway. (It’s unclear from the Web site whether you can use your own gateway.)
Finally, while not as open an option as the above platforms, it is worth noting that Lynda.com does accept proposals from instructors who want to offer a course on its platform, so it could still be considered among the true Udemy alternatives.
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But Is the Udemy Model the Best Option?
While this post is all about online course platforms to replace Udemy, you may also want to think seriously about when (and whether) it makes sense to consider the Udemy business model.
It’s always tempting to think that having access to a big marketplace is going to magically make your courses sell, but it won’t. You will still need to market your courses effectively to stand out from the crowd in any marketplace platform. My view is that it is much better to build up your own brand and have full control over all of your user data – especially e-mail contact data, which is the lifeblood of any successful online business.
Finally, while you are here, check out the full range of tools to help you create and sell online courses in the free Learning Revolutionary’s Toolbox.