Best Online Course and Learning Platforms (Ultimate Guide for 2020)

Are you looking to make money by selling online courses?  You are in the right place, then.

Online course platforms have become very popular in recent times, especially during the coronavirus age where physical classes aren't possible.

As a result, selling online courses is becoming a pretty lovely way to make money, but you will need the backing of the best online course platform to tap into the market truly.

If you are unaware of online course platforms, the basic idea behind them is that they let you create online courses with ease, let you sell them, and also let you market them.

Online course platforms usually pack many more convenient features like membership communities, videos, assignments, quizzes, etc.

As you would have guessed, there are quite a few of these online course platforms on the market, which begs the question, “Which one is the best?”

In this article, I have ranked the 15 best online course platforms after spending hours carefully analyzing every service.

I have made the rankings after extensive research on the pricing and features that the platform offers you. Hopefully, after going through the list, you will be able to make an informed purchase.

Alright, so let's get started with it.

What Are Online Course Platforms?

As I explained before, online course platforms are websites that provide you with tools for course creation, distribution, and marketing.

Online course platforms are a type of LMS (Learning Management System). These websites help provide your customers access to virtual classes.

Online classes provided in this way are quite useful as the teacher can provide lectures through video, audio, text, etc.

Once someone purchases a course from you, they will be able to go at their own pace through the lectures while taking notes and doing relevant quizzes.

The best online course platforms offer you much more than that. Some of their features are easy content uploads, a sales funnel, certificates, a  fully-functional website, and quizzes.

To effectively reach your audience, you will need to get the best online course platform so that you can market yourself properly and be able to monetize your courses to the maximum.

On another note, if you're looking for an online job, check out my best online jobs list for ideas.

What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?

Before you can decide which online course platform is for you, you need to figure out what exactly it is that you want from one.

For me, the most optimal online course platforms are those who entirely (or almost entirely) automate your business.

Automating processes like sales is vital as you will then save yourself a lot of time and hassle and give your due focus to course creation itself.

A successful course creator should be able to create and deliver course content as efficiently as possible. You aren't going to be able to do that without an online course platform specifically suited to you.

So yeah, you should look for specific features that you think are relevant to you. For example, if you have a WordPress blog, you may want to look into an online course platform with WordPress integration.

Now, let's begin with the best online course platforms in 2020.

  1. Thinkific
  2. LearnWorlds
  3. Teachable
  4. Kajabi
  5. LearnDash
  6. Podia
  7. Ruzuku
  8. Academy of Mine
  9. WizIQ

1. Thinkific

Best Overall Online Course Platform (Free or $49/mo)

Hands-down, the best online course platform, is, in my opinion, Thinkific.

Thinkific is a powerful course building platform that offers all the essential features like marketing tools, 24/7 customer support, and full e-commerce.

Thinkific is also reasonably priced. There are four plans:

best online course platforms

The Free account is exceptional when compared to the free versions of other platforms. It has these features:

Three Courses, Unlimited students, Quizzes & surveys, Content hosting, Instant access to your funds, Student notifications, Full e-commerce, and Upsell offers.

Their cheapest paid plan is the Basic plan, which costs only $39 per month and includes all the features from the free version and these additional features:

Unlimited courses, Coupons, Email students, Drip content, Affiliate reporting, Custom Domain, Email Integrations, Zapier triggers and Manual student enrollments, and exports.

The Professional plan is the most popular offering from Thinkific. It costs $79 per month and includes these features (along with all the Basic features):

Two Site admin accounts, Five Course admins/authors, Private & hidden courses, Advanced course pricing options, Memberships and bundles, Certificates, Advanced Customization, Priority Support, Assignments, and Communities.

Lastly, the Premier plan costs $399 per month. Features on top of the Premier ones are:

Five admin accounts, 15 Group analysts, 50 Course admins/authors,  Single Sign On (SSO), Onboarding package, and an Unlimited growth package.

One thing that makes Thinkific stand out in my eyes is that it charges you zero transaction fees. You will get the whole of what your customer pays you!

Thinkific is user-friendly and has an easy to use interface. Other nice things about Thinkific are drag and drop builder, well-designed templates, and advanced marketing tools.

The free plan is good enough that you can use it to get the feel of Thinkific. Though, for achieving anything real, you will have to obtain a paid subscription.

There is also a 30-day free trial for the Pro plan. You can try to create and sell online courses with its help.

So, as you can see, Thinkific has something extraordinary to offer you and combined with that sick pricing, it becomes a no-brainer to sell online courses here. Yes, I recommend Thinkific!

2. LearnWorlds

Best for Premium, Interactive Learning Experiences ($24/month)

Number two on my list is LearnWorlds, an online course platform that's perfect for keeping your students engaged as you can interact with them in several different ways.

I would say LearnWorlds is pretty affordable, although it lacks a free plan. There are three paid plans.

The Starter plan costs $24 per month, while the Pro Trainer plan costs $79 per month, and the Learning Center plan costs $249 per month.

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Pro Trainer is their most popular plan, and if you decide to go with it, you will get access to these features:

  • 5 Admins/instructors
  • Unlimited courses
  • Unlimited landing pages
  • Drip Feed Courses
  • Complete website builder with blog
  • Subscriptions & Memberships, Installments
  • Fully customizable Course Player
  • Customizable checkout page
  • Custom Certificates
  • SCORM / Multimedia files
  • Affiliate Management
  • Zapier & Premium Integrations
  • Question Banks
  • Coupons
  • Onboarding call
  • 24/7 Priority email support
  • No transaction fees.

I don't recommend getting the Starter plan as it has a transaction fee of $5 for every course sale you make.

The $5 fees can feel quite significant, especially when you are only starting with course creation. The extra cost for the Pro Trainer plan is worth it since it has no fees at all.

What makes LearnWorlds earn the number two spot on the list is that it helps you create some excellent interactive classrooms.

Some of these interactive tools include questionnaires, tests, quizzes, etc.

LearnWorlds makes course creation a simple task as it provides you with pre-made course templates and catalogs.

LearnWorlds also gives you the ability to make discount coupons, which you can provide to your students to incentivize them to continue using your services.

There are also marketing tools like social media integrations and an analytic platform to help you optimize sales.

Overall, LearnWorlds is a pretty good choice for an online course platform. It gets regular updates, and 24/7 customer service is excellent.

If you think LearnWorlds is what you are looking for, then I would say get right into it.

3.

Podia

Great for Digital Downloads and Webinars ($39/month)

Sixth on the list is Podia, an easy to use online course platform that will give you everything you need to create and sell your online courses in a single package.

Podia has a pretty reasonable price when you consider that it offers you more than five different tools at the cost of one.

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The Mover plan costs $39/month and gives you these features:

  • Your storefront
  • Online course builder
  • Digital downloads
  • Webinars
  • Email marketing
  • Messaging
  • Additional teammates ($20/month each)
  • No transaction fees
  • Unlimited everything
  • Seven days a week support
  • Free migrations

You get all these features in the Shaker ($79/month) plan, and also the following:

  • Memberships
  • Zoom integration
  • Blog
  • Offsite Buy buttons
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Third-party

Note that while Podia doesn't charge any transaction fees, their payment processors still charge 2.9% + $0.30.

Podia also features a drip content tool, which is essential for adequately pacing a course, which saves you a lot of time, which you can then use on improving your lectures.

You can also add coupons and memberships in Podia, which are crucial for building a profitable website as you can use them to retain your customers better.

One feature I love is the affiliate marketing one, which lets you see all your affiliate reports in one place, making managing and tracking them a lot easier.

The membership features are quite significant. You can grow a small community of your own as you can interact with your members and connect with more people through Facebook and Slack.

You can also host webinars on Podia, which you can either charge for or make it free and use the opportunity to help generate more leads.

To conclude, Podia is a pretty good online course platform if you are looking for sweet membership options and are into affiliate marketing.

4. Kajabi

Best High-End Online Course Platform for Professionals ($119/month)

Kajabi is an online course platform with some powerful features. It has top of the industry features in all departments, be that course creation or marketing.

The pricing of Kajabi is a bit on the higher-end, but if you stop to think about it, you will realize that Kajabi's features are well worth the high price.

Their Basic plan starts at $119/month, while the most popular subscription, Growth, costs $159/month.

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I recommend the Growth plan since it offers the best value out of all the subscriptions. If you decide to get it, you will get access to these features:

  • 15 Products
  • 15 Pipelines
  • Unlimited Landing Pages
  • Unlimited Marketing Emails
  • 25,000 Contacts
  • 10,000 Active Members
  • One Website
  • Ten Admin Users
  • Kajabi University
  • 0% Transaction Fee
  • Webinars & Events
  • Ready to Use Templates
  • Assessments (Quizzes & Surveys)
  • 24/7 Chat Support
  • Advanced Automations
  • Ability to Remove Kajabi Branding
  • Affiliate Program

What makes Kajabi standout from the rest of the competition for me is the automation features.

It features a fully-automated email marketing tool, in which you can organize your customers in whatever way you like, and you can also set triggers for sending emails at specific timings.

If you want only the best marketing features in the market, then Kajabi is for you. Don't think twice and get started with your subscription today!

5. LearnDash

Great LMS for WordPress Users ($13.25/month)

WordPress website owners, LearnDash is the best online course platform for you. It has some excellent features, and it can fully integrate with WordPress.

LearnDaSH's prices range from $13.25/month (Basic) to $27.5/month (Pro Package). As you can see, it's quite cheap.

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All plans come with these features:

  • Unlimited Users and  Courses
  • Course Content Protection
  • Drip-Feed Lessons
  • Advanced Quizzing
  • Certificates & Badges
  • Course Forums
  • Email Notifications
  • Free Integrations
  • 1-Year Support & Updates
  • Demo Site Template

All the different packages only differ from each other in how many website licenses do you get. Also, the ProPanel feature isn't present in the Basic plan.

I highly recommend that you go with the Plus package as it costs only $15.75/month and offers you ten site licenses.

A unique feature in LearnDash is the Focus Mode, enabling which helps the student focus on learning by eliminating all distractions.

The drip content feature makes it easy for you to manage your course as your students don't get overwhelmed since they would only receive content weekly or monthly, rather than all at the start.

So yeah, if you have WordPress websites and are looking for online course platforms with excellent features like drip content, grading, etc., then you should go ahead with LearnDash.

6.

Teachable

Best Online Course Platform for Beginners ($29 – $299/mo)

The third best online course platform is none other than Teachable. It boasts some of the best features available in the market.

Teachable is also pretty reasonably priced. It even has a free version, which is still good enough while not as good as Thinkific's.

The pricing ranges from $0 (the Free version) to $249/month (the Business plan).

best online course platforms

In my opinion, the best subscription is the Professional one, which costs only $99/ month. With this plan, you get these cutting-edge features:

  • Unlimited video hosting
  • Unlimited students
  • Unlimited hosting
  • Unlimited courses
  • Integrated payment processing
  • Student management
  • Lecture comments
  • Graded quizzes
  • Instant payouts
  • Five admin-level users
  • Priority Product support
  • Course creator training
  • Custom domain support
  • Coupon codes
  • Drip course content
  • Integrated affiliate marketing
  • Integrated email marketing
  • Third-party integrations.
  • Advanced theme customization
  • Advanced reports
  • Unbranded website
  • Course completion certificates
  • Course compliance.

On top of all these features, there is also zero transaction fees included in this plan, unlike the Basic ($29/month) plan, where you will have to pay a 5% fee on every sale you make.

With features like graded quizzes, drop course content, etc., your courses are sure to become engaging, and with marketing features like advanced reports, you can improve your conversion rate.

Course creation is also pretty easy on the platform, you require zero coding knowledge, and even an amateur can create some fantastic looking courses.

If you are looking for an online course platform that offers you unlimited hosting, then Teachable is undoubtedly the way to go!

On another note, I compared Teachable with Kajabi. Check it out if you're in two minds about choosing one of them.

7. Ruzuku

The Ridiculously Easy Online Course Platform ($74.75/month)

If you are looking for an online course platform whose main advertising point is how easy to use it is, Ruzuku is the one for you.

With Ruzuku's great features, you can build a course from scratch without any prior knowledge about course building or coding, in a matter of minutes.

Ruzuku is the ultimate beginner-friendly platform. However, if you are an advanced user, don't worry, as Ruzuku still offers you some excellent service.

Ruzuku offers a massive set of excellent features at a decent price-point. Like, it has unlimited students, courses, and webinars.

best platforms to host your online course

No need to worry about any transaction fees with Ruzuku as there isn't any. Not even in the cheapest plan.

Something admirable about Ruzuku is that its main focus is on getting you to teach your students, rather than worry about handling tools and stuff.

Many other online course platforms have you spend hours on end working on course creation and managing your business.

Ruzuku makes it a simple process and, you can relax and just do the thing you wanted to do in the first place: Earn through teaching.

I highly recommend Ruzuku if you think it's suited for you.

8. Academy of Mine

The Enterprise Platform That is Custom-Built to Your Business Needs ($499/month)

Number eight on the list is Academy of Mine, an online course platform mainly geared at decently sized businesses looking to launch courses.

Academy of Mine has hands-down the ultimate features that you can get in a course platform. It offers unlimited users and courses.

In my opinion, one of the highlight features of the Academy of Mine platform is the free development hours tool. You can make use of this feature to get your course development done at zero cost!

They also have some cutting-edge marketing features as the platform isn't only for helping you with course creation, but also for helping you market and sell courses.

As for the pricing, it's naturally on the higher side of the spectrum.

The cheapest plan costs $499/month. If you are an individual running a business, it's perfectly understandable that you would find the price too high.

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Academy of Mine isn't for individuals, but businesses with a considerable employee base. These big businesses use the Academy of Mine to train their employees.

To top it off, the Academy of Mine has impressive features to offer, and I highly recommend it to every business that is looking to provide courses to their employees.

9. WizIQ

Affordable Live Virtual Online Classrooms ($27/month)

WizIQ is an affordable option for teachers looking to set up live online classes.

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A selling point of WizIQ is that it makes it relatively easy to set up a virtual classroom in which you can give live interactive classes to your students.

It comes packed with all the necessary features like video streaming, tests, analytics, and forums.

If you are a teacher looking for a virtual classroom platform, then look no further than WizIQ.

What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?

As physical classroom learning is unfeasible in the global pandemic's current state, students need to look up other methods to educate themselves.

Online course platforms, or more precisely, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), allow students to buy courses from a marketplace to teach themselves.

Course creators can use online learning platforms to sell their online courses. Though, keep in mind that these websites take a cut for each sale that you get.

Nonetheless, these platforms are still worth it as you will open your way to new audiences this way.

Here is my best online learning platforms list:

1. Shaw Academy

If you are looking for an online learning platform that offers only legitimate and curated courses, Shaw Academy is for you.

Students only need to sign up for Shaw Academy once, and they will get access to every course available on the website.

Shaw Academy makes it relatively easy to filter through courses, which means you will always find ones closely matched with your requirements.

For example, there are three different categories for courses, hobbyists, professionals, and entrepreneurs. So, you can just filter them using these criteria.

What Does Shaw Academy Cost?

Cost is the most significant factor when deciding to go for a service, and Shaw Academy excels here.

For the first four weeks, you can get access to the entire website for free. After that period, you will have to pay $49.99-$60/month.

Shaw Academy Pros

The free period (the first four weeks) is a big pro as you can use it to get a feel of the platform and see for yourself the quality of the courses offered.

Another big pro is that all courses offered on the platform are legitimate and globally recognized, which means that they will come to use down the line in your career when you receive your certificates.

The platform is especially suitable for working professionals, as they can take courses about the latest technologies here, like Photoshop, web development, etc.

These courses will let you stay up-to-date with the current environment, look good on your portfolio, and surely help you get an edge over the competition.

You can also take these courses at your own pace, so there is no need to worry about whether you can fit them into your schedule.

Shaw Academy Cons

Nothing is perfect. The same goes for Shaw Academy.

A possible con of the platform is that not all industries have all types of courses available, so you may not find what you want to learn.

Another con is that hobby classes are fewer in number when compared to the competition.

Shaw Academy Review: Final Verdict

Shaw Academy is a super online learning platform if you want flexible courses that have global recognition. You can use the free four weeks period to try it out.

2. Skillshare

The second best online learning platform is Skillshare. It is a large marketplace with all types of courses available.

One nice thing about Skillshare is that you not only find a vast amount of classes on creative topics like cooking, graphic design, etc. but also on technical subjects like e-commerce, analytics, etc.

Skillshare also gives you a discussion forum where you can interact with other students and share ideas. You can also work on projects.

The forum is especially useful as students can exchange ideas, share their progress, and get feedback on their projects from other students.

What does Skillshare cost?

If you are a course creator, the good news for you is that Skillshare is free! You can earn $10 for every paid membership referral and receive royalties based on minutes of content watched.

Skillshare Advantages

Skillshare is a big platform. It has over 4 million students and a considerable amount of creators and entrepreneurs.

Due to its size, it's easy for you to find an audience for your courses, especially if you provide courses on creative subjects.

Skillshare's main selling point is that the classes offered are high-quality. To achieve this, they can assist you in the course creation process.

Skillshare Disadvantages

Skillshare's significant disadvantage is that there is only email support available, unlike many other online learning platforms where you would have the option to call them.

Another disadvantage is their royalty earning system, where teachers make from a pool of 30%-50% of the website revenue.

How much you will earn depends on the total number of minutes your students watched your lectures. Older, experienced course creators enjoy high-earnings since their courses are consumed by many.

But, if you are only starting, you will be at a severe disadvantage and earn very little.

Skillshare Review: Final Verdict

Skillshare is an excellent platform with a big userbase. It's especially useful for course creators looking to sell courses on creative subjects.

All of their classes are high-quality. To uphold that standard, they assist all course creators, which can be a massive help for you to break into the market.

Though, there are also some disadvantages attached, like the lack of a live customer support system and the royalty earning system.

If you think Skillshare is for you, go for it, I recommend it!

3. LinkedIn Learning

Are you a business professional that's looking to keep their skills up-to-date? Then, LinkedIn Learning (formally called Lynda) might be the best online learning platform for you.

Courses on LinkedIn Learning cover a lot of business-related topics like digital marketing, web development, etc.

You receive certificates for each course that you complete, which you can display on your LinkedIn profile.

What does LinkedIn Learning cost?

LinkedIn Learning comes with the LinkedIn premium membership, which costs $24/month if you decide to pay annually (otherwise, it's $29.99/month).

4. Udemy

Number four on the list is Udemy, one of the best online course platform marketplaces out there. It has an extraordinarily large user base, and reaching this colossal audience is simple enough, too.

The only thing you need to do is join Udemy as a premium instructor. After that, you can create and sell online courses with ease.

Note that your video content should be at least 30 minutes long and must at least five lectures long.

Udemy also offers you a great many options for marketing your course on the website.  Like, your classes can be a part of their email marketing campaign.

What does Udemy cost?

Good thing, you can sell courses on Udemy for free!

The catch is that they will take 50% of your revenue when a student finds your course through a search engine.

If a student found your course through a paid marketing effort, Udemy will take a 75% cut. But, if a student finds it through your coupon, they only take a 3% cut.

Udemy Advantages

Like I mentioned before, Udemy sees a large amount of traffic. All these students are potential customers, but tapping into this market will require some effort.

There is no need to worry, though, as you can take advantage of Udemy's marketing features and employ your marketing strategies to better market share.

At first glance, the cut that Udemy takes might seem like too much, but keep in mind that you get 100% revenue for new users. For existing ones, you get 50%, which still isn't too bad.

When compared to the competition, Udemy's free 24/7 support is pretty good. You can also find a tremendous amount of support articles on their website.

Udemy Disadvantages

A significant disadvantage of using Udemy is that the refund policy is relatively lax. Students can refund a course within 30 days of purchase, for any possible reason.

So, you will find that many students will exploit this by completing the course before the time limit and getting a refund.

Another disadvantage may be that there is a lot of competition on the website due to a high amount of course creators.

You have to compete with other course creators on the website and with other course websites as they will show up on search engine results.

Udemy Review: Final Verdict

Udemy is a super popular online course marketplace with a broad audience to tap into and a nice enough earnings model.

Yes, there is quite a lot of competition on the platform, but you can still manage to earn well if you try hard enough with the marketing features.

5. Treehouse

Next on the list is Treehouse, an online learning website that aims to provide an equal learning platform. It's a reasonably new marketplace, but it has seen some rapid growth.

Treehouse has all sorts of courses available. It's an incredibly useful marketplace for coding and development related courses.

What does Treehouse cost?

Treehouse has three plans.

The Treehouse Courses plan costs $25/month. Its features include access to their online community, on-demand courses, and interactive practice sessions.

The Treehouse Courses Plus plan costs $49/month and gives you an option to download videos, access beta versions, and access their entire library.

The final plan is Treehouse Techdegree, and you can get it for $199/month. You will be able to create a real portfolio with this one, as you will get real-time support, among other things.

6. Coursera

If you are looking for a professional online learning platform, then Coursera might be the best option for you. Some prominent universities around the world provide virtual classes here.

Coursera has all the features a student needs for effective learning, be that discussion forums or peer-reviewed assignments. an

What does Coursera cost?

There are three separate categories for courses on Coursera, which decide the pricing.

The first category is the Main Courses. Courses in this one fetch you an e-certificate on completion and cost of $29-$99/month. They usually take 4-6 weeks to complete.

If you are looking to hone a specific business skill, then Specialization Courses might be for you. Cost ranges from $39-$79/month.

Lastly, if you want to get a real college degree, Online Degree Programs might be the ones for you. These degree programs are university-recognized and take you anywhere from 1-4 years to finish.

The cost of these degree programs is about the same as physical classroom ones, depending on which university's program you decide to do.

How Do I Create and Sell Online Courses?

The first thing you should work on is figuring out what type of courses you want to offer.

A few particular fields have a massive market, like coding, web development, etc. You may want to look into them and see if you can offer courses for them.

Once you have settled on a niche with a considerable market, you should start thinking about what your course will help students achieve by the end of it.

Planning out your course is quite important, and you should research the topics thoroughly before starting. You also may want to make sure that your classes have internal consistency.

Here are a few tips that I have for you:

1. Figure Out the Cost to Develop Your  Online Course

You must get an idea about how much your online course might end up costing you.

Estimating the cost might prove to be a bit tricky at first as it depends on quite a lot of factors (some of which can be things you wouldn't have predicted during the start of development).

The main expenses during course development are analytics and research, content creation, and marketing.

Your costs will scale depending on your ambitions. If you want to produce an entirely professionally created course, then the costs can be as high as $15,000.

However, if you think you can take the course on your own, then it shouldn't cost you more than a couple of hundred bucks.

But of course, not everyone can do course creation by themselves. You may at least need a professional instructor.

You must strike a balance between doing things yourself and getting some professional help that will keep costs down while still resulting in a professional enough course.

Do note that while the cost won't be that high, you will still need to invest in time and effort.

2. Use the Best Software and Equipment

Getting an idea about your course content is good and all, but you would require professional software and equipment for producing that content in a form that sells.

Professional software and equipment will help you create high-quality content, which will, in turn, result in engaging virtual classrooms.

It's also a good idea to get software and equipment that's easy to use. You can't be wasting too much time fiddling around with settings. You only need to create and sell online courses.

“Professional software and equipment” might make you think they will be super expensive, but in reality, that's not the case.

You can get acceptable quality out of some pretty affordable equipment. Here is what you will need:

1. Microphones

An essential part of your course will be the audio. You will need a fine mic to record high-quality audio.

I would recommend using your phone or laptop microphones as they aren't good enough to record a course.

Remember, it's pretty easy to tell when something has terrible audio quality than to know about video quality. No student would want to learn from a course in which they can't properly hear the lectures.

You don't need anything too high-end. An affordable USB mic would do just fine. My recommendation for a USB mic is Blue Yeti.

2. Headphones

Headphones are necessary as they will help you listen to your courses in a noise-free environment and help determine if there are any flaws in the audio somewhere.

Even if you never get around using them for course creation, they are still essential to businesses today, as you will need during an interview or a call with someone.

Are you looking for a great and affordable headphone? You can buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.

3. Screen recording program

Screen recording software will come in handy when you are recording somewhere from your screen.

For example, you might need to record a PPT or a PDF for one of the lectures. Using an external camera to do it would look very unprofessional, and the quality will be lacking.

One of my top picks for such a software is the Screencast-o-Matic.

4. USB Webcam

You can't create successful courses without a webcam as they help make the lectures more engaging and more classroom-like.

Any good camera would be sufficient for this purpose, but it's still best to get a dedicated webcam. My favorite 1080p webcam is the Logitech C920S.

5. Audio and video editing software

Audio and video editing are what can separate your course from the rest of the market.

Lectures with smooth cuts and some added audio and video effects can make the course significantly more engaging.

Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Apple Final Cut Pro are some of the software worth looking getting.

6. Lighting and accessories

You should research lighting as a well-lit room with the instructor in the center of the light can make the lectures look much better visually.

You can buy a few small accessories or go for full studio lights, whichever works with your budget.

3. Create Valuable Content

Unique content quality is easily the most critical factor that will determine whether your course becomes successful or not.

To create good course content, you must first understand what your students would require from the course.

First, figure out which audience you want to target. Next, put yourself in the perspective of a student that will be using your course.

Putting yourself in your audience's shoes can help you pin down what type of content would be desirable by your students.

Also, you should try to keep the lectures as concise as possible. Stretched out classes would only bore your students.

Another thing you should focus on is making your course more engaging by putting quizzes and assignments wherever appropriate.

4. Differentiate Your Website

As I have said many times before, there is some tough competition in the online course market. In such a competitive arena, you have to try everything in your power to differentiate your content.

Try to specialize in a particular niche. If you aim for a broad category, no doubt you will have a much bigger market to get customers from, but you will also face significantly more competition.

Your course title should reflect this. Keep it as straightforward and precise as you can.

Also, you should try to keep your course focused on the main subject. No need to delve into unrelated topics, or else it will just look like useless bloat.

Keep in mind that you need to create a unique learning experience, or else your customers will have no reason to pick you over someone else!

5. Take Time to Market Your Business

Getting a well-made course up is excellent. However, it's not enough to make it a success. You will have to market your business for it to be profitable.

An effective way to quickly and efficiently market your courses is through social media. Create Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for your business.

Post regularly on your business page or account to nurture a community. Plan out a posting schedule so that you can keep your customers engaged.

Another way to market your courses is through your website. Create a website for your business if you haven't already.

Setting up a blog with regular SEO posts on your website will help attract potential customers.

6. Have Control Over Your Brand

You should work on developing a brand from day one. The brand that you create must be consistent with your entire business.

Like, you should use the same logo/title/description each place you use your brand, which will help make you look more recognizable.

Be sure that your brand has a unique feel to it. If your brand is bland and unoriginal, your customers may not remember it.

Brand value is crucial as it can help you generate more leads. You will also retain your customers much better if you have a built a reliable and recognizable service.

You should always be sure to give customers special incentives to keep coming back to your service, which will help you sustain your brand value.

7. Deliver an Exceptional Learning Experience

Goes without saying that you should strive to provide the best possible learning experience.

You should include audio, text, quizzes, assessments, forums, and completion certificates with all your courses.

If you fail to provide an exceptional experience, you will not retain your students that much.

8. Integrate with Other Tools

The online course platform you choose should integrate with several other services like email marketing, analytics, etc.

You might be thinking that the best platforms already include services like these. While that's true, later down the line, you would want to use more services to better your reach.

Some popular integrations that you should make sure your platform integrates with are Google Analytics, WordPress, etc.

Seamless integration with other services is highly desirable, as you won't have to manage a few different platforms that way.

You can use the time that you save here on further improvement of your courses or marketing.

9. Align Sales with Your Budget in Mind

Estimate the amount you will have to spend on producing your course. In case you find that you won't make much of a profit at the investment you need, you should reconsider your expenses.

Look into the pricing of various equipment and online courses site. These are the two places you have many viable options available, so you can go with the cheapest options if your budget so demands.

Your job is to create and sell online courses for a profit. So, do whatever you can to turn up a decent bit of profit.

10. Leverage Customer Support if You Need It

Only go with platforms that have excellent customer support. You don't want to spend a considerable chunk of your time solving an issue, if on the off-chance that you encounter one.

Also, make sure that the support offered is 24/7. Some services only provide service during business days, which means you will have to wait for two days if you were to encounter an issue while working on your courses during the weekend.

What Are the Most Popular Online Courses?

Even if you aren't a student, you should look into the most popular online courses as it will give you an idea about the best options on the market.

You can then try to incorporate some of their elements, and best attempt to emulate their success.

1. EdX: The Science of Everyday Thinking

EdX is overall the most popular online course.

2. Udemy: The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0

The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0 is the best (highest rated) course on Udemy.

3. Udemy: SEO Beginners: How I Get 1,000 Visitors a Day with SEO

SEO Beginners is the popular entrepreneurship course on Udemy.

4. Coursera: An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python

It's the most popular developer course (and arguably the best one as well).

5. Treehouse: JavaScript Basics

JavaScript Basics is the most popular developer course on Treehouse.

If you go through all the courses listed here, you will get a fair idea about what type of content students are looking to get these days.

Conclusion

Online courses can be a decent way to make some side money, granted you are ready to put in the effort on creation and marketing.

The first step in your journey should be to buy one of the best online course platforms. Research all the options thoroughly and compare your options.

Think about the type of courses you wan to create and choose the best online course platform according to those needs.

Remember, your courses' success lies not only in the quality but also on how you market it. An effective marketing strategy can take you a long way.

Put proper time and effort into planning, market research, and development. Invest in the best marketing services.

The decision of the best online course platforms can significantly affect your business. Always keep in mind that the service should suit your needs.

My recommendation for the online course platform is Thinkific. Do give it a try!

See also:

Mark Quadros is a Content Marketer for SaaS and Online-business. He also runs 'The Real Mark', a blog about travel, remote work, and online marketing.Affiliate Disclosure.

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