When it comes to selling online courses, choosing the right platform is crucial.
You want a platform that is easy to use, reliable, and that provides all the features you need to succeed. In this guide, we ranked and reviewed the best online course platforms. We also looked at some of the key features for each platform, so that you can find the best one for your needs.
After deciding on the best online course platform for your needs, head over to our guide on how to create online courses for a breakdown of where to start.
Top 6+ Best Online Course Platforms
Thinkific is one of the most recognizable names in the online course platform space. It stands out for being easy to use and having a structure that caters to a wide variety of course topics and teaching styles.
If price is not a concern and you just want the most adaptable online course platform, you can't go wrong with Thinkific.
However, Thinkific's pricing is a bit on the steep side. So, you may end up paying for some features that you don't ultimately use.
Pricing: Thinkific has a free plan that will let you service an unlimited amount of students, which is great. But the free plan restricts your online course business to only a few curse types.
Paid plans start at $39 a month and go up to $399.
Overall, Thinkific is a great option for your first online course platform. It's customizable, flexible, and easy to use. When you narrow down your offering, you may consider switching to a platform better tailored to your needs but Thinkific is also a good long term option.
Thinkific is one of the more popular online course platforms that you can use to create and sell courses and membership sites. It allows you to build a course with videos, rich text and images, and downloadable files.
Best online course platform for: Entrepreneurs who are just starting out or have limited resources; also great for dabblers who want to test the best online course platforms before committing.
Hyax is a relative newcomer to the online courses game. We launched Hyax as a solution to the problems we personally had while running an eCommerce business.
In developing a solution to those problems, we ended up creating a powerful online course platform on par with some of the best in the business.
Hyax provides you with the tools to administer your entire online portfolio from a single location, such as courses, digital products, memberships, landing pages, and an eCommerce store. Furthermore, Hyax allows you to create payment options for your consumers and manage all of their digital purchases in one place.
Whether you’re looking to set up an online learning platform, or sell your digital products, Hyax can help you do it in record time.
And, the best thing about Hyax is that you get to keep everything you earn. Hyax doesn’t collect transaction fees.
Pricing: Hyax offers a free plan that allows you to test out all the features.
The free plan allows you to take as long as you need to set up your products and get your online courses ready for an audience. You won’t have to pay a dime until you’re ready to launch and receive orders.
Paid plans start at $49 a month which is the right tier for most solo creators. Enterprise or group creators can choose the advanced plan at $99 or arrange a custom solution for online course creation software.
Best online course platform for: People who want a creator-centric platform and plan to sell online courses as well as digital products and subscriptions.
Podia is another all-in-one platform that encompasses online courses, memberships, and digital product sales. It’s main selling point is a low entry price.
Pricing: Podia’s paid plans start at $39 per month. Unfortunately, you give up a few valuable features at that price point.
For instance, you won’t be able to offer course certificates for your online courses and you’ll have to include Podia’s branding on your website.
However, if you’re just testing out a new course or it’s your first foray into online course creation, Podia can be a good choice.
If you end up liking Podia enough, you’ll probably want to aim for its highest pricing tier ($199 per month). That’s the price point where this online learning platform really starts to deliver excellent value.
And, it’s fair to say that Podia has cemented its place among the best online course platforms for a long time, consistently ranking highly on roundups.
Best online course platform for: The free plan is best for people who are just getting started on their online course journey. The Earthquaker paid plan is best for people who don’t mind paying extra for premium features and want to stay with a single platform for all their needs.
Kajabi’s claim to fame revolves around their complete product offering that doesn’t require any 3rd party tools. It’s also one of the most expensive online course platforms so you should be pretty confident that your course can make up for the overhead.
This online learning platform gives you everything you need to not only create your course but set you up to earn money from it.
It provides a library of ready-made themes to choose from to create your website as well as an intuitive course creation system.
Additionally, Kajabi provides decent analytics for your online course where you can see your audience’s behavior in broad strokes. If you take the time to learn about those analytics, they can help you make better business decisions about your course.
Pricing: Its pricing is where Kajabi most lags behind other online course platforms. It doesn’t offer a free plan and even its most basic offer starts at $199 per month.
If you think it’s worth becoming a Pro user, that will set you back $319 per month. That’s a pretty steep price given that other online course platforms have very similar features for less money.
And, to be fair, Kajabi consistently ranks among the best online course platforms when it comes to customer service.
Best online course platform for: Nevertheless, Kajabi remains an excellent platform if money is no object and you want a turnkey solution.
If you’ve been interested in online courses at all lately, you’ve probably already heard about Skillshare.
Skillshare is a course platform that allows you to create and monetize a course very quickly and easily. However, you’ll essentially create a course for Skillshare that the platform then monetizes and you receive a portion of the profits your course generates every month.
That’s not to say that you can’t earn a decent amount of money on Skillshare — and many creators, like Ali Abdaal, have used it successfully.
However, it’s not ideal if you want an online course platform that gives you full control over your creations. Once you create a course for Skillshare, that course will only be available on Skillshare and you won’t be able to use the same material on your personal website.
Pricing: You earn a commission based on the audience that your course attracts. You don’t need to pay to have your course published on Skillshare. All it takes is a creator account and a course that adheres to the platform’s guidelines.
Best online course platform for: People who only want to create and monetize a course and don’t want to own their online presence. You’ll give up a lot of earning potential if you choose Skillshare, but your course will have a built-in audience from the start thanks to Skillshare’s membership model for learners.
Pathwright is another relatively newcomer to online course platforms but packs a few powerful features that set it apart from its competitors.
For starters, Pathwright has the best online course creation tools for action-oriented courses. If you want to create engaging online courses that focus on practical learning, Pathwright is an excellent choice.
Moreover, Pathwright makes it easy to create not just one online course but an entire catalog. So if you want to set up an online school for your selected area of expertise, this online course platform will help you accomplish that.
However, Pathwright has a glaring flaw.
It doesn’t give you the option to hose videos on the platform. You’ll have to find another solution if you want to host videos along your course.
And, since videos are such an integral part of so many course curriculums, this is probably the biggest stumbling block that you’ll come across on Pathwright.
If you’re looking for a set-and-forget solution, Pathwright may not be a great fit for you. Pathwright is better-suited for creators that want to give students personalized attention, guided classes, mentor groups, and other personal touches.
Pricing: Starting at $99 per month, Pathwright is far from the cheapest option on this list. And, that plan only allows you to serve a single student cohort at a time.
It’s also the most expensive option if you choose their most expensive paid plan at $499 per month.
However, that plan will allow you to offer truly one-of-a-kind experiences for your students. So if you plan to serve over 5 mentor groups and want unlimited cohorts, it may be worth it.
Best online course platform for: People who want to give their students personalized attention and create action-based learning paths.
LearnWorlds is, first and foremost, a learning management system. It will help you create and sell online courses but it’s best suited for users who are trying to create a community of learners around a central course hub.
In other words, LearnWorlds is best suited to create an online school.
That doesn’t mean solopreneurs can’t get a lot of value out of it. It has simple and intuitive course creation paths where you can use templates and themes to quickly create courses.
Moreover, LearnWorlds has a streamlined dashboard that makes it easy to oversee and manage all the courses you’ve created.
To help market your course, LearnWorld provides the tools to create landing pages, blogs, and sales funnels.
The only area where LearnWorld falls noticeably short is that it doesn’t provide a native mobile app. It’s support options are also tied to the payment plan that you choose which feels like the platform is more interested in serving the clients that are willing to pay more.
Pricing: LearnWorlds is relatively affordable, starting at $24 per month for a starter plan. However, you should note that the starter plan will incur transaction fees for every course you sell. You’ll also be limited in terms of the file types you can offer and the pages you can create with the platform’s page builder.
Best online course platform for: People who want to create an online learning school.
What to Look For In The Best Online Course Platforms
There are a lot of online course platforms to choose from, but they’re not all created equal. You’ll want to make sure to choose the one that suits your specific needs.
To do so, we recommend considering the following factors when making a choice.
1. Ease of Use
The biggest obstacle to your success will be any friction that comes between you and your ability to create valuable courses. Your first priority will be to find a platform that gives you simple and straightforward tools.
Once you’ve created a few online courses, you’ll get a sense of the flow of online learning and you’ll be able to leverage that with more complex tools to make more engaging courses.
2. Self-hosted vs. Marketplace Online Learning Platforms
In this comparison, we included a marketplace option, Skillshare, for creating online courses.
But most of the options allow you to host your own courses on your website.
A marketplace like Skillshare has one main advantage versus a self-hosted learning management system. And it’s that you only have to worry about creating the course.
Everything else is basically a white-glove experience.
The obvious tradeoff is that your earning potential is substantially lower. You’ll only be able to set the price of your course within the marketplace’s guidelines or, in the case of Skillshare, you’ll get a portion of the subscription fees that members who take your course pay.
3. Online Course Platform Price
Price is an important factor to consider, since that’s money you’ll have to deduct directly from whatever you earn from the online courses you sell.
We always recommend choosing a platform that offers a generous free plan or a trial period. It’s the best way to get acquainted with all the features the online learning platform offers before making a financial investment.
Additionally, if you’re going to choose a paid plan, it’s usually a good idea to avoid the entry-level plan. Most online course platforms exclude key features from their entry-level plan in an effort to get you to upgrade.
If the platform offers everything you need and seems intuitive after a trial period, don’t be afraid to choose the middle-of-the-road plan.
Ultimately, even if you end up being slightly in the red for a short period, an online course is an excellent personal branding tool that you’ll be able to leverage for other purposes.
4. Responsive Customer Support
Even if everything’s going relatively well when you commit to an online course platform, look for any detail you struggle with.
Use any legitimate opportunity to test the waters with the platform's customer support from the start.
We’re not suggesting you make up reasons to contact support staff. But don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. The sooner you do so, the sooner you’ll get a sense of what kind of service you can expect when you have more serious issues.
The Best Online Course Platforms - Conclusion
So, there you have it! Our comprehensive review of the top online course platforms. We’ve looked at each platform and their features, as well as how much they cost. Now it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Keep in mind that all of these platforms offer a free trial so you can test them out before making a commitment.
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.
We hope this article has helped make your decision easier and we wish you all the best in your online learning journey!