What is the best platform for hosting your online courses and why?

I had this question recently and want to dive a little deeper into it that the standard list post of DIY online course platforms.

Just in case, if you don’t have time to read the deeper why behind choosing an online course hosting platform, go and check out (in this order):

  • Teachable (free plan then $39 per month)
  • Thinkific  (free plan then $39 per month)
  • Podia ($39 per month then $79 per month)

In short, I like the design of Teachable and find it fast to get set-up. Thinkific is a solid platform and comes in a close second. Podia (used to be called With Coach) used to be a little confusing to set up and add courses so this is still in third at the moment. The key factors when choosing free over paid plans are usually transaction fees on courses (around 10%) and custom domains.

Now back to my deep dive. Why are you looking to create an online course? It’s the most fundamental question to ask as it makes your choice 10x easier if you know the main reason you want to chop up your information in a specific way and deliver it via an online course.

Let me explain with a few examples.

  • Sami is looking to create an online course
  • Mark is looking to create an online course
  • Rohan is looking to create an online course
  • Timmy is looking to create an online course

They all look similar until you find out why…

  • Sami is looking to create an online course so she can train new employees on how to use the software in their company
  • Mark is looking to create an online course so he can build authority in his profession
  • Rohan is looking to create an online course so he can make money as a side hustle
  • Timmy is looking to create an online course so she can teach sewing skills to her cousins and also make a little money for extra sewing materials.

What format (apart from jumping into creating an online course) might be the best for each of the people above?

  • For Sami, she could record herself using Screencast-o-matic, Screenflow or Camtasia, publish to Youtube (unlisted or password-protected) and then upload into Podio for staff to view. She could also record the videos, store them in Dropbox and use Dropbox Paper or Dropbox Showcase to create a single document with each video embedded for training
  • For Mark, he could start by signing up to Udemy, learning from the course acceptance process, make a better course than he would have, have his course exposed to more people, offer the course for free to build numbers then switch to paid and offer his course to potential clients with a free coupon code
  • For Rohan, he could create his course, post the online course preview on Youtube and link to his own course platform site but also publish his course to Udemy & Skillshare to increase his earning potential. He could speak to other instructors in his field and see if they’d like to create courses and publish them on his course platform (with him earning a % of the revenue)
  • For Timmy, she could post some of her shorter courses on Youtube and enable upfront display ads or she could publish to Skillshare and invite friends with free coupon codes whilst still earning money from other students who enrol

As you can see from the above, sometimes building it and seeing if they come is too narrow an online course strategy and can mean that you’re not getting enough reach or you’re not serving the material in the best format for your chosen tribe. If it’s still the best model, test out one of the free plans above to see if it suits, otherwise get advice or seek to get deeper understanding as to how to best serve the people you’re reaching out to.

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