When deciding to create online courses, the challenge of finding the right learning platform to host your program will come very fast. The number of platforms on the market can be confusing.

I totally get this feeling of overwhelm with so much choice. When I got my first impulse to create an online course, I sat for weeks in front of my computer, searching for the right tool.

I thought I needed to chose it before even having wrote down any piece of content.

The thing is the tool is just a means to an end; therefore, rather than scratching your head for days or months, use the question below to pick one and remember that at you can at any time change provider.

To help you choose, I narrowed down the questions to ask yourself and the provider to choose from to the essential available on the market.

  1. The 5 questions you should ask yourself to select your teaching platform or plugin
  2. Why you should keep your website separate from your teaching site
  3. My top 5 teaching platform or plugin

1. The questions you should ask yourself before selecting your teaching platform or plugin

 

Is it the first time you create a program?

If yes, you may want to select a standalone provider to test your program and find your first clients. You can always change the host on a later stage once you feel that your course will run smoothly.

 

Are you tech-savvy?

The vast offer of platforms or plugin for WordPress goes from super user-friendly to tech-savvy or even programmers. If you struggle with computers, you may want to consider the standalone platforms as they are pretty user-friendly. But you could also decide to outsource the configuration part if you have the budget.

 

Do you want your brand to be present visually?

Can you adapt the pictures, colors, and fonts, or do you have to stick with the provider’s visual and logo? Some platforms like Udemy will, for example, help you set up everything. However, you will have to stick to their branding and let them define your pricing. Others will offer you some flexibility on the logo, color scheme, and fonts or even offer you full control of it.

 

What about your client’s data?

That would seem obvious that when people purchase a course from you, you would be the one having their contact info, but that’s not always the case. Some providers will be hosting your program but will be the one advertising to them. It is not an issue if you want to create something and have someone else selling it for you. But if at some point you decide to change provider or create another course that could be amazing for your previous clients, you will have no way to reach them.

 

Is it compatible with other programs?

When it comes to communication, some of you may already have a provider to send their newsletter and create a potential sequence of emails (Active Campaign, InkiSoft, MailChimp). Others may have surveys or forms already in place (Typeform, SurveyMonkey, etc.). Or you may have a bunch of videos already on YouTube or Vimeo you could add as extra resources to your program.

When selecting your platform, you want to ensure that you can connect these with your learning content. You never know what genius idea you can come up with when interacting with your people.

2. Before selecting your platform

One thing I’d suggest whatever the platform you pick is to differentiate your web site from your teaching platform.

There are few reasons for that:

  • you may already have your website and do not need to re-build it elsewhere;
  • you want to be able to change provider without having to redo your website from scratch
  • it allows you to be flexible and grow your business with different offers not necessarily linked to your online program(s) such as retreats, conferences, or goods.

With all that in mind, let see what are the providers and tools out there.

3. Select your learning platform or plugin

The five providers listed below is a short listing of what exists on the market. They are often coming on the top five on various blogs and ranked as the most used platforms. I have a personal experience with two of them and got to know the others from friends using them.

 

First-timers & non-tech-savvy

Welcome to the world of standalone platforms! These are great tools to start in the online teaching world. They usually are super user-friendly, having a drag and drop feature helping you to upload videos, pdf, ppt or documents very easily. They offer tutorials or templates to help you build your sales page; some have games, surveys, and even the option to deliver a certificate at the end of the program.

That’s the ideal tool to concentrate on your content and your relation with your clients. But also a convenient means to test your program concept.

Some of these platforms combine the learning center to a marketing platform. An all in one platform can be interesting when you have no marketing tools in place, and you want everything in one place. It is a question of comfort. Personally, as I’m not only offering online programs but also goods and retreats, I prefer having my marketing tools separate. But again, it is a question of choice; it is up to you to define your priorities and needs.

 

Thinkific – Learning platform

That was my go-to when I started, and I loved it. The free plan allows you to start with no cost and no fees. Yes, they are generous and want to offer you an opportunity to grow at your pace. The platform allows you to bring a bit of your design in the useful premade templates. However, the font choice is limited, and you may have to compromise a bit. Navigation is easy, and setting up the site is very intuitive and comes with tutorials.

If you create a webinar or live, you can upload your content after the live on your platform. Thinkific is compatible with various apps such as Active Campaign, Mailchimp, Stripe, Typeform, etc.

 

Teachable – Learning platform

As easy to use as Thinkific, the Teachable platform has one additional feature that your clients may appreciate. Clients can create a teachable account where all the courses they purchased hosted by this platform are visible on a single dashboard. However, no free starting plan is available, and the basic plan takes a 5% transaction fee on your sales.

 

Kijabi – Learning & marketing platform

If you like having all your tools in the same place, this platform is an all in one place. It will allow you to create courses, newsletters, blogs, sales funnel, and more. I have no experience with this one, but it comes up regularly on the first ranked providers.

 

Learnybox – Learning & marketing platform

That’s the Frenchy on the market, created in France it will be the go to for non-english speaker as all the support system is in French. Very complete it offers to create courses, webinars, newsletters, blogs, sales funnel, and a dedicated support center for your clients. Having it in different language would quite likely propell it on the N° 1 go to for all in one providers that still offer you to control your clients data.

 

Advanced, WordPress users and tech-savvy

Access Ally

This WordPress plugin is one of the most powerful on the market. It allows full control of your design (an branding) with a course wizard helping you building your curriculum as you please. It is ideals to create a membership platform or coaching signature program. The option to create a dashboard to follow up with your one on one clients or create a closer connection by offering content related to the uniqueness of your client is simply genius.

They have a bunch of talented programmers and web designers that could support you in the process, should you want to delegate the tech part to someone.

Time to get into action than distraction

Now that you get a better understanding of your needs and what existe out there, I’d love to challenge you. Could you pick one of these providers and focus your attention on content creation?

About the author

Christel Mesey

Online Course Creator’s Coach – Author & Course creator – CEO of JoyWhisperers.com

I’m helping coaches and therapists birth their online programs or courses with ease, helping them feel confident that they will offer a great learning experience to their learners.

I genuinely believe that online training is the future of education and personal growth. It opens the door to alternative ways of teaching beyond borders and cultures.

If you have wisdom and knowledge to share, I’d love to support you in the journey to share it with the world.

I’ll help you to expand your comprehension of online pedagogy and learning tools, using my experience of course creation and comprehensive understanding of online systems potential.

I’ll support you during the creation process through coaching, NLP, or even energy healing should you need to. These practices help me to understand and tune into your universe. They allow me to walk you comfortably through the process of offering your services online while feeling aligned with your heart and dedicated to your clients.