If you’re a marketer or brand influencer who is trying to expand your overall reach and presence online but don’t know how or where to start, you may want to consider creating an online course for your audience to sign-up for. Online courses are becoming increasingly popular with a lot of different life coaches, gurus, and other individuals who have something of value to offer their audience in terms of practical knowledge that can be used to help improve the quality of one’s life. Online courses are also great if you’re trying to sell a product or services and want to educate those interested in how to use it or exactly what areas of their life will benefit the most from using it.

Before you can create your online course, there are several different factors and variables that you need to take into consideration. One of the most important things to remember when thinking about creating an online course is that you need to target your core audience with content that is geared and centred around their core interests. There are several different methods that you can use to gain more insight into your main target audience and what interests they have.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing which online course is right for you is the level of control that the platform gives you to edit, brand, and publish your online course the way that you desire. Every online course platform will have its own rules and regulations that direct exactly what you can and can’t do on the platform as it relates to your online course. You always want to choose an online course provider that gives you the freedom to control your brand and how your content is presented.

You also need to consider your chosen platform’s pricing options and policies as it relates to what price you can set your online course at and how payment works once someone signs up for your course. There are a lot of different online course platforms available which is why you need to take your time and do the proper amount of research to ensure that you’re choosing the best option for your needs.

If you’ve been looking for a high-quality online course platform but haven’t been able to find the one that meets all of your requirements, you’ve come to the right place. In the following content guide, we’re going to provide you with all of the most important information that you need to know in order to choose an online course platform that will deliver the type of functionality you desire.

To begin, let’s take a look at all of the main types of online course platform options that currently exist.

Types of Online Course Platforms

When it comes to choosing the right online course platform for your intended needs, there are several different types for you to choose from. There are 4 main types of online course platform options all of which serve their own unique purposes depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and the approach you want to take in terms of teaching your audience about a particular topic or subject matter. Before deciding on which type of online course type is best for you, you need to consider how you plan on approaching your online course in terms of pricing, presentation, marketing, and accessibility to ensure that you’re making the correct decision.

In the following section, we’re going to list all of the various online course platform types and options that you can choose from. Make sure you read this entire section in full so that you will be able to select the proper online course platform that has all of the features and capabilities you desire.

Hosted Online Course Platforms

Hosted online course platforms are stand-alone websites or software options that give you the entire framework to set-up your online course. These sorts of platforms are best for those who have their own individual websites on which they would like to host their online courses. One of the major advantages of using a hosted online course platform is that you don’t have to deal with all of the background technical specifications such as security set-up or update configuration.

Hosted online course platforms are the easiest to manage and they provide a way for you to avoid using several different plugins just to create the online course that you desire. If you’re looking for an easy method to set-up your online course, using a hosted online course platform solution will be the best option for you. By using this type of online course platform, you will be able to focus primarily on your content and audience while having a reliable online course platform that you can depend on.

WordPress Plugin LMS Online Course Platforms

If you’re trying to develop an online course that will be sold on a WordPress website, you will need to use an LMS plugin. LMS plugins are WordPress add-ons that allow you to optimize your content strategy approach and promote your online course in a way that is clean and professional. One of the best things about using a WordPress plugin is that you will have access to a nearly unlimited amount of options in terms of website customization, content creation, marketing, and overall course functionality.

One of the factors that you’ll have to consider when using an LMS WordPress plugin is that these types of online course platforms require more technical knowledge and skills when compared to the other options. However, if you’re able to handle the technical backend of your online course, using an LMS WordPress plugin will help you create the exact type of online course that you desire without sacrificing any of the important elements that you need.

WordPress Plugin LMS online course platforms require installation on the backend of your website, you will also need a hosting provider, video hosting, and other plugins to make your online course work efficiently. WordPress LMS plugins are only recommended for those individuals who have previous experience working on the WordPress platform.

Online Course Marketplaces

If you want to offer an online course without having to deal with the process involved with setting up a dedicated website, an online course marketplace may be the best option for you. Online course marketplaces are websites that allow you to list your online course for sale on that particular platform. One of the main advantages of using this method is that online course marketplaces will be able to provide you with enhanced marketing support and sales assistance that you wouldn’t regularly have access to when creating your own online course website.

However, all of that support comes at a price due to the fact that most online course marketplaces take a percentage of anywhere between 10% and 75% all depending on the platform and what type of online course you plan on creating. Another factor that you’ll want to consider before using an online course marketplace is that some platforms do not provide you with the personal contact information of those who have purchased your course.

This can be disadvantageous due to the fact that you’ll have no real way of following up with customers of your online course. Another thing to consider when using online course marketplaces is that you won’t have control over any of the branding or policies that the site operates by, this may lead to issues in the future as it pertains to order processing and other logistics related to your online course and how your customers interact with it.

The best way to use an online course marketplace is by making it an alternative sales channel for your online course where customers can still access your content in the event of an issue with your main website.

Full-Features Learning Management Systems

if you want a more intuitive and controlled method for creating and managing your online course, a full-featured online course learning system may be the best option for you. This type of online course platform will require that you have a lot of technical skills and willingness to provide your customers with a more expansive and in-depth experience as it pertains to the type of content you’re offering on your online course.

These types of online course systems are designed to allow you to provide your audience with a fully expansive learning network that incorporates advanced learning management functionalities for you like the course creator. This type of platform will allow you to work with your customers and students in a personalized manner so that you can enhance the interpersonal experience of those utilizing your online course.

All of these options are some of the most common types of online course platforms that people use for providing their customers with a valuable learning experience that they can use at later times in their life or apply to certain goals and aspirations that they have for their life. Before choosing which one of these online course platform options are best for you, you need to take time and analyze what your specific needs are as they will play a huge role in ensuring that you choose the most efficient online course platform to suit your desired sales results. Each of the options that we’ve gone over can help you create comprehensive online courses that will educate people about virtually any topic or subject that you’re trained in.

Now that you’re more educated about the various types of online course platforms available for you to use, it’s time to take a look at all of the main features and capabilities that you need to look for when deciding on which format is best for your desired needs.

Features & Capabilities to Look for When Choosing an Online Course Platform

Before signing up to use an online course platform, you need to consider several different factors that will play a critical role in helping you choose the best option for your specific needs. It’s important to know what aspects and features to look for in an online course platform because it will allow you to optimize the overall results that you see from your course efforts once it’s officially published.

There are a lot of different factors and elements that you’ll want to consider before signing up and launching your online course with any of the above-listed options. In the following section, we’re going to go over all of the most important factors and elements that you need to consider before making a final decision about which online course platform is the perfect option for your specific needs.

Make sure you read this entire section in full so that you will know exactly what to look for in the right online course platform that will provide you with all of the tools that you need to succeed.

LMS Functionality

LMS stands for Learning Management System and it is the base for many online course platforms that are in operation right now. You will want to make sure that your selected online course platform has an intuitive learning management system that will allow you to properly formulate, create, and deliver high-quality content to your subscribers. Learning management systems come in all different forms all of which serve the same function which is to help you provide your students with a reliable means of learning about topics and subject matter that interest them the most.

Without an LMS system, you will not be able to optimize in a way that is easy for users to access and engage with. Always make sure that the online course solution you decide on has powerful LMS capabilities which will allow you to manage all of your content in an efficient and organized manner.

Membership Options

If you’re like most online teachers or course providers, chances are you offer a free section to potential users so that they can get a feel of your study material and overall course quality. To increase the amount of active revenue that you receive from your online course, you should look for an online course solution that offers you the ability to restrict your content by way of a member’s area. By using and creating a members-only area, you will be able to restrict access to your content and course material to ensure that only people who are actively paying a subscription fee can access all of your courses and other content options.

Creating a member’s only are can help you focus your content strategy on specific areas of your website and overall content ecosystem to bring in higher conversion rates and larger returns on your educational material. A member’s only section on your website is almost a necessity in today’s age as many online course providers and teachers use them to offer exclusive access to particular lessons and other material which can help improve your users’ overall experience.

E-commerce Compatibility

As an addition to your main course offer, you can also provide your students with extra bonus courses and products that they may need to complete and take in the full depth of your course information completely. Using an online course platform that has eCommerce capabilities will also allow you to elevate the entire experience that your audience receives from the course material and other content on your website. E-commerce capabilities are great because you have total control over how your store is set-up and operated.

There are no limits to what you can accomplish by using an eCommerce store as you will be able to create a variety of different product pages and special discounts that you can offer as an incentive to continue learning from your platform.

Branding Capabilities

As an online course instructor, marketing is critical to your overall business success due to the fact that it requires proper branding and marketing to acquire people who want to subscribe to your educational content. Because of this, you need to make sure that you select an online course platform that gives you the ability to freely brand and market your content the way that you want to.

The aspects of marketing that are considered to be in this category include things such as adding your logo onto your promotional course, including custom images and voice snippets, and any other pieces of content that you would use to successfully personalize the experience that users have with your course. Not all platforms offer the same level of branding capabilities and features as one another which is why you need to do your research before signing up with any platform.

Branding is what makes customers trust your brand when compared to another, branding is also what helps separate your online course from other options available. If you sign-up for an online course solution that does not provide branding customization and personalization controls, you won’t be able to capitalize on the full potential that your online course has to offer. That’s why you need to make sure that your selected online course platform comes with an array of different branding options that you can utilize to add a personal sense of flair and overall appeal to your online course.

User Data Collection

To maximize the number of results and active subscribers that you see on your online course, you need to collect the data of individuals who use and are active members of your platform. You want to make sure that you sign-up for an online course solution that will allow you to collect the personal information of your subscribers and users such as their email addresses. By doing so, you will be able to develop a strong list of verifiable leads who have already shown an interest in your program.

This can help you increase the amount of engagement and subscribers that you get in addition to giving you the ability to receive user feedback about what steps you can take to improve the quality of your online course overall. Without this valuable information, you won’t be able to act on any relevant insight that you receive about how people are reacting to your current online course set-up and what improvements they would like to see implemented for their educational benefit.

There are a lot of online course solutions out there that will give you the ability to gather personal information and insights about your audience to further enhance its overall design.

Policy Information & Pricing

Another really important factor to consider when choosing which online course solution is right for you, is its policies regarding how much freedom you have to price your courses and whether or not you will be able to control the terms as they relate to funds or other disputes that your users may have with your course. You need to see if whether or not the platform offers a useful feature such as forum creation and custom return policies so that you have total control over how all of the customer service related to your online course is handled.

This will also enable you to allow customers and users to leave comments and opinions about how they feel your online course is helping them advance their learning efforts. Controlling the way that you communicate with users of your online course is also very important because it will allow you to establish relationships and gain insights about what they want more of out of your online course.

Learning Experience for Students

At the core of every online course lies the audience and users who interact and engage with your content on a regular basis. Your entire online course design should be centred around your audience and users so that they can receive the maximum value out of what you have to offer. You want to make sure that you select an online course solution that allows your students to engage with other students so that your online course can have its own unique community for users to answer each other’s questions, share new ideas, and anything else that is important to their experience.

You should also have the ability to monitor and track your students’ views and how much progress they’ve made through your course on the learning platform of your choosing. As a way to incentivize people’s participation with your program, you may want to consider adding a guest user option to your online course so that people may interact with your content without having to enter profile details or sign-up for complete access to your course. You can select to offer them content and individual courses that require no additional sign-up steps and procedures. You will also want a reliable method to interact with your students and to allow them to interact with you.

To add an extra layer of educational depth, you should consider creating different quizzes, certificates, and other accomplishments that users can achieve as a sign of how active and effectively they’ve been using your online course. Your chosen online course platform should provide you with the ability to create courses in different formats and also courses that incorporate the use of different formats in one sitting.

Things such as audio, text, slideshows, video, and more should be available for you to use as tools to enhance the quality of your online course.

These are some of the main features and capabilities that you should look for when selecting the right online course solution for your intended needs. Next, we’re going to take a look at some of the core aspects that you will want to consider when making your decision.

Core Aspects: The Things You Need When Running an Online Course

For you to make the most out of your online course, you will need to make sure that you choose a platform that matches your current technical capabilities and skill level. Online course solutions come in many different forms and all of them require different levels of configuration that may not be compatible with everyone.

If you have little to no technical skills, you need to choose a platform that requires little to no technical experience to set-up and begin using its interface. If you do not a little bit about coding and web development skills, you can go for a platform that requires more input in terms of technical details when trying to configure your course. Oftentimes, courses that require more technical input will also give you more options in terms of flexible site configuration and overall customization options.

Another thing that you want to consider before signing up for any online course solution is its compatibility with other software solutions as integrations. If you currently use analytics tracking software or platforms, you will want to make sure that your chosen platform allows you to integrate various add-ons such as Google analytics as it will help boost your ability to further optimize the overall quality of your online course.

Zapier is a very popular integration tool that allows you to connect 100s of other apps into several different content management systems and online course platforms. If your desired platform comes with Zapier integration, this is a good sign because likely you will be able to integrate it with various other third-party solutions.

The platform that you decide to use should also come with some form of customer support and other training tools to help you learn more about how to use the platform to its full potential. The platform should also come with an instructional guide to help you get started with setting up your course and learning how to use its various features in general.

Now that we’ve covered some of the core aspects that you should look for when choosing an online course platform, it’s time to look at how to analyze the price of all the various platforms out there so that you can choose the one that will provide you with the best deal.

Plans & Pricing Options: Online Course Platform

Every online course solution will have its own set pricing options however, some of them have limited plan tier options. Before signing up and adding your payment details, see if the platform you’re interested in offers a free trial option. If so, try it out before signing up for a paid subscription to see if it meets your desired needs or not.

Not all platforms offer a free trial option, if you happen to encounter this situation, you will want to do an immense amount of research to make sure that it has all of the features and capabilities that you need to take your online course to the next level. You also need to check the subscription frequency of the platform that you select to see whether or not you have the option of paying on an annual or monthly basis.

Also check the amount of plan options offered by the platform, higher tier options will typically give you access to more in-depth features and capabilities however if there are a lot of tier options to choose from, it allows you to access specific functions of the platform that you need without having to pay for the entire program. This can help you save money in the long run by allowing you to only pay for the services that you need the most.

By paying attention to all of these different variables, you will be able to optimize your budget so that you can publish your educational content without having to dish out a lot of cash.

Next, we’re going to take an in-depth look at exactly what an online course platform is and how it can help you reach more students.

What is an online course platform?

Online course platforms can come in the form of software or a website, regardless they all serve the same function. That function is to allow course creators the ability to sell, host, and market their educational content. These platforms come in many different forms and types all of which serve very specific purposes for individuals looking to increase the number of sales and interactions that their online courses get.

The great thing about these platforms is the fact that anyone can find the right option that has all of their preferred features. If you’re trying to sell an online course and want a system that will help you advance its overall efforts, an online course platform is for you.

Our Top Recommendations

Now that we’ve covered all of the most important information that you need to consider when choosing an online course for your specific needs, it’s time to take a look at some of our top recommendations for online course solutions that you can begin using today. Keep in mind, all of the recommendations that we list below will vary in terms of how much they cost, what integration options are available, customization capabilities and much more.

You should always consider your personal needs as they relate to what features you want to access your selected online course platform to ensure that you’re making the right decision.

#1 Udemy

Udemy is one of the best online course platforms available, it currently has over 24 million enrolled students in addition to have 35,000 teachers and access to an astonishing 80,000+ different course materials. To use this platform as your solution, you will need to sign-up as a premium instructor which will give you access to all of the instructor features on the site. This platform allows you to use their integrated platform for marketing, offering a discount to customers, and more. If you’re interested in using an online course platform that is intuitive, smooth, and efficient you should give it a try.

#2 Skillshare

Skillshare is an online course marketplace that has a primary focus on creativity and knowledge seeking. The site currently has 24,000+ lessons for you to choose from ranging in the subject matter and experience level of the instructor. The platform uses a unique method that requires that all class offers must remain between the time of 20min and 60 min. This is helpful because it allows for healthy community discussion and for other students to get the opportunity to speak with others to take the same course. This platform is relatively easy to use and comes packed with a ton of great features that you can use to advance the progress of your online course with ease.

#3 Treehouse

Treehouse is a platform that is fairly new in terms of online course marketplaces, the platform has a focus on providing accessible high-quality educational content that can help students of all races, gender, religion, and more. Currently, the site has over 50,000 active users and 300+ courses on web development and coding alone. The platform has established some pretty big partnerships with leading tech companies from around the world including Google, IBM Watson, Microsoft, and others. This ensures that you’re always getting access to premium education from trusted sources, the site offers 7-day hassle-free trial options and has plans ranging from $25-$99.

#4 Kajabi

Kajabi is a comprehensive online course solution that has all of the tools and features you need to publish a professional education course. The platform comes with pre-made templates, automation, hosting assistance, and much more all of which will help make your online course that much better. They have a 24hr support team that is always on call waiting to respond to any questions that you may have. The platform has a very clean and simple user interface that is easy to configure and you can choose from a wide range of affordable plan options so that you can access all of the most important features that you need.

The site also hosts a slew of extra and valuable assets such as a community section which allows students to share ideas and communicate with one another in addition to multiple language support so that you can use the platform no matter where you are in the world.

#5 Teachable

Teachable is another all-inclusive online course solution that offers powerful capabilities for those interested in creating online courses. The platform gives you the ability to grow your audience by using its built-in interface in addition to requiring a very low commission fee on sales made from your courses. One of the great benefits of using this online course solution is that the platform offers a free plan option which allows you to use the services provided at an increased commission rate. This is great for beginning online course instructors who have a limited budget to work with.

It also gives you complete control over the branding and pricing of your courses which is great because some other platforms place restrictions on how you can market your course and how much you can sell it for. You will also have total access to all of the user information and data provided by your customers to help you optimize your course selections for maximum results both for you and your students.

All of these platforms provide a solid base for you to begin selling online courses and related material. Consider and compare all of the various features offered by each platform so that you will be able to decide on which one is right for your intended needs. Each one of these platforms offers something special for particular online course instructors who are trying to achieve specific aims, so you will be able to find the perfect fit in no time.

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Conclusion

We’ve gone over all of the most important factors, features, and elements that you need to consider when attempting to sell an online course. By taking the time to read through all of the tips and advice detailed in this guide, you will be able to find the right online course solution to begin offering your expertise to those interested. Always remember to focus on quality content and consistent improvement if you plan on obtaining and keeping subscribers for your courses.

Online courses are becoming popular with lots of people who are looking for ways to get a high-quality education without being bound to a physical classroom. As an instructor or course provider, you have the ability to positively impact so many lives by way of your teaching which is why you should use the correct course platform that will allow you to achieve those desires. Hone in on what you’re an expert at and try converting it into an online course, you never know who may be interested in learning about what you already know.

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