The best online course hosting platforms for 2021

So, you’ve decided to start teaching courses online – check, you’ve chosen a topic you would like to teach – check, now what? You need to decide where your online course will be hosted…

Once your online course is written/recorded, the next step is deciding how you will do it – that means choosing an online course hosting platform that suits your current needs.

Note, we say “current needs”, as you can always switch to something else once your situation develops and has different needs later on.

But don’t be afraid to start your journey just because you have too many choices – choose what fits your priorities right now, and go ahead.   

Below we have reviewed some of the platforms used by The Robora course creators, hope it helps your research…

Thinkific

An all-in-one platform that lets you customise many things (for a price), from hosting a course only to hosting a full-on website.

Website: https://www.thinkific.com/features/

Pros – you don’t need any coding skills or a developer; this full-service platform helps you put together a presentable website in no time. Their FAQs/guidance section is very comprehensive, so you can just follow their instructions and set things up easily.

Cons – many of the customisation and integration features are only available within the paid plans. The paid plans can be expensive if it’s taking a while to start selling or you’re not selling well for a while.

Thinkific is a great option if you are limited in time (i.e. can’t spend hours learning how to code or are intimidated by WordPress), so would like to set up a basic website using their templates and start selling the course to your existing audience.   

Teachable

Another powerful one-stop-shop course hosting platform that provides you with great features and a ready to go website without hiring a developer.

Website: https://teachable.com/features

Pros – strong course creator support and training base, you can refer to their case studies, examples or endless webinars to learn something new or get inspiration.

Cons – most of the good features are available only with higher-paid plans. Every transaction has a good % taken off it for different things like international Paypal sales or BackOffice fee, so need to be careful.

Teachable is a great option if you’d like to focus on teaching and course creation, and want to ‘outsource’ as much as possible to the platform and are happy to pay for it. As with Thinkific, you will feel the cost commitment if the sales are slow.

Kajabi

In a smart move, Kajabi name-drops every brand that it promises to replace as an all-in-one-place platform (from Teachable to Wix to Mailchimp to WooCommerce to ClickFunnels) – impressive indeed!

Website: https://kajabi.com/

Pros – you can manage the entire website, email marketing, analytics, and reports all within Kajabi, without having to open or integrate with another provider. It also provides you with strong marketing blueprints and templates for generating leads, what to do with them afterwards, how to close a sale, etc.

Cons – you only have 14 days to test-drive it, then it starts from $149 for the cheapest plan.

Kajabi is great if you are looking for a single login platform with no need for integrations or additional subscriptions, where everything is interconnected and works smoothly.

Podia

Podia won their first fans by focusing on memberships, online courses and digital downloads only, which made things pretty easy to manage, gave a nice focused design. Now you can manage your own website as well as email marketing, all from Podia.

Website: https://www.podia.com/features

Pros – no transaction fees, just monthly subscription which is quite affordable compared to Kajabi. They also offer free migration with annual plans – a great help during a switch!

Cons – the clean-cut design can be limiting after a while if you want something more.

Podia is great if you are looking for a user-friendly interface, uncomplicated design and a setup.

LearnDash

Compared to other full-service platforms mentioned here, LearnDash is a WordPress LMS plug-in, and it’s highly rated for what it does – claimed to be trusted by some of the US universities and Tony Robbins.

Website: https://www.learndash.com/features/

Pros – it is very affordable (starting at $159 per YEAR) and most of the useful features are available to all of the plans. Also, LearnDash is highly rated for what it does – hosting courses on your existing WordPress website.

Cons – There is a learning curve, especially if you’re not familiar with WordPress set up and most likely, you will need a developer’s help during the initial set up.

Great if you have an existing WordPress blog or a website, and you started contemplating the online course side of things – you can try out the inexpensive plug-in without having to migrate the whole website or split your visitor traffic across different platforms.

Kartra

Aimed to replace everything you might need to start – from hosting to marketing to checkouts, it promises to be very easy to use with lots of drag and drop templates, and user-friendly features.

Website: https://home.kartra.com/

Pros – Kartra offers useful sample sales copies when you’re putting together your pages (instead of the usual ipsum lorem jibberish), and a helpdesk for managing your customer queries using a ticketing system.

Cons – there are still smoother interfaces out there, and the lowest priced plan starts at $99 a month with only 14 days to test drive everything.

Kartra is a good choice if you’re trying to cut down on integrations and have as much as possible within a single platform.

CourseCraft

Focusing on online courses and digital downloads, CourseCraft is gaining more and more traction with its customers. It’s quite competitive in terms of features it offers and user-friendliness.

Website: https://coursecraft.net/features

Pros – free plan to get you started, you pay 9% when you start making sales. The interface and the platform are very intuitive and easy to use, which will speed up your set up process.

Cons – doesn’t cater for memberships yet.

CourseCraft is great if you still need more time to produce your course content, and would like to put together a free website in the meantime to keep up with lead generation and promoting yourself.

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Do you have any other platforms you’ve read about and would like us to add here? Let us know


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