Updated June 24, 2023
During the pandemic, many educators and professionals realized that monetizing their expertise was a great way to supplement or replace their income while at home. They jumped into being edupreneurs while learning how to navigate the online business landscape. Some were more successful than others, as they discovered the differences between online learning platforms in usability, cost, and customer service. To help you on your edupreneur journey, we compare three popular platforms so you can make an informed choice for your preferred online learning tool. First, let’s explore how online learning is so popular.
Why start a business selling online courses?
- Anywhere, anytime, any pace – Most online courses are self-paced and are accessible from most of the world, at the most convenient time for the learner. That gives online education an edge in flexibility and lets education providers reach a broader spectrum of possible customers.
- Build a reputation in your specialization – Use market research to gain insights to competitor programs and capitalize on their weaknesses by making them your strengths. This helps you build your authority and makes you the go-to solution for more specialized problems.
- Lower costs and increased productivity – Online educators can facilitate sessions from the comfort of their favorite location, which saves them from transportation costs. Plus, teaching from a home office or local coworking space provides a quiet, dedicated work environment on top of the speedy commute.
- Paperless resources are cost-effective and better for the environment – edupreneurs are usually solopreneurs, and that means keeping a sharp eye on your budget. No one wants to print out 30 copies of a document – only to find a typo buried in the text. Digital tools let you quickly edit and update so you’ll always be distributing the latest version of your materials.
Once you’ve decided that selling your knowledge is the right business choice for you, the next step is to select a platform to deliver your courses. It’s actually possible to deliver individual online courses via email, but if you are planning to grow a true education business, you need a dedicated online curse platform – formally known as a learning management system.
A Learning Management System (LMS) is:
An education portal that is efficient in creating and delivering interactive educational content, testing and tracking students’ progress, and provides a systematic medium for managing data related to students.
The main features edupreneurs should look for when selecting online course platforms are:
- Facilitates strong connections between learning programs, educators, and learners, mitigating the need for physical interaction.
- Offers templates that help you create new courses fast, saving you the hassle of recreating course material.
- Accommodates learners with diverse abilities and learning styles.
What to consider before you choose a platform:
For the Educator
Simple processes for uploading course content and including different types of content ranging from text documents to PowerPoint presentations and audio transcripts.
Ease of access in adding new courses and editing course content with no prior training required.
Business management – ease of collecting fees for courses, setting up sales, and offering discounts to select learner groups.
Membership management – the ability to offer members-only content or courses, along with subscriptions with automatic payments.
Efficient in managing student data and measuring progress – you should easily be able to access data such as frequency of learner logins, testing, and progress.
CRM Integration – the platform should support CRM systems to help you market effectively to potential customers and manage interactions with existing customers.
A course catalog that helps learners scan your offerings – this lets customers see what to expect and evaluate whether they’ll learn what they need to in your courses.
Enrollment options that allow students to take one or more courses at the same time.
Customer support and community discussion forum – this allows learners to feel more secure and provides a space for group interaction.
Tailored learning path – for longer programs, shows learners where they will begin and where they should expect to end up.
Mobile learning – mobile access to learning materials is essential for today’s learners who are usually learning on the go.
It is vital that you choose an online course platform that can adapt to the growth in your edupreneur venture. Tasks like processing large amounts of data, being accessible worldwide and avoiding system crashes are essential. Your choice of LMS should leave you feeling assured that the system will work under different conditions without the risk of backfiring due to malfunctions.
The costs associated with your platform are part of your business expenses. There’s no getting around that, but you can choose the option that’s most cost effective for you at your stage of business. Generally, there will be a monthly or annual fee for your LMS. These costs can range from $8+ to $40+ per month. Some platforms will increase these fees based on the number of courses or learners you have.
Now that we’ve given you a foundation for your decision when choosing an LMS platform, let’s look at the pros and cons of some of the leading online course platforms.
Teachable entered the market in 2013. With more than 12 million students across 125,000 courses, it is recognized as a platform for people from different professional backgrounds such as educators, entrepreneurs, and creators to share their knowledge with consumers in an uncomplicated way that doesn’t require its users to be tech savvy.
Here’s a glimpse of the pros and cons of using Teachable:
- An uncomplicated interface promotes a user-friendly atmosphere.
- Equipped with its own built-in payment system as an option.
- Teachable has three different price plans to choose from. Based on your budget, you can select from Basic, Professional or Business pricing plans.
- All plans are inclusive of unlimited video, courses and hosting.
- Choose from a range of pricing plans for your courses and have control over your pricing system.
- Easily integrable with other software/apps such as Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Google Analytics and other apps using webhooks.
- Limited in customization options for site and courses such as gamification compared to some other platforms.
- Not great for selling memberships and lacks the community element that is vital for student interaction.
- Lacks aesthetics in email personalization – emails can’t be sent on a scheduled basis, they aren’t saved as drafts, and templates are HTML coded.
With the aim of creating a platform that lets people tell stories and share knowledge, Kajabi has managed to attract over 60 million students across 120 countries since its launch in 2010. It’s best known for being the most integrated platform that doesn’t require third-party websites to run your business, allowing you to save on the cost of extra tools.
Here’s why may some users choose Kajabi over other platforms:
- Features a wide range of course and business tools, making it highly integrated.
- Provides options in terms of customization
- Equipped with excellent email marketing tools
- Remarkable customer support
- Expensive compared to other platforms
- Requires coding knowledge to edit posts that contain photos
- Limited customization options for assessments
- No features to create certificates
LifterLMS is a self-hosted course platform powered by WordPress. LifterLMS connects a variety of online learning platform features, content creation tools, and engagement options while providing its own base for ecommerce, making it one of the most comprehensive LMS solutions.
- Easily build courses with the drag and drop mechanism.
- Equipped with built-in membership features.
- LifterLMS has a progression bar feature that enables students to track their progress.
- Mobile-friendly, promotes the accessible nature of LMS allowing students access anywhere at any time.
- Comprehensive ecommerce options to sell one course or build an entire online academy
- Efficient, dedicated support from the LifterLMS team
- Integrates natively with many WordPress plugins for more functionality like e-mail marketing.
- Can get pricey if multiple extensions are required to build your custom solution
- Outdated in certain elements of design
Tutor LMS is another self-hosted WordPress solution that’s powerful yet simple and intuitive. The platform is scalable as your business grows. Like LifterLMS, it features a drag-and-drop interface for building your courses. However, you can start selling your online courses entirely with the free version. Tutor LMS integrates with several popular CRM applications, and even includes revenue-sharing with multiple instructors. If you need advanced features for your elearning business, the annual plans include all addons at an attractive price point.
- Easily build courses with drag and drop functionality
- Mobile-friendly, allowing students access anywhere, anytime
- Free version is fully-equipped for selling courses without costly add-ons
- Build a course marketplace (like Udemy) or share revenue with a few instructor-partners
- No advanced sales reports in the free version
- WooCommerce is required for standard payment gateways
- If you need automated student grading, you’ll need to purchase a plan
Why Tutor LMS tops our list:
Whether you are an edupreneur or planning to open a full online school, TutorLMS seals the deal with ease of use. The free version scores top marks in usability, and investing in an annual subscription gets you advanced functions. Best of all, if you’re familiar with WordPress for your main website, you can keep your Google juice in one place by extending your existing website.
Need hands-on help building your new online course platform?
We specialize in building online course platforms and marketing ecommerce businesses. Reach out for a complimentary consultation to get started on your edupreneur journey today!