How to Build a Business Selling Online Courses

A recent report revealed that among generation X users on YouTube, do-it-yourself and “tutorial” type videos are one of the most popular categories. As much as people might joke about funny cat videos, there is definitely a market for more “useful” online content. Many people are very keen to learn new things, but they may not have the time, money or resources to attend a more traditional school to take a more traditional course. And a more traditional education might not be what they’re looking for in the first place.

Maybe they want to learn how to cook fancy French cuisine. Maybe they want to get more familiar with online tools to help run their own home-based businesses. Maybe they want to learn about photography or video editing. The range of subject matter is as rich and diverse as the people who are interested in such courses and this represents a huge business opportunity for you.

You can indeed build an online business selling high quality online courses, but which platform is right for you? What features should you be looking for?

Kajabi

Easily one of the biggest names in this space, and rightfully so, is Kajabi. The platform has been designed specifically to provide everything you need to create, run and sell your online courses. There’s no need “to juggle multiple tools.” That’s the biggest appeal here, because Kajabi lets you handle it all under one umbrella.

You’re going to need a website for your online course and Kajabi provides that, including a white label option complete with themes, a blog and your own custom branding on your own custom domain. With the Pro plan, you can offer up to 100 products, all with unlimited bandwidth and the option for drip content, so it doesn’t matter when someone signs up.

The included marketing suite means you don’t need to rely on a third-party marketing solution either. That includes autoresponders, landing pages, lead capture, and lead nurturing. You also get comprehensive member management, a full payment processing solution (with bundles and coupons too!), and all sorts of advanced features like an affiliate program and live chat.

Monthly plans range from $103 to $719 based on annual billing.

Thinkific

Similar in many ways to Kajabi is Thinkific, which is geared toward “empowering modern course creators.”

This is a platform that is designed to grow with you, accommodating as many members as you need so you can scale your business accordingly. There is design customization available to help you create more compelling content, including a white label solution with your own custom domain. However, there is no built-in blog support or included website themes.

Part of the learning process is making sure your students are actually learning. That’s why it’s great to see that Thinkific has built-in quizzes that you can integrate into your online course. You also get member management, including tracking member progress, as well as a full payment processing solution. If you get at least the business plan, there are no transaction fees.

One area where Thinkific comes up short is with marketing. While the platform allows you to run and sell your online courses, it doesn’t include a suite for you to promote the program and capture leads. You’ll need to turn to a third-party solution for that, incurring additional expense.

Monthly prices range from $0 to $219 a month, billed annually.

Teachable

With over 7,500 instructors, over 20,000 active courses, and over 3 million students around the world, Teachable is a very popular platform for online learning. To date, instructors have earned over $36 million using the Teachable content management system (CMS), which supports unlimited members, custom domains, and unlimited products, including free products.

A big reason why thousands of instructors choose Teachable for creating, managing and selling their online content is because the course creator strikes that beautiful balance between being very robust and keeping a clean and simple design that is easily approachable by almost anyone.

With Teachable, you can also have multiple admins on the same course and your custom website will be mobile responsive for your students too. Prospective students can preview your curriculum to see if the course is right for them and the platform will handle all the payments for you too. Creating the course itself is free and can be done in a matter of minutes.

However, just like Thinkific, Teachable does not have a built-in set of marketing tools to help you attract students and nurture leads. Without the tools to build your business, like creating landing pages and sending email broadcasts, you will need to look elsewhere to generate leads. As mentioned, that’s not a problem with a more comprehensive solution like that of Kajabi.

Teachable plans range from $39 to $299 per month or $399 to $999 per year.

Ruzuku

A more affordable option can be found with Ruzuku, which is geared to help you “teach amazing courses people will love.” All plans allow you to host unlimited students, sell unlimited courses, and “go crazy” with unlimited audio, unlimited video, and unlimited data storage.

Your online courses can be as large or as small as you like, scaling as your business continues to grow over time. The plans also include access to the Ruzuku content deliver network (CDN), ensuring that your students will have the best experience no matter where you are in the world. Daily backups are a handy feature too.

You will find that some features are missing from Ruzuku that are included with the other platforms mentioned thus far. The most popular “up and comer” plan doesn’t allow you to use your own domain, for instance, and you are limited to a single instructor. Commerce options are also basic, relying more on PayPal and Stripe to handle payment. The lack of marketing tools can also be troublesome.

Monthly plans start from $74.75/month and go up to $125/month when billed annually.

Zippy Courses

If you’re already using WordPress and are comfortable with the popular CMS, then Zippy Courses could be a compelling option. That’s because it effectively operates like as a WordPress plugin, using the main infrastructure as its backbone.

Zippy Courses says that is has been “designed for teaching and selling,” offering components both for the purpose of creating online courses and for the purpose of selling and running them. Using WordPress as its CMS, you can use the drag-and-drop course builder to customize your programming. It also supports different access tiers so you have different pricing plans. Upsell to a “premium” package, for instance.

Other notable features include support for launch windows, drip content schedules, automatic emails, and integration with existing services like Aweber, Infusionsoft, Mailchimp and Constant Contact. You can use your own domain or you can opt for a zippycourses.com subdomain.

There are some limitations, however, like the lack of a blog, as well as limited built-in marketing options. There is no autoresponder, for example, and it doesn’t come preconfigured with an affiliate program.

The standard and deluxe packages are $199 and $299, respectively.

Easily Sell Your Content Online

People want to learn. You want to teach them (and profit along the way). The good news is just as blogging and video production have become far more accessible over the years, the same is now true with selling online courses. Some platforms, like Kajabi, are more robust and more comprehensive than others, so it’s really up to you what you want to prioritize. From content creation to member management to marketing tools, you can have it all and at a reasonable price point too.

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