How do I sell courses in Moodle

The 10 Best Online Course Platforms: The Ultimate Guide

You want to Online courses create and sell and look for the best platform for this? In this large overview, I will introduce you to the best German and international online course platforms, discuss the most important advantages and disadvantages and also report on my own experiences.

1 Introduction

2) German vs. international provider

3) With vs. without an attached marketplace

4) All-in-one solution vs. individual tools

5) Online course platforms (A-Z)

- 5.1) Coachy

- 5.2) Digimember

- 5.3) e-mentor

- 5.4) Elopage

- 5.5) New Kajabi

- 5.6) Skill share

- 5.7) Spreadmind

- 5.8) Teachable

- 5.9) Thinkific

- 5.10) Udemy

6) Other course platforms

7) Next steps

introduction

Briefly in advance: Why this article and where does the information come from?

I want to be completely transparent with you. Of course, I haven't tested every single course platform myself. As an expert in online course marketing, I show my clients how to attract more paying participants to their online courses. For me it doesn't matter which course platform my customers use. But knowing how important this topic is to many, I wrote this article.

I know some platforms “inside” because I have already worked with them as a participant in online courses. If I have not yet used a platform myself, it is there. The information from platforms that I have not tested or used myself comes from various articles and reviews that we researched online or from voices that I have heard from my customers, fans and followers.

I am looking forward to your cooperation!

Important: If you notice anything that is factually wrong (for example information about features or prices), please leave a comment. My team and I will update this post regularly if some information is no longer up-to-date.

I am also pleased about your experiences with the online course platforms listed here.

And if you know a course platform that is missing here, feel free to suggest it in the comments.

But first we start with three very basic questions about course platforms for online courses: Is a German or an international provider better suited? Should the course platform have a marketplace? And are all-in-one solutions better than individually booked tools?

If these topics are less exciting for you, simply jump directly to the course platform that interests you most via the table of contents.

Have fun while reading!

Catherine

General

2) German vs. international provider

One of the most important decision criteria for many online course providers is certainly whether the online course platform is operated by a German provider or an international provider.

On the one hand, this concerns the language of the course platform (English is a hurdle for many course providers), but also the often lack of legal certainty in connection with international platforms.

Of course, legal certainty is often an advantage of the German course platforms. On the other hand, the range of functions often cannot keep up with the platforms from overseas.

Ultimately, the whole thing is again a personal decision: Would you rather have a little more risk, but a more profitable online business? Or play it “safe” and forego functions?

Everyone has to decide for themselves.

3) With vs. without an attached marketplace

For many course providers, course platforms with an attached marketplace are attractive. Because there are already many potential customers here who are ready to take money into their hands and buy online courses.

But is that really true?

Yes and no.

Of course, potential customers can also be found on a connected marketplace.

However, many other online courses are also offered there and you are in direct competition with other course providers. As soon as they make their courses even a little cheaper than you, it becomes difficult. Because on such a marketplace, the possibilities to present your own brand in a high quality and to build trust are rather limited. In the end, the price or the scope of the online course often decides on the purchase.

In the end, online course platforms with an attached marketplace are certainly not bad for gaining initial experience with course participants.

To build a sustainable online business that should work in five or ten years, however, I would never rely solely on an external course marketplace. It is very important to build your own brand and to make yourself independent of external platforms.

4) All-in-one solution vs. individual tools

As an expert in online course marketing, I often get the first steps my customers take as they enter the online business world. Often people are looking for an “all-in-one tool” that is as inexpensive as possible and that combines functionalities such as e-mail marketing, website, webinars, landing pages and more.

Sure: you would like to save money and not familiarize yourself with different tools. I totally understand that.

But I am (and always have been) of the opinion that an “egg-laying wool milk sow” can never be as good as a single tool that only takes on ONE function.

We coaches, consultants, trainers and experts are also told that we don't have a “vendor's tray”, but should specialize in a few core competencies in order to be really, really good at them.

That's exactly what all-in-one solutions don't do.

An all-in-one solution may save some money. Personally, however, it wouldn't be worth it to me if I couldn't use certain marketing strategies or if I had to forego functions.

5) The 10 best online course platforms from A to Z.

5.1) Coachy

Assessment by Katharina: Not possible, as not tested

Coachy is a German provider and should therefore be of interest to many. This online course platform offers the simple creation of a member's area without technical knowledge, including basic functions such as regular backups. Coachy is therefore completely available in German.

To accept payments, you can link Coachy to Digistore24.

Another positive thing about this online course platform is that you can integrate a Facebook group, as well as the common e-mail marketing systems (such as my favorite ActiveCampaign *, for example).

The disadvantages of Coachy are that there is an upload limit. In addition, each online course costs an extra hosting fee in addition to the annual fee.

A website or blog is not integrated into Coachy. This is really just the course platform itself.

To the Coachy website

5.2) Digimember

Assessment by Katharina: Recommended

Digimember is a plugin that turns a WordPress website into a course platform. Digimember can be connected to various payment providers. The one that is used most often is Digistore24.

The combination of Digimember and Digistore24 is what I have used in my online business from the start and continue to use it.

The big advantage of this solution is that you can design your own course platform completely freely. Both Digimember and Digistore24 are German providers who advertise with legal certainty.

Digimember is quite easy to configure when you consider the range of functions this plugin offers.

The biggest advantage of this solution is at the same time its biggest disadvantage: You can quickly get lost in the "design" of the online course because you have every possibility that your own WordPress theme offers.

I build my course pages with Thrive Architect *, for example, and virtually anything you can imagine can be implemented.

What I've been missing from Digimember for a long time is the integrated option for course participants to tick off lessons, i.e. a progress indicator. I am currently solving this using the ProgressAlly plug-in, which is no longer available individually, but I hope that Digimember will bring this function at some point.

I also have to complain about Digimember that the system sometimes gets confused with the rights management for my now more than 20 products.

I also don't think the support is particularly good. Sometimes the queries are not read correctly at all. With more complex problems you usually get no help at all (“Unfortunately, we cannot reproduce this error with us.” And that's it). And support only takes place via e-mail, which is really time-consuming, especially with more extensive problems. Until everything has been explained and a satisfactory answer has been received, it can be 5-10 e-mails ...

All in all, a good solution that I continue to rely on. That doesn't mean that I don't always look around for alternatives ... ;-) Moving a course platform with several hundred customers, however, is not a sticky problem.

To the Digimember website *

5.3) e-Mentor (formerly e-Shepherd)

Assessment by Katharina: not possible, as not tested

With e-Mentor, we have another German provider of online course platforms that one hears about again and again. The corresponding legal certainty is certainly an advantage here.

In addition to pure video courses, you can also offer texts, videos or PDFs.

e-Mentor takes over billing and payment processing with your customers or you can connect the e-Mentor to Digistore24. Even a blog and landing pages are integrated with this provider.

One of the criticisms of e-Mentor is that there is no integrated e-mail marketing here and that there is no affiliate program. According to the provider, however, these features are already planned for the future.

To the e-Mentor website

5.4) Elopage

Assessment by Katharina: Recommended

With Elopage, a German provider has recently entered the market, which has accordingly been adapted to data protection in this country. The advantage of Elopage is that you can not only offer online courses, but also e-books, digital event tickets, worksheets, templates or coaching. The free version offers many features. You can book what is missing cheaply without having to take a larger package.

Like most other online course platforms, Elopage can be expanded with apps. You can also link the common email marketing systems (such as ActiveCampaign *) with Elopage.

Somewhat difficult about Elopage is that this provider is still quite new on the market and therefore features are constantly being added. On the one hand this is good, on the other hand the conditions change every now and then and you have to update yourself frequently to stay up to date.

In addition, no website is integrated into this online course platform and you also have to operate an e-mail marketing system in addition to Elopage.

What bothers me personally about Elopage is the “look and feel” for the online course participants. I like that much better with Teachable and Thinkific.

To the Elopage website

5.5) New Kajabi

Assessment by Katharina: Not recommended as it is extremely expensive

New Kajabi is something like the “egg-laying woolly milk sow” for online course providers: It combines online course platform, landing pages, e-mail marketing and your own website in ONE system.

The positive thing about New Kajabi is the customer service and that no external service providers have to be involved for payment processing, as New Kajabi itself acts as the payment provider.

In addition, New Kajabi offers an extensive online university: Here you can find tips on how to effectively sell content online and create profitable online courses. This training portal is included, so it is included with every account. However, providers such as Teachable also offer this.

The biggest downside to New Kajabi is the pricing model: the smallest package costs $ 150 a month. If you pay for a full year, you're still paying $ 119 a month, or $ 1,428 for a year. This is quite steep, especially for starters.

Otherwise, New Kajabi has been criticized for the fact that the design is not really adaptable and that e-mail marketing functions are missing (such as analysis and tracking) or are only available to a limited extent.

In addition, New Kajabi is not a German provider. With international online course platforms you always have to look at how you can use them in Germany and Europe in a legally secure manner. This often requires extra work and the help of lawyers.

To the New Kajabi website

5.6) Skill share

Katharina's assessment: Less suitable for setting up an online course business

Skillshare is also a little specialty among the online course platforms, because this is actually a kind of “e-learning platform for the masses”. That is not meant negatively at all. There are very affordable monthly subscriptions for course participants that enable them to take part in thousands of courses. The connected marketplace, similar to Udemy, is likely to be of interest to many online course providers. There is also a mobile app for iOS.

However, at Skillshare you can only offer video courses and only in English. Interaction with students is not possible here.

What I also found strange during the research is the opaque pricing model with regard to the online course providers. I only found out that as a provider you somehow get involved in the subscriptions concluded by the course participants with Skillshare, depending on how many of the Skillshare users use your own courses. But I have not found exact figures on this.

For me, Skillshare is more of a platform that I would use if I were to offer online courses for general education. I think Skillshare is less suitable for building an online business.

To the Skillshare website

5.7) Spreadmind

Assessment by Katharina: not possible, as not tested

Speadmind is a German provider and contains as many features as New Kajabi, because it contains all the important tools of an online business: website / blog, landing pages, member area, video hosting, email marketing, payment processing and much more.

You can even use this online course platform, which is actually an online business platform, in a free package. Here, however, quite high fees are due as soon as you sell an online course.

Like New Kajabi, Spreadmind is also quite expensive in the higher packages and costs from € 1,500 per year. However, this also saves you a lot of tools that you would otherwise have to book individually.

It all sounds very good. However, I have never seen Spreadmind “from the inside” and therefore cannot personally assess how good or bad this solution is. Please leave a comment if you have experience using Spreadmind :-)

To the Spreadmind website

5.8) Teachable

Assessment by Katharina: Recommended

Teachable is one of the best known and most widely used platforms for online courses. The biggest advantage of Teachable: Here you only have to pay a fee for the payment processing per online course sold. In addition, you pay a monthly fee, which is fixed. In the largest package, there is even no fee for payment processing, so you no longer have any costs per course sold.

This online course platform is also praised for being very user-friendly and flexible. You can host your course videos directly at Teachable. There is also an integrated affiliate program. So you also earn additional money when you refer Teachable to new customers.

The disadvantage of Teachable is that the design is not so customizable, which is actually true of almost all online course platforms. In contrast to other platforms, Teachable does not offer any integrated email marketing or landing pages. However, you can certainly design sales pages for your online courses with Teachable.

In addition, Teachable does not have a marketplace where your online courses can be found. That means that you are completely responsible for the marketing here. It is also criticized that the cheapest version has too few features - but hey, it is cheap :-)

In addition, Teachable is an international provider and you have to do a lot so that you can use this online course platform in Germany and Europe in a legally secure manner. As a course platform, Teachable is in English. However, you can manually translate the interface that your course participants use into German.

To the Teachable website

5.9) Thinkific

Assessment by Katharina: Recommended

Thinkific is basically Teachable's little sister. The two of course have nothing to do with each other, but are very similar in terms of functionality and design.

Familiarizing yourself with Thinkific is quick due to the simple introduction. In addition, you can not only post videos on this online course platform, but also PDFs, audios or HTML content.

Thinkific is also popular because of its attractive price and the package that can be used free of charge. In addition, you have no upload restrictions for video hosting and a high-quality video player for your course participants.

Again, the disadvantages of Thinkific are that the design cannot really be determined by the course provider. In addition, Thinkific is not yet fully developed for mobile use.

To the Thinkific website

5.10) Udemy

Assessment by Katharina: Not recommended, as courses are “sold off”

Udemy is a special online course platform because a huge marketplace is connected to it. The advantage of this is that your online courses can be easily discovered by potential customers. Creating online courses on Udemy is basically free. Fees only apply when something is actually sold. The Udemy community and support actively support the creation of a course, which many also like.

Since I once offered online courses at Udemy and haven't done so for a long time, I can easily assess the negative sides of Udemy.

On the one hand, online courses on Udemy are currently allowed to cost a maximum of € 50, which severely limits the earning potential.

The main disadvantage of Udemy, however, is the actual advantage: Many people find Udemy attractive because they hope to find customers easily through the marketplace. However, in my experience, this only works well if you take part in so-called “Udemy Marketing”. This means that Udemy is running discount promotions. The online courses on this online course platform are literally “sold off”. In my opinion, that damages the reputation of your own brand.

You can be successful on Udemy if you offer a lot of online courses (20+) and really sell them en masse through the discount campaigns. Many people who offer programming courses, for example, do this well.

Udemy is also criticized for its high and sometimes inscrutable quality standards: At Udemy you can only create video courses (80% of the course content must be videos) and videos are often rejected because the quality is not good enough, although the videos are of high quality. A discussion with the quality team is then necessary here.

The Udemy marketplace also suggests similar courses to customers. In the end, this leads to a price war among online course providers, because usually the cheapest courses with the most videos are bought.

To the Udemy website

6) Other online course platforms

During our research, we noticed other online course platforms, but we found little more information about them.

On the one hand Moodle and OpenSesame. However, these two platforms are more intended for institutions such as universities or very large companies. For example, I used Moodle at university and consider the functionality of this system to be absolutely oversized for us as online course providers. The familiarization here would really be an annual project.

In addition, we have found reteach. This German provider is very easy to use and the courses created with it look very good. A special feature of reteach is the integration of Zoom into the digital learning room. This eliminates the need to manually send Zoom invitations and the participants can also log into Zoom training courses with a 1-clcik.

Another provider is Memberspot. In addition to simple operation, attractive design and good performance, a great advantage is that no sensitive content has to be lying around on any foreign video portals. Memberspot is on EU servers. Another plus is the app, which is available in addition to the web application. Since I haven't put the software through its paces myself, I can't comment on the real disadvantages. The best thing to do is to try the free trial yourself.

So there you have it! In my opinion, these are currently the best and most important online course platforms.

7) Next steps

If you want to create and market online courses, be sure to join my free Facebook group “Successful Online Course Providers”. Here you can exchange ideas with other prospective online course providers and also professionals, ask questions and get some motivation :-)

I also recommend the following posts from me:

How you can sell online courses WITHOUT spending a lot of time

Which content should be included in the online course, which should be published for free?

3 things you should do to get your online courses to sell

How to sell online courses WITHOUT annoying you

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