17 BEST Online Course Platforms and Marketplaces in 2021 (Hand-picked)

This often includes support for videos, text, PDF, Downloadables, audio files, quizzes, live workshops, and progress reports. 

Many of them also help with the check-out process and provide a simple sales page editor. 

There are a couple of very important components that I look at when deciding which platform is better than the next. 

  • Customer Support
  • Control of emails
  • Fees
  • Stability of hosting

There is a big difference between a platform and a marketplace that I’d like to address first.

1. Platform

a. Allows for complete control over your students information
b. Only hosts the course and provides zero help with sales
c. Usually allows you to keep all the profits

2. Marketplace

a. Keeps your students’ information to themselves
b. Sell the courses for you to their own audience
c. Limited payouts in the range of 30-50%

Below is a handpicked list of Top Online Course Platforms and Marketplaces, with their popular features, my experience with them and website links.

Top Online Course Platforms

1) Kajabi

Kajabi is currently my favorite online course platform. It is easy to set up. The platform comes with very flexible automation. Supports webinars. Contains preset themes which are easy to customize. Has 0% transaction fees. Offers an affiliate program so that you can have others sell your courses in exchange for a fee.

Features:

  • It helps you to build your sales page and design course without having to code.
  • Provides 24/7 support.
  • Kajabi provides thoughtful insights on sales and customer behavior including forecasting. 
  • Replaces many of the tools you’d normally need to support all the features offered.
  • Includes secure and unlimited hosting. 
  • You can drag and drop images, videos and text during the building process.

Link: https://kajabi.com/

2) Thinkific

Thinkific is a powerful all-in-one platform that helps you to create, sell, and delivers online courses. It provides the best customer service out of all the platforms. 

It supports sales pages, the check-out process and allows you to customize your school to match your brand. It connects with most auto-responders and analytic tools. 

Here’s an interview I did with the co-founder.

Features:

  • You can create virtually any type of content including quizzes, surveys, and discussions. 
  • Supports multiple instructors, cohorts, and membership sites. 
  • You can set your course to private or give it an expiration date.
  • Drag and drop the content to flesh out your course modules.
  • Those with coding skills have full access to CSS and HTML.
  • Sends automated Emails and fast check-ins to keep students engaged. 

Link: https://www.thinkific.com/

3) Learndash

Learndash is a premium plugin that directly integrates with your WordPress site. It works with almost any theme and is compatible with most plug-ins. 

It allows you to easily control your sales process and the entire school. It does require that you pick a good host so that users don’t experience any downtime.

Features:

  • Incredibly flexible payment options. 
  • Supports multiple courses and allows for them to be arranged in any order. 
  • Students can track their course activities. 
  • Imports content created in Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate without worrying about Tin Can API or SCORM
  • Supports all media such as videos, Articulate & Adobe Captivate files, images, audio, Google Docs, and more.
  • Can limit your student’s time in courses which is great for cohorts. 
  • Learndash allows you to create your own course marketplace. 

Link: https://www.learndash.com/

4) LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds is a platform built to host and support your marketing efforts. It has a few options which do help set up a solid sales funnel. It provides templates that are tested for conversions which give you a head start when you begin offering your course to the public.

Features:

  • Fully white-labeled which means you can adjust the logo, style, and theme to match your own brand.
  • Supports advanced marketing with upsells, cross-sells, irresistible offers, high-converting sales pages, 1-click funnels, and customizable checkout experiences
  • This platform provides multilingual support.
  • Coders can use CSS and JavaScript to edit the course pages
  • Has an Intuitive drag and drop block-based builder
  • Effortlessly convert your videos into exceptional experiences with automatically extracted transcripts, quizzes, and tables of contents.
  • Learnworlds provides many templates to launch your course fast. 
  • Allows for free courses.

5) LifterLMS

LifterLMS is a learning management system plug-in. It integrates directly with your WordPress site. It has an engaged community and a responsive founder. I know him personally and can tell how much care he puts into the product. 

Overall it is a very solid and flexible course management tool. Not as easy to set up as some of the previous options.

Features:

  • The basic option supports one WordPress site.
  • There are numerous add-ons but some require extra payment or a higher level. 
  • Flexible payment methods and options. 
  • Integrates with a lot of forms.
  • Allows for discussion areas, certificates dripped content, and basic quizzes. 
  • Can export student data and bulk enroll students?
  • Supports Zapier

Link: https://www.lifterlms.com/

6) Teachable

Teachable is the most popular platform that helps host the courses. Unfortunately in this case popularity does not equal best. 

They have a huge support issue (with people not getting responses for weeks) and hosting problems (as the courses go down constantly). I randomly visit their Twitter account at times and found many of my own clients having issues with it. 

It’s quite good when it works but it’s the times when it doesn’t that becomes a huge problem. This is why I have it so low on my list. They also sold to a bigger corporation which leaves a lot of questions about their future. 

The interface is user-friendly and can get you and fully functioning with a couple of mouse clicks.

Features:

  • Links to your existing domain. 
  • Directly imports content from Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.
  • Easy to work with page editors to draft, customize and publish your sales page. 
  • Offers coupons and advanced pricing options such as subscriptions, payment plans or memberships. 
  • Enables you to issue certificates once a student completes a specific course. 
  • Integrates with a lot of apps. For example Google Forms to collect feedback from students.
  • Recently introduced support for coaching. 
  • Accepts payments in 130+ currencies. 

Link: https://teachable.com/

7) Podia

Podia tries to become a one-in-all e-learning platform. It features most of the functions that are needed to sell the courses and keep students engaged. 

Its highlight is that it supports live chat with customers who are visiting the sales page but haven’t yet bought which helps provide top-notch support and boosts sales.

Features:

  • It’s easy to customize and makes the process of creating a course super easy. 
  • It offers your own website, blog, landing pages, courses and memberships. 
  • Your content can be sold or given away as lead magnets. 
  • Has an integrated payment portal that connects with Stripe or Paypal.
  • Zero transaction fees
  • Has an affiliate program so that you can have others selling your courses for you for a commission.
  • Offers free migrations from other course platforms. 

Link: https://www.podia.com/

8) TalentLMS

TalentLMS is a cloud-based learning management system. Requires minimum technical skills to set up. Focuses on corporations that use training to onboard and educate its employees.

Features:

  • Allows incorporating videos and presentations from outside sources.
  • Supports a variety of tests and extensive reporting of results
  • Restricts the way that courses can be viewed or completed.
  • You can easily design certifications.
  • Has Gamification features such as badge, points, levels, rewards, and leaderboards.
  • Supports videoconferences. 
  • Provides communication tools including messages, calendar, and discussion forums. 
  • Enterprise-ready and GDPR friendly. 

Link: https://www.talentlms.com/

9) WizIQ

WizIQ offers educators and teachers a simple way to move their standard classes online into virtual classrooms for live interactive courses. 

Support Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses). These support learning a variety of different subjects are usually free and open to anyone with an internet connection.

Features:

  • Allows customizing the learning portals.
  • It supports Live HD training with an online whiteboard and messaging. 
  • This site provides reports that help you to keep track of your teaching performance.
  • 24/7 Access
  • Provides unlimited storage space for your course content. 
  • Offers 9 different Quiz formats. 
  • Courses can be created from mobile phones. 
  • Offers a PCI-compliant payment portal. 
  • Secures data with tokenization. 

Link: https://www.wiziq.com/

10) Xperiencify

A course creation software that embeds 8 powerful psychological triggers to your course so you can increase student engagement & retention by 10-30X. Founded in 2018.

It’s not a very known platform. I know of a handful of people using it. Uses a lot of marketing techniques to sell itself. 

  1. The 8 Psychological Triggers (used in their marketing)
  2. Variable Rewards – to increase attention
  3. Constant Wins – to promote action
  4. Visualization – injects adrenalin
  5. Urgency – skyrockets engagement
  6. Social Proof – pours fuel on the fire
  7. Curiosity – a fun experience
  8. Recognition – creates a friendly environment

Features:

  • Self-destructing content
  • Multiple ways of dripping content
  • Awards and celebration screens
  • Focuses on course completions
  • Membership site capabilities

Link: https://xperiencify.com/

Top Online Course Marketplaces

1) Udemy

Udemy is an online teaching marketplace. It is the biggest one and with most visitors. It does most of the marketing for you as it promotes top courses to its own audience. 

Most of the sales are made by the top instructors (ones with most reviews). It is very easy to get started but as with all marketplaces you do not control your sales or audience. 

I’ve seen accounts get shut down or reviews taken off which heavily impacted the teachers.

Features:

  • This marketplace allows you to upload unlimited courses.
  • Your lectures can be planned-out in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs.
  • The course can be created in multiple languages
  • They provide an instructor dashboard that helps you track your sales.
  • Videos are reviewed by a team before being posted. 

Link: https://www.udemy.com/

2) Skillshare

Skillshare is the second most popular online marketplace. When it comes to marketplaces I mostly look at the traffic and possible sales as that is what they are designed to do. 

They focus on creative education with categories such as illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing, and more.

The big downside here is customer support. When educators encounter an issue they have no one to turn to and rarely get a response or resolution.

Features:

  • Designed for easy digestion with classes running an average of 40 minutes with action steps at the end. 
  • You are paid for minutes watched
  • Classes can be access from any device
  • Tracks all your traffic, referrals, and payouts with a personalized dashboard.

Link: https://www.skillshare.com/

3) Learn From Fiverr

This is a new addition to the list. Fiverr is a publicly owned company that connects buyers with sellers that provide small gigs. Recently they have created an online course marketplace. 

Here’s an interview I did with one of their team members.

Features:

  • They handpick their teachers which help hold a higher standard.
  • Pay for studio time to create the course. 
  • Offer a 30% payout for each of your courses. 
  • Already have an established audience that is now learning about their marketplace. 
  • New on the market and has a lot of potential in this space. 

Link: https://learn.fiverr.com/

4) Linkedin Learning

Linkedin Learning was started as Lynda.com in 1995 before it became acquired by Linkedin in 2015. Then a year later along with Linkedin it was purchased by Microsoft.

Features:

  • Separates education into three categories: business, creative, and technology
  • Can be accessed by any device
  • Allows adding a quiz at the end of the course. 
  • Supports videos, links, and documents.
  • It Helps students track how much time they spend weekly learning.
  • The payout is calculated based on hits on course and time of videos watched. 

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/

5) Udacity

Udacity is a marketplace that focuses on teaching cutting-edge skills. They encourage courses that teach real-life applications from industry pros. 

Top categories include AI, Data Science, Cloud Computing, Programming, Business & Autonomous systems. 

Their advertising: Education to future-proof your career.

Features:

  • Paid based on seniority in your field.
  • Requires instructors to work a certain amount of hours per week
  • Provides on-boarding and course creation support. 
  • Allows you to design your own course based on their outline.
  • Assigns one or two instructors per course. 
  • Keeps standards high. 

Link: https://www.udacity.com/

6) Domestika

Domestika is an online community created for creatives to sell their courses. It’s originally a Spanish platform and from what I hear they bought out Teachable (which can be found in the platform section of this page). 

They were founded in 2002 and are a private company with 51-200 employees.

Features:

  • Focuses on creatives
  • Features well-produced and quality courses
  • Takes care of the production
  • Many courses in Spanish with English subtitles
  • Sells in the $10-40 range
  • Payouts via PayPal

Link: https://www.domestika.org/

7) APPSUMO Marketplace

This is a new marketplace brought to us by the APPSUMO team. They are positioning themselves as prime real estate for courses, ebooks, digital downloads software, and chrome extensions.

Features:

  • The large audience used to receive deals
  • Featured offers
  • Offers more than courses
  • Business, marketing & productivity-oriented

Link: https://appsumo.com/partner-apply/

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