There’s an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to online platforms or places to “host” and share your content.
I am going to break the platforms down into three categories and share specific options for each so that you can determine the best solution for your situation.
- Do-it-Yourself Platform
- All-in-One Platform
- Community Platform
These aren’t industry terms, these are the terms that I use to describe each type of platform.
Regardless of the type of platform that you use, you will want to have the following:
- A webpage where your students can access the course content
- Password protection so that your course isn’t shared without your consent
- Payment processor for taking online payments
- Email management software for following up with students
This is where you build your own website, set up your own password protection and connect your online payment processor.
That sounds like a lot, and it can get a bit overwhelming, but there are some advantages to the DIY approach. Namely, expense. It’s less expensive in the long run to set everything up yourself. But sometimes it’s worth a bit of money for the extra convenience of having these steps handled for you.
Here are the tools I recommend for the DIY approach:
Website: create a free WordPress account. You can do this directly from your web hosting company like Blue Host.
Password Protection: I use Wish List Member. This is a fairly straight forward and reliable way of creating password protection for your content. You can also create multiple levels for your content like Gold or Platinum where certain students have access to specific content based on how much they’ve paid, etc. I don’t recommend that you start with multiple levels though. Get your feet wet selling a single course at a single price and move from there.
Payment Processor: PayPal will do the job for taking payments online. They integrate with many 3rd party solutions that you may use in the
Email Management: Companies such as Aweber and Mail Chimp make email follow-up a breeze. This is an essential component rather than trying to use Outlook or Gmail.
All-in-One platforms are popping up like weeds…in a good way. There are some amazing resources for getting your content online without the headache of creating a website, adding password protection and linking up to your payment processor. They handle all of this for you.
In return for this convenience you will pay a fee. The amount that you’ll pay will vary significantly from company to company, but you can find some very reasonable solutions out there. Most will even let you get started for free in return for a higher per-transaction fee. This is perfect for getting started since you won’t spend a penny until your course makes sales.
Here are two of my favorite All-in-One e-Learning Platforms:
- You can start for free
- You can upgrade for a single payment per course
- Great to get started
- Not quite as many features as Thinkific, but it will do the job
- You can start for free
- Rich in features
- You can upgrade your account as your business grows
Here are the current pricing structures for each:
The Community Platforms offer the benefits of the All-in-One Platforms, but they allow you to sell through their own marketing efforts. One of the top players in this market is Udemy.com. This is a place that I’ve been experimenting with recently and it’s looking like a great option for some, if not all, of my future courses.
Not only can you place all of your content here, not have to worry about password protection or processing payments, but you can make a significant number of sales through the traffic that they bring to the platform.
Now, the payoff for all of this traffic is two-fold:
#1) The course creators tend to make sales ONLY during promotional periods where courses are offered at a very steep discount. Many people shy away from Udemy because of this. They feel that Udemy is hurting their brand by reducing the price of their courses.
Although we won’t dig into a deep pricing discussion here, I think the exact opposite is possible. The lower price means lower barrier to entry and allows you to enroll MANY new students that you otherwise never would have reached. These students can buy more courses from you in the future and many could become clients for other services that you offer.
This is something that you need to be prepared for if you decide to place courses on Udemy.
#2) If you sell a course through Udemy’s promotional efforts they will take a hefty chunk of your sales price. Again, this is something that a lot of course creators complain about. I personally don’t feel that there’s any room to complain since Udemy is very upfront about any fees taken and you can also sell your courses through your OWN marketing efforts and retain 97% of the sales price.
To me, Udemy brings in the best of all worlds by providing a platform that allows you to sell your course and adding to the mix a steady dose of marketing that can drive traffic directly to your courses. You still need to do some work and there are entire courses dedicated to marketing on Udemy, but it’s a very promising option. I have one friend who is making, as of this date, about $7,000 per month just from his Udemy courses without any additional marketing efforts.
That won’t happen for everyone, but it certainly shows the amazing potential.
Note: Udemy requires that 60% of your course content is in video format. This can be a combination of screencast video, talking-head (face-to-camera) video or slideshows. They are also very picky about audio and video quality, so be sure to have the right equipment before diving into Udemy.
You can get a tremendous amount of help getting started with Udemy here:
I hope this helps getting your course online and ready to sell.