Have you ever considered turning your passion for crafts into an online course? Creating and effectively running an online course used to be a complex and very time-consuming endeavor. Now, with little more than your smart phone’s video camera, an Internet connection, and one of the platforms listed below, you can launch a course or a series of courses on your own website or a third party’s in very little time, especially if you properly plan the course.
Melissa Mora, of MellySews.com who teaches online courses in sewing and pattern making, utilizes her background in education to prepare for every course she teaches. She creates lesson plans to make sure “…I know what I’m teaching, how I’m teaching it, and what I want students to take away, and that all the materials (video, printables, etc.) work together to help the student understand the course content and put into practice the skills I’m teaching.” Mora uses CourseCraft and admits she chose it because it was the only platform at the time “…that didn’t require an upfront investment in software,” but says that she is moving her courses over to Shopify in the near future.
Online course platforms, of which there are more than three dozen, can be divided into four categories: stand-alone platforms, all-in-one platforms, marketplace platforms and WordPress plug-ins. The ones chosen for this article are those most fitting for craft entrepreneurs, and they are listed in alphabetical order in their categories.
Stand-alone platforms are geared towards small businesses or subject matter experts who want a turnkey way to create a branded site to sell online courses. They allow full control over user data, and are set up to help course entrepreneurs succeed by offering strong support, education, and resources. A number of them offer free trials.
Click4Course is useful if you want to include testing, surveys, and even a completion certificate in your course. They offer a way to configure each course to be included in a public catalog or earmarked and used for internal training purposes.
Cost: Unlimited Learners $79/month
The fine print: Click4Course also charges 10% on courses sold (includes all credit card processing and transaction fees).
Allows you to create courses with your logo and colors, using HD streaming video, PowerPoint, or any other format you’d like to use to deliver information.
Cost: Essential $10/month, Professional $69/month, Premier $169/month
The fine print: DigitalChalk charges a per registration charge that varies per plan, and courses created under their Essentials plan are not supported on mobile devices.
LearnWorlds encourages you to sell learning experiences instead of courses and calls themselves a premium learning platform. They focus on creating a “beautiful sales page” and use “an intelligent sales engine” before you even get to creation of the course itself.
Cost: Starter $29/month, ProTrainer $99/month (first two months are half of that), Learning Center $299/month (first two months are half off of that)
The fine print: $5 course fee and transaction fees for the Starter program; these are waived for the more deluxe plans.
Pathwright claims you can build a course on their platform in just three steps and that more than half a million people worldwide are using their system. Allrecipes.com Cooking School is one of their bigger customers.
Cost: Starter $99/month (to teach some classes), Essentials $199/month (to launch a school), Premium and Enterprise levels are available for large operations
The fine print: The Starter plan permits up to 1,000 learners; “learners” can be labeled active or inactive by the course teacher or administrator; inactive ones are kept in the system but they don’t count towards the 1,000.
Ruzuku is popular because they spend a lot of time helping entrepreneurs use their platform to successfully create and sell online courses. They want their teachers to spend time creating and teaching, to “not waste time with technology.”
Cost: Bootstrapper $74.75/month, Up-and-Comer $83.08, University starts at $125/month
The fine print: 0% transaction fees on all plans. They allow you to charge students either per course or subscription fees.
Teachable was created by people who were frustrated using Udemy. The platform allows you to create courses for your own website or to build a new website, and the courses will run on any Internet-enabled device.
Cost: Basic $39/month, Professional $99/month, Business $499/month
The fine print: The Basic plan has 5% transaction fees and monthly payouts; the Professional and Business plans have no transaction fees and instant pay outs.
Thinkific’s motto is “power your education empire” and its more than 35,000 instructors are trying to do just that. The system has an intuitive course builder and built-in e-mail marketing capabilities to help you create, deliver, and sell your courses.
Cost: Starter $0/month, Essentials $49/month, Business $99/month, Advanced $279/month
The fine print: Starter has a 10% transaction fee. Essentials has a 5% transaction fee. No transaction fees for Business and Advanced. All plans provide instant access to funds.
All-in-one platforms can both manage your web presence and support your course creations by combining content management systems and customer relationship management tools.
Kajabi’s tagline is “Stop trading your time for money,” and they claim to be “the one system you need to market, sell and deliver your knowledge online.” Through Kajabi you can sell memberships, downloadable files, training portals, and courses.
Cost: Basic $129/month, Pro $398/month
The fine print: no transaction fees ever.
Kyvio says they help trainers and coaches “sell more, sell faster.”
Cost: Basic $29/month, Business $69/month, Pro $149/month
The fine print: All versions are available to try for $1 for 14 days; all but the Basic version offer “smart affiliates” as part of their package.
Allows you to build your e-mail list by offering free mini courses.
Cost: Standard $99/month, Professional $199/month
The fine print: no transaction fees, unlimited students, unlimited free and paid courses, unlimited landing pages, and unlimited sales pages.
Marketplace Online Platforms
A marketplace online platform provides course creation and an existing marketplace to sell the course. This means that some of these sites have dozens of competitive titles/content so that students can choose which teacher, course, or price may best fit their needs.
CourseCraft‘s appeal is its artistic and rather female-centric design. It is a newer option than some of the platforms and therefore has fewer courses.
Cost: Free with 9% transaction fees, Club $23/month with 5% transaction fees, Society $47/month with no transaction fees
The fine print: Free version limits each course to 100 students maximum; the other versions allow unlimited student registrants.
Skillshare offers more than 22,000 courses, available via website or app, and has both lifestyle and creative categories that include art, design, and craft classes. All classes contain video lessons and a class project that students work on during the lessons.
The fine print: Skillshare sells subscriptions rather than individual courses. SkillShare starts to pay teachers after they have enrolled 25 students in memberships and then they get paid per student and get money from a royalty pool. (The breakdown is explained here.)
Udemy is the largest online course-creating platform and it allows you to assemble PowerPoint slides, video (including YouTube), PDFs, and more into a cohesive course. Then you publish the course into the Udemy marketplace of thousands of courses, and use the platform’s tools to promote the courses.
The fine print: Udemy keeps 50% of the tuition from courses sold on their website, but only 3% from a sale the instructor makes. They also pay 25% on paid user acquisition channel sales (see here for complete details on instructor payment breakdowns.) You cannot build an e-mail list from Udemy.
With a WordPress Plug-in you’re simply adding a set of functions that enable you to offer a course right on your WordPress website or blog.
This plug-in was created by a guy who was frustrated when developing his own online course on WordPress. Their company tagline is: “One platform – everything you need, no transaction fees. Oh, and you won’t need a designer, web developer, a psychiatrist and a team of 1,000 nerds.”
Cost: $59/month or $497/year
The fine print: Integrates with almost every e-mail marketing solution.
LearnDash was created as a learning management system plug-in and is used by major corporations and universities, as well as entrepreneurs.
Cost is a yearly licensing fee: Basic $159, Plus $189, Pro $329
The fine print: Once you buy the license, it is good for an unlimited number of courses and an unlimited number of students.
LifterLMS allows you to create multimedia lessons, to set up a variety of payment plans and methods (including a members only content section), to do private coaching through their LMS, and much more.
Cost: A trial of Universe LifterLMS is $1. To add on e-commerce and marketing plug-ins, they come individually or in packages. Under the Personal plan, add-ons are $99/each. Universe Bundle for $299/year provides all add-ons but two. The Infinity Bundle, $999/year or $99/month, includes all add-ons.
Regardless of which course content platform you choose, the reality is that the primary marketing of your course, and your course’s success, will be up to you. You can sell and create your online classes using any of these platforms. You can then use Shopify to sell them, as Melissa Mora explained at the beginning of this article, and as this Learn Worlds article explains, how to do so successfully.