How to Choose the Best Online Course Platforms?
Are you overwhelmed by the immense popularity of online course platforms these days? Don’t you think, online courses are the future of teaching and learning? With a market share of over $46 billion, creating your own online courses and making money through them could be a highly profitable business idea.
If you are thinking about hopping on this profitable business activity by starting an online learning platform business in 2019, this article will help you single out every other way to do it in the correct way.
Here is the case. You are either a skillful tutor who wants to sell online courses or an entrepreneur who wants to start an online learning marketplace platform to sell online courses. There are three possible ways to choose online course platforms and make money from the eLearning market. We are going to discuss them in detail here.
1. Popular online Learning marketplaces
Established online learning marketplaces or eLearning marketplaces are the easiest and most economical way to sell online courses as a tutor. There are online learning marketplaces which allow tutors to sign up and sell courses to their users. Examples include Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, and Udacity, etc.
These platforms allow third-party tutors to sign up, where they get a dedicated dashboard to create, upload, manage and sell their online courses. In return, tutors pay them a proportion of the sales they make on the site, also referred to as commissions.
Please note that different online learning marketplaces have different regulations and guidelines when it comes to inviting the tutors on-board. Moreover, they also differ in the kind of courses they provide.
For example, Udemy offers micro independent courses in video and other formats. Another name for such types of online course model is “Night School model”. A learner comes to the site, purchases a ready-made course material and pays for it. More like pay-per-course.
On the other hand, Coursera follows a subscription model and invites tutors who can offer continuous classes to their learners. If you are selling a course on Coursera, it means you would be getting paid monthly as long as you have learners subscribed for the particular course. MOOCs come under this course model, and it is also called an academy course model.
Who should sell on online learning marketplaces?
E-Learning marketplaces are suitable for those tutors who just want a platform to sell their courses and do not want to indulge in the complexity of starting one. If you don’t want to start a business but also want to make some decent money, you should sell on a popular website.
However, be advised that you would be working for third-party businesses and have to align your goals, course models, and profits according to them. If sharing your income with a platform is not a concern and you just want to sell the course, go for it.
2. Cloud/ Hosted eLearning platform solutions
This option comes in the picture when you do not want to work for third-party business and want to start your own business of selling online courses. However, still, you are not ready to handle the complexity of managing a whole site by yourself.
E-Learning solutions come handy in giving you your own online learning platform with better control than selling on Udemy and others. You can subscribe to a SaaS-based eLearning solution and use it for selling your course.
Once, you purchase a plan, the vendors give access to a web-based dashboard from where you can create, organize, manage, and sell your own courses. You will have a hosted website of your own where you can set your own business goals and decide the course model. It’s your own website, except you don’t have the source code access.
Different SaaS solutions offer different ways to create and sell courses. You will have to be extra careful while selecting a solution. It must match your preferred business model and offer the inbuilt tools to create courses in your preferred format.
For example, Kajabi is a good solution to create and sell video courses. It also offers inbuilt features to comment on courses, manage affiliate partners, email marketing and lots of other tools to manage an independent eLearning business.
Who should use SaaS solutions to sell online courses?
SaaS solutions are not limited to selling online courses. It’s more about having a dedicated platform to create and share online courses with others. For example, it’s best for corporate training where companies can have a digital employee training system.
However, you can still use most of them to also monetize your courses. Therefore, SaaS eLearning solutions are best suitable to those tutors who don’t want to sell on third-party platforms, but they also cannot manage the websites by themselves. Hosted solutions come handy in this case and work smoothly for the entrepreneurs while being managed by the vendors itself.
3. Self-hosted online learning platforms
What if you neither want to sell on the third-party site, nor you want to pay a monthly recurring fee to SaaS software vendors?
In such a case, you may wish to start a full-fledged eLearning business with absolute control over everything. By choosing a self-hosted online course platform, you get access to the course code of the software. Now, you can host the source code on any web server of your choice.
In return, you can control everything about your site and choose to customize it the way you want. You are no more gratified to pay a monthly fee or a share of your earning with anyone. With just a one-time payment, you can own the self-hosted script for good.
For example, using Pinlearn SmartSchool self-hosted platform, you can set up an eLearning marketplace in an hour and host your site on any server of your choice. Apart from that, you also invite many other tutors like you to sell on your site.
The fact that SmartSchool accommodates all popular monetization channels makes it a perfect choice to adopt any course model of your choice. For example, you can sell independent courses like Udemy using pay-per-course model. Alternatively, you can also sell academic model courses like Coursera using the subscription monetization channel.
Who should use self-hosted turnkey scripts?
If you want to start a business with absolute control over the website, business model, web-hosting, and monetization channels, this is a perfect option. Besides that make sure you can afford a one-time investment, which is generally much higher.
However, considering the fact that you don’t have to pay any recurring fee, a one-time investment is an economical option in the long run. If merely selling of courses is not your only aim, and you also want to set up a business in the eLearning market, go for self-hosted turnkey scripts.
Ask these questions to yourself before choosing a solution
All of the explained ways are best in certain conditions and they come quite handy as per different business goals. You just have to know what you want. Choosing the top online course platforms for your cause would not be a big task if you can clearly answer the following questions:
1. How much time do you have to set up?
- No time: Sign up on existing online course platforms.
- Less time: Subscribe to a hosted solution or purchase a turnkey self-hosted eLearning script
2. Can you manage the site by yourself or hire someone?
- Yes: Self-hosted solutions work best in this regard.
- Don’t want to manage or hire: Go for hosted options.
- Cannot manage: Sign up on a site like Udemy or Coursera.
3. How much technical assistance do you need?
- Little assistance for setup: You should go for Self-hosted solutions.
- Full support required at all stages: SaaS or existing sites would work best for you.
4. How much are you willing to share with others?
- Can share earnings as commission: Register on an eLearning marketplace.
- Can share the earnings as fixed monthly charge: Purchase a plan for a SaaS eLearning solution.
5. How much can you pay at once or as a recurring fee?
- Can pay a large upfront cost: Go for Self-hosted eLearning marketplace script.
- Can pay a small monthly fee: Go for starter packs of SaaS-based eLearning platforms.
This is 2019, and there are software solutions available for every kind of need and budget. It is the idea that rules the market. You don’t always have to go for costly solutions to get the best online learning software. Sometimes, a small and lightweight option can grant unique advantages with a strong business idea. While many a time, strong business ideas need strong investment, a strategic selection of a prospective software solution will let you expand your business in the later parts. If you want to set an example and become successful, depend more on the scope of your business idea, not the scale of the investment.
And if you have any question or confusion about this online course platforms comparison, shoot a comment, we may be able to help you!