9 Best Online Course Platforms in 2023 (Top Free + Paid Options)
As a course creator, you need to make quite a few important decisions: find a course topic, create from scratch, or put together ready-made content, and invest in an online course platform.
Most course creation platforms focus on three key objectives: creating, marketing, and selling online courses. Therefore, your platform of choice must offer abundant features to help you build engaging, interactive courses for your audience and have robust marketing tools to drive sales.
In this post, we’ll review the best online course platforms in 2023 to create and sell courses. Buckle up, because we have some amazing options (free and paid platforms) for you!
Top Features to Look For in the Best Online Course Platforms
You need persistent work and true passion to cut through the noise and stand out as a course creator. A robust course creation platform wouldn’t hurt either. Let’s see the features you need to look for:
Engaging online learning features
When selecting the best online course platform, one of the most critical factors to consider is the range of engaging online learning features it offers. These features can significantly enhance the learning experience for your students and keep them motivated throughout the course. Look for platforms that provide interactive elements such as:
- Quizzes, assignments, surveys, and multimedia integration
- Drip content feature that allows course creators to release course content to students in a controlled and systematic manner over a specific period
- Certificates of completion that provides an incentive for your learners to finish the course (and it also increases the value of your online course)
- Ability to offer downloadable files such as eBooks, infographics, templates, worksheets, and audio files will facilitate learning
Platforms’ ease of use
Look for platforms that offer intuitive interfaces and user-friendly navigation. The dashboard should be clear and straightforward, allowing you to access all the essential features without unnecessary confusion. A drag-and-drop course builder can be especially handy, making it simple to arrange and customize your course content without needing technical expertise.
Additionally, a platform with built-in analytics and reporting tools can help you track your students’ progress, identify areas for improvement, and optimize your course for better results. An easy-to-use platform streamlines your workflow, saving you time and ensuring a smooth course creation process.
It’s equally vital to consider the learner’s perspective. An online course platform should be intuitive and user-friendly for students to navigate, access course materials, and engage with the content seamlessly. This will extensively impact your ability to generate sales from your online courses!
Creating a remarkable course is only half the battle. To reach a wider audience and boost course sales, your chosen platform should offer robust integration and marketing capabilities.
Look for platforms that seamlessly integrate with popular email marketing services, payment gateways, and other third-party tools. This integration ensures that you can easily manage your email list, automate marketing campaigns, and process payments without switching between multiple platforms.
Additionally, marketing features like coupon codes, affiliate programs, and social media sharing buttons can help you promote your course effectively and encourage word-of-mouth referrals. The platform’s ability to generate landing pages and sales funnels can also aid in attracting new students and converting visitors into enrollments.
Ecommerce platform capabilities
The best online course platforms have built-in eCommerce capabilities, like a shopping cart and integration with popular payment gateways. Cross-sells and upsells are a huge plus. You should also be able to sell your courses as you prefer: in bundles, via memberships, or standalone.
Affordability and pricing options
While creating and selling courses can be a profitable venture, it’s essential to consider the platform’s cost and pricing options. Some platforms offer subscription-based models, charging a monthly or annual fee, while others may take a percentage of your course sales.
Testing before committing to a purchase is essential. You don’t want to be one month into content development to find out that the software you’ve invested in isn’t cutting it. Look for a platform that offers either a free version or at least a free trial, so you can test the waters before you dive in.
9 Best Online Course Platforms to Create and Sell Your Online Courses
Let’s see the top 9 online course platforms that made it to our “best of” list:
1. Payhip – 🔥 Most recommended online course platform (and it’s free!)
Payhip enables you to easily create and sell courses, coaching, memberships, and digital downloads – for free! Create online courses with videos, assessments, and certificates, and leverage our rich marketing tools to help you market your business online and bring in leads and customers.
- Very generous free plan: Payhip’s forever-free plan gives you unlimited access to the entire platform’s features
- Unlimited product listings/online courses, unlimited students/customers, and unlimited revenue
- Free fully-hosted domain (you can also connect a custom domain)
- Simple drag-and-drop website and landing page builder with extensive customizability
- Instant payouts through PayPal and Stripe
- Automatic collection and remittance of UK & EU VAT
- Robust course creation tools, including various lesson types, drip content, course completion certificates, multiple pricing options, and more
- Built-in eCommerce tools so you can sell a range of product types such as online courses, digital downloads, coaching, subscriptions or memberships, and physical products
- Product bundling feature. You can bundle a digital download product (e.g., ebook, printables, etc.) with an online course in a single product listing.
- Payhip is well-known for having a beginner-friendly and intuitive user interface. Payhip also provides a lot of guided video tutorials to ensure your success in setting up your online business.
- Advanced marketing features are available on the free plan, such as a referral system, affiliate program, upselling, cross-selling, coupon codes, email marketing, and more. Never worry about how to sell online courses again!
- Integration with email marketing tools, including MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse, and many more.
- No multi-account functionalities. You’ll have one website or storefront per email.
Join over 130,000 sellers who have launched their online businesses with Payhip
Thinkific is an all-in-one online course platform that stands out for its ease of use. It offers a drag-and-drop course builder and supports multiple types of content. You can create, market, and sell courses, digital products, and memberships and build your site using pre-built templates.
A serious drawback of Thinkific is the lack of advanced customization and community features. In addition, although it’s advertised as white-labeled, the Thinkific logo remains visible, which can be disappointing if full white labeling is important to you.
- 24/7 customer support
- Community features
- Nice learner assessments options
- Limited website customization
- Needs several integrations for full functionality
- No email marketing tool
- Basic community feature
The plans offered are:
- Free (one course)
- Basic $49/mo
- Start $99/mo
- Grow $199/mo
- Expand $499/mo
Kajabi is one of the best online course platforms for creators that seek rich marketing features, such as sales funnels, email broadcasts, and time-based emails (events). Recently Kajabi integrated with Vibely and upped its community feature with live rooms, challenges, and gamification. It has also launched an AI content creator.
The Kajabi platform has a few pricing cons – it doesn’t have a free version, and it’s rather expensive to begin with. On top of that, if you want to edit the code, you need to pay an additional $399 per month. There’s also a limit to how many products you can sell, set at 15 products for their $199/mo plan and 100 products for their $399/mo plan.
- Built-in marketing features
- AI content creator
- Supportive Kajabi hero community
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android
- Built-in CRM
- Limited web design customization
- Limits to the number of products you can sell
Kajabi offers a 14-day free trial and the following pricing plans:
- Basic $149/mo
- Growth $199/mo
- Pro $399/mo
Teachable is an online course platform that does an excellent job of selling coaching and online courses with diverse and downloadable media content. Learners can engage in conversations using the course discussion available in each lesson.
Teachable is an intuitive tool that also offers a course marketplace, Spotlight Marketplace, where creators can list their courses. It’s one of the most popular platforms online creators and coaches select often.
There are some details you may not like about this course software, starting with the fact that there’s no built-in community feature. To overcome this obstacle, Teachable recommends you integrate with Circle.io. There are also complaints about slow customer support and server downtimes.
- Course marketplace
- Flexible pricing
- Secure & fast checkout
- Upselling options (like order bumps)
- Transaction fees on the free and basic plans
- Downtime issues
- Slow customer support
- No built-in community
Teachable offers a 14-day free trial and the following plans:
- Free + $1 + 10% transaction fees
- Basic $59/mo +5% transaction fees
- Pro $159/mo
- Business $655/mo
5. LearnDash – Great platform for online WordPress users
LearnDash is one of the top WordPress LMS plugins and alternatives to typical course platforms with rich educational features – a great option if you already have a website and want to sell courses or digital products online.
LearnDash is extremely customizable, as you can choose among a plethora of WordPress plugins to boost its built-in functionalities. You can hold a live class, which can support employee training as easily as it can support generic online courses.
The problem with LearnDash is that it’s not a standalone solution and has few native integrations. For example, it has no built-in community or payment processors. To boost its functionality, you must buy extra add-ons, which means the original price might significantly increase depending on what you need to build. Needless to say, you need to be somewhat tech-savvy to pull through implementation and maintenance.
- Advanced learning features
- Unlimited customization
- White label
- Easy course development
- Hosting & maintenance costs
- Unpredictable final cost
- Requires multiple plugins for full functionality
- Needs tech knowledge for the initial setup
LearnDash offers three pricing options:
- 1 site license – $199/year
- Up to 10 site licenses – $399/year
- Unlimited site licenses – $799/year
6. Mighty Networks – Great platform to build an online community
Mighty Networks is an online community platform, perfect for creators and anyone involved in influencer marketing. If you want to engage with your followers online and build a loyal community outside the noise of social media, this tool is for you.
The platform enables you to sell courses online and memberships through your own branded website. It allows user-generated content, direct messaging, personalized activity feed, groups, and more to skyrocket membership retention.
Mighty Networks might be one of the best platforms on this list, but it still comes with some cons, such as limited features for marketing social events and your business and restrictions to pricing options. Also, online courses are available from the Business plan and above, costing $99 per month.
- Advanced community features
- Separate pricing among community and courses
- Live streaming
- Mobile application
- Limited marketing & sales features
- Unclear pricing for add-ons
- Few integrations
- No integration for email marketing tools (only via Zapier)
Mighty Networks offers a 14-day free trial and three pricing plans:
- Community $33/mo
- Business $99/mo
- Mighty Pro – custom
Ruzuku is one of the top online course platforms for creators looking for an intuitive platform that is dead simple to use with a clean User Interface and straightforward menu at an affordable price.
Customization options are limited, but you can set up a decent course with different types of content, live sessions (with a native tool), and a discussion forum. You can allow learners to pay one-off, with payment plans, or monthly/yearly subscriptions. You can also offer a course for free as a lead magnet.
Ruzuku is one of the best online platforms for easy course creation, but don’t expect advanced features. For example, while you can set up a sales page, you have few options to customize it, and you can only set up a custom domain if you’re on the Pro plan (which is at $199 per month).
- Very easy to use
- No transaction fees
- Unlimited courses with all plans
- Dedicated account manager
- Limited customization
- Limited marketing features
- No certificates
Ruzuku offers the following price plans:
- Free (up to 5 students)
- Core $99/mo
- Pro $199/mo
8. New Zenler
New Zenler is an all-in-one course creation platform with advanced community features that enable you to build a vibrant learning community. The platform supports live streaming and broadcasting, as well as multiple content formats for engaging online courses. It also offers seamless checkout with conversion boosters, such as testimonials and secure payments icons, order bumps, and one-click upsells.
That said, New Zenler is still in beta mode, so there’s a lot of room for improvement. The platform doesn’t offer advanced marketing features (like affiliates or referrals) or a variety of website themes. The design of the course player is also a bit plain, and there’s only one template available.
- Easy to use
- Strong community features
- Email marketing automation
- Flexible pricing tiers for your products
- Basic marketing features
- Limited website customization
- Limited reporting
Zenler offers two pricing plans and charges no transaction fees.
- Pro – $67/mo
- Premium – 197/mo
Xperiencify is the best online course platform for gamified online courses aiming to make online learning fun again, improve engagement, and boost completion rates. The platform offers rich gamification features, like points, rewards, badges, and celebrations.
Additionally, it has a nice built-in community with features like “Watch Parties” and chatrooms to foster communication among students. Xperiencify features an Experience Engine that monitors learner behavior and customizes their learning journey.
Xperiencify doesn’t have a free version, but it has a Sandbox environment with all features available. That said, the platform has limited customization options and themes and offers basic marketing tools.
- Advanced gamification
- Advanced online community
- Personalized learning journeys
- No certificates
- Limited web design customization
- Few templates
Xperiencify offers four pricing plans:
- Starter 49
- Growth 99
- Pro 149
- Platinum 299
Final Thoughts – Choosing The Right Platforms for Selling Courses Online
These are the best online course platforms to sell your online course but also memberships, coaching, and digital products. So, what’s the verdict? Which platform did you like best?
Try Payhip, the best online course platform, for free! Payhip offers a forever-free plan with all features available. Sign up and start building engaging courses that you can sell using our impressive suite of marketing tools.