Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi? Select the perfect home your course to live and grow.
People ask which course hosting platform I recommend and that answer depends on a variety of factors. They have slightly different features and payment models that I am going to break down in this article. Firstly, I will list the four platforms that I recommend:
These platforms are two of the most prominent options when it comes to eCourse hosting. In terms of functionality, they both really have all the features you need to host and sell your course, they are both fairly easy to setup and operate, and they both create a great looking product. The main difference I'd like to highlight between the two lies in their slightly different pricing plans they offer. Below are the current pricing plans they offer (when paid annually):
As you can see, they both offer a free plan. Teachable's free plan, however, charges you a fee per course sale whereas Thinkific's does not. On Teachable's free plan you can publish as many courses as you'd like, but on Thinkific's free plan you can only publish three. For this reason, I would recommend starting out with Thinkific's free plan to host your first three courses without paying a cent to the platform.
They draw you in with this really nice free option, but then when you want to upgrade, you'll notice that Teachable's mid-level plan is more affordable than Thinkific's ($29 compared to $39) if you don't take into account that Teachable will continue to charge a 5% transaction fee on all sales. So at this level, I would still recommend Thinkific's pricing model. Imagine you're selling a course at $500, even with just one sales, you'd be paying Teachable a fee of $25 to save $10 in monthly subscription costs.
Even at the top-tier plan, Thinkific offers the better value ($79 compared with $99 per month). So overall, Thinkific would be my preferred option when considering value for price, and as a designer I even prefer the design interface that you can create using Thinkific over Teachable. I suggest you try the free plans on both before making your decision so that you can see which interface you prefer to work with given each one's tiny nuanced differences. Click here to try Teachable.
This platform is in a very different price range than the above two options but it's considered to be a more advanced and complete platform. You can do much more than online courses with this platform; you can conduct many sales funnels, "pipelines," as they call them, and host your entire brand's website as well. They do not offer a free plan, but you can temporarily test out their paid plans for a limited time. Their lowest plan starts at $119 per month when billed annually which is hefty compared to the other platforms. So this plan is only for those who want to use Kajabi for their full funnel platform and larger website.
With advanced platforms and features also comes with advanced setup. This option is the least user friendly of the four suggested, so for any technically challenged creators, I would advise against this option. Click here to try Kajabi.
I know what you're thinking... this isn't a course hosting platform. But most people don't know that you can easily create an online course interface using Wix's built-in web design features. This is a good option for you if:
You already use Wix to host your brand's website (or you plan to).
You don't care about tracking your students' course progress or completion analytics.
You like having the option to fully customize the layouts of your landing page, sales funnel, and course interface.
Wix has various pricing plans starting at $17 per month and per course transaction you'll have to pay standard credit card processing fees. Because this is by far the most affordable option in this list, it could even be worthwhile to host your course on Wix - even if you're not already using Wix for your website or planning to.
In order to turn your Wix site into a course hosting platform, there are a few workarounds you'll need to know. I teach these in eCourse Made Simple and show you exactly how you can set up your course interface to look just as legitimate and functional as the Teachable or Thinkific version. Click here to get your Wix site.
What about course hosting marketplaces?
You may have heard of Udemy, Skillshare, AppSumo, Domestika or similar platforms that act as a host and a marketplace for courses. This means that when you upload your course to these platforms, they list your course in their marketplace and help you find students. In general, I do not recommend using these platforms to host your course. While this may sound like a benefit, there are some significant drawbacks to this business model:
They limit the price at which you can sell your course for. This is not a place to sell high-ticket courses as the price of courses on these sites range from $5 to $50. If you want to sell a high-value product ($200+) you're going to want to use a different platform. On Skillshare, for example, you can't even set a price for your course. Instead creators are paid out based on watch-time. This incentivizes quantity over quality, which I'm sure we all agree is not the most logical payment structure.
They take a hefty percentage of revenue. The other platforms take little to no revenue of the revenue gained from people investing in your course.
They put you right next to your competitors. Yes, people can search for a course like the one you are offering and find you, but they will also see all of your competitors alongside your course. Selling outside of a large marketplace makes your course appear to be more unique and the best option.
They own your audience. Because they invest into marketing their platform and growing their leads, the audience that is generated is theirs not yours. You are forbidden from contacting them and re-marketing to those users off of their platform. There are workarounds to this issue, such as creating a free Facebook group to gather your new leads, but this is definitely not encouraged. On the other platforms, you can collect all of the contact information and use it as you please.
They limit what and how you can teach. Again, they don't want users led off of these platforms, so you are not allowed to invite your students to visit your website or other platforms to get them off the original marketplace where you were found. In terms of the learning material, they also have the right to disapprove any course topics from being taught. You are not be allowed to supplement your courses with private or group coaching directly. You have a lot more freedom as to what and how you can teach on the other platforms.
They can apply discounts anytime. Udemy is notorious for promoting mega discounts on everyone's courses. You might have your course priced at $99, but Udemy can decide for Black Friday that all courses are getting marked down 50%. This really minimizes the integrity and perceived value of the course itself.
You're limited to your sales funnel and landing pages. On these platforms, you have no customization options as to how to sell your products besides the image and text. On the other platforms you can create virtually anything you can imagine to strengthen your sales funnel and promote the course and its up-sells or down-sells.
While these platforms may seem like they offer a unique benefit of listing your course on their platform and in some cases marketing for you, I would argue that the cons outweigh the pros. If you do want to take advantage of the marketplace model though, I would suggest only contributing a course that is not intended to generate revenue and only intended to grow your audience as a bonus effect. Try creating a mini course that only scratches the surface of what you have to teach, combined with good online visibility so that your core students on these platforms can find you elsewhere and take advantage of other things you have to offer online. That way when you share your real offer with them, it's at the right price and on your terms.
I hope this article has given you enough clarity to decide which platform is for you. It won't make or break your success, it's just a detail - but it is an important decision to make.