The 7 Best Online Course Hosting Platforms You Need To Know

The 7 Best Online Course Hosting Platforms You Need To Know

You have an idea for an online course, or you have already created part of the online course. Or perhaps you have already created a fully-fledged online course, and now you are looking for a platform to host your online course on.

This post has gathered the very best online course platforms for you to place your online course on and sell it to your audience. Compiling this list took a lot of time, but I think you appreciate the results.

Some of the platforms offer you more features than others, and some even handle taxation for you (Gumroad). So there’s an option for everyone.

If you are totally new to online business and making money online and especially through online courses, there’s an option for that too (Kajabi).

The very best combination you can have if you are going full-on with online courses is to have a separate WordPress site and an online course hosting service.

Some sites might suggest that you host the online course on your own website, while that is a good option to have. I would recommend starting with something easier and one that requires little to no maintenance. 

I’ve hosted an online course on Thinkific and on Gumroad, but have also created an online course on my own website. So I’ve seen and experienced both sides of the equation.

This post will be about hosting your online course on an external service and not on your own website, as these two things are very different.

Here’s a quick summary of the whole list:

A quick table to show you the pricing plans between different online course platforms (the price is based on the most affordable solution available within the platform):

Online course platformFREE OptionPricing Level 1Pricing Level 2Pricing Level 3
TeachableYes$29/month$79/month$399/month
ThinkificYes$39/month$79/month$399/month
KajabiNo$119/month$159/month$319/month
ClickFunnelsTrial$97/month$297/monthcoming
PodiaTrial$39/month$79/month
CourseCraftYes$29/month$59/month
ZippyCoursesNo$99/month$199/month
RuzukuTrial$74.75/month$83.03/month$125/month
Academy of MineTrial$499/month$792/month$1208/month
TeacheryTrial$39/month
NotionYes$4/month$8/month$20/month
PatreonYes%5 of earnings8% of earnings12% of earnings
GumroadYes8.5% + $0.30 (USD) per sale$10/month, 3.5% + $0.30 (USD) per sale

Teachable

Let’s start with the obvious one, and probably the most popular one. Teachable is one of the biggest online course hosting services online. They have more than 18M students already, 186k+ courses hosted, and the course creators have earned more than $338M on their platform.

But what makes Teachable so good? What features can you expect, and why would you choose it?

Teachable is evolving all the time, and new features are added on a yearly basis. At least it has been that way for the past year or so.

Customization

You can upload video, image, text, audio, and PDF-files to the platform, and you can also import content directly from Dropbox Google Drive, or OneDrive is you keep your content on those services.

Teachable has its own drag-and-drop builder built inside the platform, and what this means is that you can use it to build the sales page or create a landing page for your course, which means that you don’t have to have your own website or domain name to host your online course.

The website, as well as the course page, is all responsive, so your students and customers can view your content from computers, tablets, and smartphones. 

As you can use their page builder, it means you can create beautiful landing pages, sales pages, while making sure the pages look yours and have your branding on them. 

If you want to take it a step further, you can use your own domain name to make it look like yours all the way.

Learning tools

Teachable also offers learning tools for your students. You can create quizzes, create course completion certificates, or even force your students to watch or complete a lesson before they can move on inside the course.

Student feedback is essential for your course to succeed, so Teachable is offering you the ability to include Google Forms or surveys for you to collect valuable information from your students. Surveys are a phenomenal way to collect information and feedback for you to improve your course even further.

Teachable integrates with Zapier, and Zapier, on the other hand, integrates pretty much with and to anything. Intercom, Olark, Gumroad, Zendesk, ConvertKit, etc. So the integration part is fairly nicely covered.

Teachable also has a segmentation feature that enables you to send targeted emails based on completion, enrollment, code redemption, etc.

Marketing

Teachable has a built-in coupon system, which lets you select either a dollar amount or a percentage-based discount for your online course. You can also use custom expiration times with the coupons.

You can select various ways to charge your members. You can offer a subscription-based payment plan, a one-time fee, or a payment plan, and this way, give your students multiple ways to sign up for your course. 

Something teachable offers that not too many offers is a taxation handling service. A few years ago, Teachable developed a BackOffice solution for course creators, thus enabling you to focus on the business part rather than worrying about taxes.

The platform also offers an affiliate program for you to develop your sales even further. An affiliate program is superb if you want to reward your students for promoting and selling your course. Within Teachable, you can track the affiliate sales with a built-in affiliate marketing feature.

Analytics

Teachable offers you a dashboard where you can track your sales and also the progress of your students and the average completion rates for your course. You can also see a trend for how your courses have sold every month.

Price:

  • Basic: $29 (billed annually) / $39 (billed monthly)
  • Professional: $79 (billed annually) / $99 (billed monthly)
  • Business: $399 (billed annually) / $499 (billed monthly)

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Amount of features in the Basic plan
  • Built-in affiliate marketing feature

Cons:

  • 5% transaction fee in the Basic plan
  • The free plan is basically useless
  • Average page builder
  • Lacks funnel building features

Patreon

Patreon started out as a platform dedicated to artists and creative persons and over the years, developed to a massive platform that now supports creatives of all kinds.

I remember Patreon was founded and the way it was celebrated among artists. It was a place where pretty much every artist I followed at the time, had created a profile and had different rewards setups for supporters. 

After a few years of massive growth, Patreon is now a well-established platform in which creatives can run their own membership programs in multiple ways.

What makes Patreon a bit different than the rest of the crew is that they are more focused on creatives persons than, for example, business and finance types of persons. 

Patreon is also all about monthly income and creating a membership-based business model. Even though courses are generally thought to be a one-time fee, the online course is going through a change, and that change is continuous support and engagement. 

People are looking for interaction with the course creator, and they look for personal touch and community. Students want to be taken care of. They want results, and sometimes they need that extra motivation from the creator.

Patreon also differs in a sense, that it’s not so business-focused. You might not find so much analytics, marketing features, hardcore sales analytics, etc. 

What you do find from the platform is ease of use and, more importantly, ease of payments. Patreon offers creators the option to fill out some forms, and that’s about it. Patreon transfers funds via PayPal and Payoneer.

Price:

FREE, but

  • Lite: 5% of the monthly income you earn on Patreon + payment processing
  • Pro: 8% of the monthly income you earn on Patreon + payment processing
  • Premium: 12% of the monthly income you earn on Patreon + payment processing

Pros:

  • FREE to use
  • Ease with the taxation 
  • Community-focused  
  • Made for monthly income  
  • Membership model focused (future of online training)

Cons:

  • Not so much marketing focused
  • Lacks in-depth customer and sales analytics
  • Pretty hefty transaction fees (though you don’t have to worry about taxation so much)
  • Course structuring

ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels is a bit of a newcomer in the course platform business. However, it is pretty solid and offers you a ton of features, while not so much in the membership part, but in the way of bringing in the sales.

ClickFunnels is a massive sales machine system. It gives you a massive amount of features, and all of the features are thought from the marketing and sales perspective.

ClcikFunnels is the number one funnel building platform and if you are new to funnels. I would dare to say that every major internet marketer and online course creator uses funnels more or less.

When we think about ClickFunnels and what is it good for, the first thing that comes to mind is making sales. While we should focus on picking the best online course platform, we can’t ignore the fact that making sales is the number one thing a business needs to survive.

And for that reason, I selected ClickFunnels as one of the best online course platforms available. And I didn’t even mention the training you get when you sign-up with ClickFunnels. It is priceless like he mentions. Russell Brunson is one of the best internet marketers ever. 

As you can see from the image above, the actual membership/ course area might not be the most beautiful compared to Thinkific or Kajabi. But in the end, the content is the BIGGEST thing that matters to a student. 

The screenshot is from a One Funnel Away Challenge I took not too long ago, and even though the platform might not be mobile friendly and fine-looking and all. I got the information and training I was looking for, and that is what matters at the end. And yes, the training ClickFunnels offer is one of the best marketing training available online.

And while many could be put off by the $97/month price, you should remember that you are getting a massive platform to market and sell your course and not just a platform to host your course, which pretty much all others offer.

Price: 

  • ClickFunnels: FREE 14-day trial, and after that $97/month
  • ClickFunnels Platinum: $297/month
  • ClickFunnels Collective – coming soon

Pros:

  • Fully-fledged funnel and webpage builder
  • Email marketing features
  • Lead capturing
  • Sales features
  • Affiliate program for you and for your students
  • Sales and marketing training
  • The number of features the platform offers

Cons:

  • Average course player
  • Might be overwhelming at the beginning
  • Lacks traditional quizzes, and other learning tools

Related: One Funnel Away Challenge Review

“I am an independent ClickFunnels Affiliate, not an employee. I receive referral payments from ClickFunnels. The opinions expressed here are my own and are not official statements of ClickFunnels or its parent company, Etison LLC.”

Kajabi

Kajabi is one of those online course hosting giants like Teachable and Thinkific. Kajabi is used by the likes of Brendon Burchard, Amy Porterfield, Danielle Leslie, and other internet millionaires. 

While that might not be the main thing, you should notice that if the platform suits their needs, it probably is enough of a platform for both of us too.

Kajabi is trying to be one of those all-in-one service providers, offering you pipelines (funnels), email marketing, webpage builder, domain hosting, etc. 

While I do like Kajabi as a company and how they are at the forefront of online course development, some of the features like the webpage builder is lacking quite a bit of possibilities, compared to Elementor Pro, for example. 

Though I do have to admit that, when we are talking about online course hosting, the course platform is the one thing that matters quite a lot.

Even though Kajabi is feature-rich, the main thing is the way courses are handled. That is their main selling proposal, main business, so to say. Kajabi is filled with features for course creators and has to say they offer the most.

I’ve said this many times before, but relying only on one platform might not be the best choice. I believe that separating your website and course hosting is the best model to use. 

I would say that Kajabi is probably the BEST option for course creators when it comes to having everything in one place if you are not too tech-savvy and don’t know much about funnels or internet marketing in general. My recommendation is Kajabi, and NO, I’m not even an affiliate for them.

Price:

  • Basic: $119 (annual billing) / $149/monthly
  • Growth: $159 (annual billing) / $199/monthly
  • Pro: $319 (annual billing) / $399/monthly

Pros:

  • Beautiful course player and platform for students
  • All-In-One solution
  • Built-in pipelines (funnels)
  • Email marketing
  • Webinar hosting
  • Constant platform development

Cons:

  • Price, Kajabi is one of the most expensive solutions out there (if not the most expensive one)
  • If you want to remove Kajabi branding, you have to get Growth plan
  • Basic and Growth only allows you to host one website in their platform
  • Limited personalization and marketing options for webpages

Gumroad

I love Gumroad! But why? Because they are free and handle my taxes, FULLY! I can just sell my online course, and not worry about handling refunds, taxes, customer support, nothing really. As I’m an EU citizen, this platform is an excellent choice for me. Even if you are from the US, it’s still an amazing platform to try out.

Gumroad is NOT the best online course hosting platform, but it’s pretty much the best when it comes to selling digital products.

Gumroad’s check-out process is super simple, and you can integrate the platform with ConvertKit (check my current email marketing recommendation from the resources page), and that makes Gumroad one of my favorite platforms.

I’m hosting one of my online courses on the platform, and so far, people have enjoyed the course with zero complaints or refunds. So while Gumroad might not be the best platform to host your course, it’s a robust and solid platform with plenty of different options for collecting payments.

You can create a subscription-based plan, a one-time fee, a membership plan, etc. Gumroad also offers third-party analytics integrations with companies like Google and Facebook to track sales and conversions.

You can also integrate the platform with Google Analytics in the way that Analytics shows you sales and eCommerce data.

I have always loved Gumroad, and to top it all, Gumroad is totally FREE to use, and that combined with all the features and possibilities it offers makes it one of the best platforms to use for sales and course hosting.

Course example:

Price:

  • FREE, but transaction fee-based: 8.5% + $0.30 (USD) per sale
  • Premium, $10/month, but just 3.5% + $0.30 (USD) per sale

Pros:

  • FREE to use
  • Sales features
  • Integrations
  • Simplicity
  • Ease of use

Cons:

  • Course structure and consuming the content might not be the best experience
  • The transaction fee is a bit high
  • Limited customization and branding options (even with the Premium plan)

Related: Gumroad Review

Udemy

udemy

Udemy is a course marketplace and a platform to host your course on. Udemy is a bit special when it comes to course hosting. While you can host your course on Udemy, you can’t fully control the pricing of your course. 

Udemy offers a pricing matrix, from which you will select a price suitable for your course. The maximum that you can charge a course for is $199.99, and that is not a lot if you have a content worth of $1,997.

However, what Udemy enables you to do is sell your course with zero worries on taxation. Udemy is the seller of your course, and thus you don’t have to worry about sales taxes, refunds, customer support, chargebacks, and other billing headaches.

You also get the marketing power of Udemy and can reach a new audience quickly. Udemy is the biggest online course marketplace, and that means there’s plenty of eyeballs on their site every single day.

Udemy also has these Flash sales and other promotions now and then, and while you can’t control the pricing when these happen, you can expect to get sales as the courses are usually priced pretty low at these events. There can be discounts up to %75 off the base price you’ve set.

And I think this is the thing that might upset you as a course creator — having your course sold as cheap as $15, for example. That is not a real price for any course. A course should be priced at least around $100, and while we do have to remember that some information is easily found online, you as a course creator, have put in the effort when creating a course, and that has to have a price.

Udemy is superb for course creators that DO NOT want to handle complicated sales pages, marketing, and sales funnels, or website hosting and content creation on top of course creation. 

So if you are one of those that just want to put up a course for sale and educate people what you know and get paid to do that, then Udemy and Skillshare could be the thing for you.

Udemy made it to the list because of the ease of use and how easy it is to get paid from your course. Billing, taxes, platform, course page, audience, etc. are all right there and for you to tap into. There’s little to no barrier for entry, making the platform easy to jump in.

Price:

  • FREE for course creators

Pros:

  • Taxes are handled for you
  • You can focus on selling your course
  • Power of a course marketplace
  • Less marketing effort needed from your side

Cons:

  • Pricing of the course
  • Udemy controls pricing
  • Udemy is the brand, not you
  • You are one of many
  • You can’t build a strong brand within Udemy

Final Conclusion

There are plenty of opportunities for you to host your course on. Some platforms offer you all-in-one solutions, and others offer you easy setup and the handling of taxes.

Many other blog posts offer you plenty more options, and so I decided to include also those few other options here:

The reason why I didn’t yet create comprehensive analysis on all these other platforms is the fact that this list is meant to be the very best online course platforms and so this list only has a closer look at the ones chosen.

This list will more than likely be updated in the future, but for now, here are the best course platforms for different scenarios:

Quick final recommendations

For all-in-one solution: Kajabi

For strong sales and marketing features: ClickFunnels

For just course hosting: Teachable

For easy taxation: Gumroad and/or Patreon

For a ready-made course marketplace: Udemy

You can also check my resources page for the very latest recommendation when it comes to building your own online course business.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.