A Course Creator’s Needs
Thousands of course builders are setting out to transform their experience and knowledge into courses and offer them online. They’re all looking for course hosting solutions in order to focus on course building. Sites like Skillshare and Udemy have become well known and cater to these requirements. However, they’re not the only option.
New online instructors initially face the same questions, such as:
- Where should I publish?
- What will that cost?
- How do I get paid?
- How difficult is it to set up?
The ideal platform for a big corporation may be complete overkill for a solopreneur.
When I started researching course hosting platforms in the beginning of 2016, it became clear rather quickly that it would be difficult to select the best platform. There are literally hundreds of platforms available, with similar feature-sets and yet, subtle differences, different pricing models and different target groups. What may be the best platform for a university may not work at all for a big corporation, and the ideal platform for a big corporation may be complete overkill for a solopreneur.
For my own courses, I spent months on research and platform comparisons. I scoured the market, created some 50 accounts on various platforms, dismissed many, and looked at many in detail. Some platforms are easy to find, others are relatively hidden. Some are established, others are newcomers and startups. Some provide information readily on their starting page, others hide it in the fine print or don’t provide any at all. Varying feature-sets and a variety of payment plans make it very difficult to get a complete overview of what’s available and how it compares.
For a full review of 19 different online course hosting platforms, Udemy alternatives, comparison tables and marketing advice, download my FREE course hosting platform guide.
Our Target Group for Evaluating Course Hosting Solutions
In order to compare platforms, you therefore need to decide for a target group. This allows you to define specific criteria to evaluate platforms against.
This is my target group:
- Solopreneurs looking for low-risk, low-cost, high-automation solutions for publishing and selling courses online
- Course creators with limited technical skills who want to focus on content creation and marketing
- DIY course builders who want to avoid the need to spend time on setup and maintenance of technology and eliminate the need for assistance by web designers and programmers.
This target group dictates a number of criteria:
- Solopreneurs want to stay independent, and a great way to do that is to avoid funding and dependencies. Bootstrapping is the preferred approach. We’re therefore looking for platforms that don’t require us to pay hefty fees up-front.
- Automation. Solopreneurs cannot indefinitely scale the number of hours they invest before hitting a ceiling. Automated distribution chains are essential.
- Technical maintenance should be taken care of by the platform, as any amount of effort invested here is missing where it matters most: Course/Product creation.
The Right Platform for Online Course Creators
There are hundreds of learning management systems (LMS) (it’s a rapidly growing market), and running your own LMS is an option. In my work managing large scale learning projects in an enterprise setting, I have spent countless hours of my life discussing feature requests and spec books with LMS providers – and when you have a budget and a team, that can be managed. If you’re a solopreneur, this can put you out of your business before you’ve even gotten started. Many LMS will not stand up to the requirements of bootstrappers – not because of a lack of features, but because the entry barrier is prohibitive.
Over the past years, a new species of platforms has emerged. Not titled as learning management systems anymore, these platforms are focused on easy access, low maintenance and quick time-to-market.
These platforms do not have the toolbox approach of traditional learning management systems where you spend months choosing and setting up your toolchain. Instead, they provide a limited feature-set in exchange for getting you started literally without any delay at all.
These course hosting platforms are, in my opinion, the best choice for most solopreneurs.
They allow you to get started extremely fast, risk-free and leave you time to focus on course creation and marketing instead of technical set-up and maintenance. Many include all the tools you absolutely need while eliminating complexity and high costs by excluding unnecessary (corporate) features.
If you’re a solopreneur, I invite you to check out the following platforms and see how you like them.
Marketplaces (sites like Udemy and Skillshare) don’t give you complete freedom, but they make it very easy to get started and take a lot of work off your hands.
These are some of the best-in-class platforms and are a very reasonable starting point for your own course creation needs. In one of my upcoming articles, I will look into the differences between marketplaces and course hosting platforms. Stay tuned!
For a full review of 19 different course hosting platforms, Udemy alternatives, comparison tables and marketing advice, download my FREE course hosting platform guide.