Udemy and Skillshare are among the most well-known marketplaces for selling online courses. This article provides an overview of the best online course marketplaces. Alternatives to Udemy and Skillshare for Online Instructors are plentiful, but not every Udemy competitor is automatically a great fit for your business. On the other hand, depending on your requirements, a Udemy alternative may fit your business even better than the predominant platform.
Online course marketplaces (sites like Udemy) host and sell online courses on behalf of online instructors. Usually, a wide variety of online courses from multiple online instructors can be accessed by learners. Learners buy courses from the marketplace, not from the instructor.
Course hosting platforms are technology providers. They host your online course, but they don’t sell it. Contrary to online course marketplaces, hosting platforms don’t have a customer base of their own, and consequently they don’t do any course marketing. As a result, you will have more responsibilities, but also less rules and more freedom, and this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Udemy, then technically, you’re looking for marketplaces, not course hosting platforms. If you don’t yet know whether online course marketplaces are right for you or if you need a comparison of online course marketplaces and online course hosting platforms, this article will tell you whether a course hosting platform or a course marketplace is preferable depending on what position you’re in with your business. You can also get my free guide with all the details.
- (Large) existing customer base
- Good visibility of your course
- Some marketing done for you
- Dependency on the platform
- Rules and regulations limit the online instructor’s freedom
- Customers aren’t your own – you can’t switch platforms and take your customers with you
If you’ve decided that a course marketplace is indeed what you need, please make your choice from the list of Udemy competitors below!
For more in-depth information, I provide a “course hosting platform guide” as a free PDF download.
Udemy is probably the biggest and most well-known course marketplace. It is easy to get started as you’re guided through your course development process and I would definitely recommend Udemy to those who’ve never taught or built courses before. A Facebook group takes care of support and guidance and a knowledge base is available to provide information to online instructors who’ve never created a course before. A certain minimum quality of all paid courses is ensured by a review process (where the focus is mostly on video / audio quality and less on didactics).
The Udemy course catalogue and course interface is nicely made. Structuring a course curriculum, uploading videos and creating tests is done via a simple to use web interface. Udemy does some marketing for you, but the effect varies depending on how much traffic you can drive to your courses and your course topics.
You’re definitely not building your own school on Udemy, and building your own brand is a side effect at best. You won’t get access to your students’ email addresses, and you will be almost entirely prohibited from promoting anything to your students.
Students pay per course, and instructors receive 50%.
In 2016, there was a lot of confusion around a new pricing scheme (limiting the prices instructors could ask for) which was later abandoned again.
First time instructors and established instructors who want to benefit from access to a huge audience and don’t mind a tightly controlled environment.
Instead of trying to cover all bases, Skillshare focuses on teaching skills via short, project based classes, usually not longer than 10-25minutes. Each class consists of a series of videos and comes with a project to immediately apply your new skills. Apart from project attachments (i.e. assignment specifications), videos are the only class elements, and quizzes are not available. Exercises / projects are meant to be explained via videos and uploaded to the course.
On Skillshare, anyone can teach. Unlike Udemy, Skillshare doesn’t check course quality very strictly. Students pay a monthly flat rate ($8/month), of which 50% go to all instructors. The share of the individual instructor depends on the number of enrolments into their courses. Your payout will thus depend on your classes’ popularity.
Access to learner’s emails is not possible, but there is interaction within courses via discussions, and instructors can build a following within the platform. Self-promotional or how-to-get-rich courses are not allowed.
The platform features learning tracks (curated content for a particular topic).
Instructors are guided through course creation, but own their content. Class elements are limited to video and file uploads, but due to the project based nature of classes, this works surprisingly well.
Instructors of popular topics who want to have an experience similar to Udemy, but prefer the smaller scale and friendly atmosphere.
Learning.ly is the economist group’s course marketplace. It’s a relatively young marketplace that just completed its open BETA phase. Not everybody can join as an instructor. An application is necessary and you need to be an expert in your field to be admitted. The obvious advantage of being accepted into learning.ly is the global audience of the economist’s network. Instructors are guided through the course creation process. Customers pay per course and instructors keep 50% of revenue.
I would recommend learning.ly because it’s in very early days, and this creates opportunity for experts who want to build courses.
Experts with an early adopter mindset who want to give a new marketplace a try while benefiting from less competition.
Lynda is LinkedIn’s learning portal. The model is similar to learning.ly (but Lynda is older). Not everybody can join as an instructor. An application is necessary and acceptance will depend on whether your experience (which must include teaching) matches Lynda’s needs. Customer plans start from €14.95 / month (annual billing) and give customers access to all courses. The payout scheme to instructors is not specified publicly.
The course interface is nice and includes a notebook to take course notes as well as a transcript where the current video position is automatically marked. It does not seem to include social features and discussions, but learners have playlists to manage courses they want to see, and courses can yield completion certificates.
Expert instructors who want to share their knowledge in an established marketplace and don’t need control over their school and courses.
Openlearning’s strong suit is creating online learning communities. With an emphasis on the social aspect of learning, features like discussions, wikis, media sharing, private instant messaging and gamification are tightly integrated. Interaction can be supported on every level (course, lesson) with multiple tools. There are several kinds of activities and quizzes.
Customization of the look and feel is limited to course appearance (banners, colours, etc.). You may apply for a branded institution though.
You do not get access to student’s email addresses, but the platform does not seem to prevent you from sending promotion to your students or direct them to another school.
The interface feels a little clunky and outdated, and while that is partly due to the number of features, it doesn’t convey the sense of quality that other platforms with social features give you. Video hosting isn’t integrated, so you’ll need to link to your videos on other platforms (which can incur additional cost).
Instructors who’re looking for a marketplace which allows for courses with many social features.
Signing up to Eliademy is free and there are no running costs. Eliademy keeps 30% of sales, so 70% go to the instructor.
There is an option to run courses privately (€5 per month plus €1 per enrolment) and not use the marketplace. Courses can contain text, video, assignments and quizzes, and can issue certificates. An assistant-driven course setup makes it really simple to get started. The course interface is simple and effective.
Instructors who want the advantages of a marketplace while retaining a lot of freedom.
Simplilearn is a marketplace from India, currently offering 400 courses focused on business & technology. Courses are high-price and often accredited by official certification bodies, obviously targeting the corporate market.
There is a “Masters program” which gives you access to learning paths for a year in exchange for $999, which – compared to Lynda and Skillshare – seems very expensive, but is a bargain relative to individual course prices on Simplilearn.
Instructors need experience and certifications in their field, and they need to go through an application process. Instructors receive payment based on a revenue sharing program. Details are not disclosed on the website.
Due to the prohibitive cost as a student, and the application process as an instructor, I was not able to take a closer look at this platform.
Experts with officially accredited certifications who want to reach the corporate market.
Students access all of Curious’ content for a flat rate of $89 per year. An algorithm suggests daily lessons to learners based on topics of interest. Lessons consist of a videos with embedded quizzes. Curious’ (science-based) assumption is that you should learn a little bit every day to be more successful and happier.
Instructors need to go through an application process, provide a sample video tutorial and describe previous teaching experience. It’s therefore not a suitable platform for those new to teaching.
Curious deducts marketing, advertising and transaction fees from the accumulated student’s fees, and gives 70% of the result to instructors. Distribution is done based on the number of views of any teacher’s content.
The concept is definitely an interesting change to the standard “pick what you want”, but can get confusing at times.
Instructors who want to try something new and exciting.
Feed my happy is a lesser known, more specialized alternative marketplace from the UK. Its focus is on topics such as health & fitness, lifestyle, personal development.
Users pay £29.99 per month for unlimited access to courses.
Instructors receive royalty payouts. Details are not provided on the website, but a similar scheme to Skillshare is likely.
An interesting aspect is the opportunity to sell additional, course related-products in a shop section of the platform (where instructors receive 90% of sales).
Instructors who’re looking for a marketplace specialized on the lifestyle niche.
Stackskills is interesting, as it is actually a marketplace running on Teachable (see course platforms). It is thus a much smaller-scale project than other marketplaces, and not a lot of information is available online. (Most course and and payment features can be deduced from the Teachable table).
Would-be instructors currently need to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with details on expertise. No further details are provided online.
Pluralsight is a well known marketplace and seems to provide good quality courses. In order to publish you need to apply as an author. There’s a revenue sharing scheme but details are not shared publicly. Students pay a monthly flat rate (currently $29 or $49 if they want certificates and exercises). Instructors get a royalty payment based on how much their videos have been viewed each month. Pluralsight is a tightly controlled environment and as such will not be the best choice for building your own learning company. With 1M learners its reach is considerable and if you’re interested, apply as an author!
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