How to Select a Platform for Your Online Courses

Apr 22, 2020

As more and more business owners are moving some or all of their services and programs online, they face numerous questions and challenges. One of the questions that I most frequently get is which online platform should they use to host their online courses.

Last week I did a Facebook live show on this topic and introduced three of my favorite platforms for hosting online courses. I explained the criteria that I use to make a decision as to which platform is best for a user. To help make this decision easier, I’ve developed a system where I categorize online platforms into three levels. Below is a quick summary of what I shared on the Facebook live show. Click below if you’d like to watch the full video replay!

Level 1 (ex. Thinkific)

This is often a person’s first entry into building courses online. There are many options in this category and most of the programs are very similar in their features. When selecting a Level 1 online platform, the following criteria frequently come into play…

  • It’s a low-cost program that requires minimal (to no) investment in order to get started.
  • The program is easy to learn and has templates that you can use.
  • The program is best used with traditional, linear-based online courses.
  • There are a large number of businesses using the program, and so it’s not difficult getting additional support when needed.

Level 2 (ex. Kajabi)

Level 2 programs have more online features that help you run and grow your online business in addition to hosting online courses. Because they have more features, however, they typically cost more than the Level 1 programs and take a bit more time to learn. These programs are frequently “all-in-one” programs and are frequently worth the added expense because you don’t have to invest in a bunch of other programs to run your online business. Here are some key aspects frequently found with Level 2 programs…

  • They provide you with additional tools that allow you to easily expand your online business. These tools go far beyond simply offering online courses.
  • These programs have many more features that will help you in online marketing and sales. They frequently include numerous, customizable lead magnet templates and the ability to create automated email funnels.
  • These programs have templates that you can use, and these templates offer much more customization than Level 1 programs. (You're courses don't have to look like everybody else's course that's out there!)
  • Programs like Kajabi also include numerous website templates in addition to customizable templates that you can use for your online courses.
  • These programs have more features that allow you to easily share your content in a variety of formats, from online libraries and membership programs to linear courses.

Level 3 (ex. Global Experts Accelerator)

Level 3 programs can consist of platforms for hosting online courses in addition to “all-in-one” platforms that help you run your online business. The key difference between Level 3 programs compared to Levels 1 and 2 is that these are “done-for-you” programs. In addition to receiving the online platform, you can get an entire technology team to build your programs for you online and provide online technology support. Some of the benefits for investing in a Level 3 program include…

  • It saves you tons of time because you have others who can help manage the administrative side of things.
  • You just have to focus on creating your course content while letting others design your online Academy for you. They spend all the time uploading videos and documents into your course platform while you use this time to focus on other things.
  • Many of these programs provide ongoing technology support throughout the lifetime of your business. This can include dealing with any technical problems that arise and issues that students might have when using the online program.
  • These programs typically require more of a financial investment to get started, but annual expenses can greatly decline once your online Academy is built for you.
  • Many people who are new to offering online courses steer away from such programs because of the initial investment. When considering the ongoing technology and administrative support that you can receive with these programs, they can be a great financial investment in the long run. In the end, they can save you both time and money.

There are definitely many more programs than the ones I've listed above, but these are my favorites based on my own research and hands-on experience. There really is no "right" or "wrong" choice. Think about your "must have" features, your long term goals, and your budget... then make your decision and get started!

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