Do you remember when online learning wasn’t even a thing?
This is the age of the “Great Resignation.” Over 10 million people have quit their jobs and are looking for more. Now’s the time to use your knowledge and expertise to create courses to sell online.
One of the most popular online learning platforms is Udemy.com, with over 183,000 courses serving 40 million+ students.
Can I be totally honest with you?
For reasons I’ll explain in this post, here are 10 Udemy alternatives where you can showcase your knowledge and make money from your online courses.
Why Udemy alternatives are necessary
First, let’s address why I’m not a fan of Udemy for entrepreneurs who want to make money selling their courses online.
Udemy is really for “learners” meaning people who want to take a course and learn to do something.
Udemy is not for course creators, here’s why.
#1. You don’t own the traffic
Yes, you can create and sell your courses on Udemy. However, you don’t own or have any control over the traffic that comes to Udemy.
When you submit your course, it’s added to the directory of published courses. So now, your course is just a number.
Of the people who do find your course, but do not sign up for it, you’ll never know about them.
#2. You don’t control the pricing
Udemy is popular (or rather notorious) for discounting courses, which is great for learners. What they’re unpopular for, with course creators, is discounting courses at the drop of a hat, which can affect your Udemy royalties.
This means your income could be adversely affected.
Picture yourself getting a “You made a sale!” notice only to learn that the course price was discounted way below what you wanted to sell it for. Not good.
#3. You don’t own the brand
You might be thinking, “Of course I don’t own the brand, Carol, Udemy does because its their brand.”
You are absolutely correct. It’s their brand, not yours.
Branding is everything, when it comes to entrepreneurial success.
One of my favorite coaches, Master Business Coach, Aprille Franks posted in her group, EpicWoman: Business + Lifestyle, that she was leaving Udemy. She sold 27 units of her course that was originally priced at $300.
If she had sold that same course on her own website, she would have made over $8K. Sadly, Udemy discounted her course to $10 and she walked away with $270. WOW!
She went on to say that even if she had sold that course for $49 on her own website, she would have made over $1000.
So what’s a Transformation Specialist like you to do when you want to sell your course AND make money?
Your best bet is to choose a platform that gives you control over your content, your marketing, and your pricing.
In other words, YOU control the platform, not the other way around.
The platforms I’m presenting to you are more than just Udemy competitors, they provide different ways for you to make money from your online course. Which is really what you want, right?
I’ve divided my choice of alternatives to Udemy into three categories:
- Plugins (The platform I’ve used for 13 years is in this category)
Each of these online course platforms have their own set of Pros and Cons. I’ll go through these online course alternative software platforms so you can decide which one will work best for you. Pricing for these platforms varies. You can choose to pay monthly or be billed annually.
Self-Contained Course Platforms
The reason I call these self-contained is because they are online platforms that you subscribe to. They house your courses, collect payment, and then send you the money, minus their commission and/or fee.
Teachable is made for entrepreneurs who are Tech newbies and for anyone who does not want to deal with technology setup, layout, design, and any type of coding or shortcodes.
You choose the price you want to charge and how you want to market your course.
Teachable makes it simple to upload course files, check analytics, manage payments, issue refunds, and communicate with your students via email.
Kudos for Teachable
I am impressed by the number of features that are provided and I am now looking at my other business accounts to see what I can eliminate and roll into the Teachable platform. Review from TrustPilot.com
Teachable is Free to sign up. If you are offering a FREE course, there’s no fee.
Prices range from $39/month to $299/month for high-volume course creators.
There is a major downside to Teachable though, you have to wait to get paid. They send payments once per month. Depending on when someone purchases, you could be waiting close to 2 months to see that payment.
Teachable PROs & CONs
Thinkific was designed with ease of use in mind, by an actual teacher.
It boasts a drag and drop interface that supports many different media types like pictures, graphics, quizzes, audio files, PDFs, etc.
Communicating with your students is simple as well. You can share reports and completion certificates, email students and even see their progress with the course.
Thinkific also offers built-in marketing tactics. You can set up an affiliate system, offer coupons, and use the dashboard to track sales and keep an eye on your analytics.
Kudos for Thinkific
The Thinkific platform provides all the tools needed in creating a course right mapping out the course outline to actually developing the course and making sales for the course. Review from G2.com
Start out with the Free plan and then move up as needed. They also have a Free trial.
The Free plan is pretty robust. You can build your courses and sell them before making the monthly financial commitment.
The only drawback is that Thinkific charges a transaction fee for each sale. But since you can use the platform for free, that’s not a bad deal.
Thinkific PROs & CONs
Course Platform Plugins
Just so you know, I love the plugin option. These plugins showcase the power of WordPress and it’s ability to transform your website.
First up, we have Wishlist Member. Wishlist Member is extremely powerful and provides several functions to make creating and selling your course easy and profitable.
The main reason I’ve used it since 2009 is that their design doesn’t interfere or clash with the design of the site.
Wishlist Member simply acts as a wall between your content and who you allow to access it.
This plugin is great for courses and any content that you want to put behind the member wall.
You have the ability to offer free and paid courses, subscriptions, one-offs, and pay-per-post.
Kudos for WishlistMember
Getting started with Wishlist Member is really easy and their video instructions are making it even easier. Review from Capterra.com
Wishlist Member Pricing
I love Wishlist Member so much I became a reseller.
If you purchase a license from CSI, the cost will be $197, with an annual renewal of $97.
Wishlist Member is also venturing into the more “traditional” course set-up offerings. You can learn more about that here.
I have not tried out the new course version and may not ever, because I like the present setup so much.
Wishlist Member PROs & CONs
LearnDash also allows you total control of your content.
Several big named companies like Infusionsoft by Keap and Digital Market use their system.
The plugin is geared towards learning institutions, but anyone can learn to use it.
LeanDash offers a unique video progression feature where you can make the lesson complete after viewing. You can even have another video lesson play automatically after the completion of the first one.
You are able to assign courses as prerequisites and also dripfeed your content.
Kudos for LearnDash
I like everything about LearnDash. I would say that I like the drag-and-drop builder functionality the most, as it is by far the most useful feature. Review from G2.com
LeanDash offers a single license for $199 annually all the way to a 25-site license for $329 for developers and designers.
LearnDash PROs & CONs
Thrive Apprentice is part of the Thrive Suite of WordPress plugins.
The plugin was created to provide an easy, sensible way to create, organize, and manage your courses.
I liked it initially, but soon found that it was too structured for me, as it did not allow much of my creativity to show through.
The layout is similar to what you get with Thinkific or Teachable. However, the key is that all the content lives on your website.
You are totally in control of the course management, colors, pricing, and payments.
It’s simple to get up and running, although actually using it is a bit of a pain. Once you learn what goes where and how it’s presented, you’re good to go.
The really great thing about Thrive Apprentice is that it integrates with other systems like Wishlist Member, Stripe, Paypal, as well as all the other components of Thrive Suite.
Kudos for Thrive Apprentice
Overall, I think Thrive Apprentice is a very good learning management solution if you’re looking for low overhead costs. It would work especially well for offering free courses. It’s very simple and easy to use. Review by howtoentrepreneur.com
Thrive Apprentice Pricing
Since Thrive Suite is just that, a suite of integrated products, the best deal is to purchase the suite. It will run you $99 quarterly or $299 annually with the renewals being the same; quarterly or annually.
However, if you choose to go with Thrive Apprentice as a stand alone plugin, you will pay $97 to purchase and then $97 annually for renewals.
Thrive Apprentice PROs & CONs
LifterLMS is my other favorite WordPress course plugin. I used them for about 5 years to manage and sell one of my most popular courses, Social Media Success Strategy.
I liked that the plugin included unique notification features and tracking so you could tell how students were engaging with the course. I stopped using it just recently because we moved our entire website to a new server and I wanted to streamline things. I decided to use Wishlist Member as our only membership course plugin.
The plugin has a drag and drop interface plus they “gamified” it so students can see their course progress and you can see when, if, and how they are interacting with your course content.
The course was fun to setup and fun for students to take.
One thing I did not like is that you really need several of the “additional” plugins they recommend for Lifter LMS to work properly. I would rather decide to add something than be forced to add it to make the system work.
Kudos for LifterLMS
I can make engaging Learning and Membership sites with a fraction of the time and have ready-to-go functionality with other web-tools. Review from G2.com
The core product is Free to use, forever. If you’re only selling free courses, this is your plugin. When you want to sell courses, that’s when you need the addons.
Addons start at $99 and go up from there. It’s best to purchase one of their bundles.
LifterLMS PROs & CONs
All-in-One Course Platforms
The final category is for the platforms that do much more than house your courses.
You can use these course platforms to actually run your business.
From email communications to marketing to managing course access, they provide it all.
Of all the platforms in this category, Ontraport is my favorite.
I used it for 3 years, when I was part of a business collaborative. I was the Technology Director.
Their interface can be overwhelming when you first get in there. However, once you go through a couple of their awesome tutorials and dive into their knowledgebase of support, you’re golden.
Not only can you create, manage, and sell your courses; you can also communicate directly with your list of contacts. You don’t have to add a maillist platform, its already integrated.
Kudos for Ontraport
Ontraport is our all in one system that is the brain of the business. Sales, marketing, and accounting use it for different reasons. Review from TrustRadius.com
Ontraport is affordable, even though they service some big organizations. You can get started with the Basic Package for $79/month. However, the best bet is the Plus package at $147/month.
Ontraport PROs & CONs
Kajabi handles course content, marketing emails, landing page creation, sales funnels, and much more.
That maybe why I got an instant headache when I first logged into the dashboard. You need to go through their tutorials and knowledgebase to get the hang of it.
People swear by Kajabi though. It provides entrepreneurs with so much, all under one hood.
I had to work with it for one of my clients. It seemed simple to learn to operate, if I took the time, which I did not want to do.
What I did learn is out of all the great things Kajabi does, it has some work to do on their course creation segment.
I’ve taken a couple courses that were housed on Kajabi and they were OK, meaning the presentation. Nothing to really write home about. For you though, this may be just what you’re looking for.
It doesn’t provide enough designability for me, but it may for you.
Kudos for Kajabi
Kajabi makes it easy to connect pipelines, landing pages, email sequences, everything because it’s all in one place. Review from G2.com
Kajabi is more expensive than most course creation platforms. That’s expected because of all that they offer. Their Basic plan is $149/month. The Pro plan is the most expensive at $399/month.
If you look at Kajabi as more of an all in one business management system that’s easy to use, you will appreciate the pricing.
Kajabi PROs & CONs
Not only can you easily build and sell courses using Kartra, you can manage different parts of your business as well.
You are able to run your entire business using Kartra. They offer content hosting, so you can build your website, plus all your landing pages using this one program.
Kartra also handles payments, email marketing, analytics and funnels.
They bandwidth limitations across the platform may be a dealbreaker, though. This could really be a drag when you’re hosting a summit where you have a couple hundred or so people hitting your website simultaneously.
Kudos for Kartra
The most helpful thing about Kartra is that it allows you to integrate your website, sales, marketing, and communication systems all into one. Review from G2.com
Kartra’s Starter plan is $99/month. You get more bang for your buck at the next level, the Silver plan coming in at $199/month. Their plans go as high as $499/month.
Kartra PROs & CONs
Infusionsoft by Keap
Welcome to the granddaddy of all CRMs (Customer Relation Management Systems).
I remember when I was starting to dive deep into online marketing, Infusionsoft was (and still is) the choice for most online entrepreneurs.
Hold up a sec, although Infusionsoft is popular and awesome in the eyes of some, to me it’s still “CONFUSIONSoft.”
It takes a special entrepreneur to use and manage it. There are lots of large and small businesses that swear by it.
You might be one of them. Not me though, I prefer simplicity in as many areas as possible.
Kudos for Infusionsoft by Keap
What I like best about Keap is that it is a fully integrated CRM, ecommerce, and marketing suite. I can design a customer journey, create a marketing funnel, and track the progress of prospects through their entry as fully qualified customers and later into well-invested clients. Review from G2.com
Infusionsoft by Keap Pricing
Pricing starts at $199/month for the Basic version. If you add ecommerce functionality and sales automation, you’ll pay $299/month to $379/month. They do have a free trial with no credit card required so you can test things out.
There is nothing cheap about this software. I think it’s great for the people who actually learn to use it. As I said, many entrepreneurs swear by it and have used it to run their business for years.
Infusionsoft by Keap PROs & CONs
Which of these online course platforms will you use for your course?
Let us know in the comments.
To summarize, you aren’t limited to using Udemy for your online course, you have a wide range of options.
These options include all-in-one total business management systems, self-contained course platforms, and a number of powerful plugins to use on your WordPress website.
Look over the options I’ve laid out for your and choose the one that works best for your and your business. And that does what you want it to do. If you are unsure, take a test drive. Almost all of the course platforms have either a multiple day Free trial or a Free plan option.
I know that this is a lot of information that I’ve put before you. To make things easier, I created a cheat sheet to help you make the decision.