The Best Course Platforms for Your Remote Business

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Thinking about adding an online course to your remote business? We’re breaking down the top online course creation platforms for 2021.

Let’s face it. These days it seems like absolutely everyone is creating an online course to boost their remote business. 

There are blogging courses, courses about website development and SEO, social media courses. There are even hundreds of courses on how to launch a course. 

That’s a course about a course. How very meta. 

While it may feel like a saturated market, every online learning experience is taught from a unique perspective. Each teacher offers their own take on the subject and contributes knowledge from their own industry experiences. 

If you’ve considered adding an online course to your remote business’ service offerings, read on. Today we’re diving into the best course platforms for monetizing your unique skillset. 

What Kinds of Remote Businesses Can Use Course Platforms?

The COVID era has opened the doors of online learning to a wide variety of industries that previously wouldn’t have considered it an option, like dance, cooking, and horseback riding. 

For many newly minted digital nomads, launching an online course has been a lifeline for keeping their businesses alive during a challenging time. 

online-courses-as-a-remote-business

There really isn’t a hard and fast rule for what kinds of businesses can benefit from online learning. If you have knowledge to share, why not monetize it and establish yourself as a thought leader with an online course?

How to Choose the Right Online Course Platforms

Choosing the right online course building platform is based on personal preferences. At a minimum, however, you’ll want to consider the following:

Budget

Fortunately, there are online course builders to suit just about every budget. From free options to 4-figure enterprise solutions, there’s a course builder out there to suit your needs. 

Tech

Some online course builders require more technical skill than others. While most feature drag-and-drop style editors, customization options may be limited, leaving you to rely on coding in your own HTML or CSS.  

In addition to the page builders, some platforms are easier to manage than others when it comes to integrating your existing tools like email providers and CRMs. 

Scale

No one launches an online course hoping it will be a flop. Whichever platform you choose, make sure it can grow as your course grows. Migrating to a new platform once you’ve outgrown your old one can be tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. 

Features

While most online course platforms’ core features remain pretty consistent from one to the other, some offer more functionality or flexibility than others. 

Be sure to explore the platform’s features in-depth and take advantage of the customer service teams and helpdesks to get clarification on any features you’re unsure of. Nothing is worse than signing on the proverbial dotted line and forking over a few hundred dollars just to find out that one feature doesn’t do what you thought it did. 

Ask us how we know. 

UI

Yes, this may seem frivolous, but a course builder’s UI (or user interface) can mean the difference between a pleasant experience and a total nightmare. 

Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time building and promoting your online course. The last thing you need is an awful UI to get in the way. 

Everyone’s taste is different, so be sure to explore various platforms before settling on one that works for you. 

Our Top Picks for Course Platforms for Your Remote Business

We’ve scoured the internet for the best of the best in online learning platforms. Here’s what we’ve found out about some of the industry’s key players. 

Kajabi

Kajabi is one of the most trusted online course platforms available today. Popular among knowledge-based businesses like coaches and consultants, it truly is a full-funnel course building and marketing solution. 

Launching an online course for your remote business involves more than just merely building the course. There’s marketing, payment processing, membership areas, and a nearly infinite number of other factors to consider. 

Kajabi-remote-business-with-online-courses

The cost of the many different SaaS products you’d need to handle everything that goes into offering an online course can be prohibitive for a smaller remote business. Fortunately, Kajabi is a silo buster of a tool. From email marketing to landing pages, funnels to membership sites, and a robust course builder, Kajabi brings everything you need to run a killer course into one platform. 

True, it’s not the cheapest option out there at $119/month (billed annually) or $149/month (billed monthly). But consider the savings in money, time, and frustration of managing so many integrations across so many platforms. If you look at it that way, Kajabi is a steal of a deal. 

Pros:

  • Full funnel solution featuring email marketing, pipeline and contact management, and everything you need to build, launch, run, and market an online course or membership site
  • Fantastic pre-built product and pipeline templates that make getting started a breeze. 
  • Unlimited landing pages and marketing emails
  • 0% transaction fee
  • Great free trial

Cons:

  • Price is on the higher side at $119/month (billed annually) or $149/month (billed monthly)
  • The number of products and pipelines at the basic subscription level is limited to 3. 

Teachable

As the name suggests, Teachable is targeted at remote business owners who want to, well, teach. 

Designed for independent creators and subject matter experts, Teachable offers instructors a highly affordable way to monetize their expertise. Subscriptions start at just $29.00/month (billed annually) or $39.00/month (billed monthly) and range up to $299.00/month for their top tier subscription. 

Teachable-remote-business-with-online-courses

Whether you’re running a remote coaching business, or you happen to be the authority on paper flowers, you can diversify your business with a paid class hosted on Teachable. 

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • Extensive integrations for just about any other platform you use
  • CSS and HTML customizations for more robust branding of your course beyond the built-in branding options. 
  • The affiliate program pays your co-marketing co-conspirators automatically. 

Cons:

  • No email automation or personalization
  • Not ideal for membership sites or communities
  • A percentage of your sales is held in reserve
  • There is a 5% transaction fee

Thinkific

Thinkific is a platform focused on scale, featuring online learning solutions for every stage of your remote business. Looking for something that will grow with you and your business? Thinkific might just be it. 

Unlike many of the options we’re covering here today, Thinkific offers a free membership level. You can create and launch a course completely free – you’ll just need to pay transaction fees. 

Thinkific-remote-business-with-online-courses

Each additional pricing tier adds a long list of added features. 

Package pricing ranges from $49.00/month to $499.00/month, and Thinkific Plus, a custom-quoted enterprise cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) with all the bells and whistles. 

Pros:

  • Almost universally applauded as an easy-to-use, intuitive platform. 
  • Many right-sized packages and features that grow as your business grows.
  • Easy to get started. 
  • A free plan is available.

Cons:

  • Customization of upsells and checkout processes can be tedious. 
  • Affiliate feature can be tricky to use, requiring workarounds.
  • No monthly payment option for students on the basic plan.
  • Limited customizations on the lower-priced plans. 

Udemy

Udemy is perhaps the black sheep of this list, but it may also be one of the industry’s best-known names. While the other solutions we’ve covered have all incorporated an element of business management and marketing, Udemy is, at its core, a course marketplace. 

Udemy-remote-business-with-online-courses

Udemy gives course creators the tools they need to plan, execute, and host their online course, much like the other platforms we’ve covered. The difference is that instructors simply add their class to Udemy’s much-loved online learning marketplace rather than using it as a full-funnel business solution. 

Once your course is created and published in the marketplace, you’ll need to rely on external tools to market it and communicate with your prospects. 

Udemy may be great for low-cost course offerings or “launch it and leave it” courses designed to generate passive income. Trying to turn your remote business into an online course empire? In that case, however, it probably isn’t the solution for you.

 

Pros:

  • Great for low-cost course offerings. 
  • Launch it and leave it! Your course can earn truly passive income for your remote business. 
  • Gain visibility in Udemy’s widely browsed marketplace. 
  • Good SEO potential due to the site’s high traffic and authority in the online learning space. 

Cons:

  • Limited control over the style and design of your course
  • No business management features, so you’ll need to run all other aspects of your business elsewhere. 
  • You don’t get access to your student’s emails (this is a biggie – Udemy is NOT the solution for you if building a list is essential to you) 
  • Your course will be listed side-by-side with hundreds of competitors. 

Kartra

Billed as the #1 alternative to Kajabi, Kartra positions itself as an online business tool that goes above and beyond – and happens to offer course hosting for your remote business. 

While its price is not as low as others on our list (it ranges from $99.00/month to $499.00/month), the features it offers more than make up for the higher price tag. 

Kartra-remote-business-with-online-courses

Beyond offering just about everything Kajabi offers, Kartra also claims to be a complete replacement for:

  • Your existing marketing automation service (like ActiveCampaign or HubSpot) 
  • CRMs like Infusionsoft or Keap
  • Email marketing services like MailChimp
  • Funnel builders like ClickFunnels
  • Landing page builders like Leadpages and Unbounce
  • Schedulers like Calendly
  • Helpdesks like Zendesk
  • Video hosting like Vimeo

Are their claims valid? Some of the most prominent players in the knowledge-based business space seem to think so. Let’s just say we had a real hard time locating any significant issues with Kartra during our research. 

In short, online course creators, coaches, consultants, and other remote business owners seem to love it. 

You can find out for yourself by giving their $1 trial period a go.

Pros: 

  • Kartra has all the bells and whistles. It’s truly a complete solution for a remote knowledge-based business. 
  • White-labeling options with Kartra Agency. 
  • Save money by eliminating extra subscriptions. 

Cons:

  • Because of the vast array of features, it can take some time to get used to the platform and get up and running. 
  • Limited selling capacity on the lower-tiered packages
  • Pricing starts at $99.00/month, higher than many other platforms. 

What will you teach?

Choosing the right online course builder for your remote business is all about striking a balance based on your personal preferences. You’ll need to factor in your budget, the goal for your course offering, marketing and customer management needs, and even your UI preferences before making a decision. 

Fortunately, free or low-cost trials are available on just about every platform. Give them a try, check out all the features they offer, and make sure you feel comfortable with their customer service team. When you find a winner, it’s time to get creative and add a new revenue stream to your remote business. 

What will you teach? Are you launching an online course to support your digital nomad lifestyle? Let us know in the comments!

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Affiliate Disclosure

We love finding new methods and tools to improve your Remote Work life and sharing them with you.
Some of the recommendations we give contain affiliate links, which generate a small commission. This happens at no extra cost to you, and sometimes we can even negotiate discounts for our readers.

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