If you are reading this, the chances are that you are in a state of “analysis paralysis” about where you want to host your online course. I know from experience, that once you start researching this subject you soon disappear into a rabbit hole of information with so many options and far too many choices.
So you can make the right choices for you, you have to work on the basis of what your own technical ability is, whether you want to do this yourself or be looking to get someone to do it for you. You also need to look closely at the investment that will be required to use which platform and what your budget is.
Although, I am very much someone who would advise you to make a decision based on the “now”, rather than worry about too many “what-ifs” you may need to give some longer-term strategy to making your decision for your online course. Depending on the solution you go with, it can be harder work to undo things later on.
How To Choose the Right Platform For Your Online Course
There are two main options for online courses and they fall into two categories.
- Hosted on a Third-Party Platform
- WordPress LMS (Learning Management System)
Option 1 – Hosted On A Third-Party Platform
Building your course on a hosted third-party platform is a really great way to get started with your online course. There are plenty of different platforms available that will suit your needs.
The advantages of these platforms are that everything is set up to go. The benefits of such platforms are:-
- You can get started quickly
- Not as technical as the WordPress option
- You can get started for free, no upfront investment
- Low maintenance; once you’re set up you only need to keep your content up to date
- Payment options are integrated into the systems eg PayPal, Stripe
- You are tied into a third-party platform which is not yours. So, if the company ceases to exist, so does your course
- The set up may be free, but you pay a set % commission for each sale that you make eg you may pay 10% commission per sale to the hosting platform. This will be in addition to any payment providers commission eg PayPal
- You cannot add any other functionality to the course other than what is provided by the platform
- Limited customisation of design and flexibility
Examples of Third-Party Platforms
There are many companies who offer this kind of service. Some of the most popular are:-
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Option 2 – WordPress LMS (Learning Management System)
Creating your course on WordPress using an LMS means that you have full control of ownership of the site, the domain and the content. On the downside, you will need to have a degree of technical knowledge and experience to be able to roll it out.
- You have full control of the site
- Fully customisable for design and functionality
- You can integrate with your existing website theme
- Ongoing costs minimal, usually an annual subscription to the plugins you need
- No commission barriers other than any charged by your payment provider eg PayPal, Stripe
- The site can be added to in the future as your course requirements grow and change
- Initial costs higher as you invest in the required tech
- You may need professional technical help to set up
- You need to have some technical ability
- The system will require ongoing maintenance (as WordPress websites all do)
- It takes longer to set up
Examples of WordPress Learning Management Systems
Here are some LMS examples which will also need a Membership plugin to work alongside it.
How to Get Started
To help you decide which option is right for you, you need to decide on three major factors.
- What do you want the system to be able to do for you and your subscribers?
- What is your overall budget for the project?
- What is your level of technical expertise?
Once you know the answers to these questions, your decision will be easier. If you start your online course on a third-party platform, you still have the option to move over to a WordPress solution at a later date. Although, it would be more work further down the line to move from one platform to another, don’t let that stop you from making a decision today to get started!
If you need further help to decide which platform is right for you, then get in touch and I would be happy to help. If you’re ready to work with a technical partner to get your course online with either option, then feel free to get in touch today and tell me about your project.