• Claire Shelley

Choosing the best online platform for your coaching course





Creating an online course is a great way to help a wider group of people and add semi-passive income into your business.


If you’re a coach, consultant or service–based business, an online course can also generate new leads for other parts of your business, it’s an exciting option to explore!


But once you’ve decided to create an online course, the biggest dilemma that you’re likely to face is deciding which platform to use.


From creating a course website and uploading videos, to taking payments and interacting with students, the best online course platforms can help you meet your goals.


The challenge is that there are so many options available: Learning Management System (LMS) plug-ins, online course hosting platforms and an all-in-one platforms (your whole business in one place) to name just a few.


Choosing which software option to go with is an overwhelming process!


So that you don’t get stuck at this first hurdle, I’ve invited Diana Wilson of Online Course Consulting to share some thoughts.


Diana is a self confessed online course geek, and it’s a pleasure to hand over so that she can walk you through some of the key considerations of choosing software.


Choosing the best online platform for you


The first thing you need to realise when looking for the best online course platform is that online course software is not a one size fits all industry.


Many gurus out there will try to convince you that the platform they are promoting is the best. And truth be told, it may be the best for them and the way they teach. But it doesn’t mean that course platform is the best for everyone.

When it comes to choosing the best online course platform for you, there are a lot of things you need to take into account.



• What Features Do You Need?

• What Format Is Your Online Course In?

• Are You Tech Savvy?


Let’s take these three questions and break them down a bit.



1. What features do you need in an online course platform?


Most online course platforms will offer a variety of features. Many of them are the same, but it is important to figure out exactly what you need to eliminate the platforms that won’t work for you.


Email marketing


A big question is, will your email marketing software work with your online course software? If you have already built an email list on a certain platform, you want that software to integrate with the online course platform you choose. If it does not integrate directly, will it work through Zapier? And will you need to pay for a paid Zapier account to get all the automated features you need? If you haven’t chosen an email marketing software yet, go ahead and look at this anyway as most online course platforms come with a built in email system, but these tend to be limited.


Tools and integrations


Speaking of integrations, what other tools do you plan to use? Are you going to be doing coaching? Do you need the course platform to integrate with a webinar or video conferencing software? What about a scheduling calendar? All of these things could be important to someone that includes coaching or live workshops as a part of their online course.


Promotion


If you want to have affiliate partners to help you sell your online course, this is something you may not find or at least may have to pay quite a bit more for on different platforms.


Payments


What about accepting payment? Most platforms integrate with Stripe, Square and/or PayPal, but not all. Checking out what payment processors each platform uses is important. If you intend to take part-payments for your online course instead of the full price up front, this is another one you will want to look into.


2. What format is your online course in?


Format is something that is assumed and not thought about often. Most of the top online course software is great when working with video, audio, text and PDFs. Not all of them are set up to deliver code if you are teaching a coding class.


Some may even have data limits which could affect how much video you can upload. Some do not store video at all and you need to embed it from somewhere else. If you are looking at different formats or a large amount of video, be sure to check what is allowed on the online course platform you choose.


Are sales funnels and drip courses a part of your delivery plan?


This is another area that can vary a lot depending on the platform you are using. While some platforms are built around this style of course delivery, others are not. Some may have it, but you must be on a higher paid plan to access it. This includes things like upsells, downsells, content drip and even e-commerce you may want to add as a companion to your course.


3. Are you tech savvy?


This is where a lot of people get stuck. They purchase software with great reviews and then get overwhelmed trying to get it set up. That is one of the reasons that online course platform tutorials do so well on YouTube. But what if there are no recent tutorials and you run into problems? This is where tech support is critical.


Technical support


Most offer some support, but it varies based on the price of your plan. If you are paying premium prices, you probably don’t have to worry. You will have priority support and be able to get someone on the phone to help you ASAP.


If you are not paying for the premium package, you will probably only get email support during business hours or slightly better. This is very bad if you launch your online course on a Friday and something is not working like it should, by Monday morning you will probably want to pull your hair out.


Take a close look at what support is provided for your plan and if it fits your needs.


Tips on selecting a platform


When you are picking an online course platform, try to find something that is easy for you to use.


  • Watch a couple of recent video tutorials on setting up the software.

  • Take a test drive if they have a free trial. If they don’t, consider paying for a month just to test it out.


Make sure that the software matches your skill level as closely as possible or be prepared to pay a higher price for that support. There is nothing that will cause buyer’s remorse faster than investing in software that you can’t figure out how to use.


If you take the time to ask yourself the questions mentioned here, you will have an easier time finding the best online course platform for you. This is not a decision you want to rush into. It is a lot harder to move your online course to a new platform than to take a little extra time choosing the right one in the first place. Getting others' opinions is great, just make sure it is the right platform for you.


If you have any questions for Diana, you can reach her at www.onlinecourseresource.com and if you are ready to start building your online course, take her 5-Day Mini-Course Challenge!



Summary


If your first online course is using a straightforward format i.e. mostly videos and PDFs, it’s usually easier to start with a third party online course platform rather than host the courses on your website (LMS plug-in). Online course platforms offer the most comprehensive solution; course hosting, website, sales pages and payment gateways are usually included and they are a lot more user friendly.


Here are a few of the most popular ones to get you started:


Thinkific

Teachable

New Zenler

Podia

Searchie

Kajabi


Wishing you every success with your new course!



Are you looking for a way to sell more of your courses? Perhaps you've heard of others having success with Facebook ads and you know they're a faster way to grow your business.


But are they right for you?


Download my free checklist to find out exactly what you need in place before you spend a penny.


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