If you are thinking of selling your knowledge via online courses, you’d probably been looking to find the best course hosting platform.
There are many such platforms including Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Podia and some you may have not heard of like NewZenler, PayHip or Gumroad.
This article is from my experience in using Teachable, Udemy, Skillshare, NewZenler and Gumroad.
It is not comprehensive since there are just too many to try and review.
Marketplace vs Platforms
Udemy and Skillshare are marketplaces. A market place will help you sell your courses for a percentage of the sale.
The downside is:-
- they keep the students/customers contact
- they prevent you from getting customers off their site.
- you take a smaller percentage of sales (sometimes almost nothing)
You can read about this in greater detail here.
Below is a quick overview tabulated for you.
|Price||9% + $0.30 per transaction. |
Percentage reduces as sales total increase
|$647 per year or|
|$348 a year or|
|Yes for 1 course only|
|Payment processing fee (by Paypal or Stripe)||Included as above||Varies||Varies from 2.9% to 4.99% for international cards|
|Page designer for custom site design||No||Yes||Only for highest plan|
|Live webinars & live streams||No||Yes integrated with Zoom included in paid plan||No|
|Integrated email marketing & email automation||Yes||Yes. Limited emails for |
|Yes for paid plans only|
|Drip schedule courses||No||Yes||Yes for paid plans|
|Upsells / Order bumps||Variation feature||Yes for paid plans||Yes for selected plans|
|Time restricted access||No||Yes||Yes|
|Course completion certificate||No||Yes||Yes for selected plans|
|Memberships||Yes||Yes||Yes for paid plans|
|Discount coupons||Yes||Yes||Yes for paid plans|
|Affiliates||Yes||Yes||Yes for paid plans|
I’ve used Teachable when I first started selling online courses in 2016. At that time, the options for me was either Teachable or Thinkific.
Teachable had a usable free plan then compared to Thinkific so I want with that.
When you read free plans, it means while you don’t need to pay subscription fee to use the platform, the platforms takes a percentage of what you sell.
I moved to Zenler later in 2016 (Zenler later was revised to NewZenler) when I found out they have the ability to deal with affiliates.
Teachable’s lowest paid plan was still quite pricey and that’s why I didn’t upgrade to the paid plan. Teachable’s customer service was also slow to reply the time I used them in 2016.
Remember, I was new to all this and wasn’t sure I’ll sell enough to make it worth while.
I’ve never used Thinkific because the free plan is just too restricted allowing you to sell just 1 course. The starter plan today is also quite a step up in price.
Thinkific has changed their prices several times and even recently, wanted to make changes again.
I started using NewZenler in 2019.
NewZenler has great customer service for course creators and is willing to listen. A breath of fresh air to me.
The people who made NewZenler designed the platform with marketing in mind. The marketing system is built-in not something tacked on later.
Read my detail review on NewZenler here.
Would I recommend my friends to use it?
Best of all, you can start with a free plan first to try this out.
You can sell your courses with the free plan. NewZenler takes a 10% fee from all sales you do.
Click here to try it out.
Switched To Gumroad
Gumroad is more of a marketplace than a platform. It is not strictly a course hosting platform but one that allows you to sell digital as well as physical products.
Why the switch? EU VAT and affiliates.
EU VAT is a pain and unnecessary work for a small business owner.
Although NewZenler has the ability to collect VAT from customers living in the EU region, you still have to remit the tax yourself.
Gumroad handles that.
Most businesses hand it off to specialized companies to do it but it is an added expense.
Lately due to having too much on my plate, I missed paying my affiliates on time.
My affiliates didn’t complain but I don’t want it to happen again. So I looked around and found Gumroad.
From what I found out, I decided to try it out. So far, it suits my needs.
Finally there are a lot of things NewZenler offers that I don’t use.
The features like live webinars via Zoom are a fantastic deal but I don’t use them.
And I don’t foresee using them for the near future. I might switch back over when the need is there.
Switching over to Gumroad, I noticed being able to accomplish a few things faster.
Since I don’t have to design my landing pages, I focus on the key information to get to my potential customer.
The site doesn’t look as nice.
Then again I can see people selling courses and memberships that cost a lot more on Gumroad.
Disadvantages of Gumroad
My custom domain when I was using NewZenler is https://courses.jameswoo.net.
It has some sort of branding in that my name is there with my website.
With Gumroad, don’t have that anymore.
It is not all that bad though since I can use redirects from my main site so now you can reach my courses via https://jameswoo.net/courses/
Still a custom domain is easy to remember for customers.
I don’t have that much control over the landing page as I have with NewZenler. If that is something important, then Gumroad is not for you.
I also don’t have the ability to tag individual customers email which is something I’m learning to live with.
I couldn’t offer preview of a limited number of videos to help my customer gauge if my course or teaching style suits them, although I’ve figured out a workaround.
Gumroad site is faster since there are less features and less thing to navigate around.
Not All Roses
The biggest disadvantage of Gumroad is I’m using their payment processor.
With Gumroad, they are selling the product on your behalf using their payment processor.
I’ve read is that people with too high chargebacks get kicked from the platform because of this.
With NewZenler the Paypal and Stripe accounts are related to my business alone.
While I may get penalized by Paypal or Stripe, it won’t be another party that can kick me off.
Based on where I live Gumroad sends payment to me via Paypal only. I’d rather not deal with Paypal since their conversion fees are terrible.
Nothing is perfect. You won’t get everything you want or need with any platform.
I do hope this gives you an idea of which platform to choose if you are planning to teach a course online.
Should you try Gumroad? Yes by all means.
If you want to try out NewZenler with all the feature I mentioned above, here’s a link to use. It is an affiliate link but you don’t pay anything extra.
You can try it for free and see how you like it enough to upgrade.
Would I go back to Teachable or try Thinkific? Unlikely.
There are just better, cheaper options available now.
I haven’t used Kajabi but they are quite pricey starting at $149 / month for 3 products and 3 funnels.
A number of people switched over to NewZenler from Kajabi based on what I see in the NewZenler FB community.