Which of the (Many many) eLearning Tools is Right for Your Online Course?

SHORTCUTS: Access Our Mega Course Checklist | Low-price Platforms | Easy to Use Platforms | Highly-Customizable Platforms

You’re all set. You’ve got a brilliant course idea. You’ve got a hungry audience. And you’ve got a bulletproof plan to make money and, more importantly, an impact.

There’s just one problem. You don’t have a course platform. There are so many eLearning tools out there and researching through them just grinds your entrepreneurial process to a halt.

In other words, you’ve been speeding along in your idea validation phase and suddenly you’ve hit the brick wall of technology.

Searching for a simple solution, you read sales page after sales page of eLearning tools telling you that they have everything you need. But wait, why does this software cost $100/month and that one is $100 a year? What are all these features? And what do you really need to succeed in your business?

 

The Problem(s)

In order to find the solution, you must first define the problem. Being overwhelmed isn’t a place to take action from. So it helps to break the problem down into manageable chunks. Here are the main culprits that get in the way when deciding to choose an eLearning tool or online learning platform in which to put your course.

1. Too many options

The internet is a wealth of information, but it can lead you to information overload or analysis paralysis. When you have too many options, you don’t make a choice. That’s why coffee comes in – at most – 4 sizes, not 350.

2. Features and prices aren’t standardized across platforms

To use the coffee analogy again, it’s obvious why coffee prices are different. Usually what determines the price is the coffee’s quality and the size of cup you buy. ELearning tools have many different features, some of which you may or may not need once you start teaching your course.

In addition to this, the market for course software values different features in different combinations at different price points, but no single platform has the incentive to directly compare those features together. So, when you try to compare features from different sales pages and reconcile those with the potential price you have to pay, it’s a lot like comparing apples to oranges.

3. Each Tool Has it’s Own Learning Curve

In addition, each software has it’s own learning curve. Every one has different levels of support, so you might be on your own or have access to a whole host of training materials. Some of it is super user friendly, and some of it is infinitely customizable…if you’re already a skilled web engineer.

4. It’s Not Easy to Change Tools

Once you make a choice, it’s really hard to change platforms mid course even if you don’t find one that works for you. You might end up not giving your students the experience you want, being unhappy with how you manage your course, or paying a ton of money that you don’t want to pay which prevents you from being able to scale your business.

5. Spending Too Much Time on This Kills Your Momentum

You’re probably already aware of the challenges involved in launching your own course. Knowing all this can lead to the absolute worst result, which is that you never take action at all.


The Solution

Whew, that was rough, but it’s important to know what you’re up against when deciding.

Lucky for you, I’ve already done all the research for you.

Get the complete mega course comparison chart here:

Honestly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all course platform. You, your business, and your students have your own unique needs and challenges. You should select an eLearning tool that makes the most sense for you.

Having said that, there are three types of course platforms that will appeal to different types of teachers. The categories are based on your most pressing need. Each category has a list of software. To get started, choose the attribute that’s most important to you.

  • Low price (Less than $200/yr)
  • Easy to Use
  • Feature Rich/Highly Customizable

Low price

You don’t have a lot of overhead to get started with courses or you just want to keep your expenses as low as possible. The advantage of these is that you can spend more time creating your course without spending a lot of money hosting it. You can also get your course out there and start generating income without a lot of upfront investment.

The disadvantage is that these tend to have either less features, or be more DIY solutions. If they are user-friendly, there’s often other limitations, such as the amount of students or courses you can have, and in some cases, revenue splits. The most extreme example is Udemy for this (with a 50-50 revenue split if the student finds the course through Udemy.)

Overall, these are great if you have some technical savvy or are willing to invest time to learn the nuances of each tool and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your course platform.

WordPress plugins

These are by far the cheapest, since in many cases you can buy it once, and then only pay more to have access to technical support.

  1. OptimizePress: $97-297 Annual / renew for 50% of that price after first year
  2. Learndash: $159-329 Annual  / renew for 50% of that price after first year
  3. LifterLMS: $0-$99 Annual
  4. WPCourseware: $99-175 Annual 
  5. Wishlistmember: $197-297 for first year + 47 renewal fee for every year after

 

Non-Wordpress Plugin

These are the most user friendly, but also the least customizable.

  1. Thinkific: $0-219 Monthly. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.
  2. Teachable: $0-$299 monthly. SPECIAL OFFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.

Easy to Use

You already have a solid business, business plan, or some upfront capital. You don’t mind paying a little bit more for most of the technical issues to just be handled. The advantage of these platforms is that your technical learning curve is drastically reduced. This means you can spend more of your time on delivering great teachings and helping your students.

The disadvantage is often these have a higher per month costs, so you should really have a solid business plan in place to make sure you can cover your monthly costs. Most teachers’ aren’t running courses constantly, so you need to factor that in your annual business budget.

Overall these are great if you want to get started quickly and don’t mind investing a bit to do so.

  1. Thinkific: $0-219 Monthly.SPECIAL OFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.
  2. Teachable: $0-$299 Monthly. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.
  3. Ruzuku: $79-140 Monthly. 14-day free trial.
  4. Clickfunnels: $97-297 Monthly – Special offer: Free Trial + 9 Funnels!
  5. Rainmaker: $125-145 Monthly – Special Offer for33% OFF!
  6. Kajabi:$129 Monthly

Feature Rich/Highly Customizable

These aren’t just Learning Management Systems (LMS). They are often all-in-one business solutions. They include email marketing, membership access, and lots of business automation tools. The advantage of these is that they are built for scale. If you’re looking to make six figures and above, it’s good to have a robust suite of tools at your disposal along with support teams you can contact most of the time.

I started with a more DIY approach and upgraded to Ontraport for my course launches because of the email marketing tools and great support I’ve received. Because of the huge amount of tools, these kinds of platforms are also often highly customizable.

The disadvantage is that they are high end. They often cost money upfront and are more expensive to maintain. They also might include a lot of tools that you don’t need if you’re just running a course.

These are for you if you see course creation as just one part of your overall internet marketing vision and you have the money to put upfront on your plan.

  1. Ontraport: $79-597 MonthlyOntraport isn’t actually an LMS, so you need the included PilotPress plugin to integrate it with Ontraport.
  2. Simplero: $100-400 Monthly.
  3. Infusionsoft: $199-599 Monthly + 697-1699 one time setup fee. Infusionsoft isn’t an LMS so you’ll need one of these additional software:
  4. Access Ally:  $79 Monthly  (Special offer: Get first month for $7)
  5. Memberium: $47-87 Monthly.
  6. Virtual Academy Builder: Totally customized platform to your exact business needs. SPECIAL OFFER: Virtual Profit Secrets training.
  7. ZippyCourses: $99 Monthly.

 

Quizzes Badges & Certifications

You want your students to retain the information they learn and finish their courses. One way to do that is with the liberal sprinkling of quizzes and the promise of online certifications. It’s good to know upfront if you plan this as part of your curriculum. Here are the eLearning tools that have quiz and certification capabilities.

WordPress plugins

  1. Learndash: $159-329 Annual  / renew for 50% of that price after first year.
  2. LifterLMS: $0-$99 Annual.
  3. WPCourseware: $99-175 Annual .

 

User Friendly Platforms

  1. Thinkific: $0-219 Monthly.SPECIAL OFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.
  2. Teachable: $0-$299 Monthly. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 1-month business plan free + goodies.
  3. Ruzuku: $79-140 Monthly. 14-day free trial.
  4. ZippyCourses: $99 Monthly.

 

All-In-One Business Platforms

  1. Ontraport: $79-597 MonthlyOntraport isn’t actually an LMS, so you need the included PilotPress plugin to integrate it with Ontraport.
  2. Infusionsoft with Progress Ally/Access Ally:  $79 Monthly. SPECIAL OFFER: Get first month for $7.

Your turn

Choosing the right course platform for you shouldn’t have to be a chore. Consider your needs, make an intelligent choice, and don’t be afraid to just jump in and try it. As you try out different platforms, you’ll find the right mix that works for you and your business.

And if you’re still on the fence, download the detailed Mega Course Platform Chart above to get to know the nitty gritty of each option you have.

 

DISCUSSION: What platforms are you liking most right now? What features do you need?

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