I’ve been looking into a lot of the options for online course hosting, and there seems to be a new one popping up every week! It’s getting to be like e-mail marketing platforms, where there are literally hundreds to choose from.

The good thing is that, if you are looking for basic functionality, a crowded marketplace means that prices are dropping and features are becoming more standardized. The competition forces each platform to look around and try to match the other offers out there.

When it comes to online course software, there is a lot to sift through. But there are three basic categories that you’ll need to understand before you decide how to build, host and deliver your online program.

Full Suite

The first category includes platforms that offer you the ability to build online courses as well as run other parts of your business and marketing efforts. It is extremely nice to have your list-building, e-mail newsletters and communications, funnels, landing pages, online sales, course hosting and delivery all under one umbrella.

Having a full suite solution allows you to adjust your communications based on the activity of your prospects and customers. It keeps everything in one place, with a single login, access to all of your data, and just one payment.

Unfortunately, the price tag for some of the full suite platforms can be a little steep for small and solo businesses. However, there are a few that are marketing to small businesses at reasonable prices. I have a client who is using Kajabi, and I use Simplero for several clients and for my own business.

If possible, I recommend investing in a full suite platform for your own business, and Simplero is my favorite option for small and solo businesses in this category.

I’ve included a chart of some of the top platforms here. Each platform offers packages at several levels, so I tried to compare the ones that had the closest features. Note that prices and packages change ALL THE TIME, so be sure to double check.

Online Course Platform Comparison Chart

Integration Approach

The next category of online course hosting platforms are those that are focused solely on allowing you to create and deliver an online program, and nothing else. They will allow you to e-mail and communicate with people in your course(s), but your marketing e-mails and list-building must be elsewhere.

Some of them offer a few features to help you market your course. But their primary functionality is courses, which is supported by a slew of different integrations.

Need e-mail marketing? We integrate with MailChimp!

Want to take online payments? We integrate with PayPal!

These platforms are more affordable with baseline prices between $39-$99 per month. Depending on the other platforms you have to have, the total price tag can add up and you can end up in online software overload! But for those who are the boot-strapping types with basic needs, you can put together a nice course and start selling it affordably.

This is an area that seems to be exploding. Some examples of platforms in this category are Thinkific, JigsawBox, Zippy Courses, Teachable, Ruzuku, Course Craft, and Learnworlds.

Outside Platform

The third option are platforms designed to market and sell courses to the world. In this case, the course is presented and delivered by the platform (not your business or brand). As an instructor on such a platform, you can certainly help market your courses and you receive a cut of the sales.

The benefit is that it is completely free to create and post your course, and it will be listed on a platform that reaches many millions of people. Individuals can leverage these platforms to reach a broader audience without the headaches of hosting your own.

However, for most businesses and entrepreneurs, this isn’t the solution you are looking for. You lose the ability to brand your programs, they take a significant chunk of your revenue, and even the ownership of your course content. Some people have used these platforms creatively as a way to build visibility or generate some revenue on the side. But be aware of the pros and cons before you decide to go this route.

Two such platforms are Udemy and Skillshare, with a combined reach well over 20 million people all over the world.

If you sell your knowledge and expertise to your clients, then building a course should be on your To Do list. Don’t let the platform question hold you back! Yes, there are many options, but I hope this has helped break it down for you.

If you could use some additional help in planning, creating, and building your online course, check out my group program to “Build Your Online Course In 90 Days.” I will walk you through the entire process from idea to implementation (including the platform choice!). Find out more here – we’re starting in September!

BTW – I am an affiliate for Simplero, so it’s possible, if you click on some of the links in this article and decide you like Simplero as much as I do, that I may receive something for the referral. I never recommend things that I haven’t personally used and believe in. Just thought you should know!