There are many different options out there to host your online course. In fact, you could do it completely on your own by installing a membership plugin on your WordPress site and having people log in.
To share my embarrassing history of what I used to do before I knew anything about online courses; when I developed my first online course, yes, the one you read about that only had two students to begin with, I put it on a password protected page on Vimeo. It looked completely unprofessional, although it did work and the students accessed the information and created what they needed to from it.
That being said, since then I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different online course platforms and have identified my two favorite ones. Now, this is not to say these are the only two things you should consider. I do encourage you to go out there and figure out which of these programs might be most appropriate for you.
However, don’t wait too long to make a decision because indecision can keep you paralyzed from taking action and may leave you weeks or months behind your schedule. So, today I am going to talk about just my two favorite online course platforms and they are very different. Although it can be beneficial for people to use both, there are also situations where you need to consider putting a course on one versus the other.
How to Choose Between Udemy and Teachable When Hosting an Online Course
In my opinion, the easier but more expensive that involves set up and getting your own account is Teachable. So, teachable is a platform that allows your course to look extremely professional from the student perspective. You probably need to pay for a membership to Teachable. There are several different tiers. I believe there is a free one, where you can make a free course on Teachable, so you could test it out.
There is also a $39 level and there is a more expensive monthly level as well. So, take a look into their options. Figure out which one is more appropriate for you. Teachable is right for you, if you want to own all of your content recorded in the way that you want and have as long videos as you want. You do not have to go through any additional kind of like rigmarole.
You could even put PDFs up on a Teachable page. You could take your videos that you recorded in your home office today with a non-professional microphone and put it up on Teachable. While I don’t recommend doing that, it’s something you can certainly pursue. Teachable allows you to have a school where you can host all of your courses together. So, you can see an example of mine at laurateachesyou.com. You could see all of the courses that I currently have available where enrolment is open for those people.
Because Teachable is more expensive, the tradeoff is that you can get your materials up more quickly. Teachable is right for you if you already have an audience of people interested in buying your course. If you have been a blogger for years and if you have developed an email list of thousands of people who use Teachable because you don’t need the promotional power of Udemy.
Why Consider Teachable for Online Courses
Teachable allows you to have a professional looking page with courses where students can see how far they are through the course-they can sign up for multiple courses. Once they are in your school or in my Teachable, it’s very easy to manage. It is more expensive and depending on the level that you select, you could have to pay certain portions of your revenue directly to Teachable.
Now one other aspect of Teachable that I’d encourage you to be aware of before you get started is the management of affiliates. If you are on the cheaper program, they will pay your affiliates, if you are not using third party integrations like striper PayPal. So, for that reason they actually hold your payments for up to 45 days. However, it makes it much easier on your affiliates because of this.
So, I switched to this delayed 45-day payment because it was that much easier to payout my affiliates. They do it directly, I don’t have to worry about it. If you try to use the third-party integrations and say you sell a course for $200, but you owe an affiliate 50% of that, when you get the money after the Teachable fees or any other fees that may apply, then you are going to have to pay that 50% out the affiliate.
That could create a lot of difficult issues with regard to keeping track of it. Particularly, if you are getting course sales all the time because you will be getting paid very frequently. Just to recap, Teachable is appropriate for:
- Those who want to upload their course quickly.
- Those who already have course materials and don’t want to have to go through redoing it in case it doesn’t meet Udemy quality standards.
- Those who have an audience of individuals already willing to buy.
Reasons to Consider Using Udemy for Online Courses
Udemy is a massive online open course marketplace, where thousands of people post their courses every single year. This is most appropriate for you if you have no audience. I uploaded a course on Udemy a couple of years ago, just to see what would happen with it and one of the things that I liked the most about it is that I don’t have to do a ton of work to get a couple of sales every single week. So, they do all of the marketing for you because they have a big email list, they are targeting your course sometimes on Facebook, if it’s gotten great reviews, they’ll put an ad up on Facebook.
They’ll promote it in their coupons and newsletter that they send out and they also do huge sales – they do huge sales all year long, but they do really big sales twice per year for Black Friday and then again in January. So, you can make a significant amount of money with doing very little marketing work on your end. One of the downsides of Udemy is that it’s not really appropriate or going to work well, if you have high dollar courses. So, if you have courses that cost more than $200, to get the most out of Udemy you are going to need to opt into their promotions program which discounts your course up to 75% or as low as $20, depending on the individual price of your course.
So, you would keep more of the money for sure if you post it on Teachable, but if you have no audience, then no one is signing up to begin with. The difference with Udemy is that they have a massive audience and they are doing a lot of the promotion for you. So, I think it’s more appropriate for courses where you don’t mind getting paid $5 or $10 per course sale. These might be your shorter courses etc.
I also strongly recommend having a free course on Udemy first so people can get to know your style and the type of material you’d cover and then may be consider opting into your other one. You do not own the students and Udemy, so when you send emails, it is under Udemy’s guidelines.
There are certain things you cannot do like direct people to your personal website to buy something else etc. That’s well worth keeping in mind; you can email people using their promotional and educational announcements, but they are very strict about what you can say in those messages.
Also, one big hassle for me at the outset was getting my video approved and my audio quality approved. They are very strict about audio quality so if you have a bad microphone or no microphone, do not record your course first and then try to upload it to Udemy because you can spend five hours recording a course and then have them say that it doesn’t meet their quality guidelines and you are going to have to go back and do it again anyways.
Thankfully, they have a review process where you can upload a short video and they will give you feedback about whether or not your screen is blurry, whether the audio is high quality and some things you can do.
I had a lot of problems with echoes and developing my little at-home recording studio. It actually took me and my fiancé three weeks to get it to a place where Udemy would accept it and only recently have I been able to do what is known as talking head videos where it’s anything but Power Point screen or sharing my screen and it’s actually me talking on video. So, set aside some time for that.
They will give you feedback. It will take some time to tweak it. However, the biggest benefit for me of Udemy is, like already mentioned, I like to spend my time directly promoting my high dollar courses to my email list, my YouTube channel and my podcast listeners directly.
For the other courses that I have developed, that are approximately an hour in length that I don’t mind making less money for, I put them up on Udemy because there is more of an audience there and Udemy is going to do all of the promotional work for me.
So, I am recording that course once, I may update it once or twice a year, I’ll log in every so often to answer student questions and that’s it.
And there are very rarely student questions if you structure you course the right way; you should not have a lot of questions where you have to jump in every single day unless you are getting tons and tons of students. So, I love that it’s very low touch for me to put a course up there. I have a free course and then I have a number of paid courses and I make money from that every single month without really having to think about it or work too hard at it. If you are thinking about setting up a Udemy course, I recommend checking out instructors who teach courses about making money on Udemy.
Some of my favorites are Dave Espino and Phil Ebiner; they have great courses about developing materials for Udemy and how they’ve leveraged it into really successful six-figure businesses. So, learn from someone who has done it already. Do not reinvent the wheel and follow Udemy’s guidelines. Udemy may be better for you, if:
- You have shorter courses that you don’t mind putting at a lower price point.
- You don’t have an audience at all and want to test the market to see if there is interest for your idea.
- You want to gain reviews and feedback to develop this into a more comprehensive course that you can later charge more for.