How to choose the best platform for your Online Course

Did you know that the most important thing when choosing the best platform for an Online Course is not the price?

It was so important that it led me to ditch my original platform for a new host one year in, 7 courses, and hundreds of students.

Not fun. At all.

But before telling you what it is, let me explain what I look for when making such a big decision.

What exactly do you need to know for choosing the right platform for your online course

The first time I had to choose an online platform for my courses, I was more confused than a kindergarten kid in a Space X ship.

There were so many options available! And it seems that a new one appears every month.

Pricing, integrations, design, versatility, billing process, notifications, just how hard it was to upload a course and make it easy to use for my students, loading time, growth opportunities, affiliates, unicorns, and other impossible -but apparently important- things.

It was overwhelming. I wanted to cry.

And sell courses, obviously, which meant that I HAD to choose something to host them anyway.

It wasn’t until a good friend of mine, who had been selling online formations for years, told me the key to choose the right platform for my particular case:

“Think about the future.”

And proceed to take out a crystal ball.

Nah, kidding. What he really meant was to think about my business plan and my future goals. What was important for my business. And choose accordingly.

So I made a list. Did I tell you I love making lists?

This one was about all the things I wanted for my course, and how important they were in the grand scheme of things.

It looked something like this: 

(add hand-written list image)

If you are asking yourself what platform to commit yourself to, these are the items to look out for:


When it comes to hosting your online course, you can have something 100% customized or use a canned option with few -or none- options to choose from, and everything in between

I’m talking about design, what your customers are going to see, how each module is going to look, etc.

In other words, how much control do you want to have when it comes to how your platform will look and feel.

If you value having full creative control, make changes whenever you want, and have an unique course platform, then you need to develop it from scratch.

The results can be mind blowing, but doing this is fairly expensive. The benefits are obvious if you have thousands of students and controlling all the variables is key to get more customers.

On the other hand, you have canned options such as Teachable, Thinkific, Hotmart, and similar.

These platforms, while not highly customizable, give you a tried-and-true design, an effective user experience, and allow integrations with other necessary tools such as email, landing pages, video integration, and more.

If you want more versatility but don’t have the money to develop something on your own, then WordPress might be your cup of tea.

WordPress on its own is not a course platform. You need to use specific plugins to turn it into an LMS, and probably the help of a WordPress designer who knows what he or she is doing.


There is no free platform. You are going to pay for it one way or another.

The important question here is how much are you willing to pay for, and if it is really worth it.

You have platforms where, for a monthly fee, you have access to certain characteristics and functionalities.

Others where you don’t pay per month, but instead they charge a fee for each new purchase.

WordPress’ plugins are bought on a yearly basis.

When it comes to price, I like to think of it in terms of safety.

As in: how many courses do I need to sell for this platform to be a safe option?

You might think that paying a couple of hundred dollars for a yearly plugin is cheap, but if you don’t sell enough courses to cover the price (and any other business expense you have) then it becomes very expensive very fast.

But if you know how much money you bring each month with your online business, then you will have more flexibility to choose between different platforms.

If you are starting, my advice is to choose a fee-per-purchase platform. They tend to be more expensive when you have a lot of students, but it’s the safest option at the beginning.

You will never run the risk of losing money because each student pays for it.


No platform is a 100% self-contained solution.

You will need other tools that will help you to get things going the way they should, such as an email marketing tool, video hosting, online calls, you name it.

These tools will change depending on your business structure, and chances are that will add more in time.

That’s why choosing a compatible platform is so important. I find that most people ignore this, choose a platform, and then realize that their emails marketing tool is not compatible.

Zapier is not magic, people.

User experience

This goes both ways: how easy is to use the platform as a creator, and how comfortable your students will be when taking your course.

Most platforms follow a similar design from the student perspective. You have the course divided in modules. As soon as an students finishes a module, they can mark it as completed, and go to the next one.

Is it the best it could be? I have my doubts. As a student, sometimes I feel that the system could be improved.

But as a creator… oh, boy, things can get wild behind doors!

From having to click a thousand times before loading a text paragraph, to know how to imbed a video in html, and formatting things to make them at least legible, you will spend a lot of time fighting using the backend.

How can you evaluate this? Sadly, the easiest way to test it is by signing up and trying it yourself.

I find that video explainers are not always the best representation when it comes to actual usage.

The good thing is that most platforms have free trials. Use them!

Billing process

This might not seem all that important unless you sell to an international crowd.

You might be thinking of different ways to charge your clients: monthly memberships, instalments, coupons, discounts, free trials, etc.

But not every platform offers every option.

Pay special attention to each one of them and see if they align with your business plan.

You don’t want to spend hours uploading your membership course to find out that your chosen platform doesn’t support monthly payments.

What is the most important thing when choosing the right platform?

As a designer, my main concern was design (duh!) and versatility when it came to choosing a platform.

I wanted full control on how things were going to look, and make the user experience a priority.

The billing process came in close second because my audience is from all Latinamerica.

Just so you know: there is not one payment gateway that works with every country, and takes into account conversion fees.

So I needed something that allowed me to integrate different gateways without costing and arm and a leg.

It’s easier to learn how to build a car than learning how to code for me, so WordPress seemed the best option.

And let me tell you… I was wrong.

Wordrpess did deliver all I was looking for. It really is a versatile platform. But I spent so much time troubleshooting incompatible plugins, tweaking the design so it would look like I wanted to (perfectionism much?), and adding more stuff (plugins can be addictive) that I spent more time working on my website than working on my business.

My sales went down, my costs went up, and I just couldn’t find the time to do everything.

When I realized that having time to create more courses and working on my brand was more important than having versatility, a changed WordPress for a canned option.

I realized that my peace of mind was essential to grow my business.

I just didn’t have time to do everything on my own, and the ROI was a no brainer when it came to selling more instead of choosing a color for my checkout page.

It might be that you have a team or someone to help you with maintenance, and having a flexible platform is ideal for your business.

Or maybe you want to do everything as a solopreneur, and have to sacrifice certain features to make your life easier.

At the end of the day, the best platform is the one that caters to your most important needs.

Of course, your hosting platform is just one tool you need to sell online courses. If you are curious about what else you need to do, let’s talk.

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