Esther Marie Creative / How to Create Your First eCourse  / Course Creation Tools  / eCourse Step 4: Course hosting platforms + options
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eCourse Step 4: Course hosting platforms + options

Selecting Which Online Course Hosting is Best For You

As if creating an eCourse isn’t overwhelming enough, to begin with, once all of your content is finished you then have to sort out how you are going to host that bad boy. Hosting an online course doesn’t have to be complicated. I am going to break down the 3 options and at the bottom recommend EXACTLY which one I would choose.
It seems like there are countless options for online course hosting, but in reality, they can be bucketed into just one of 3 types.

1. Another Company Hosts Your Course For You

Examples: Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare, New Kajabi
Pros: Low cost of entry, anyone can create a course and get it up here without having to do a bunch of coding or technical setup. They do some advertising on your behalf too.
Cons: Do you want to pay every month for a course that’s not selling? Do you want to take a cut into your profits EVERY month and EVERY year? Do you want a 3rd party to be able to put your course on sale and lose your profits without your permission or knowledge? Do you want to be slapped together amongst a bunch of other not so great Course hosts?
Most importantly, do you want your precious content held on some other company’s servers and platform? Enjoy sitting on hold with customer service every time there is an issue. I promise it won’t seem so easy then.

2. You Buy a Learning Management System

Examples: eSSential LMS, Canvas LMS, Docebo
Pros: SUPER professional and very powerful. Great for corporate training or LARGE audiences.
Cons: Most LMS systems are out of date and with clunky software. They visually look like crap despite the high price tag. Have you ever had to take an online course at a company? It was awful, wasn’t it? Yeah…that’s this. Plus they are really limited in how you can edit the look and feel so they don’t really feel on the brand. For example, a corporate-looking online course doesn’t work for most programs in the private sector. It certainly would look weird for my virtual assistant training courses that target moms and military wives. It would be so weird to them. It would feel out of place and lead to less and leads and interest. Visually appealing things are more likely to do better.

3. You Custom Code (with plugin help!)

Examples: Virtual Assistant Internship, Female Entrepreneur Association, Expert Catapult
Pros: Easy to setup the plugin on your current WordPress site and domain. Can DIY or hire a developer to install and setup for you for a couple hundred bucks.
It’s YOURS. It’s YOUR platform. You can customize any single thing you want about it. Even if it’s beyond the plugin or WordPress themes abilities, a developer can custom code anything you want. Often the plugins come with several options too and a yearly subscription is no more than $100. Rather than paying monthly and taking a cut in profits from course hosted sites, this is all yours.
You could also hire a developer to create a custom site for you from scratch using a simple code language like Jekyll. This option would cost a couple thousand BUT again, it’s pay once. Then just profit forever after that and it’s forever yours. This nice thing about working with custom coded sites like WordPress or Jekyll is that nothing is out of reach. There are tech wizards out there that speak languages you would never understand, and with that, they create the internet.
Any tech issues that come up, you can just fix directly yourself or have your developer help ASAP vs waiting on a platforms customer service team or limited by the courseware capabilities. When it’s your code, anything is possible.
Cons: There aren’t many cons here. Seriously, go add the plugin and go through the steps to set it up right now and voila! Done! The only con is you feel intimidated by it, maybe aren’t tech savvy, or don’t have time.
Otherwise, if you just want to create a couple classes and earn an extra few bucks a month without an established audience and without a marketing plan. Then something like Udemy or Skillshare work fine for that.
Ok so if it wasn’t obvious, I recommend option #3. Hosting your online course needs to be hosted on YOUR platform. For a couple hundred bucks it’s done and done properly. Often I hear “well I’ll just start with Udemy and then move over…” WHY?!

DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

Now you’ve just lost money AND did double the work!

Here are the exact WordPress plugins we recommend and use with our clients:

Memberpress

This is what I use for my online courses and we’ve used with a few clients so I am very familiar with it.
Here’s why I love it, you can do multiple kinds of memberships. Have multiple courses with levels of membership. You create the membership types and you assign which content each type has access to. Right down to the pages!
It also connects directly with your Stripe and Paypal as well as your email service provider making it so easy to use!
The nice thing about Memberpress is that it is just ‘plug and play’. It is easy to use and so easy to learn. Troubleshooting is simple because of the way payments and courses are loaded. I honestly don’t know why anyone chooses something like Teachable over Memberpress, I assume it’s because you didn’t know so I hope this is helpful!!

CoursePress

We used CoursePress for one of our clients’ LARGE courses, Expert Catapult. While MemberPress works for online courses, it packs a punch for membership programs specifically (i.e. Reoccurring payments).
CoursePress is fab because it’s more specific for courses. Content is broken into units, modules, lessons, etc. so you just add in your content and it’s already organized. We also love the circles used to show progress for each person and how you can see users responses to questions. You can create mandatory questions before they can move on.
Remember, anything you don’t like is fairly easy to fix. You just have to give a developer access to the code to make adjustments for you until it’s exactly the way you want your course to look and work.
I would LOVE to hear which option and why you are going to choose in the comments below.
And if you are struggling with how to get your course started or are just stuck at this hosting stage, grab a complimentary consultation HERE so we can make a plan for you!
Not ready to make the leap for your eCourse? You can pin this post for later so you can always come back to it easily!
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