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5 Best Places to Sell Courses Online & Maximize Revenue

best platforms to sell courses

Last updated on 12 September 2022

By 2028, the Global EdTech market is expected to be worth $230 billion. So, if you have a skill that you want to teach other people, now is the best time to start selling courses and build a fortune. But wait, before you start, what is the best place to sell courses so that you can make the most money? 

The best places to sell courses online and maximize revenue are Shopify and WordPress. Here you can self-host a website and keep all of the profits from selling your courses. Teachable, Udemy, and Gumroad are notable options if you want something straightforward and don’t mind paying high commission fees. 

In this article, I’ve put together a comprehensive overview of multiple platforms for selling both video and written PDF courses. I’ve also prioritized the platforms that charge the least commissions so you can maximize your revenue.

1. Shopify (your own website)

Shopify is one of the most popular platforms for setting up an online storefront. It’s incredibly user-friendly and comes with all the necessary tools to help you build and host your eCommerce website, where you can sell almost any kind of product to anyone anywhere.

Pricing

The basic plan starts at $29/month. It should be more than enough for setting up your website to host your courses.

The platform doesn’t charge any commissions, and you’ll get to keep all the profits from selling your courses. But you will need to pay the payment gateway transaction fees as mentioned below. This applies to all transactions on the internet, every card company has a transaction fee.

Here are Shopify Payments fees:

SHOPIFY PAYMENTSBasic planShopify planAdvanced plan
Fraud analysisYesYesYes
Online credit card rates2.9% + 30¢ USD2.6% + 30¢ USD2.4% + 30¢ USD
Online International/Amex credit card rates3.9% + 30¢ USD3.6% + 30¢ USD3.4% + 30¢ USD
In-person credit/debit card rates2.7% + 0¢ USD2.5% + 0¢ USD2.4% + 0¢ USD
Third-party transaction fees if not using Shopify Payments2.0%1.0%0.5%
Source

Upgrading to higher-tier plans will decrease the overall transaction costs.

Important: These prices are for hosting a website. You’ll need to buy a domain name for your website as well. You can do this via your Shopify account.

Selling courses on Shopify

Shopify is geared towards selling physical and digital products, even courses.

Overall, Shopify offers an excellent platform for managing and selling your courses, giving you complete control and ownership over the storefront. Sure, you’ll have to invest $29/month to get started, but on the plus side, you don’t need to worry about paying high commissions and fees.

PDF courses

If you want to sell written courses in PDF format, you can try out the Downloadable Digital Assets (DDA) app. The free version lets you upload unlimited PDF courses as long as they are less than 2GB in size. You can upgrade the storage limit by hopping to one of the paid plans starting at $5/month.

Here’s a 3-minute YouTube guide on using DDA to sell PDFs and other digital downloads on your Shopify store:

Video courses

Alternatively, if you plan to sell video courses, I recommend using the Courses app. For free, you’ll get to upload up to 5 lessons, but with support for unlimited students. When you need to upload more courses, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans starting at $29.99/month.

Here’s a detailed 18-minute YouTube video from Dimitris Solutions showcasing the Courses app and how to use it to sell video courses on Shopify.

2. WordPress (your own website)

WordPress is currently the world’s most popular Content Management System, powering almost 36% of all websites on the world wide web and 42% of all CMS systems.

The main benefit of WordPress is the availability of thousands of plugins and themes, which gives you complete control over your website’s design and functionalities.

Furthermore, the core WordPress software is free to use. Make sure you are using WordPress.org (not .com). Read the “Domain name & hosting” section below, and I will explain how to use WordPress.org.

Domain name & hosting

That said, you’ll still need a domain name and a hosting provider to go online with your website.

To host your WordPress website, I would highly recommend WPX.net. They have instant support chat, so if you ever get stuck, they will always be there to help you. WPX also feature some of the fastest WordPress hosting available.

You can buy your domain with WPX.net too.

Setting up

It’s super easy once you know.

  1. Sign up for WPX.net hosting
  2. Buy your domain name
  3. Create your website using that domain name. There is an option when setting up to install WordPress automatically. Enable this, and WPX will do it for you
  4. Log into your site using https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin

Setting up the Learning Management System

Now, WordPress alone isn’t enough to build your courses website. For that, you’ll need an LMS (Learning Management System) plugin. I’d recommend starting with the LearnPress plugin for beginners, as it has a free tier with basic features. As you grow your e-courses storefront, you can upgrade to a paid tier to access necessary advanced functionalities.

For your reference, here’s a 1-hour YouTube video from IdeaSpot showcasing how to build a courses website with WordPress, Elementor page builder, and LearnPress:

WordPress is an excellent option compared to Shopify and will cost a bit less to operate. However, Shopify is much more beginner-friendly and the better choice if you don’t want to bother with the backend technicalities of running a website, such as hosting, content delivery networks, security and more.

Shopify is an all-in-one package which is more secure, faster, easier and all-around best solution. Learn more about Shopify vs. WordPress.

3. Teachable

Teachable, much like Shopify, allows you to build, host, and operate a dedicated website for selling your e-courses. However, Teachable is fully dedicated to creating and selling courses.

For free, Teachable lets you build your website using the Teachable subdomain, but you’re limited to uploading just one course. Also, each course you sell will cost you $1+10% in transaction fees and commissions.

Pricing

Upgrading to the Basic plan at $29/month will allow you to upload unlimited courses, and the transaction fees will reduce to 5%. If you want to pay 0% transaction fees, you can go for the Pro plan at $99.

Overall, Teachable gives you an optimized platform ready to use for selling e-courses. However, it’s also costlier than Shopify, especially if you’re on low-tier plans that ask for high commissions.

4. Udemy (marketplace)

Udemy is one of the largest e-courses platforms that function as a marketplace similar to Amazon. You, as well as other course creators, can upload content on the platform for students to browse and make a purchase.

The main advantage of using Udemy is that you don’t have to pay any up-front fees to get started. Furthermore, you can make your courses available to the 54+ million students on the platform.

Commissions

But in return, Udemy charges very high commissions.

If a student purchases one of your courses via Udemy advertisements or browsing the marketplace, the platform will charge a 63% commission. Whereas, if a student purchases your course via your referral link or an instructor coupon, it will charge a 3% commission.

Moreover, since Udemy is a marketplace, you don’t have much control over the platform, such as how your courses are displayed/structured, how you communicate with your students, etc.

5. Gumroad (marketplace)

Gumroad is another course marketplace that you can look into to maximize your revenue. The commissions aren’t as high as Udemy, but it has a sufficiently large userbase and receives a decent amount of monthly traffic.

It’s free to upload and start selling courses on Gumroad. You can sell anything from video courses to PDFs, PPTs, excel sheets, etc.

Commissions

The commissions for each successful transaction vary based on your lifetime earnings, where more sales equal lower commission rates.

At the maximum, you’ll need to pay $0.30 + 9% on transactions if your lifetime revenue is between $0–1000. You can also pay 10% extra commissions and hop onto the Gumroad Discover program, which exposes your courses to more learners.

If you’re interested, you can learn how to create a marketplace on Shopify here.