Do you have awesome ideas for an online course but don’t know how to create and manage a website for it? As instructors, wouldn’t it be great to just do what we do best and teach the best content we can possibly teach instead of worrying about all that technical stuff? Well, that’s what an online course website builder is for! But which one is the best one out there and how do you go about setting everything up? In this post, we’re going to break it down for you in easy, actionable steps so that you can go in and start building an online course website from scratch quickly and easily. We’ll aim to help you get up and running in the shortest time and the lowest cost possible!
Affiliate disclosure: Just to be transparent, some of the links on this website are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we will earn a commission but there will be no additional cost to you whatsoever. This is how we manage to keep creating free content. We never recommend any affiliate link that will not benefit our readers.
There’s never been a better time to teach online than NOW!
Thankfully, you’re in a great industry. There has never been a better time, probably in our modern history, to be an online teacher. A few years ago, Forbes claimed that e-Learning would grow to $325 billion by 2025. Then once the pandemic hit, we saw an unprecedented acceleration for the need for online teachers. In fact, Forbes had just confirmed this recently.
Why? With all the lockdowns happening all over the world and schools being forced to close, this has forced many teachers and students to start adopting the internet as their new classroom. It’s not just schools. It’s universities, colleges, coaching and business training. Even if this wretched pandemic goes away, we can still expect this upward trend for many years to come as more people start to become acclimatized to online learning. In fact, now would be an awesome time to start an online course business! That way, you can ride the wave of growth that we are now currently experiencing.
As more instructors go online, they’re having to fill in a number of shoes; a teacher, website builder and digital marketer among others. In fact, setting up your own website to host and sell your online courses can be such a huge pain. You’ll have to setup a domain, hosting, video player, Cloud storage, integrate an email lead capture page with auto-responder, setup membership access to the site, payment gateways and the list just keeps going on. If you did this all on your own, you’d need to really put in a significant amount of hours just to get it all set up. Once it’s all setup, managing the site is migraine-inducing on it’s own. Your task can be greatly simplified if you have your own online course website builder.
What Is An Online Course Website Builder?
Put simply, an online course website builder is software that allows you to construct your own online course platform without worrying about code or any of the technicalities involved with building such websites. It’s basically one big template and you just modify the elements of the template to make it your own. These “elements” could be the title of the site and individual courses, the videos, the look and feel of the landing pages and so on.
If you’re familiar with normal website builders like Wix and Weebly, then you’ll find working with online course builders relatively easy. Generally, you’ll have the same kind of drag-and-drop kind of functionality to build out your sites, and then modifying properties to suit. The reason why Wix or Weebly wouldn’t make a great online course website builder, is due to the fact that they do not handle video hosting, student enrolments, and all the other components that you would find in an online course platform.
The Best Online Course Website Builder Right Now!
So what is the best online course website builder right now? There are so many in the market that it can all get a little overwhelming.
The best one I found (and that I personally use) is Podia.
It has everything you need to create online courses.
What you need to do
Prior to going in and start teaching, there is a bit of setup needed. You will need a domain, hosting and an online course website builder.
Doing it the free wayOf course, you can set up a site on wordpress.com and add a membership type of plugin and somehow hack your way to some semblance of a course website but that will give more headaches. A paid option would be more easier and also positions you as an authority as not a lot of people do this.
To get started right off the ground:
- Get a domain. I’d recommend SiteGround purely for it’s speed and great customer service. A domain is the name you’ll give your website. Make sure it’s a memorable and easy to remember name, as you’ll want people coming back to your website regularly.
- Get a course website builder. I’d recommend Podia if you’re starting out, or Kartra if you’re really serious about building an online course business.
- Get traffic to your website. If you’re starting out, I recommend to not go the paid ads route and instead of focus on building more organic traffic. We’ll look at ways to do this a little later.
Should you use Podia for your online courses?
Podia is perhaps the best online course website builder if you’re starting out. It’s really affordable and has a lot of features to take the stress out of managing your website.
Here are some of the amazing features of Podia:
- An intuitive course website builder to help you easily build a beautiful looking website.
- Your courses can have video, audio, text and quizzes.
- You can drip your courses. In other words, your course content will gradually become available over time depending on how much your student’s have progressed through the course.
- The ability to sell digital downloads or provide it for free in exchange for an email address (aka lead magnets).
- Email marketing automation built right in. You can do some advanced stuff like trigger an email to go out as soon as someone downloads a lead magnet. Then you can auto schedule another email to go out a few days later to present your offer to the online course. You only set it up once and it works for you forever on autopilot.
- The ability to create a simple membership website, so that you can earn recurring money each month from your students and not stress about traffic all the time. You can spend more time focusing on doing what you do best; teaching!
There are some downsides to Podia though:
- There are limited customizations to the look and feel of your Podia website. It’s hard to make it look unique.
- There is support to add a blog to your website, but it doesn’t look great. It’s not really even built to help you with SEO.
I’ve covered Podia in depth in this article: https://turbostackers.com/podia-best-platform-for-online-course-review/
Feel free to check it out if you’re interested.
Should you use Kartra for your online courses?
You should consider using Kartra if you plan to take your business seriously or if you already have an existing student base. Kartra is perfect if you run a coaching type of business.
Here are some of the great features of Kartra:
- You can make your website look amazing and unique. There’s just so many different customizations available. You can even purchase templates from other Kartra users (or sell templates you create to other Kartra users) to make your website look amazing.
- It has pretty much all the features for online courses as Podia.
- It also has an advanced email marketing automation software built in so that you can automate your marketing and focus more on your courses. The deliverability rate of Kartra is amongst the highest in the world, boasting 98% deliverability (meaning your emails will be seen and won’t end up in spam).
- Kartra also functions as a funnel builder and is considered to be one of the best funnel builders in the world (even better than ClickFunnels!).
- Kartra allows you to create and manage a membership site and there are advanced customizations you can do with it (like membership tiers).
Overall, it’s an all-in-one website builder, funnel builder, online course builder, marketing automation software.
Now, here are some of the downsides to Kartra:
- It is a little more expensive, with the cheapest plans starting from $99/month. As a beginner, you’d probably be better off with something like Podia or Teachable.
- There is an initial learning curve. Since the tool is so advanced with so many features, you could be a little overwhelmed at first. You’ll need to spend a bit of time going through the training courses that they have available in order to get comfortable with it.
You can check out a more in-depth review of Kartra here: https://turbostackers.com/how-to-build-an-amazing-membership-website-easily/
Getting traffic to your course website
Setting up your course website is just one piece to the puzzle. The remaining piece is to get traffic, or better yet, targeted traffic to your courses. If you don’t have traffic, then you’re not going to be making any money at all!
There are a few ways you can do this. Let’s look at some free ways and some paid ways.
Free methods for traffic
Free methods of traffic would be great if you’re just starting out with your online course business.
Here are some free traffic methods you can try out:
- Write blog articles about your topic. The key here is to share information related to your course and put in a call to action to check out your course or offere a lead magnet and later setup an automated email sequence to promote your online course.
- Build up your social media presence. You need to go hang out where your ideal target audience hangs out. If you audience hangs out on Twitter, there’s no point building up your audience on Facebook. If you’re starting out from zero, the best way to build up your social media presence is to join groups and communities (e.g for Facebook, you can join Facebook Groups) related to your course topic. Be active and help out others first. To get traffic to your course, it’s generally frowned upon to share direct links to your course. Almost always, you’ll get zero traffic to your online course and it’s not sustainable. A better way would be to write helpful articles on your blog that provides value and let the call to action send traffic to your course. If you write enough articles that point traffic to your course, your traffic will start to organically increase over time and will be super targeted too.
- Answer questions on Quora related to your course topic. Write detailed answers in order to get attention and drop a link to (yet again) helpful blog articles.
- Re-purpose or copy your blog articles to sites like Medium.com for added exposure.
- Post your course on places like Reddit if you need that immediate surge of instant traffic, but be wary of their rules related to self-promotion. If you do too much self-promotion, you could get your account shut down.
Paid methods to getting traffic to your course
This is a quicker way to get targeted traffic to your course but it can be expensive. Here are some paid methods you can try out:
- Google – The best way to get targeted traffic to your offer. You can put your course in front of people who are ready to buy just by picking the keywords that have buyer intent.
- YouTube – Similar to Google, you can place your ads on top of videos that are similar to your online course topic. Another great way to get targeted traffic. You will need to create videos or hire someone to create videos for you.
- Facebook – You can target people based on demographics and interest but they may not be in the mindset to checkout your online course as they are not in that buyer’s mindset. They are just looking to wind down after a long day’s work and watch funny memes and photos of friends and family. I’ve personally found Facebook ads a little difficult to work with online courses, but there have been other online course creators who have had great success. Facebook ads are cheaper compared to Google though and you can pick up leads relatively cheaply.
- Pinterest ads – Similar to Google, you can target based on keywords and topics, but requires you to create attractive images.
You could use free traffic methods and paid traffic methods in conjunction. For instance, you could do free traffic methods to build up hype to your online course if it isn’t hasn’t been launched yet. Then, once it’s launched (or close to being launched), you can run paid ads to pick up as many students in a short amount of time.
I’ll be discussing these tactics in a later post so stay tuned!