The 6 Essential Tools For Every Online Course Creator
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When you’re just starting to build a course, or deciding whether you want to offer a program, it can be overwhelming to go down the rabbit hole of all the technology options available to you.
So today I’m going to talk about the course tech you need plus the tools I use for the courses I offer in my own business.
But before you start worrying about platform names and types, or wonder why some people prefer one over the other, the key thing you need to think about is the functionality of the tech you choose. Try not to stress too much about the rest. They all basically do the same thing, and when you’re starting out you don’t need to worry about all the bells and whistles.
“The best tech is the tech that you feel comfortable using, especially when you’re just getting started…”
If you’re just starting out, here are the bare-bones essentials that you need to bring your course to life.
The 6 Core Tech Pieces You Need
(and the functionality you need out of each piece)
#1 – Sales Page
Core Functionality: to talk through the features of your offer and supply information.
A sales page can be hosted on your website, or if you don’t yet have a website you can host your sales page on most course platforms.
For example, I use Thrivecart* Learn+ as my course platform, which will host your sales pages for you. But because I already have a website, and I want a longer form sales page, I do my sales pages through my website.
Here’s an example of my sales page for my group coaching program, the Incubator.
#2 – Checkout/ Cart Software
Core Functionality: How people purchase your course.
The checkout or cart software gathers your client’s information to enroll them into your course and sends their information to the payment processor.
#3 – Payment Processor
Core Functionality: Processes your clients’ payments.
Payment processors integrate with your checkout or cart software to finalize payment transactions and deposit your payments.
I use Stripe, but many people also use Paypal.
#4 – Course Platform
Core Functionality: Where and how your students access your course materials
Your course platform is the meat of your tech stack, where your course lives, and where your clients engage with all the materials. Your course platform plays a huge role in the overall experience of your program, including how it’s visually designed, the user experience, how your learners track their progress, and more.
I’ve mentioned above that I use Thrivecart* Learn+ as my course platform so that I have a robust platform that is ready to grow with me as my business needs grow. I’ve personally tried two other course platforms (Thinkific and self-hosted on WordPress using Learndash- more on why I switched coming soon!) and I have seen behind the scenes of pretty much every major course platform there is.
Your course platform is a super personal preference, what works for me might not work for you. I personally love and recommend Thrivecart Learn+ but when you’re trying to decide, I suggest you sign up for a few free trials to test out which one you love the most.
#5 – Video & Material Hosting
Core Functionality: Platform to host your video and other course materials.
Depending on your course platform, you may need a separate video hosting platform and/or storage for your materials.
I use Vimeo to host videos for my course materials. For other course materials, such as pdfs, workbooks, etc., I use Google Drive and then link to them within Thrivecart Learn+.
Platforms such as Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific, Podia, etc host your videos and materials for you.
#6 – Mailing List Software
Core Functionality: How you are getting in touch with people.
From building an email list to promoting your offer, mailing list software is the platform that organizes your email list and helps you market your course.
Convertkit is the mailing list software I use which is really intuitive and user-friendly and is able to grow with me as my email list and business needs grow. I also love that Thrivecart Learn+ integrates directly with Convertkit so they play really nicely together.
Pay attention to the software you’re currently using and how things integrate. For instance, you can use the built-in cart that comes with Teachable or Kajabi or you can integrate it with your own cart software. The same applies to your mailing list software, make sure it can be integrated with your other platforms or that it can be connected through other apps like Zapier.
One Final Thing…
I know there are a lot of options in the tech marketplace to choose from, and maybe you’re wondering about what your needs will be as you grow out your course and business. But what I can’t stress enough is that you don’t need to worry about getting it ‘right’ the first time. I’ve switched between 3 platforms throughout the course of my business. And as your course and business grow, your needs will change and grow with them.
Just starting out?
I created a free video series just for you! Check out Begin – to help you start your course creation journey!