Which Platform Should I Host a Course or Membership On?

When you’re creating a course or digital subscription, one of the tougher choices you’ll face is where to host it. 

Finding the perfect platform that:

  • has all the features you need

  • looks great

  • is easy to use for both you and your members/students

  • and doesn’t cost a fortune

 takes a fair bit of research. 

I recently had to research hosting platforms for our own courses and to make things a bit easier for you I’m sharing the results with you here.

Self-hosted course or membership

The first choice you need to make is whether you should host your course on your own website or have a third party host it for you. If you’re going with self-hosted, there may be several options on how to do this, depending on the platform your site is built with.

Hosting a course or membership with WordPress can be done in so many different ways. On WordPress, our favourite is a combination of MemberPress and LearnDash. No doubt our resident WordPress wizard Mellissa Wheeler will be writing something about this method later on. 

There are many other options though. Previously, our courses on WordPress were hosted with the Tribe Theme and WP60 - soon to be replaced by membership.io. We’ve also heard good things about AccessAlly and Wishlist Member. It really depends on what you’re used to working with, and what features are most important to you. 

Hosting a course or membership with SquareSpace is another excellent option. Possibly not as robust as using some of the WordPress plugins, and not as hands-off as going with third-party hosting platforms, but it can work well, look pretty, and be extremely easy to set up. Read more about this on Kerstin Martin’s blog! Kerstin is my go-to person for everything SquareSpace. 

Hosting a course on your own platform requires you to have great attention to detail, and you’ll need to set everything up yourself; from the sales process to onboarding, right through to the payment processing and flow of the course. If you choose this route, you might want to seek help or advice  from someone who’s done it before. 

Hosting your course or membership with a third-party platform

A third-party hosting platform takes all the hassle out of your hands. It makes it easy for you to upload videos and resources, quickly set up sales pages, and will also collect the money for you (if that’s what you want.) Most of them will even handle affiliate sales, so if someone buys your course through an affiliate link, the platform will pay out the affiliates directly. Talk about hands-off! 

When I looked into suitable third parties to host our courses on, I researched at least a dozen of them. Some of them didn’t seem very trustworthy, professional or robust, while others didn’t offer all the elements that I needed. 

My requirements were:

  • Has to be robust - needs to host dozens of courses and resources

  • Needs to look good and offer a fluent user experience

  • Needs to be easy to use on the backend - easy to set up a sales page and upload course elements 

  • Needs to allow affiliates - and be transparent as to who gets how much money 

  • An extra plus if it facilitates “authors” - so different course-creators could all host their courses on our platform 

I narrowed it down to four different platforms that were highly recommended:

For more detailed information on each of these platforms, you’ll find the full comparison, together with pros and cons of each, in this article on my own website.

 
Course sales strategy: evergreen vs closed cart.jpg

Selling your online course

When launching an online course, should you keep the cart open - or close it after a limited amount of time? Which will get you more signups - and which is more suitable for your type of course?

 

So… which platform did we end up hosting our courses on?

Choosing the perfect third-party hosting platform was TOUGH, believe me. We loved most aspects of all four of our top choices - Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi and MemberVault. 

In the end, though, we went with Teachable. 

We felt the user experience was better than Thinkific. At first sight, It looked prettier and more professional than MemberVault. It was also a lot cheaper than Kajabi. 

And honestly, it offered all the features we could ever want.

Check out our Teachable “school” (and all of our available courses) here!

For the complete guide on how to create, market and launch your online course, take a look at the Course Creation Master Plan.

What’s your favourite course-hosting platform? 

What are you using right now - or what do you think you’ll use in the future… and why? 

Let us know in the comments!

Sandrine is a Facebook & Online Strategist. Born in Belgium with a passion for travel, she spends the majority of her time on her off-grid olive & almond farm in Spain. Her mission: helping others make their dreams reality - with an online business to support them.