Do you know how to choose an online course platform?

Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

Passive income. It’s something that everyone wants, but it’s a feat that many aren’t necessarily sure how to achieve. The first suggestion that people offer is to start a blog and join affiliate networks. There’s nothing wrong with this idea, but what if I don’t have aspirations of becoming a blogger? Does this mean that I’m doomed? Absolutely not!

One of the best passive income avenues that you should consider pursuing is creating a course. Now I’m sure you’re probably thinking either “I don’t know enough to create a course” or “Everyone and their mother have probably already created a course about (insert topic).” Before we go any further, I’m going to need you to change the channel on this negative mindset because I guarantee that there is a course buried deep inside of you.

My background is in marketing and communication and I’ve spent the majority of my career training and supporting other company’s  endeavors. I truly love helping people which is why I’m passionate about teaching (in my spare time, I am an online English tutor).

However, last year, if someone would have said to me, “Tosha, you’re going to create 6 online courses,” I would have laughed and immediately assumed that they were a couple fries short of a happy meal! So imagine my surprise that by the end of this year, this is exactly what I will achieve.

Creating an online course has been an amazing journey. It’s definitely one that I don’t want you to miss, so here are six things that you should consider when you’re looking for an online course platform to host your courses.

Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

I chose the following course companies based on the ones that I felt would be relevant to most people:

Third Party Sites

Thinkific

Teachable

Udemy

Self-hosted platforms

Memberhouse

WP Courseware

LearnDash

Security

This should go without saying, but you don’t want to go through the hassle of creating an awesome course only to have it hosted on a shady website. You need to make sure that your course platform has an SSL certificate applied to the site in order to ensure that you secure your data. If you don’t feel safe uploading your courses to the course platform, you can only imagine how your student will feel trying to pay for them…

User-friendly

I’m a patient person. Yet, for some reason, all of that seems to fade away when it comes to navigating a website. If you can’t stand slow loading websites, broken links, etc. then don’t place your future student in this situation. Whatever course platform you choose to host your course on should be easy for both you and the student to use. Here’s how to accomplish this feat from both perspectives:

Student perspective

  1. Is the online course platform secure? It should have an SSL certificate applied to the platform. If it does the url will start with https:// indicating that the link is secure.
  2. Is the online course platform cloud-based?
  3. What is the speed of the course landing page (does it load quickly)?
  4. Can I easily see the terms of service on the website?
  5. How do I communicate with the instructor if I have questions?
  6. What options do I have to pay for the course?
  7. How easy is it to go through the payment process?
  8. How quickly can I access the course (immediately or drip feed)?
  9. Can I easily track my progress throughout the course?
  10. Can I download the course material without running into issues?
  11. How great is the audio?
  12. Is there a forum where I can go to ask questions?
  13. Is it difficult to take quizzes?
  14. Do I have an opportunity to provide feedback for the course?

Instructor’s perspective

As an instructor, I share the same concerns as my students, so the below questions are in addition to the aforementioned. Self-hosted course platforms will allow you a lot more freedom, but with that freedom comes A LOT more responsibility. You will need to decide how much responsibility you are willing to bear.

  1. Can I figure out how to use the majority of the course platform WITHOUT reading the online course platform manual? I know this sounds crazy, but if I have to go searching through layers and layers of instructions on your site to figure out how to use the site, you are essentially telling me that you don’t want me to use your course platform.
  2. Does the site own my course content and can I export my information?
  3. How responsive is the course platform’s support team?
  4. Can I offer free trials to my students?
  5. Can I bundle my courses?
  6. Can I communicate DIRECTLY with my students?
  7. Do I have COMPLETE control over my terms and service policy?
  8. Do I have the ability to customize the course platform with my brand?
  9. Can you charge your students on a monthly basis (i.e. subscription service model)?
  10. Can I set up an affiliate program for my courses?
  11. Do I have the option to provide the students instant access to my material or drip feed the content?

When you keep all of these questions top of mind, you’re going to save yourself and your students the hassle of having an unpleasant online learning experience. Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

Support

At some point in time, regardless of how good you are at technology, you will need to speak to tech support. Before I invest my time and energy into a product I always make sure that I contact support (especially if it’s a big ticket item). The amount of time and how you respond to my questions is a good indicator of the level of support I can expect to receive after I purchase the product.

As a course creator, you definitely want to make sure that you get your questions answered in a timely manner. I’m all about anticipation. I really don’t want to have to learn on the spot.  I always try to make sure that I have the answers to any questions that my students may ask before they ask them.

Terms of Service

It is extremely important that you read through the course platform’s terms of service for a variety of reasons. Many of questions we already addressed above, but the main one is to ensure that you retain the rights to your content.

However, one that many people don’t think about until it is too late is the ability to create their own refund policies. Digital products can be delivered and used immediately after they are purchased, so you may want to consider having an ‘All Sales are Final’ type of refund policy. You worked hard on your course, so it should be up to you to determine what type of refund policy you decide to offer.  

Methods of Payment

Once I have determined that a website is secure, I want to make sure that my payment option is available. You need to be sure that the payment gateway is one that my students are accustomed to using (i.e. Stripe, PayPal, etc.). If applicable, your course platform should offer the ability to make one time payments, monthly subscriptions and offer a payment plan.

Affiliate programs

If you plan on using affiliates to help promote your course, then your course platform should be able to easily generate affiliate links. You will also need to make sure that you have access to user-friendly financial reports so you can keep track of your affiliate sales and payouts.

Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

 

My recommendation

So you’re probably wondering, “Ok, what course platform should I use?” I thoroughly research everything that I buy, sometimes to the point where I come down with a case of analysis paralysis.

I definitely knew I was NOT going to self-host my course. That is an awful lot of responsibility that I’m not willing to take. I just want to create my courses. I don’t want to worry about fixing security issues, setting up payment gateways, hosting my videos,  etc. Ain’t nobody got time for that…Needless to say, I went the third party route.

My decision on which course platform I should choose was an extremely easy one. I already knew that I was not going to go the Udemy route. This site is not truly looking out for the course creators best interest. Udemy runs numerous promotions which provide students with deep discounts. If you decide not to participate in these promotions, your courses will often time be subject to further scrutiny for not participating in their promotions.

Imagine working on your course for almost half a year. It’s jam-packed with value providing your students with a shortcut to help them gain a skill that otherwise would have taken them years to learn. How dare you not participate in Udemy’s promotion and sell your $197 course for $10! Shame on you! I truly hope you can sense my sarcasm because quite frankly this is the type of atmosphere you will most likely encounter the majority of your time on Udemy.

Students are conditioned to wait for the deep discount sales so they don’t have to pay full price. To add further insult to injury, they determine the frequency in which you are able to promote to your students. This along with reading all the other negative reviews from other course creators that used Udemy, was enough to immediately cross them off of my list.

So my remaining course platform options are Teachable and Thinkific. Both platforms have a free starter plan, but Thinkific offers a lot more features than Teachable.  I decided to create my courses with Thinkific and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions that I have made.

When I was doing my homework, the deciding factors that prompted me to choose Thinkific were the following situations:

1.I already knew that Teachable was not an option for me once I found out that they did not offer telephone support. I’m not saying that if I needed support that I would call versus email, but I at least want to have the option. If I can’t get anywhere by email, then I want to be able to speak to someone about my situation.

The situation that alerted me to the fact that Teachable does not offer phone support was when I had a simple question that I needed to have answered before making my final decision on which course platform I would use.

I emailed Thinkific and Teachable literally on the same day. Thinkific responded to me the very next day. I went searching for a phone number for Teachable. I discovered that they didn’t have one. I was at the mercy of waiting for Teachable to respond, but this also allowed me to test their response time. I had given up on Teachable after not hearing back from them after three days. Teachable eventually responded to my question almost two weeks later, but obviously, I had already moved on to Thinkific.

 

Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

2. The other reason why I decided to go with Thinkific is that their course creators receive immediate payment for their course. Teachable pays their course creators 30 days later. Why wouldn’t I get paid right away? What possible excuse could you have for unnecessarily holding my money?

This has never made sense to me. The only other reason I believe Teachable does this is because if you use their platform to accept payments you must agree to Teachable’s terms of service. Therefore, offering an All Sales are Final type of policy is not possible with Teachable. I did not want to give up the right to create my own terms of service, so that pretty much sealed the deal for me and I went with Thinkific.

If you’re looking for an online course platform, now is a great time to check out ThinkificI really like Thinkific’s drag and drop course builder because it’s easy to use. You have the flexibility to brand your course player, create your own landing pages, set the terms of service, etc.

They generally care about their customers and support typically responds in a timely manner. I never thought in a million years, that I would be creating courses.  I’m literally in the process of creating my fifth course using Thinkific. I’m super grateful that the Thinkific platform has enabled me to share my message. Take advantage of the opportunity to share your talent with us.

Be sure to download your Course Creation Game plan by clicking right here.

Do You Know How to Choose Your Online Course Options?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase with the link, I may receive a commission from it. Please note that I would never advocate a product that I don’t love. I’m all about making sure that the products I recommend will benefit my audience. You can learn more here. 🙂

How to Conduct Keyword Research with Ahrefs

Starengu's Ahref Keyword and Content Research Features

If you’re looking to perfect your marketing and SEO skills then look no further than Ahrefs!Ahrefs is an amazing all in one solution that will allow you the opportunity to effectively gain data that will help you produce content and campaigns that will resonate with your audience. Check out the video below and be sure to sign up for their free 14 day trial.

Discover how to improve your keyword and content research efforts with Ahrefs.

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If you would like to learn more about how to market research can help you perfect your ability to connect with your audience, then check out our Master Your Niche course.

Starengu's Master Your Niche

How to Create and Embed Social Share Links within a PDF

Social Share and Embed Codes

One of the best ways to build your email list is to create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is valuable content (i.e. checklist, cheat sheet, etc.) that your audience desires to receive in exchange for providing you with their email address.Getting people to provide their email address is not an easy feat to achieve. Therefore, you have to make the most of your opportunity. One way to do so is by creating social share links that you embed within your lead magnet.Check out the below tutorial and don’t forget to download our Social Share Links Guide.

Starengu's Social Share Links and YouTube Code

How to Create a Mockup with Adobe PhotoShop

Starengu's How to Create a Book Cover Mockup

Starengu's How to Create a 3D Book Cover with Photoshop

I’m obsessed with packaging. I’m going to attribute that to the fact that I’ve worked in the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry. One of my favorite aspects of my job was helping to decide on product package designs. I know how important it is for people to visual themselves using the product. One of the ways you can do this is by making sure that you use 3D book cover mockups, pdfs, tablets,  etc. when you are trying to entice people to purchase or download your content.

In case you don’t know how to create a 3D mockup, you’re going to love this tutorial! It will show you how to create a 3D book cover mockup using Photoshop. In the event that you are looking for a free alternative to Photoshop, check out Pixlr.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Slay with WordPress 101

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80 Time Saving Tools to Help You Increase Your Productivity

80 Time Saving Tools to Help You Increase Your Productivity

Many people will state that they never started blogging because they think it will be too time consuming. Blogging can be time consuming if you don’t have the right processes and tools in place to help you stay organized. Below is a list of websites and tools that you can use to help you decrease the time it takes for you launch and connect with your audience. This list is divided up into the following sections:

  • Inspiration for Blog Topics
  • SEO 
  • Domains
  • WordPress Themes & Plugins
  • Brand & Design
  • Social Networking Tools 
  • Ways to Monetize Your Site
  • Productivity

Inspiration for Blog Topics

1.) Buzzsumo: Discover what type of content is more engaging for your niche.2.) AllTop: All the top headlines from popular topics around the web.3.) Blogluvin: A large category of blogs.4.) Medium: Another great place to check out new blogs 

80 Time Saving Tools to Help You Increase Your Productivity

SEO

1.) Google Keyword Ad Planner: This is a free Google tool that you can use to help you identify how competitive the keywords you are trying to optimize your site.2.) Hashtagify and Ritetag: A great search engine for Hashtags

3.) Ahrefs: This is definitely more robust than Google.​ There are ​a ton of useful features that will help you to determine not only which keywords to pursue, but will which headlines, images, etc. will work best to accompany your keyword choices. Check out my tutorial about Ahrefs. 4.) Long Tail Pro: This keyword tool is more robust than Google’s. Long Tail Pro looks at numerous variable that compares a keyword. It provides you with a simple score in order to determine keyword competitiveness.5.) UberSuggest: This is one of my favorite sites. It not only provides you with several variances of your keywords and includes a Google Trends chart of that keyword.6.) Mozbar: All in one SEO toolbar that you can download at Google Chrome Extension.

Domains

1.) NameCheap2.) Siteground

WordPress Themes & Plugins

1.) StudioPress 2.) ThriveThemes3.) Pushcrew4.) Copyright Proof5.) YoastSEOIn the event that you need assistance with creating your WordPress site, be sure to check out our Slay with WordPress course. 

80 Time Saving Tools to Help You Increase Your Productivity

Brand & Designs

1.) Canva: This is the BEST tool for people seeking to release their inner graphic design skills. You can create professionally designed documents and social media covers using this website. 2.) Adobe: As much as I LOVE Canva it does have limitations. Adobe is the tool to use in order to have complete freedom over how you choose to manipulate your designs.3.) Eye Dropper: This is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to pick up color from a webpage.4.) Camtasia: If your goal is to make amazing videos and screencasts then look no further than Camtasia. However, if you’re on a budget use Screencast-o-matic.5.) PicMonkey: A great easy to use photo editor.6.) Creative Market:  One of my absolute favorite sites to purchase fonts, fills, patterns, icons and so much more! 7.) DaFonts: Great site to get fonts for free.

Content & Social Marketing 

1.) CoSchedule Headline Analyzer:This site will help you create attention grabbing headlines.2.) Grammarly: Online proofreading tool that checks text for grammar, punctuation, style and features a contextual spelling checker and plagiarism detector. Every blogger needs this installed on their website. Check out my review regarding Grammarly right here.2.) Recite: Great website to create original Instagram quotes on the go. 3.) OneNetworkDirect: This is a great network to join if you are looking for affiliates related to technology.4.) Buffer: One of my favorite social network sharing tools to use. Super affordable and provides great insights into your social networking activity.5.) Open Broadcaster Studio: Open source software for video recording and livestreaming.

80 Time Saving Tools to Help You Increase Your Productivity

Way to Monetize Your Site

1.) Amazon Affiliates: It goes without saying that Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. If you’re having issues trying to find an affiliate within your niche then check out Amazon. They have everything. 2.) ShareaSale: This is a popular affiliate company that many bloggers use. There are quite a few niche products and services on this site. 3.) OneNetworkDirect: This is a great network to join if you are looking for affiliates related to technology.

Productivity

1.) Zapier: Automate actions across various devices (more robust than IFTT) 2.) Trello: Enables you to organize, prioritize and easily collaborate with others.3.) Instant WP: Allows you the ability to test out WordPress plugins and make changes in a test environment.4.) Pomodoro: This technique is one of the ways that I manage to stay organized. You can learn more about this method right here.5.) Google Drive: Cloud based method to store documents, videos, etc. There are affiliate links in this post. Please note that I only support products/services that I love and would benefit my audience.*

If you’re loving what I have shared so far, then be sure to sign up for the entire checklist right here. Are there any other websites or tools that are missing from the list? Be sure to share them with the rest of us! Did you enjoy this post? Don’t forget to pin and share this post! 🙂

3 Reasons Why You Should Choose Siteground

WordPress and Siteground -A Bloggers Dynamic DuoWordPress. Squarespace. Blogger. Wix. If you’re new to blogging, trying to determine what blogging platform you should use will easily end up giving you a headache. It’s extremely important to start with your ultimate goal in mind. Your answers to the following questions will provide you with the answer as to which blogging platform you should use:

  • Would you like for your blogging platform to provide you with additional functionality besides being just a “blog” (i.e. e-commerce capabilities)?
  • Do you want to have complete control over how to build and customize your website?
  • Do you want to be able to easily integrate and access other marketing applications to track the progress of your blog?

If you answered yes, to the majority of these questions then you seriously need to consider using the self-hosted version of WordPress as your blogging platform. Now, you’re probably wondering what, “I didn’t realize there were two versions of WordPress.”

Yes, my friends, there are two versions of WordPress–WordPress.com and WordPress.org. You can learn more about the differences here. However, if you’re looking for the CliffsNotes version, WordPress.com is for my technically challenged friends who would rather have WordPress take care of the hosting. Your website URL will be “https://www.ilovecookies.wordpress.com” and if you choose to use WordPress.org the website URL will look like: https://ilovecookies.com requires you to have some technical skills when it comes to installing and maintaining your website.

However, many of the major hosting companies offer one-click installations and WordPress assistance services. The majority of the functions that many website owners want to achieve have a relatively low learning curve.

Therefore, I personally believe that you should save yourself the unnecessary hassle of migrating your website by going the self-hosted route. In order to ensure that you have a pleasant experience make sure that you choose a good hosting company. I’ve had my fair share of *interesting* experiences, so if you want to skip what I went through, then I highly suggest you use Siteground.

Words cannot begin to express how amazing the support is at Siteground. I was sick of not getting answers to my questions, nonchalant attitudes and all around horrible service I was receiving at GoDaddy. I did not want a repeat of this situation so I thoroughly did my homework and made sure not to choose a company owned by EIG.

I had heard good things about Siteground and decided to give them a try. I am so glad I did! They helped me migrate my site over from GoDaddy. It was a rather difficult migration because WordPress had put me on a managed WordPress plan instead of regular hosting (one of the main reasons I was leaving).

Siteground was incredibly helpful during that situation. Siteground’s helpfulness didn’t stop there. They then installed an SSL certificate for free. They have gotten me out of quite a few jams that had I been with GoDaddy I would still be on the phone waiting to resolve my issue…Siteground never leaves you waiting in a queue. Whenever I need help, I’m able to easily chat with Siteground folks who are extremely eager to help me resolve my website problems.

The majority of bloggers can get by using shared hosting. This means that your website is sharing a server with other websites. It’s much cheaper to go this route than purchasing a dedicated server. I have yet to experience my site being down. There were a couple of instances of this at GoDaddy. Siteground has its own caching system so this plays a significant role in speeding up my site.

Siteground has reasonable pricing. They don’t try to sell you unnecessary options. They also don’t charge you for features like backing up your website. In my opinion, this should be free, but you would be surprised how many companies charge for this feature…

I could go on and on about how awesome Siteground hosting is, but I don’t want you to just take my word for it, check them out for yourself. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee so you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by choosing Siteground.

Be sure to check out the video below which will show you how to purchase and point a domain (in case you decide to purchase your domain at NameCheap or another domain registrar) and install WordPress.

 

This tutorial is a part of the free trial for our Slay with WordPress course. This is not just your ordinary WordPress course. In this course, you will learn how to do the following:

  • Design compelling images and lead magnets that reflect your brand’s personality
  • How to create content that will resonate with your audience
  • Establish processes that will reduce the time it takes to engage with your audience
  • Learn how to effectively track your progress

If this sounds like your jam, then be sure to check out the rest of the free trial before signing up for the course. If you enjoyed this post, please pay it forward and share it. It would be very much appreciated! 🙂

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase with the link, I may receive a commission from it. Please note that I would never advocate a product that I don’t love. I’m all about making sure that the products I recommend will benefit my audience. You can learn more https://starengu.com/disclosure/.