The Range of Online Learning Platforms
Online learning platform solutions can be a confusing market space to navigate as an online course instructor. Online course platforms range from “marketplaces” such as Udemy, where anyone can create and sell an online course of virtually any quality, to Coursera which partners only with educational institutions, to Thinkific and other LMS platforms that allow instructors to create a proprietary online course platform and market their online classes.
If you want to create and sell online courses in a so-called “marketplace” like Udemy, which makes selling online courses relatively easy, you may wonder what alternatives to Udemy exist. Given the brand recognition and market share Udemy boasts, it may be hard to figure out what other online course marketplaces exist and how they are different.
5 Online Course Marketplaces Comparison
To help guide your decision as an online course creator, Teachinguide has put together a summary comparison of Udemy vs. four other online learning marketplace platforms. We also list several additional “niche” online course marketplaces at the end of this article.
Online learning platforms which operate as a marketplace differ in many aspects – audience, course formats, pricing, compensation models, promotions, and more. We omitted online learning sites such as Diversity Builder which does not offer a marketplace. These are all important factors to consider before enrolling as an instructor on an online course platform.
We’ve summarized the differences between 5 online learning marketplaces below.
|30 million||4 million|| |
(15,000 likes on Facebook)
|Certificate||Non accredited certificate of |
|No certificate of |
Instructor may offer certificates.
|Non accredited |
|Skillshare for |
|-$10-$200 per |
|-Free 30 |
|-$199 per |
|Who Can Be |
-Identity verification required
-Must enroll to be approved
|Anyone who has an LMS or business domain expertise||Anyone|
|-50% of organic sales|
-25% affiliate sales
– 97% instructor promotion sales
|-30%-50% of Premium membership royalties paid out according to minutes watched and other factors.|
discused after application accepted.
– Generally 50% of sales
|-Instructors pay $35 per month for platform|
-80%-92% of sales on instructor website
-60% of sales on Coggno market
|-50% of sales on all StackCommerce sites|
-30% of sales on partner sites
-Instructors pay a 3% transaction fee
|Promotion||– Udemy sales, discounts and instructor coupons|
-Optional site promotions
|Discounts on annual memberships||Groupons for $10 courses||No||– On site promotions|
– Courses discounted directly on site
|Best for |
|Looking for wide variety and/or niche topics|
– Looking to create/post creative projects
-who prefer a subscription model
|Most courses are geared for beginners||Professionals and corporations||Looking for courses bundled into a learning or career path in IT or business|
| Best For |
|-New or inexperienced teachers |
-Experts looking for a side gig
|-Creative instructors who are new|
-Who prefer to create short classes
|New instructors||Experts in specific business domains, i.e. insurance, HR||Who want access to StackCommerce’s distribution network|
Differences Between These Online Learning Platforms
Udemy is well known to Teachinguide users and readers (and just about everyone else!). It is a pure online course marketplace model that has evolved over the last few years. Udemy’s revenue structure for instructors is unique in that instructors set the price for their courses and receive a share of sales revenue, depending on the source of the sale.
Udemy is increasingly known for being the best place for new instructors to test and home their online teaching skills. Out of all the online learning platforms compared it offers the biggest marketing power, presenting an easy way to earn a passive and much larger income teaching online.
Skillshare is the online course platform that is the closest comparison to Udemy. One key difference between the two platforms is that Skillshare is subscription-based and provides students access to a “library” of courses. Instructors are paid based on minutes viewed, not a fixed course price.
On that note, instructors publish online “classes” rather that online “courses” on Skillshare, meaning shorter content (typically up to 60 minutes). This can be useful for instructors who are just getting started teaching online.
Skillshare has fewer courses and students than Udemy. This is not necessarily a bad thing if it means higher quality classes and more visibility for instructors. Skillshare began as an online course platform geared toward “creative” teachers and students, and therefore every course must provide hands on learning projects that can be posted to the website.
That said, Skillshare’s course categories have expanded into areas such as business and technology. As an instructor, the primary difference is the payout scheme. Skillshare’s instructor payments are not based on fixed sales, but rather a pool of royalties collected from memberships. The site claims an average instructor income of $3,000 per month, with some earning $100,000+.
Skill Success is a Udemy-like platform with essentially the same revenue share policies. However, besides operating on a much smaller scale it differs from Udemy in several ways. This online learning platform offers students a subscription model.
The website doesn’t provide a lot of information on course creation or what is required of instructors. You can’t just sign up to become an instructor and start creating courses as you can on Udemy. For all these reasons, it is unclear why Skill Success would be a better alternative to Udemy or Skillshare.
Out of the 5 online learning platforms compared, Coggno is the only one that is entirely focused on business customers. It is an online training marketplace and learning management system (LMS) that offers a service to connect content developers, HR organizations, and employees who need training. Coggno’s goal is to simplify corporate training and certification anywhere in the world.
With Coggno, you can create courses or upload your existing course content. Unlike most Udemy alternatives, you can upload SCORM files. You also have the option to deliver your courses privately or to distribute them through the Coggno online course marketplace.
If you are an experienced professional or trainer, Coggno is a very interesting alternative because it enables organizations to use a branded version of the Coggno platform for free to offer courses to their target audience, creating more of a B2B marketplace.
For course developers looking to sell their content, pricing starts at $34.95 per month. Coggno also takes a percentage of sales. This varies depending on the price of the course and how it is sold. But for this you also get a dedicated domain and a website. You can also opt-in to sell through thousands of syndicated websites.
Skillwise is a subsidiary of Stack Commerce, a company that has created a very large global distribution network for digital content, including online courses. One key difference between Skillwise and other course platforms is that it is focused on IT, development, business, design and photography classes. So, unless you teach in one of these areas this online course platform is not for you.
What makes Skillwise stand out from other online learning platforms is that you have access to Stack Commerce’s network, which includes over 750 publisher’s stores including AOL and the Huffington Post. It also provides extensive marketing and content creation support.
The payout is like Udemy, maybe a little better. Instructors get 50 % of sales from courses sold on 6 websites that Stack Commerce owns (such as Stackskills) and 30 % on partner sites. While Skillwise does not mandate pricing, it does determine the final price for your courses based on your suggested price. One way that Skillwise helps instructors sell more is through its Course Accelerator Program, where it bundles courses together into a learning path for consumption.
All that said, reviews on Quora and other review sites complain of outdated course content, non-responsive customer service and low value content. This might explain why there are much fewer course reviews on Skillwise versus Udemy.
5 Online Course Marketplaces – Which One to Choose?
Udemy vs. Skillshare
The way we see it, if you are new to online teaching and just want to get going quickly on a course marketplace, you have a decent choice between Udemy and Skillshare. Your choice comes down to a few key differences:
- Volume of students and competition – Udemy has many more students, but also a lot more competition. You might get more visibility on Skillshare.
- Content preferences – Skillshare is entirely video content and every course must have a project included. With Udemy you can use a mix of media and course techniques such as quizzes. Moreover, on Skillshare you publish shorter “classes” rather than hours long, multi-module “courses”.
- Earnings model – Skillshare is a royalties-based, pooled payout, somewhat opaque in nature. Udemy allows instructors to set their course price and pick and choose participation in promotions and discounts, with a different revenue share depending on how a course is purchased. There is more transparency around earnings, it is simple math.
Skillsuccess, Skillwise, Coggno
Skill Success operates similarly to Udemy, and one could say that it mirrors Udemy’s business model. However, this platform currently does not seem to have the growth or bells and whistles that Udemy and Skillshare provide, nor the volumes. Particularly, with Skills Success it is unclear how you become an instructor and what their requirements are.
While Skillwise seemingly provides access to a very large marketing network, there is very little information available on the success of instructors and reviews from students. Moreover, it’s sister site www.stackskills.com gets poor reviews. Then again so does Udemy; however, thousands of glowing reviews of Udemy can also be found. This does not seem the case for Skillwise.
Other Online Learning Marketplaces
In addition to the 5 course marketplaces covered here, there are a variety of other online learning course platform options you may wish to explore. Many of which serve niches or are more selective about instructors than Udemy and Skillshare. Some of these include:
CreativeLive – an online course platform dedicated to classes taught by professionals in creative industries such as acting and writing.
Teachlr – a unique primarily Spanish but also English language “virtual classroom” platform that allows teachers to send proposals for courses to prospective students and use the platform to teach virtually. Teachers can also market their courses on the website.
Ed2go.com – primarily an educational institution online course platform, individuals can go through an application process to create and develop courses for the marketplace.
Learning.ly – this platform is run by The Economist Group. It provides highly curated, highly expert courses. To become and instructor you must have minimum 5 years experience in your field and have been a serial entrepreneur, academic or business person, be publishing and presenting and have been recognized in your field.
Simplilearn – a niche platform offering digital and IT focused masterclasses and certifications. Experts in their field can apply to become instructors.
Opensesame – this online learning platform is geared for corporate subscribers only. You have to register to be a teacher and can incorporate courses you have created on an LMS elsewhere.
Stackskills – Stackskills aggregates technology-related courses from other online course platforms into bundles for specific skill paths. You can become an instructor by emailing them.
OfCourse – a UK based online learning platform, which famed Udemy instructor Phil Ebiner also uses. It claims to reach over 10 million users in English speaking countries and part of Europe.
FeedMyHappy – This site claims to be an online learning marketplace for courses that help people find new ways of being healthier and happier. Courses cover personal development, fitness and lifestyle. No application required for teachers and the primary audience is businesses.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking to build your online courses on a marketplace that will give you the best chance of success, Teachinguide still recommends Udemy over other the online learning platforms that operate similarly. It’s easy to get started, the platform does extensive marketing for you, the risk is low, and the payouts, even with the deep discounts, are arguably as good if not better than other marketplace models.
We don’t see much value in going on other platforms that have fewer students, fewer reviews or opaque payouts. The exception perhaps would be Coggno. If you are true expert in one of their training domains and want to break in right away to the B2B space, it’s worth checking out. There are other niche platforms we’ve listed here – particularly in the IT/development domain – but our past research seems to indicate that even for these very in demand categories, Udemy instructors are very well placed.