Choosing the right course platform can make or break the success of your digital course.
But with dozens of available course platforms to choose from, this decision can feel pretty overwhelming.
When I launched my first course in 2012, I did everything on WordPress. I figured my blog was already set up there, so why not host my new course there, too? And to be totally honest, I don't think there were any all in one platforms for course hosting!
WordPress is great for blogging. But it's just not the best option for hosting online courses. It takes lots of moving parts to provide a nice learning experience for students on WordPress. Not to mention all of the integrations you have to put in place just to market your course and take payments.
I self-hosted my courses from 2012-2019...and spent a TON of time and MONEY trying to get a nice setup for my students. And once I got to the point of having hundreds and then tens of thousands of students enrolled in my courses, it made the decision to LEAVE Wordpress a little daunting to say the least.
The good thing is that there are now better options available for course creators. And with the availability of all in one course platforms, like Kajabi, it's never been easier to create and launch an online course.
When I decided to start creating training courses for online course creators, I knew I would use Kajabi as an all in one platform instead of using Wordpress for some pieces and Kajabi for others.
I want you to see just how powerful all in one course platforms are and why I believe they're the right choice for your digital course journey.
An all in one course platform is a hosting platform that handles every aspect of creating, selling, and delivering online courses.
Some of the popular all-in-one platforms include Teachable, Thinkific, and Kajabi. I highly recommend Kajabi because they offer the most features (which means they're truly a one stop shop for course creators). As you probably noticed in the section above, it's what I moved my entire 7-figure course business to and where I started with this one.
These are different than some of the other course platforms like LearnDash and LifterLMS. These are known as Learning Management Systems (LMS) and they are WordPress plugins instead of standalone products. Throughout my course creating journey I've tried many LMS plugins and membership software.
If you use a LMS for your course platform, you'll have to take the extra steps to integrate it with your payment processor, sales page design software, email service provider, and all of the other tools you use as a course creator.
Here are the tools that I no longer need (or have to pay for) now that I use Kajabi:
I'll talk more about this later, but I want you to see that Kajabi really does offer everything you need as a course creator.
Before we move on, I want to talk about the difference between an all in one course platform like Kajabi and course marketplaces like Udemy.
Kajabi is a self-hosted platform. Like having a WordPress blog, that means you own all of the content that you create and host on your Kajabi site.
Udemy, on the other hand, is a course marketplace. With Udemy and similar marketplaces, the students in your course "belong" to the marketplace. That means that as a course creator, you can't even access the email addresses of your students.
Udemy also has almost total control of your marketing. Udemy caps the price of courses at $200, for example. And if they decide to run a site-wide sale where all courses are $10, then all of a sudden your course is selling for only $10!
So even though Udemy has a built-in customer base of buyers who are looking for courses, they're really just looking for bargains.
Having full ownership of your course and marketing on a platform like Kajabi is the safest and most profitable way to create a course.
Now that your clear on what an all-in-one course platform is, I want to show you why I think they're so great.
Let's take a closer look at the three biggest benefits of using a platform like Kajabi to host your new course.
Kajabi is truly all-in-one. It replaces every tool and plugin that I mentioned earlier.
And guess what? All of those tools and plugins are paid. That means you can start canceling subscriptions to things like Leadpages, MailChimp, and Divi.
Kajabi isn't just for courses. You can host your website and blog on Kajabi too. (Psst...the site you're reading right now is all on Kajabi!).
This eliminates the need to pay for hosting for a WordPress site or to pay for a website on Squarespace or Wix.
If you want your own domain name (like thecoursecreatorslounge.com), you will still need to buy your domain. But domains cost about $10/year from sites like NameCheap, so it's no big deal if that's your only external purchase!
Building and designing my site on Kajabi was so much faster and easier than designing on WordPress. Plus there was no need for me to buy a theme to make the site look good.
This is a HUGE deal for me! I would spend hours and hours designing pages in Wordpress. The way that Kajabi creates pages is so easy and the back end is SO FAST. When I have to do work in a Wordpress site now I realize how spoiled I've been because of Kajabi.
Kajabi really shines when it comes to marketing your course.
First, let's talk about email marketing. You already know how important it is to grow your email list. So Kajabi makes it easy to add opt-in forms right on your website and blog.
You can even use Kajabi as your Email Service Provider. I'm actually still using ConvertKit as my primary ESP because I already have a big list there and use a lot of more advanced strategies that are not quite there in Kajabi. But I have used Kajabi's email marketing platform for some other projects and it's very good. If I was starting off BRAND NEW, I wouldn't bother getting another email service provider.
If you're new to email marketing or you only have a small list on MailChimp or ConvertKit, Kajabi can definitely handle everything you need.
It's also really easy to sell your courses in Kajabi. I've been using their sales page templates and creating great looking sales pages in under an hour. Again, these would take me so much time before!
This means I don't need Leadpages to design landing pages or opt-in forms and I don't need a page builder to design my own sales pages in WordPress.
Another big perk is that payment processing is built-in to Kajabi. You won't need a separate shopping cart solution like WooPress or SamCart to take payments. Kajabi integrates with PayPal and Stripe. That means you'll need to sign up for a Stripe account, but that's free and super easy to do.
Kajabi doesn't charge any transaction fees, so you just pay the industry-standard processing fees to Stripe and PayPal for the ability to take secure credit card payments.
You even get access to features that would be considered extra in other shopping carts like order upsells. Kajabi wants you to have all the tools you need to easily sell your courses!
I was blown away by the back-end of the course side of Kajabi. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before!
When I was hosting courses on WordPress, I spent thousands of dollars having pages customized and piecing software together. And those courses didn't look half as nice as my Kajabi courses!
So not only do you not have to get any separate LMS plugins, but you don't have to worry about hiring a designer to actually make the course look good.
Kajabi also comes with video hosting capabilities from Wistia. This means you can easily upload your course videos without having to pay extra for a Wistia license.
If Kajabi were hard to use, it wouldn't matter how many subscriptions and services it replaced. Luckily, Kajabi was designed for course creators and marketers to use, not professional web designers.
So you can get your Kajabi course and website up and running without having to touch any code. If you do get stuck trying to get everything to work exactly the way you want, Kajabi support is really helpful and friendly. Plus, they have 24/7 chat available!
Everything I needed to create my website, blog, and course were all included and ready to go from the moment I signed up for Kajabi.
Unlike WordPress sites and courses, you never really have to "start from scratch" when you design in Kajabi. Using their templates and themes, you can create a professional looking website quickly.
The designs are customizable and mobile friendly, so you don't have to do a lot other than pick out your fonts and colors (and you can leave them as the default if you want).
Their blogging platform is also ready to go as soon as you start your first post. You'll see a simple text editor, an easy way to add images, and all of the standard formatting options that you get in WordPress.
Plus their blog posts are already optimized for SEO. There are fields under each blog post where you can customize your page title, meta description, and featured image.
To be totally honest, I wish there was a bit more customization available in the blog section. Since my blog was already so established for my other business, I have not moved it to Kajabi. But for this business, I'm all in.
When everything is in an all-in-one system, you don't have to worry about all of the parts talking to each other correctly. That's a big pain with having a bunch of different tools running at once.
Trying to sync up your Email Service Provider to your Landing Page designer to your Shopping Cart is a huge hassle. With Kajabi, they're all in the same system so there's no need to create integrations.
It really streamlines support too. There have been times when I've reached out to one provider for help and they've said, "Oh sorry, the problem's actually with your email provider!". Then you get stuck waiting on support from reps who can't even help you.
I usually end up trying to troubleshoot it on my own. But there is nothing more frustrating than knowing that one of your 53 WordPress plugins is causing your site to crash, but not knowing which one!
I hope you're seeing by now how easy Kajabi will make your life as a course creator and marketer.
Well, Kajabi also provides an excellent learning experience for your students!
Like I mentioned earlier, the design capabilities of the course are fantastic. It's so easy to put together a robust course with videos, text lessons, transcripts, and other resources.
In other platforms, it's hard to give students all of these pieces without ending up with a cluttered, distracting design.
But in Kajabi, everything looks really clean which means that your students can focus on learning and not searching everywhere for a lesson or worksheet.
Kajabi also makes an app that's free for students to download. And let me tell you, students love it!
This gives your students the ability to watch your videos on-the-go from their phones and tablets. This means that they won't fall behind just because a module was released while they were out of town.
The content inside of the app looks great. Everything works seamlessly with no extra setup work required from you or your students. It's a much better user experience than trying to access a course website from a cell phone.
One of my favorite features in Kajabi courses is progress tracking. Students can easily see all of your modules and lessons at a glance when they first login. Then they can mark each lesson as Complete to track their progress.
This is another reason why Kajabi works so well as an app. Even if a student finished two lessons on their computer, they could hop over to the app and easily pick up right where they left off.
As the course creator, you can keep tabs on their progress, too. You can view course analytics like engagement and viewer heat maps. This can help you understand where your students might be getting stuck or losing interest in your course.
Previously, I was paying $100/yr for a plugin that would allow me to have a progress tracking system for my students!
If you're thinking about making the switch, I hope you can see how much easier it is to manage your course business from within Kajabi. You're going to save so much time when you stop having to worry about integrations.
It can also save you money, too, to have one monthly payment instead of dozens.
Now if you're a brand new course creator, you might be nervous about the cost of an all in one platform and I totally get it. Even starting this site I was really itching to get my courses up because I want to cover my expenses!
Kajabi plans start at $149/month. And the plan I recommend is $199/month. You can save money on any of their plans by paying for a full year upfront (and you can upgrade at any time later too).
I know that $199/month might give you sticker shock. But when you try to piece all of the subscriptions together, you'll see how quickly those individual monthly costs add up!
Let's take a quick look at some real monthly numbers:
That's a total of $228 without any extras like paid WordPress themes or the ability to set up affiliate marketing.
Plus, all of those are the base fees. AS your business grows, so do those fees. My hosting was up to $100/month and my email service provider is almost $400 a month (and that's with the great Black Friday deal I got).
So with Kajabi, the price is actually cheaper and you don't have to worry about setting up all those different moving pieces. And it's easier for bookkeeping to just have it all handled in one monthly payment!
You can view all of the details of Kajabi's pricing plans here. I recommend the Growth plan because it gives you a few important extra features like the ability to create your own affiliate program and 24/7 Chat Support from Kajabi.
As a user and affiliate of Kajabi, I am able to offer you an extended free trial. Normally, you get 14 days free to try the software, but if you use my link, you can get a 28-day free trial. Plus, you get access to a free 28-day challenge for getting your first course up and running!
All in one course platforms like Kajabi offer an exceptional value. I really wish this had been around when I created my first online course!
I would have saved tens of thousands of dollars along the way and probably actually made more because of how easy it all is.
I had to do things the hard way for so many years, but now I really get to appreciate the ease of doing everything in Kajabi. I feel like the creators of Kajabi understand that not every course creator is a tech junkie who wants to spend hours reading support files and editing code.
They've really made it easy for "regular" people to share their expertise with the world and grow an online business.
What do you think? Would your online course business benefit from an all-in-one solution like Kajabi? Hop into my Free Facebook Group and let me know what features you're looking for as a course creator and I'll let you know if Kajabi can handle it!
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