Once you’ve blogged your nonfiction book, you can turn your content into an online course to extend your author platform and increase your income. Each audience member you have is unique, and they consume information in different ways. That’s why turning your blog posts and book into a how-to course is an obvious next step.
If you decide to create a course, one of the most important decisions you need revolves around whether to host your course via an online learning platform, like Udemy and Skillshare, or a course hosting platform, like Teachable or Thinkific. These aren’t the only options available. For instance, you could add a membership plugin to your site and host the course yourself. However, since these companies are considered leaders in the ecourse arena, we’ll focus on them and assess the key differences in royalties and charges.
An online learning platform provides a storefront and technical framework to showcase your course and is heavily involved in promoting their platform to attract student sign-ups. A hosting company provides you with the technical framework to create your course but doesn’t offer marketing support.
On the surface, it would seem like a course marketplace is the best option. However, there’s a cost associated with this route because of the way course earnings are calculated across the different platforms. The other key consideration is the size of your following and your marketing abilities. It’s not just about what these companies bring to the table, but what you do, too.
Online Learning Platforms
Udemy and Skillshare are two of the most popular online course marketplaces. They heavily promote their learning platform to encourage waves of students to sign up for courses, and instructors become part of their branded community.
How Udemy Earnings are Calculated
Udemy offers different earning levels and incentivizes instructors to market their courses. For example, if students sign up to Udemy through your affiliate link, you’ll receive 97% of your course revenue. However, when students purchase your course directly through the Udemy marketplace, you get 50% of the revenue.
You can offer your Udemy course for free, but if you set your price between $20 and $200 (at $5 intervals) you can sign up to one of their promotional campaigns. The Percentage Promotion gives Udemy the option to reduce your course by up to 75%, and the Fixed Price Promotion means your course can be priced as low at $10.
Udemy frequently holds promotional events to attract waves of students into their platform with low-cost courses. It does so in the hopes of enticing students to buy higher-priced courses once they’re part of the Udemy community.
How Skillshare Earnings are Calculated
Skillshare offers students a monthly or annual premium subscription option, which gives them unlimited access to every course.
Instructors are compensated for every minute watched by premium students. This ranges between $0.05 to $0.10 per minute-watched. This is similar to the model Amazon uses as part of its Kindle Direct Publishing program, where royalties are based on page reads.
Instructors are incentivized and receive $10 for each student referral that signs up for a Skillshare Premium membership.
You have to achieve 30 watched-minutes each month (across all your classes from all students combined) to receive a royalty payment. This means you’re still going to have to be involved in course promotion to make sure you pass this threshold. But Skillshare students are more likely to sample a wider variety of courses because they’re included within their subscription.
Online Course Hosting Platform
When it comes to assessing hosting platforms, there are two primary considerations: the user interface or software features and monthly charges. These companies don’t help you promote your course, which means they don’t take a percentage of your royalties. But they charge a fee to use their platform. You need to poke around under the hood to see which features are important to you and how easy it is to set up your course content.
How Teachable Hosting Costs are Calculated
A platform like Teachable charges you a monthly hosting fee to host your course. Depending on your plan, you may also have to pay a 5% transition fee as well. As the basic plan is only $29, you don’t have to sell many courses per month to cover your costs. Teachable does offer a trial period, but it only lets you enroll 10 students.
How Thinkific Hosting Costs are Calculated
The key benefit of hosting on Thinkific comes from its free plan, which includes unlimited students and up to three (free or paid) courses. This means if you only plan to roll out a free sample course and one or two paid courses, it won’t cost you anything to host your class with them as there are no transaction fees. If you want to host more than three courses, their basic plan is $39 per month.
Criteria for Course Assessment
Choosing a course is a complex process because there’s no right answer. You need only decide on the right platform for your budget and experience and the company that offers the software features you seek.
Here are a couple of scenarios to help your decision process:
Do you have the skills and time to market your course?
- No: choose Udemy or Skillshare
- Yes: choose Teachable or Thinkific
Are you willing to make an initial financial outlay?
- No: choose a Udemy, Skillshare, or the Thinkific free plan
- Yes: choose Teachable or the paid Thinkific plan
Of course, assessing your options isn’t that black and white. Look at your author platform strategy, and make sure your decisions support your long-term goals.
Major decisions boil down to two key factors: money and time. Do you want to pay now or later? Do you have time to contribute to your success?
Are you planning to launch a course? I’d love to hear what your course is about and which company you choose to host it. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend.
About the Author
Jay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.