Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021?

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#1

Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 1

BEST OVERALL

Bluehost Hosting

#2

Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 2

Dreamhost Hosting

#3

Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 3

WP Engine Hosting

#4

Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 4

BEST ONLINE COURSE MARKETPLACE

Skillshare

#5

Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 5

Udemy

Digital trends change so much more often than we realize. The gold standard of online education today could be vastly different from that same standard just three months ago.

As the online landscape evolves and we rely on it more often for education, demands get higher. You have to host your online course platform from a trustworthy hosting service that stays online so that your students stay enrolled.

There are plenty of online course platforms, but only an elite eight that made it onto this list. We broke down every online host out there, feature to feature, price tag to price tag, to dissect them right here in this guide and show you what you need versus what you don’t.

After taking a peek at the top hosts, we have a volley of frequently asked questions to help you refine your knowledge about hosting your own courses.

Best WordPress Hosts For Your Own Website

Best Overall: Bluehost

Bluehost Hosting
  • Type: Website hosting service
  • Bandwidth: Completely unmetered
  • Space: 50GB for basic plan, completely unmetered for higher plans
  • Domain: Purchase and host

You’ve seen the ads, you’ve heard the recommendations from social media and online forums: Bluehost leads the WordPress world in most-hosted sites, and for good reasons.

To make one of the best online course platforms and host it on your WordPress, Bluehost helps with unmatched power. Your site speed—which is a serious ranking factor for SEO—is top-of-the-line. They continually upgrade their systems to make sure you’re getting top-tier speed and power.

But it isn’t Cheap WordPress hosting. They make it seem that way with their “Wordpress users get it for $2.95 per month” line, but it’s important to look under the hood. After the first year, you go to the regular price.

What’s the regular price? For the basic package—the one that they hook you on with $2.95 per month in the beginning—it goes up to $10.99 per month, but only $8.99 if you sign up for a five-year term ($539.40 per year).

That’s not bad for five years by any means. Even if you go with the Pro version, which is normally $32.99 per month, you can get it for $26.99 per month at a three-year rate, which is $971.64. Not bad for three years by any means.

Add-ons is where the price goes up. VPS and dedicated hosting IPs are $17.99 per month, Comodo Wildcard SSL certificates are $299.99 per year, and SiteLock is $359.88 per year. I’m not saying this to deter you in any way; Bluehost is still the best pick, but you have to know what you’re getting into, and their pricing should be a little easier to understand/more transparent right from the start without all the asterisks next to price tags.

Bluehost provides unmetered space and bandwidth, which is the real selling point here. If you need to stream a live class on your website and you’ve ended up netting 600+ students, the bandwidth would be insane, and other platforms would charge you out the wazoo. Bluehost is powerful, they’re not end-of-the-world levels of expensive, but they definitely aren’t cheap, either.

Runner Up: Dreamhost

dreamhost hosting
  • Type: Website hosting service
  • Bandwidth: Completely unmetered
  • Space: 50GB for basic plan, 120GB SSD for highest plan
  • Domain: Purchase and host

If you want to make the best online teaching platform, you need at least one of the best hosts out there. Bandwidth is a big issue in online learning, and Dreamhost has completely unmetered bandwidth for the higher tiers.

That means more course material, more information, and more homework (sorry future students) can be accessed at once. There is a limit on storage of up to 120GB SSD for the DreamPress Pro plan, though.

Dreamhost allows you to push your online school to the limits, and then some. The power is great, the promises are great, but they put their money where their mouth is. You get a 97-day money-back guarantee (an oddly specific number of days, but not bad at all). If you don’t like it, you get your money back.

Speaking of money, it’s time to talk about what you’re expected to pay for them. If you go with the DreamPress Pro package, which is recommended by us here at EdWize, it’s $71.95 per month if you go with the annual plan, or $863.40 per year. As one of the best hosting company for WordPress options out there, they make the money stretch.

WordPress comes pre-installed on your site, you get unlimited emails, one-click staging, a WP website builder, and 24/7 priority access support in the event that you need it. Not bad, right?

They estimate that the power of the DreamPress Pro package can sustain one million monthly visitors, and with the price they’re charging, you’ll be earning far too much at one million monthly visitors to need to worry about upgrading. They have specific upgrades available (customized, developed by internal teams) for when and if you get to that point.

Alternative: WP Engine

wp engine hosting
  • Type: WordPress experience platform
  • Bandwidth: No more than 500GB per month (or fees incur)
  • Space: Maximum of 50GB
  • Domain: No purchase plans

Online class hosting requires serious power, and while WP engine has a lot of power to offer, there are restrictions. Hopefully you won’t hit them, but they’re something we need to talk about. You have a 500GB monthly bandwidth limit, which is manageable even when you get to a bigger site and class size.

However, the storage is what feels like a kick in the teeth for this amount of money. If you’re going with the Scale Plan, which is $241 per month (paid annually, that’s $2,892 per year), only gives you 50GB worth of storage. That’s not a ton for online videos for your course modules.

Other pricing packages drop yoru storage down even more, but cost a lot less. You should get started on the Startup Plan, which is viable for up to 25K unique monthly visitors, and only runs $25 per month paid annually. You can upgrade your plan at any time.

Apart from the pricing, what does WP Engine offer and why does it stand out? Because it simplifies the process. If you tally up all the hours you would spend working on this site, and then how many of those hours WP Engine can save you, the price makes up for itself. Your time is more valuable, so their prices include fast solutions that do most of the work for you.

WP Engine is insanely fast, offers SSL certificates, but there’s no domain purchasing options available, which is a bit of a bummer. Even in their more expensive custom plans, they don’t offer domains.

Is WP Engine the best hosting service for WordPress? No, but it’s powerful and it’s available. The panels are good and easy to use, you don’t need a ridiculous working knowledge of coding to get it to work, and it has fantastic customer support.

Alternative: GreenGeeks

greengeeks hosting
  • Type: Website hosting service
  • Bandwidth: Completely unmetered in all plans
  • Space: Completely unmetered in all plans
  • Domain: Purchase and hosting

GreenGeeks is one that you may not have heard of, but after this, you’ll never be able to forget them. Even if you go with their highest offer, which is the Premium Plan, you’re only paying $24.95 per month for a ridiculous number of features. These include:

Unlimited websites, unlimited web space, no cap on data transfer, a free premium SSL, first-year domain registration is free, and unlimited databases, not to mention unlimited email handles. They’ll even back up your site for you once every twenty-four hours so that you don’t lose anything in the event of a data crash.

Doesn’t that sound incredible? The prices, the power?

Well you knew there would be a caveat or two, and here they are. GreenGeeks is not one of the best online training platforms, and that’s because while they do offer unmetered storage, the bandwidth they’re able to provide to you can get bottlenecked.

And if you try to contact support over it, you just end up being told to submit a ticket. We don’t have time to wait for tickets—people are trying to learn on our sites, and downtime means refunds and cancelled subscriptions. While their customer service isn’t great, the last downside that really affects you is that there’s zero website staging.

For the best WordPress hosting experience you can get, GreenGeeks is definitely up there, but you need to have a grasp on WordPress and how to troubleshoot on your own if you want to go with them. Where there are savings, there are bound to be trade-offs. GreenGeeks offers an amazing package, it’s just not as good as Bluehost and their customer support.

Alternative: Siteground

siteground hosting
  • Type: Website hosting service
  • Bandwidth: Completely unmetered with all plans
  • Space: 10GB, 20GB, and 40GB respectively in their three plans
  • Domain: Purchase and host (w/ unlimited subdomains)

Last but not least, we have Siteground to talk about. In terms of online WordPress hosting, they’ve been around the block a bit, and they know a thing or two. They’re going to give you up to 40GB worth of storage with their maximum plan, which is $39.99 per month, or $479.88 per year.

That’s not a lot of storage, and that’s a problem, but you do get the bandwidth to host up to 100,000 unique visitors per month, as well as a free SSL certificate, daily backup, and unlimited databases to help keep things powered up.

Siteground is great at loading up your website 4x faster than most, and since 2014, they haven’t had a single second of downtime, which is pretty neat. The user-friendly interface also means that there’s no steep learning curve to use it. Introductory prices are great, but the renewal costs are where the deal starts to get a little closer to the average expected costs of WordPress hosting.

The data restrictions is the only part that doesn’t make this one of the best platforms for online courses, but look at other plans out there (the bottom-of-the-barrel picks), and you’ll see that Siteground is still a pretty solid option. Every one of these services are going to have their flaws, you just have to trade off which ones you can and cannot live with.

Best Online Course Marketplaces

Best Overall: Skillshare

Skillshare review
  • Type: Online learning platform
  • Bandwidth: Completely unmetered as it’s hosted through Skillshare’s bandwidth
  • Space: Unmetered; whatever the course requires (2GB maximum video uploads)
  • Domain: No purchase plans, everything is hosted on Skillshare

Learning through Skillshare is amazing, but what about hosting courses through them? It has its challenges, but we’re going to iron all that out right now.

As an online courses platform that entrepreneurs can take advantage of, Skillshare has plenty of benefits from the wide audience to consistent influencer marketing to keep them relevant, all of which paints a pretty vivid picture: Skillshare isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s a unique opportunity, but depending on what you’re teaching, you might not even be hitting the target audience. Skillshare allows course sellers to focus on either technical skills like coding, or hobbyist skills like painting and learning how to play acoustic guitar.

A lot of companies use Skillshare for internal training. If you were to host a course on Javascript, and it becomes well-regarded, a company may use their company-wide plan and request a hundred employees to review your course.

That’s where we break into the money side of things. Every month, a huge pool of money is put aside for Skillshare video creators. Depending on how many minutes of watch time you get on your courses, you’ll get X percentage of that money.

That means if Skillshare is doing well and your courses are getting views, you get a percentage of that money pool. If Skillshare is doing bad but your course is doing well, you will actually suffer in terms of payments. It’s a slippery slope.

At the end of the day, Skillshare is a platform that everyone knows and trusts, and that means something. With a clean, intuitive design that helps people feel their best while learning something new, Skillshare simply works. It’s not your own site and there are restrictions with that, but it’s one of the best learning platforms out there right now.

Runner Up: Udemy

udemy marketplace
  • Type: Online learning platform
  • Bandwidth: F
  • Space: F
  • Domain: F

Udemy used to be the top dog before Skillshare came into power, but even then, Udemy is still a contender. E learning platforms in general come with limitations (which is why we often suggest going with WordPress, a host, and plugins to complete the entire package deal).

With Udemy, you’re able to get real feedback (reviews) on your courses, which drive a lot of customer engagement. The more reviews, the more trusted your courses appear to be. Udemy is also excellent for keeping all your money in one place, so you aren’t chasing down two dozen invoices across half-a-dozen apps and payment management systems.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Udemy’s pricing structure is limited, so you can only sell courses in between $19.99 and $199.99. If you’re making a mega course, the type that people can use to switch careers and start their lives over, then Udemy probably isn’t the place for you.

Their site design is clean, user engagement, helpful forums, and their review structure is great. Nothing takes away from those. Udemy is still a great place to make money with your courses even if they aren’t the number one online learning platform like they used to be.

You get to keep 50% of your course income if you sell at a normal cost. A $49.99 course sold at $49.99 means you will take home $24.98, but if you sell that course at a “featured coupon rate” (or whatever they’re calling it these days), you can keep up to 97% of your sale. A $49.99 course discounted to $29.99 means you keep more than normal.

Much like Skillshare, their payment structure is odd, but their site is revered as one of the best learning platforms out there, and that means something for your course visibility.

Alternative: Open Sesame

opensesame learning marketplace
  • Type: F
  • Bandwidth: F
  • Space: F
  • Domain: F

Haven’t heard of Open Sesame? They tend to take a backseat to Skillshare and Udemy, but don’t let their lack of being in the limelight fool you: they’re a powerful little company.

Open Sesame is often used by corporations, companies, and LLCs to train their staff in multiple technical skills. Here, you’ll find business skills, compliance, safety, technology, and software certification courses shine the best. If your skill that you want to share with the world revolves around there, you’re going to do well.

The problem with Open Sesame is that it’s hard to find helpful analytical data from them. They’re expanding all the time, and perhaps this is something they have in the works, but it’s hard to be data-driven when there isn’t enough data to start with.

As an LMS, they offer built-in learning portals, simulations, certification management on the back-end, mobile learning, and a basic ecommerce setup to sell your courses. Apart from the data restriction that was mentioned earlier, Open Sesame appreciates that for you, selling courses is a business and not just a hobby. They have internal marketing tools to help you sell your courses, such as coupons and bundling.

Should you go with Open Sesame? For one, they don’t require that your course is exclusive to their platform like some other big companies do, and two, their payment systems are quick and effective. If you’re selling a technical skill or a career-changing skill, Open Sesame is a good place to get started on.

Online Course Host Buying Guide and FAQ

Where Can I Host Online Courses?

hosting servers in racks

On your very own website! Get started with WordPress, host it somewhere, and put a membership theme and membership plugin to work for you. It takes a few pieces to make a seriously powerful website that’s SEO-friendly (so that customers can find your site organically without paid ads), has fast response times, and is responsive to mobile platforms. It’s all within your power.

It’s possible to host on platforms like Skillshare and Udemy if you jump through the right hoops. These sites are good because they take away the need to host, but they can take massive cuts. Udemy can charge up to 75% depending on the marketing you choose, or give you as much as 97% of the cut. It’s up in the air. Skillshare has a teacher’s pool where they divy up the money based on your number of premium account minutes watched, as well as individual payments for referrals.

With your own site, you don’t have to do any of that—just focus on getting 100% of the money you’re owed in direct payments through crafty WordPress plugins that handle everything for you.

What is the Best Platform for Online Classes?

There’s no perfect answer here as it’s all subjective. It depends on what works best for your course, for the user persona of your average student, and so on.

That being said, we can look to the great successes like Skillshare, Udemy, Brilliant and others to see what top-tier success looks like. Go on their sites, take a class, and see what the hype is about. See what you can emulate.

Hosting for WordPress means that you get to define what the best online course platform will be. Do you like certain UI elements of Udemy, but the overall atmosphere and learning paths of Skillshare? Are there little-known membership sites that you admire? Find a way to incorporate all the elements that you enjoy in educational content sites, and make them into one hybrid.

What is the Easiest Way for a Beginner to Create and Host Online Courses?

Easiest doesn’t not mean effortless. First thing’s first: you pick the best web hosting for WordPress, you install WordPress (or have Bluehost do it for you if you go with them), and you begin snapping those plugins into your site.

Host, installation, plugin, and then take a pause. Learn about WordPress a little more in-depth than you do now, and take the time to watch some videos or read some guides on the plugin(s) that you chose.

Once you know your way around the plugin, you’ll be able to make your courses from scratch and begin laying out the content you’ve created. Many of the hosts and plugins that we talk about on this guide and all of EdWize have automated steps or helpful customer service to help you along the way. Don’t be shy; use those opportunities.

What WordPress Plugin Should I Use to Host my Courses on my Website?

That’s a tough nut to crack. After reading our WordPress hosting reviews and deciding what platform to go with, you have to pick a plugin to not only make your site more attractive, but also make it easier to upload and manage content and memberships.

We’ve written reviews on Wishlist Member, AccessAlly, WP Courseware, Memberpress and more—head on over to our reviews to determine which one works best for you. There are a lot of options, and we can’t know your exact needs, so while it would be irresponsible to label one of these as the all-time best, we’ll let the reviews speak for themselves.

Can You Sell Online Classes on Amazon?

online courses marketplace

No. Whether it’s a pre-recorded course or they’re held live, Amazon does not allow you to sell courses on their platform whatsoever.

They’ll sell their own courses, but those are produced, manufactured, and regarded by their editorial team so that they know it will be a satisfactory experience to the customers.

Instead, you can turn your content and know-how into books to sell on Amazon, or digital versions through KDP. You could also sell videos on Amazon through Prime Direct Video, which is designed to help studios, but you can take advantage of this as well. Just read the ToS carefully to make sure your course doesn’t violate their rules.

Is Zoom Good for Online Teaching? Can You Monetize it?

As of October 2020, you can monetize it. However, it’s not necessarily an entire online course hosting program. If you’re using a membership plugin on your WordPress site to allow your students access to learning materials, that’s great, but it won’t work well in paid-for Zoom calls.

Zoom will allow you to host paid-for virtual events, such as webinars, but as of right now there is no talk of the feature including a subscription status or integration with WordPress. That being said, if you use tools like Asana or Box to manage your workflow while building your online courses and educational content, those will have integration to help you out.

Zoom can be monetized, but as of right now, it’s not exactly viable. The only way I would use it is if you’re hosting a one-off seminar with information that is not included in the plans that your students pay for. This way your students aren’t being jipped by having to pay for Zoom access when they’re already enrolled and paying you, but they can still choose to sign up and pay for that additional information. This is a common practice that you see on YouTube “guru” video ads where they get you to sign up for webinars.

Selling Online Courses is a Different Beast in 2021

Now that you know where you can host online courses, what each platform entails, and just what your students are looking to get out of you in terms of value, you have a better understanding of how to stand out in the populated online education space.

More courses appear online every single day. At EdWize, we’re constantly helping you innovate your sites, courses, and themes to help you retain more students than your competitors.

Be sure to browse our guides pitting the big course marketplace giants against one another so you can see which ones end up on top, and which course providers you should be on the lookout for.


Where Can I Host Online Courses In 2021? 6

Layla Acharya

Education is important, and in this day and age, we have access to more choices than ever. Layla Acharya is living proof of that. With coding, website engineering, business management and more skills under her belt, she’s a testament to how much you can achieve with online learning. She developed Edwize to help you reach your full potential by utilizing online education tools. Here, she explains which ones work the best, what sites to use, and how to sell your own tutorials online for a passive income.