The 7 Best Free Online Course Platforms in 2023 (Compared)

Top Free Online Course Platforms

If you’ve ever tried to create an online course, you’ll know that most course builders require monthly payments.

Meanwhile, if you’re just starting, you may not be able to spend money on monthly subscriptions to publish your courses.

So we decided to create a list of seven free online course platforms that’ll allow you to create online courses free of charge.

Without further ado, let’s discuss the platforms in detail.

1. Thinkific

Thinkific is the best all-around online course builder and has the most generous free plan as well.

The free plan includes various tools to create and sell an online course, including a drag-and-drop course builder, unlimited content hosting, an online community, a website builder, and integrated payment processing.

Thinkific course creation

Pros of Thinkific

  • Transaction fee: There are no transaction fees or hidden charges, so the free plan is actually “free.”
  • Course creation tools: Thinkific’s course builder is easy to use and supports various content formats, such as videos, audio, text, quizzes, and more. You can also create an online community to facilitate course discussions.
  • Website builder: Thinkific’s site themes and the drag-and-drop builder let you create a unique website and sales pages.
  • eCommerce tools: With the free plan, you can create streamlined checkout pages and accept payments via card and PayPal. You also get immediate access to your funds.
  • Third-party integrations: Most course platforms don’t allow you to integrate with third-party tools on their free plans, but Thinkific supports many integrations, including Zapier.
  • Best overall: Thinkific is the most powerful course platform. Its paid plans give you additional features, such as assignments, certificates, live lessons, and much more. It also has an app store, so you can easily extend the platform’s functionality.

Cons of Thinkific

  • Product limits: While there’s no limit on the number of students, the free plan lets you create only one course and one community.
  • Custom domain: You can’t use your own domain, but your site will be hosted on a Thinkific subdomain (e.g., mycourses.thinkific.com).

MORE ON THINKIFIC

2. Teachable

Teachable is one of the most popular online course builders, and it has a lifetime free plan that lets you create and sell an online course.

All the essential features—such as the course builder, content hosting, sales pages, and payment processing—are included. Moreover, you can have unlimited students enrolled in your school.

Teachable free course platform

Pros of Teachable

  • Course builder: The drag-and-drop course builder lets you create a course with video lessons, PDFs, basic quizzes, and more types of learning materials.
  • Coaching: In addition to your courses, you can create and sell one coaching product and run a one-on-one coaching program.
  • Page builder: Teachable has an easy-to-use page builder for creating your website and sales pages.
  • Sales and marketing tools: The free plan lets you price your products however you want; additionally, you can process payments, handle taxes, and start a referral program through the platform.
  • Scalable pricing: When it comes to paid plans, the Basic plan costs $39/month (+5% fee), and the Pro plan costs $119/month (no fee), making the pricing beginner-friendly.

Cons of Teachable

  • Transaction fee: While there’s no monthly cost, you need to pay a $1 + 10% transaction fee on all sales, and there’s an additional 2% fee for offering PayPal as a payment option.
  • Course limit: You can only create one course on the free plan.
  • Custom domain: You can’t use your own domain, but your site will use a Teachable subdomain (e.g., mycourses.teachable.com).
  • Third-party integrations: The free plan doesn’t support integrations with any third-party marketing tool, including Zapier.

MORE ON TEACHABLE

3. New Zenler

New Zenler is an all-in-one platform that lets you run your entire online course business under one roof. It doesn’t just give you course creation and selling features but also includes a suite of marketing tools.

While New Zenler doesn’t technically have a free plan, it has a free beta version, which gives you access to most of its tools, barring a few exceptions.

New zenler free beta plan

Pros of New Zenler

  • Course creation tools: The free plan includes the course builder, content hosting, and all the learning and engagement tools, including quizzes, certificates, community, and mobile apps.
  • All-in-one features: You don’t just get course creation tools but an entire suite for website creation, blogging, funnel building, and email marketing.
  • Third-party integrations: All third-party integrations—including Zapier—are supported on the free plan.
  • Generous account limits: There’s no limit on the number of courses or students you can have. However, you can have up to 5,000 subscribers and send up to 1,000 emails, which is pretty generous.
  • Affordable paid plans: New Zenler has two paid plans, which are Pro ($67/month) and Premium ($197/month). Both give you full functionality, unlimited courses and students, and no transaction fees, making it the most affordable all-in-one platform.

Cons of New Zenler

  • Beta plan: New Zenler’s beta plan won’t continue forever, and its team is suggesting that it will have a free plan when it officially launches; however, it will be more limited in features.
  • Transaction fee: There is a 10% transaction fee on all sales.
  • Custom domain: You can’t use a custom domain but only a New Zenler subdomain (e.g., mycourses.newzenler.com).

MORE ON NEW ZENLER

4. Podia

Podia is the easiest-to-use online course platform that lets you create and sell online courses and other digital products, including coaching, webinars, digital downloads, community, etc.

The free plan, however, only lets you create draft courses. So, you can use it to test the platform and set up your courses, but it won’t allow you to sell a course.

Podia free plan

Pros of Podia

  • Ease of use: Podia is the simplest-to-use online course platform. All the tools—including the course and website builders—are drag-and-drop and very user friendly.
  • Product types: The free plan lets you create one online community, one coaching product, and one digital download.
  • Email marketing: You can create one automated email campaign and send broadcast emails to up to 250 people.

Cons of Podia

  • Published courses: On the free plan, you can only create draft courses, which means that you can’t sell a course.
  • Transaction fees: Podia charges an 8% fee on all transactions on the free plan.
  • Custom domain: Your website will use a Podia subdomain (e.g., mycourses.podia.com).
  • Third-party integrations: It doesn’t support any third-party integrations—not even Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel.

MORE ON PODIA

5. Tutor LMS

Tutor LMS is a popular LMS plugin that lets you create and sell online courses through your WordPress website.

The plugin has a free version with robust course creation features, and you can also extend the functionality through the numerous add-ons it supports.

However, keep in mind that you can’t build an online course with TutorLMS alone. You need a WordPress website, which requires added fees for hosting, themes, and other plugins. So, if you don’t have a WordPress website already, it may not be worth it.

Tutor lms free wordpress plugin

Pros of Tutor LMS

  • Course creation features: Tutor LMS has an easy-to-use course builder with support for video lessons and quizzes, and it lets you create unlimited courses and lessons.
  • Expandability: The free version of Tutor LMS supports integrations with popular plugins like GamiPress and Easy Digital Downloads, allowing you to extend its functionality.
  • Pro version: The pro version of the plugin has more built-in features and is reasonably priced at $199/year.

Cons of Tutor LMS

  • WordPress-based: Tutor LMS is WordPress-based and requires you to set up a website before using the plugin. Not only this means more work, but it also requires technical skills.
  • Requires add-ons: Unlike other standalone platforms on this list, you need to work with multiple add-ons, such as Elementor for page building and WooCommerce for payments.
  • Additional cost: Tutor LMS doesn’t include website hosting or video hosting. You’ll need to pay for them separately.

6. Udemy

Udemy is the largest online learning platform where you can upload your online courses and reach out to millions of students on the platform.

The platform works on a revenue share model. There’s no monthly cost, but the platform will take 63% of your course revenue and pay out the rest monthly.

Tech on udemy

Pros of Udemy

  • Existing user base: Udemy has millions of registered students, and your courses have the potential to get exposed to this large user base.
  • Quickest way to start: The platform provides all the infrastructure for hosting and selling online courses. You don’t need to set up a website or integrate payment gateways. It will take care of everything on your behalf.
  • Great learning experience: The platform has an optimized course player and supports features like quizzes, assignments, q&a forums, mobile apps, etc.
  • Extensive support resources: Udemy offers a lot of support resources that will help you through the entire course creation process.

Cons of Udemy

  • High revenue share: For any sales happening through Udemy, the platform takes a 63% cut, which is extremely high.
  • Student data: You don’t own your students’ data (email addresses and payments) or the relationship with them, and you can’t take them outside the platform.
  • Platform policies: You don’t control the platform’s policies, and you’re at the discretion of Udemy. For example, the revenue share has been reduced from 90% to 37% over time.
  • Marketplace competition: Udemy marketplace is highly competitive, and it’s tough for new courses to rank in the search without a significant marketing push from your end.
  • Niche categories: Student demand is concentrated in certain popular categories like programming, business, etc. The demand will be small if you operate in a niche market (e.g., supply chain).

MORE ON UDEMY

7. Gumroad

Gumroad is an e-Commerce platform that offers you an online storefront to sell your products, including online courses. While it can also host the course content, it doesn’t have the tools to deliver a good learning experience.

Gumroad’s pricing is simple. It doesn’t charge a monthly fee but only a transaction fee that reduces as your lifetime sales grow.

Lifetime EarningsTransaction Fee
$09% + 30¢
$1,0007% + 30¢
$10,0005% + 30¢
$100,0003% + 30¢
$1,000,000+2.9% + 30¢

Pros of Gumroad

  • No monthly fees: There’s no monthly fee at any point, and you get access to all of the features. You just need to pay a transaction fee that lowers as your lifetime sales increase.
  • eCommerce tools: Gumroad has powerful eCommerce tools, including flexible product pricing options, an optimized checkout experience, sales tax handling, and affiliate management tools.
  • Custom domain: You can use a custom domain name for your storefront, making Gumroad the only option that lets you do that without charging a monthly fee.

Cons of Gumroad

  • Course delivery experience: Many essential course features, such as a course player, quizzes, user discussions, and more, aren’t available.
  • Storefront design: Your homepage and landing pages are elementary, and you can’t customize them much.
  • User accounts: Gumroad is a middleman between you and your users; for the payments to be processed through it, your users must create a Gumroad account.
  • Creator payouts: You don’t get instant access to your funds but get paid every Friday when your account balance exceeds $10.

MORE ON GUMROAD

Final Thoughts

While all these platforms have their strengths, our #1 choice for a free online course platform is Thinkific.

Thinkific’s lifetime free plan has no transaction fees or hidden costs, which makes it quite attractive.

Moreover, it’s pretty generous when it comes to features, as it includes the course builder, content hosting, website builder, eCommerce tools, and even third-party integrations.

Finally, Thinkific is the best all-around online course platform, which makes it a no-brainer.

Create a free account on Thinkific to start building your online course.

We hope that this article helped you pick the free online course platform that’s right for you.

Do you have more questions about any of these platforms? Then leave them below, and we’ll get back to you asap!

Frequently Asked Questions