The 7 Best Free Online Course Builders 2024 [+Pros & Cons]

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Most online course platforms require monthly payments, which can be an issue if you’re starting out and have a limited budget.

But don’t worry; there are still plenty of free course hosting platforms that can help you create and publish your courses without breaking the bank.

In this article, we’ll share with you the 7 best free online course builders in 2024. We’ll discuss their features, benefits, and limitations to help you choose the right platform for your needs.

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How to Select the Best Free Online Course Builder

When we say free online course platforms, we mean platforms that have a free plan with the ability to host and publish an online course without a fixed monthly fee.

We haven’t considered platforms like Kajabi that offer a free trial but need a subscription afterward. Likewise, we haven’t included platforms like Podia that only allow draft courses on the free plan.

However, the free plans may charge a transaction fee and may have limitations in terms of the number of courses, features, and customization options.

Here are a few things to evaluate when selecting the best free online course builder for your needs:

  • How many courses can you create on the free plan? Are there any limits on video storage?
  • How many students can enroll in your courses?
  • What course creation tools are available on the free plan?
  • Can you access the website builder and eCommerce tools on the free plan?
  • Can you integrate any third-party tools or services?
  • Does the platform charge a transaction fee? If yes, how much?

Another key thing to consider is the overall performance of the platform and not just the free plan. It’s important to choose a platform that can meet your needs in the long run as you grow your online course business.

Now, let’s explore the top seven free online course platforms in the market.

Free Course Hosting Platforms Compared
Free online course builders comparison

1. Thinkific

Thinkific is the best all-around online course builder and has a 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 free course hosting platform

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 Thinkific Payments. 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).

Additional Info

2. New Zenler

New Zenler is an all-in-one course 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.

New Zenler also has a generous free plan that 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:

3. 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. However, the limits on video storage and the number of students are too low to be viable for most creators.

Teachable free course platform

Pros of Teachable

  • Course builder: The drag-and-drop course builder lets you improve the experience with video lessons, course PDF files, 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 $59/month (+5% fee), and the Pro plan costs $159/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.
  • Course and student limits: You can only create one course with up to ten published videos on the free plan. Moreover, you can only have up to ten students.
  • 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.

4. Trainer Central

Trainer Central comes from the Zoho family and is among the most affordable online course platform options available in the market.

Its free plan gives you access to the course builder and lets you publish up to three courses. However, it doesn’t include the payment processing feature, making it suitable for offering free courses.

Pros of Trainer Central

  • Course builder: Trainer Central’s drag-and-drop course builder is easy to use and is pretty flexible with adding multiple content types of course lessons.
  • Unlimited students: You can have an unlimited number of students enrolled in your courses, even on the free plan.
  • Affordability: Trainer Central is among the most budget-friendly course platforms. Its highest tier costs $50/month, which is much lower compared to other platforms.

Cons of Trainer Central

  • Limited Video Storage: While the free plan allows up to three courses, the total storage is only 5 GB. This can be limiting if your courses include a lot of video content.
  • No engagement tools: Trainer Central doesn’t make available any of its learning and engagement features like quizzes, dripping, or live workshops on its free plan.
  • Lack of payment processing: The free plan does not include the ability to accept payments, making it only suitable for offering free courses or as a trial option before upgrading to a paid plan.

5. 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, and mobile apps.
  • 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: Udemy takes a 63% cut for any sales happening through the platform, 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 instructors to make money. In fact, our study found that instructors who joined after 2020 make just $2.1K/year on average.
  • Niche categories: Student demand is concentrated in certain popular business and tech categories. The demand will be small if you operate in other categories.

MORE ON UDEMY:

6. Gumroad

Gumroad is an eCommerce 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 flat transaction fee of 10%.

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 flat transaction fee.
  • 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, and user discussions, 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:

7. 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 does this mean 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.

Final Thoughts on Free Course Hosting Platforms

While all these platforms have their strengths, our #1 choice for a free online course builder 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. You can 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. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below.

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