How to Create an Online Course for Free (Tools and Software)

How to Create an Online Course for Free

If you’re wondering how to create an online course for free, then you’ll love this guide.

Creating an online course involves several steps ​​like writing course content, recording videos, and setting up your course on a course platform.

And each step requires you to use one or more tools. So, it is easy to think that you’ll need to shell out big bucks for these tools to create a successful course.

However, this is far from true, and in this guide, I’ll share a comprehensive list of free tools to help you create an awesome online course on a low budget.

Let’s get started.

1. Teachable

The most important tool in your arsenal will be an online course platform. You’ll need it to host your course and build your online school website.

While there are many course platforms, I recommend Teachable if you want a free course creation platform.

Teachable has a powerful learning management system with support for multiple content formats like videos, audio files, quizzes, etc., unlimited video hosting, a well-designed course player, etc.

Plus, you get several useful features for marketing and selling online courses, such as the ability to create a website, price your course in several ways, accept payments, etc.

What is Teachable?

Another great thing about Teachable is that it is super easy to use, and you can get your course online, even if you have zero technical skills.

Most importantly, the platform allows you to have unlimited courses and students on the free plan.

The only thing is that it charges you a 10% transaction fee. However, it’s fine because you can always switch to a paid plan once you have achieved the initial success.

And Teachable’s paid plans are also quite reasonably priced, and they start from $39/month.

2. Screencast-O-Matic

To make screencast videos for your course, you’ll need screen recording software, and the one I recommend is Screencast-O-Matic.

It comes with a free plan that works on both Windows and Mac and includes the ability to both record your screen and edit your videos.

With Screencast-O-Matic, you can record a walkthrough of anything, including your presentation slides, along with narration.

Screencast-O-Matic

The tool allows you to record your entire screen or a part of it, add a webcam feed to your recording, plus it lets you record your system audio along with voice over.

Moreover, Screencast-O-Matic gives you editing tools to make the videos more polished. So you can remove unnecessary portions, mix and match other media, add audio effects, etc.

Now, there are a couple of limitations to Screencast-O-Matic’s free plan.

First, it limits the length of videos you can record with it to 15 mins. And second, it places a watermark inside your videos.

But in my view, these limitations shouldn’t be a deal-breaker in any way. Moreso, because Screencast-O-Matic’s paid plan costs just $48/year, and you can always switch to that.

3. Google Docs

Google Docs is the most popular tool for writing text content for any purpose, and online courses are no exception. So you’ll be using it pretty extensively while creating your online course.

The good thing is that it’s completely free, gives you a lot of freedom to format your content, plus lets you convert docs into PDFs from within the tool.

Google Docs document editor

You can use it to write lesson texts, write video scripts, create cheat sheets and workbooks, and more. You can also use it to note down your ideas and create your course outline.

Moreover, you can share documents on the cloud with your team members and organize your online course content in folders.

Overall, Google Docs is a pretty versatile tool, and you’ll use it for various aspects of online course creation.

4. PowerPoint/Keynote

Using presentation slides is an effective way to create course videos.

To create slides, you can use Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. These are the most popular presentation solutions and I’m sure you’d have used one of these at some point in your life.

Microsoft Powerpoint

They let you quickly create slides with text and images. You can also add animations and other effects to your slides.

Finally, you can add narration to your slides and turn them into videos. And, you can also export it as a presentation file and add it to your course as an additional resource.

5. Smartphone Camera

If you want to record talking-head videos, you’ll need a camera.

Most first-time course creators think they need a DSLR camera to record these videos, but that’s incorrect.

Your smartphone camera can actually do a great job at recording videos. The latest smartphones come packed with large sensors and better software, making it possible to create high-resolution videos.

And once your videos are recorded, you can make further improvements to the final video with the help of a video editing software.

So, your smartphone camera should be more than sufficient for your course videos, and all you need is sufficient lighting and some other basic equipment like a tripod.

6. Canva

Canva will be one of the most important tools in your arsenal as an online course creator.

The tool lets non-designers create high-quality graphics with ease, and it should cover nearly all your design needs.

For instance, you can use Canva to create your brand logo and your course thumbnails. Or, you can use it to design graphics for your presentation slides, diagrams and flowcharts, certificate templates, etc.

Canva graphic design software

On top of that, it gives you a lot of ready-made templates for workbooks and cheatsheets, which is handy for creating additional downloadable materials in your course.

Finally, you can use the tool to create graphics for your online course page, newsletters, and social media campaigns.

In terms of pricing, Canva comes with a free plan that gives you all its core features, and it should be more than adequate for your design needs as a course creator.

7. Unsplash

Stock photos can be an important part of your course creation process. You may want to add stock photos to your course lessons, presentation slides, course videos, or even use them to design your Canva graphics.

With over a million high-resolution photos covering almost every conceivable category, Unsplash is a great option for finding free and re-usable images.

Unsplash stock images

One of my favorite things about Unsplash is that it is really easy to search within the platform, even for very specific terms. And once you have found a suitable image, you are presented with different size options for download.

8. TestMoz

Although Teachable allows you to create quizzes to evaluate students, it offers only the basic features on the free plan.

So, you may want to consider a quiz maker like TestMoz if you want to create advanced quizzes in your course.

TestMoz gives you the option to create several types of questions, including fill-in-the-blank questions, true/false questions, matching questions, and free test assignments with TestMoz.

Testmoz Quiz Maker

Additionally, you can set a time limit for your quiz and restrict the number of times a student can take a quiz. Plus, it gives you useful reports to help you assess student performance, and you can even export answers and scores in a CSV file.

TestMoz’s free plan allows you to create up to 50 questions and limits you up to to 100 students. However, that should be sufficient for you when you are just getting off the blocks.

9. Zoom

Creating blended learning experiences by introducing live sessions in your course is a great way to boost learner engagement.

For example, you can use live sessions to conduct workshops, weekly calls, guest sessions, etc. Plus, you can even introduce a premium tier in your course, wherein you can exclusively offer these sessions.

And Zoom is a great solution to achieve all of the above.

Zoom video conferencing platform

While conducting a live session, you can share slides as your virtual background, conduct polls, and use its chat feature to engage your students. You can also mute/unmute participants to create a distraction-free learning experience.

Moreover, Zoom will record your live sessions so that you can use the recorded videos as evergreen course material.

Zoom’s free plan is pretty generous. There are no limits on one-on-one meetings with the free plan, but you can organize group meetings for up to 40 minutes and host up to 100 students.

10. Facebook Groups

An effective way to increase your online course’s appeal is to build an engaged community, where your students can ask questions and help each other out.

While there are many online community platforms, most are paid solutions. And so, you can use Facebook Groups to host your course community.

With FB Groups, you get powerful community features, including the ability to host live sessions right inside the group. 

Plus, it is easier to build engagement in FB Groups as most of your students are already on Facebook.

And for the same reason, it is much easier to sustain your community with fewer students, which is likely to be the case for you in the initial phase post-launch.

Finally, FB Groups are great for top-of-the-funnel engagement to nurture your audience. For instance, if you sell a free or a low-priced course, you can use Facebook Group to build engagement with your audience and upsell them a premium course later.

11. Calendly

If you sell online coaching as well, you‘ll need a scheduling tool. And Calendly is one of the most popular scheduling tools with an attractive free plan.

You can use the tool to allow students to book one-on-one sessions with you. In addition, Calendly integrates with Google Calendar, so your coaching slots will reflect on your calendar.

Calendly scheduling tool

You can create a Calendly link and share that through email, or you can embed the Calendly widget on your site, allowing students to book a session with you easily.

Moreover, the tool sends automatic confirmation emails and reminders to you and your students for scheduled sessions.

12. ConvertKit

Email marketing is key to profitable online courses and you’ll need an email marketing platform for the same. While there are several options, ConvertKit is the easiest to use and pretty popular.

You can use ConvertKit to enhance and promote your course in several different ways.

For instance, you can use ConvertKit to send announcements to your students about upcoming tests, new lessons, or upcoming live sessions.

You can also send marketing emails to promote your course to your audience.

In addition, ConvertKit also lets you build landing pages and opt-in forms that you can use to capture leads.

What is ConvertKit

ConvertKit has a free plan, which supports up to 300 students. While the limit is sufficient at the start, it doesn’t include any automation features.

If you want to build an automated email funnel, you can switch to their paid plan, starting from $15/month.

13. Zapier

Zapier is a popular business automation software that comes with a free plan, and you can use it to automate all sorts of repetitive tasks.

It integrates with thousands of apps and allows you to connect them so that you can take actions in one app based on an event in another app.

Zapier is an automation tool

For instance, let’s say you need to create and send certificates to your students when they finish your course.

So, you can create a certificate template in Google Docs and add the names and emails of students in a spreadsheet. And Zapier will automatically insert a student name to create a personalized certificate.

And there are several such scenarios where Zapier can be extremely handy for task automation. Plus, the tool is fairly easy to learn, and you don’t need any technical skills to use it.

The free plan of Zapier can handle 100 tasks in a month, so it should be good enough to get you started.

14. Evernote

Writing detailed research notes and jotting down ideas is an important step you need to go through before you get down to write your actual course content.

And to make that process easier and more efficient, you can use Evernote, one of the most popular note-taking apps out there.

The app allows you to add tags to your notes, making it easy to organize your research and ideas. If you prefer writing down your notes on paper, it even lets you upload photos of handwritten notes and search for text within these photos.

Evernote note taking app

Most importantly, Evernote comes with a free plan that gives you all the features you’d need while taking notes for your course content.

15. Google Drive

When you create an online course, you’ll have dozens of videos and other files. And I recommend that you store these files in a cloud drive because:

  • Your files are securely stored and backed up in the cloud.
  • You can easily share the files with others.
  • You can import the files into your course platform quickly and easily.

And there is no better option than Google Drive for storing your course files. It is free to use and gives you decent storage limits.

Google Drive Cloud Storage

Moreover, since you’ll be working with Google Docs a lot, Google Drive makes more sense in that scenario.

16. ClickUp

ClickUp is a popular project management tool (with a free plan) that can be useful in managing your entire course creation project.

It gives you different views to organize your tasks into different lists. While this is an extremely simple feature, it gives you a lot of flexibility for organizing your tasks.

Clickup project management tool

For instance, you can break down your project into different sub-projects, like course outline creation, video creation, platform setup, and create a task list for every sub-project.

Alternatively, you can also organize your tasks based on their status, like tasks being done, currently done, and finished tasks.

Plus, you can add files and links within task descriptions and add all your resources like documents, course content files, tools within ClickUp in an organized fashion.

And you can also assign due dates to tasks, add descriptions and checklists, and assign tasks to other team members.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many free tools that can go a long way in helping you create online courses for free. Now that you know which tool to use for what purpose, you can accomplish a lot without spending any money.

And as your online course business grows, you can always upgrade these tools and get more features as required.

I hope you enjoyed reading the article and learning how to create an online course for free.

If you have any questions or suggestions for additional tools, feel free to post them in the comments below.

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