The question that I am asked quite often by course creators is whether they should use WordPress or a hosted platform like Teachable for selling online courses.
When I first started in this space, there were not many options for building your online school and so I went with WordPress which was the most common choice for creators then.
Since then, the technology for creating and selling online courses has evolved quite a bit and modern course creators now have several different options to choose from.
The first approach is to build your course website on WordPress and then use a plugin like LearnDash to add LMS functionality to it.
The other approach and the one which has become the go-to one for a majority of course creators is to use a hosted online course platform.
Teachable is a market leader in the hosted course platform space and is often compared against the WordPress option. So what route should you take for your courses?
That’s what I’ll help you figure out in this Teachable vs WordPress comparison guide.
Let’s get started.
Teachable vs WordPress Summary
The main difference between Teachable and WordPress is that Teachable is a hosted solution designed from scratch to create and sell online courses while WordPress is a self-hosted solution that can be used to create different types of websites including course sites.
Pros of Teachable vs WordPress
- Super easy to use and setup.
- Requires ‘Zero’ updates & maintenance.
- All the core course creation and selling tools are nicely integrated into a single platform.
- Much better end-user experience out of the box.
- Extremely scalable platform.
- Dedicated customer support.
- More flexible pricing.
Cons of Teachable vs WordPress
- Not possible to extend the functionality much beyond what is offered.
- No support for features like advanced quizzes, gamification, SCORM compliance, etc.
- Less customizable compared to WordPress.
- Includes more powerful blogging capability.
Teachable – What is It?
Teachable is an integrated solution for creating and selling online courses. When I say ‘integrated’, I mean you can build your course site, host & protect your content (videos, pdfs, quizzes etc.), hide it behind a paywall, deliver the content to the students and further engage with them, and you can do all this even if you have no coding skills.
More than 100,000 online course creators including some big names like Pat Flynn use Teachable and it is certainly one of the best online course platforms out there.
Watch this short introduction video to get a sense of what is Teachable and how it works:
Here’s what Teachable has to offer an online course creator like you:
- Build your brand website and sales pages even if you have no coding skills.
- Create engaging online courses – you can add videos, audio files, quizzes, and other multimedia content.
- Deliver your course content professionally and further engage your students.
- Create and send certificates of completion.
- Accept payments through either Stripe or PayPal.
- In-built marketing tools like coupons, 1-click upsells, and
- Ability to create and manage your affiliate program.
- Complete ownership of your course, content, student data, branding, and pricing.
- Dedicated customer support.
This is a high-level overview of what Teachable has to offer. We’ll talk in detail about how it differs from WordPress when it comes to creating and selling an online course.
Teachable vs WordPress – Important Differences
The main difference between Teachable and WordPress is that Teachable is a hosted solution designed from scratch to sell online courses while WordPress is a self-hosted solution that can be used to create different types of websites including course websites.
With this in mind, let’s deep dive into how both these platforms compare with each other on dimensions like features & functionality, ease of use, customization, scalability, etc.
1. Ease of Use and Setup
Teachable is much easier to use and set up compared to WordPress and to get started, you just need to sign up and create an account with Teachable.
It provides you all the basic infrastructure that you require to sell courses online and you can create a full fledged course website quickly.
However, WordPress is a generic website software and hasn’t been designed just to sell online courses. So if you decide to sell courses on WordPress, unlike Teachable you would need to do much more work to put a basic infrastructure in place:
- buy a domain and a web hosting account,
- install WordPress,
- find and install a theme,
- install essential plugins for site security, SEO, social media sharing, etc.,
- buy and install an LMS plugin like LearnDash that will help you create course pages and organize them,
- buy a membership plugin like MemberPress (You don’t require one if you are using LearnDash),
- install a shopping cart/e-commerce plugin like Woocommerce,
- and much more…
Plus you’ll need to invest a lot of effort and time in order to learn WordPress and be able to build your online learning platform.
However, you can create a good-looking, fully-fledged course site on Teachable even if you don’t have any coding skills or technical background. Check out some of the schools created using Teachable here.
When I switched to Teachable in 2015, I hardly had any coding skills and still, I could get my course site up and running in a couple of days and it looked beautiful.
Unless you want some deep customization on your website, you can do everything yourself using Teachable’s drag-n-drop editor.
However, you would need to have a minimum level of coding skills and decent technical knowledge to piece everything together in order to sell courses on WordPress.
This is not just true for site building. But even uploading content and creating courses is a breeze on Teachable.
You can bulk upload your videos, reorganize them into sections by dragging and dropping and without any customization, you will have a course that is ready to be delivered.
Even though Teachable is much easier and quicker to set up, the end product in Teachable looks far more professional as far as course listing, sales pages, course player, etc. are concerned.
The course player design is excellent and helps further improve the user experience on the site. The professional look and feel of the site combined with a better end-user experience is certainly an advantage that Teachable has over WordPress.
2. Features and Extendability
As mentioned previously, Teachable is a platform designed from scratch to let you create and sell online courses. As a result, it has all the essential course creation and selling tools built into the platform.
Plus Teachable is an easier platform to customize and offers you enough flexibility. You can do basic customization on your site without touching a single line of code while for advanced customization, you can use their Power Editor (which requires coding skills).
However, there is a limit to what can be customized and changed on Teachable.
So if you need some extra functionality, you will most likely have to wait till they add this feature to their platform or you have to find a workaround to do that.
For example, Teachable doesn’t have an inbuilt gamification tool and there is no way you can incorporate the same into your learning platform.
But if you are using LearnDash, you can integrate it with a gamification plugin like GamiPress and add gamification features to your platform.
Even if you don’t find a plugin for certain features, WordPress offers you the capability to build something from scratch for yourself, even though this might mean hiring external developers and incurring significant costs and time.
So WordPress is any day a better platform when it comes to extending the functionality of your online learning platform.
However, from my experience of working with thousands of course creators, I can tell you that Teachable offers enough features and flexibility to meet the requirements of more than 90% of course creators.
And you need to realize that there is an inverse relationship between ease of use and flexibility & customization and you must factor this in while making your decision.
3. Updates and Maintenance
For those of you who have been using WordPress would know that the biggest pain point for selling courses (or doing anything) on WordPress is taking care of updates and maintenance on an ongoing basis.
You always start with a few plugins but you slowly end up in a situation where you have two dozens or more plugins that are provided by different third-party providers, so they conflict with each other, causing breaks or damage to your website.
Also, you need to constantly update the site as the platform and the plugins are updated by their developers. Now every update has potential to cause a conflict and thus break your site.
Even not updating things on your site is not an option as that can lead to serious security breaches and compatibility issues.
Since a typical WordPress site has 20-25 different plugins, compatibility issues are very common and users end up spending 20-30% of their time on keeping their sites up & running.
While with Teachable, their expert team takes care of the regular updates and maintenance for the entire platform and you can focus on more important things like creating and selling courses.
This also makes Teachable truly ‘Passive’. So even if you go away for a month, you can be confident that your course platform will be up and running.
‘Zero’ updates & maintenance along with ease of use are the two most important reasons why online course creators choose Teachable over WordPress.
Scalability is an important factor in helping you determine the right solution for your business. You wouldn’t want to use a solution which in any way hinders the growth of your course business.
It would be incorrect to say that WordPress is not scalable. However, there are two major challenges related to scaling your business on WordPress:
Firstly, you end up spending a lot of time managing your website and troubleshooting rather than on creating new courses and selling them.
Secondly as your business starts growing, you need to consistently make sure that you have the right server resources and solutions to ensure smooth operations.
For example, as your site traffic increases, it is quite probable that your site speed and performance will be affected. You would require to add additional servers/RAM and take care of a lot of other technical aspects in order to suit your new scale.
However with Teachable, website management and maintenance is minimum and thus you can focus on what you should – creating & selling courses.
Moreover, it doesn’t really matter whether you have 100 or 10,000 students on your site or whether you have 10 or even 1,000 courses.
As a result, Teachable is used by businesses of all size – Individuals with a couple of 100 students as well as enterprises with more than 10,000 students (StackSkills, TNW etc.) use Teachable to sell courses.
The best part is that you don’t need to worry about anything related to technology as your site grows in size and scale.
5. Blogging Capability
Can any platform at this point beat WordPress when it comes to creating a blog? I don’t think so…
And that’s true in this case as well. WordPress blog is much more powerful compared to what Teachable offers.
Teachable’s blog is recommended only for light blogging and to those who are just getting started.
If you are serious about blogging and if it is a critical part of your marketing strategy, WordPress is what you should be using for your blog.
Does this mean you shouldn’t have your course site on Teachable if you also want to have an active blog on your site?
Absolutely not. In fact, more number of instructors using Teachable use it to host & sell their courses while they use WordPress to create their blog. And it’s very easy to create a seamless connection between the two.
6. Customer Support and Security
Teachable offers 24×7 expert support to its users. In case you encounter any issue on the platform, you simply contact the support team and they will solve it for you.
While with WordPress, you don’t get any support from the WordPress team. You will have to depend on the support provided by the individual plugin developers or hire external support to take care of everything.
As far as security is concerned, your site on Teachable is much more secure than your site on WordPress and their support is always there to help you in case something wrong happens to your site.
In case your WordPress site is hacked, it is you who is responsible and you will have to do everything yourself to get it back.
It is in these times that you’ll appreciate the value of 24×7 customer support!
7. Learning Management System
I generally find most new instructors confused about creating an online course versus creating a Learning Management System (LMS) and they use the two interchangeably.
Chris Lema actually makes this distinction pretty clear in this short video:
So are you looking to create any sort of a Learning Management System?
Are you going to have elective courses or required courses or prerequisite courses? Are you going to upload a SCORM package?
Teachable doesn’t support these advanced LMS functionalities. If you are creating an online course, Teachable will work for you as it does for 100k+ instructors.
But if you are thinking of creating an LMS, Teachable is not for you. In this case, you should go with WordPress and use a solution like LearnDash.
These are some of the critical differences between Teachable and WordPress for creating and selling online courses. Now, let’s look at the cost of building a course website.
Pricing Plans and Cost
No comparison between the two platforms can be complete unless we take a look at the cost associated with using these platforms.
In order to sell courses on WordPress, you would incur different costs:
- Domain Name + Hosting – $250 per year (WPX Hosting)
- Video Hosting – $240 per year (Vimeo Video Hosting)
- LearnDash LMS Plugin – $199 per year (LearnDash is what I recommend you use as your LMS plugin on WordPress.)
- Themes + Other Basic Plugins – $200 per year minimum cost (The cost will generally be higher than this).
You should expect to pay $1,000-$3,500 as the cost for setup and development to a developer (unless you do everything yourself) and then you can expect to pay a minimum of $900 per year (around $50 per month).
This is the cost that you will incur if you are just getting started. The actual cost of creating and running a course site on WordPress depends on what solutions you choose and also on other factors like site traffic and number of students.
The biggest disadvantage here is that you have make most of this investment upfront rather paying it on a monthly basis.
With Teachable, you have very simple pricing starting from $39 per month to $119 per month. There is a Business plan as well which costs $299 per month and is used generally by big clients.
The Basic Plan has mixed pricing where you pay a monthly cost of $39 per month or $399 per year and also share 5% of your revenue.
Even though sharing revenue might not sound like a great idea, the model works really well for those getting started. Rather than making a significant investment upfront, you can pay as you grow.
And when you actually grow and make enough money, you can switch to the Professional Plan and you would no longer need to share the revenue.
Another thing that I like about Teachable pricing is that it is not based on the number of courses, students, or even video bandwidth. So, you get unlimited students, courses, and video storage on every paid plan.
Learn more about what’s included in each of these plans here.
As far as the actual cost that you are going to incur is concerned, it’s very close for both WordPress and Teachable in the beginning.
The only difference is that Teachable has a more flexible pricing plan and the level of commitment in terms of cost is lower for Teachable when you are getting started.
Plus, WordPress can become really costly to manage and run as you grow beyond a certain point. As a result, Teachable suits the needs of both beginners as well as advanced users while WordPress pricing doesn’t suit course creators who are just getting started.
If you want to give Teachable a try, you can start a free trial of one of their paid plans.
When Should You Use Teachable vs WordPress?
You should now have a fair idea of what are the pros & cons of both Teachable & WordPress when it comes to selling courses online.
Both Teachable and WordPress are used by all sorts of instructors for creating different types of courses.
However Teachable stands out as an online course platform because of its ease of use, ‘zero’ updates & maintenance, customer support and pricing structure.
You can be confident that Teachable is the right platform for you if you tick any of the boxes below:
- You have little or no coding skills.
- You have no prior experience in selling any sort of digital products.
- You have been selling on WordPress but are facing technical issues too often and are frustrated with the technology.
- You don’t have an online course site yet and you don’t want to spend months before you can launch one.
- You want to focus on your core job of creating & selling courses so that you can scale your course business.
If you wish to explore Teachable further and see whether it works for you or not, you should check this in-depth Teachable review guide.
Otherwise, if you would like to give the platform a try, you can click on the button below and start a free trial.
WordPress can be used in almost every possible scenario. However, I recommend using it over Teachable if:
- You want to build a more comprehensive learning platform with features like gamification, community, etc. which aren’t supported by Teachable or other hosted platforms.
- You want to create a Learning Management System and not just sell online courses (does elective/required courses, SCORM etc. sound familiar?).
- You want to customize every inch of your site and you are fine with either paying a developer to do that for you or you have the right coding skills to do it yourself.
- You are more than familiar with WordPress and you can cope without dedicated customer support.
- You already have a course site on WordPress and it’s working fine for you.
If you think that WordPress suits your requirements more, I recommend the LearnDash plugin for creating & selling courses as unlike most other LMS plugins on WordPress, it has integrated LMS, membership & e-commerce capabilities.
Teachable vs WordPress: Conclusion
Teachable and WordPress are both great platforms. However, Teachable is overall a better platform when it comes to selling online courses, simply because of its ease of use, ‘zero’ updates & maintenance and 24×7 support.
WordPress scores over Teachable when it comes to advanced LMS capabilities like SCORM compliance or when it comes to flexibility & customization but you should use it only if you’re tech-savvy.
If you’re not a tech-wizard and don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up your course website and taking care of the techy stuff on an ongoing basis, Teachable is the ideal course solution for you.
And you can always give Teachable a try and within hours you can tell whether this platform is for you or not. You can get started on Teachable for free.
There can be specific scenarios which this guide doesn’t cover. If you have any questions about these platforms based on your specific requirements, please let me know.
Or if you feel that something important hasn’t been covered in this guide, I’d love to hear about it as well.
Either way, let me now by leaving a quick comment below right now.
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