20 Essential Tools to Create & Sell Awesome Online CoursesAug 26, 2019
Want to create an online course? You'll need the best tools for the job. In this post, we'll share 20 essential tools to create & sell awesome online courses. (This post may contain affiliate links.)
The online course (a.k.a. "eLearning") industry is booming. If there ever was a perfect time to start creating and selling online courses, that time is NOW!
However, you may be wondering what tools you'll need to create and sell it.
One of the most common questions we're asked is what tools we recommend for hosting and marketing online courses. Luckily, there are tons of online course tools to choose from. But on the flip side, figuring out which tools to use can be a real challenge.
We've tested out all the most popular tools, and selected only the absolute best for inclusion in this list. We believe these tools are not only the best on the market, but they'll also give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Keep in mind that you don't need to purchase every single tool on this list. For example, you'll only need one screen recording tool– the one you choose will depend on whether you have a Mac or a PC. The top two tools are included on this list.
But–if you only purchase ONE tool–we recommend going with Kajabi. Having used it ourselves to create pretty much everything you see on Persuasion Nation, we can confidently recommend it to any online course creator... whether you're a complete beginner, or an experienced pro. (More about Kajabi below.)
That being said, let's go ahead and dive into the list of tools...
Tools to Research the Market for Your Online Course
1. Answer the Public
Are you wondering how much demand there is for your course topic? Well, you should be. If no one really wants to learn about your topic, then there's no point in creating a course on it.
You'll find your answer at AnswerThePublic.com.
This free tool will show you how many questions people are asking related to your course topic. Simply type in your keyword, and see what comes up.
The more questions there are, the more popular your topic is. Simple as that!
Do you already have an audience? Why not ask them what course they would like you to create?
SurveyMonkey is the best tool for creating online surveys. All you need is the basic plan, which is free.
3. Student Avatar Template
Once you have the idea for your course, you'll need to hone in on your target audience. WHO exactly is your course going to be for?
It's tempting to skip this important step, but don't fall for that trap! Thinking that you can create a course for "everybody" is a huge mistake. Because the truth is, if you create a course for "everybody", then nobody will actually feel like it's for them.
And your course won't sell.
The best way to figure out your ideal audience? Download our Student Avatar Template and fill it out. This template will give you all the important questions you need to be asking– all you have to do is fill in the answers.
Tools to Record & Brand Your Online Course
4. Blue Yeti Mic
When recording your online course videos, it's super important that your audio is top notch quality. In fact, having good audio is even more important that having pretty slides or a fancy camera.
The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is our favorite mic for recording your online course videos because it sounds great and it's super easy to use. Simply plug it into a USB port on your computer, and it sits on your desk.
5. Samson Go Mic (Low Budget Option)
If you're on a tight budget and the Blue Yeti is out of your price range, the Samson Go Mic is our favorite low budget alternative.
Like the Blue Yeti, this mic sits on your desk and plugs right into your computer, so it's just as easy to use. It's just not quite as professional, and it's super small.
But don't be fooled by it's size: this tiny microphone packs quite a punch! Your students will never know you're not using an expensive microphone.
And someday when you have the budget for a fancier mic, the Samson will be handy on the go!
6. Keynote (Mac) or PowerPoint (PC or Mac)
Many online course creators like to make slide presentations that help explain concepts to students.
Most computers come with presentation software already installed, so you probably don't even need to download anything!
Price: Free for Keynote, $129.99 for PowerPoint
7. Screenflow (Mac)
Next, you'll need software to record your computer screen. Screenflow is our favorite option for Mac users.
It's very simple to use, yet has all the features you may need to edit your recordings to perfection.
8. Filmora (PC or Mac)
If you use a PC, you may have heard that Camtasia is the go-to screen recording software. However, it's a lot more complicated to use than Screenflow, and WAY more expensive. The features of Camtasia don't justify the cost or the learning curve, in our opinion.
So, we went in search of a Camtasia alternative for PC users... and we think we've found a great one! It's called Filmora.
Like Screenflow, Filmora is very simple and streamlined, so it's super simple to use. But the best part is, it's super affordable! They even have a free demo version, so it's definitely worth a try.
Perhaps you want to host live coaching calls for your paying students, or you want to host free webinars for prospective students. In either case, we recommend Zoom.
A common worry that many course creators have expressed to us is that they won't be able to provide the same experience as an in-person course. While it's true that you can never completely replace the in-person experience, technology has advanced quite a bit, and now you really can communicate with your students seamlessly in real time!
Equipped with a free Zoom account and a web camera, you'll be able to see all of your students at once, and they'll be able to see you. Remember the Brandy Bunch? It's kind of like that opening sequence.
Many course creators have successfully taken their in-person courses and put them online so that they can reach many more students from all around the globe... and still provide the same quality of instruction that their in-person students receive.
(Remember: you wouldn't be able to reach these students otherwise. They will happily participate in your course online if it means they can do it from their home!)
Price: Free for up to 40 minutes per call. If you need longer calls, go with Pro for $14.99/mo.
10. Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam
Most computers these days come with a web camera built in, so you may not need to purchase one. However, if your computer doesn't have a webcam–or you simply want to upgrade to a higher-quality webcam–the one we use is the Logitech BRIO Ultra HD.
This little web camera sits on the top of your computer monitor and records 4K video. It's designed for streaming video, so that means it performs well even when you are doing a live presentation on Zoom or YouTube.
But that's not all. It works great for content you want to pre-record as well! We use this camera for recording Mary's "talking head" shots at her computer, and it plays well with any screen recording software.
When creating your first online course, you might not have the budget for high-end graphic design tools. However, you're still going to need thumbnail images for your lessons, a logo, and other graphics for your website and social media. You'll also need to create attractive lead magnets to attract prospective students.
Canva is a free, web-based graphic design tool that makes it easy to create any kind of graphic. Canva allows you to edit your social media images, create PDF checklists or e-books, logos, etc. Their pre-built templates and stock images are really helpful, especially if you're not a confident designer.
12. Adobe Creative Cloud
For some online course creators, free tools aren't enough. If you'd like to use professional quality tools to edit your videos, audio, graphics, etc., you'll want to get an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
With the Creative Cloud, you'll have access to a ton of professional apps for creating your online course, including:
- Adobe Premiere Pro (video editing)
- Adobe Audition (audio editing)
- Adobe Photoshop (graphic design)
- Adobe Illustrator (vector graphic design)
Price: $52.99/mo for all apps, or $20.99 for a single app
Tools to Market & Sell Your Online Course
Most people think that Kajabi is just another online course platform. That's SO not what it is... and more and more people are catching on to this fact.
The truth is, Kajabi is in a class of it's own. It's not only the best platform for hosting your online course, but it's also an all-in-one digital marketing tool for online course creators.
And that's what makes it totally different from any other tool on the market.
Kajabi's creators understand that once you've finished your course, your job as an online entrepreneur has only just begun. Now, you need to sell the thing! So, they've designed Kajabi to give you all the tools you need to market and sell your courses.
These tools are incredibly powerful.
For starters, you'll save a ton of money. Since everything is built right into Kajabi, you can forgo a host of other tools, such as:
- Email marketing software (e.g. ConvertKit)
- Landing page builder (e.g. LeadPages)
- Web hosting (e.g. Bluehost) and WordPress
- Sales funnel builder (e.g. ClickFunnels)
- Webinar software (e.g. WebinarJam)
- Forum builder (e.g. BuddyPress)
Kajabi makes all of those tools unnecessary. And for us, we prefer to have everything under the same roof anyway.
Here are just a few highlights of what you can do with Kajabi:
- Create beautiful online courses, membership sites, and private communities (several modern themes are available to choose from)
- Build a stunning website and blog (make it look exactly how you want with drag-and-drop capability)
- Create high-converting landing pages
- Build an email list and autoresponder sequences
- Create sales funnels of all sorts with one click of a button
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Price: Plans start at $119/mo. Click here for an extended free trial just for Persuasion Nation fans.
14. Hello Bar
Kajabi includes the ability to create opt-in forms, including exit-intent popups and floating bars. They're also coming out with detailed analytics soon (including the ability to track your conversion rates!) so that may be all you need to grow your email list.
However, if you're looking to do AB testing of your opt-in forms, or you want more advanced targeting features, you'll want to invest in a professional list-building tool like Hello Bar.
Hello Bar is our tool of choice for advanced pop-ups, floating bars, and slide-in opt-ins because it packs powerful features into a very simple interface. Sign up for an account, connect your website, and you'll be up and running in no time at all!
Price: $29/mo for the Growth Plan. Click here for a 30-day free trial just for Persuasion Nation fans.
15. Deadline Funnel
If you want to really amp up your sales, you'll want to add special offers with deadlines. However, you may not want the time, hassle, or expense it takes to run one-off course launches.
That's where Deadline Funnel comes in– and it's an absolute godsend for the busy online course creator!
Deadline Funnel works by creating unique deadlines for every single prospective student who opts in to your email list... automatically. You can offer a discount (or a bonus) that only lasts a certain number of days after the opt in. Or, you could completely close course enrollment after a certain number of days. After the deadline passes, your prospective student will no longer be able to access the offer.
This way, deadlines are REAL– but they are also "evergreen." You do nothing... simply sit back, and watch the sales roll in!
Deadline Funnel integrates with Kajabi using a free tool called Zapier (explained below).
Price: Plans start at $37/mo
If you plan to use Pinterest to attract students, you'll definitely want to get Tailwind.
Tailwind is the best pin scheduling tool, and the only pinning automation tool that is approved by Pinterest. As you may know, growing your Pinterest account requires consistent, daily pinning... but who has time for that? With Tailwind, you can schedule pins to occur automatically... over, and over again.
Sit back, relax, and watch your Pinterest account grow!
Price: Plans start at $9.99/mo
IFTTT is an automation tool that makes your various apps talk to one another and do things for you automatically. An endless number of marketing tasks can be automated with IFTTT by creating your own "applets"– recipes for making things happen.
By the way, IFTTT stands for "if this, then that." And that's exactly how this tool works.
Zapier is a more advanced tool for connecting your apps together and making things happen automatically.
We use Zapier to connect Deadline Funnel together with Kajabi. Here are instructions for how to do that. (You only have to set this up once– once connected, it does everything automatically for you.)
Of course, once you've created and marketed your course, you need to get paid!
PayPal is an easy way for online course creators to bill students for their course. You can charge a one-time fee, a recurring subscription, or multiple payments. Your students do NOT need a PayPal account to make their purchase– they can complete the transaction as a "guest" with a regular credit card. Or, they can pay with a PayPal account.
PayPal integrates with Kajabi, so you simply connect the two apps and they'll work together behind the scenes.
Price: 2.9% + 30¢ per sale
Stripe makes it even easier for students to buy your courses directly from your website, with any major credit card. We recommend giving students the option of using either PayPal or Stripe.
Stripe also integrates with Kajabi.
Price: 2.9% + 30¢ per sale
Lauren Adley is a writer and editor at essay services and best paper writing services. She is dedicated to her family, work and friends. She is keen on reading, playing the guitar and traveling. She is interested in educational, marketing and blogging issues. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.