#215: Which Platform is Best For Your Online Course?

OMG there are so many choices! Michelle breaks it down in this episode so you know which platform you need for your online course. How’s that for a time-saver? And (spoiler alert) sometimes the best options are free to use. Join Michelle’s FREE upcoming 5- Day Create Your Online Course Bootcamp: http://HealthCoachPower.com/bootcamp

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Which Platform is Best For Your Online Course?

First, define your needs

Choosing a platform is kind of like buying a house. Would you ever ask “what’s the best house”? Of course not! That’s silly – what’s “best” depends on your needs.

Do you need five bedrooms? A pool? A giant yard? Maybe you have a big family and a dog – but what if you’re single? All that space might be an expensive hassle for you. 

Choosing a platform for your online course is the same: decide what kind of course you want to build and figure out what functions you actually need

Need help figuring that out? I’ll be teaching how to do this in our upcoming Create Your Online Course Five Day Bootcamp. It’s completely free, and you can register now at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp.

So… what kind of course are you building?

Small: start with simple (and free)

A short online course – say, five days, and $99 (or even free) – can be very beneficial to your health coaching business. But for a five day course, why would you pay for a service that costs $50, $100, even $200 per month? That math doesn’t make sense.

For a small course like this, the best platform might be no platform at all.

​​You already have an email service, right? That’s all you need to communicate with your group. Want to have an interactive community? Try a Facebook group. Want to share videos? Upload them to YouTube (you can make them unlisted so only your group members find them). 

You might also want to share folders using Google Drive or Dropbox. These tools let you organize and share your content easily. You can upload PDFs or use Google Docs – super easy and accessible to everyone. Nothing fancy.

The best part? All of these tools are completely, 100% free.

Medium: streamline your health coaching business with an all-in-one tool

Thinking of writing a longer course, maybe six weeks or twelve weeks? Maybe it’s a little more complex and you need a few more features.

Here’s an example: I once created a six week course for women with low thyroid function. Every week there was a video and transcript released to my group. Anybody could sign up and complete it on their own. 

Let’s say you’re running a course like this and charging $400 or $500.

For this type of midsized course, my top pick is Practice Better. It allows you to host an online course but it also has tons of useful features to keep your whole business streamlined.

For courses, Practice Better handles the registration and billing and hosts all your course materials like videos, audio, PDFs, etc. You can message your course participants directly or as a group. The “tasks” feature even reminds your clients what to do and notifies you when they complete it. 

But beyond courses, Practice Better is a client management tool for your whole health coaching business. You can manage your private clients, your forms, your scheduling and billing, your notes… everything. 

So yes, there is a monthly fee, but you get a ton of value that goes beyond online courses. 

Get 30% off your first three months of Practice Better when you go to HealthCoachPower.com/practice and use code HCPower30.

Large: get more of those bells and whistles

What if you’re going to run a complex, large-scale course? The kind of thing that might replace 1:1 coaching and carry a four-digit price tag?

Maybe you’re working with affiliates, or you’re going to use a membership model. If you need more advanced features like these, you might want to look at a true online course platform like Thinkific. They have a lot of features and the support that goes with it.

Of course, platforms like this are not cheap. So you don’t want to go here unless you truly need it. But if you’re enrolling hundreds of members, bringing in many of thousands of dollars – the cost of a tool like this might be well worth it.

But for now, just start!

It feels like a big decision, right? But listen, most health coaches running an online course will do just fine using either the free tools I talked about above, or Practice Better. The overhead cost will be low (or zero!). The learning curve will also be much, much, much less. Doesn’t that sound good?

We’ll talk more about planning, outlining and creating your online course in our FREE 5-day Create Your Online Course Bootcamp starting 10/16/22. Sign up now

Full transcript:

All right. Hello there health coaches. Thank you for joining me. I'm Michelle Leotta. I'm a practicing health coach of 13 years now and an online course creator for at least 10 of those. Now, recently in our Health Coach Power community Facebook group. I asked a question as a whole bunch of our coaches what they most wanted to learn about when it comes to creating an online course. I mean, I know what I think is most important because I've created a lot of online courses in my career, decade of, of running online programs at this point, which is crazy to me. I know what my process is, but it was really interesting to hear from so many of you. It sounds like you want more than anything to know what platform to use. So, let's talk about it.

Here's the thing, I'm gonna share what I think the best options are, but it's kind of like buying a house.What's the best house? Like, how would you answer that question if somebody had never bought a house before and they're like, Well, what kind of house should I buy? What is the best house? You'd say, It depends what you need, right? Do you need five bedrooms? Do you need a pool? Do you need a big yard? Cuz you have, you know, three dogs, whatever. When I bought my house, I know my number one factor was location. My kids are in the school district, right? So we had to stay here. And then after that, I know I needed at least three bedrooms and I needed something that we could move into right away without doing a lot of work because I'm not super handy around the house. But I didn't care if it had a pool. In fact, I didn't want a pool. I didn't want a, the responsibility that comes with a pool. You might wanna ask me again like next July when I'm not freezing and wearing my, you know, fleece winter Cape while I'm recording how I feel about a pool, but I know at least when I was buying the house, I was like, Nope, don't want the pool. Forget it.

Anyway, your platform choice is going to depend largely on what you need. What type of course are you building? You're gonna have to find a platform that has the features you're looking for without having so many features that you're paying for way more than you need. That would be like, you know, buying a house that has six bedrooms when you really only need two. So before you can choose a platform, you really wanna hone in on the type of course that you're building. And I'll be teaching how to do this and explaining the main three types of courses. Did you know there are three main types of courses that you can create? I'll be explaining all of that in our upcoming Create Your online course Five Day bootcamp. I highly, highly encourage you. I really wanna encourage you to sign up for this because it is a one time event. It is completely free, and you can register now at healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp.

But for the sake of today, let's say that you're offering a short online course. It might even be free, you know, or maybe you're charging a small amount. Let's say it's $99 and it's five days. That's all the course is going to be short, sweet. Those can be very beneficial in a business. So if you're doing a course like that, do you need to have a service that costs $50 a month, a hundred dollars a month, $200 a month? I mean, why? The course is only five days. , it doesn't make any sense. So for a short small course like that, your very best platform, maybe no platform at all. I can't tell you how many courses I've run using nothing more than email. I mean, you already have an email service probably, right? If not, go get yourself a free convert kit account or MailChimp account or mail or light or whatever.

And that's all that you really need to communicate with your group. You could have a Facebook group if you wanted there to be that community component. Again, this is zero cost. You might use YouTube. If you're going to have videos as part of your five day course, just upload them to YouTube. They can be unlisted so nobody else sees them. And you can send a link out in your emails. It is really as easy as that. I've also participated in courses. I've never done this myself, but I think it's brilliant. You can use something like Dropbox or Google Drive where you share a particular folder with your online course participants and all the materials are in there, the videos, the PDFs, the whatever you got for them, it can all be in there. And in the case of a five day course, it could even be that there's a folder, day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, just really nice and organized with everything that they need inside.

Obviously if you're using Google Drive, or even if you're not using whole Google Drive folder, I also use Google Docs for some of my online courses. So like my very first online course, which was a detox, I sent everybody a pdf. Actually, I think I sent it out as a Word document originally. And then of course people were writing back saying, I can't open this, I'm on a Mac or whatever. So then I was like, Oh, I gotta make it a PDF Okay, export it as a PDF. Sent it to everybody as a PDF because you live and you learn. But these days, that was forever ago and there were no Google Docs back then. These days I could have just created a Google doc and shared the link with my group. Easy does it. And all of these things cost no money at all. So I want you to consider, do I really need a fancy platform for the course that I'm intending to build? Okay, Now what if you're offering something

That's a little bit more extensive? For those of you watching, tell me, are you thinking of writing a smaller course or something that's maybe six weeks, eight weeks, 12 weeks long? Is it something that's meant to replace your private coaching package is something that's going to be a little bit more complex? Here's an example. I created a six week course for women with low thyroid function each week. There was a video, there was a transcript, which is always a nice idea if you offer the transcript for your video because sometimes people like to read instead of watch or I always like to search a transcript for keywords if I'm looking for something later. So anyway, it's a nice idea to include that. And I had a pdf. So each week that's the kind of materials that were being released to my group. There was no online community for this one.

It was the kind of thing that anybody could sign up and they could complete it on their own. It wasn't like a group, it was just an online course that an individual would go through. So let's say that you're gonna do something like that and what would it cost? I'm thinking like $400, maybe $500. Don't get me wrong, you would never price your course based on the number of weeks. You know, you're always pricing a course based on the level of the, the transformation that someone's going to get out of it. So sometimes a shorter co, a shorter course has a smaller cost, but not always. I just wanted to be clear about that. Anyway, we had this sort of midsized course that we're talking about right now, and for that type of course, my platform pick for you, my absolute top pick for stuff like this is practice better.

Because not only does it have absolutely everything that you need to have, like your videos and your PDFs all in one place, it also handles the billing. It allows you to message your clients if you like, right there on the platform. And they have this feature called tasks, which I think works beautifully for health coaching. Each week you can assign tasks that your clients get reminded of, and as they complete the tasks, you get a notification. So this really cool level of accountability that's built into the online course. Now, if you wanna give practice better or shot, it's very much worth it because yes, it acts as a platform for an online course, but it also acts as an all in one solution for health coaches in general, like all of your private clients, all of your forms, all of your scheduling and your billing, your notes, everything that you need in your business. So, it's a, it's a monthly fee, but one that I think is gonna cover you in so many different ways. And you can get 30% off your first three months of practice better when you go to healthcoachpower.com/practice and use code HCPower30. Okay?

Now remember, if you're not sure what kind of course you're planning to run, how extensive it is, what you need, what features you're going to need for your course, you will never be able to decide if practice better is the right platform for you or not. Or if you should go with a more simple platform like I was just describing a minute ago, or if the more complex that I'm going to get to next is right for you. So, please do join us for our free bootcamp coming up in just a couple of weeks. You can register for free T healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp. I'm gonna put that over here in the chat right now, health coach power.com/bootcamp and join us for five days where I'm gonna help you create your online course. And then you're gonna know you're gonna go, Oh, this is the type of course that I'm creating.

Of course this is the type of platform that I will need. Okay, so we've done small scale mid scale. Now let's talk about what happens if you're running a larger scale, more complex course. This is the type of thing that really truly is meant to replace your one on one coaching. You know, this is an extensive comprehensive course. You're probably charging a thousand, 2000, 3000 thousands of dollars. You know, there are probably four digits in the price. Um, is something more complex? Maybe you're going to have affiliates. That's something, a feature that you would need in your platform. Something that allows you to have affiliates or, or maybe your course is going to be membership based. So you need something that allows you to have a membership based program, like a subscription model. So these are all the types of functionality that would start to point you towards a true online course platform like Thinkific, or Teachable ,or Kajabi.

Have any of you tried any of these platforms in the past? I will say this, even though I'm saying a larger course would probably go on one of these larger core specific platforms, Practice Better keeps adding features. So they're creeping up on the big guys. I will say that, but for now, I think that this level of course that I just described, something where you're charging thousands of dollars, something where it's has a lot of complexity to it. This is probably only going to apply to fairly advanced coaches who've been in business for a while. You know, when you have a more complex, a larger course, you require those extra features, you'd wanna go at the online course platform that specializes in exactly that. And of course you're gonna be paying hundreds of dollars a month. You know, these things are not cheap. They have a lot of functions, they have the support that goes with it. You don't wanna go here unless you absolutely need it at that point. Just to also like give you a little glimpse into the future as a course creator.

By the way, we all start with the bare bone stuff. Every course I've ever put together started bare bones, I'm sending out an email, I'm hopping on Zoom, I'm recording something and sending out, you know, a link to it in an email. You can start bare bones too. But if you wanna like zoom into the future of what your course can become, let's say you're enrolling hundreds and hundreds of members. Let's say you're making tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars at that point, paying a couple hundred bucks a month for the course platform is no big deal, of course. And you might find yourself also buying special tools to build sales pages like a, you know, very good looking high converting sales page. Or like for example, I use lead pages for that or a special shopping cart tool. I've actually never done that, but lately I have been looking at Thrive Cart and Sam Cart and I don't know, maybe in the future we'll hook that up and start using these special shopping cart tools that are supposed to optimize the perch out... The perch out? That's not a word,... The purchase or the checkout experience. And there's all sorts of bells and whistles like that that are appropriate at a certain point to help you earn more with your course.

But, and this is an enormous, but all of that can come later. All of that stuff can come later. Most health coaches, most of you listening, you're gonna do just fine using the free tools that I mentioned or practice better to deliver your course. And the overhead cost will be much, much, much less. The learning curve will also be much, much, much less. Doesn't that sound good? So I'm glad we did an overview today of the different platforms, but remember, you don't start there. You don't start a course by picking the platform first. Just like you wouldn't buy a house before figuring out who's gonna live there, . And we will talk more about planning and outlining and creating your online course in our five day bootcamp coming up.

We start October 16th and run through the 20th. Even if you can't make those dates, I want you to sign up anyway cuz you're gonna get access to all the materials and this is going to push you, ooh, eons ahead of where you are right now in terms of planning a course that will be appropriate for the place in business that you're at right now. If you're brand new, there's a type of course that's going to work for you and make sense for you right now. If you've been in business for a couple of years, you've worked with clients, okay, there's a course that's gonna be appropriate for you and where you are at. So we'll kind of figure out where are you, what's gonna serve your purposes right now? What are, what are you able to offer that people want to sign up for? It's gonna be a lot of fun and hope you'll join us.

So, let me say it one more time. The URL to register for our bootcamp is healthcoachpower.com/bootcamp and I will see you there and I'll see you back here next week. Take care of everybody. Bye bye.