Understanding Where to Host Your Online Course

I often get asked by people interested in creating their own online courses, where do they publish them? In this post I'm going to give you a quick overview to answer that question.

At some point, before you even create your course, you’re going to have to decide how and where you’re going to host your course. In other words, you must find a place for it to live. Read this article to get a better understanding of the options available to you.

You'll learn about:

  • Three online course hosting options and the benefits and differences of each.
  • Where to sell your online fashion courses.
  • How to avoid having to learn about the technology.

Then at the end of the article I'll tell you where to get some free training to help you get started creating and selling your own online fashion courses.

What Hosting Means

Every website consists of a collection of files that are hosted on a server somewhere around the world and the pages of the website are accessible through an internet protocol or IP address which is a number such as 104.28.29.99.

Then computers called Domain Name Servers (DNS) then link this number to a particular domain name or web address. In the case of the number above it’s the IP address of weteachfashion.com which enables anyone to find our website without having to remember long numbers.

Then computers called Domain Name Servers (DNS) then link this number to a particular domain name or web address. In the case of 104.28.29.99 it’s the IP address of weteachfashion.com.

This linking enables anyone to find a website without having to remember long numbers. We just need to know the website’s name or address. On a day to day basis, people all around the world simply type in a web address and the website appears in their browser.

Now whoever manages the files on the server for the website can use various tools to handle the files, edit them, copy them and so on. In the past, only computer programmers and web developers could do this. However, nowadays we have access to Content Management Systems (CMS) that allow non-techy people like you and me to edit or manipulate the website files on these servers so we can add content and change the way our website looks and what it presents to the user.

So in the case of courses, we can use a CMS to create our courses and manage everything to do with them.

There are basically three options for hosting your courses and you need to understand the key differences in these otherwise to help you make the right choice. In each case, a CMS is used.

The hosting service isn’t interested in what you are hosting. They just charge you a fee for the privilege of borrowing some of their computer space.

There are millions of websites and blogs running on WordPress. It’s estimated that approximately 22% of the world’s websites run on this platform. However the learning curve is steep, the software needs updating from time to time and to publish your courses you’ll need to buy special course plugins. These are bits of software that you plug into your Wordpress site allowing it to publish your courses.

In my business we began using this system ourselves several years ago but found it too burdensome to manage all the elements required as we grew our business. There is a steep learning curve and lots of different components to manage. But despite this self-hosting is one choice you have.

Course Marketplace Platforms

Marketplace Platforms will host your courses for you and promote and sell them for you to the customers they attract to the marketplace. It's like taking your homemade jams and preserves along to your local supermarket. The supermarket can attract far more customers to see your products than you could do on your own. It gives you a great place to sell your products. They manage all the marketing and promotion which gives you the chance to focus on sharing your expertise and to work on the course creation process. The supermarket will want you to pay for that service. It's not going to give you shelf space for free. 

Course marketplaces do the same, they charge you for the shelf space usually through a share of the revenue generated when a student buys your course.

Like the supermarket selling jams where you 'll see your competitors jams alongside yours, course marketplaces also list competitor courses there too. So your course is likely to sit on the same shelf as other tutors with the same or similar subjects for sale.

All course marketplaces have content management systems or CMS's that allow you to create your course online and publish it. But you must do this work all on your own. Not only do you have to create the content but you then have to create the course outline, upload all your files using the CMS and get everything configured and working.

If you join us and host a course on The Fashion Student Hub you will find we do things slightly differently. We are limiting the number of tutors and subjects with too similar a content to avoid there being too many competitive courses sat on our shelves.

We manage all the course configuration, outlines, sales pages, and file uploading etc. so that you don’t have to learn how to use a CMS system, we do it for you. All you need to do is provide the course content. We believe this is the quickest way for you to get your courses online and sold.

The Fashion Student Hub is a course marketplace but we are limiting the number of tutors and subjects with too similar a content to avoid there being too many competitive courses sat on our shelves. This reduces the competition you have for your courses and in many cases there will be no competition at all.

Why Choose A Marketplace

There are several reasons why tutors opt to use course marketplaces.

  • The number one reason is that your course gets in front of relevant audiences. If the marketplace is promoting your courses you can be sure they are promoting them to the right audience. The world’s biggest course marketplace is Udemy which has over 14 million students and over 42,000 courses on offer. It provides a great platform for not just promoting your course but also for hosting it too.
  • These course marketplaces also act as the interface between you and your students, so that all the customer service, billing issues, branding, and hosting fees are all managed by the marketplace platform. This eliminates all the day to day tasks that are involved and frees you to update and add new course content. In order to have a minimum quality standard, the marketplace host also manages quality control, legal issues and technical support for the course authors.

They key advantages are:

  • Access to an existing and often very large user base
  • Guidance and support
  • Marketing
  • All technical issues, billing and general customer service issues handled

The key disadvantages are:

  • Dependence on the platform
  • Students are the platform’s customers
  • Platform’s rules may change at any time (e.g. Udemy pricing change 3/2016)
  • Competition since your students get to see your competitor’s courses
  • Course rating systems may put your courses as at a disadvantage vs. the competition

Current Course Marketplaces

For a fashion-only marketplace, there really is only once choice and that’s The Fashion Student Hub. com

After that, there is no other fashion only platforms at least not at the time of developing this course in early 2017. Yes, there are many websites selling fashion subject courses, but with no independent quality control and no marketplace where these are all consolidated with multiple different course authors and experts.

There are another 10 marketplace platforms you could consider. I’ve listed these in the notes below. I'd encourage you to investigate each one in your own time. Each of which has their own unique features and advantages and disadvantages, but remember your courses will be mixed with all sorts of other subjects which may be something you don't feel comfortable with.

 

 

So that brings us to our third choice.

Course Hosting Platforms

Course hosting platforms are the other alternatives for hosting your course. There are currently over 20-course hosting platforms to choose from. Most of these allow you to start without any fixed costs through their free account set ups. Most, however, will take a percentage off each of your sales. If you need additional features these normally come when you pay a monthly fee. They all allow you to set up your own courses, with your own website, landing pages and e-commerce functions allowing you to sell courses. Again you will need to learn all about the configuration of the CMS and have all its benefits for course creation but these platforms don't offer a marketplace so you are not competing with other tutors selling courses next to you.

Almost all platforms focus on video-based training and most platforms provide some form of interactions between students and the course teacher typically through discussions, comments and question and answer areas.

 

Current Course Hosting Platforms

Here's a list of the current and popular platforms for you to review.

These are the key ones that you are going to come across when you search for course hosting platforms.

We use Kajabi. We love it for its simple interfaces, outstanding customer service and the vision they have for empowering individuals to create courses and sell their expertise online and I can't recommend them highly enough.

The Fashion Student Hub

The Fashion Student Hub is a course marketplace solely for the fashion sector. We've dedicated ourselves to the fashion sector so your courses don't get swamped amongst the other subjects that most other marketplaces have such as programming, IT, accounting, lifestyle etc.

So for any fashion subject course that you have created or intend to create remember we have a dedicated marketplace for you to sell your courses from. There are no set up costs for you, no monthly subscription fees and no learning curve on configuring your course as we do all this for you. 

Finally, there's no reason why you can't spread your bets and host your courses on several marketplaces as well as using a course hosting platform. That way you have the benefit of managing your own courses as well as have others promote it for you.

How to Get Started

Get our four FREE training videos to hep you get started and decide what steps to take and what to teach. Watch online now by clicking here.

Cheryl Gregory is the Founder of The Fashion Student Hub, a marketplace for selling online fashion courses, and We Teach Fashion teaching fashion subject experts how to create and promote their own online courses, generate revenue and serve the growing need for online education in the fashion sector. Along with her business partner, she also offers fashion professionals one to one coaching through My Fashion Business Coach helping them to transform their businesses and personal lives.

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