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8 Tips for Choosing Your Online Course Provider


Check out our Black Friday bundles that I set up using Thinkific.

Earlier this year I got serious about launching an online course site, something that I had been considering for at least a year. As serendipity would have it, a business colleague from Univentures reached out to let me know about their new online learning partnership with Thinkific.

Since I had a fairly good understanding of what I was looking for in an online course provider, I decided to attend their informational webinar this past August.

Note: If you're ready to move forward with your own online learning solution, Thinkific has a Black Friday deal that you'll want to check out.

I decided to write a blog post since a number of folks have asked me about the process I used in choosing Thinkific as my online course provider. As I pulled this post together, I realized that there were eight careabouts that helped me in making my decision.  


1. Technology. Choosing a platform that's right for you may be based on a number of things. For me, it was ease of use, a hosting solution with lots of storage for my courses, and the speed of getting my content loaded to the site, e.g., bulk transfer; especially if you're like me and you have a dozen videos to upload all at once and don't want to mess about with one video at a time. 

I was looking for an online course provider that made it easy for me to learn how to use their features. I'm not afraid to kick the tires if you just show me where I can find the info on changing a flat.


2. Accessibility. With the popularity of tablets and smart phones for online learning, I wanted to ensure that my courses would be accessible and attractive for my learning community on mobile devices.  

Of course, accessibility means up-time since my online courses would be hosted on the site and things could come to a screeching halt if the site went down. 


3. Versatility.  I was looking for different ways to package and offer training material to my learners--video, text, PDF, multimedia, quizzes, and surveys. Nice-to-have features would allow me to bundle courses at different price points, offer a subscription membership option, as well as an affiliate marketing program (offered by Thinkific at the $49 price level).   


4. Development. I knew that I wanted an online course provider with a short leash on product cycles. I wanted a provider hungry for developing and implementing new features that would pique my interest about what was coming down the pipeline and it would keep my learners engaged. And since my 2015 plans include co-hosting with other instructors, I wanted a provider who would encourage their customers to engage in developing future enhancements. 

Since many of my customers reside in the corporate space, down the road I'm looking for some dynamic features that would allow me to grow this segment of my business.


5. Support. Customer support is a biggie for me. I'm typically fine with a 24 hour response if I'm submitting a ticket via email, but it's nice when there is an escalation path for more urgent situations, e.g., live chat.

I look for a robust FAQ area with tips and training that include visuals--videos are nice, but sometimes all I need are some good screenshots. 


6. Integration. Since I plan to offer 90 percent of my courses as fee-based learning, I wanted to ensure that 3rd party payment integration was seamless. I also wanted a robust discussion forum where I could keep my learning community engaged without sending them to another site. I'm delighted that Thinkific allows me to set up separate discussion areas for each of my courses. And since I already use MailChimp, it's nice that I can mix things up by creating automated e-courses, before bringing community members back to The Practical Professional learning site for topic discussions. 


7. Affordable. Of course, I didn't want to spend an exorbitant amount to get started, which is why I always like Try & Buy offers. If you're ready to move forward with your online course solution, I would recommend taking advantage of Thinkific's Black Friday deal--well worth it for everything you're getting for $49/month.


8. Partnership. When I started on this path of looking for an online course provider, I knew that I wanted a partnership that would benefit everyone involved. I believe that I’ve found it with Univentures and Thinkific.


Good luck with your own online course plans and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!