Top 5 Free Online Course Platform – The Secret List! 

 Updated: September 20, 2022

top 5 free online course platforms

What Are Free Online Course Platforms Worth?

Starting your creators journey with a free online course platform can seem to be an appealing idea.

If you’re still testing the market with your new idea, or just prefer to start with as little overhead as possible…

… then the idea of being able to do so for free is tempting.

And a lot of online course platforms understand this and offer a free plan as a gateway to what might become a paying customer later on.

Deciding on which one you’ll sign up for, while keeping the long term plan in mind can be a tricky balance!

So we’ve compiled the top 5 list of truly free online course platforms and what you need to know before getting started.

1. Systeme.io

systeme io new logo

Pros of Systeme.io
  • Features: There is really not much more you might need as a course creators to sell your products.
  • A powerful selling system including customizable checkout, sell physical products and robust affiliate system.
  • An affordable all-in-one
Cons of Systeme.io
  • Limited learning tools (no quiz, assessment, or a community feature)
  • Contact limits: can be a problem if you have a big list

Pricing: Free plan - Then Starts at $27/mo

Systeme.io is the only all-in-one platform that offers a free plan.

You’ll be able to build advanced funnels (with A/B testing) and full blown websites on the platform, you can build up to 15 pages.

The front-end drag & drop builder makes this easier than ever!

system.io page builder

There are a bunch of pre-designed templates to help you build your pages with great design in record time.

You’ll even have access to advanced features (still on the free plan) like Deadline funnels, to allow you to create truly time limited evergreen offers.

On the free plan, you also get an unlimited emails allowance, for up to 2,000 subscribers on your list.

You also get to use their visual Workflows for automated sequences:

system.io workflow

All of these tools are usually costing $100’s in dedicated softwares.

You can also use the integrated checkout system with upsell and downsell options.

Lastly, you’ll get to create 1 course with unlimited file storage, including video content!

system.io course back-end

The course builder is somewhat basic but should be enough if you’re just wanting to sell your first program.

Pricing

Systeme.io is a great value for your money, even beyond what you get in the free plan we’ve just detailed.

systemio new pricing

There are only a few reasons that would make you upgrade your free account to look out for.

One of them might be if your list starts hitting new milestones and getting over the 2,000 contacts allowance.

Or if you want to create more than 1 course and funnel for a second offer you’re preparing.

But Systeme.io still remains very affordable, especially for an all-in-one platform.

In other words, it’s a great short term and long term decision!

MORE ON SYSTEME.IO:

2. Thinkific

thinkific

Pros of Thinkific
  • Great features set and complete toolbox
  • Advanced learning tools for your courses
  • Great community and ecosystem for the platform
Cons of Thinkific
  • Confusing pricing tiers
  • Limited page building capabilities

Pricing: Free - Then starts from $39/month

Thinkific is often cited as one of the most popular online course platforms and gathers 10,000’s of course creators.

It’s also another of the few platforms with a free plan that doesn't have a transaction fee!

You’ll get access to a basic page builder to build your site and other funnel page:

thinkific page builder

It’s not very advanced but you can get away with it if you’re just starting out!

Note that Thinkific doesn’t offer an email marketing system or automated sequences.

But the core features of the platform is its course builder:

A full curriculum builder with a ton of learning tools for your program.

You also get several course templates to start from and help you get some inspiration while creating your online course.

Thinkific also has an integrated checkout system, but your pricing options will be limited on the free plan (no recurring subscriptions or split payments).

thinkific checkout design example

If you do want to integrate email marketing tools or other 3rd party platforms, you still have access to the Thinkific app store on any plans!

Pricing

If the free plan isn’t enough and you want to unlock the full feature stack Thinkific offer, here are you options:

You’ll note that if you really want to get everything the platform has to offer, you’ll need to sign up to the Pro plan $79/month.

You still won’t have access to advanced pricing options on the Basic plan, or to things like the Community feature or advanced course building tools.

But if you like the platform on the free plan and start to grow, it will be an investment well worth it!

MORE ON THINKIFIC:

3. Teachable

teachable

Pros of Teachable
  • Affordable for a standalone platform
  • Simple to use for beginners
  • Large community of users
Cons of Teachable
  • Limited customization throughout all features
  • Poor support

Pricing: Free - Then starts from $29/month

Teachable is maybe the most recognized name in the online course platform industry.

And they offer a free plan, discontinued for a while but available again, for its large user base of more than 100,000 people.

Teachable offers a very basic page builder to display some information about your course:

teachable page builder

This won’t be enough to create a full site but it’s fine to create a simple sales page.

You can also create a powerful checkout with VAT and tax handling to sell your online course.

These are advanced and can be used to their full extent on the free plan too!

teachable setting price

The only thing you won’t get on this entry option is the affiliate marketing capability Teachable offers.

Lastly, Teachable offers a great online curriculum and course builder with a plethora of learning tools.

This will allow you to directly upload videos or any other type you'd like.

There is also an option to create a Coaching product.

teachable coaching product

Teachable doesn’t offer any email marketing or list building feature.

Pricing

The free plan only enables a limited number of features the platform has to offer.

It also comes with a hefty $1 + 10% sales fee:

You’ll only be able to create 1 course and won’t have access to custom domains, advanced reporting or theme customization.

If you decide to upgrade to overcome these shortcomings, you’ll still have to pay a 5% sales fee on the Basic plan at $29 per month.

Most people making over $1,000 upgrade to the Pro plan simply for that reason!

The Pro plan at $99 per month also enables you to unlock the full feature stack Teachable offers.

MORE ON TEACHABLE:

4. Groove


Pros of Groove
  • Unmatched range of features possibly the only real all-in-one platforms
  • The best mix between all-in-one and standalone platforms like email marketing, cart, funnel builder,...
  • Massive community and resources behind the platform.
Cons of Groove
  • Not fully functional right now
  • By nature, not the most beginner-friendly platform

Pricing: Free - Then starts from $39.99/month

Groove has taken the industry by storm in 2020 when it launched its beta version along with a free for life plan.

The platform has built its feature stack significantly over the years and is now boasting an impressive list.

  • Course & membership design and hosting (GrooveMember)
  • Advanced funnel building (GroovePages)
  • Video hosting and in-video features (GrooveVideo)
  • Advanced cart and affiliate system (GrooveSell + Groove Affiliate)
  • Advanced Email marketing tool (GrooveMail)
  • Live and automated webinar (GrooveWebinar)
  • Blog feature (GrooveBlog)

Most of these features are available to some extent on the free plan (not all).

groove page templates

Keep in mind that the platform is still in beta and there are a few hiccups and bugs…

But it still is a great value for your money and is improving by the day!

Most of the tools currently available are top notch, including the funnel builder:

groove page builder blocks

Lots of templates are available and you can even import pages from other platforms automatically.

Groove isn’t designed only for course creators but enables you to sell anything you want online, including physical products and services or coaching.

Pricing

Groove has a somewhat confusing pricing structure and your access to features will change greatly from one plan to another.

But here is what you get on the free plan:

groove lite plan

You can imagine how each of these bullet points slowly progress over the 5 paid plan Groove offers.

The main reason to upgrade from the free plan will probably be to increase your email list (beyond 500) and start using the advanced features of the platform.

It can be complex to get started as a beginner on the platform however because of the sheer amount of tools available!

5. Hotmart

hotmart

Pros of Hotmart
  • Affiliates Marketplace and Marketing Support
  • Revenue share
  • Course delivery
Cons of Hotmart
  • Revenue share for big revenue
  • No Email Marketing

Pricing: Free - 9.9%

Although Hotmart isn’t as popular in the West as it is in its home market of south-america, the platform has a lot to offer!

And the way things are set up is very different from the rest of the industry…

Mainly the platform doesn’t simply help with the tech side of things but also with sales.

It does so through a wide network of affiliate marketer and a marketplace that allows them to find your product.

hotmart affiliate marketplace

On top of that, Hotmart offers a basic landing page builder for you to build a sales page.

You won’t have any way to create email campaigns (only through integrating an external tool) but everything else is there!

  • Course hosting
  • Light sales page builder
  • Advanced Checkout and builder
  • Advanced Affiliate system
  • Affiliate Marketplace
  • Webinar management
  • Satisfaction survey

There are a lot of unique tools to help you make your online program venture successful!

hotmart checkout builder

Pricing

Hotmart has a very unique pricing structure: it doesn’t ever charge a fixed monthly fee!

Instead, it only charges a sales fee - meaning that you won’t pay anything unless you make money too.

hotmart pricing

Let’s break it down:

For anything over $10 Hotmart will take a 9.90% fee plus a fixed 0.5 USD.

Example: if you sell a $500 course, you'll get charged a total of $50 ($49.9 + $0.5)

For very low-ticket products (under $10), the fee will be a flat 20%.

This model can be useful when you’re just starting out and don’t want to be encumbered with fixed overheads.

If you grow your business significantly however, the sales can add up and become a burden.

MORE ON HOTMART:

Joey Mazars

Online Course Platform Expert

Hi, there! I've literally spent thousands of hours helping clients build their online courses on these platforms through my marketing services.

I've become obsessed with helping them find the right fit for their needs and decided to guide other creators through their decision process with these detailed reviews.

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