How to Choose an Online Course Platform as a Wellness Pro

August 30, 2023

[Updated September 28, 2023]

Using your well-earned expertise to create an online course is a smart way to grow your business beyond 1:1 client sessions. When you’re considering the logistics of how to create, deliver, and promote an online course, it may be tempting to look at options like a private Facebook group or your existing email provider. In reality, dedicated online course platforms – like Thinkific or Teachable – provide a more comprehensive set of features specifically designed for course creation, management, and engagement.

There are many versions of course software on the market. This makes it challenging for health and wellness pros to break through the noise and get trustworthy answers to the important questions:

  • What functionality do you actually need? What qualifies as necessary vs nice-to-have?
  • How tech savvy are you? Do you need drag-and-drop simplicity from your online course creation software? 
  • How much should you pay for a platform? How can you avoid paying for features you don’t need? 
  • What level of technical support does the platform offer? 
  • Will your online course platform integrate with your practice management software? Is there an all-in-one option that will give you the best of both worlds? 
  • What are the experiences of the people actually using the course software? 

This guide is intended to help you answer these questions and more. Use it as a starting point to compare online course platforms and figure out which option best suits your needs given your business stage now and where you’re headed in the future.

Benefits of Using an Online Course Platform

Investing in an online course platform is a strategic and flexible way to grow your business.

  • Reach more clients. An online course platform lets you break through the geographical limitations of in-person consultations. Even if you’ve already expanded your business model to offer virtual consultations, the right online course platform gives you the power to reach more clients simultaneously. 
  • Boost revenues. An online course platform can help you generate passive income. Once you put in the up-front work to create and launch your course, it continues to generate revenue in the background while you focus on other aspects of running your business. For example, if a mindfulness coach creates a self-paced online course teaching the fundamentals of everyday mindful living, multiple clients can be running through the materials in that course while the coach continues to engage with other clients 1:1.  
  • Integration with your existing tech stack. Reputable online course platforms integrate with the other tools you rely on to run your business. For example, deep integration with Google Analytics gives you a way to track and analyze prospect behaviors, like engagement and conversions, so you can keep optimizing your offerings to ensure they resonate with your ideal clients. 
  • Streamline course creation and distribution. An online course platform provides tools to automate administrative tasks, like enrollment and progress tracking. This built-in functionality saves you time and resources, so you can focus on delivering high-quality content. You can even use it to deliver a positive client onboarding experience. 
  • Deliver engaging experiences. Many online course platforms offer interactive and multimedia features – like video lessons, quizzes, assignments, and discussion forums – which enhance the experience, fuel learning retention, and keep clients motivated. They can also be an effective tool for lead nurturing. By introducing new clients to your expertise through online courses you establish credibility to help with selling future offerings and services.

Select the Right Online Course Creation Software Based on Your Growth Stage

As a health and wellness pro, you always take the time to understand each client’s lived experience, expectations, and needs before you recommend treatment. Choosing the right online course creation software for your business requires a personalization mindset too.

You may have heard of online course platforms like Udemy or Coursera. These solutions put your course into an open online marketplace where potential clients from anywhere can pay to access your expert content. There is no subscription fee or cost to add your content to the platform, but you do have to be okay with revenue sharing. In practical terms this means you’ll only receive a percentage of the revenue your content generates on the platform.

There are many Udemy alternatives more suited to the needs of health and wellness pros seeking more control over their branded courses. For example, online course platforms like Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, and Kartra are subscription-based, offering you the power to create and sell your online courses on your own terms.

Before you start comparing platforms you should assess your practice maturity to understand which features matter most to your success. The capabilities you need from your online course creation software as a program-creation newbie will likely be different from those you expect as a seasoned pro with a growth plan in place. 

Online course creation software recommendations for solopreneurs

As a health and wellness solopreneur you need to protect your budget and your time, so you don’t burn out trying to run your business. Here are some considerations to keep top of mind when you compare online course platforms:

  • Most online course creation software options on the market boast drag-and-drop simplicity, a user-friendly interface, and automated workflows. You’ll want to do your homework to ensure the platform doesn’t require you to code if you don’t have that expertise. For example, Teachable offers a no-code builder for courses and web pages, but your web page will be a basic storefront unless you pay for the $499/month Business plan. At that level you get an editor that you can use to make code customizations. 
  • Look for online course creation software that allows you to start small and scale as needed, without financial penalties or performance issues. 
  • Don’t forget to consider what’s affordable for your practice. There is a significant price difference when you look at Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi – the monthly rate for a starter plan spans $0/month for Teachable’s Free plan to $119/month (when billed annually) for Kajabi’s Basic plan. However, it’s also important to note that Teachable’s Free plan isn’t exactly free, as you will be charged transaction fees. Fine print aside, if you’re just starting to test out the waters with online course creation software, it might make sense to dip your toe in with a lower-level subscription plan rather than jumping in cannonball-style and getting soaked.

What growing practices should look for in online course creation software

If your practice is more mature, you may have already experimented with online courses and are now looking to expand your offerings. Here are some considerations for evaluating online course creation software at this stage of business growth:

  • Different platforms have varying levels of marketing sophistication baked in. If you’re investing a lot of effort and money into building new courses, an online course creation software that makes it easy to build landing pages, route leads into email nurtures, and build sales funnels might be what you’re looking for. For example, Kartra is essentially a suite of tools geared to launching an online business, so it’s effective for building robust sales funnels. It is telling that the top-rated alternatives to Kartra on G2 are ActiveCampaign and HubSpot Marketing Hub, which are both marketing automation tools. On the other hand, G2 lists Kajabi and Thinkific as Teachable alternatives because they were all designed with course creation in mind.  
  • Consider whether you want a true all-in-one platform or one that works with software you’ve already invested in. For example, Kajabi has email marketing and CRM built in. Thinkific has limited capabilities, but it also easily integrates with some software tools you may already be paying for – like MailChimp, Google Analytics and Zapier.
  • Practice Better offers an all-in-one practice management solution that lets you build, launch and monitor online courses from one platform. When you combine your course software and your practice management software you can automate your systems and keep organized with all of your client information and tools in one place.
  • If you’re part of a group practice, you may need to prioritize a platform that supports multiple course contributors or administrators. Look for features that allow you to manage and assign roles to different team members, ensuring smooth collaboration and content creation.
  • As your practice grows, it becomes essential to track the performance of your courses and instructors. It will be most helpful to have access to comprehensive analytics and reporting on things like participant engagement, completion rates, and even program comparisons.
  • When you’re building multiple courses, branding will be a consideration too. If you select a platform that allows for customization and branding options at the individual course level, you can make each course feel unique while still aligning with your overall brand identity. If you compare online course platforms, like Teachable vs Kajabi, you’ll find differences in the sophistication of template customization. 

Let’s Compare Online Course Platforms

Next, you’ll want to know which online course platforms best suit health and wellness professionals, and which option is best for you.

A note: having a standalone course software comes with trade-offs. Since organizing, automating, and systematizing your practice will help you grow efficiently, combining your course and practice management software can help reduce time spent working on your business.

If you’re using software for your courses that doesn’t integrate with your other practice tools, you’re leaving out opportunities for improved efficiency and organized record-keeping. Luckily, Practice Better has flexible software that allows you to run courses and evergreen programs for various use cases, from client onboarding, to memberships, to nurturing future clients.

Now that you’ve been introduced to a few popular online course platforms in addition to Practice Better, you likely have more questions. What are the pros and cons of Thinkific vs Teachable? Is Kartra a viable alternative to Thinkific? What are the best Teachable alternatives? How does Kajabi fit into the mix?

PlatformLanding page builderLanding page templatesCourse TemplatesEmail MarketingAnalytics and ReportingTraining and SupportSurveys and QuizzesAffiliate ProgramIntegrationsBuilt-in Community BuildingTransaction feesPlan Price Ranges (billed annually)
TeachableYesLimited unless you upgrade to Business plan YesStarts in at Basic plan , LimitedYesYes, incl. Teachable:u YesPro and Business plans onlyYes (except in Free plan)NoYes, in Free and Basic plans$0/mo – $499/mo
KartraYesYesYesAdvancedYesYesYesYesYesNoNo$99/mo – $429/mo
ThinkificYesYesYesLimitedYesYes, incl. Thinkific AcademyYesPaid plans onlyYesYesNo$0 – Custom pricing at the Plus level
KajabiYesYesYesAdvancedYesYes, incl. 24/7 live chatYesKicks in at Growth level planYesYesNo$119/mo – $319/mo

Teachable

Teachable describes their solution as “a no-code platform for creators who want to build more impactful businesses through courses, coaching, and digital downloads.” Teachable offers an intuitive drag-and-drop builder for creating courses that include videos, slides, quizzes, and more.

Pros:

  • Provides a built-in no-code course and sales page builder
  • Offers affordable plan options for entry level users, including a $0/month starter plan
  • Provides a simple checkout system, fraud protection, tax-inclusive pricing, global currency conversion, automatic payouts, and more through Teachable:pay
  • Connects your favorite tools to the platform with direct integrations for MailChimp, Zapier, Google Analytics, and more

Cons:

  • The free plan only lets you create and sell one online course
  • It’s not integrated with your practice management software
  • You’ll have to pay transaction fees unless you’re subscribed to the Pro ($119/month)  or Business ($499/month) plans
  • You only get a basic storefront page to house your course unless you upgrade to the Business plan. Upgrading unlocks an editor, but customizations require coding expertise
  • Teachable alternatives may appear more costly on the surface, but you will still need to pay for third-party tools, like CRM and email marketing, if you buy into Teachable
  • Affiliate marketing is only available on the Pro- and Business-level subscription plans

Reviewers on Capterra confirm that Teachable is intuitive to use and easy to get started on. Complaints mainly center around generic templates, a lack of customizations, and marketing limitations.

Teachable reviews on Capterra

Kartra

Kartra is an all-in-one platform you can use to build your online business. In reality, it’s less online course creation software and more a suite of tools you can use to build all the components required to run your sales and marketing – like slick landing pages and sophisticated sales funnels.

Pros:

  • Offers advanced email marketing and lead capture functionality, plus automation to help increase conversions
  • Delivers complete helpdesk features
  • Provides in-depth analytics and reporting
  • Offers a wide variety of built-in templates to build and customize different types of pages, including lead capture, video sales, and thank you pages

Cons:

  • Kartra doesn’t integrate with your practice management software, which creates additional work
  • The lowest-price plan is Starter at $99/month (if you pay annually). Many of the Kartra alternatives summarized in this article provide entry-level plans at a lower price point
  • There is no official free trial, although it only costs $1 for the Kartra 14-day trial, which the brand positions as a limited-time offer
  • It is reputed to have a steeper learning curve than some Kartra alternatives
  • There are no specific community-building features

Reviewers on Capterra confirm that Kartra is a helpful all-in-one solution for building landing pages, managing contacts, designing marketing funnels, and tracking conversions. Reviews rarely mention online course creation and hosting. Many users also find the price point steep.

Katra reviews on Capterra

Thinkific

Thinkific is a platform specifically designed to help people create and sell their online courses. Much like other Thinkific alternatives, it offers course templates and a drag-and-drop builder to ease course creation.

Pros:

  • Provides a free plan that includes building one course and one community. Offers unlimited courses in all paid plans.
  • Includes a training site for new users called Thinkific Academy
  • Integrates with tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Google Analytics and others

Cons:

  • Other tools for growing a business, like email marketing and sales funnels, aren’t built into the Thinkific platform. 
  • There’s also no integration into your practice management software
  • No chat support available for troubleshooting problems
  • You can only have one administrator unless you subscribe to the $149/month Grow plan

Reviewers on Capterra confirm that course creation and management is straightforward in Thinkific. Their complaints center around a lack of reporting tools, poor customer service, and narrow scope of use.

Thinkific reviews on Capterra

Kajabi

Kajabi lets you create, market, and sell online courses from one dashboard. It offers customizable templates and design tools with no need for coding or programming.

Pros:

  • Provides an all-in-one platform with sales and marketing tools embedded in the platform 
  • Offers Kajabi AI to help you quickly create course outlines, lesson content, and landing page copy
  • Includes unlimited landing pages and marketing emails at all plan levels, with a library of customizable templates to switch up design on different courses
  • Offers 24/7 live chat support.

Cons:

  • There is no $0 starter plan – just a 14-day free trial
  • The Basic plan is $119/month if you pay annually – the highest-price for an entry-level plan (When you look at Kajabi vs Kartra, it’s an extra $20/month for the starter plan on Kajabi) 
  • No integration with your practice management platform
  • An affiliate program is only available starting at the $159/month growth plan
  • Lacks community-building features

Reviewers on Capterra appreciate the ease of use and having everything integrated into one system – including email, landing pages, sales pages, shopping cart, website, blog, marketing funnels, and online courses. Many agree the learning curve and price point are both a little steep.

Kajabi reviews on Capterra

Does Your Practice Management Software Offer Courses?

If you’re a health and wellness practitioner focused on offering courses to scale your practice you should be considering your business model and how many layers of software you’re comfortable managing in your tech stack. You’re likely also thinking about how to best protect your time and efficiency as you grow.

An all-in-one practice management solution with built-in course creation capabilities could be the right answer for you. The right platform will give you functionality to create and deliver online programs and courses, while also simplifying activities like scheduling, client management, billing, and more. Practice Better is an excellent choice if the following conditions apply in your situation:

  • You’re running hybrid programs that include 1:1 consultations and group or self-paced programs. 
  • You prefer all your client care tools and information housed in one software platform.
  • You want to be able to run different types of programs – including self-paced, evergreen, and email-only – with customized modules. 
  • You need robust, integrated reporting so you can always get an accurate snapshot of each client’s learning journey.

In the end, you want to invest in a platform that provides your ideal mix of collaboration, growth, and efficiency. It’s the key to streamlining your operations and positioning your business for long-term scalable success.


Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians, and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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