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Membership Tech Options: Which One Is Best?

When you build an online course, at some point you have to decide on the technology platform.  You have to answer the question, "What platform best supports my needs both short and long term?"  When I advise business owners on the platform to support their online course, I review two options with them.  Both are good potential options.  Each one has advantages and disadvantages.

In a previous article, I described the absolute simplest way to go as far as platforms is concerned. Visit What Is the Simplest Membership Site Platform Available? for that discussion.  Consider that one more approach you can consider.

So what are the two options?

  • A Membership Site Platform as a Service Option
  • A Wordpress Based Option

Option 1 - A Membership Site Platform as a Service Option

If you've begun researching membership site platforms for your online course, you've probably heard of one of the following providers:

  1. Kajabi
  2. Thinktific
  3. Teachable
  4. CustomerHub
  5. Udemy

There are many others to choose from and I'm not recommending these over any others.  I'm just listing examples.

These are services offered by providers for making your online course available to your audience.  These options typically run on their own domain and not yours.  For example, if you use Thinktific, they make your site available at (your name).thinktific.com.  Kajabi follows a similar format and so do many of the others.

These platforms usually make building your online course easy.   If you are somewhat technical, and even if you aren't, you may be able to do this one your own without hiring someone.  These tend to be aimed at the do-it-yourselfer business owner and many provide really good support to get you through the process.

This is an option to consider for business owners wanting to get their course up quickly.  In our Breakthrough Course Building System program, we recommend testing your course with customers after you've done your market research and sell it.  When you prove to yourself you can sell it, we then recommend running a beta group through your course.

Since the priority is to get feedback, a platform like this is a good option.  It allows you at the course developer to focus on your course materials and students.  You reduce the noise and worry involved in getting the technology part done.

The disadvantage of this approach is your are limited to what the platform offers.  It's a take it or leave it approach and this may be OK.  However, I've run into situations where someone selected one of these platforms and then they need a feature the platform doesn't offer.   You typically done see this early on.   When you run into one of these limitation you either have to change your requirements or change platforms to one that does provide the feature you need.

The pros for selecting this approach is you are up and running fast.  The disadvantage is you lose flexibility outside of what your provider offers.  This may not be such a bad thing.  I've worked with first time course builders that focus on features that are sexy, but aren't necessarily features their members consider important.  I recommend first time course builders look at what these platforms offer.   Compare that to what the market research has told them their audience wants.  If a feature is NOT included, consider what that is.  These platform providers are wanting as big a market as possible and have likely added the most requested features.  Why is it your requirements aren't being met?

Option 2 - Wordpress Based Solution

The second approach is a Wordpress based solution.  What you are doing is building a website that is designed to house your online courses.  Building solutions like this is our team's specialty.  You can visit our https://members.larryjacob.com to see an example of our site built which we built using this approach.  You can register there for free and see our site portfolio which gives video tours of several other sites built using this approach as well.

The disadvantage of this approach is you have to build a website.  You have to understand website hosting, domains and Wordpress.  Many people have already worked with websites so working with Wordpress isn't a problem.  I highly recommend finding a good provider for this.  It's plenty of work and it isn't the best use of a business owner's time.  This is especially true if website development isn't what you do every day.

The advantage here is the sky is the limit on flexibility.  You are limited only by what Wordpress gets you and it supports just about anything you could want.  If you are needing to integrate with backend CRM solutions like Infusionsoft or Active Campaign, this is the way to go.  Wordpress addons like Memberium and AccessAlly connect Wordpress to these systems and do it nicely.  The previous provider hosted options don't integrate nicely or at all with these tools.

 

If you are starting off, feel free to contact us for a FREE 30 minute phone call to go over your needs.  We can help you make this decision and we have offerings for defining your course offerings, confirming your course sells and for building your technology platform.  You'd be surprised at how reasonably priced a site like this can be especially when you know the provider has the expertise and can get your through the process as painfully as possible.

Hope this helps!