If you are an aspiring course creator, there’s a lot of things that you need to figure out in order to successfully get started selling your course!
One of them is picking the right course hosting platform.
We’ve used teachable for literally years and it has been very sufficient. We’ve done over 2 million in sales on teachable alone!
But we are now getting to the point where it’s not quiteeeee hitting everything that we need to do…
So we recently started looking into other options, one of which being Kartra.
I did a whole comparison just for myself and I figured this could be useful as a video for aspiring course creators researching which platform is right for them at the stage they are in!
So let’s look at the main differences between the two platforms, the pros and cons of each, and also a price comparison! (Because the actual cost of using each course hosting platform turns out to be very different in the end!)
But before we get into all of that…
Ff your big task right now isn’t just to pick a course hosting platform, but also to determine “Will anyone wanna buy my course??” then I have something for you!
The main difference between Teachable and Kartra is what they are designed to help you do in your business.
Teachable is more just a dedicated course content hosting platform, whereas Kartra is more of an all-in-one system helping you to run your entire business.
So let’s do a quick overview of what each offers…
✓ Checkout pages
✓ Sales pages
✓ Course content hosting
✓ Basic affiliate program
✓ (More advanced) Checkout pages
✓ Sales pages
✓ Course content hosting
✓ Robust affiliate program
✓ Email marketing
✓ Sales funnels
✓ Deadline timers
✓ Live chat feature
✓ Membership communities
So as you can tell, there’s a big difference in what each system is attempting to master!
Now you might be wondering…
Let me give you an example of the benefits of an all-in-one system!
In the past, when we’ve wanted to host a survey (either a subscriber survey to learn about our audience and what they want, or some sort of feedback survey for students of my online courses for web designers and course creators) we’ve had to pay to use an additional survey software since it wasn’t something that teachable could natively do.
The problem was our email list lived somewhere other than our survey hosting software.
Meaning if someone answered a question in a survey about the stage of business they were in, there was no way for us to be syncing the two systems, and their subscriber profile would not automatically be tagged with that information.
With something like Kartra where the email list and surveying software are built-in features, tagging subscribers or customers based on their survey responses becomes much easier!
(And those responses are very valuable information to have when it comes to launching a new course idea, deciding what type of course content to be creating, and deciding who in your list to be selling to!)
When your membership community, your online course content, your payment plan system, AND your checkout process all happen inside the same software, it makes it so much easier to be managing your customers and any failed payments or cancelled subscriptions.
Where if you have your payment system somewhere other than your course hosting platform or membership community, the enrolling and unenrolling part often needs to be done manually, as even something like Zapier (a super handy tool for connecting softwares) can’t always get your two programs speaking to each other!
So having to piece together multiple systems in order to manage your customer’s accounts isn’t as clean as something like Kartra that can do it all for you in one system.
Now let’s talk about the downsides of an all in one system (cuz there definitely are some downsides to it!)
(Even if there’s a better tool for the job!)
Say you don’t love a feature in your all-in-one system…for example, I don’t love Kartra’s sales page design abilities.
I love to build my sales pages on Squarespace (I literally teach people how to become a Squarespace web designer!) because I have wayyyy more design flexibility needed to get my sales pages to feel super on brand with the rest of my website and all the other places my business shows up online!
So if I go for an all-in-one system, but then decide to have all my sales pages and sales evergreen funnels on some other software completely, then suddenly all the other things in the system that would normally natively integrate with my sales pages (my deadline timers, my email opt-ins, etc.) get messed up and won’t function like they should.
So if you don’t love one aspect of these all-in-one systems like Kartra, you either need to suck it up and deal with that thing…
OR create yourself 27 other problems by trying to go rogue and do that one thing somewhere else.
Whenever something tries to be all-in-one system, there are always going to be those features aren’t done as well as other companies who have dedicated their entire software to doing that one thing extremely well.
So again, if you opt for using an external software for handling even just one step in your online course sales process, then it kind of cancels out the cost-saving benefits of having an all-in-one platform, since signing up for another subscription to your preferred software means you’re now paying for that feature twice.
So let’s talk about the limitations of Teachable, and the reason I started looking for another option in the first place!
I recently launched a new coaching program, where I walk aspiring online course creators through the complete process of building, launching, and positioning their new online course idea.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option inside my trusty Teachable. You could offer payment plans, but only if the price stayed the same each month.
(But if setting up slightly more complicated payment plans isn’t important to you, then this is a non-issue!)
The other thing that had me looking for other solutions is our plan to launch a really robust affiliate program for the upcoming launch of my Square Secrets Business™️ course for web designers.
One of my must haves is to be able to use affiliate links to be able to drive to both the pre-launch free training events I plan to host AND the actual sales pages.
These pre-launch events are just as important as any sales emails I (or my affiliates) might send during a live launch!
Most of my affiliate’s audience members will be completely new to my business.
It helps to warm them up in a sense, building the know, like, trust factor needed for a successful launch, rather than just driving a bunch of ‘cold’ subscribers to a sales page to make a significant investment in something from someone they’ve never even heard or care about, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge!
Now, you can set up multiple affiliate links to lead to as many different pages (including free training sign-up pages) as you like, but the issue here was more with tracking.
(ie. they got X number of people to attend my free training, whether or not I was able to convert those people to paying customers come launch time.)
So lack of ability to attribute specific leads to affiliates before there was ever a sale was a major factor for me.
One other thing, which I don’t love about Teachable is that their checkout pages are a little bit clunky and could use some streamlining!
Right now, there’s a bit of unnecessary information they are asking for up front before a customer can complete their purchase.
(And you’ve heard me say it before, the fewer fields you require on a checkout page, the more likely people will actually finish filling it out and actually buy your thing instead of getting frustrated and abandoning cart, seriously affecting your conversion rates!)
Because Teachable is such a popular course hosting platform, they know that many customers are likely to have already purchased a course from another creator who also hosts their content on Teachable.
So they created what they call “My Teachable” accounts, where all the courses you purchase, even those from different creators, can all live in one single Teachable account instead of having to create new login with each new purchase.
So it asks for the log-in, THEN for the sale. When it comes to converting sales page visitors into actual paying students, it would be much easier on course creators if those steps were flip-flopped!
It is possible to connect a third party checkout page and payment processor software to skirt around this issue (ie. something like ThriveCart or SamCart), but then again, in order to get all these separate systems talking nicely to each other, you are going to need to set up something like Zapier to basically say “If student A pays for the course using this software over here, then they automatically get enrolled in the materials inside this other software over here.”
But then if someone falls off their payment plan, suddenly you are having to manually unenroll people since these systems are no longer communicating after that initial purchase.
Then, if they resume payment, then you have to go back in and re-enroll them as well!
Ok, so it may be starting to sound like I’m hating on Teachable…but I promise that’s not the case! Let’s go into some of the major benefits of choosing Teachable over something like Kartra…
The major benefit to choosing Teachable as your online course hosting platform is that it’s a super familiar system for your students.
Since Teachable is such a popular choice for online course creators to be hosting their content, it’s highly likely your students have used Teachable’s student dashboard before.
They aren’t having to learn to navigate a whole new bit of tech just to watch your online course.
The other thing Teachable does (which I think is the possibly greatest thing ever and when I found out they were releasing it a couple years ago I was like “Hallelujah!”) is that they do all of your VAT collection and tax filings for you!
Before this, I used to have to export a giant list of all my sales every single quarter, rearrange them in a super specific way that was acceptable to the tax people showing exactly what country a student was located in when they completed their purchase, and therefore which country code each sale fell under for tax purposes.
And because I have students joining my courses from literally all over the world, I legally had to be filing and paying VAT in like 28 different countries.
This meant hiring a super expensive tax advisor to file to all these countries on our behalf, just so we could send €25 to Belgium. 🤦♀️
So this is something that truly sets Teachable apart that they handle this for you!
The other thing that Teachable does super well is its super robust course builder!
You can choose to drip content to your students a set time each week, or a set number of days after someone has enrolled.
You can also create as many different bundles of your courses as you want which makes offering two or more courses for a savings and breeze. But also super ideal when you are trying to set up things like fast-action bonuses to drive more sales and encourage enrollment at certain times in your open cart period!
You don’t have to manually deliver any extra courses or bonuses, or set up multiple versions of your actual course, because Teachable will take all those separate courses and handle the auto-enrolling for you through the use of bundles!
The other thing which I love about Teachable is that their live chat feature included in the pro plan makes their customer service super fast at getting back to you!
So if we’re having an issue with a student payment, or someone is having trouble accessing their course materials due to a tech issue, we usually see a response within just a few hours. No waiting days to be hear back from customer service, and their solutions are actually genuinely helpful.
So that tends to be super handy when trying to ensure your students have the best course experience!
So since Kartra is an all-in-one system for running your business, and Teachable is really just dedicated to doing one thing well, in order to do a direct pricing comparison for both softwares, we need to take into account the other paid subscriptions needed to sort of round out the whole online course sales side of my business.
So let’s look at a list of essential softwares I use to run my business and what I pay for them each month, vs what it would cost if I just got all those same softwares in an all-in-one system like Kartra.
Now let’s look at what it costs to get all these same features and functions through a single software like Kartra!
So as you can see, there is definitely a significant savings to be had you go for an all in one system!
Even though it is definitely cheaper to go with something like Kartra, there were some major downsides to it which ultimately lead to deciding to stick to Teachable (and our 17 other different softwares that are needed to go with it).
At the end of the day, it would be a major pain in the butt to be moving all those systems over to a new location.
I’m at a point in my business where it would take one person working full-time for at least one month (maybe more) to be migrating my email lists, email marketing tagging system, sales funnels, sales pages, hours and hours of course content, and thousands of students so that they all live inside Kartra.
So the cost savings of choosing Kartra would bacically be cancelled out by the fact I’d be having to pay a team member all those hours just to move it!
So if you’re just getting started in your online course creator journey, definitely take that into consideration…once you’ve been on these systems for a while, it is really tough to be changing later on if your business outgrows your chosen platform.
The other reason I’m sticking with my current set up of Teachable and Squarespace together for my sales pages and checkout process is that I just really really want to be able to create beautiful sales page designs.
I literally teach people how to become Squarespace web designers, so it’s kind of important that my sales pages are up to par in terms of branding and design as well.
If I could just take the deadline timers from Kartra and their email signup system and stick that on a sales page, I would totally be down to switch from Teachable to Kartra.
But since that isn’t currently possible, I’m going to stay put.
Honestly, having an all-in-one system right from the get go is really convenient, assuming there’s no make or break for you on that system (like there is with me in the sales pages).
But if you’re like me, and you are currently piecing together a zillion different systems, there’s really only one way to decide whether it’s in your best interest to be making the switch…
If all you have is an email list and a website and a sales page or two on your site, great. Super easy to move!
But if all your systems currently happen in different places and bringing them all together would be more headache than just dealing with them where they are, then there’s your answer!
I hope this video has been helpful for you to help you pick a course platform!
But if your biggest hesitation—and the reason you have been putting off choosing a platform and building your course in the first place—is that you’re kinddddd of terrified that no one is going to buy your course when you release it…
Well, I have just the thing for you! 👇