Last Updated on January 10, 2022 by James McAllister

By: James McAllister


You’ve put a lot of time into creating your online course. You’ve wrote the scripts, shot the video, handled the editing, and you’re ready to publish.

But wait – what are all of these different marketplaces? Should you sell your course on Udemy? What about Skillshare? ULearning, LinkedIn Learning, Teachable?

Should you go wide and get your course on all of these websites? Or should you keep it close and sell your course through your own website instead?

The truth is that there are a lot of options, and the option that’s best for you is going to depend on your own goals as an instructor, marketer, and entrepreneur. Let us explore several different strategies that the top instructors are currently using to maximize their revenue, so you can identify and choose whichever strategy fits your goals the best. 

Selling Your Courses On Udemy

udemy logo

Before we can make any decision at all, it’s important to know what Udemy has to offer, what drawbacks you’ll have to accept, and what makes Udemy unique vs. other options available.

The main benefit of selling your course on Udemy is exposure. Udemy does a fantastic job at driving traffic to your sales pages and then converting them into sales. They also run extensive retargeting campaigns through Facebook and email that encourages potential buyers to make the purchase.

This is obviously a huge perk, especially for those that do not already have an existing audience and need some help making sales. Think of Udemy as the Kindle for online courses – create a course on an in demand topic, optimize your sales page correctly, and you can be pretty certain you’ll make a steady stream of sales without having to do any additional marketing work yourself.

Steep Discounts

However, there’s a catch. A huge catch. Udemy will only go out of their way to market your course if you opt-in to their promotional programs. By doing so, you grant Udemy the ability to offer deep discounts for your courses, all the way down to $10 during various sales.

Considering Udemy takes 50% of the sale for traffic they bring, and 75% for traffic their advertising or affiliate programs bring, this can mean you’re making as little as $2.50 a sale during certain periods. Of course, that’s still an extra few bucks you never would have had before, but for those looking to maintain a certain price on their work, you won’t be able to do it if you’re opted-in to Udemy’s course promotion program.

This made even worse by the way Udemy’s search algorithm works, prioritizing courses with lots of recent enrollments and reviews. This leads to a ‘rich getting richer’ and a ‘poor getting poorer’ scenario – those who are receiving lots of opt-ins are going to continue to get additional exposure while those who are only making occasional sales likely will not be seen at all unless the course is on a niche topic.

Combine this with the fact that most people have come to expect heavily discounted prices, and you’re very unlikely to make many sales on Udemy’s platform unless you opt-in to their promotions, or drive traffic yourself – which kind of defeats the purpose.

A Good Choice For Beginners?

Despite the fact that pricing is a huge issue, if you are looking for exposure and are certain you’re going to host your content on another site, Udemy is still the #1 choice.

Udemy allows you to upload content easily in both video and text formats, while also having nice engagement features available like tests or discussions. This makes interacting with students a breeze and despite the fact that you aren’t allowed to do a lot with them (no emailing!) it’s still easy to give a great learning experience.

You’re also able to make your own custom coupons and keep 97% of the sales price for sales made through those coupons, so this can work as a viable option if you have an existing audience that you want to sell to. In fact, this is exactly what I started out doing for all of my courses that I promote here on James McAllister Online.


Going Wide – Skillshare, ULearning, CreativeLive?


There has got to be at least 25 different course websites out there willing to host and sell your course – each granting their own little bit of exposure and the occasional sale.

But is it worth uploading to your course to platforms like Skillshare?

In all honesty, it depends on what you want to do. If your goal is volume and exposure, then going wide with your courses makes the most sense.

However, this can be even worse than just selling on Udemy if maintaining a minimum price is important to you. Skillshare, perhaps the most common second choice for course creators, operates on a subscription model similar to Netflix – customers pay a flat monthly fee and have unlimited access to the courses available.

This does mean more students and more passive income – about 7 cents per minute watched, but think about it from the buyer’s perspective. If you’re selling your courses on your website for $100 and your audience knows they’re also available on Skillshare, it would make the most sense for them to just sign up to Skillshare to take your course. You end up making a few dollars rather than $100 off of them as a result.

Is it immoral to price differently on other platforms? Not really. If the course you’re offering is still of greater value than whatever your highest price is, I see nothing wrong with it – particularly because Skillshare is akin to just renting the course, rather than truly owning it.

Sure, it would suck to find out you could’ve gotten the same course for half the price somewhere else, but if you still found the product more valuable than what you paid, no harm done, right?

Self-Hosted Courses

Sometimes it makes the most sense to simply host the course on your own website.

The main benefits involve control. On platforms like Udemy and Skillshare, you have no control over your students’ data. You can’t get them on your email list, you’re limited with what you CAN share with them (affiliate links, promotional content etc.) and you have to follow a set of rules.

Not to mention, these companies can make changes at any times that you have no control over, or even any input on.

For example, Udemy recently made updates to their review system, and began asking students for reviews after watching as little as 2 videos in the course. This has led to either negative or nonsense reviews for many instructors from frustrated students who have not really had a chance to get into the course yet. Despite not seeing a single instructor support this system, Udemy is standing by it and there’s nothing us instructors can do about it.

The obvious downside to self-hosting your courses is that you have to drive all the traffic to them yourself. This is easy if you have an existing audience, an email list that’s growing each day, or you’re willing to invest money into pay-per-click advertising.

How To Self-Host Your Course On WordPress

If you have a WordPress website, self-hosting your course is really simple. All you need is a service to host your videos, and a payment processor and content protector to put your courses behind.

In terms of video hosts, Amazon S3 or Vimeo Pro both work really well. Vimeo Pro is much easier to set up in my opinion, but comes out to $199 a year. Wistia is another solid choice if you’d prefer to pay monthly, but it’s a bit more expensive annually.

In terms of a payment processor and contact protector, I personally use and recommend MemberPress, which integrates with Square and PayPal. You can check out my full review of MemberPress by clicking here. If you’re serious about self-hosting your course, you’ll want to take the time to do so.

LearnDash is another solid choice, and I use this along with MemberPress because it’s bundled with a built-in affiliate program called Affiliate Royale. This highly customizable plugin makes it easy for affiliates to promote your courses, and earn commissions for doing so. This is a great way to drive additional traffic to your courses while building your perception as an authority figure in your space at the same time.

Volume Vs. Margin

Which of these two are more important to you? Would you rather have 10 students who have paid $10 for your course, or 1 student who has paid $100 for your course?

If volume and exposure is your primary goal, it makes the most sense to get your course on as many different websites as possible. The more people taking your courses and seeing your name, your brand, and what you have to offer, the more who will eventually go on to become long-term loyal customers. I have gone on to sell hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of services to students who originally discovered me on Udemy.

This strategy also leads to more people sharing your message and exposing their circle to your work. However, one downside is there is also a lot more support needed – answering student questions, responding to feedback, and staying compliant with the platforms’ rules.

However, if you’re good at marketing and you have a sizeable audience already, self-hosting may be the route to go. If you can sell the value of your course, you’ll likely make much more per customer selling it on your own website. Not to mention, you have far more control over your students, making it easier to promote later down the line.


It can certainly be overwhelming to decide where you should distribute your course.

The great thing about all of these options is they can be pursued at any time. If you don’t like how things turn out now, you can always try something else later.

I’d love to hear where you’ve decided to distribute your course, and what helped you make that decision. And as always, if you ever have any questions, please let me know!

– James McAllister


About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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  1. Hi James,

    Another really helpful post.

    Although I’ve never used these platforms for my courses (I promoted them to my list, nothing more) I see big benefits – the back end. It’s always the back end. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if my net take was only a buck a sale, if the platform delivered lots of buyers I’d be a happy camper.

    Your review has expanded my vision, James. Come Easter I think I will use the holiday time to revamp one of my courses in preparation for listing on Udemy.

    Thanks so much



    1. Hey Kim!

      Well, there’s new news – Udemy’s limiting pricing to $50 maximum per course. If price per student doesn’t matter much to you, Udemy still is great at making new connections, although you can’t promote to these students directly.

      Unfortunately their new decision means I can’t ethically advertise my course more expensive elsewhere, so I’m pulling most of mine from their platform. But I know you make a lot with your high ticket stuff so Udemy may a good fit for you for that reason alone.

      Looking forward to seeing how it works out for you!


  2. Hi James,

    What helpful information you have shared. I never tried Udemy because of the “rules” that made my head spin. I’m finding that putting up some low end WSO’s on Warrior has been building my list like crazy these days. Then, through my sales funnel they can be up-sold. I do find, to my surprise, that some will skip all the up-sell products and go straight to the most expensive one. Whoopie!

    I do it all on self hosted sites. I have a membership site that has been doing well. At first it was difficult to figure it all out, but just like anything else in life, once done, it becomes easier. That is one of the ways I have been doing it and so far so good 🙂



    1. Hi Donna!

      Funny you say that, because they just introduced yet another rule – you can no longer price your course above $50. Such BS that is. Screw ‘free market,’ right?

      Your approach is more what I’m going to be doing heading into the future. Never tried a WSO but this has made me appreciate control even more – and considering I am looking to develop a high ticket package this year, the upselling opportunities selling the courses myself brings will be nice.

      I was on the fence if I wanted to move everything to my site anyway, turns out Udemy made the decision easy for me. 🙂


  3. Hi James,

    So far as selling courses on these platforms is concerned, I’m a complete newbie…my only experience with selling courses came when I started selling courses directly on my blog when I served the Nigerian audience exclusively.

    However, my dear James, I have learnt a ton from reading this awesome and thought inspiring entry of yours…when I am ready to start selling course again professionally (which should be just before the end of the year), I’ll keep all you have said here close to my brain and decide accordingly, especially the pricing ‘challenges’.

    Be certain to make the day great.

    Akaahan Terungwa


    Your entries are always laden with deep insight, logic and experience…I always love stopping over!


    1. Hi Akaahan!

      It’s funny, a few days after I published this post Udemy announced that they’re forcing instructors to now price their courses between $20-50. If this isn’t an issue to you, I’d definitely recommend considering them – my experience with Udemy prior to their string of unnecessary changes was fantastic.

      Of course, they seem to be going through a period of transition so I highly recommend investigating further when the time comes.

      Always enjoy seeing you here Akaahan, thank you so much for commenting!


  4. Hi James,

    Super breakdown here. Noted the deep discounts when I saw guys like Matthew Capala and Rob Cubbon sell their courses. They give you monster exposure though. Like Amazon, they take a heavy cut at times but expose you to a huge local audience potentially. To cross pollinate, I have a bunch of eBooks on Amazon but sell my blogging audio course on Selz. Selz takes a tiny 5% cut then the rest goes to me. Pretty well known site, and they don’t promote you a ton but when you grow your list and network the promoting takes care of itself.

    Thanks for sharing James!



    1. Hey Ryan!

      Yeah, the discounts have been pretty ridiculous although it looks like they’re going to start phasing those out.

      I do have a bit of experience with Selz, I used to use them to sell my eBooks. It’s a good solution for people wanting a quick and easy way to sell products to their own audience. Teachable and Thinkific are good solutions too for course creators specifically. I have considered all of them, but really I’m so paranoid about giving up control now that I’ve chosen to just host everything myself. The migration has been a lot of work, but it’s just about done and I’m looking forward to this new system!


  5. Hey James,

    great article!

    I’ve actually done a ton of research on course hosting platforms since the end of 2015, which has led me to publish a guide about them last week. I’ll PM you the link in case you’re interested.

    Personally, I’m going to stick to self-hosting for bigger courses. Udemy’s behaviour is too corporate for my liking. On the other hand, I think marketplaces should be considered as a way to draw customers to your own site (even if they do try to make that difficult). Marketplace instructors definitely need to be aware that they’re building the platform’s brand, not their own.



    1. Hey Gerfried! Thank you so much for stopping by and adding to this post.

      I’ve had to learn that lesson the hard way unfortunately. I was drawn to Udemy for the exposure and the passive aspects of selling but the truth is we have no control whatsoever and this has been made very clear by the recent pricing changes.

      “Marketplace instructors definitely need to be aware that they’re building the platform’s brand, not their own.”

      Absolutely true. They are not our students, they are Udemy’s students. I have gotten a bit of business from students that originally found me on Udemy, but that is the exception and not the rule.

      Fortunately I’m already bouncing back and revenue on my own site is about on-par with Udemy, with a lot more potential to grow as well. I’m very excited for what’s in store and I’m glad I made this decision!

      Thank you for sending me the guide, I look forward to looking through it!


      1. What we are currently struggling with is this transition from udemy to own site and the cost comparison. Do you have a guide that can make this transition smoother with pitfalls what to avoid etc


        1. Hi Nas,

          I understand this concern and it’s great that you’re being proactive about potential issues.

          From a cost perspective there isn’t really a whole lot of risk in this regard, I use Memberpress to gate off my courses currently but will be integrating it with Learndash here pretty soon. You’ll also need video hosting, I personally use Vimeo Pro. Learndash is about $150, and Vimeo Pro is about $200 / year.

          Sales pages are set up with OptimizePress which is $100 / year.

          Of course the much larger potential risk is the loss of revenue that Udemy is generating for you. This can depend a lot on how much you’re earning from Udemy now, what traffic sources are leading to sales, your course’s topic, and the size of your audience + their loyalty to you and your products specifically.

          You’ll have to do all of your own marketing to your sales pages. Since publishing this article, I’ve increasingly felt that if you’re good at marketing, there’s far more money to be made self-hosting (especially if you utilize content marketing or PPC to drive traffic.)

          I’m happy to answer any specific questions, just let me know. Thanks and wishing you the best!


    2. I would love to see that comparisson too. I am currently evaluating options too. Just found this looking for options.

      I think I’ll go for Udemy with some small courses I had in mind while I take a decision about which platform I will be using, and get some visibility if I can.

      Thanks for the article, and I will take a good look on the Memberpress guide and think about it!


      1. Hey Taisa! Thanks for stopping by.

        That sounds like a good plan. As time has gone on I’ve felt more and more like Udemy should be used for branding and visbility, to funnel people towards your site, and a more expensive back-end product. It’s just too difficult to make a sizeable amount of money on Udemy when you’ll likely be earning less than $10 per student.

        If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


  6. Great post – I’m currently building an online video based course and have been put off by things I have read about Udemy – mostly I don’t want to spend months of hard work to sell a product for $5!. I am planning to self host on wordpress as I already have a pretty well established WP site so it makes sense. You mention that you host by linking together MemberPress and a video provider like Amazon…. Are these all the tools that you use? I have a rather long course built up into many chapters…etc (although it’s video presented) – so far I’ve been looking at Learnpress and Coursepress but the video integration doesn’t seem to be there – they seem to be more geared towards “exams” than courses…. Have you got experience with these or any others?

    Thanks, and again, great post.


  7. Excellent breakdown James. I'm revisiting this post after a few years.

    My developer tried to convince me to self-host a few times but I simply did not like you the idea of one developer handling all the selling stuff on my blog. I prefer to go with companies like Amazon and Selz because even though it's off-site and I hand them a commission, they handle everything on the selling side, development, security, etc. Super post my friend.


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