10 TOOLS EVERY COURSE CREATOR NEEDS

 

Starting your journey into the wonderful world of online course creation can be so exciting (and a little daunting)!

 

The most common phrases we hear from new course creators are, “I just don’t know which systems, software, and tools I really need to get started” and “I don’t know enough to know what I don’t know!”.

 

In fact, it’s so overwhelming that many amazing would-be course creators never even get started, or are stopped in their tracks.

 

This is where we start to geek out! We love technology and are committed to helping online course creators get their courses out into the world, and part of that is making the technology less scary and showing you how it will help you on your journey.

 

Understanding the tools, platforms, and software that you’ll need to tackle this journey confidently is crucial, so we’ve created 10 Tools Every Course Creator Needs.

 

free tools entrepreneur

 

We’re not only tech and marketing geeks, we’re course creators. We’ve tested virtually every platform, tool, and software available. Each of the 10 tools are necessary for you – the online course creator.

 

In each section we outline the reason for the tool and our recommendations for the best tool, software, or platform.

 

We encourage you to follow the links to review the recommendations, and do your research to ensure that the tool, software, or platform meets your needs.

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of online course creation!

 

LMS (Learning Management System)

Unless you’re going to be strictly offering your courses on a marketplace like Udemy, you’ll need an LMS. With an LMS you determine the pricing, have all your learning content in one location, can track learner progress, and have full control over the contact information of your students (which allows you to grow your email list, build relationships, and sell them other courses). With a marketplace you have no control over pricing and your student’s contact information is not shared with you.

 

We recommend Thinkific, a hosted solution, but you may decide to go with another hosted solution or an LMS plugin if you’re using WordPress for your website.

 

Thinkific

Thinkific is the all-in-one platform for independent experts and entrepreneurs to create, market and sell online courses. Click here to check out Thinkific.

 

FREE VERSION FEATURES

  • Easy Drag & Drop Course Builder
  • Upsell Offers
  • Pass/Fail Quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Discussion Forums
  • Unlimited Courses
  • Unlimited Students
  • Content Hosting (Video, Audio, PDF)
  • Basic Integrations (AWeber, Convertkit, Mailchimp)
  • Accept Payments via Strip
  • Instant Access to your Funds
  • Advanced CSS/HTML Editing
  • Choose Your Site Language
  • Secure Cloud Hosting
  • Full e-Commerce
  • Data Exports
  • Reports & Analytics
  • 10% per transaction fee

 

ESSENTIALS PLAN FEATURES INCLUDES ALL FREE VERSION FEATURES, PLUS:

  • Coupons & Promotions
  • Monthly Subscriptions
  • Course Bundles
  • Intermediate Integrations (Segment.io, Lead Dyno, SumoMe)
  • Basic Zapier (Outgoing Trigger Connections: Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, GetResponse and more)
  • Drip (Scheduled) Content
  • Affiliate Reporting
  • Bulk Student Emailer
  • Accept Paypal Payments
  • Custom Domain
  • Additional Course Prices
  • 5% per transaction fee

 

 

BUSINESS PLAN FEATURES INCLUDES ALL FREE VERSION FEATURES, PLUS:

  • Completion Certificates
  • Private & Hidden Courses
  • Site White Labeling
  • Host Storyline, Captivate & More
  • Intermediate Zapier (Outgoing Triggers and Incoming Actions: Samcart, Shopify, Quaderno checkout and more)
  • 3 Course Admin Accounts
  • Priority Support
  • Instructor Payout Reporting
  • Onboarding Call
  • Payment Plans
  • No transaction fees

 

 

OTHER LMS OPTIONS

These are not options we use or recommend, just other options.

 

 

 

PAYMENT PROCESSING SOLUTION

A payment processing solution is a merchant service that authorizes credit card or direct payments processing for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar. The two most common payment processing solutions are Paypal and Stripe. Both Paypal and Stripe integrate with most other platforms that you’ll be utilizing (LMS, online booking systems, and landing pages).

 

We would recommend you set up both a Paypal and a Stripe account as some integrations will require one or the other.

 

Paypal

Click here to set up your Paypal account.

  • Personal: Recommended for individuals who shop and pay online, or wish to send or receive personal payments for shared expenses such as splitting of dinner bills or rental charges. (2.9% + $0.30 per successful card charge)
  • Premier: Recommended for casual sellers or non-businesses who wish to get paid online, and who also make online purchases. (2.9% + $0.30 per successful card charge)
  • Business: Recommended for merchants who operate under a company/group name. It offers additional features such as allowing up to 200 employees limited access to your account and customer service email alias for customer issues to be routed for faster follow-ups. Fee based.

 

Stripe

Click here to set up your Stripe account.

PAY AS YOU GO

  • No setup, monthly, or hidden fees
  • Pay only for what you use (2.9% + $0.30 per successful card charge)
  • Real-time fee reporting
  • Deposited into your bank account within 7 business days or sooner

 

 

IMAGE EDITOR

An image editor is a software program used to edit or otherwise manipulate an image, picture or other graphic.

 

You may need to edit or manipulate images for your landing pages, pdf downloads, lead magnets, social media images, blog images, PowerPoint slides, and within your courses – in fact, you’ll likely use image editing software on a daily basis.

 

Every digital asset you produce is a reflection of your brand, so ensuring the highest quality images in your digital assets is important.

 

Although Adobe products (Photoshop, Indesign) are popular, there is a steep learning curve and have more robust features than you’ll likely use. For most online course creators using one of these recommended tools will provide you with what you need to create gorgeous images for your digital assets.

 

Picmonkey

Picmonkey is a free online image editor with premium features added for more robust editing. It’s an easy-to-use cloud based tool with very little learning curve. Click here to check out Picmonkey.

 

FREE VERSION FEATURES

  • Edit, touch up, or design images
  • Limited effects, frames, and templates

 

PREMIUM VERSION FEATURES ($48 annual fee)

  • Storage for 50 images or templates
  • Sort images
  • Advanced touch up tools
  • Primo effects, overlays, fonts
  • Re-editable images
  • Top-shelf templates
  • No ads

 

SUPREMIUM VERSION FEATURES ($99 annual fee)

  • Unlimited image storage
  • Organize images with Collections
  • Advanced touch up tools
  • Primo effects, overlays, fonts
  • Re-editable images
  • Top-shelf templates
  • No ads

 

 

Canva

Canva is a graphic-design tool website, and has an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. It provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. Design presentations, social media graphics,and more with thousands of beautiful layouts. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics. Click here to check out Canva.

 

FREE VERSION FEATURES

  • Two folders to organize designs
  • Up to 10 team members for free
  • 1GB storage for photos and assets
  • Access to over 8,000 templates
  • Upload your own images
  • Access millions of photos for $1 each

 

CANVA FOR WORK INCLUDES EVERYTHING IN THE FREE VERSION, PLUS:

  • Unlimited folders for your designs
  • Invite up to 50 team members
  • Unlimited storage for photos and assets
  • Exclusive access to 300,000 free photos, illustrations, and templates
  • Upload your own images
  • Access millions of photos for $1 each
  • Magically resize your designs
  • Upload custom fonts for your brand
  • Set color palettes for your brand
  • Save templates for you and your team
  • Organize your photos with folders
  • Easily find your designs with search
  • Priority support
  • Try Canva for Work free for 30-days.

 

CANVA ENTERPRISE INCLUDES EVERYTHING IN CANVA FOR WORK, PLUS:

  • Enforce brand standards
  • Approval workflow
  • Team administrative controls
  • Advanced analytics
  • Single sign on
  • Dedicated account manager
  • 99.9% uptime SLA

 

 

VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE

From demo and intro videos to the actual course videos, the quality of your video matters. The quality of your videos will affect the perceived value of the course by your learners. Your goal is to keep them focused on the content and the results of your course and this is much easier when you have high video quality.

 

Expensive video editing software is not a requirement. It is important to know what kind of videos you want to produce before purchasing video editing software. Here are some recommended options:

 

Screencast-o-matic

Screencast-o-matic is a fast recording app to capture screencasts (filming your computer screen) or webcam (to record from your webcam). There is a free version with limited features, and a much more robust paid version for just $15 per year! Recording computer audio requires PC with Windows Vista or later. Click here to get 20% off Screencast-o-matic.

 

FREE VERSION FEATURES

  • 15-minute recordings
  • Screen & webcam recording
  • Publish to YouTube
  • Save as video file

 

PRO VERSION FEATURES

  • No watermark
  • Longer recordings
  • Record computer audio
  • Edit tools
  • Scripted Recordings
  • Draw and zoom
  • Publish to Google Drive, Vimeo, Dropbox
  • Screenshot Tool
  • Hosted videos

 

Wondershare Filmora

Create amazing videos easily using Filmora’s wide range of powerful editing tools for Mac and for Windows. Filmora’s delightfully intuitive design makes it easy for anyone to become a great video editor. Get a lifetime license for just $59.99! Click here to download and try it for free.

 

FEATURES:

  • 4K editing support
  • Import, edit, and export GIF files
  • Noise removal
  • Reverse your clips and play them backward
  • Import photos and clips from Facebook and other social media platforms
  • Precision speed control for speeding up or slowing down
  • Frame by frame preview
  • Colour tuning
  • Pan and zoom
  • Add up to 5 text tracks and 10 music tracks to your timeline.
  • Choose from a variety of camera shake effects and apply them easily.
  • Picture in Picture (PIP)
  • Blend your PIP image with your main video track in creative ways with PIP blend
  • Adjust the audio of each individual track on your timeline.
  • Edit the color, size, font, and even animation of your text and titles.
  • Change your background and create special effects using the Chroma Key (Green Screen)
  • Easily record the screen of your computer and webcam.
  • Play two or more clips simultaneously with a split screen
  • Eliminate the effects of camera shake with video stabilization
  • Draw focus to one part of a clip by strategically blurring the rest.
  • Detach your audio from your video clip and edit it separately.
  • Have Filmora scan your clips for scene changes to save yourself time.
  • Automatically crop or resize photos to fit the aspect ratio of your video project.

 

 

ESP (EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE PROVIDER)

Growing your email list of engaged subscribers is a necessity in today’s business landscape. Your email list is one of the primary means of communication and allows you to meet your prospects, clients, customers, and students where they’re at – online.

 

Email marketing has a high ROI, and allows you immediate communication and to build further relationships with your following with a personal touch.

 

Convertkit

ConvertKit was built with bloggers in mind, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a blogger in the traditional sense to love ConvertKit. Their customers are podcasters, service-based business owners, course creators, YouTubers, and more. Staring at $29 / month. Click here to check out Convertkit.

 

FEATURES:

  • Tag based (you can tag subscribers based on links they click, pages on your WordPress website they visit, etc. to better segment your subscribers)
  • Responsive opt-in forms
  • Several landing page templates
  • Create single broadcasts or workflows
  • Personalize and customize emails
  • ConvertKit visual automation allows you to send the perfect sales sequence to each subscriber.
  • Automation rules
  • Automation blueprints
  • 35+ integrations
  • Pricing based on email subscriber numbers

 

OTHER EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE PROVIDERS

These are not options we use or recommend, just other options.

 

 

 

BACKUP AND SYNC OR MICROSOFT OFFICE

Having a way to easily create text and PDF documents, track the videos you are creating, and create spreadsheets to organize all of your information to upload with ease is incredibly important.  The biggest difference between Backup and Sync (formerly called Google Drive) and Microsoft Office is that Backup and Sync is stored on the cloud and Microsoft Office is typically stored locally.  Backup and Sync free version includes 15 GB of storage.

 

free tools entrepreneur

 

Backup and Sync

Google drive is a cloud based system to create and store documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and so much more. Click here to get Backup and Sync (previously called Google Drive).

 

FEATURES

  • Able to access the documents/sheets/etc from any computer via the internet
  • Gives you access to multiple document types
    • Documents
    • Spreadsheets
    • Presentations
    • Forms and Surveys
  • Can be accessed through mobile or desktop
  • Collaboration is easy, you can share your document with anyone and work on documents in live time – together

 

Microsoft Office Suite

Products developed by Microsoft including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, and Outlook.  This is not a free program, basic program bundles start at $99.  Click here to check out Microsoft Office Suite.

 

FEATURES

  • Multiple document types
    • Word
    • Excel
    • PowerPoint
  • Outlook email
  • Stored locally or on a portable storage device such as USB
  • Can be used on Ipads and some phones
  • Easily send final documents to others

 

 

 

LANDING PAGE SOFTWARE

Landing pages are the most effective and most widely used tools to capture information for potential leads (webinars, VIP launches, lead magnets), as well as to sell (and pre-sell) your online course.  You can create these landing pages for all sorts of information gathering.  In addition to creating pages to get the emails of potential students, you can design custom thank you pages, custom webinar pages, and so much more.   

 

 

LEADPAGES

Complete landing page builder including templates for Opt In pages, Thank You pages, Webinar pages, etc.  Price varies based on which plan you need.  The Basic plan is $25/month when paid annually, the Pro plan is $48/month when paid annually, and the Advanced plan is $199/month when paid annually. Click here to check out LeadPages.

 

BASIC PLAN FEATURES

  • Mobile friendly templates
  • Drag and drop templates
  • Integrates with practically every program you would need
  • Lead capture popups
  • WordPress Plugin, so pages look like they are part of your website
  • Create Opt In pages, Webinar pages, Thank You pages, Sales pages, Video pages, all with the ability to customize them to your industry

 

PRO PLAN ADDITIONAL FEATURES INCLUDES ALL BASIC PLAN FEATURES, PLUS:

  • A/B split testing
  • SMS texting ability
  • Special discounts with partners

 

ADVANCED ADDITIONAL FEATURES INCLUDES ALL PRO PLAN FEATURES, PLUS:

  • 5 free subaccounts
  • Free workshops
  • 50 extra lead digits campaigns
  • Advanced integrations

 

 

MICROPHONE

Good quality audio is essential to maintaining a high-quality course. Hearing static, breathing, or poor quality audio will distract your learners and they will not stay engaged in the learning.

 

You’ll be using audio and video not only within your course, but for Facebook and Youtube live streams and pre-recorded videos.

 

Investing in a quality microphone is a small investment for a big payoff.

 

Blue Yeti

Create unparalleled recordings directly in your computer with Blue Microphone’s Yeti USB Microphone. The Yeti uses Blue Microphone’s proprietary tri-capsule technology to produce pristine, studio-quality recordings. It features four different pattern settings so you can record vocals, instrumental music, podcasts, or interviews in ways that would normally require multiple microphones. With simple controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain, you’ll be creating exceptional recordings right out of the box (starts at $129.00). Click here to view the Blue Yeti.

 

FEATURES

  • Tri-capsule array – 3 condenser capsules can record almost any situation
  • Multiple pattern selection – cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional & stereo
  • Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output
  • Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls
  • Plug ‘n play – Mac and PC compatible
  • Unique positionable design

 

Rode smartLav + Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones and Tablets

Great for live streaming or video / audio recording on your smartphone or tablet, The smartLav+ is a broadcast-grade wearable microphone designed for use in a wide range of film, television and broadcast scenarios, or wherever broadcast quality audio is required in a discreet, portable format without the complication and expense of additional wireless equipment.  Click here to view the Rode Lavalier Microphone.

 

FEATURES

  • Broadcast quality, professional-grade Lavalier Mic with TRRS Jack
  • High-quality omni-directional condenser capsule
  • Discrete 4.5mm miniature microphone
  • Compatible with iOS devices and select Android devices
  • Kevlar reinforced cable
  • Includes wind shield, durable mounting clip, and pouch
  • Twelve month warranty

 

 

ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEM

Whether you’re booking 1:1 calls, group coaching calls, or interviews with other experts, an automated online booking system connects to your calendar (Google, Outlook, etc.) so there’s no need for back and forth emails to coordinate times, and streamlines the process.

 

 

Book Like a Boss

Book Like a Boss is an all in one scheduling tool which allows you to automate your bookings. Book Like a Boss can be embedded within your online course, on your LMS, or on your website. You can brand it to make it look and feel like your own and it’s a seamless process for bookings. It syncs with several online calendars (such as Google Calendar and Outlook) and replaces all of the back and forth time-wasting emails to book calls, meetings or appointments. Click here to get 30% off or click here to try it out for free.

 

FEATURES:

  • Super-fast and SSL Secured Hosting in the Cloud
  • Optimized for phones and tablets
  • Sell Services as well as Digital & Physical products. Integrates with Stripe and/or Paypal or get paid in cash.
  • Manage your business from an easy-to-use Dashboard
  • Works with your Google, Outlook, Office 365 or iCloud calendar so you’re never double booked
  • Add up to 5 Automatic Email Reminders and allow for easy cancellation & rescheduling.
  • Build out as many appointment types, services, and digital products as you need, You can even create custom ones and keep them hidden from your main page.
  • Custom header, footer, Video, Photo Gallery, Social Media Links, Profile Pic, FAQ’s, Testimonials and more! Make your page uniquely yours!

 

OTHER ONLINE BOOKING SYSTEMS

These are not options we use or recommend, just other options.

 

 

 

ONLINE FORMS

From pre-course surveys to in-course interactivity, online forms are an essential component to your sales funnel and course content.

 

Typeform

Online forms are boring – Typeforms fix that. Beautifully designed, asking one question at a time like a real conversation, they are engaging and fun to complete. Typeform is a web-based platform for collecting and sharing information, in a conversational, human way.

Typeforms can be used for market research surveys, polls, questionnaires, quizzes and tests, course evaluations, and interactive storytelling. They can be embedded on web pages on your website, on landing pages or sales pages, and even in your course on Thinkific! Click here to get started using Typeform with a 10% discount!

 

FEATURES:

  • Logic Jump
  • Hidden fields
  • Respondent notifications
  • Payment field (Stripe integration)
  • Calculator
  • File upload
  • Customized Thank You screen
  • Customized meta information
  • Unlimited typeform fields
  • Get notifications of responses
  • Review (and export) responses in a spreadsheet for data mining
  • Embed on your website or in your course

 

We use, or have used, all of the above recommended tools, products, software, and platforms (except where noted). Please do your due diligence to determine the right tools for your business.

 

 

Which tools have you found are essential for course creation?

Leave a comment below and let us know!