Best Tools to Create Online Courses

Before I created my first-ever online video course, I spent hours and days researching the different cameras, microphones and software I needed. Eventually, I invested in my “starter kit,” which worked fine. But as I became more and more experienced with the course creation process, I realized that my initial set up wasn’t the best for me, so I changed and tweaked quite a few things. I put together this article to show you the current tools that I use to create my online courses, so you don’t have to spend as much time and money to compile yours as I did!

Photo Credit: Jeroen den Otter | Unsplash.com

Note: some of the links in the article are affiliate links. If you don’t want to use my links, you can just google the equipment I list here!

Microphones

Blue Yeti Microphone ($129)

LINK: Blue Yeti Mic

The Blue Yeti Mic (photo credit: Thierry | pexels.com)

As for me, Blue Yeti was my first mic, but I changed it out for two reasons:

a) It didn’t handle it well when I moved my head while I was speaking. In the recordings my voice was sometimes quieter, sometimes louder, just because I accidentally turned my head.

b) USB-microphones have a technical limitation in sound quality, so they will never be as good as XLR-microphones. (It’s another question whether your students will actually notice the difference…) Anyway, the point is that after a while I upgraded to:

Audio-Technica BPHS1 Headset ($199) + Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface ($149)

This set is used by many online video course creators and also by semi-professional musicians who want to have a portable set for their recordings. It produces 100% professional quality and thus it is a great investment. What I love most is that it filters the background noise very efficiently, so if you travel a lot and you end up in a noisier accommodation, you can still record your online course materials. The only drawback is that since it’s a headset, you have to put it on your head. It doesn’t matter when you are recording a screencast video but it might look goofy when you are talking to the camera. Well, it’s just a question of taste. Personally, I don’t really care about it and I wear it during my face videos, too.

Me, wearing the headset in the intro video of my new course (source: data36.com)

LINK 1: Audio-Technica BPHS1 headset
LINK 2: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface

Cameras

Your Smart Phone (Free)

Nikon D3400 Camera ($497)

LINK 1: Nikon D3400
LINK 2: Mini-HDMI-to-HDMI adapter

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Camera ($649)

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Another big favorite of Vloggers. It’s an awesome camera; it’s very easy to use and it produces exceptional video quality even in low light. It has the flip screen, too. Note that it’s not the best camera for taking pictures. But that doesn’t matter since you want to shoot videos and not photos anyway.

LINK: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Best camera + microphone combination?

My current combo is this:

Audio-Technica BPHS1 headset + Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface + NIKON D3400 camera

(Here’s a sample video I shot with this combo last year: My Intro Video.)

Screen Recording and Video Editing softwares

Camtasia ($249)

  • It’s very easy to use; you can learn it in hours just by playing around with it.
  • It’s an all-in-one solution: it can do the screen recording, the audio recording and the editing as well.
  • It works both on a Mac and a PC.
  • It’s a one-time payment without annual/monthly fees.
Camtasia’s Editor

On the other hand, Camtasia is an entry level video editor tool, so doesn’t offer too many special effects, only the most essential annotations, transitions and animations. (For me these were more than enough.) Plus, sometimes it’s a little buggy — but nothing too bad. For someone starting online course creation, this is the ideal choice.

LINK: Camtasia’s Website

Keynote/PowerPoint

The best online platform (to publish your courses)

Teachable ($39/month)

One of my courses at Teachable

First of all, their service is just awesome. They have the perfect editor to beautifully create and organize your online courses. You can create coupons, you can run affiliate programs, you can automate your courses. Everything you might need. It’s simple and efficient.

Secondly, their pricing is more than reasonable. I use their Basic Plan, which costs $39 per month plus a 5% cut of sales — which is very, very low. (Just for comparison, Udemy takes 25–75%.) And you can use your own domain and brand.
Later this year, I’ll upgrade to their Pro Plan; it costs $99 per month, but after a while it’s worth it because the commission drops to 0%. (Do the math and decide which one is the best fit for you!)

Third, Teachable’s customer support is very responsive and very helpful.

And the icing on the the cake is that they take care of all the administrative tasks for you: like invoicing and legal stuff. (More about that in a bit.)

All-in-all: Teachable is the best possible choice as a platform for your online courses.

LINK: Teachable

Communication

Slack (for the class forum) (FREE)

LINK: Slack

Calendly (FREE)

LINK: Calendly

Google Hangouts (FREE)

LINK: Google Hangouts

Marketing tools

But here’s the list of the tools I use:

  • Mailchimp for email marketing and email automations
  • Zapier for creating better automations across all my tools
  • Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for social media marketing
  • Reddit (paid ads only)
  • Wordpress for blogging and content marketing

UPDATE — HOW TO START A WORDPRESS BLOG

It’s a bit pricy (~$31/month) but they are the absolute best on the market.

Administration: incorporation, taxation, banking

A) You sign a contract with Teachable and they take care of the invoicing, taxation and the general administration.

B) You register your own company and you take care of these things by yourself.

I did both, although once I incorporated my company, I realized that the A) solution is much more convenient, so ever since then I haven’t even used my company for my online courses.

The taxation and your final net income might differ from country to country — but when I did the math for myself (I live in Hungary, Europe), I got nearly the same results for both solutions.

But here are some details:

  1. If you go with solution A) and leave the admin to Teachable, count on some extra expenses on two fronts. They will send you the money through Paypal. And Paypal charges (a ridiculous) ~5% in transaction and conversion fees (+/-2–3%, depending on which country you live in.) Plus, the contract with Teachable is something that most local tax offices are not too familiar with, so if you want to do your taxation properly, it’s highly recommended to get a 1–2 hour consultation with a professional accountant with international experience. This is especially recommended if you are located in the EU (like me).
  2. If you go with solution B) and do the admin for yourself: register a company! If you are in the EU, I recommend a UK LIMITED company. It’s relatively cheap, internationally recognized, and if you don’t use it, it doesn’t cost anything. If you are in the US, you can use Stripe Atlas to form an LLC. And if you are somewhere else, then try to find something similar in your country. Either way, if you form your own company, you have to register with Stripe to accept card payments and Paypal to accept Paypal payments. Both of these are fully compatible with Teachable — which is really important, since most of your students will use one of these two methods to pay you for your courses.
    LINK 1: Stripe
    LINK 2: Stripe Atlas
    LINK 3: Paypal

Banking with Transferwise

If these fees are high, I recommend to register for Transferwise. It’s a virtual bank designed to make international banking cheaper and easier. They do currency conversion almost at the mid-market rate and they charge a very low amount on international transfers. Plus they have free bank cards.

LINK: Transferwise

A Transferwise account

Conclusion

I hope you found this useful. I will write a few more articles on this topic in the future. If you don’t want to miss them, follow me on Medium, Twitter or Linkedin.

Enjoyed the article? Please just let me know by clicking the 👏 below. It also helps other people see the story!

Tomi Mester
data36.com
courses.data36.com

The story continues here: https://tomimester.com/online-course-case-study-10000-launch/

LINK: https://tomimester.com/online-course-case-study-10000-launch/

Data analyst @Data36. I create in-depth, practical, true-to-life online tutorials — and video courses to help people learn Data Science. https://www.data36.com