They existed even before 2019, B.C. (where B.C. stands for Before COVID), Online Course Platforms were already a thing. Even then, they were made for the same purpose, to create and sell online courses.
The majority of courses back then were more niche-oriented, such as leadership seminars, wholesomeness and self-help classes. There were also classes and courses that covered normal topics.
These classes focused on bringing education to where it is most convenient and comfortable.
People who were housebound due to multiple reasons (maybe childcare or health problems) could keep studying and learning despite not being able to go out. Due to its flexibility, people who are unable to attend school regularly due to scheduling conflicts or duties could still complete courses.
Then the pandemic happened, and everything else was forced to shut down. However, people still needed to learn, and online course platforms and other eLearning platforms made it possible for a lot to continue their studies.
The industry saw a 221% rise in course creators using one Course Platform during the initial stages of the pandemic. This growth may be shared across multiple online platforms.
Everyone, from solopreneurs and entrepreneurs to professionals in human resources and educational institutions, has used at least one course platform during the pandemic.
These platforms can also be used to make extra profits, as the pandemic showed. They say that knowledge is wealth. Online courses platforms have given this maxim legs and allowed people to convert their knowledge into wealth.
There are many online courses that people can take. You can find everything from life coaching to make your life easier, to tutorial classes on the more academic subjects such as Algebra. You can even learn how to make your courses more lucrative.
Online courses are everywhere, and if you want to get in on the action, the next question is which platform you will use to share that treasure in your noggin.
For those of you who prefer a more visual experience, here is a video review from Ross Herosian on his YouTube channel Tricycle Creative. You can still read our article below to get a complete overview of Thinkific. It also compares it with some other competitors.
Thinkific: You’re Go-To Online Course Business Platform Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
The Thinkific Overview
Thinkific is one the most popular options for selling, hosting and building your courses.
One of the main reasons why Thinkific stands out is that you know they are doing this in a place of passion. You can feel that they are more focused on giving the best learning experience they can to both the creators and their audience and that earning money is needed to keep things afloat.
It’s impossible to not! It is one of few online courses platforms that offers a free full-service service. Thinkific offers a free service that is just as good as the paid lower-tiered.
The platform is ideal for beginners as it allows them to see how content and courses are built, as well the industry’s overall environment. The free plan lets users see what they’re about to do without making any investments.
The only limitation of this free plan is that it only allows you to create one course and one course, and in my opinion, that is generous enough.
Thinkific does not take any transaction fees when a user sells on the platform. All profits go to content owners.
Thinkific ensures that all profits are immediately available after they have been sold. This means course creators and content producers can immediately use their earnings without needing to wait for a quote, or reach a certain threshold before they can touch the money.
This is a testament to how Thinkfiic views its customers.
First, let me preface this by saying that most online course platforms share almost the same features. First, there is the course builder, then there is the website builder for your courses, and then the marketing features.
The only difference between them is how well they work, along with some bits and bobs that make the product unique. These are the features that Thinkific is known for.
Thinkific’s main focus is their ability to create course curriculum. The creation part of Thinkific’s features is the most important. They make sure that online courses are as engaging as possible.
The user interface of Thinkific is easy to use. It is intuitive and logical. Users will have no problem navigating everything. You can access all other features via a sidebar menu. They are properly classified to where they are, except for occasional hiccups. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
Users who love to check on analytics and performance will love this interface, as everything is placed and organized neatly on the dashboard.
The dashboard shows you how you are doing in revenue and student accounts. You can also see student course enrollments and sign-ups.
If we are to nitpick something out of this, it would be that the aesthetics of the interface can be done a little bit better.
Thinkific is primarily focused on course creation, as mentioned previously. The platform makes course creation easy. Even in the free plan, Thinkific allows you to try everything the course creator can do.
You can also include many media types in this course builder. These media types include quizzes and surveys, assignments, pdfs, content, and student discussion areas that allow for peer-to-peer interaction.
Another highlight is the scheduling of course content and some automation in drip-feeding content.
The marketing features of Thinkific are where I fear the platforms will fall flat. Don’t get me wrong. It contains everything you need to market and promote your courses.
That’s not all. Thinkific’s market features compare poorly to its competitors. The most glaring aspect is that it doesn’t have a built-in sales funnel builder. The overall checkout experience is pretty clunky.
What’s more is that there is really nothing you can do about this part since it has very limited customization.
Even email marketing features lag behind the competitor. Most of it is quite basic, and at most, you can notify your students of new courses or products, as well as send them their course progress and notify them about their course progress as well as updates.
However, not everything is bad, as Thinkific can integrate multiple third-party applications. These third-party applications are not meant to be used as bandages. They can be used to address some of the problems in Thinkific’s marketing department.
For email marketing alone, Thinkific directly integrates five of the most popular email marketing providers, including ConvertKit, Active Campaign, Aweber, Drip, and MailChimp.
It makes sense considering the platform’s repeated promises to focus on course creation. It would be wiser to pour all resources into ensuring they got that part right and get third-party apps to tackle the marketing part.
Although I’ve already spoken highly of Thinkific’s Free Plan, it’s still a limited plan and far less than Thinkific’s paid plans. It’s not like the rest of the competition.
At a cheaper price point, Thinkific allows users to make an unlimited number of courses and enroll an unlimited number of students in these courses. This is in line with their mission to be focused on the education part. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
Thinkific is a great choice if you are looking for a cheaper plan with many content ideas that you believe will sell.
|$0 per month||$74 per month||$149 per month||$374 per month|
|Create and launch your product using a website and checkout experience
|Add products to your company and create a cohesive learning experience.
|A complete set of tools is available to help you increase your sales.
|-Optimize your workflow and create a premium experience with a platform designed to scale
Aside from these plans, Thinkific also has a more advanced and bespoke plan called Thinkific plus. Thinkific Plus takes the best of Thinkfiic, makes it powerful, scalable and simple-to-use, and then adds more.
It still dedicates itself to teaching, lecturing, and supporting students.
You will need to contact the sales team of Thinkific Plus to request this upgrade. They will help you to get the best out of your platform. You will also discuss the cost of this upgrade with them.
Each Thinkific Plus plan is unique, and as such, different Plus plans might more or less have different costs. One this is sure, though. Thinkific Plus will offer you all the benefits of the most expensive plan, plus these extra features.
- Unlimitted Products
- Unlimited Administrators
- 3+ Separate Thinkific sites
- Service Level Agreement 99.9%
- Dedicate Customer Success Team
- Multiple seats and Tiered pricing checkout
- Email White-labeling
- Single Sign on
- Bulk Selling App
- Enterprise API Access
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Thinkific Pros and Cons
- Thinkific’s free package is permanently free. It also is not just a glorified free trial. You can only take as many courses as you like.
- Thinkific doesn’t charge transaction fees for any sale. Content creators own all earnings. Creators can even claim and use these funds as soon as they arrive in their account.
- Thinkific is flexible when it comes to payment options. They offer different payment options for different types and types of students.
- Thinkific’s premium plans remove the restriction on the number of courses. Users can create unlimited courses and enroll unlimited students in these courses.
- In terms of interface, Thinkific has one of the easiest to understand. The majority of options are logically placed and easy to find. Users just starting can easily understand how things work in this interface.
- Thinkfic’s course creator is also easy to use. It also allows for many course materials, making it possible to have your course as exciting and engaging as possible.
- Thinkific gives you the option to offer incentives, such as leaderboards and awards, to motivate your students.
- Some of the tools in Thinkific are not user-friendly. Some would need guides and a bit of time to get used to.
- The marketing features of Thinkifiic make it hard to recommend for people who are more focused on propping up businesses on the platform. You will need third-party integrations to get a better experience.
- Although Thinkific has one of the most intuitive user interfaces in the industry, it can sometimes look dated and the experience can sometimes be more confusing than you expected.
- The platform lacks many customization options. As such, it is not impossible to find other websites that may look the same as yours. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
The Thinkific Summary
Thinkific is one the most popular online courses platforms on the market. I would easily recommend it to beginners and those looking for a more course-focused platform. Despite its limitations, it still competes with other more “advanced and feature-rich” platforms.
My opinion is that its greatest strength would be its commitment to providing the best course experience possible and a free plan. Thinkfiic already has a solution for this problem. Any problems with the platform can be fixed by integrating third-party services.
If you’re looking for the best online course creation software that builds courses from scratch. You can never go wrong with Thinkific.
Kajabi Versus Thinkific
Kajabi is a widely used platform for running an online course business. It is primarily focused on productivity and selling. It offers tools that simplify your operations.
Some of Kajabi’s highlights include automations, pipelines, email marketing, and a mobile app.
The platform allows you to sell a variety of products. Apart from courses, there are many other options. You can also sell memberships, communities and podcasts.
It is no wonder that Kajabi also has advanced marketing features, the most prominent of which include sales funnels (OVO pipelines), email marketing, and automations. This allows Kajabi users to sell their products more easily.
Kajabi is a rare product that can be described as an “all-in-one” platform. It’s a course-creation platform that offers more than just decent marketing features. You can even use automation features to help you spend more time marketing and creating than on the mundane tasks.
Kajabi land is not perfect. For starters, it has one of the more expensive platforms available in the market. The lowest plan is $149 per month. These plans are not unlimited. In the case of the lowest plan, you can only sell 3 products.
Aside from that, Kajabi is not as feature-rich, especially in the gamification and community engagement department. These issues might require third-party integrations.
Kajabi boasts about being one of the better platforms. Even more, they have one of the most expensive courses in the market. As such, it is only to be expected that the audience will have high expectations of the product. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
So let’s take a look at how good Kajabi features are starting from the interface.
Kajabi’s interface looks very normal at first glance. It is neat, minimal, and feels very modern. Most of the available features can be accessed through 3 to 4 clicks. For easier accessibility, the page has a search assistant to quickly find the features and the tools inside the application.
Kajabi’s pages also load faster. It provides for a smoother experience and does not get in the way of your work.
In terms of Course Creation, Kajabi allows you to create various types. You can create mini-courses, online or drip courses, as well as creating your own. These types can be customized to suit your specific needs. (i.e. For long courses with long content, short courses for product launches.
For easier building experience, Kajabi provides blueprints which are akin to templates. These “skeletons” can be used as templates, so you don’t have to worry about adding content.
These courses could be properly structured too into categories, subcategories and posts. It would be easy to organize your content in a neat and organized manner. They can be arranged according to their content and types. So you can text and slideshows in one area, audio and video to different areas.
As for storage, Kajabi allows for cloud uploading from Dropbox and Google Drive so there is little to worry about.
Kajabi is a strong and comprehensive marketing tool.
Of course, it has the usual stuff of providing coupons in a flexible manner, which as we have established, is an old, tried and tested marketing strategy.
Kajabi offers a powerful email marketing platform that allows you to market via email. It is built on top of the platform and has many features. You can even have email templates ready for the different functions you want it to.
Another conversion tool they possess are their pipelines, which can help you convert more customers and increase your sales. They are not that hard to use and even the platform has provided various templates that can easily be used by their customers.
Kajabi also has a dedicated affiliate program for users of a higher plan than the basic one. It is a feature that makes the process overly easy and simple. It also organizes affiliate links as well as affiliates into its own category which it makes easier to find and track down.
I would say that the biggest problem for Kajabi is its lack of integrated payment solution. Instead, users will need to rely on integration from other payment gateways like Stripe, Paypal and BitPay.
This is entirely disappointing given how robus their marketing tools are as well as how good their checkout is at doing things like upsells, bump offers, and downsells.
Although it is not perfect, Kajabi has a lot to offer that can be used for both marketing and course creation. As such, it is easy to see that these features are good for almost everybody who are serious about making an online business.
Potential users must be prepared to pay a high price for these tools.
Kajabi is undoubtedly the most expensive course creation service in the market. Their lowest plan starts at $149 per month and this plan doesn’t even include unlimited courses. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
However, if you think that Kajabi’s steep price as well as its more advanced features like automation is something you really need, then of course, it is the customer’s choice at the end of the day.
|$119 per month billed annually||$159 per month, payable annually||Monthly payment of $319|
Kajabi Pros and Cons
- True to its name, Kajabi is an all in one content making and marketing tool. It provides various tools to create courses, like a drip course or a mini-course, and combine them with different marketing automations to ensure they sell.
- Kajabi Provides templates and blueprints to get you started with your project.
- Kajabi allows you to sell other digital products like coaching, webinars, communities, podcasts, etc. This is also a great place to do this.
- Kajabi also has a built-in assessment function that allows you to grade and observe your students’ performance. This feature is especially useful when used in conjunction with drip courses. Drip courses allow you to offer courses that are only accessible when the correct grades have been achieved.
- Kajabi’s accessibility is pretty good thanks to its mobile app, which students can use to access classes and lessons whenever and wherever they are. It even includes a notification feature that can help with alerts.
- Kajabi has a membership option that allows users create and sell membership options for their customers. This feature can be used by users to offer additional and exclusive content.
- Kajabi has an automation feature that can automate offers purchase, course or membership post-completion, assessment completion, and much more. To be more precise, users can use conditional filters.
- Kajabi has one of the strongest marketing features among the content and course-building platforms available right now.
- Kajabi’s Email marketing is one of the best in the business. It includes various email templates that can be used in different situations. Kajabi has the ability to automate email sequences using triggers or actions. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
- Kajabi’s pipeline feature allows various OVO funnel templates to be available. Pipeline features automate product sales and funnel customers to the places you want. This will result in higher conversion rates.
- Kajabi’s pricing is not to be laughed at. It costs $149 per month, and you cannot create unlimited courses. It only offers 3 products as well as 3 pipelines
- Kajabi does not offer course completion certificates, something that some users want to receive as proof of going through the class
- Kajabi has no page templates for designing landing pages, thank you pages, checkout pages, forms, and other pages. This means that users will have to create all pages from scratch using the page builder. It will be difficult for non-tech users and new users.
- Kajabi does not offer a guaranteed badge on the checkout page. A guarantee badge is a great tool to increase conversions. Buyers are assured of the product’s quality by obtaining a guarantee.
- Kajabi has no local payment gateway. To receive payment from orders, you will need to rely on Stripe or Paypal integrations.
- Despite having some advanced features, there are still some features that Kajabi lacks, especially in the community department. There are no gamification or community engagement features.
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Kajabi is undoubtedly a giant platform for course creation and marketing. They have the most advanced tools for marketing alone.
They have the tools that provide a great marketing experience. Their pipeline and automation features can be the envy of other platforms and something users would want to have if they want the best rate of conversions.
Kajabi has its faults, however. It lacks features that allow you to connect with students and customers. These features allow you to create a great community. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
Kajabi is also pretty expensive. People might find it difficult to justify buying a plan which can only host 3 products when there are cheaper alternatives that offer unlimited products.
Overall, Kajabi is a good creation platform with advanced marketing features. It is perfect if you are looking for a platform for its marketing features. Although it is a little expensive, Kajabi’s features are well worth the cost.
Podia Versus Thinkific
Another big name digital online content-selling platform is Podia. Podia is a powerful platform with strong marketing features. Among the products you can sell on this platform are online courses, coaching, webinars, community, and many more.
Furthermore, Podia is one of the cheaper digital content-selling platforms in the market. In fact, it might be among the lowest prices. It does take a portion of your profit when you sell. This might be their way to offset the high price of its powerful features.
At the end of the day, Podia is an excellent tool and platform, especially for those who are more focused on the business side, such as marketers, promoters, and the like.
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Podia offers a lot of features.
From looking at the interface, Podia has it clean and minimal. The interface is easy to use and allows you to access all other features in just 3 clicks. It is so easy that almost no learning curve is required to use Podia’s interface.
This makes the platform very beginner friendly. Accessing or reaching the information you desire or need is easy with no additional steps or terms. In fact, almost all of Podia’s functions can be accessed straight from the dashboard.
Podia allows you to upload files that will be used as building blocks for your lessons. You can include text, embeds, quizzes, coaching, and files in a course. With some imagination, you can create interesting lessons with the platform that is given to you.
That said, This course creator can be lacking in some parts. Podia supports only a few lesson types, which is a major difference to other platforms. It does not provide a way to monitor student performance. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
That said, it has a very powerful embed tool that supports several platforms. These websites include:
- Video hosts such as Youtube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion
- Music and podcast platforms such as s Spotify, soundcloud, and podbean
- Slideshow platforms like speaker deck, presentation, google slides, and slide share
- Social media sites such as Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest.
- Form Builder websites like Google Forms, Typeform and Paper Form
- Coding websites such as Github and Codepen
Podia recently added the ability to issue certificates. This certificate feature can be viewed as an incentive/prize to complete your courses. However, Podia only has one type of certificate for now. Podia cannot customize or design your certificates.
Podia’s marketing focus is on the bag. You can use it to increase the effectiveness of your marketing. You can promote your products using tools like coupons, upsells, or pre-launch.
This makes Podia an excellent choice for marketers looking to sell products on a smaller site.
That said, not everything is perfect. In this case, Podia’s weakness is its email marketing, which only provides the basics. It allows you to send broadcasts and email campaigns but lacks some features, such as split testing and personalization fields.
People looking for automation features may also have lost their chance since Podia’s isn’t as advanced as theirs.
For payment processors, Podia has a local payment gateway. You will need to connect to your PayPal or bank accounts to pay processors. For a simpler solution, you can also integrate with Stripe and PayPal.
Checkout is possible for your audience using their credit cards. These usually are processed within 2 days and will be credited to your bank or PayPal account. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
It is also one of the most affordable on the market in terms of pricing. What’s more, is that the platform has recently added its own free plan. While this free plan does not offer much, it is still a good way to figure out how Podia works.
|$0 per Month||$33 per month||$75 per month||$166 per month|
Podia Pros and Cons
- Podia’s strongest point is its clean and crisp UI/UX. It is very easy to use and has a non-existent learning curve. Users of all edges and tech levels will find it intuitive to set it up.
- Podia can serve many purposes and be a one-stop shop to meet all your needs. You can sell various digital products such as courses, memberships, webinars, bundles, community, and other digital downloads.
- Other than the free plan, Podia allows you to sell unlimited courses and products. That means as long as you have the energy and the idea, you can create as many pages for your courses and products as you want.
- Podia allows you to upload unlimited videos for your content. This is thanks to the unlimited storage and bandwidth that the platform offers its users. This way, you don’t need to use Vimeo or Wistia.
- Podia offers an affiliate program that you can use to reach your audience. This is only available for Shaker or Earthquaker plans.
- Although it only provides the basic functions, the email marketing tools built-in are sufficient to support campaigns and broadcasts.
- Podia has supported a pre-launch mode among its marketing features. It can create buzz around your products and get early email customer conversions. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
- Except for the free plan, Podia charges no transaction fee on sales.
- Podia now offers a new feature that allows content creators the ability to give certificates, community, or quizzes. You can even create memberships in the community area.
- Their email marketing provides only the most basic functions. Especially in its email composer, which lacks personalization fields. Aside from that, the tool lacks templates, drag and drop editor, and other features
- The platform lacks course compliance features.
- Podia also does not have many customization features. Podia does not support custom CSS/HTMl customizations. Expect to have generic-looking websites when using Podia.
- Podia does not have landing page builders and funnels. These are essential tools considering Podia’s focus in marketing.
- Its free plan is severely lacking and will only allow you to host 1 product. There is also an 8% transaction charge.
- Podia does not have any course blueprints.
- Podia only supports a few lesson types. Podia does not support certain types of lesson, such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline.
- It has some good marketing features but it is still lacking others. This includes order bumps, downsells, cart abandonment, and others.
- Podia does not have a mobile app, which can limit its user base or access, given how much the world has depended on smartphones and tablets. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
Overall, Podia is a decent platform to host your content. Podia is a decent platform, especially considering the price.
Many people might believe that Podia is a value-for-money company. Well, it is not entirely true. Podia is more than what you pay. You can make impressive courses with enough creativity and great ideas and sell them for a fair price.
Despite some of its limited capacity, it is still an all-in-one platform. It’s perfect for many people. Content creators, teachers, marketers, and people who target marketers. Podia will be able to serve their needs if they need to.
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Thinkific Versus Kartra
Kartra is a completely different product to the ones listed above. Scratch that, Kartra is entirely different from the other products listed in this review.
Instead of a course creator, we have an all-in-one platform that sells your products. It is also a marketing platform.
In this vein, Kartra should not be treated as a separate website or your product’s website.
Instead, focus on the strengths of your site and sell products, memberships, and services.
Kartra is properly fitted to create and sell both digital and physical products. You can sell unlimited quantities of these products and many different types of products. In fact, it also offers multiple pricing options for more flexible pricing on your part.
Since Kartra is a different beast altogether, we might focus on features not found in most course-building websites. In fact, there might not be a course-building site for Kartra.
Katra lets you sell multiple products, as we mentioned previously. Each account can sell an unlimited number of them and offer them at any price point.
To maximize the profits of its users, Kartra focuses on marketing and lead conversion. As such, one of their main features is funnel building.
Funnels literally mean a “funnel” for sellers to direct potential customers to buy their products. Although funnels are not considered campaigns by Kartra, they function in a similar way. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
Kartra makes funnel construction simple. If you have previous experience in the field, you can create one yourself. Otherwise, you can have Katra do it for you through their plug-and-play campaigns that are from top industry experts.
You can share your personally-built campaigns with other Kartra members. Your campaigns can be marketed and sold to make money.
Kartra manages all of the billing and payment processes so that you can concentrate on improving your funnels as you gain more experience.
Kartra has powerful page-building capabilities. These features allow users to create product pages, checkout pages and opt-in pages. You can even use professionally designed templates to speed up or start the process.
These pages can be optimized for mobile devices, tablets, and desktops. You can host these pages on your domain or on Katra itself.
They are not yet able to host the full functionality and features required for a website. Kartra believes it, and they won’t let you host these pages on your domain.
Kartra’s marketing features should be considered the crown jewel. It has all that is needed for email marketing.
First, it can send broadcast messages either by email or SMS. However, this will require you to integrate with any available SMS gateways.
Kartra can also use automation to create email sequences. You can do this through its drag-and-drop visual sequence builder, and once done, and you can let it run on autopilot.
Another one that is unique to the platform is its behavior-based automation. This powerful tool allows to send emails based upon the behavior of recipients. As such, when you are done setting up the hard work, you can just sit back and relax.
Kartra’s price is steep for a platform focused on marketing and lead conversions. That said, depending on what you need, the platform’s price point on its plans might be worth it. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
After all, Kartra has some advanced features that are not found in others.
|$79 per Month when you pay annually||$149 per month when billed annually||$229 per month when billed annually,||$379 per month when billed annually|
Kartra Pros and Cons
- External marketing integrations are not required. Kartra offers everything: integrated email marketing, sequence builder, automation, and all other features necessary to market your products perfectly
- Kartra has an automatic translation for its checkout pages. It works based on the user’s geographic location. In this vein, it also supports different currencies.
- Kartar allows you to drip content or vary access to different levels, if you have an existing membership site.
- You can use A/B testing to refine your automated email responses as you set them up.
- Kartra includes an agency feature that can hold multiple client accounts. This allows you to manage different websites in just a single dashboard.
- Some might feel that Kartra’s pricing is too high for the quality of what they offer
- There are no plans that offer unlimited integrations
- Kartra’s interface can be slow and frustrating at times. Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
- Even Kartra’s pages may load slowly
- The number of features can be very difficult for beginners to get used to.
Kartra is an all-in-one marketing and sales platform that’s powerful.
It has a lot of tools and features that provide you with the opportunity for interesting and engaging promotions and products.
It is not a course builder, and certainly not a website creator. Kartra should be used in conjunction with a professional website page maker. This could be pretty difficult to swallow, as Kartra’s price point is pretty expensive for what it does.
However, if you take the plunge, you might just get your money’s worth and more.
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Overall, Verdict Thinkific vs Zenler Studio
When you are interested in joining the industry, course builder websites can be very useful.
There will be many platforms available to provide the service you require, just as there are for most industries and markets. For course building and selling, there are Thinkific, Podia and Kajabi (and a bit of Kartra), as well as other platforms.
In a market-like course building, these platforms will offer almost identical services. Their differences will be minimal at best. Some might be better than others in certain areas.
The key to finding which product you should use is to decide on the direction of what you want to do. And find the platform that is best aligned with that. You will likely find their features most helpful to you.