Course Creators October 12, 2020

Building my own courseware

Colin Bethea @colinjbethea

Instead of publishing my new course on Udemy (and losing money on commissions), I'd rather build my own courseware (sleeker, more interactive).

As a greater thought - a roll-your-own course building tool could be useful (think Ghost, but for courses), would anyone want this if I built it?

Would you use this?
  1. Yes
  2. No
  1. 5

    Teachable, Thinkific, and Podia exist

  2. 2

    Building your own course platform is fine, and I think the seed of the idea is great, but don't forget yours wouldn't be the only one. As others have pointed out, we already have some great tools that remove (most) of the pain associated with hosting, marketing, selling, and delivering an online course. If you were to build your own platform, you need to figure out what differentiates your product from theirs.

    One thing that I've noticed a lot is that a lot of developers decide to roll their own, because they want full control over the look and feel of their product, and the user experience. If you can figure out how to give them a framework to build upon, and one that they're willing to pay for, I think you'll have something interesting! 🙂

    Myself, I'm building a course platform for group programs, because that's what I think will differentiate mine from the rest.

    1. 1

      This looks interesting Merott! How many sign-ups have you got so far? Where have you been looking for customers? We are also building a course platform ourselves called Tutorpass. Our key differentiator is that we've taken design patterns meant for distraction and re-purposed them for education. Hopefully that will be enough to win people over. If you're interested then check us out at -

  3. 2

    It would be hard for something like this to work out with all the competition.

    A big selling point you could make would be to write it in a popular framework like Node and open-source it on GitHub. If they don't want to host it on their own, that's when you can charge them for managed hosting.

  4. 2

    Ghost for courses is exactly how one of my podcasts guests described CourseMaker the other day 😀

    1. 1

      Chris, congrats on the great work with CourseMaker and keep up with the good work! Just popped up to say that we enjoy your articles!

      1. 2

        Thanks! I really appreciate that :)

  5. 2

    There’s a lot of course building tools out there as someone else has already posted, so if you do decide to launch a course building tool you’ll need to work out what differentiates you from the competition.

    It’s a big market though, so I think there is still scope to carve out a portion of it for yourself.

    Course creators have different requirements for different subjects and they may not be able to get the functionality they require from mainstream course building tools like teachable. Do some brainstorming around different course niches and see if you can come up with some useful functions that are not currently available.

    We’re in the process of building our own course building tool too. We’re going to differentiate ourselves by focusing on helping people build ‘no code’ adaptive courses, which will personalise an individual user’s learning journey based on their strengths and weaknesses.

    We’re still pre-launch but if you want to see more of what we’re doing the landing page is

    1. 1

      This looks pretty interesting and similar to what we are doing. But we are focused more on the behavioural science side of things. How many users have you signed up so far just out of curiosity? We are having difficulty finding users as well, so what approaches have you used to grow your waitlist. Apologies for the plethora of questions, but we're just so excited about the explosion of edtech in years to come.

  6. 2

    Udemy's biggest selling point is they promote your course, they sell it for you. It's not just a video hosting platform.
    You literally don't have to do anything other than record the course.
    Depends if you already have a big follower group or not.
    Mind, that with tools like this post author want to create - you need to market the course yourself (I've tried - good luck with that).

    1. 1

      Yeah, it’s not a great trade off because Udemy devalues your brand a ton.

      Big part of why we created Terrain! Sleek UX + we market courses for course creators without taking the pound of flesh that Udemy does.

  7. 2

    Over the years, I've run several courses for writers. I have always opted to build my own. The simple reason is that I want to keep users within our ecosystem, rather than push them to another platform. It means we can track their activity and tweak the course.

    1. 1

      What if the platform allowed you to easily import and export user data in and out of your ecosystem?

      We're kinda doing that at Tutorpass, a course builder platform that will allow you to seamlessly integrate other services that you may use.

      Check us out at Hopefully we're able to change your mind about always opting to build your own. If not, we are happy to hear more about your take on things.

  8. 2

    I just checked and Udemy takes 50% revenue share in most of the cases. That's exorbitant.

    With create your own course, I guess there could be different options — Video based, complete text based.

    Including some sort of Gamification could be a selling point.

    1. 3

      They take 50% from organic sales, from affiliate and ads they take 75%. Also, there's the Udemy for Business subscription model, from which they also take 75%.

      Having said that, Udemy does not take this money for hosting your course. They market it too - and they do it well. You earn from volume. Most unknown indie creators, without any following of their own, could make some decent/serious money there.

      1. 1

        Do you think that taking this large % is fair?

        Looking at the stats, it seems like a lot of people do not even start the courses they purchase on Udemy.

        I think less than 20% actually complete the course. So it's true that you earn from volume, but what about repeat sales, especially in cases where you might opt to introduce a brand new course into the ecosystem.

        Will people who didn't bother to start or complete your course the last time be your repeat customers? I think that's the issue, in my opinion with platforms like Udemy. We're hopefully trying to fix it with

    2. 1

      It's interesting you mention gamification. What type do you think works in education? At Tutorpass (, we're looking at the latest trends in behavioural science research (particularly around our usage of social media platforms). If you have any other ideas that might work then let us know.

      1. 2

        There are plenty of examples where Gamification has been tried in offline education. Not just point, badges and leaderboards but Gamification related to the course materials.

        But for tutorpass, it could start with PBLs. Move on to other things - Take an example of Duolingo. They incorporate quite a lot of Gamification to get people hooked. - This is one of the podcasts that focuses on Gamification in education and it's very interesting.

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