For many, owning a home is part of the American dream. For most homeowners in America, getting a mortgage is just one of the steps it takes to get there.

 

If you’re contemplating homeownership and wondering how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll cover all the mortgage basics, including loan types, mortgage lingo, the home buying process, and more.

A Simple Definition Of A Mortgage

Before we dive in, let’s talk about some mortgage basics. First, what does the word “mortgage” even mean?

 

A simple definition of a mortgage is a type of loan you can use to buy or refinance a home. Mortgages are also referred to as “mortgage loans.” Mortgages are a way to buy a home without having all the cash upfront.

Who Gets A Mortgage?

Most people who buy a home do so with a mortgage. A mortgage is a necessity if you can’t pay the full cost of a home out of pocket.

 

There are some cases where it makes sense to have a mortgage on your home even though you have the money to pay it off. For example, investors sometimes mortgage properties to free up funds for other investments.

 

To qualify for the loan, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Therefore, a person who gets a mortgage will most likely be someone with a stable and reliable income, a debt-to-income ratio of less than 50% and a decent credit score (at least 580 for FHA loans or 620 for conventional loans).

What’s The Difference Between A Loan And A Mortgage?

The term “loan” can be used to describe any financial transaction where one party receives a lump sum and agrees to pay the money back.

 

A mortgage is a type of loan that’s used to finance property. A mortgage is a type of loan, but not all loans are mortgages.

 

Mortgages are “secured” loans. With a secured loan, the borrower promises collateral to the lender in the event that they stop making payments. In the case of a mortgage, the collateral is the home. If you stop making payments on your mortgage, your lender can take possession of your home, in a process known as foreclosure.


Tested. Trusted. Top-rated.

Visit Rocket HomesSM to get a proven real estate agent that’s handpicked just for you.

How Does A Mortgage Loan Work?

When you get a mortgage, your lender gives you a set amount of money to buy the home. You agree to pay back your loan – with interest – over a period of several years. You don’t fully own the home until the mortgage is paid off.

 

The interest rate is determined by two things: current market rates and the level of risk the lender takes to lend you money. You can’t control current market rates, but you can have some control over how the lender views you as a borrower. The higher your credit score and the fewer red flags you have on your credit report, the more you’ll look like a responsible lender. In the same sense, the lower your DTI, the more money you’ll have available to make your mortgage payment. These all show the lender you are less of a risk, which will benefit you by lowering your interest rate.

 

The amount of money you can borrow will depend on what you can reasonably afford and, most importantly, the fair market value of the home, determined through an appraisal. This is important because the lender cannot lend an amount higher than the appraised value of the home.

Parties Involved In A Mortgage

There are two parties involved in every mortgage transaction – a lender and a borrower.

Lender

A lender is a financial institution that loans you money to buy a home. Your lender might be a bank or credit union, or it might be an online mortgage company like Quicken Loans®.

 

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will review your information to make sure you meet their standards. Every lender has their own standards for who they’ll loan money to. Lenders must be careful to only choose qualified clients who are likely to repay their loans. To do this, lenders look at your full financial profile – including your credit score, income, assets and debt – to determine whether you’ll be able to make your loan payments.

Borrower

The borrower is the individual seeking the loan to buy a home. You may be able to apply as the only borrower on a loan, or you may apply with a co-borrower. Adding more borrowers with income to your loan may allow you to qualify for a more expensive home.

Mortgage Terminology

When you shop for a home, you might hear a bit of industry lingo you’re not familiar with. We’ve created an easy-to-understand directory of the most common mortgage terms.

Amortization

Part of each monthly mortgage payment will go toward paying interest to your lender, while another part goes toward paying down your loan balance (also known as your loan’s principal). Amortization refers to how those payments are broken up over the life of the loan. During the earlier years, a higher portion of your payment goes toward interest. As time goes on, more of your payment goes toward paying down the balance of your loan.

Down Payment

The down payment is the money you pay upfront to purchase a home. In most cases, you have to put money down to get a mortgage.

 

The size of the down payment you’ll need will vary based on the type of loan you’re getting, but a larger down payment generally means better loan terms and a cheaper monthly payment. For example, conventional loans require as little as 3% down, but you’ll have to pay a monthly fee (known as private mortgage insurance) to compensate for the small down payment. On the other hand, if you put 20% down, you’d likely get a better interest rate, and you wouldn’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance.

 

mortgage calculator can help you see how your down payment amount affects your monthly payments.

Escrow

Part of owning a home is paying for property taxes and homeowners insurance. To make it easy for you, lenders set up an escrow account to pay these expenses. Your escrow account is managed by your lender and functions kind of like a checking account. No one earns interest on the funds held there, but the account is used to collect money so your lender can send payments for your taxes and insurance on your behalf. To fund your account, escrow payments are added to your monthly mortgage payment.

 


Not all mortgages come with an escrow account. If your loan doesn’t have one, you have to pay your property taxes and homeowners insurance bills yourself. However, most lenders offer this option because it allows them to make sure the property tax and insurance bills get paid. If your down payment is less than 20%, an escrow account is required. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, you may opt to pay these expenses on your own or pay them as part of your monthly mortgage payment.

 

Keep in mind that the amount of money you need in your escrow account is dependent on how much your insurance and property taxes are each year. And since these expenses may change year to year, your escrow payment will change, too. That means your monthly mortgage payment may increase or decrease.

Interest Rate

An interest rate is a percentage that shows how much you’ll pay your lender each month as a fee for borrowing money.

 

There are two types of mortgage interest rates: fixed rates and adjustable rates.

Fixed Rates

Fixed interest rates stay the same for the entire length of your mortgage. If you have a 30-year fixed-rate loan with a 4% interest rate, you’ll pay 4% interest until you pay off or refinance your loan. Fixed-rate loans offer a predictable payment each month, which makes budgeting easier.

Adjustable Rates

Adjustable rates are interest rates that change based on the market. Most adjustable rate mortgages begin with a fixed interest rate period, which usually lasts 5, 7 or 10 years. During this time, your interest rate remains the same. After your fixed interest rate period ends, your interest rate adjusts up or down every 6 months to a year. This means your monthly payment can change based on your interest payment.

 

ARMs are right for some borrowers. If you plan to move or refinance before the end of your fixed-rate period, an adjustable rate mortgage can give you access to lower interest rates than you’d typically find with a fixed-rate loan.

Loan Servicer

The loan servicer is the company that’s in charge of providing monthly mortgage statements, processing payments, managing your escrow account and responding to your inquiries.

 

Your servicer is sometimes the same company that you got the mortgage from, but not always. Lenders may sell the servicing rights of your loan and you may not get to choose who services your loan.

Loan Types

There are many types of mortgage loans. Each comes with different requirements, interest rates and benefits. Here are some of the most common types you might hear about when you’re applying for a mortgage.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are a popular choice because they have low down payment and credit score requirements. You can get an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5% and a credit score of just 580.

 

These loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration; this means the FHA will reimburse lenders if you default on your loan. This reduces the risk lenders are taking on by lending you the money; this means lenders can offer these loans to borrowers with lower credit scores and smaller down payments.

Conventional Loans

The phrase “conventional loan” refers to any loan that’s not backed or guaranteed by the federal government. Conventional loans are often also “conforming loans,” which means they meet a set of requirements defined by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – two government-sponsored enterprises that buy loans from lenders so they can give mortgages to more people.

 

Conventional loans are a popular choice for buyers. You can get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down. If you put down less than 20% for a conventional loan, you’ll usually be required to pay a monthly fee called private mortgage insurance, which protects your lender in case you default on your loan. This adds to your monthly costs but allows you to get into a new home sooner.

USDA Loans

USDA loans are only for homes in eligible rural areas (although many homes in the suburbs qualify as “rural” according to the USDA’s definition.). To get a USDA loan, your household income can’t exceed 115% of the area median income.

 

USDA loans are a good option for qualified borrowers because they allow you to buy a home with 0% down. For some, the guarantee fees required by the USDA program cost less than the FHA mortgage insurance premium.

VA Loans

VA loans are for active-duty military members and veterans. Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are a benefit of service for those who’ve served our country. VA loans are a great option because they let you buy a home with 0% down and no private mortgage insurance.

Mortgage Payment

Your mortgage payment is the amount you pay every month toward your mortgage. Each monthly payment has four major parts: principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

Principal

Your loan principal is the amount of money you have left to pay on the loan. For example, if you borrow $200,000 to buy a home and you pay off $10,000, your principal is $190,000.

 

Part of your monthly mortgage payment will automatically go toward paying down your principal. You may also have the option to put extra money toward your loan’s principal by making extra payments; this is a great way to reduce the amount you owe and pay less interest on your loan overall.

Interest

The interest you pay each month is based on your interest rate and loan principal. The money you pay for interest goes directly to your mortgage provider. As your loan matures, you pay less in interest as your principal decreases.

Taxes And Insurance

If your loan has an escrow account, your monthly mortgage payment may also include payments for property taxes and homeowners insurance. Your lender will keep the money for those bills in your escrow account. Then, when your taxes or insurance premiums are due, your lender will pay those bills for you.

Mortgage Term

Your mortgage term refers to how long you’ll make payments on your mortgage. The two most common terms are 30 years and 15 years. A longer term typically means lower monthly payments. A shorter term usually means larger monthly payments but huge interest savings.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance is a fee you pay to protect your lender in case you default on your conventional loan. In most cases, you’ll need to pay PMI if your down payment is less than 20%. The cost of PMI can be added to your monthly mortgage payment, covered via a one-time upfront payment at closing or a combination of both. There’s also a lender-paid PMI, in which you pay a slightly higher interest rate on the mortgage instead of paying the monthly fee.

Promissory Note

A promissory note (or mortgage note) is like an IOU that includes all of the guidelines for repayment. It is the written promise or agreement to pay back the loan using the agreed-upon terms. These terms include:

  • Interest rate type (adjustable or fixed)
  • Interest rate percentage
  • Amount of time to pay back the loan (loan term)
  • Amount borrowed to be paid back in full

 

Once the loan is paid in full, the promissory note is given back to the borrower. If you fail to uphold the responsibilities outlined in the promissory note (i.e. pay back the money you borrowed), the lender can take ownership of the property.

Get approved to buy a home.

Rocket Mortgage® lets you get to house hunting sooner.

The Mortgage Process

There are several steps you’ll need to go through to become a homeowner.

Get Approved

It’s a good idea to get an initial approval from your mortgage lender before you start looking for homes. Getting approved upfront can tell you exactly how much you’ll qualify for so you don’t waste time shopping for homes outside your budget.

 

Mortgage lenders use a variety of terms – including approval, preapproval and prequalification – to describe the initial approval process. It’s important to look for a lender that verifies most of your information upfront so you can make a strong offer. Only Quicken Loans offers the Verified ApprovalSM1, which verifies your income, assets and credit upfront, giving you the strength and confidence of a cash buyer.

Shop For Your Home And Make An Offer

Now, the fun part begins! Connect with a real estate agent to start seeing homes in your area. Real estate professionals can help you find the right home, negotiate the price and handle all the paperwork and details.

Get Final Approval

Once your offer’s been accepted, there’s a bit more work to be done to finalize the sale and your financing.

 

At this point, your lender will verify all the details of the mortgage – including your income, employment and assets – if those details weren’t verified upfront. They’ll also need to verify the property details. This typically involves getting an appraisal to confirm the value and condition of the home. Your lender will also hire a title company to check the title of the home and make sure there are no issues that would prevent the sale or cause problems later.

Close On Your Loan

Once your loan is fully approved, you’ll meet with your lender and real estate professional to close your loan and take ownership of the home. At closing, you’ll pay your down payment and closing costs and sign your mortgage papers.

Summary

A mortgage is a type of loan you can use to buy a home. It’s an agreement between a lender and a borrower.

 

Knowing some of the basic mortgage lingo ahead of time can help you understand exactly what you’re signing up for. There are different types of mortgages and different types of interest rates.

 

The biggest steps in the home buying process are getting approved, shopping for your home and making an offer, getting final approval, and closing.

 

To understand how much you can afford and what loans you might be eligible for, use Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans. Our online application is a fast way to get approved for a home and get expert mortgage recommendations.


1Participation in the Verified Approval program is based on an underwriter’s comprehensive analysis of your credit, income, employment status, debt, property, insurance, appraisal and a satisfactory title report/search. If new information materially changes the underwriting decision resulting in a denial of your credit request, if the loan fails to close for a reason outside of Quicken Loans’ control, or if you no longer want to proceed with the loan, your participation in the program will be discontinued. If your eligibility in the program does not change and your mortgage loan does not close, you will receive $1,000. This offer does not apply to new purchase loans submitted to Quicken Loans through a mortgage broker. Additional conditions or exclusions may apply.



Participation in the Verified Approval program is based on an underwriter’s comprehensive analysis of your credit






Before 2004, donating a car to charity was a popular tax gambit. People would take thousands of dollars worth of tax deductions (no matter what the car ended up fetching for the charity at a sale or auction).



Congress put a stop to this by passing the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, limiting the deduction one could take for a donated car, truck, boat or plane worth more than $500. Instead of letting taxpayers simply deduct the published fair market value of the vehicle, as before, the Act decreed the deduction be determined by the exact amount the car actually garnered for the charity—and documented by a receipt from the charity to the donor.1


Cars often go for rock-bottom prices—$30 to $50—at charity sales and auctions. Not surprisingly, donating that old auto suddenly became less popular.


So, is a car donation still worth it? Well, if you have a junker, it’s probably not going to give you much of a tax deduction. On the other hand, if you have car that can be used by the charity, the donation could be significant.

Why Donate

If you have a car in decent working condition, by donating it you will:

1. Help a charity whose work you believe in: Maybe that seems obvious (most of us make donations to charities whose work we support), but it’s true.

2. Provide a vehicle for the charity to use:  As long as your car is usable, many charities can make good use of it: delivering meals to the elderly, taking people to doctors, or anything else that furthers the charitable mission. Some of your best choices for charities that actually use donated cars for their activities include the United Way, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.234 On the local level, think about community colleges and vocational schools; their education programs use donated cars to train mechanics.

3. Get a healthy tax write-off: The rules are strict since the law changed in 2004, and the process more complicated, but a deduction approaching fair market value can still be had. If you donate a car valued over $500, and the charity sells it, you must get a written notice from the charity stating that it was “sold in an arm’s length transaction between unrelated parties” and the gross proceeds of the sale. If the car is going to be used by the charity in its programs, then you will get written certification of its intended use and planned time of use. The charity must not sell or exchange the vehicle before the planned time of intended use. If the car is worth more than $5,000, you must also get an independent appraisal stating so. If the car is worth more than $500, you will need to file IRS Form 8283 and attach to your return. If the car is worth more than $5,000, in addition to Form 8283, it might be a good idea to include the independent appraisal and the charity’s certification with your return as well.5

4. Avoid the hassles of selling the car yourself: You won’t need to pay for newspaper ads. Nor will you deal with phone calls or emails—or have to show the car to potential buyers and haggle over the sales price.


5. Free pick-up: Many charities that accept cars will collect and tow them away for free. But you do need to realize the charity will deduct this cost from the car’s value, which will reduce your tax deduction. Of course, if towing amounts to a significant percentage of the car’s worth, you can always drive it in yourself.

6. Get rid of a car that does not have proper title: Some charities will take a car for which you cannot find the title. They probably will only be able to sell it for scrap or parts, reducing the value of your deduction, but at least you can get it out of your driveway and can avoid the expense of replacing that title.

The Bottom Line

Non-cash donations are a common trigger for IRS audits. So, after you make your generous contribution, make sure you carefully document the transaction and keep the documents in your IRS tax file for that year in case your accountant or tax preparer needs it. Also familiarize yourself with the IRS’ publication “A Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donation.” That way you can be sure you are following all the rules.

You also want to make sure the charity you select is a qualified organization. You can check the list of qualified organizations at this IRS website.


Donating a car to charity can be a win-win for you and the charity, provided the donation meets the provisions of the 2004 law. Remember, the most beneficial donation involves a car that can be used by the charity or—if transportation for the underprivileged is part of the charity’s mission—sold directly to a person who will drive it: Only then (and with the proper documentation) can you take a figure near the car’s blue book value


.

Before 2004, donating a car to charity was a popular tax gambit.






Offshore Injury Lawyer


If you’re a seaman, chances are that you already know how dangerous maritime work can be. Accidents can happen frequently and injuries are all too often. Many of these injuries leave maritime workers with severe health conditions and large medical bills. As an offshore worker, however, you have legal rights under general maritime law and the Jones Act that protects you in the event of injuries sustained while on the job. Since maritime law has its own sets of rules and regulations that are quite different from land-based laws when it comes to accidents and injuries, you’ll need an experienced offshore injury attorney who specializes in and has in-depth knowledge of maritime law and disability benefits.

What is an Offshore Injury Lawyer?

Offshore attorneys specifically focus on cases involving maritime law (sometimes known as admiralty law). These unique set of laws were written solely for the maritime industry and to help protect workers in the event of accidents, illnesses, and injuries. Maritime laws are different from any other type of disability law, including worker’s compensation, in that they are only provided to those who work offshore. These laws are extremely intricate and not all attorneys are equipped with the knowledge about how maritime laws, acts, and regulations work. An offshore attorney helps those who have been injured at work by applying their knowledge of maritime laws in order to assist their clients in receiving the benefits they are entitled to.

Why Do Seamen Need an Offshore Injury Lawyer?

When seamen are injured on the job, in a ship, or an offshore facility, they are legally entitled to receive compensation for their medical costs and living expenses while they recover. This compensation, known as maintenance and cure, is required by the provisions of general maritime law that govern personal injuries on the job. In many instances, however, employers and their insurers attempt to pay only a fraction of maintenance and cure or in some cases, not pay at all.

Employers usually want to deny that they are responsible for any injuries sustained by their workers on vessels and other offshore facilities. Not only does it hurt their profit margin, but it also stains their reputation. In many cases, they will not only dispute the claim, but they will retaliate against employees who seek compensation by making it difficult for claimants to find other maritime work. This retaliatory tactic is known as blacklisting.

Because offshore injuries occur far from where an investigation can be carried out without complications, it’s easy for a company to try to make things look more in its favor than in the injured worker’s. If an offshore accident occurs, the employer will send lawyers and investigators on short notice to make sure the evidence is tilted to fit its version of events and make it difficult for the injured person to make a successful claim. Offshore injury lawyers are experienced in detecting these types of tactics and trained to handle the intricacies that come with maritime cases.

Seamen may also be entitled to compensation for lost wages, additional medical expenses, and pain and suffering under the Jones Act. In addition, for maritime workers who may not qualify as a seaman, such as a harbor or longshoreman, other acts are in place that protect them in the event of an accident or injury. An experienced offshore injury lawyer will be able to explain your options to you and fight to ensure that you get the damages you’re entitled to.

What Types of Accidents and Injuries Does an Offshore Injury Lawyer Cover?

An offshore injury lawyer covers any maritime accident in which a seamen is injured due to the negligence of another party. Common examples include failure of employers to:

  • Provide adequate safety training
  • Ensure all equipment is in working, functioning order
  • Provide proper safety gear and protective clothing
  • Provide appropriate rest periods and breaks
  • Make sure work areas are clear of dangerous materials and debris
  • Provide warning signs in appropriate areas
  • Ensure ladders and steps are stable and in functioning order


If you’ve been injured due to the aforementioned examples or for any reason that could have been prevented with appropriate employer behavior, an experienced offshore injury lawyer will work with you on the details of your case and will make you sure you understand your legal rights and options.

What if I Can’t Afford an Offshore Injury Lawyer?

Most offshore injury attorneys understand that if you’re currently out of work due to an injury, you probably don’t have the up-front money for attorney fees. Fortunately,  experienced and knowledgeable offshore injury lawyers usually have the financial backing already set in place in order to offer payment options on a contingency-fee basis.  A contingency-fee basis simply means that you pay nothing up front. Your attorney doesn’t get paid until you win your case, when a certain percentage is taken out for attorney fees. The fees will decided on between you and your attorney beforehand.

It’s important to note that it’s always to good idea to choose an offshore injury lawyer that offers contingency payment plan. If up-front fees are needed to take on your case, there is a good chance the attorney doesn’t have the financial resources available to successfully represent you.

Compensation for Maritime Injuries

Although maintenance and cure benefits must be provided regardless of how the accident happened, you may also be eligible for emotional trauma, pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, disfigurement, and lost wages. An offshore injury lawyer will review your case and negotiate on your behalf to ensure that you get the best benefits possible.

If you’ve been injured, it’s important to never sign any paperwork until you fully understand your rights and what you may be entitled to. For more information on your rights and compensation, refer to our article Maritime Rights and Compensation.

Additional Resources and Information


For more detailed information on maritime injuries, legal rights and resources, and understanding your rights, we invite you to fill out form to receive a complimentary Maritime Injury information.


If you’re a seaman, chances are that you already know how dangerous maritime work can be.



Auto accident lawyers in chicago

Chicago Car Accident Lawyer You need an experienced personal injury lawyer protecting your interests when you have been injured in a car accident, trucking accident, motorcycle accident, or automobile accident. Our Chicago car accident attorneys are available for in-home consults for Chicagoland Suburbs and in-facility consults are possible if you are unable to travel. The Kryder Law Group has
successfully handled hundreds of motor vehicle collision cases. In every accident situation, it is important to move quickly in order to protect your rights and preserve evidence that may be lost with the passage of time. If you have suffered an injury in a car accident, call the Kryder Law Group or click here to complete our simple questionnaire. The actions you take after a car accident can have a big impact on your ability to recover physically and financially. It is extremely important to seek medical treatment after a car accident, even if you don’t think anything’s wrong. In the moments after a car accident, most people are disoriented and in a bit of shock. Many people don’t realize that they have injuries from the auto accident until after the crash. The hospital or doctors that you see will document the injuries from your auto accident, which can then be used as evidence in a future legal case. If you can, try to document evidence by taking pictures of the accident, site, and injuries at the scene. The factors that contributed to your accident can change overnight, such as when an overgrown bush that obstructs the view of a right-hand turn is trimmed or removed after the accident. The photos you take can help to illustrate what really happened and the extent of the damage. After seeking medical treatment, you can contact a Chicago car accident lawyer to provide a review of your legal case. Video Player00:0000:46

What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect from a Car Accident Claim?

The compensation that you can expect after a car accident depends on a number of factors, including how the accident happened, auto insurance coverage for both parties, and who was involved in the accident. If the person responsible for the car accident doesn’t have auto insurance, suing them only recovers compensation if they have assets they can use to pay the debt. However, an auto accident with a commercial vehicle can be a different case entirely, as the company has an obligation to not endanger other drivers.

Do I Have a Car Accident Case?

Not all car accidents make strong legal cases. If you’re partially at fault for the accident, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue legal action against the other party. The best way to know if you have a strong car accident case is to discuss the specifics of what happened with an experienced car accident lawyer. They can advise you about your case and the outcomes of similar cases to help you make a decision about what to do.

Tips to Avoid a Car Accident in Chicago

Like other metro areas, Chicago can be a dangerous place to drive, as there are many people driving on congested streets. Distracted driving makes a car accident even more likely. Here are some ways to stay safer and to avoid a car accident in Chicago:

Be Aware of Construction

Frequent construction creates a variety of
road hazards, including shifting regular traffic patterns and creating disruptions. Do the best you can to keep up with the construction taking place in the areas surrounding your home and work. Road construction projects take some time to complete so once you know where construction is, you won’t be surprised by seeing it again. For a free legal consultation with a car accidents lawyer serving Chicago, call (312) 598-0739

Don’t Block Right Turn Lane

A common cause of car accidents is something that blocks the right turn lane. When drivers fail to anticipate a problem in the right turn lane, it is possible that they will hit the disabled vehicle in the turn lane because they don’t expect it to be there. Whenever possible, move disabled vehicles off the road and into the shoulder or a nearby parking lot. Chicago Car Accidents Lawyer Near Me(312) 598-0739

Lower Expectations of Other Drivers

All drivers should do everything that they can to keep everyone safe on the road. However, it’s better to lower your expectations of these other drivers if you want to stay safe. Be cautious of distracted drivers, especially people who text or eat while driving. Don’t engage with angry drivers who exhibit signs of road rage. It’s better to let angry drivers pass you than to engage in aggressive and dangerous driving. Practice these defensive driving tips to stay safe daily.

Our car accident attorneys are ready to help you

Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may be entitled to recover benefits for lost wages, medical bills, future medical bills, and pain and suffering. Our services include: According to recent statistics, over 6 million automobile collisions occur each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 3 million people involved in automobile accidents suffer some form of injury. In addition, it is estimated that half a million trucking collisions occur every year, leading to approximately 5,000 fatalities. The Kryder Law Group in Chicago has succeeded in resolving many car accident cases that other law firms have generally found challenging to prove. Our highly experienced Chicago car accident lawyers and personal injury lawyers are here to fight for your rights as an injured person, and we will do everything to make sure that the liable party’s insurance company pays you the maximum compensation for injuries incurred during an accident.

Auto Accident Attorneys Ready to Help in Your Time of Need

Our Chicago-based law firm represents people who are injured in auto accidents in Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, Dupage County and Kane County areas. Injuries in auto collisions can be life threatening and can vary from back and neck pain, broken bones, to even death. At The Kryder Law Group, our highly experienced auto accident lawyers will aggressively fight the insurance company to obtain the benefits you deserve. Our Chicago auto accident lawyers have handled hundreds of accident cases. We pride ourselves in obtaining maximum settlements or compensation for clients who have lost their loved ones in an accident. Our attorneys will work closely with you to present successful representation. At The Kryder Law Group, we guarantee that our accident lawyers will gather all the information needed to file a successful claim. There are several points that have to be taken care-of at the scene of an auto accident in Chicago. It’s critical you contact an experienced Chicago accident lawyer and never leave the scene until you have spoken to the appropriate authorities. If you leave the scene before talking to the appropriate authorities, it can be more difficult to produce a successful claim. Once you decide to pursue legal action after an auto accident, there are some steps that your attorney will take to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Generally, you can expect the process to follow the following steps, no matter the specifics of your unique auto accident case. Click to contact our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers today

Document

The first and often most crucial part of reaching a settlement or winning an auto accident case is documenting the scene of the crash and your injuries. This can be as simple as having someone at the accident site take detailed photos with a smartphone. The photos should try to convey the entire scene, including the orientation of the cars and the damage. While law enforcement and the insurance agency will try to put together a story that may or may not be in your best interest, these photos will demonstrate the facts. Medical records also serve as an important way to document what happened in a car accident. The types of injuries sustained will help to create a picture of the timeline and the accident itself. For instance, certain abrasions across your chest and abdomen could serve as evidence that shows whether people wore seatbelts. If you’re able to call an auto accident lawyer from the accident scene, they can help to create documentation for your case. However, this isn’t necessary if you’re unable to do so. You can still pursue legal action from your car accident with the appropriate medical documentation since any documentation created by hospitals or other involved parties will be available. Your lawyer just has to get them from the source. Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now

Investigate

The next step is to investigate what happened. Your lawyer will help you piece everything back together so that you can determine important pieces of information. These will include determining who is at fault, which is crucial in many accident cases. Lawyers often have teams of staff members that can collect information and piece accidents back together from start to finish.

Negotiate

Before any case goes to trial, your lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement with the other parties involved. This is often the best outcome since it avoids the hassle of a trial while getting you the help and support that you need. It also speeds up the process considerably since waiting for a trial date can take months, if not longer in some places. A pre-trial settlement can get you the financial help that you need to pay for medical treatments and other rising costs sooner, keeping you out of financial trouble. If your lawyer cannot negotiate a settlement that you can agree to, the case goes to trial.

Trial

The trial is often the last step in the process. Your lawyer will take your case in front of a judge and argue that the other driver was at fault for the accident. If the other driver is found at fault for the accident, then he or she will likely be responsible for some type of compensation. Going to trial has risks regardless of how strong your case is. The judge has a lot of say in how your case turns out. So, you should be prepared to lose, even if you have a good chance of winning. Most lawyers won’t let a case go to trial if the chances of winning are almost impossible. Instead, the lawyer will rely on negotiations to try and reach a settlement.

Expected Compensation

Determining compensation is somewhat difficult since there are several forms of compensation available. For example, compensation for pain and suffering is somewhat subjective since it is hard to quantify someone’s suffering. So, the judge could award a very low number or a very high one based on the case. Medical costs are somewhat easier to determine compensation for since there will be solid documentation for all of your medical bills. If you go to trial and win, you can expect to have your medical bills and car-related expenses compensated. In many cases, you could be awarded other forms of compensation based on the details of the case. We are available for in-home consultations if you cannot travel. If you’ve been injured, don’t wait. Request a Free Case Evaluation today or call us at (312) 598-0870. Auto Accident Attorneys Ready to Help in Your Time of Need Our Chicago-based law firm represents people who are injured in auto accidents in Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, Dupage County and Kane County areas. Injuries in auto collisions can be life threatening and can vary from back and neck pain, broken bones, to even death. At The Kryder Law Group, our highly experienced auto accident lawyers will aggressively fight the insurance company to obtain the benefits you deserve. Our Chicago auto accident lawyers have handled hundreds of accident cases.
We pride ourselves in obtaining maximum settlements or compensation for clients who have lost their loved ones in an accident. Our attorneys will work closely with you to present successful representation. At The Kryder Law Group, we guarantee that our accident lawyers will gather all the information needed to file a successful claim. There are several points that have to be taken care-of at the scene of an auto accident in Chicago. It’s critical you contact an experienced Chicago accident lawyer and never leave the scene until you have spoken to the appropriate authorities. If you leave the scene before talking to the appropriate authorities, it can be more difficult to produce a successful claim. For a free legal consultation with a auto accidents lawyer serving Chicago, call (312) 584-5630. To schedule your free consultation in regards to an auto accident injury call us at (312) 584-5630.
We are available 24/7 to help you in your auto accident case.
 

The e-learning and online course market are soaring to new heights and estimated to be worth $325 billion by 2025.

With the acceleration of online learning due to social distancing, this industry is experiencing huge growth.

Why not tap into this market and sell online courses? 

If you have experience in a field and want to share your knowledge with the world, all that you need to get started is an online course platform.

These online tools let you:

  • Create an online course website (or integrate your course within your existing website).
  • Price your course and collect payments (either one-time or in installments).
  • Create membership communities. 
  • Upload your videos, add assignments and quizzes, creating interactive content, and engage with your students.
  • Market your course to build your online presence.

So where do you get started and which platform is best?

After (a lot of) trial and error, I ranked and reviewed the 15 best online course platforms to use this year. I also provide the top ten ways to create and sell online courses.

This ultimate guide ranks and compares software based on reliability, features, marketing tools, profit potential, technical support, pricing, and more.

Let’s get started.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. However, these are the tools I fully recommend when it comes to launching online courses and the commissions help me provide free content to my audience. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy.

Table of Contents

What Are Online Course Platforms?

Online course platforms are types of learning management systems (LMS) that provide users with access to digital classes. These virtual courses are similar to offline classes in a lot of ways: an instructor provides an engaging educational experience through video, image, text, audio, and PDF files.

Students follow along with the LMS software, take notes, perform exercises, and complete exams to test their knowledge.

Online Course Platforms

Source: foundertips.com

Tools like Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Podia, and Ruzuku all feature a robust feature set for course creators.

Their course software includes a dedicated fully-responsive website experience, easy content uploads, the ability to edit the look and feel of the class, marketing features, course completion certificates, a sales funnel, and more.

If you’re an educational institution looking to replace your on-premise classes with online learning, you can check out my other guide to the best learning management systems (LMS).

Course creators choose a platform to use, then charge their students a set fee to access their courses.

What Are the Best Online Course Platforms?

 

The best online course platforms give the freedom to spend more time teaching your students and automating your sales processes.

In my opinion, the best online eLearning platforms are Thinkific, Learnworlds, Teachable, Kajabi, LearnDash, and Podia.

To be successful, you need to be able to create, organize, and deliver your course content efficiently. You also need a platform that matches your unique needs.

For example, if you’re looking to start a blog and sell online courses, look for the features that coaches would need like paid memberships, WordPress integrations, ecommerce capabilities, etc.

Here are my top picks for the best online course platforms to use this year.

1. Thinkific.

Best Overall Online Course Platform (Free or $49/mo)

Thinkific’s mission is to power your education empire. They are one platform with a robust set of user-friendly features, email marketing tools, membership site integration for your lessons, and excellent 24/7 customer support.

They are my #1 choice because they are indeed the only platform you need to create and sell your online courses.

First, you can sign up and get a One-Month Free Trial for their most popular Pro Plan. If you want more course sales from the start, this plan gives you the ability to create unlimited courses. It also features memberships and bundles, advanced pricing options, landing pages, certificates, and marketing tools.

Next, you create and customize your course with their drag and drop editor, as shown on Thinkific.com:

Thinkific Create Online Course

After you add in your course content, you build your course site with their high-quality, well-designed templates:

Thinkific Web Design Examples

Finally, you can market and sell your course with its advanced business tools:

Market and Sell Your Thinkific Course

You can easily integrate Thinkific with over 1,500 apps by using Zapier without the need for a WordPress plugin. By hooking up with your email provider, you can send highly targeted campaigns to the right segments of your audience at the right time.

 

I recommend the Thinkific platform as my #1 choice for course creators and entrepreneurs who are serious about creating, marketing, and selling their online courses.

You can get started today with a One-Month Free Trial of their Pro Plan with my link below.Try Thinkific

2. Learnworlds.

Best for Premium, Interactive Learning Experiences ($24/month)

Learnworlds is at the future of eLearning and has everything you need to create and sell an online course – and keep your students engaged.

Learnworlds Review

Learnworlds is a great online course builder and my overall #2 choice. It’s best for course creators looking for an interactive course experience and student engagement. If you’re looking for a free option, Learnworlds is not for you.

However, if you’re looking to create an interactive learning experience with questionnaires, tests, and engaging elements, Learnworlds is the best choice. 

The first step is creating the look and feel of your online course with their custom landing and sales pages. You can use their library of responsive templates and styles to build your course site and even add additional information pages – About, Pricing, Contact, etc. – all easy to make with Learnworlds.

You can use their theme editor to customize the branding and color scheme of your course with minimal coding knowledge.

Next, when you’re ready to build your course, you leverage their pre-made course catalogs and add in your content. These catalogs include advanced features like interactive video players, online tests, interactive e-books, and downloadable attachments.

Your students also benefit from this customized approach. When taking your course, they can take notes, highlight important points, and get certificates of completion.

When you want to market your course, you can use a full custom domain and white-label your content. For example, Learnworlds will create your custom mobile app for your course and provide coupons and discounts to market to your students.

Finally, they offer social media integrations, a new analytics platform to optimize your sales, the ability to create membership sites, a strong knowledge base, and 24/7 support.

Get a free 30-day trial at my link below and start building your online community.Try Learnworlds

3. Teachable.

Best Online Course Platform for Beginners ($29 – $299/mo)

Teachable is my #3 choice for e-learning platforms. By creating an account, you’re joining 22,000 other instructors creating excellent teaching platforms for their students.

Teachable Homepage

You can choose to use the online course platform for free (with $1 + $0.10 for all transactions) or select one of their three plans ranging from $29/month to $299/month.

I recommend their most popular Pro Plan with the premium course creations bundle at $119/month as it’s the first plan with zero transaction fees. It also has graded quizzes, custom completion certificates, advanced website theme customizations, and support for up to 5 admin users.

It’s pretty effortless to upload your content, edit the look of your online school, and engage with your students – all without separate web hosting.

Get started with your Teachable plan and get a premium course creation bundle.Try Teachable

4. Kajabi.

Best High-End Online Course Platform for Professionals ($119/month)

Kajabi is a high-powered course builder for in-depth courses. It features powerful course site themes, robust email marketing automation, upsells and digital products, a customizable checkout, and blogging functionality.

Kajabi Homepage

Their plans are a bit expensive, starting at $119/month, including the 20% annual discount. However, they really know what they’re doing as they’re trusted by more than 16,000 businesses and have processed more than $675 million through their platform.

Their $119 basic plan gives you one website, three products, three pipelines, unlimited landing pages, unlimited marketing emails, and up to 1,000 members and 10,000 contacts. Their higher-tier plans increase the number of websites, products, pipelines, and contacts, so you can choose a specific plan based on your needs.

Where Kajabi really excels is its marketing automation tools. You can segment users in your list, send emails at certain times based on advanced triggers, and send professionally-branded messages.

If you’re an established business and want to try one of the more advanced platforms on the market, Kajabi is a solid choice.

Start your free 14-day trial. Try Kajabi

5. LearnDash.

Great LMS for WordPress Users ($13.25/month)

LearnDash is an impressive online course platform that integrates with WordPress. Some big websites using LearnDash include Yoast, Infusionsoft, the University of Michigan, and WP Elevation.

Learndash Review

One of their first helpful features is their “Focus Mode,” which blocks out all distractions when students run through a course.

LearnDash’s full-featured course builder meshes well with their email drip campaigns. You can build a great online course and match your content with an email drip schedule to send lessons according to a program.

Their Gradebook* technology takes LMS to another level. This technology gives students an overall grade based on quiz and homework scores, creating a weighted average for teachers to review.

In addition to grading, course points award points for actions, and badges and certificates award students for course activities.

If you’re a teacher looking for grading systems that compete with the features of college curriculums, LearnDash is a fantastic choice.

You can get started today with a $40 discount and full 30-day money-back guarantee on their annual plans.Try LearnDash

6. Podia.

Great for Digital Downloads and Webinars ($39/month)

Podia allows over 11,000 users to create, host, and sell their lessons with one easy-to-use platform. There are no transaction fees, and a simple three-step process has your course website up in no time.

Podia Review

Although they don’t charge fees, their payment processors have transaction fees of 2.9% + 30¢.

Other features include the ability to add coupons and memberships, pre-launch courses, add sales pages, and leverage “drip” courses. This feature gives access to individual sections of the course at a time, helping students learn in the correct structure.

Where they excel is with membership options. You can grow your own online community by interacting with members, bundling products for specific groups, offering tiered plans, and connecting with Facebook Groups and Slack.

Podia also lets you host webinars – either live or on-demand. You can sell these webinars or provide them for free to build your customer email list. 

Another awesome feature is the ability to run your own affiliate program inside of Podia. You can view all of your affiliates in one place, view helpful reporting, and make payouts based on your own customized commission structure.

Overall, if you’re looking for strong membership functionality and the ability to increase your sales with the help of affiliates, Podia is a unique and worthwhile course builder to try out.

You can sign up and give it a test run with a free 14-day trial.Try Podia

7. Ruzuku.

The Ridiculously Easy Online Course Platform ($74.75/month)

Ruzuku allows you to create a step-by-step online course with their learning platform, PDFs, and text in minutes.  You can quickly create course outlines, edit and reorder your steps with ease, launch your course, and generate sales in no time.

Ruzuku integrates with tools like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, and payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal to accept payments – and they don’t charge transaction fees.

 

They’re also known for their desirable community. When you join Ruzuku, you’re not buying a teaching tool; you’re joining a team to help your students learn.

Called “the ridiculously easy course creator,” Ruzuku comes with some excellent features listed below:

Ruzuku Online Course Features

Finally, their platform offers unlimited courses to unlimited students on all paid plans.

You can get started with a 14-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.Try Ruzuku

8. Academy of Mine.

The Enterprise Platform That is Custom-Built to Your Business Needs ($499/month)

Academy of Mine is a high-end eLearning platform founded on personalized customer success and philosophy of customization. A standard feature of any plan is completely free development hours to help set up and launch your course with customized integrations.

One of their goals is not just to set you up and help you launch. They also want to help sell your course with their marketing tools and analytics dashboards.

Personalization is at the heart of its strategy. Are you a healthcare company that wants to create a full curriculum for continuing education credits (CECs)? They can help with that.

Are you an insurance company that requires continued training due to constant changes in a particular legal code at the state level? Are you looking to create online courses to manage your facility?

That’s also no problem with Academy of Mine.

While these enterprise offerings may be overkill for typical users, they are necessary for small to medium-sized businesses needing a robust training system for their employees or clients.

If this sounds like the eLearning solution you’re looking for, you can get started today with their 30-day free trial.Try Academy of Mine

9. WizIQ.

Affordable Live Virtual Online Classrooms ($27/month)

WizIQ offers teachers and educators an easy way to set up virtual classrooms for live interactive online classes. Over 400,000 instructors have leveraged WizIQ to teach over 4 million students virtual classes across 200 countries.

They provide the latest tools for live training such as discussion boards, video streaming, mobile options, assessments, and analytics.

If you are an educator or corporate leader that wants to reach your audience live anywhere in the world, you can get started with their 14-day free trial.Try WixIQ

What Are the Best Online Learning Platforms?

Now for the student’s point of view.

With social distancing becoming the norm and many colleges moving to online classes, there are plenty of ways to educate yourself from home.

Often called massive open online courses (MOOCs), they are slightly different than paid platforms. Instead of hosting files yourself, courses are in a marketplace where students pay for them directly, or via a subscription.

The benefit for course creators is that you can leverage these websites to reach a new audience. The downside is you won’t earn as much money per sale, and there is stiffer competition in the market.

Ultimately, I recommend using one of the providers above to sell courses.

If you’re looking to sign up for a platform to learn new things, here are my picks for the best online learning platforms.

1. Shaw Academy.

Shaw Academy is a platform that gives its students access to professional, accredited online courses. Students sign up for Shaw Academy and get access to all of their long-form courses. 

Shaw Academy

They offer courses in three distinct categories: for hobbyists, for professionals, and for entrepreneurs. 

For example, in their “For Professionals” category, they offer a globally-recognized Digital Marketing Course. This course includes 32 videos and takes an average of 16 weeks to complete. 

Shaw Academy Digital Marketing Course

What Does Shaw Academy Cost?

Courses are offered for free for the first four weeks. You can then continue learning by paying for a monthly plan.

The cost then ranges from $49.99 to $60 per month.

Shaw Academy Pros

Their courses are all globally-recognized and offer certifications to help you in your career. If you’re a working professional, their classes on digital marketing, project management, web development, Photoshop, and Microsoft Excel are very in-depth. 

Entrepreneurs can also access helpful classes on social media marketing, viral marketing, wedding, photography, etc.

Their courses are all flexible and you can complete them on your own time. They also offer helpful support and the ability to download class recordings to watch them offline. 

The four-week free plan is also a great bonus too.

Shaw Academy Cons

Although they offer a lot of good courses, you may not find the right one for you depending on your industry. They also don’t have the same volume of hobby classes as platforms like Skillshare. 

Shaw Academy Review: Final Verdict.

If you’re a professional looking for flexible, accredited courses that you can start completely free for 4 weeks, this platform is a great choice.Try Shaw Academy

2. Skillshare.

Skillshare is a large marketplace focused on creative education. Topics include anything from graphic design and music production to fine art and cooking.

skillshare

They also have classes on more technical topics like data science, analytics, and e-commerce. Skillshare has over 24,000 lessons, more than 4 million students, and over $5 million paid to teachers.

Each Skillshare class is 20-60 minutes broken down into shorter lessons, plus projects and a community discussion forum to connect with other students.

The open discussion is very beneficial for their creative topics, as students can share their progress and get feedback from others. Skillshare also can help premium members with production, course planning, and can even help with online course creation at their studio in New York.

What does Skillshare cost?

Skillshare is free for creating a premium course experience. They pay instructors $10 for paid membership referrals and monthly royalties for each minute of content watched.

 

Skillshare Advantages

They have a large user base of creators and entrepreneurs. If you are offering content that would be suited for a creative audience, Skillshare is a great platform to get noticed.

Lessons on web design, email marketing, photography, painting, personal branding, and creative topics are the most popular.

The quality of the classes is reliable. Skillshare prides itself on professional, high-quality courses. They can help with outlining your course based on the needs of their audience, and can also assist with production.

Skillshare Disadvantages

Earnings run through a royalty system. Each month, between 30 and 50% of Skillshare’s premium subscription revenue goes to a royalty pool for teachers.

The remaining funds go to marketing and promoting classes, supporting the platform, and running day-to-day operations. This royalty system works for well established Skillshare teachers, as the more minutes watched, the more revenue share you receive.

However, this makes it difficult for new instructors to receive much compensation when they’re just starting. Plus, students who watch at 2x speed only count as half the minutes toward the royalty pool.

Another disadvantage is they only offer email support. Although Skillshare has helpful support articles, the only option to contact them is via email.

Skillshare Review: Final Verdict

Skillshare is an up and coming online course marketplace with over 4 million students. With a large user base of creators and entrepreneurs, Skillshare is a great option for instructors in creative fields.

Their classes are all high quality, and they can help make sure that your class will best match the needs of their audience for maximum impact.

However, based on the royalty system for earnings, and no live support, you may be able to make a lot more sales with a marketplace like Udemy. If you’re a creative course creator and want to reach a new audience, their online courses are worth a try.

Sign up with Skillshare and get 2 months of free classes.Try Skillshare

3. LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda) is another online course marketplace tailored to business professionals. With over 1,000 business courses on topics like project management, web development, and digital marketing, they’re an excellent platform for working professionals looking to keep their skills up-to-date.

They also offer certifications that you can add to your LinkedIn profile, showcasing your expertise and improving your online resume.

What does LinkedIn Learning cost?

Monthly fees tie to a premium LinkedIn membership, which is $29.99/month or $24.00/month if you pay annually.

Try LinkedIn Learning today and get one month free.Try LinkedIn Learning

4. Udemy.

Udemy is one of the best online course platform marketplaces with over 24 million students, 35,000 instructors, and unbelievable 80,000+ courses. The first step to creating a course on Udemy is to sign up to be a premium instructor.

start online course on udemy

Once your account is approved, it’s effortless to get started creating your courses. When creating your video content, keep in mind the material has to be at least 30 minutes long and contain five lectures. Source: Udemy.com

Another benefit to adding your course on Udemy is that you can easily promote your class inside their platform. You can use their marketing features to be included in site-wide discounts, be placed in their marketing emails, or join their affiliate program with tiered commission rates.

What does Udemy cost?

Udemy is free to use. They charge a 3% rev share for sales through instructor coupons, 50% for students who found your course through organic search (SEO), and 75% for transactions made through paid search marketing efforts.

Udemy Advantages

You get access to a large user base. Udemy’s 24,000 users are all potential students who will pay for your course. But just because you’re on their platform, it doesn’t mean you’ll start raking in sales right away.

You have to develop a strong marketing and sales strategy, much like a new e-commerce company, author, or real estate agent. It’s all about getting your name out there.

They provide a substantial revenue share for tuition fees. Udemy instructors set their course prices and receive revenue at 100% of the tuition fee for new users and 50% for existing users. That’s a substantial commission on sales and a massive benefit to using their platform.

You can participate in Udemy marketing promotions. Every so often, Udemy runs promotions that can help you reach a larger audience on their platform. These marketing promotions are opt-in, so instructors can choose to participate or not.

They have reliable technology and support. Udemy offers free 24/7 support, and they also have a vast library of helpful articles.

Udemy Disadvantages

There is intense competition with other courses. Udemy instructors are at the mercy of the placement and appearance on the Udemy website, which is controlled by their proprietary algorithms.

It can be difficult to outrank other instructors on particular topics if you’re new to the platform.

There is also stiff competition with other course publishers. Udemy isn’t the only course marketplace ranking on search engines for your course topics.

Other marketplaces like iSpring Learn, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and Skillshare can compete with Udemy in organic search, which can be a disadvantage for Udemy instructors.

 

They have lenient return policies. Refunds are guaranteed to all students within 30 days for any reason. Because of this, students could take a course, complete it within 30 days, and get a guaranteed refund – decreasing your sales.

Udemy Review: Final Verdict

Udemy is one of the most well known, widely used, and professional online course marketplace out there. With a robust rev share model, a vast audience to tap into, 24/7 support, and marketing offerings, you can’t go wrong with their platform.

Although there is healthy competition with other course creators and platforms, the company is likely to maintain its lead in the market.

Try Udemy today.Try Udemy

5. Treehouse.

Treehouse is a relatively new marketplace that believes in the democratization of education. Their platform is “committed to making education accessible to students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds.”

They feature 300+ technical courses on coding and development, over 50,000 students, and over 27,545 minutes of video (and counting).

treehouse online course

Treehouse partners with some big names, including Microsoft, IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa, and Google Developers.Source: teamtreehouse.com

What does Treehouse cost?

Treehouse offers a 7-day free trial. Then you can choose from three different plans ranging from $25 to $199 per month.

Their basic plan features on-demand courses, interactive practice sessions, and access to their online community.

The pro plan gives you access to bonuses, beta features, and downloadable content.

And if you’re looking to create a real portfolio and get job-ready skills, their Techdegree plan gives you personalized feedback, real-time support, and a custom curriculum.

Try Treehouse today.Try Treehouse

6. Coursera.

Coursera is a professional online course marketplace with virtual classes from some of the world’s best companies and universities like the University of Michigan, Duke, and Stanford.

coursera online courses

Instructors teach Coursera courses at some of the world’s top universities, take about 4-6 weeks to complete, and include video lectures, peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. Source: Coursera.org

What does Coursera cost?

Coursera is free to join, and you must be logged in to see pricing information on individual courses. There are three tiers of class offerings at Coursera.

  • Main courses run on a subscription basis and cost $29-99/month. These take the standard 4-6 weeks to complete, and you receive an electronic course certificate upon completion.
  • Specialization courses are for mastering a specific career skill and cost between $39-79/month. In these online courses, you tackle real business challenges with hands-on projects and more rigorous coursework.
  • Online degree programs. If you’re looking for more advanced education, you can even take part in university-recognized online degree programs. These take 1-3 years to complete and cost anywhere from $15 to $25,000.

Try Coursera today.Try Coursera

How Do I Create and Sell Online Courses?

The first step to sell online courses is to start with your end goal in mind and work backward. How are you going to transform your students’ lives and how will they be different once they’ve completed your course?

You should start your course by planning the transformation your students will achieve.

To understand what your students want to learn, hang out in forums related to your topic, and look at the top questions people are asking. Quora is an excellent place for this.

Once you understand how you can solve your student’s problems, create a clearly defined learning path that will guide them to a predetermined goal. During each stage of the course journey, make their outcomes clear.

By setting a learning path and clearly defined end goal, your students will stay more engaged and active with your content.

Here are the top 10 ways to create and sell online courses.

1. Figure Out the Cost to Develop Your Online Course.

The cost to develop your learning platform depends on many factors, including depth of content development, research and analytics expenses, and marketing. Studies estimate that a professional online course can cost between $5,850 and $15,600 to produce.

Costs of Starting an Online Course

However, that’s a pretty high estimate, including professional video development, paying a subject matter expert (SME) to teach the course, market research, email automation or webinar software, and promoting the course. Source: racoongang.com

If you’re starting and want to create a course yourself, it can be much cheaper. For example, if you have a quality webcam, a microphone, screen sharing tools, and video editing software, you can create a course for under $200.

Your most significant investment is time. Keep in mind that costs rise with your effort. The more effort you put into analyzing your audience, market research, creating an outline, and shooting professional media with an engaging instructor, the higher the cost.

2. Use the Best Software and Equipment.

Creating a course isn’t as simple as add a webinar to a website. You need to produce the course first!

Software and equipment are required to create high-quality content. Remember, you’re replacing an in-classroom experience with a virtual course, so it needs to look professional.

online software equipment and software

However, you don’t need the most expensive, high-end equipment to get started – but you will need a few essential items.

1. Microphones

Microphones are crucial. Bad audio is much easier to detect than shaky video, and you need a quality microphone for your course to sound excellent.

Use the best microphone you can afford. You can use a standard receiver, lavaliere mics, or even a headset, but I recommend a USB microphone.

One of my favorites is the Blue Yeti. And don’t forget to get some microphone accessories to improve your audio quality further. Pop filters, foam balls, shock mounts, and acoustic panels are critical if you’re recording in a small room.

Try the Blue Yeti microphone.

 

2. Headphones

Having a good set of noise-canceling headphones will help tremendously during the editing process. They also come in handy when conducting interviews and recording someone.

Try the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.

3. Screen recording program

If you’re creating a class on a piece of software or computer program, you’ll have to show the screen to highlight the work you’re doing. There are lots of options when it comes to screen recording software, but one of my favorites is Screencast-o-matic.

4. USB Webcam

Mostly all online courses will require live webinars or videos of an instructor for a personal classroom feel.

Recording equipment can include something as simple as your iPhone or a webcam, or run up to professional DSLR camcorders. The most significant factor is your budget.

On the cheaper side, the Logitech C920S is an excellent 1080p USB webcam.

5. Audio and video editing software

Once you’re done shooting your course, the real magic happens with editing. Some of my favorite options include Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. If you’re looking to spruce up your animations, try Adobe After Effects.

6. Lighting and accessories

Quality three-point-lighting is crucial to ensure your instructor shines (pun intended). You can purchase a full studio light set or only some accessories for your iPhone.

Either way, you’ll want to research interview lighting techniques certify you look professional.

3. Create Valuable Content.

This one is a no-brainer. You need a detailed vision of who your ideal students are and what they are interested in learning. Do they want to develop a new skill and earn an online certificate? Do they want to help grow their own business? By understanding your audience’s pain points, you can create a vision for your course.

Create compelling video courses. Use video plus interactive worksheets, PDFs, quizzes, and other elements to engage with your students on a deeper level. Also, make sure to condense learning into shorter sentences – no one wants to read long paragraphs.

4. Differentiate Your Website.

Focus on your niche and provide the absolute best content with a focus on your unique value proposition (UVP). Unless you want to become the next EdX, you have to specialize and be the best at an exceptionally focused niche.

Offer an exclusive hook statement and differentiate your course’s UVP out of the gate. Ask yourself: What makes my course different than the rest? For example, if your niche is graphic design, don’t create a course called “Graphic Design for Beginners.” That’s too broad. A class called “Adobe InDesign for Ebook Publishers” is more focused and more natural to market.

Don’t focus on too many different areas. Your online course should have one focal point and not stray away from it or go off-topic. Only after you see some initial success with your teachings should you diversify into other topics.

5. Take Time to Market Your Business.

After pouring all of your hard work into creating your course, your job is just getting started. Now you need to market it.

You need a dedicated website. To help people find you and view you as an expert in your field, you need a professional web presence. Your website should have an active blog with content related to your niche, which is search engine optimization (SEO) optimized.

Build a social media following. Create your own Facebook Business page so that you can engage with your community. Share your latest updates on Twitter and Instagram. Having a regular post schedule and providing engaging social media content will help build a community behind your brand.

6. Have Control Over Your Brand.

You should have complete control over your brand. You should be able to set your pricing and policies, incorporate your logo, and make the experience consistent with your business.

If you are developing your brand, you should be the face of the course and have the ability to showcase your personality in the class design.

7. Deliver an Exceptional Learning Experience.

The platform should deliver a great learning experience. You should include multiple content types like audio, text, documents, and more. Other features to look for include the ability to create quizzes and send completion certificates, forums, and “drip” courses sent to students over time.

8. Integrate with Other Tools.

Choose a platform that integrates well with other solutions. You’re going to want to make sure your learning platform can work with other tools like email marketing services, analytics solutions, and more.

Check for popular integrations with tools like MailChimp, Google Analytics, WordPress, and more. For example, if you started a blog and are selling courses with a WordPress site, you need to choose a platform that can easily integrate into your current website.

wordpress online course

If you do want to create an online course business with WordPress, you can search their plugin directory for a list of the right plugins:

 

9. Align Sales with Your Budget in Mind.

The platform should fit your budget and offer flexible pricing options. To make money selling online courses, you need to spend money. But by looking into pricing information first, you get a better understanding of your potential return on investment.

10. Leverage Customer Support if You Need It.

The platform should offer excellent customer support and training. A lot of services offer free resources and training, a dedicated account manager, and a helpful instructor community that can help you succeed.

Make use of those resources if you’re stuck – don’t be afraid to ask for help.

What Are the Most Popular Online Courses?

Whether you want to sell online courses from your website or use another platform, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of the most popular classes this year.

It’s challenging to come up with great ideas to engage students. The Online Course Report recently came out with their list of the 80 highest rated on-demand courses. Their catalog includes some of the most popular and highly rated online courses:

1. EdX: The Science of Everyday Thinking

The most popular course overall.

2. Udemy: The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0

The highest-rated course on Udemy.

3. Udemy: SEO Beginners: How I Get 1,000 Visitors a Day with SEO

This SEO class is the most popular entrepreneurship lesson on Udemy.

4. Coursera: An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python

The most popular developer course.

5. Treehouse: JavaScript Basics

The most popular developer class on Treehouse.

As you can see from this list, students are looking for highly informative, impactful education. Now you don’t need to top the list to be successful.

But you need to create classes that are not only high quality but also train your students on topics they love.

That’s a Wrap

Online courses can help you launch a side hustle, grow your audience, teach students the topics you care about or make money online faster.

When choosing between the best online teaching platforms, remember to do your research: consider the time restrictions, monthly costs, and marketing features available.

Each platform allows you to easily upload your content, provide training for your students, and generate sales. But the critical factor is you.

 

The success of your course ultimately relies on the quality of your content and how well you can market yourself.

A platform is just that, a platform. Yes, it’s a branded, engaging, interactive piece of media with your insights and experience, but it still needs planning, market research, development, and most importantly, marketing.

When choosing between the best platforms, you must ultimately decide the features that are right for you. There are endless amounts of topics to teach, and millions of students ready to learn from you.

Why not get started today?

If you’re ready to start creating and selling online courses, I recommend you get started with Thinkific.Try Thinkific