Hosted vs Self-Hosted Courses: Which Format is Right for Your Business?

WPLMS, our learning management system for WordPress, allows you to turn your WordPress site into your very own, self-hosted online school. It’s certainly a powerful tool the VibeThemes team is proud of, but why go through the trouble of building your own self-hosted school when you could use hosted options like Udemy and Skillshare? Let’s explore these concepts.

1. Control

Hosted solutions for courses require you to relinquish a lot of control. You aren’t able to design your own sales pages. You can’t control the way the software behaves. You can’t even control the way your school earns revenue in some cases.

A self-hosted school restores that control. It doesn’t place limits on how much success you’re able to achieve as it allows you to optimize your school to your liking.

2. Exposure

This one works against self-hosted courses, and it’s the main reason why many instructors, schools, businesses and organizations choose platforms like Udemy. You’re in charge of marketing when you host your own course. This means you’ll need to learn the ropes when it comes to getting traffic to your website.

Platforms like Udemy, on the other hand, come with a built-in user base you can tap into to increase the amount of students who enroll in your courses.

3. Earning Potential

This is a major reason why business-savvy instructors stay away from platforms like Udemy. That’s because these platforms typically take a cut for every course sale you make. This is typically 50% with Udemy, but it can go as high as 75% for affiliate sales.

This is on top of the huge sales Udemy offers if you choose to opt into their promotional program. These sales typically drop course prices to just $10, which means you’ll only earn $5.00 per general sale and $2.50 per affiliate sale. The worst part is exposure tends to be really low if you opt-out of promotions, so you’re more or less “forced” into them.

4. Competition

There is no competition when you host your own course, at least not side-by-side competition. Hosted platforms, however, are saturated with instructors teaching the same things as you. Having no competition means you’ll be free to create your own teaching style and set your own pricing.

5. Pricing

This is another area that may turn some off to self-hosted courses. Selling courses on platforms like Udemy is typically available to do for free, which is why the platform’s revenue share is so high. They don’t make a sale until you make a sale.

With a self-hosted solution, you need to purchase your own domain, hosting server, theme, a few plugins and more. This can make it cost a lot more to get started.

6. Longevity

This is another legitimate concern. If Udemy or Skillshare fails, your course and the audience you’ve built on the platform will be gone as the result of business decisions you had no control over.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between these two platforms is simple. If you don’t mind working hard to achieve the high levels of success you know you deserve, use WPLMS, and go the self-hosted route. If you want to reach the highest number of students available and don’t care if you sacrifice revenue along the way, use Udemy or Skillshare, and go with a hosted option.


  1. Nelson Opoku says:

    Good and educative

  2. avi7avi says:

    What are the minimum requirements for hosting?
    For 100 students passing simultaneously.
    If the video is hosted on the same hosting and if on video hosting.

    1. Mr.Vibe says:

      minimum requirements are 128mb ram. However for 100 simultaneous users, the max load is when quizzes are evaluated ( you can by pass it by enabling check answer siwtch per question). Prefer hosting videos on video hosting sites.

  3. dainisgraveris says:

    Hey there, loved your analysis and completely agree how long-term mindset is crucial when thinking of making a decision.

    I also made a bad decision trying with Udemy and I would say it’s totally NOT worth it!

    So now I’m all in actually for 3rd party course platforms, not even WordPress path cuz it’s still can be complicated.

    Why complicate life if platforms like Thinkific or Teachable do the job well?

    I actually made a guide about this too, to help people save some time and money…when choosing for the right course platform for them.

    Maybe it could make a good addition as a followup reading –

    Either way, best not go Udemy path…

    1. Mr.Vibe says:

      Try it and share your feedback. Course platforms like Thinkific or Teachable charge you quite a lot like 2 months of teachable would cost around same as WPLMS site for entire year along with unlimited WPLMS License and still have much much lesser features.

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