Why I Am Building CourseLit — An Open-source Alternative To Teachable, Thinkific, Podia etc.

I have been working on this new platform for educators and entrepreneurs since February 2019 and finally the software has started to take the form I had in mind when I wrote its very first line of the code. Hence, I think it is the right time to talk about the LMS I am working on and let the world be aware of its existence.

Let me start with CourseLit’s elevator pitch.

If you want to run your own teaching platform where you can sell courses and write articles without paying a monthly subscription fees to some SaaS company for providing the platform, CourseLit is a viable choice. Just self-host it on a cheap cloud server and get total control of your content. You don’t even need a developer to host it.

Now a little bit about me, I run a small YouTube channel and listen to a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts hence I am aware that selling courses is great way to self-sustain and make a difference as a skilled labor, without having a regular 9–5. Additionally, a lot of people out there are interested in that sort of a lifestyle. Having some sort of side hustle allows people to live their lives with ease. The pandemic only aggravated the need of having some side hustle for a lot of us.

Once you are sold on the idea of packaging your existing skills in a course which you can sell online and make money on the side, the next logical question that follows is How can I create my own courses?

This is immediately followed by a couple of frantic Google searches related to “create online course”. This is where you will encounter a lot of SaaS companies providing platforms to run your own courses for a monthly fee (which is around $35 per month).

I am Indian and $35 dollar is A LOT of money to shell out every month. Plus when you are just starting out you don’t even know when and if you will make your first dollar. It can take 2 days but it can also take 3–6 months. I’ve built apps, ran YouTube channels and other websites for several years now, so I know that immediate success is a myth.

There should be something easy to setup and cheap enough so that newbies can test the waters without making any financial commitments to some SaaS company or hiring developers to build the platform.

Those reasons led me to look for some open-source solutions for running my own MOOCs which can fulfill the following requirements.

  1. Easy to use.
  2. Uses modern tech stack (preferably JavaScript as it is everywhere and a huge talent pool is available).
  3. Scalable.
  4. Looks modern enough.
  5. Self-hosted (I need to be in total control of my data and privacy of my users).
  6. Supports modifications (like extensions and themes).
  7. Does not require too much maintenance.

I searched long and hard but could not find any that ticked all the boxes. Hence I did what software developers are known for i.e. Build something that solves your own problem. I will be the first customer of what I am going to create.

Since day one of building CourseLit, I put users of the software in the center and created the entire experience around the users. The software has an easy to use installer and sensible defaults so that the user does not have to find a developer just to set the software up.

It has been quite a journey since then. I have grown quite a lot as a developer. The project gave me ample opportunities to work on something that can improve peoples’ lives by enabling them.

I am also vlogging the entire lifecycle of building the platform on my YouTube channel if you want to have a sneak peek.

CourseLit LMS is open-source and free to use. Having said that, I would also like to mention that software is in alpha release as of now. Things are changing all the time so use it at your own risk. I publish the release notes and help guides on CourseLit’s official blog so you may want to give it a follow.

CourseLit may eventually grow into a SaaS product but its target audience will always be the solopreneurs and the individual users. So all future updates will be released keeping you in mind.

If you have more questions about the software or you want to contribute please come hang out with me sometime in my Discord channel. Also follow me for more updates.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Rajat Saxena

Rajat Saxena

Software Engineer; Builds Internet Based Businesses & Apps; Solopreneur