How to Create and Sell Online Courses on Your WordPress Website with a Plugin

How would you like to create and sell online courses on your WordPress website?

If you’re looking for a way to easily create, manage, and sell online courses from an all-in-one dashboard inside of WordPress, then this post is for you. We’ll cover how using a plugin will give you the freedom to design the course how you want it. It’s easy!

Once you have a hosting plan started up with your WordPress hosting provider (the same goes for you if you’re using a self-hosted WordPress site!), you might be eager and ready to add new, fresh flair to your online offerings.

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Why Use WordPress To Create An Online Course

There are lots of choices when you’re ready to make and sell your first online course. You might be asking yourself, “Why should I use WordPress to do this?”

A person looking at the WordPress home site on a MacBook screen

There are a few reasons:

  • WordPress is free and open-source software.
  • It’s one of the most popular website platforms in the world, with over 60 million websites using it.
  • WordPress is easy to use and has a ton of features and plugins available for you to use (including the ones we’ll cover in this post).

All these reasons to build your online course using a WordPress site.

Plus, if you’re already familiar with how to use WordPress, then there will be a minimal learning curve when it comes time to create your course.

Computer with the WPEngine website loaded for online course WordPress

WordPress Is Free And Open-Source Software

WordPress is free to sign up and build your website. When you use WordPress.org, you need a hosting company, like WP Engine or GoDaddy.

There are many good hosting companies with affordable plans that will make it easy to get your WordPress site up and running quickly.

Open Source Gives You Control Over Content, Design, and Layout

The best part about blogging or creating an online course on a WordPress platform is that you have total control over the design, content, layout of your site.

Open source means that you have full control over your content because you own the site.

customize the appearance of your site via the WordPress dashboard

No Restrictions on Design, Layout, or Content

If you use a WordPress plugin to create an online course and sell it through your site, there are no restrictions. You can create the design that works best for your content. There are also themes to help you get your site up and running.

In addition to designing courses around what’s most helpful for the learner who signs up, you also have complete control over how learners access their information on a site page.

With most other popular online course platforms, like Kajabi for example, you’re limited in how you can design and sell your courses (you may be restricted to a theme).

You’ll often need to use multiple apps or software programs inside one platform that might not always work together seamlessly. Sometimes, the addition of a theme when trying to get a cohesive look can mess with other elements you’re trying to edit on a page.

And when they do work together well…it’s usually only if the app was built by their team which means more costs! Most people choose free open source software whenever they can.

Plus, you’re likely to have more control over the branding and design of your courses using WordPress plugins.

You won’t be restricted by someone else’s templates or designs that might not fit your vision for what your online course should look like. Some WordPress LMS plugins also offer full customization options!

A person looking at customization options for their online course website plugin

It’s one of the most popular website platforms

Globally, over 60 million websites are using WordPress. It’s reliable, flexible, secure, and has support. With a WordPress site, content creation can be as simplified or complex as you need it to be. Want to create a simple blog? Just install the free WordPress software and you’re done.

To build an online course, membership site, or coaching program using WordPress requires more advanced functionality that is available in plugins. In this post, we’ll look at how to find and use the best plugin for creating your online courses on WordPress.

It is also popular because 95% of WordPress sites are self-hosted. This means that you can create your own website and not work on rented land. Hosting providers can be an important step when building your WordPress site from scratch.

It’s popular for online courses

When it comes to creating and selling online courses, a WordPress website is a popular platform. This is likely because of the many features and options available for content creation and website design. Not only does WordPress have a large user base, but it also has a very supportive community that creates plugins and extensions to add more functionality.

a person looking at online course wordpress plugins to create an online course

It’s easy to use

Once you have your website built with WordPress, the possibilities are endless. You can add new elements to create your dream site.

There is a plugin for almost every type of functionality or tool that you might need to run an online business. This means that there is a lot of support and help available on sites like wordpress.org/support where users can provide tips and suggestions as well as answer questions.

WordPress has been around since 2003 so it’s safe to say that there will continue to be plenty of support and training resources available in the years ahead!

The community following behind WordPress makes this software incredibly successful because anyone who needs technical assistance from someone else can get help easily by searching on Google, visiting forums, or asking their question if they need a more personalized answer.

Person viewing the WordPress support page on a tablet

A little support goes a long way

It’s already easy to build a WordPress site, but the support that WordPress offers makes it easier to do what you want, such as build and sell an online course. The WordPress community offers unparalleled support from those who have been in your shoes and others who may be in the same boat.

So, if you’re looking to make and sell an online course on your WP website, be sure to check out a plugin that can help you do just that. With the vast selection of plugins available, you’re sure to find one that meets your needs. And with the support of the WordPress community, you’ll be up and running in no time!

Ditch the duct tape

Run your online courses, memberships, coaching programs, and communities in one place.

AccessAlly logo with duct tape

Ways to create online courses on a WordPress site

After deciding on your domain name, what is the next step?

Creating an online course with WordPress can be done in two ways: you can use an all-in-one plugin that will allow you to create, sell, and manage all your courses and memberships from one easy-to-use dashboard inside WP OR you can install separate plugins for each function (course creation, payment processing, membership management, etc).

The first option – using an all-in-one plugin – makes things easier. This will not only save you time and money, but it will also relieve you of stress.

Just imagine having to think about how you are going to process payments, create courses and memberships, manage your content etc.  If you choose the second option – using separate plugins – then it will be a real hassle.

You’ll need multiple tabs open in your browser just so that you can check all of them regularly (payments processing > membership management > course creation).  It’s like trying to focus on several things at once: you won’t get much done!

Plugins to the rescue

Now that we’ve covered how to create and sell an online course on your WordPress website using a plugin, let’s take a look at some popular plugins for this purpose. These plugins will allow you to easily create an online course with great functionality and design:

  • WP Courseware
  • LearnDash
  • LifterLMS
  • AccessAlly

WP Courseware

This is an LMS WordPress plugin that has been specifically designed for creating and selling online courses on your WordPress site. It’s easy to use, with a drag-and-drop course builder that makes it simple to create a professional-looking online course.

Screenshot mockup in Laptop of WPcourseware online course website

Easy-to-use dashboard

It offers an intuitive dashboard for creating and managing any course page, as well as support for multiple payment processors.

You can also sell your courses directly from your WP Courseware dashboard, or use one of the many popular payment processors supported by the plugin.

Once your courses are created, you can easily manage everything inside the WordPress dashboard.

Full control when you create a course

You’ll be able to track how many people have purchased each of your courses, view their contact information, and even send them messages so they know exactly what is expected from them while they’re enrolled in one of your online courses.

A downside is that you are not able to offer free trials to customers. One of the best things about WP Courseware is that you have full control over your prices.

You can set a specific price for each course and membership, or use any one of the many different pricing plans available – including recurring billing! It integrates with PayPal and Stripe, making it easy to collect payments.

LearnDash

If you’re looking for a feature-rich plugin for creating and selling courses on WordPress, then look no further than LearnDash. This plugin has been specifically designed for e-learning websites like online learning platforms or educational blogs/sites.

LearnDash is a top-rated plugin that offers everything you need to create and manage an online course business. It supports multiple payment processors, drip content delivery, automated learner registration, and much more. Like WP Courseware, it also works with your WordPress theme.

It’s that easy

It has full drag and drop course builder support for creating sophisticated interactive e-courses! It also works with WordPress themes. You can also sell access directly on the front end through customized payment methods without any coding skills necessary.

Need more than one plugin?

However, you’ll need multiple other plugins when creating a new course to produce a functional learning experience. They might cover:

  • payments and administration for payment gateways
  • membership tiers or levels
  • CRM integration for marketing purposes

LearnDash has more features than WP Courseware and is a paid plugin. However, it does offer some free third-party integrations.

However, if you’re looking for the flexibility of creating different types of courses (e.g., membership sites), then LearnDash would be an ideal option to consider.

LifterLMS

If you’re looking for a powerful and feature-rich plugin to design and sell an online course on WordPress, then LifterLMS should be at the top of your list.

Its name even contains “learning management system”, indicating that it is an excellent LMS plugin. This plugin supports everything from automated learner registration to drip content delivery.

An Apple Display showing the LifterLMS plugin used to create an online course website

Want full functionality?

Like LearnDash, you’ll need other plugins to help you have successful online course creation, covering:

  • integration with a payment gateway
  • membership levels
  • CRM integrations

You might also need add-ons to handle quiz setup, course content and lesson content, and more before hitting that publish button.

How to create an online course

If you’re creating online courses on your website using WordPress, then LearnDash is a great choice. This plugin offers a series of options: create an online course with this plugin or use it as an LMS plugin for existing content in WordPress.

For a more comprehensive course-creation toolkit, you might also want to look at WP Courseware which integrates with PayPal and Stripe for payments as well as BuddyPress for social features. It includes a drag-and-drop builder, video support, and other goodies.

AccessAlly

AccessAlly is a true all-in-one tool that can help you build an online course website and deliver an online course with WordPress. It uses a drag-and-drop course builder to help you create a fully customizable course page (it also comes with its own WordPress theme, if you need it).

laptop showing AccessAlly landing page, a plugin used for creating an online course website

The one-stop-shop

It includes features for creating and managing membership sites, online courses, webinars, and more.

And it integrates with all the major email marketing providers (AWeber, MailChimp, etc.), as well as PayPal, Stripe, and other payment processors.

So if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop to create and deliver your online course with WordPress – AccessAlly is a great option.

Free, free, free

AccessAlly offers free migration tools if you already have an existing system that you’d like to move over.

Unlike several other plugins, it also provides the option to assign free trials to specific members to help win them over.

Finally, you can test out the product to see if it is the right fit for you by attending a free live demo and taking advantage of the risk-free 30-day trial.

What features are important to you?

When considering which plugin to use for selling courses on WordPress, be sure to look at what features are important to you. Sure, a free plugin or platform might be better for your wallet, but you should also think about what’s best for your course site.

Consider your WordPress theme, how you want your course outline to appear, and how your course curriculum will be hosted, for example.

There are several great WordPress plugins for creating and selling online courses.

Advantages of WordPress

In addition to being able to create beautiful online courses, another big advantage of using WordPress is that you can use any theme you want – including ones that are specifically designed for course sites. So if you’re not happy with your current theme or it doesn’t offer the features you need, no problem! You can find a new one in minutes to make sure every page is up to par.

Finally, many themes also come with built-in landing pages and opt-in forms so you can start building your email list right away.

MacBook Pro showing themes for an online course website

Creating an online course with WordPress

There are various ways a WordPress LMS plugin lets you create an online course.

These will depend on the plugin or platform that you’re using, but generally, you want to make sure you have all of the elements before you’re ready to click that publish button.

Your course content

The first step in creating an online course is to come up with a great idea.

Once you have your topic for your course content, start planning out the details of what you want your course to include.

What will your new course curriculum be? Do you want to create a video course? Or maybe an audio course?

Or would you prefer to write lessons and post them on your website?

No matter which route you choose, make sure that all of your online content is high-quality and engaging.

This includes your video or audio files, slides, resources, and any other materials you’ll be providing to your students. You can add these into a media library and then create courses from there.

Most courses also include some kind of introduction or welcome module, along with modules that contain the actual learning content. The structure of your course will depend on what works best for you and your students.

A person on a laptop looking at course offerings for their online course website

Progress tracking

You’ll also want to make sure you have a way to track student progress.

This could be through quizzes, assignments, or simply tracking how much content they’ve accessed.

How does it look?

When it comes to the appearance of your website and course, you can have some choices that give you pre-designed templates, from those with some degree of freedom to those with full customization.

Some course creators prefer to have a site with pre-packaged themes or designs so that they can get their website up and running as soon as possible. However, this can be limiting in that you may not get the theme or colors that you want.

Having full control over the design of your course doesn’t always have to involve coding or great technical knowledge. Some LMS plugins can make it easy to make a course page fit your vision.

When you’re choosing an LMS plugin, take some time to look at the demos and see how much control you have over the design of your course.

Some plugins like LearnDash come with a wide range of templates so that you can hit the ground running, without any need for additional customization.

WP Courseware is another example of a plugin with pre-made themes and designs to help get your course online quickly.

On the other hand, if you want more freedom over how your courses look or don’t find any of the pre-made themes appealing, then a plugin like AccessAlly may be a better option.

Integrations for a better experience

Some plugins also come with a range of integrations that can make it easy to connect with other tools you may be using for your online courses (like payment processors or email marketing platforms).

Attention to detail

When you create a course, be sure to include all the details that someone would need to decide whether or not to enroll.

This includes what the course is about, what you’ll learn, how the lessons are structured, the format of the content (e.g., text, audio, video), an outline of each lesson, pricing information, and any bonuses that are included.

Make sure that everything is clear and easy to find on your website. You don’t want people to have to search for answers or contact you for more information before making a purchase.

Include images of yourself or your course materials to help break up the text and add visual interest.

Pricing

If you’re offering paid courses, you’ll want to decide on a price point. You can charge a one-time fee for the course, or you could offer it as a monthly or annual subscription.

If you’re giving away part of your course for free to entice people to buy the rest, make sure that it’s clear on your website what the free content is and how much more content there is that needs to be purchased to get the full benefit of the course.

Include any bonuses that are included with the purchase of your courses. These might be things like access to a private forum or a special video series that’s only available to those who have bought the course.

You may also want to consider a WordPress LMS plugin that allows you to collect payments without cluttering your WordPress dashboard with additional plugins. Integration with common payment gateways can make your life easier.

Course release timeline

Do you want your course modules to release all at once, on a schedule, or a dripped basis?

Some LMS plugins, such as AccessAlly, will allow you to choose how your lessons and access to a page are released.

For instance, people can either access all of the content once they pay, or it could be set so that they can only access the following lesson or page once they have completed the current one.

Being able to customize these features of your course will allow you to have full control of your lessons and each offers a different online learning experience.

Final check-over

Here are several questions to ask yourself when deciding how your online course will be built:

  • What will my domain name be? Is it relevant and professional?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • What type of content do you want to create?
  • What WordPress LMS plugin do I want to use to create an online course? What features do I want my WordPress LMS plugin to have?
  • Which LMSs have the most value in terms of price versus features when creating online courses?
  • After selecting a plugin, what is the process for creating courses with this plugin?
  • Will I need to create a separate website or microsite specifically for my online courses?
  • For the WordPress LMS plugin that I choose, will I need to add new or more course plugins? How many? If this number is greater than expected, should I choose another WordPress plugin?
  • What type of payment gateway should I use to sell my courses? Of the LMS plugins available, which already have this integration built-in or easily integrate with these gateways?
  • How about the delivery of the courses? What are my options there?
  • Can I limit access to specific areas of my website for enrolled students only, like a members-only area?
  • What kind of customer support can I expect from the plugin developer or provider?

Here are a few considerations and questions to ask yourself when revising your online course and its lessons:

  • When you create course content, consider looking at it through the eyes of your students. Does it match your theme? Do I want to use a theme, or do I want to customize it myself? Are the lessons interesting? Do I need a table of contents? How can I add new features to make it more engaging?
  • Am I going to release the course all at once, on a schedule, or on a dripped basis (access to next page after current page is completed)?
  • What pricing model will I use for my online course? Is the price appropriate/are customers willing to pay this price for the content they are receiving?
  • How many modules (chapters) will my online course have and what content will be in each one? Is the amount of information in each appropriate?
  • Will I need to create a landing page for my online course?
  • How will people sign up and take my courses?
  • Are there any video tutorials or user manuals that can help customers who have questions? If not, should I create some and make a site page for it?
computer screen showing compare page for platforms used to create an online course website

Selling your online course

Once you’ve created a great-looking course, it’s important to make sure that people can find it!

Include images of your course, plus any important details like what’s included, the length of the course, and testimonials from happy students.

You can also create an opt-in form on your page so that potential students can subscribe to hear more about your course before making a purchase.

Make sure that when you create your course pages, you add relevant keywords and tags so that people who are searching for those terms will be able to find your content.

Getting out there with social media

You can use sites like Twitter and Facebook to promote your courses by sharing links to a page or post on your site so that you can control the landing page that they arrive on. This can be anything from the home page or lessons, for example.

When posting on social media, you may want to ensure that there is a common theme in your posts to create a brand image and create a sense of uniformity in your feed.

Social media can be a powerful tool for promoting your courses. But it’s not the only one!

an iPhone 11 showing the AccessAlly Facebook page and an iPad with Nathalie Lussier's Twitter

Driving traffic

You can also reach out to bloggers and websites who cover topics related to your courses and see if they’ll write about it.

Once you’ve created your sales page, it’s time to start driving traffic to it.

Share your course on social media, in relevant online communities, and with friends and family.

You can also use paid advertising methods like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads to reach a larger audience quickly.

The more people who know about your course, the more likely you are to make sales.

Email marketing

An email marketing list is a good way to reach people that are interested in your course. This is facilitated through the use of a CRM; with the right LMS WordPress plugin, this can all be done easily through your WordPress dashboard.

A common way to generate an email list is by having people subscribe to your newsletter or updates on your website.

You can offer potential students a free preview of your course, or a discount for signing up early.

Once you have an email list, you can market to them whenever you want, with whatever content you think will be most relevant and useful.

You can also segment your email list according to interests so that you can target people more effectively.

a person looking at their email on their laptop

For example, if you’re running an online course on web development, you might want to send different content to people who are interested in design versus coding. Another point to consider is having a general theme that weaves through your emails, be it in color, tone, or appearance.

The bottom line is that having an email marketing list gives you the ability to communicate with your audience on a much more personal level, which can result in more sales.

One of the best features about selling an online course is that it’s an evergreen business model – meaning that you always have new students coming in, as long as you continue to market and promote your online course.

Ready, set, go!

After choosing the perfect learning management system WordPress plugin for your needs, deciding on a theme, and adding any necessary additional WordPress plugins (plus a few other steps), you’re ready to start making your site!

Creating an online course can be a great way to make money, and with the right tools, it’s easier than ever. In this post, we covered how to make and sell online courses on your WordPress website.

Using a WordPress plugin, you can easily create online courses, memberships, coaching programs, and more.

Hopefully, after reading through this article, you are now armed with knowledge and ready to create and design the perfect online course website to host your lessons!

Ditch the duct tape

Run your online courses, memberships, coaching programs, and communities in one place.

AccessAlly logo with duct tape

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