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How Much Does LearnDash Cost? Like, What’s The Real Cost?

How Much Does LearnDash Cost? Like, What’s The Real Cost?

The real cost of using LearnDash is certainly not what you see on the tin. It’s slightly more and you should know about that. Note: If you are interested in self-hosted LMS tools, take a look at Podia and Thinkific

The whole world loves WordPress. In fact, WordPress powers 60.8% of the web (that’s a lot), according to Kinsta

As such, when it comes to figuring out the best way to launch online courses or membership sites, your first thought would be to default to WordPress LMS (Learning Management Systems). 

There are several WordPress LMS systems out there (from single but sophisticated plugins to complete LMS systems that you can use with WordPress). LearnDash is one of the best WordPress LMS tools you could use to create online courses? 

But wait: What’s the cost of LearnDash? No, Like what’s the real cost of using LearnDash. 

WordPress fanboys can’t have enough of talking about the best WordPress LMS plugins. Others who aren’t willing to write their lifetime away for WordPress try to seek out other venues (such as hosted LMS systems, third-party standalone LMS systems, and more).

I love LearnDash and I’ve used it when I had to manage a client’s online course program. But you should know the exact costs involved when working with LearnDash.

Additionally, you should also know about LearnDash Alternatives (and no, it’s not LifterLMS or some other WordPress LMS). 

LearnDash WordPress LMS: A Complicated Mess or a Potential Investment?  

What you do with WordPress LMS, how you use it, and what you make of it really depends on who you are, the resources you have access to, your mindset, and how you approach things. 

If you are a WordPress expert, you don’t even have to read this. 

Are you a WordPress power user (but don’t necessarily code or fiddle with geeky stuff)? Maybe you can experiment a bit. 

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to teach online courses but doesn’t want to get bogged down by the complexity of making 9 different plugins, 1 WordPress LMS theme, and several other services together?

You should not take the WordPress LMS route. 

Now, one thing I noticed (when I wanted to launch online courses and I went about breaking my head as to which route to take and the investment costs of the choices I make) is that almost “no one” — company or individual (including those who reviews) — did not completely reveal the costs of going for the WordPress LMS route. 

As far as LearnDash was concerned, I decided to make a list of possible expenses (will change based on whether or not you choose to invest in any of these, depending on your needs). 

How Much Does LearnDash Cost? The Real Cost Please

Here’s what the real cost of using LearnDash would look like (with a few assumptions): 

I don’t talk about WordPress LMS, teaching online courses, starting membership sites, or anything else from a design standpoint.

My approach to anything is first from a marketing standpoint which then leads me to design (in a way that it meets marketing needs). 

Assumptions (from a marketing and future-proof perspective):

  • We start with reliable, fast WordPress hosting: You can’t run a proper online course business with cheap web hosting or inexpensive WordPress Managed hosting. For this, you’d want to use the likes of Kinsta, WPEngine, and FlyWheel. The costs for hosting will start at $15 and go upto $30 or so. 
  • Pick a dependable, reliable WordPress Plugin: Is the WordPress LMS (LearnDash, in this case) managed, maintained, and updated enough? Will it last? Does it have the mojo? Is it dependable? LearnDash is all of that. That’s why we choose it here and that’s why I am writing this post. 
  • Design Control: One of the major advantages of using a WordPress LMS (in lieu of hosted LMS such as Podia or Thinkific) is that you have absolute control over design and presentation. In that case, does LearnDash work well with the likes of Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder? 
  • WordPress LMS payment gateway Integration: It’s one thing if you want to use online courses as lead magnets and use them for growing your email list. Normally, though, you aren’t selling online courses for free. You want to get paid for your online courses. Hence, you’d need a WordPress LMS plugin that can handle payments (and not nickel-and-dime you for something as basic as the ability to accept payments). 
  • Video hosting for online courses: Online courses without videos are passe — you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to buy your course with just text and images for $297 (you know what I mean?). If you have to use videos as lessons for your courses on LearnDash, you’d have to have a way to host those videos somewhere (and no, YouTube doesn’t count. Don’t even go down that route). This means that you’d have to invest in tools such as Vimeo or Wistia
  • Email Marketing Tools Integration: You’d need a reliable and functional email marketing system to help sell your courses. So, LearnDash Integrations with tools like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or Drip is a must. 

Given that context, here’s how LearnDash stacks up if I need WordPress Hosting, WordPress LMS theme, Elementor, Wistia for Video hosting, and Convertkit for Email Marketing

The table above still doesn’t include a specific WordPress LMS theme. 

What other costs will creep in?

Note: Using tools like Elementor or Divi usually gives you a way to build your online course website completely on your own or use Templates (could cost you $59 to $79, one time). 

The total assumed cost of creating an online course on WordPress, using WordPress LMS such as LearnDash, works out to be around $150 per month or approximately $1785 per year. 

This doesn’t include: 

  • Any other WordPress plugins (such as membership plugins, GeoIP redirect plugins, WooCommerce extensions, and others that you might invest in). 
  • Ongoing costs for marketing (blog posts, content, social media management, paid ads, landing pages, and more) 
  • Staff, teams, and resources
  • The cost of equipment to create online courses such as Cameras, tripods, green screen, video tools or video editing software, and more. 


Agreed that these other costs (such as marketing, video tools, etc.) are the same regardless of which WordPress LMS you’d use or whether you’d go for other solutions available for teaching online courses. 

This post was only to let you know about the real costs of using LearnDash (or any other WordPress LMS plugin).

It’s not to say that you shouldn’t go down this route at all.

In fact, LearnDash comes with some very powerful partnerships too and loads of specific information related to it.

Read more:

How to Setup LearnDash – A Quick Introductory Guide

LearnDash Hosting: Pressidium Enterprise, The Perfect WordPress LMS hosting

Like I said, if WordPress is what your heart says (and you can slog it out), go for it.

However, if you are like me, look for a much faster, hassle-free, and relatively inexpensive way to teach online courses.

Take a look at what self-hosted LMS tools such as Podia and Thinkific have to offer. 

Why You Should Sell Online Courses?

Why You Should Sell Online Courses?

Are you a business owner? Creative professional? A Consultant? A freelancer? A coach? You already know that personal branding is a must for you to succeed. 

To succeed, you need authority. Your potential customers must come to you (and you don’t go around asking for gigs). 

One of the best ways to establish authority, to lead with confidence, and to make customers come to you is to teach online courses. 

You might not have thought of it as such, but teaching is a show of authoritativeness, credibility, and expertise.

Accordingly, teaching online courses helps you (regardless of the type of business you have):

  • Establish authority (you are the de facto expert) and credibility.
  • Boosts your confidence (personally and professionally) and makes you more confident.
  • Teaches you a whole lot of new skills (I mean when was the last time an accountant had to learn how to create online courses, edit videos, and teach?)
  • Improves credibility in the eyes of your potential clients and existing clients as well.
  • Allows you to get new clients, without lifting a finger. 
  • Provides you with a base and gives you an excellent opportunity to try new strategies to market your products 

Or you could create, teach, and sell online courses (or digital downloads or memberships) just for the business model it is. 

You can take any route you want but the numbers don’t lie. 

Note: If you can’t wait, just start free trials with either Podia or Thinkific to get cracking right away. 

How Big Is The Online Course Industry?

Did you know that the online courses market is projected to be a $325 billion market by 2025? TechJury has a few online learning stats that’ll make you fall off the seat. 

Here are a few of them: 

  • In 2017, approximately 77% of US corporations used online learning, but 98% planned to incorporate it in their program by 2020.
  • The US e-learning market could grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024.
  • E-learning increases retention rates by 25% to 60%.
  • The corporate e-learning market could increase by $38.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.
  • E-learning has led to an increase in income for 42% of US organizations.
  • A survey of 2,500 companies found that those with “comprehensive training programs” have 218% higher revenue per employee and 24% higher profit margins.
  • IBM saved approximately $200 million after switching to e-learning.

According to Thinkific, more than 63 million courses were taken online in the year 2020. On average, there are more than 1.5 million new courses taken each week. 

Pandemic? Yeah, right. Opportunity to make an impact? Hell yeah! 

So, why create and sell courses? Here’s why: 

Teach Online & You are a certified hustler

Most of us just do what we do even if you ignore the fact that it also takes a bold decision, huge momentum, guts, and a leap of faith. You’d need a whole new set of skills just to teach courses online. For one, there’s the anxiety of showing up on camera. 

Moreover, there’s the work of putting together everything you know into little modules and chapters. You might have to dumb down a bit. You’d have to practice speaking slower. You’d have to be more organized. 

Teaching online is no joke. It’s a bonafide hustle. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you so much more better as a person. 

Notwithstanding the time and effort it takes to teach online, it’s a call for something new that you might not have thought about.

Online courses make you money 

There’s no skirting around this fact. Teaching online courses is profitable. Period. 

Besides, there’s no dearth of case studies and success stories of online course creators.

Josh Kauffman was strictly instructed by his father to NOT get into education. For a while, he complied. But it wasn’t until he started his site at PersonalMBA that he saw his business exploding. 

Thinkific course creators clocked an estimated $US 650 million in total so far. John Saunders made $100,000 with a single online course. 

Want to read more success stories? 

Sell Online Courses To Promote your Business 

Let’s say you already have a business. Like most entrepreneurs, you don’t have any more time left to actually launch another business teaching or selling courses online. 

Contrary to the usual song-and-dance about “not having enough time”, you should make it a priority. In fact, teaching online should be a marketing strategy.

Further, you don’t have to treat online training or online teaching as another “business”. However, you can certainly think of it as a marketing tool. 

How Online Courses Can Work as a Business Growth tool 

To illustrate, let’s take a few companies and see what they are doing (you can do this on an individual level too, of course): 

  • Webflow kills it with Webflow University — you should just see how much traction, love, and engagement (not to mention a true community) that the Webflow Academy helps build. Moreover, the training is awesome (not the boring, “duh” kind..).
  • SEMRush has practically grown a tight community around the SEMrush Webinars and The SEMRush Academy
  • OptinMonster throws in a full-fledged academy as a true carrot-at-the-end-of-the-stick if you sign up for some OptinMonster plans. 
  • Astra Theme — the same team that also makes other tools such as Convert Pro and Schema Pro — drive up engagement with their SkillJet Academy. 
  • LeadPages has a series of regular webinars, The Converted Series, and several resources made available for you to learn everything about landing pages, conversions, and more. 

If you notice, each of the brands above specifically teach or train in domains that their business is relevant for.

There are several individuals, entrepreneurs, freelancers, creative professionals, and others who do the exact same thing. They teach to establish their credibility, grow their personal brand, and improve their image for potential or existing customers.

In conclusion: Teach it to make it. 

Interested in teaching online, start with Podia or Thinkific and get into the groove now. 

Why Email Course Lead Magnets Are Outdated?

Why Email Course Lead Magnets Are Outdated?

Were you thinking of generating leads with email course lead magnets?

While the whole world thinks that it’s one of the best types of lead magnets around, it really isn’t (at least not entirely). There’s a twist to creating email course lead magnets for it to work well. There’s a way to future-proof your email course lead magnet strategy (Read on to the end to find out).

From a strategic point of view, email course lead magnets do make sense. They are easier to create, quick to launch, and you can go to market faster than anything else. Perhaps they make more sense than creating short (one-page) PDFs, checklists, or other types of lead magnets.

Ultimate Resource Kit

Using email courses as lead magnets is a fantastic email marketing strategy and you should do it. Just not the way you thought you’d do it.


15 Ways to Create a High-value Lead Magnet in 30 Minutes or less (No Tech Skills Required)

Email courses — which you’d focus on a single topic with the aim of enabling learning through emails dripped in sequence, spread out over a period of few days (such as 7 days email course, 14 days email course, or a 28 days email course) — will include only text, text + visuals, or text + videos.”

From a digital marketing perspective, email courses as lead magnets not only make sense from a lead magnet point of view but also from the point of view of lead nurturing. Just the fact that you’d continuously send emails to your subscribers allows an open communication window with built-in nurturing over the next few days as soon as your subscribers sign up for the course.

Thinking into the future though, email course lead magnets will lose their sheen.

If all that you’d send is a bunch of emails with just text and/or images, there are problems that you’d need to think through:

The Email — As a Medium — Is not for Teaching or Training

There’s only so much value you can provide with 7 different emails (with text and images) sent out over a period of time. The nature of email is such that there’s no space for you to train or teach in an email. Sending out an email with 250+ words is already too much.

Visuals barely make it through the Gmail (or other email clients) filter.

Teaching and training — especially for online course creators, bloggers, and even businesses — need more words, more space, and a lot more wiggle room. Whereas some of the best emails in the world are short, crisp, succinct, and straight, your emails will be unwieldy if you send in 1600 words (along with visuals) in an email body.

There are better ways to teach online courses, memberships, and to create digital downloads. Email courses are really boring compared to these new ways, eh?


Podia Review

Thinkific Review

Choosing the right Online Platform: WordPress Vs Podia Vs Webflow Vs Shopify

Email Course Lead Magnets Are Risky

Purely from a “method of teaching” perspective, emails sent as lessons are risky.There are considerable risks that regular emails already carry on their shoulders as Kayla Carmichael of HubSpot points out.

For instance, chances are that you’d not be using personalization within your emails and that already puts up your email marketing to fail. On top of that, there are other risks such as not complying with GDPR standards, sending out emails without proper thought to UX/UI, poor email design, and more.

When it’s so easy to actually create a full-blown course and host it with a tool like Podia, why do you have to take the risk with an email course?

Email Courses Aren’t a Complete Learning experience

You have a personality and that’s what really makes your courses unique. If there were 10 different courses on Quora Ads, the only reason why my Quora Ads course can sell is only attributed to how I teach the course, the examples I use (which come from my own experiences in life and in business), and my unique style of teaching.

There are lots of courses on freelancing, right? But there’s a reason why this Freelancer course from Webflow is such a joy to watch and learn from — as I said, personality, content, and some fun.

There’s no way on earth you can throw in all this personality, pack in a punch, provide value, or make heads spin with just a few words and text within your email course lead magnets.

Conclusion: What’s the Twist then? How do you make email course lead magnets work?

Use video.

That’s what.

Worried about using video? I started using video. If I can, anyone can.

Shia Labeouf Motivation GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Stop sending out email courses with just a few lessons with text or with text and visuals in them. You can follow every sweet thing that Taylor Barbieri advocates in her post on Why You Should Offer Email Courses, along with Tips and Tools.

Just do it with video. Send out email courses with videos in each of the emails. Video goes a long way to help you add value. Video is the way you’d want to grow your business.

In fact, you can take a look at some really popular & successful email courses, get inspired, and prepare your own email course lead magnets with video inside.

It’s another thing that you can use video in several other ways (such as video prospecting)


6 Fantastic Tools for Video (Prospecting & More)

All of these videos you create, you can use them to build your own YouTube Channel (and then get traffic from your Channel to have people sign up for your course. Or you could actually monetize your videos without relying on YouTube

You can slice and dice it your way. Mix and match. Play.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to build your email course lead magnets with video in them.

Ultimate Resource Kit
Podia Review: The Best (Host) For Online Courses, Digital Downloads, & Membership Sites

Podia Review: The Best (Host) For Online Courses, Digital Downloads, & Membership Sites

TL;DR: This Podia review will prove that Podia is a slick, inexpensive, and all-inclusive choice when it comes to a comprehensive platform for launching your online courses, digital downloads, or membership sites. 

There’s nothing else like it in the market. I already did the research for several years before I wrote this Podia Review. I tried everything. Pick your options from among third-party sites such as Udemy (not recommended although I do have my courses there as well). I explored self-hosted options such as WordPress + LMS or creative options such as Shopify+ EDD (easy digital downloads) or WebflowPodia beats them all both in terms of features available and in terms of cost as far as online courses, membership sites, and selling digital downloads is concerned.

Ultimate Resource Kit

Choosing Online Course Platforms: Podia Vs WordPress Vs Shopify Vs Webflow 

Podia: The Platform

Podia was built from scratch for online creators. Looking for hosting your online courses? Want to start a membership site? Want to sell digital downloads? Podia is your answer

Podia comes with LMS. The LMS itself is Podia. 

Online Course Platform

There’s no need for subscribing to some other LMS and then dig your head deep in the sand trying to make it work. Just work on creating courses, upload your content, and you are ready to sell online courses. 

There’s no need for you to worry about hosting (Podia comes with hosting included for your main Podia storefront, for each of your product landing pages, and also for the pre-launch landing pages). 

Of course, you can add any kind of page you want, including a storefront, sales pages, contact page, about page, product pages, and any other custom pages — there’s no limit! You’d never have to worry about hosting, space limitations, bandwidth, or anything of that sort. 

The Podia platform also optimizes your sales funnel by connecting your website, products, email marketing, customer lists, and sales in one place.

Note: At the time of reading this, you might be looking for a new home for your existing online courses, memberships, and digital downloads. Or you could be looking to migrate from Kajabi, Thinkific, Teachable, or any other platform. Podia makes migrations easy (you can do it yourself or you can ask for the ever-so-helpful folks at Podia support to do it for you. 


Podia Storefront: A home For your online courses, Digital Downloads, & Memberships


Podia provides you with a proper store-front for your online courses, memberships, and digital downloads. You have the ability to edit your storefront and to design it based on your brand and how you’d like it to be. 

There’s no need to design anything new (except for editing your Podia storefront to match your brand or to create a layout — at the click of a few buttons — as you deem fit). 

As you keep creating courses, memberships, and digital downloads, your storefront is automatically populated in grid-style (one course next to the other) or in a list format (as above). Of course, you can edit your storefront to make it look like it’s your own. 

By using several pre-built blocks, you can add intermittent layers of blocks within your storefront too (such as testimonials, images, and more). 

Podia Store

You can keep your Podia storefront as a standalone website (connect your domain with Podia) or you can have your existing site (on WordPress, for instance) and just connect a subdomain to your actual website as shown below: 

Custom Domains with Podia

By doing it this way, you get to keep your Podia storefront for all the good stuff such as: 

  • Hosting & showcasing your digital products on a storefront (which can be created on-brand and is completely editable). 
  • Deploy landing pages for each digital product. 
  • Create pre-launch landing pages for digital products that you are still working on. 
  • Have a branded domain (like Fetchprofits Academy) for better marketing. 

Meanwhile, you can keep the rest of your website on WordPress that has advantages as follows: 

  • Your WordPress website remains as your central, marketing hub. Use the right hosting partners such as WPEngine, FlyWheel, Pressidium, 10Web, or Kinsta and your WordPress website can remain bullet-proof while loading fast. 
  • Use tools like OptinMonster, ConvertPro, or several others to generate leads on your site or to start growing your email list. 
  • Do blogging regularly (this is the single best thing you could do to start getting traffic to your digital products storefront). Here are 77 more ways to drive traffic to your site 
  • Take advantage of the familiar and powerful tools such as SEMrush to make your WordPress website rank well on search. 


Use Podia embeds as Calls to action within every post


If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll recollect seeing Podia embeds in the middle and at the end of my posts. For each product (or even pre-launch pages) you create, you can easily create product embeds which look like this: 

Podia embeds

Podia allows you to embed a tiny custom HTML code that will automatically pull in some information (such as the image, the title of your product, and a call to action button). This works as a cool call to action button that you can place in the middle or at the end of your blog posts as you set out to do some regular blogging as a part of your SEO or content marketing strategy. 

At the time of writing this, Podia is the only platform that has this cool feature — something that can help you tie in all your content marketing efforts with actual results that you can measure. 


Use Dedicated Landing Pages (For each of your digital products)


Landing Pages For Courses

If you were to use WordPress for creating and launching your online courses, you’d have to resort to plugins or ninja-level WordPress skills to create landing pages on WordPress. 

Or, you’ll need access to robust WordPress page builders such as Divi or Elementor. Another option is to use landing page builders such as Unbounce or LeadPages. 

Podia, however, allows you to create dedicated & individual landing pages for each product (online courses, memberships, or digital downloads). 

Plus, each of these landing pages can be edited for design, layout, colors, etc., as well. 


Generate a Pipeline With Pre-launch Landing Pages


When you run a business of any kind, waiting for the results to kick is an agonizing wait. 

If you don’t like waiting, you should start earlier than others. Normally, you’d want to launch landing pages, build sales funnels for your online courses, dedicated Facebook ads campaigns and then wait to see results. 

That’s boring. 

Instead, you could utilize the power of pre-launch campaigns which will make use of pre-launch landing pages, sales funnels, and the power of email marketing

All that, plus FOMO. 

56% of surveyed adults admit that FOMO impacts their media usage habits, for example, compelling them to look at social media again and again.

Marketers can harness FOMO by creating an impression of exclusivity through the use of waitlists, limited supply, and time limits.

FOMO is the principle that makes giving early access to users so important on pre-launch campaigns.

Even before you launch your online courses, you can create pre-launch landing pages to start building up traction (without having to wait for your launch day). 

As you create your course on Podia, you’ll have an option to create a pre-launch landing page which will allow people to enroll in your course (even before you actually create anything at all). 


Email Marketing: Baked right into the platform


By the year 2022, the number of email users is pegged at 4.3 billion users (about half of the world’s population) and more than 333 billion emails will be sent daily by 2022. The average ROI of email marketing is at $32 for every $1 spent, according to Maryam Mohsin of Oberlo 

The single best way to make sales happen with your Podia storefront (and for your digital courses, memberships, and digital downloads) is to use the power of email marketing. 

Use email marketing to send out well-timed broadcast messages to keep your potential students engaged, send out drip emails, or send out automated sequences to bring in the money. 

The Podia advantage is that you can send out Drip messages (in a sequence) or broadcast messages (to everyone or to pre-segmented lists). 

When you use Podia’s email marketing function, you don’t need to pay extra for third-party email marketing tools such as Drip, Convertkit, Mailchimp (and that saves you several hundreds of dollars). 

However, if you do want to use a robust email marketing tool such as Drip or Converkit, you certainly can. Podia integrates well with Drip and ConvertKit. If Podia doesn’t integrate with something just yet, you can use Zapier, of course. 

Sell More With Built-in LiveChat

Did you know that over 97% of global consumers say customer service is important in their choice of a brand? More than 95% of customers rate high-quality support over speed. At least 47.5% of US internet users feel the greatest challenge with chatbots is they provide too many unhelpful responses.

According to Forrester, channel preferences are changing rapidly. More customers (about  24% of them) prefer live chat usage.

Make the power of high-impact selling work for your business. A LiveChat widget comes with your podia account so that you can engage with visitors and make sales. 

Do some things that don’t scale  


Enable Affiliate Marketing For Online Courses, Memberships, and Digital Products


Affiliate marketing is an underrated marketing channel — at least in terms of just how many businesses don’t use the power of affiliate marketing to their advantage.

Normally, to start a partner program or an affiliate program for your products, you’d have to sign up with ShareASale, PartnerStack, or Tapfiliate

They don’t come for free and they have an ongoing cost associated with each of them. They are a great fit for you if you were a physical product-based business, a productized-service business, a SaaS business, etc. 

You are an online creator without precious money or resources and you are just starting out. For creators, online trainers, and new entrepreneurs, starting an affiliate program could be an expensive proposition. 

Not with Podia though. An affiliate marketing program set up is possible right inside Podia, thanks to the Podia Affiliate marketing feature.

Once you start getting your own raving fans as customers, use the built-in affiliate Marketing tool to launch your own affiliate program to multiply your profits, scale-up revenue, and grow your business. 

Fabulous Support

Podia Support

This Podia review won’t be complete if I don’t mention the extraordinary support you get at Podia. At the time of writing this, there are several others who are now responsible to make Podia customer-friendly with a whopping 2-minutes TAT for support. 

I still remember the friendly chats I’ve had with Spencer Fry who is the founder of Podia. Spencer would actually talk to you, help you out with your questions, and even give you ideas for product launches. 

That was several years ago (when Podia was called Coach). Even today, Spencer actually talks to his customers. So do several others on their team. When a founder (or co-founder) takes the trouble to actually talk to potential customers (and really care), you can imagine how well they serve paying customers.

Look no further. Don’t waste your time (and money) with other online course platforms or bother stitching together several tools to make it work. Sign up for a free Podia trial and see how quickly you can launch your online courses, memberships, or sell digital downloads.

Ultimate Resource Kit
Choosing Online Course Platforms: Podia Vs WordPress Vs Shopify Vs Webflow

Choosing Online Course Platforms: Podia Vs WordPress Vs Shopify Vs Webflow

Choosing online course platforms is no fun. So, instead of thinking about Podia Vs WordPress Vs Webflow Vs Shopify, think about how you can make use of the best of what each platform does for you.

Teaching an online course is an incredibly exciting business model. Choosing online course platforms? It’s a sad job.

According to TJ McCue of Forbes, the market research firm Global Industry Analysts projected that the e-learning market would reach $107 Billion in 2015 and it did. Now, Research and Markets forecasts show triple the revenue of 2015 – e-learning will grow to $325 Billion by 2025.

Let that sink in for a while. It’s $325 billion.

Here’s what you’ll actually need to succeed with online courses, memberships, or digital downloads: 

  • A platform to host your online courses, membership sites, and to sell digital downloads (including ways for your students or delegates to gain access to courses, make payments, actually consume the lessons, and more). 
  • Ways to engage with your customers — potential and existing customers — such as email marketing, Live Chat, a way for you to receive feedback or comments on your digital products, and an internal, subscribers-only blog with exclusive content for your members. 
  • Ability to do marketing easily (and for the platform to connect with the marketing tools you’ll end up using). You can’t have a platform that’s closed off in a forced eco-system or with proprietary tools (that may or may not work). For instance, Wix is almost closed off and only works with its own email marketing software, appointment booking widgets, and other apps. Squarespace and Weebly offer proprietary marketing software (and I can’t vouch for that). 
  • Look for platforms that provide excellent, genuine, and all-round support. You don’t need companies that tell you that your support is “email only”. Or you don’t want companies that don’t take a genuine interest in the success of your business. 

Here’s a detailed rundown of standalone and primary online course platform options and it looks like when it comes to creating online courses. This could be a good starting point for you to decide better when it comes to choosing online platforms:

Ultimate Resource Kit

Building Online Courses With WordPress + LMS: Expensive & It’s an UnGodly Mess

WordPress is extremely popular. It’s the default when creators go on to choosing online platforms, and there’s a good reason for that.

However, most people stop thinking about just how expensive, messy, and all-consuming WordPress can get when it comes to managing sites. That’s just the regular sites. 

Bring in anything complicated like eCommerce with WordPress or selling online courses, membership sites, and digital downloads with WordPress and it gets even more complicated. 

Want to sell digital downloads, online courses, or memberships using WordPress? It’s a tough call for those who aren’t into the tech side of things. Thought about using WordPress along with LMS or membership plugins or something like EDD (Easy Digital Downloads)? 

The folks at WPMUDEV do have a helpful post on how to sell online courses and memberships with WordPress by using LMS  

It’s not the complete story though. 

WordPress is a good option but that’s assuming you can handle it. It’s a nightmare to stitch 17 different tools, plugins, and other things like hosting together to make it work for you. 

If you thought WordPress was easy, see what a mess using WordPress can be (and this is for a regular site). 

Here’s a complete list of plugins that Raymmar points out: 

While WordPress the most popular option at the moment, you’ll first need high-speed and secure managed WordPress hosting (your cheap hosting won’t do). 

Then, you’ll need a relevant WordPress theme, and an LMS subscription and/or a membership plugin. You might also need special plugins to build better checkout flows, for email marketing, for LiveChat, and more. 

Creating Online Courses With Podia: Online Education, Made Possible for Everyone

Podia was built from the ground up for online courses (the platform also allows you to create membership sites and make digital downloads available for sale). 

Podia is, by far, the most cost-effective, clean, and the simplest way to start your online courses when compared with any other options you might have available at the moment. 

With Podia, you don’t tinker with website design, stitching tools together, or trying to figure out how to make things work. 

You just create courses, memberships, and digital downloads. Connect with PayPal or Stripe and you then upload your content to Podia and you are good to go. 

You get the following with Podia (and as you can see, it’s all created with a few clicks): 

  • Podia comes with LMS. The LMS itself is Podia. There’s no need for subscribing to some other LMS and then dig your head deep in the sand trying to make it work. Just work on creating courses, upload your content, and you are ready to sell online courses. 
  • A proper store-front for your online courses, memberships, and digital downloads. You have the ability to edit your storefront and to design it based on your brand and how you’d like it to be. 
  • Individual landing pages for each product (online courses, memberships, or digital downloads). Plus, each of these landing pages can be edited for design, layout, colors, etc., as well. 
  • Even before you launch your online courses, you can create pre-launch landing pages to start building up traction (without having to wait for your launch day). 
  • Built-in email marketing system. Use email marketing to send out well-timed broadcast messages to keep your potential students engaged, send out drip emails, or send out automated sequences to bring in the money. 
  • Built-in LiveChat: Make the power of high-impact selling work for your business. A LiveChat widget comes with your podia account so that you can engage with visitors and make sales (do some things that don’t scale). 
  • Once you start getting your own raving fans as customers, use the built-in affiliate Marketing tool to launch your own affiliate program to multiply your profits, scale-up revenue, and grow your business. 

Podia is also ready for you to start marketing the right way. Podia provides you with opt-in widgets or cards for each of your online courses (or products). You can embed these cards or widgets right in the middle of your blog posts or under the blog posts. 

Tracking and analytics is enabled on all podia storefronts, landing pages, and pre-launch landing pages.  

You can integrate with Google Analytics (or use Google Tag Manager). You can add your important tracking pixels such as Facebook Pixel, the Quora Pixel, and more. 


How to Build Sales Funnels For Online Courses

Creating Online Courses With Webflow: Control & Slick Interface But Lacking In Options

Webflow is at the head of the #nocode movement. It’s possible to build really fast-loading, beautiful, and absolutely fantastic websites with Webflow. I mean, you could build a simple website. Or you could build a website with a blog. Or perhaps launch an online magazine. How about a portfolio website? 

Webflow can do a lot. However, it’s still a little bit of work trying to build online courses with Webflow. 

It’s not to say you cannot build online courses with Webflow, because you can. It’s just that selling online courses, memberships, and digital downloads is a bit too much of an ask from Webflow at the moment. 

If all that you want to sell are digital downloads such as videos that you can package and sell, design elements, icons, themes, eBooks, art, etc., you can absolutely kill it with Webflow, Webflow CMS, and Webflow eCommerce. 

You can also create online courses by taking advantage of Webflow CMS and design. 

Take a look at this template available by Mackenzie Child for Webflow 

Webflow Online course template

You’ll be able to design courses in a way that you have a way for people to subscribe and log in on the front end and then build the course pages individually before uploading content (such as videos) to YouTube, Wistia, or Vimeo to make this work. 

Still not a straightforward use case and you’ll have quite a bit of a learning curve, even though anyone can use Webflow

For memberships using Webflow, just integrate with MemberStack. As for the courses, you’ll need to figure out how to deliver your courses (and that’s where it gets messy with Webflow at the moment). 


Webflow Review: Is It The Perfect WordPress Alternative?

Creating Online Courses With Shopify: Possible, but It’s a Stitch Job + Customization Needed

Sell online courses with Shopify

Just as you can sell products with a Shopify store, you can also build a Shopify store to sell digital products such as digital downloads or online courses (I just don’t see a way to sell memberships yet). 

If you just want to use Shopify to host online courses and deliver, you can simply do that by using Shopify along with Easy Digital Downloads or FetchApp or maybe just email. But that’s a crappy experience.  

Thankfully, there’s an app called Courses on the Shopify App store that comes very close to the kind of online courses you should build. 

You can create and sell online courses on Shopify with TalentLMS  — and there are direct integrations available with Shopify if you want to deliver a complete online learning experience (with a way for your students to log in, take courses, take quizzes, and more). 

There are few more apps that can help with a few aspects of hosting, launching, and building online courses with Shopify.  

For instance, Locksmith for the Affiliate locked pages allows you to lock pages and content on your store so that only the customer/affiliate with the credentials to see that page will have access to it.

  • Refersion: Affiliate Tracking: can be used for launching an affiliate program for your online courses. 
  • Digital Downloads can be used to help with any downloadable content that you offer to customers, they can make the purchase on your store and will then get a link to access that download.
  • Recurring Membership. This could also be an option as you can offer member access for tiered pricing and courses. 

Even with Shopify — as far as online courses & membership sites are concerned — it’s still going to be a patch job (along with recurring Shopify subscriptions + subscriptions for other apps). 

If you are wondering about how to choose online course platforms, I’ll make it simple for you. Sign up for Podia (they have a free trial) and see the difference.

Ultimate Resource Kit

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