Thinking of using WordPress to create and sell courses? Just don’t. (If you are a WordPress Geek, ignore this post)
If you live and breathe WordPress, if you don’t mind the extra slog, and if you have the cash plus resources to make it happen, you can try.
Most of us don’t. Most first-time online course creators are hard-pressed for resources of any kind.
Plus, not all of us are born WordPress geeks.
When WordPress is So Good, Why Not?
Don’t get me wrong: WordPress is extremely capable and it has everything you need to create and sell courses.
Then, you have several plugins (for LMS, membership management, course creation, course promotion, and for running your own affiliate programs).
WordPress itself is free. But everything you need to create, manage, and sell online courses on WordPress will take enormous amounts of cash, time, and nerdy wizardry.
Here’s what you’ll need to manage your crazy endeavor of trying to create and sell your own online courses or memberships on WordPress.
- Fast, reliable, hassle-free hosting: You’d have to politely skip the cheap hosting options and go for WordPress managed hosting. This’d mean that you’d have to choose between the likes of WPEngine, FlyWheel, Kinsta, or 10Web. These plans start at $15 at least. The usual ballpark is around $30 per month.
- WordPress LMS theme: You’d need to invest in a WordPress LMS theme. Here’s an example of such a theme from Astra.
- WordPress Theme Builders: Alternatively, you’d have to choose to drag-and-drop and design a WordPress theme for your online school by using a theme builder such as Divi, Elementor, Brizy, or Beaver Builder.
- Membership Plugins For WordPress & Course-specific plugins: You’d need several other WordPress plugins such as Restrict Content Pro, WPComplete, and more.
- eCommerce WordPress Plugins: To accept payments, you’d need WooCommerce itself along with WooCommerce Recurring Subscriptions, WooCommerce for Stripe, WooCommerce for Online Courses, and several others.
Most of these tools, plugins, themes, and hosting itself are all recurring payments each month.
Additionally, if you take annual licenses for each, you’ll still have annual recurring payments to make (in most cases, unless you pick lifetime licenses (if available).
I know that Chris Lema is a huge advocate of Creating Courses on WordPress. But you aren’t Chris Lema and neither am I.
So, what should you do? What are the alternatives of WordPress as LMS? If you don’t (or can’t) use WordPress for Online Courses, what can you use really?
Options For Selling Online Courses and Memberships
You have at least three options (after all considerations, tryouts, and failures):
Podia just takes all the geeky work behind the scenes. You don’t look for themes or use any plugins. You don’t try to integrate LMS into your website and work with 16 other tools to make your online course(s) work.
The tool is incredibly easy to use. It’s fast. It’s intuitive, and it’s something that your typical 8-year old can use.
With Podia, you can:
- Sell and promote digital downloads (files, music, videos, eBooks, special reports, and anything else that can be downloaded)
- Manage, sell & promote online courses
- Run full-fledged membership sites with varying payment plans for members)
- Pre-sell your products (digital downloads, memberships, and others)
- Do most of the marketing that you need by launching webinars (on YouTube and Zoom). Use landing pages, and
- Take advantage of their in-built email marketing tool (so, at least initially, you don’t have to spend more on email marketing tools such of ConvertKit, Drip, and MailChimp).
Podia also provides you with offsite widgets you can use as calls-to-action within your blog posts and other pages.
Plus, Podia now has Live Messaging (use it to make instant connections with your potential customers) along with a feature to help you build communities.
Thinkific is a capable and absolutely easy-to-use standalone platform to help you launch, manage, and sell your online courses.
Just like Podia, it doesn’t require you to use any special themes, plugins, or tools to launch online courses.
With Thinkific, you get access to:
- A complete, easy-to-use site builder (with a few in-built themes) that you can quickly use to build a home for online courses (or schools?).
- Drag, drop, rearrange, and make a few tweaks using the site builder to get the look you want for your online course site.
- A simple, intuitive platform to launch online courses, course bundles, membership sites, and more.
- Several integrations available, along with payment gateways and more.
- A built-in affiliate management system to recruit affiliates.
Or take up a 5-day online course challenge and push yourself to launch faster than you could read this line.
Instead of Gumroad as an option, I wanted you to first know about Payhip.
With Payhip, you can sell online courses, software music, memberships, coaching programs, digital products, eBooks, and more.
Payhip has a full-featured free tier — which means that you get to use Payhip completely for free, without paying for anything to begin with. Last I heard, Payhip takes around 5% of your sales (when you sell).
There are paid plans for advanced features (fair enough) which you can choose later (I recommend you look for those when you actually make some sales and get your business going).
AccessAlly: One Valid Option To Create And Sell Courses Using WordPress?
The only reason AccessAlly is being mentioned (even though it works with WordPress) is because it’s somewhat universal — it can work with your existing theme or the way your WordPress site is set-up right now.
However, Just in case you have a lifelong love for WordPress and just can’t think of moving away from it, there’s still an option for you.
AccessAlly is a WordPress plugin, yes.
No, it’s not a WordPress LMS theme. It’s not an online course builder.
It’s a swiss-army knife of a WordPress LMS plugin and Membership management plugin for WordPress (just because you have to call it something). However, it does more.
AccessAlly is mentioned here because apart from being an online learning WordPress theme and a specific WordPress plugin that does “something”, it’s a comprehensive WordPress plugin that facilitates online course creators.
With AccessAlly, you get:
- Create regular courses on WordPress LMS or go for dripped-content type courses.
- Use conversion-focused forms, affiliate management (and tracking), video engagement metrics, abandoned cart follow ups, and more.
- LMS gamification, membership management, and more.
Make Use of Online Learning Trends
Apart from the basics of online course creation, there are challenges that course creators face, and that doesn’t even include the eCommerce platforms to choose or even making a choice between some of the popular online course platforms.
There’s also the question of picking up an online platform with some non-negotiable features.
If you get past all of the above, what separates the most successful creators in the knowledge economy from the rest? How has the pandemic changed online learning?
And is it too late to put out a course on how to make your own sourdough starter?
The answers are here: Check out the 2022 Online Learning Trends
The team at Thinkific analyzed metadata from the top 20% of creators to discover what exactly it is they’re doing differently to make them so successful.
Now, you can see which trends set the trailblazers apart — and how you can use their tactics to bring in more business and better engage students in 2022.
Take a look to see for yourself…
- How do the top creators keep students engaged for longer?
- What is their secret to growing their business?
- Where do top creators focus their time?
- What takeaways can someone just starting out learn from them?
The report is chock-full of insights you can put into action today. Because if you’re still creating courses the same way you were two years ago — you might be missing out on some huge opportunities.
If you were interested in creating online courses, which option would you go for and why?
Need more help? Read this: Is WordPress a Good Solution For Selling Online Courses?