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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. 

Conclusion

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. 

Hey! Just want to get this out of the way. Some of the links in the blog post (and/or videos) are affiliate links. This means that I’d earn beer money if you ever decide to purchase any of the tools, products, services, plugins, or anything else I could be linking to. For more details, please do read my affiliate disclosure policy. 

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