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How to Create and Sell Online Courses with WordPress (Step by Step Guide)

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Do you have deep knowledge in a specific field or subject and want to create online courses to earn money? If yes, WordPress might be a very good platform to get you started.

Selling online or digital courses and earning money from them is a very popular and common business idea nowadays. Now, from a business perspective, there is naturally some competition as many online course creators are uploading high-quality content at affordable prices.

How to Create and Sell Online Courses with WordPress

So, to be ahead of your competitors, you need to get every advantage you can and WordPress can give you that advantage.

Creating and selling online courses with WordPress is a simple process but beginners might face some problems to use and optimize it. Don’t worry, we have got your back because, in this post, I am going to explain how to create and sell online courses with WordPress in detail.

Step by Step Guide to Create and Sell Online Courses with WordPress

Just follow these simple instructions below and it will be a piece of cake. Remember, we will be using some specific software and plugins but you can use other plugins also. Just make sure it is compatible with WordPress and gives good performance with efficiency. So, let’s start.

Initial Requirements

Before starting the main process, let’s see what you need to create online courses or sell them with WordPress.

  • Your teaching video lessons will serve as the actual content.
  • WordPress hosting account.
  • The properly installed WordPress software on your device.
  • Some plugins or third-party add-ons. Mainly learning management add-ons and some other supporting plugins.
  • A good internet connection.

If you have all this and ready to create or sell online courses with WordPress, let’s just to the main process. 

Step 1. Install WordPress on Your Device and Make Your Website

So, WordPress will be the main software where you will build your website. To do so, you have to download and install it properly on your device. 

But first, you might think, why WordPress? There are other website builder tools available, why not use them? Well, in short, WordPress is currently the best website building platform (actually it is a CMS) as it provides maximum flexibility, features, and performance. 39% of the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. If you want, you can use other website building tools like Shopify but here I will be using WordPress.

Now, coming to the main topic, there are two WordPress. One is WordPress.com which is a paid hosting service and similar to Shopify. Then there is the actual downloadable WordPress software available at WordPress.org. This is the WordPress you have to install. 

You also need some other elements to make a WordPress website like a hosting plan, domain name, SSL certificate, and some plugins or addons.

Now there are many things to consider during building your WordPress site and it can not be mentioned in this post. For a detailed and step-by-step guide, check how to install and build your website using WordPress.

Step 2. Setting Up an LMS Plugin for Your Website

After successfully building your website, it is time to install a good LMS plugin or learning Management System add-ons to make or create online courses and do other customizations.

Now, there are lots of good LMS plugins available online. Picking just one is hard but we have chosen Memberpress and LearnDash. These are easy to use,  efficient, and powerful LMS plugins available in the market. You can also use other plugins like LifterLMS or Teachable. But here we will primarily use Learndash and Memberpress as these two provide a complete package and provides every feature required to create and sell online courses. 

Though LearnDash is more powerful when it comes to creating online courses and customizing them, Memberpress is needed for marketing and payment gateways. So, to get a better experience why not use both in the same WordPress website. It will double the features and make it easier for students to access the content.

Installing Learndash LMS

So, let’s start with installing Learndash. LearnDash is a paid plugin and you have to purchase it from their official website. After a successful purchase and download it, follow these steps.

  • Login to your WordPress website and go to the admin interface.
  • In the dash dashboard, go to plugins and then click “Add New”.
adding learndash plugin
  • You will see an “Upload Plugin” option. Click it and upload the plugin file you have previously downloaded. After uploading the installation process will start.
  • After installation, a LearnDash menu tab named “LearDash LMS” will appear in your dashboard.
add learndash  license key
  • Now you have to activate the license key for the purchased plugin. So, go to LearDash LMS in your dash menu list and then click settings and then click LMS License. Now, enter the valid license key and email address and click Update License.

That’s all, you have successfully installed Learndash on your WordPress site.

Installing Memberpress LMS Integration

Now, it’s time to install Memberpress integration. Though Memberpress is an all-in-one solution, we will mainly use it for email marketing, payment gateways, and content management.

The installation process of Memberpress is very easy.

  • In your WordPress admin area, navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > ADD-ONS
  • Locate the MemberPress for LearnDash add-on
  • Click Install Now
  • Click the Activate Plugin button

Next, you have to complete the license activation process.

memberpress settings

Just go to your admin dashboard and click Memberpress>settings>License and enter the license key. Now, click Activate License.

Time for Some Important Configurations
LearnDash
  • custom labels: if you want to change the terms related to your course or in the interface, go to LearnDash> custom labels and change as per your requirement. For example, you can change “Due tasks” into “Due Assignments”.
  • Take a look at the “Learndash 3.0” template. It will give you new front design options.
MemberPress

Go to Memberpress and then the Payments tab. Click the (+) icon and add a payment gateway. Memberpress supports PayPal and Stripe. Fill in the required details and click ok. To add another payment gateway, repeat the process. You can also use some addons to support more payment gateways.

Step 3. Create Your First Course

Now it’s time to set up your first course. Before proceeding make sure that Your actual content is ready. I mean for video courses, the file format, the resolution should be according to standards, and editing should be done. So, let’s start.

First, go to your WordPress admin area and click LearnDash LMS from the dashboard. There you will find an option called Courses, click it. Now click add new.

A new interface will show up and you will find all the features here to create an online course like categories, tags, featured images, post attributes, permalinks, title, etc.

create your course

Now you have to create or upload your content. The process is quite similar to creating a blog post, just there are some extra options. You can add video links, topics, and lessons to your course but we will discuss it a little bit later.

Now you can customize the course a little further by going to settings and you will find three options.

  • Course material: Enable this if you want your course content list and support materials visible to all users including non-enrolled visitors to your site.
  • Course content: This will allow you to make your actual content visible to all users or to a specific group like enrolled or subscribed.
  • Course Certificate: It will enable the option to reward your students or enrolled users with a Course completion certificate after they completed the course. You have to create the certificate template first and upload it on Learndash.

Step 4. Preview, and Customization of Your Content

It’s important to present your content cleanly and properly to attract more visitors as well as to make it easier to find. Now, let’s start.

Got to LeranDash LMS > Courses > Settings. Now go to Global course management and display settings. It will allow you to control course creation settings along with visual representation. Here Course Builder option is enabled by default.

LearnDash LMS settings

There is also Course taxonomy options where you will find category, tags, etc to organize your content. 

Also, make sure to enable Course custom post type options. It will allow your students to find a particular course by searching the topic or title on your site.

You can also set some prerequisites for a particular course so that any user will only be able to unlock the course if they have completed the prerequisite course or some quiz or exam. 

So, enable course prerequisites if you think it’s needed for any course. There are two more options below it. Course points that give points to your students for completing a lesson or course and encourage them.

course settings in Learndash LMS

The other is Course Access Expiration. Its lets you set an expiration date for the course. So, an enrolled student has a limited time for completing the course. It will reduce procrastination. 

Now, some minor customization in navigation. In LearnDash LMS> navigations you will find two types of navigation style.

Linear: Users will be able to navigate the course in a predesigned linear manner.

Free flow: Users will be able to freely navigate your courses.

After all the customization, go to any of your courses in LearnDash LMS> Courses. You can see a preview of your course. You can find the Preview button on the right side of the screen.

Step 5. Adding Lessons to Your Course

Adding lessons is very important to make your content more organized and easily accessible. It is splitting your course into different parts concerning the relevant section or subject.

With LearnDash, you have two ways to add lessons. These two are Creating lessons directly from Learndash Menu or use  Course builder.

Using Learndash Menu

I have mentioned a similar process during explaining the course creation point before in this post. Learndash LMS >  Lessons > Add new

Adding LearnDash Menu

This will take you to a new editor page. You will land on the lessons page where you can add titles, descriptions, tags, categories, videos, images, etc. You can preview and publish the content after that.

Customizing the lesson

After adding lessons, go to the settings tab. Here you can customize your lessons and access the content. There are many options.

  • Global lesson settings: Whatever changes you do with these settings, will be applied to all your lessons.
  • Configure Lesson access settings: This allows you to control how your lessons can be accessed by your students. For example, you can make your lessons instantly available after completing the previous material or you can make it available after a certain time. You can also make this lesson content visible to all users including non-enrolled visitors in the free sample option. Another option is for selecting the courses associated with the lesson.
Course restriction settings
  • Display and Content Settings: Here you can upload assignments, video progression and configuration, set lesson timer, and upload materials settings. If you have enabled the point system, you can select how the assignments will be graded. There are two options, auto-approve and manual.
  • Create Lessons and Content: Here you can add images, videos, quizzes, study materials, embed other content, etc.
Using Course Builder

In LearnDash the course builder is a good tool and it makes things a lot easy with the drag and drop option. You can use it to add lessons, topics, quizzes, etc.

First, go to LearnDash > Courses. Now hover over any of the posts and you will see the builder option. Click it. For new course, navigate LearnDash LMS > Courses > Add New > Builder tab

Course Builder

Now you will land on the actual builder page. Here you can add lessons, topics, video lessons, assignments, etc. It’s compact and easy to use.

Step 6. Adding topics

Topics are similar to adding lessons. It is like a sub lesson that makes your content more organized and students will have to spend less time searching for the topic or point they want to study or revise. It also increases user experience quality.

The process to add topics is similar to adding lessons. But at the start you have to go to Learndash LMS > Topics > Add new. Or you can also use the builder tab like the lesson creation process. It’s totally similar to adding lessons.

You can add almost everything that you can in lessons. For a comparison between topics and lessons, here is the list you can add these contents in the topics section.

Step 7. Adding Quizzes

Quizzes are very important to make your lessons interactive and it lets you assess your student understandings of the lessons or topics. So, you should definitely add quizzes to your content lessons and to do so in LearnDash, go to LearnDash > Quizzes > Add new. 

Here you will see a similar interface to lessons or topics. You can add Title, descriptions first. now you can use the editor tab on the right side screen to customize the quiz.

Adding quiz in LearnDash LMS plugin for WordPress

Now move to the settings tab located right side of the quiz tab. you will find a lot of customization settings and powerful features here for different purposes.

  • Global Settings: Settings applied to all quizzes on your site
  • Quiz Builder: Similar to lesson builder. You can add questions, edit, remove & manage quizzes and questions.
  • Questions & Question Types: How to set up quiz questions & all available question types
  • Quiz Access & Progression: Set access restrictions & control how a user progresses through a quiz
  • Display & Content Settings: Customize the appearance and layout of quizzes.
  • Display Results: Lets your students see answer feedback or correct approach of quizzes.
  • Custom Fields: For collecting additional information from users who take a quiz
  • Leaderboard: This Lets you show the results of students in a leaderboard to increase the competition and encourage them.
  • Email Notifications: Users will be notified by email when a quiz is completed
Adding Questions

The most important part of setting up a quiz is adding questions. 

Go to LearnDash LMS > Questions.

Now give title and descriptions. Now for choosing the type of question, you have 8 options.

  • Single choice
  • Multiple choice
  • Free choice
  • Sorting choice
  • Matrix sorting choice
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Assessment
  • Essay/open answer

You can also use quiz builder for adding questions. Just hover over any existing quiz or create a new one and select the builder tab.

For answers, you can select correct or incorrect. For new multiple-choice, if you want to add new answers navigate–

  • Click the + New Answer link
  • Enter your new answer
  • Click the “Add Answer” button

You can also choose the points for each correctly answered question.

Step 8. Create Certificates

Now time for creating a course completion certificate to reward the students after completion. To create a certificate go to LearnDash LMS > Certificates > Add New.

A new interface will be shown. Enter title and description for the certificate. Again you can use the editor block on the right side of the screen to add images and watermarks. 

Creating a course certificate

After that, you can scroll down and select the certificate PDF size and orientation.

Step 9: Create Membership Subscription Plans

Now it’s time to make different membership plans or sections so that you can restrict your courses to the respective memberships. You can also make your online course content available to all regardless of their membership plans but most online course business owner tries to provide the content with a mix of paid and free content. 

Though you can also restrict the courses in LearnDash according to the subscription plan, it lacks some key features and variety in options. So, to make memberships, we will use MemberPress integration.

Create new membership with MemberPress wordpress plugin

Go to the admin dashboard and navigate MemberPress » Memberships>Add New. Now, you will see the create membership interface. Give title and brief description of the membership plan.

Adding a new membership

Now on the right side of the screen, you will find the Membership Terms block.  You can select the price, billing type, and access time here.  

After that, scroll down where you will see more settings and options. Here you can configure the sign-up button, thank you page message, send special welcoming emails to registered user email address, etc.

membership registration settings

If you don’t want any feature or undo any change, hover over that settings and you will see the option to reset that setting to default settings. After completing customization, click the publish button to save all of the changes.

Step 10. Restrict the course Access to Different Membership Plans.

It is important to restrict courses that you want to be paid content as it will be the main source of income from this online business.

Now to add restrictions go to MemberPress >> Rules >> Add New. It will direct you to a new page. Here you will find the options to restrict items as Protected Contents and Access Condition. 

Restricting course access using Memberpress WordPress Plugin

Choose how many items you want to restrict and in access conditions, you can put them under a specific membership plan. After completing, click “save rule” to save the changes. 

Step 11: Add Link of sign up and Registration Page to the courses and Selling them

We have almost close to completing this whole process. After creating memberships and setting rules, it’s time to add links to your content to go to a page where they easily sign up or purchase a course or register for membership easily.

With Memberpress, you get a perfect solution to this issue as it provides you a lot of powerful features to redirect the customer to the sign-up or registration page.

Memberpress automatically generates a unique link for every single membership plan. You can see the link when editing a membership below the title.

Now you can copy this link and add it anywhere in your content posts, maybe at end of the description or at the beginning of the content, or in the free sample lessons.

Add link for sign up process in Memberpress plugin for WordPress

When students click the link, it will take them to the registration or sign-up page where they can sign up for an individual lesson/course or purchase a membership. Also, make sure that the payment options and related settings are all configured.

Step 12: Promote Your Content

You are almost done. Now the only thing left to do is promote your content. Without the right promotion and marketing strategy, your content would not reach a wider audience and you won’t be able to compete with other online course creators. So, it is very important to promote your content.

Thankfully Mebmberpress can the process very easy for you as it has powerful email marketing features. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into email marketing.

Email Marketing

Just Open the admin dashboard and navigate MemberPress >> Settings >> Emails. Here you will find lots of options to send different types of emails for different purposes.

There are two sections, Notices for members where emails will be sent to users or member of your site. Another is Admin Email & Notices which is for sending email notifications to admin email address.

Here are a few tips for promoting your content through the internet.
1. Create a good Landing Page for your courses

A good and stylish landing page will attract more customers and encourage them to sign up or purchase memberships. It will increase the sales rate.

Seedprod landing page builder for WordPress

You can use plugins like SeedPost for creating good landing pages without writing any code. The inbuilt drag and drop editor makes it really easy to set a good landing page layout and structure.

2. Try to increase the retention rates of visitors

Many visitors come to your site, see the content and leave without enrolling or purchasing a membership. Most of them won’t return ever considering your site is not a top-ranked online education site.

So it is important to convert that abandoned customer into a subscriber. The ideal solution for this task is using a plugin called  OptinMonster. It gives efficient performance and a high conversion rate.

3. Learn Basics of SEO

Knowing the basics of SEO is very important to get a good rank in the google search engine. Without a good rank in the search list, you can not grow your online business no matter how good the content is as any potential customer probably won’t go through more than 10-15 search results.

All in one SEO plugin for WordPress

Now there are lots of WordPress plugins for this purpose. But you can use Yoast SEO or All in One SEO plugin to make your content more Seo friendly. 

If this article helped you, leave a comment below, and don’t forget to share. Thank you for visiting us, have a nice day.

Author avatar
Tim Michaels
I am into WordPress and web development for the last 10 years. I use my experience to help people just starting with WordPress. Follow my blog at WP Uber for everything related to WordPress.
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