It has been a pretty long time since I posted an article about how to create a fully functional website using WordPress for free. Since then I have worked on many similar projects and have written many similar posts regarding website creation and SEO optimizations. So over time, I have been flooded with questions about how to turn a website or blog into an online course and whether a blog and an online course are the same or not. Check out The Definitive Guide To Build An Online Courses Using WordPress Plugins 2021.
To start with a direct answer, NO! Courses are not the same as blog posts. More and more bloggers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers from all around the globe are adding online courses in addition to their blogs.
Teaching what you know online is a great way to help others while establishing yourself as an expert in your field. This can be the best thing you can do for your audience.
A course needs to be accessed by registered students and not just anyone who lands on your site. It doesn’t matter if you’re offering a free or paid course, you simply need to have some kind of student profile to track your students’ progress. The next feature for paid courses is a payment gateway. There should be a way for you to accept payment when a user enrolls in your course.
Creating an online course is simply the next step in building your website. So today I’m going to teach you how you can build an online course using WordPress.
In this post, I will give you a step by step guide to the setup along with the best WordPress plugins for the same. But before we get on with the actual guide, let me first give you a brief description of the WordPress platform.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) or website building platform has made website building accessible to literally anyone and allows you to create your website and handle it instead of using a bunch of loose HTML pages. It is the most preferred and used website building platform and leads the chart by a huge margin.
- It’s totally free.
You will not have to worry about creating a paid account for it. You won’t have to pay any downloading or installation cost.
- Highly customizable and easy to use.
WordPress is the easiest platform I’ve worked with. It has an easy user interface and is highly flexible with attractive themes, layouts and templates to choose from, to beautify your website.
- Beginner friendly.
It’s more important to be “Beginner friendly” than being “User-friendly”. WordPress has an entire collection of useful and free plugins that enable you to handle any type of site you wish to create.
- Great for both, small and large websites.
WordPress can easily handle light sized blogs to large scale business websites and online stores. In fact, WordPress is used by large-scale sites like eBay, Mozilla, CNN and even NASA.
- Responsiveness and compatibility.
Websites built on WordPress are responsive and work on all modern smartphones, tablets, and every mobile device.
- No coding required.
You don’t need any technical coding to create a website on WordPress.
- Best SEO
WordPress provides you the best search engine optimization (SEO), which makes your website more likely to attract more customers.
We live in the era today where any and every kind of business can be formed and run online, regardless of area and availability of resources like public and property. Today online courses and have enabled millions of people across the globe to learn and share from anywhere and everywhere.
These days I have been showing some particular interest towards online courses and how to build them. In the past few months, I have shared a lot of material with my viewers about online course platforms like EverLesson, Teachable, Udemy, etc.
How to Build An Online Courses Using WordPress?
Before we build an online course using WordPress, we need to first learn how to build a website using WordPress. In the past, I had shared a complete step by step guide on How to create a website in less than 15 minutes. Refer to that post to learn how to build your own website.
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Planning your course
Now that your website is ready, you need to think carefully about what kind, of course, you want to create. Then you will need to choose a plugin or theme to help you set up your online course.
Here are some of the most important points I would recommend you, to determine the best approach to planning an online course:
- Outline of the course
This is the most important step in planning your course. If you don’t know how you want to structure the material for your course, it will be difficult for you to set up the course proper to meet your needs and you may even choose the wrong solution. The basic outline of your course involves basic aspects like sections and lessons, subtopics etc.
- Type of content
There are 2 basic types of courses you can choose to build. A text-only course or a multimedia course. Both are quite different from each other in terms of reach, quality and appeal. This shall also include text, video, quizzes, etc. You need to decide which types of content you want your course to include.
- Course Restrictions
You need to determine how you want your course to be set up, whether you want it to be a free course, partially paid or completely paid. This will ensure which content will be available to which audiences. A free course doesn’t require any complicated membership rules and may be considerably easier to set up.
- Method of distribution
Many online courses offer some material for free while other materials are paid and users need to sign up as a member to access them. When a student signs up it will be more convenient for them if the entire material is accessible for free. However, you may prefer to make materials available on a schedule. This concept is called ‘Dripped content’.
Online course plugins (Personal recommendations)
Here is a quick list and description of the best available plugins that will yield you favorable results for online course management.
Sensei has been designed by WooThemes, the developers of WooCommerce. Their pricing starts at $129 for a single site. The plugin offers perfect integration with WooCommerce and all the themes from WooThemes. Plus you will also have access to a wide range of extensions available to customize your course offering.
Price: $129 per month
- Clean code.
- WooCommerce integration.
- Lots of free extensions for added functionality.
- Drip content is a paid option.
- Can be hard to set up for a non-technical user.
2) WP Courseware
WP Courseware allows its users to Drag and drop their way through building a course. The biggest plus is that it integrates with all major e-commerce plugins. Their pricing starts at $99 for a two site license.
Price: $99 per month
- More affordable than most premium plugins.
- Easy to use.
- Can have conflicts with other plugins.
- No built-in payment system.
LearnPress works the best with WordPress Websites. LearnPress is a free Learning Management System (LMS) plugin for your online courses. The plugin offers several free add-ons that helps extend the functionality, as well as some premium ones (starting at $19.99).
- Create attractive courses for free.
- Only a few free features.
LearnDash is a feature packed, premium LMS which is touted as having one of the best industry standard LMS integrations, such as the Tin Can API. Their pricing starts at $129 for a single site.
Price: $129 per month
- Best all-in-one option.
- Lots of great features.
- Takes time to learn the interface.
LifterLMS is one of the newest additions to the online course space. It’s a free plugin, but also offers a premium version that costs $99 per year, with extensions that further extend the functionality. The plugin offers additional support, added graphics, and premium themes.
- Great for creating basic courses for free.
- Requires paid add-ons for payment and other integrations.
- No customer support for free users.
Legit Online Course Themes
Themes are one of the most important elements to provide that much needed professional feel and appearance to your website and online course. A relevant and attractive theme always plays a key role in creating the first visual impact on your audience. Here is my quick list of recommendations out of the numerous themes designed for providing online courses.
WPLMS is a social learning management system built on BuddyPress, specially designed for course, instructor and student management. It’s pricing starts at $64.
Price: $64 per month
This Learning Management theme includes built-in course and user management, plus it also has WooCommerce integration. It’s pricing starts at $59 and enables you to share and sell your knowledge with ease.
Price: $59 per month
3) Course Cats
Course Cats is an all-in-one WordPress theme designed to help you create an online course, integrate with the necessary plugins, and build your course sales website. Its pricing starts at $47 per month along with a high end premium version as well.
Price: From $47 per month
The LMS theme is a powerful learning management theme and has been designed to work perfectly with Sensei. It adds advanced design and layout possibilities to your online course website. Plus it is priced at a pocket friendly $59 per month.
Price: $59 per month
5) Clever Course
Clever Course is a premium LMS WordPress theme available for $59 per month. Designed to help you create and sell both online and onsite courses, it includes a full range of features in a self-contained package.
Price: $59 per month
Final Verdict: The Definitive Guide To Build An Online Courses Using WordPress Plugins 2021
Building an online course today is as easy as building your own website. All you need to do is choose the right combination of plugins and themes to bring out the best results from your course. Whether you’re offering a free or paid course, you need to have some kind of student profile to track your students’ progress. If you are building a paid course, then you will need proper a payment gateway. There should be a way for you to accept payment when a user enrolls in your course.
All these plugins and themes mentioned in this post are tried, tested and regarded as one of the best from user to user basis. The guidelines and recommendations mentioned are genuine and may offer you the best if done the right way. Hope this post suits your purpose well. Do share this post on trending social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.