Online learning is one of the most convenient means of learning in this age of technology. As a result of its convenience, the eLearning industry continues to experience an exponentially high growth rate.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call to institutions and organizations that were yet to adopt this mode of content delivery to their learners and trainees.
With the continuous growth of this industry, most instructors are now leveraging online learning in addition to or solely for their content delivery.
Although these platforms come with great advantages, selling your online course through your personalized platform is sometimes the best option for you.
This article provides insight into the way forward to successfully sell online courses from any website.
Whether your goal is to create your courses for an academic institution, corporate training, or entrepreneurship, there are multiple ways of going about this to achieve the desired results.
In the year 2014, I decided to build a learning management system from scratch for my eLearning company.
I had little experience in programming but I was determined to succeed with my company.
Unfortunately, starting up as a single founder meant I had other things to do as well. I spent most of my time working even on weekends.
I concluded on using the Drupal content management system to build a learning management system for my company.
Fortunately, I had some good experience with using the Drupal content management system.
After weeks of struggling, I finally developed a makeshift LMS but after testing it out for some time, I realized that I was spending more time fixing problems than I was working on other aspects of my business.
If I intended to build a fully-functioning LMS and market it, that was definitely the way to go.
Although this would have taken more time and an entire team to develop a modern and industry-standard learning management system.
My options from that point on were to either look for a company or someone to develop one for me or to leverage one of the existing solutions.
With this, I tested and used multiple learning management systems ranging from open-source to premium LMSs
Can you make money selling online courses?
Selling online courses is a great way to make a living. Having the expertise on any particular topic means that you can help others with that knowledge and get rewarded as a result.
Although the online learning space is competitive, identifying a niche will enable you to successfully make it in this industry.
If you aim to create an online academy or a marketplace like Udemy where you can sell online courses from your site, then the options listed below are perfect for you to get started.
These options are also great for corporate training as well and can help you deliver your content to your trainees or learners.
Things to consider when planning your online course
Thinking of creating online courses? The idea can be intimidating at first but it is one of the best means of earning passive income online.
- Identify a niche that you know a lot about. Ensure that this is something other people also want to know about.
- Research the market. Keep in mind that there are competitors in every field and create your content with that in mind.
- Visit the pages of your competitors, identify the problems their learners or reviewers are having and note them down.
- Most people are of the impression that teachers know the best in their respective fields but the truth is that teachers just happen to know more than most people. They are never experts on the topic. Keep that in mind as this fear of not knowing enough can be a huge deterrent to creating an online course.
- Ensure that there’s a good market out there for your content and whether people are paying for these types of content. This will also enable you to identify the right price point for your product.
- Create quality content. Give any learner a reason to recommend your course by creating quality content on the subject area.
- Decide on the best format to deliver your content in. Whether video, audio, worksheets, infographics, or any other.
- Determine whether your lessons will be delivered via talking-head videos, screencasting, or a blend of both.
- Produce quality videos. In this age of technology, presentation is very key. Ensure that you provide quality video and audio. Check out our articles on some of the best microphones for online courses and the best cameras for creating online courses. Keep in mind some of the tips provided in these articles will also help produce quality results.
- Determine how you will sell your lessons. Whether through marketplace platforms or through your website.
Pros and Cons of selling online courses from your own website
Selling online courses is a great way to make passive income when done right. It comes with competition but one well worth the effort.
Like any business strategy, choosing to sell courses from yourself comes with its pros and cons.
Pros of selling courses from your own website
You heard how the rich make money in their sleep? Well, in this age of technology, you can make money in your sleep as well with passive income.
The concept of passive income is quite simple. Put in a lot of effort into something people need now and reap the benefits even when you’re not working.
In the eLearning industry, it means creating great content people need and more learners come and pay for the same lesson created once.
Sip some champagne and keep refreshing your bank account while the notifications keep coming in.
Simply sharing your knowledge
How experienced are you on a topic that would benefit others? What you’re doing is simply sharing your knowledge to help others.
In turn, learners will reward you for the great content you provide them.
Build a brand with your audience. With great content and more control over your delivery process, look, and feel of your platform, your target market can easily relate to the brand.
No revenue sharing
Platforms like Udemy, have a process for calculating how revenue generated is calculated.
Udemy calculates based on how each paying student arrived at your platform. They can take as much as 50% of the sales generated by your product.
When you sell online courses on your own website, 100% of the revenue generated belongs to you.
Since you sell the online courses on your own website, you control which content should be at the top and which ones should be featured.
With the amount of competition on platforms like Udemy, your content may end up vanishing to the bottom of the lists.
This means that although millions of learners visit the Udemy platform, your content may remain unseen as higher ranking products would be shown at the top of searches.
Cons of selling courses from your own website
Can be demanding
Creating content is not as easy as it may look. With people gearing towards quality videos and audio, your lessons need to be presentable especially to the modern learner.
Great content is usually not enough as the audio quality, background noise, and video are some of the key reasons some courses get rejected even on Udemy.
Additionally, the content creation process can take 100s of hours of your time and therefore requires perseverance to produce quality content.
Creating content is key but one other key component is getting learners onto your platform.
This means advertising to get learners to join your course. Whether you leverage paid advertisements or any other means, getting customers to your site should be a key factor to consider when you decide to sell online courses.
How To Sell Online Courses From Your Website
After years of experience in the eLearning field, I’ve concluded that leveraging a WordPress-based LMS, is a great option for creating a website for your online courses.
There are many options available for creating an eLearning website but the two options below are some of my favorites.
This is because they are:
- Easy to setup
- Easy to use without programming knowledge
- Very affordable
- Extensive functionalities
This doesn’t mean they don’t have their drawbacks. In fact, one of the biggest drawbacks to using a learning management system based on WordPress is the potential for scalability issues.
WordPress-based learning management systems are perfect for small and mid-sized businesses but are not recommended for larger organizations.
These learning management systems can become slow when you have thousands of users, online at a time on your website.
For most small and mid-sized businesses, this won’t be a challenge as thousands of users will likely not be online at the same.
But for a company like Udemy, this would be a huge challenge. This is why Udemy for instance uses its proprietary learning management system.
WordPress-based learning management systems are widely used worldwide to create some of the best online academies, training programs, businesses, and more.
Best plugins to sell online courses from your website
In my search for a good WordPress-based plugin over the years, I came across many ranging from free to premium packages.
After trying a few, I quickly came to realize that most of these plugins come with additional costs in the form of premium and 3rd party plugins that can only be leveraged by purchasing them individually in addition to purchasing the premium.
In some cases, these 3rd party plugins can be ignored but in other cases, you may require those features.
This, therefore, means, you would have to pay for the premium LMS plugin possibly on a yearly subscription, and also pay for some additional 3rd party plugins in addition.
The best way around this was to find another option. This landed me on two of my personal favorites, namely LearnPress and Masterstudy LMS.
If you have some experience in the online learning industry, chances are you may have heard of LearnPress.
It is the most downloaded and actively used WordPress-based learning management system worldwide with over 1.9 million downloads and 100,000 active installs.
It has been around for a while and has gone through multiple changes to become one of the best learning management systems on the market.
If you want to test out the core plugin itself, it is available for free download. This plugin comes with great features.
The LearnPress plugin is a comprehensive WordPress LMS plugin which can be used to easily create & sell courses online.
It doesn’t require any programming experience and can easily be administered from the WordPress dashboard.
|Create courses||Manage courses|
|Add-ons||Support WordPress multisite|
If you plan to create free courses for your learners and leverage the traffic to monetize through another option, using the free plugin provides all the basic functionalities you would need.
Check out the demo site
Although LearnPress works with some WordPress themes, its functionality and user experience can be diminished.
To get the best experience, Selecting the LearnPress Theme Bundle will provide you with one of the LearnPress themes.
These themes come with the pro version of the LearnPress plugin installed and also provide some of the best interfaces available for every category and age group of learning.
Education WordPress Theme | Eduma is the highest purchased WordPress-based LMS theme in the world and delivers a stunning look for your online course.
There are other themes as well for LearnPress but my experience with the Eduma theme has been great. The theme has over 30,000 in sales on ThemeForest.
This gives it a huge community of experienced users. Whatever challenge you meet, you can be assured someone in the community has posted about it.
Installing and setting up your first course is easy. The link below provides you access to their documentation which comes with images and directions on setting up every aspect of your online course.
The theme also comes with demo content and pages for each respective category. This can easily be imported to help you create your courses and structure your interface design.
The theme costs $41 to $61 based on whether a sale is running.
This sale comes with the pro version of the LearnPress plugin and most of the premium add-ons already included.
Education WP is made for educational web, LMS, Training Center, Courses Hub, College, Academy, University, School, Kindergarten
Included in theme
The theme comes with the pro version of the LearnPress plugin free of charge. This means most of the premium plugins will be available to you after spending $61 on the theme.
One-click demo importer
The theme is also developed to be very search engine friendly (SEO friendly)
Whether you prefer Elementor page builder or WPBakery, the Eduma theme comes with options for these plugins and more.
It also comes with zoom integration among many other features
Pros of using LearnPress theme for your online course
- Ability to add multiple instructors for a single course
- Competitive pricing
- Free core plugin
- Paypal integration
- Dedicated themes available
Cons of using LearnPress theme for your online course
- Plugin not very compatible with some WordPress themes
- Certification only available with premium
This makes using the LearnPress theme one of the best and affordable ways to create your website and sell your online courses.
It is advisable to host videos outside your course for faster load time. This is not unique to the LearnPress plugin but rather good practice for hosting your files and optimizing page or content load speed.
One recommended option is uploading video files to YouTube and changing its visibility to “Unlisted”. The URL can then be included on your page to show the video in your lesson
2. How to sell online courses with MasterStudy LMS
The second option on this list is MasterStudy LMS. If you want to create and sell online courses from your website, MasterStudy LMS is one of the best WordPress-based learning management systems out there.
MasterStudy is developed by Stylemix Themes and it is a complete all-in-one learning management system solution for WordPress. It provides you everything necessary to build and sell your online courses.
The LMS is built on Vue.js which makes your pages load faster and an additional smoother transition.
Leveraging the plugin to create your WordPress website is easy as the core plugin is free.
|Private messaging||Front-end course builder|
|Zoom conference||Group courses|
|Point system||Udemy affiliate|
The MasterStudy plugin has been optimized to work best with its own stunningly designed theme. This theme comes with 12 separate templates to choose from.
The Education WordPress Theme – MasterStudy comes with some of the most stunning learning management system designs.
The theme comes bundled with the premium version of the MasterStudy plugin.
This means you only need to buy the affordable theme to enjoy the premium benefits of this plugin.
The theme is built and optimized for both Elementor and WPBakery page builders.
It also comes with a front-end course builder with main elements built on Vue.js to enable it to load faster.
The front-end course builder enables you to create courses from the front-end without needing to log into the dashboard.
The theme costs $41 to $61 based on whether a sale is running.
This sale comes with the pro version of the MasterStudy plugin and most of the premium add-ons already included.
The MasterStudy WordPress LMS plugin is an excellent tool for anyone in need of an online education website.
Included in theme
The theme comes with the premium version of the MasterStudy LMS already installed.
This means you get access to most premium plugins including the front-end course builder and many more.
Are you thinking of adding some Udemy courses to your website?
The MasterStudy LMS comes with the Udemy Affiliate add-on which enables you to display Udemy courses on your website easily.
Pros of using the MasterStudy LMS for your online course
- The Core plugin is free
- Affordable lifetime license
- Dedicated and beautiful themes available for the plugin
- Mobile app available
Cons of using the MasterStudy LMS for your online course
- Requires a bit of a learning curve if you are not used to WordPress
- Front-end course builder only available for premium
- Advanced payment integration only available for premium
MasterStudy LMS mobile app
Make learning easier for your learners with the MasterStudy LMS mobile application. The application is built to work seamlessly with your MasterStudy LMS website.
The mobile application gives full control over its branding and pricing, making it accessible from both iOS and Android operating systems.
It is an innovative extension of the MasterStudy LMS theme and plugin. The application also enables your users to upgrade their purchases or to buy packages or courses from your website.
The application also comes with offline mode which enables users to download their favorite courses and watch them without the need for an internet connection.
It fully synchronizes with your LMS website and smoothly delivers the content you publish on your platform. Every change on the website applies and displays in the application.
It is worth noting that this application was built to work only with the MasterStudy LMS plugin and MasterStudy WordPress theme.
With all these functionalities at your disposal, the MasterStudy LMS is one of the best options available to help you sell your online courses.
Features of MasterStudy LMS Mobile App
|Course taking||Quizzes & tests|
|LMS integration||Synchronized content|
The Bottom Line
The process of creating a system to sell online courses can seem like a long and tedious one but with some of these modern and affordable options, you can create some of the best platforms on the market for learners and trainees.
Whether academic, corporate, or entrepreneurial, these two options listed in this article will enable you to achieve your learning management system needs.
Although there may be better learning management systems out there in the market, these two are widely used and optimized to serve both small and medium-sized organizations.
They don’t come with hidden costs like most other learning management systems on the market and are designed solely to meet your needs.