How to Set Up Your Own Website To Sell Online Courses (2023 Guide)

Updated on December 9, 2022

In 2023, everyone is looking for new, innovative ways to make money online. Passive income is a dream for many and thanks to websites like WordPress, this dream can become reality in multiple ways. You have some skills up your sleeve, and you know there’s got to be a way to make money off these skills, yet you don’t know how.

How does making money by selling online courses sound?

By selling courses online, you can achieve your dreams of earning passive income, getting your skills out there, and helping others all at the same time. This is undeniably one of the most practical ways to earn an income online in 2023. 

All you need is a platform to host your website, a skill or service to offer your clients, some tech savviness, and a hint of a business mentality.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to set up your own website to sell online courses. We’ll cover creating courses, payment methods, and effective promotion techniques to get you on your way to your first client.

Let’s get started.

Why online courses?

To put it simply, online courses work. If you have a skill, someone’s out there who wants to learn that skill. Sure, you have to consider platforms like YouTube where people can learn things for free. But an online course always offers that extra depth or personal touch that can’t quite be replicated in a YouTube video.

People are willing to pay for quality content. If the material you provide is of a high caliber, you have every reason to expect to receive clients who want to learn from you. Effective marketing techniques through ads, SEO, and word of mouth can see your online course grow at an impressive rate.

If you truly believe you have a skill set that others seek to learn, or you simply want to share your passion with the world, online courses can not only be an effective business strategy, but an enjoyable business path that provides value to yourself and others.

Some of the many ways you can use online courses:

  • The creation of an online academic platform that offers formal education and certifications in your field of expertise. This is an extremely high-demand service in 2023. With remote work and learning being more prevalent than ever, people are looking for ways to upskill online, and they’re willing to pay for it.
  • Creating engaging and/or entertaining content that helps people learn at their own pace.
  • Business training programs that can be personalized for individuals or businesses. This personalization is something many people seek and something that can’t be found on other platforms that offer free training.
  • Simply teaching new skills. Coding, music, art, ad creation, or digital marketing to name a few. Virtually any skill can be implemented into an online course, and someone out there will want to learn it. 
  • You can use online courses as a side hustle. This term is used a lot these days, and for good reason. Passive income is sustainable, and it helps us reach our goals faster than if we’re earning a single income. Online courses are an excellent example of a passive income generator.
Photo of the WordPress plugin dashboard

Why is making your own website the best way to create an online course?

In creating your own website for your online course, you have the option to completely personalize your course and provide a unique experience to your clients based on what you’re offering. Having this control over every aspect of your course allows you to implement special features and customizability that will help you create your brand, which goes a long way when you’re trying to stand out from the crowd.

Pricing is another key reason why having your own website is a superior option when creating your own online course. The lack of royalties and third-party platform fees means your money can go into what’s important to you and your course. The ability to control your pricing and discounts is another important pricing aspect. You decide the cost of your course, and discounts can be offered with the click of a button. This freedom to control your costs and pricing allows you to sell online courses how you want to.

Freedom to edit, and control your website allows you to further portray your brand’s intentions, feel, and personality. By being able to portray these aspects of your brand, people are more likely to begin to recognize it and associate it with you. This facilitates trust, which leads your clients to be more willing to buy your courses and introduce others to your content.

Laptop and pen and paper on a desk

How to create your own website and sell online courses

By now, you’re likely aware of the many website-building platforms available. When it comes to creating online courses, one stands out from the rest, and that’s WordPress. WordPress has been topping the charts for website building services since its beginning in 2003.

A handful of valuable reasons demonstrate why WordPress is so popular among website creators. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Popularity. WordPress is the most widely used CMS (content management system) on the market. Considering it has been around for almost 20 years, it’s no surprise that WordPress has got a solid foothold in the world of website creation.
  • Flexibility. Nothing on the market quite compares to WordPress. With hundreds of thousands of plugins—free or for purchase—you have virtually endless possibilities when it comes to personalizing your website, and building your brand on this platform.
  • Simplicity. We’ve all been on websites that are a headache from the get-go. Navigation seems like a chore, and finding the information you’re looking for feels virtually impossible. WordPress avoids all of this by keeping things streamlined, user friendly, and effortlessly simple. No coding or web development experience is required.
  • Scalability. Depending on your budget, you can flex your WordPress website by choosing your own host and plugins. This allows you to scale your website in a way that works best for your current situation. In allowing for this, small business owners feel less intimidated when starting their online business with WordPress.
Image of people working around a laptop

Creating your online course with WordPress

Creating your online course with WordPress should be an enjoyable, stress-free experience. Thanks to WordPress’s many plugins, you have multiple ways to create your course. If we could recommend only one plugin, it would be Sensei LMS.

Undoubtedly the best WordPress LMS plugin for building online courses; Sensei LMS allows you to build an engaging online course in a matter of minutes. This powerful plugin has managed to keep things simple yet it doesn’t skimp on the important stuff: course creation tools and student management tools. Sensei LMS’s tools as well as its ease-of-use are what allow you to create your online courses so quickly and effectively.

First things first, how do we install Sensei LMS so we can use it on our WooCommerce store?

  1. Head over to your WordPress admin panel and go to Plugins.
  2. Click Add New.
Screenshot showing WordPress plugins Add New section
  1. Enter Sensei LMS into the search field.
  2. Locate the plugin and click Install Now.
Image showing where to activate the Sensei LMS plugin
  1. Click Activate.
  1. From here you’ll need to follow the setup wizard that appears. This will walk you through some fundamental configuration steps:
Sensei LMS setup wizard

Setting up secure payment options and offering multiple payment methods

Now you have Sensei LMS installed, it’s time to look at setting up payment options. Offering secure payment options is important for your client’s safety and security. Typically WooCommerce Payments are used for this. It’s safe, easy to set up, and it’s fully integrated with Sensei LMS. WooCommerce incurs no setup costs or monthly fees, meaning you have one less cost to take into account when thinking about your monthly costs.

Getting paid with WooCommerce Payments is easy; here’s what you need to do:

Following the previously mentioned steps of installing Sensei LMS, you’ll need to head to your WooCommerce plugins and search for WooCommerce Payments.

  1. Once you’ve found the plugin, simply install and activate it.
  1. Once the plugin is activated, click WooCommerce > Payments in your store’s WordPress Admin.
  1. Click Get Started.
  1. Complete the onboarding process to create your account and verify your business details with WooCommerce Payments’ partner, Stripe.
  1. Once verified, you’re all set. WooCommerce Payments is now your default payment method and you’re ready to get paid.

Deciding what payment method/s you wish to use is an important part of creating a dynamic online course that caters to your niche. Clients are out there who wish to buy their courses outright because they know they’ll commit to it. Either that or money isn’t a primary concern for them. In this case, a one-off payment method works best for them.

Other clients may prefer a pay-as-you-go subscription-based payment method for its flexibility. Let’s take a deeper look at the benefits of each option.

One-time payments

A one-time payment method certainly has its advantages. Offering students the option to pay for their course outright allows them to have unlimited access to your course. This provides a sense of commitment, without making your customers feel obligated to meticulously pursue the course. 

One-time payment methods mean you, as the course owner, get more upfront, larger payments, as opposed to multiple small ongoing ones. Being able to easily offer discounts with this method is another good incentive for using it.


Subscription-based payment methods are an excellent choice if you prefer to have a steady stream of income from your course. Also, if your course is generally longer than average, offering it as a subscription makes sense.

If you decide to go down the subscription route, you need to take some other things into consideration: Should you offer your subscription as monthly payments, annual payments, or a combination of the two? If you decide to go for the option of having both, you have the advantage of being able to offer discounts for those who choose to pay for your course as an annual payment, as opposed to paying monthly. 

Some examples of courses that work well on a subscription basis include digital art courses, music courses, marketing courses, language courses, or other long-term courses.

Note: Previously, if you wanted to run your course on a subscription basis, you were required to pay $199 per year to use the separate plugin, WooCommerce Subscriptions. Thanks to Sensei Pro, which offers a free subscription model for your course, this fee is no longer necessary. Currently, this feature is only available in the USA, but it will eventually be rolling out to other countries.


Memberships share some similarities to subscription-based models. What a membership offers is a “premium layer.” When you create custom or exclusive content only available to your members, like a special store, or member-only website, this is when a membership-based payment method works perfectly. Some courses that use memberships offer free trials to entice new customers into becoming members.

Student management

Sensei LMS’s Learner Management allows you to easily manage everything about your learners, from enrollment of new learners to resetting their progress.

Head to your Sensei LMS plugin and navigate to Learner Management to see a list of all your courses. You’re able to filter by course category or search for a particular course: Learners can be managed here by course or by lesson.

Managing learners by course

To manage learners by the course, you’ll want to locate the course you wish to manage and click the Manage Learners button. A list of all learners who have ever been enrolled in this course will be displayed by default. 

If you wish to filter by learner, you can choose to show only learners who are currently enrolled (Enrolled Learners), or only those who were previously enrolled (Unenrolled Learners), or have been removed from the course.

Screenshot showing the Learners sections of Sensei LMS

Evaluating grades

Using Sensei LMS’s Grading system, teachers can manually grade their lessons and evaluate students’ grades. Accessing this area is simple: Go to Sensei LMS then click on Grading.

The default grading page contains a list of the ungraded quizzes that have been submitted to the teacher for manual grading. You’ll notice a list of columns in this section that will help you evaluate your student’s grades with ease.

Screenshot showing the Grading section of Sensei LMS

Creating a new course out of multiple blog posts

You may be in the position where you’ve been writing a blog for some time now and you’re looking for ways to branch out and possibly monetize your work. Believe it or not, monetizing a blog, whether by turning it into a course, using affiliate links, or paid sponsorships, is a lucrative way of earning extra income.

If you have written four or more blog posts on a specific topic, you’re right on your way to turning your blog into an online course. The hard part is done, now it’s time to earn some money from your written content.

We’ll show you how you can repurpose your current blog posts into a new online course that paying customers can use. The process is straightforward and you’ll be ready to roll in just a few hours.

You’ve already got Sensei LMS installed. Now all you need to do is head to your WordPress dashboard to follow these next steps.

Note: For the import tool to work, each post that you’re going to copy to a course needs to have the same post Category assigned to it.

  1. Head to Posts > All Posts.
  1. If your existing posts share the same category, go to Posts, then click Categories and create a new category with a recognizable name, e.g. “Course.” 
  1. Now, head back to your Posts > All Posts and use the “Quick Edit” feature so you know each post for your new course is in the “Course” category. The post can have more than one category assigned to it; you just need to make sure each post you want to use for your course shares a category, in this case, “Course.”
  2. From here, head to your WordPress plugins and install Sensei LMS Post to Course Extension

Alt text: Image showing the Sensei LMS Post to Course Creator plugin

  1. Once Sensei LMS Post to Course Extension has been installed and activated, go to Tools and click Posts to Course Creator in the WordPress dashboard.
  1. Choose your course name (this can be changed later), and select the category that you’ve created for the posts that have the lesson content you want to include in your course.

Alt text: Screenshot showing the Post to Course Creator UI

  1. Click Save Changes and you now have a new course from recycling your existing blog posts.

Scheduling drip content

“Dripping” content essentially entails making your course content available to your learners based on a fixed schedule that you decide on. In doing this, you can control the pace your learners progress through the course materials.

Note: Content Drip is only available if you have Sensei Pro.

Setting up drip content is simple. Head to your Sensei LMS plugin and click Settings. Look for the submenu “Content Drip.” From here you can configure how you wish to drip your content to your learners. Customize your drip by changing your Drip Message, customizing Email before lessons messages, and changing your Email footer.

If you lose track of your drip schedule, simply head to Sensei LMS > Lessons. You’ll notice a column called “Drip Schedule.” Use this to filter your drip schedule and see when content will be dripped to your learners.

Image of people studying around a table


By now you should have a good idea of why running an online course is a legitimate business venture. You can earn yourself some passive income while providing others knowledge of your passion and skills, which to some is motivation enough to start an online course.

The reason for us recommending you use Sensei LMS over other LMS solutions is it’s simply a great overall choice. It ticks all the boxes of what you expect of an LMS plugin: Ease-of-use, excellent support services, personalization and customization, and of course, affordability.

Considering the requirements for getting set up with Sensei LMS are so simple, you can have your own website with your course in no time. This is an exciting step in the right direction for anyone who wants to start earning an income online without the headaches involved in trying to code your website and create a course from scratch.

Running your own high-quality online course is right at your fingertips. Why not get started today?

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