Do you want to create an online course? You’re not alone! Online courses are an excellent way to share your knowledge and expertise with others, as well as build your brand and generate revenue.
Whether you want to set up or optimize a course for formal education, provide certification training, or sell tutorials, there are several tools you can try to ensure you have a robust solution that attracts people and keeps them engaged. In this article, we will show you twelve examples of great online courses you can use as inspiration to create your own – and mention a few tools that can help you do this.
Benefits of online courses and why you should optimize your online course
There is a large market for e-learning and online courses, and it’s expanding more and more each day. Entrepreneurs and businesses are creating all manner of classes and getting paid to share their knowledge with a growing audience. Setting up an online course can be incredibly rewarding, both at a personal level and, of course, as a business.
The advantages of doing so are numerous. First of all, setting up an online course can help you share your knowledge and expertise with a broader audience – one you would probably not be able to access in person. And, because of the way they are structured, courses can help you interact with your users in a more personal way than you would if you were using just blog posts or social media posts. In turn, this can help you establish yourself as an authority in your niche and increase sales and leads. After all, creating a valuable product will make your content more searchable and increase your rankings.
Online courses can also be used as a marketing tool to promote your products and services, so they can be a business on their own. If you combine your products and the courses (and you are passionate and knowledgeable about the lessons you want to share), you can actually get double the income.
One of the most significant benefits of creating resources for online learning is that they can allow you to earn a passive income. You only need to create the course once, and then you can sell it again and again. The whole thing runs on autopilot. If you are an organization or company, using online courses can also be a robust and engaging way to train your employees and measure their onboarding progress.
12 examples of successful online course providers
If you’re looking for inspiration to create your own online course, it’s always a great idea to look at other successful examples. Below, you will find a list of the best courses that already have lots of satisfied students.
Many of these courses were created using Sensei LMS, a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to create online courses directly on your site. If you want to find out more about the online course platform and how it can help you create excellent online courses, keep reading! We will cover the plugin’s features in detail below our list of examples.
Peter Attia is a renowned physician who has dedicated his medical journey to the science of longevity. He has been using Sensei since 2022 and he has used it to create a unique digital program called Early, which walks you through the experience of one of his patients.
The 12-month program has been designed with a structured curriculum to equip learners with the knowledge they need to optimize their longevity, covering nutrition, sleep, emotional health, medication and supplements, and more.
HubSpot is a CRM platform offering software products for digital marketing, sales, and operations. They offer several online courses as part of their “HubSpot Academy” website.
These courses showcase HubSpot’s tools and teach users how to use them to their full potential. The courses are so good, they are like a well-oiled lead generation engine! For example:
- HubSpot CMS for Developers: This short course (four lessons, 1:55 hours) is aimed at web developers who want to optimize their practices when using the CMS.
Fauna Foundation is Canada’s only chimpanzee sanctuary. They have created a protected environment to protect neglected and abused domestic and farm animals and provide several educational opportunities to help people better understand these animals and our impact on all earth’s creatures.
The foundation offers several online classes and virtual events, all created using Sensei. Their aim is to educate people about animal behavior and spread awareness about their conservation practices. The courses are interactive and feature renowned educators and special guest speakers. For example:
- Understanding Chimpanzee Behaviour: This online course explores the science of understanding how chimpanzees behave and how we can improve their conditions in captivity.
Kevin Farias is an Illustration and animation expert who manages an online art academy. Kevin teaches the theory and practice of animation and has courses about character creation, drawing for anime, etc.
Kevin has been using Sensei since February 2022 and has used the LMS plugin to create chapter-based courses. Kevin’s courses are in Spanish, which is a testament to how easy it is to set up courses in any language using Sensei. In fact, Sensei can be translated into any language, so you can set up multi-lingual courses if you want to.
Some of this illustrator’s popular lessons include:
- 12 Animation Principles: This online course guides you through the process of making an entire scene by applying the basic principles of animation.
- Drawing Manga-Style Faces: In this course, Kevin Farias shows how to structure and draw faces in this popular Japanese illustration style.
Escuela Emprende is a portal run by Gonzalo de la Campa, a web designer determined to help others create their own sites and increase their online income. To do this, he hosts an academy of WordPress and Divi-related courses (both free and paid) with over 10,000 students! Gonzalo has been using Sensei since 2017 and is a Sensei Ambassador in Spain.
His best-selling courses include how to design a website using Divi, how to create an online academy, how to build sales funnels, how taxes work for Freelancers, basic website design, WP SEO, and Youtube. For example:
- Online Academies: This course teaches you how to integrate an ‘academy’ into your website so you can sell courses and create a scalable income.
- Advanced Divi Course: The Advanced Divi Course focuses on how to empower your Divi with plugins that allow you to multiply functionality. It also includes plugin updates for life.
- WordPress SEO Course: This course teaches you how to optimize your website for search engines in three modules that cover essential SEO, how to reduce loading speed, and off-page SEO.
Opportunity Hub (OHUB)
Opportunity Hub is an organization dedicated to creating equal opportunities in the workplace, by providing education platforms for black, Latinx, and indigenous people of color. As part of their mission, they collaborate with academic institutions to bring these platforms right to their campus. OHUB has been creating its programs with Sensei since 2021.
Yale University’s The Science of Well Being
The Science of Well Being is an online course created by Yale University and distributed through Class Central. One thing that makes this course highly popular is that, just like the one we mentioned above, it’s free with the option of a paid certificate (you can request the certificate after doing the free audit).
This course, taught by Laurie Santos, will engage you in a series of challenges that are specifically designed to build more productive habits and increase your happiness.
You can access this course on Coursera and it is a good example of the kind of user experience you should aim to create when setting up a course on your WordPress site. For example, the free course is available in many languages – if you have a multi-lingual site, it’s important that you retain a good interface and excellent usability for any language you want to offer your course in.
MasterClass is a rather unique platform because it ties up with the biggest influencers and celebrities from various fields (like fashion, movies, social media, cooking, writing, etc.) to offer insightful courses.
The platform adds new classes every month and allows you to choose between three annual memberships with different access levels. For example, the Individual plan will enable you to access over 150+ classes across eleven categories and watch them on your computer, phone, tablet, or TV.
- Writing Courses: This category includes over thirty video courses from renowned writers and journalists, such as Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, R.L. Stine, Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown, and Salman Rushdie.
- Food Courses: MasterClass offers numerous classes and courses teaching cooking techniques and recipes. Instructors include Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, Massimo Botura, Yotam Ottolenghi, and Basham Bailey.
Tips for a successful online course
We have gone through some excellent examples of online courses you can use as inspiration. These cover a large variety of topics and formats, which show you can do almost anything to make your course special! Now, let’s explore some tips and tricks to make sure your course stands out.
1 – Make sure you use a profitable idea
This is perhaps one of the most important things to consider before you get started. Anything you are passionate and knowledgeable about, you can teach to others. However, some ideas will have a larger audience you can target to make your course profitable and marketable.
When thinking about what can make you money in the future, it’s always a good idea to look at what’s making you money right now. Are you good at solving a particular issue? Do you have many followers that like what you do? Or are you aware of a gap in the market you think is being underutilized? These are all great ways to come up with profitable ideas.
2 – Offer secure payment and membership options
Another essential consideration when preparing your course is to make sure you can accept different types of payments from your customers. As a WordPress user, you can use WooCommerce Payments to add payment methods to your store such as PayPal, Amazon Pay, Affirm, Klarna, and Clearpay.
If you want to create a more complete academy experience, you can also consider using WooCommerce Memberships so that users will have to sign up to purchase your courses. This way, they will be able to access their courses through their dashboard.
3 – Have a drip content schedule
Having a content calendar is one of the fundamental ways to keep your course well-paced. You don’t need to publish new content manually; there are several ways to do this automatically and save yourself the item and effort.
A drop content schedule allows you to have better time management by controlling when you let your online course students access new lessons. Many products do this; instead of having all course topic materials available immediately, you give your audience some time to work on each chapter or part by dropping items and posts in a particular order and following a schedule.
This model offers several benefits. For instance, you can increase your course’s engagement by building up excitement about future lessons and protect your content from people who might sign up, download the content, and cancel their subscriptions. It is also a highly efficient way to publish materials because it gives you more time to work on future modules.
4 – Offer a good user experience
All websites and apps can benefit from a good user experience, and courses are no exception. What do we mean by user experience? Think of all the things that make a course easy and fun to use, from the first impression when visiting the landing page, the design (colors, fonts, layout), the navigation (menus, footers), and the ability for your site to guide students through a course – and, when appropriate, suggest other courses and contents.
5 – Make sure your course is multilingual-friendly
If you want to reach a wider audience and provide a good learning experience, make sure your lessons are multilingual-friendly. Many online course WordPress plugins allow you to translate your content into multiple languages automatically. This feature can definitely set your product apart and attract many more people to it.
6 – Offer certifications and awards
Certifications and awards can give your students a great sense of accomplishment when they finish a course. After all, someone going through the effort of completing all lessons will love to have an accolade to share with others.
Make sure your certificate templates are easy to download and print, so students can frame and hang them. It’s also a great idea to allow the awarded certificates to be public to view (for example, in the case a student wants to show an employer they have completed the certification).
7 – Support different types of media
Using multiple types of media is an excellent way to keep your audience engaged. The best online courses offer different materials in their lessons, for example, PDFs, audio files, and slideshows. You don’t want your course to be a wall of text. Try to include some interactive components, such as videos, podcasts, and links.
8 – Track your students’ progress
Just offering an online course is not enough to have a successful business project. You also need to make sure your audience enjoys your content and finds it valuable and educational. Tracking your students’ progress and using reports to analyze and identify areas of improvement are great ways to ensure your course remains engaging and relevant.
Using WordPress and Sensei for your online course
If you’re looking for the perfect tool to create your online course, you should consider using WordPress. WordPress is a website builder for bloggers, small businesses, and large companies. If you don’t want to have to worry about keeping your installation up to date and secure, a managed WordPress hosting service is probably the best idea. For example, you can use Pressable to manage your business more efficiently.
In addition to using a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce (a customizable eCommerce platform that supports features like coupons and payments), online course creators need a tool to plan their lessons and make sure students can access all content.
What is Sensei?
If you want to create courses easily, an ideal solution is to use WordPress and the Sensei LMS plugin. Sensei allows entrepreneurs, coaches, marketers, academics, and agencies to develop certified online courses your students will love. All you need to do is create the courses in the WordPress editor and customize them to fit your brand.
If you want to sell your courses, you can use Sensei Pro, which integrates with WooCommerce and its various extensions. This means that you can use Sensei’s in-built features to build your courses and WooCommerce Payments to monetize them.
Sensei Pro is the most potent course creation tool for WordPress. The plugin will allow you to quickly:
- Create original content and organize it into engaging lessons.
- Integrate interactive blocks using Sensei Blocks. Sensei Blocks is a standalone plugin that includes flashcards, quizzes, task lists, and image hotspots.
- Create student groups and cohorts so people can progress together.
- Track your students’ progress, evaluate their grades, create and explore reports, and set content schedules so your course can run all on its own.
- Support a variety of powerful features to offer your students even more resources. Create certificates of accomplishment, add attachments to your lessons, and quickly convert blog posts into courses.
Feeling inspired? Build your course with Sensei
With all the examples of great courses that we’ve listed in this article, you should have all the inspiration you need to start creating your first course! No matter what you want to teach, Sensei LMS makes it easy to set up engaging and memorable courses directly in WordPress.
If you want to create unlimited courses on one site with all of Sensei’s features, we recommend Sensei Pro. Try it today and benefit from a 14-day money-back guarantee!