The open online course market is projected to be worth $25.3 Billion by 2025, and online courses are the fastest-growing market in the education sector. This means it’s a great time to make money by sharing your knowledge and expertise with other people on the internet.
Depending on your specific revenue goals, online courses can be your main source of income, a side project, or a marketing tool that supplements other areas of your business. But what’s the best way to get started?
In this article, we discuss why the best solution lies with WordPress. This will make it easy for you to put a website together and use two primary tools to create and sell your online courses: Sensei LMS, a Learning Management System plugin, and WooCommerce, which is the world’s largest eCommerce platform. Let’s get started!
What is the Best Way to Create and Sell Online Courses?
When it comes to choosing a platform for your online courses, you’re spoilt for choice. It doesn’t take much research to learn that there are multiple third-party platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare that will host your courses for you. This is an extremely easy route since there’s less work involved to get started. You just need to create your account, upload your course content, and you’re good to go!
However, just because it’s easier, it doesn’t mean it’s the option that will pay off the most in the long run. Despite the fact that it may take a little more effort to get started initially, we maintain that the best solution is to create your own WordPress website and host your own course content.
With WordPress, you have full control over your website design! There are thousands of themes that you can use as the starting point of your website, so you’re guaranteed to find one you like.
With third-party course platforms, you’re limited to their own templates which makes it make harder to create a distinct brand around your courses. There is an obvious workaround to this, which is using a third-party platform and creating a branded landing page on WordPress that links to your course pages. However, it’s much more ideal to contain the user experience in one website.
Additionally, you’re fully in charge of costs. When you use an external course platform like Teachable, you need to be aware of any fees you’ll be liable to pay. These can include hosting fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees. These costs can rank up over a long period, especially if your course starts to become successful and you need to pay fees for every learner who signs up. This can also affect your pricing, as you may need to set higher prices to compensate for these fees.
The reality is that you’ll also have costs with WordPress, mostly segmented into four main categories:
- Hosting: You will need to use a managed WordPress host that you pay monthly or annually to install and maintain your website on its server.
- Themes: Thousands of free and premium themes exist. We don’t believe a premium theme is essential as you can easily build a great-looking website with a free theme such as Course.
- Plugins: Plugins extend the functionality of your website, and these can also be free or paid. As a course creator, you primarily need two: WooCommerce, which is free, and Sensei Pro, which is premium.
- Processing fees: If you use any kind of payment gateways to sell courses, then you will inevitably need to pay processing fees. Obviously, this is not unique to WordPress!
So, if there are costs associated with WordPress, why it is so much better than using any other platform? For starters, these costs are very manageable. We’ve already seen that you can reduce expenses significantly by using free themes and free plugins (where possible). More importantly, since you effectively fully own the content on your website, then you can charge a fair price to your students without the worry of anyone taking a cut of your revenue.
Now that we’ve determined why WordPress is the superior choice for course creators, let’s look at the two most important tools you’ll need in more depth: WooCommerce and Sensei LMS, and show you how you can use them together to start selling courses on your website!
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform built for WordPress. Most WordPress themes are compatible with WooCommerce and so you should easily be able to turn your website into an online store just by downloading the free WooCommerce plugin. Once you activate WooCommerce you’ll be able to add new products and display them on the front end – we’ll soon show you how to do this for online courses.
Additionally, WooCommerce comes with a host of extensions that you can use to extend the eCommerce capabilities of your website further. Some of these are free, like WooCommerce Payments, which is the platform’s main payment integration system. However, you’ll need to pay for some other extensions such as WooCommerce Bookings which allows customers to make reservations and pay in advance, or WooCommerce Bundles which allows you to bundle products together.
Setting up your online store with WooCommerce is easy, and as a store owner, you get unlimited customizability, a wide range of payment gateways, as well as analytics and reporting functions.
What is Sensei LMS?
Sensei LMS is a plugin that gives you all the functionality you need to create online courses directly on your WordPress website. While various LMS plugins exist, none of them integrate with WordPress quite like Sensei does. For example, you’ll set up your course using the Gutenberg block editor, whereas other plugins like LearnDash and LifterLMS have their own interfaces that you’ll need to get used to.
In the same way that Sensei seamlessly integrates with WordPress, it also integrates with WooCommerce. This is not typical of LMS plugins, which usually come with their own payment gateways. The big advantage you get with Sensei is the flexibility you get thanks to all the official WooCommerce extensions we’ve mentioned above. Bear in mind that to sell your courses via WooCommerce, you’ll need the Sensei Pro plan, as the free Sensei plugin will let you create courses but you’ll only be able to offer them for free.
You’ll also get advanced features with Sensei Pro, such as access to all Sensei Blocks, the full range of quiz types, conditional content, course glossaries, course access periods, scheduled content, and lots more.
Getting started with your first Sensei course is easy and intuitive! Here are the basic steps:
- Get to the WordPress Dashboard
- Click Courses > Add New
- Begin by naming your course and include a featured image
- Add the modules and lessons to your course
- Assign the course category and certificate template
- You can also add quizzes by navigating to the “Lesson Quiz” option
How to Integrate Sensei LMS With WooCommerce
Let’s now take a closer look at how to integrate Sensei LMS with WooCommerce. You’ll need the free Sensei LMS plugin, the Sensei Pro extension, WooCommerce, and a payment gateway of your choice. WooCommerce Payments is the obvious choice, but other payment gateway options include Stripe, Paypal Payments, and so on.
Here’s what you need to do to set up a course as a product:
- Go to Course > All Courses, and select your course
- Find the Pricing section in the Course sidebar, and click the Create a new product link
- Enter the product name, price, and description
- Click the Create product button, and then click Update
Once you’ve completed your steps, your course will become a sellable product! People will see a Purchase Button under your course; this would previously have been a Take Course button if you were offering the course for free.
As the creator, you have full control over your checkout and purchase experience. You can also sell your courses via bundles, packages, and plans. You can automatically enroll students into a course or restrict certain students from certain courses as well.
Sell Your Courses With Sensei Pro and WooCommerce!
In this article, we’ve seen how easy it is to sell your courses online via Sensei Pro and WooCommerce. This is an incredibly flexible combination as Sensei Pro gives you access to all the features you need to create captivating courses, and WooCommerce gives you all the extensions you could possibly need to create attractive packages for your students.
And we’ll stress that this combination of Sensei Pro and WooCommerce has resulted in many success stories! EscuelaEmprende.com is just one example of a WordPress user who has used both tools to garner over 35,000 paying subscribers on his courses.
If you’re ready to try your shot at being the next course creator to find your success through WordPress, get Sensei Pro today!