Did you know that you can create a compelling online course with WordPress? The dawn of the digital age opened doors to a plethora of opportunities, one of them being online learning.
The online courses market has thrived over the last couple of years, with the worldwide online learning market size of 101 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. This study projects steady growth of the global eLearning market over the next years, reaching a staggering $370 billion by 2026.
If we look at the Google searches worldwide for “Udemy”, “Coursera”, “Skillshare”, “LinkedIn learning”, there’s clearly an upward trend.
That trend received a boom during the 2020 pandemic.
The folks at MemberPress, the membership WordPress plugin, estimate that MemberPress users have projected earnings well over $600 million in 2021 alone. Yeah, the creator economy is on a roll, ladies and gents!
Why the surge? Learning got more convenient than ever. Learning is a never-ending process, and more people will always want to improve their skills and gain new knowledge. If you possess them, why not monetize your expertise?
Regardless of what you have a knack for, it’s time for you to grab this opportunity, share your skills with others, and get paid for your efforts.
Now, in order to become an online edupreneur (educational entrepreneur), you will first have to get a robust Learning Management System (LMS) platform.
Fortunately, you may not have to worry as WordPress makes it easy to set up an online course that you can use to share your knowledge and expertise with the rest of the world.
This post will take you through all that you need to know about creating an online course with WordPress in just three steps:
A. Plan your course
Regardless of the industry or niche, you wish to focus on, the first step that any successful entrepreneur takes is to plan their strategies ahead. The planning phase might prove intimidating to some people, but it is an essential stage that you can’t afford to skip. In the planning stage, some of the steps that you ought to consider are:
1. Choose your field
If you’re already settled on creating an online course, then you probably know what you want to teach. However, it would be best to specialize in a particular field and not be a generalist (those that specialize in a specific field tend to get trusted more than those that teach in different industries).
What’s your expertise? Are you able to explain the core aspects of that field to a beginner until they understand you? How passionate are you about that field of study? Are you able to scale your classes? (i.e., are you able to teach various topics on the same field, or will it be a one-time thing)?
When you’re choosing your field, you need to align with the demand out there. How can you analyze the demand? Well, check what the competition is doing. Check which are Udemy’s most popular courses, how many students enroll, you get the point, don’t you?
The folks at Domestika even have a list of top-rated courses and the most popular ones.
2. Decide your audience
While still in the planning phase, you need to identify the type of audience that you wish to target with your learning resources. Are they a knowledgeable audience, or are they beginners? What sort of tone will you use? Are you going to be more or less technical with your explanations?
As a rule of thumb, whichever field you go for, try to put yourself in the shoes of the target audience. What sorts of questions are they likely to ask? After you’ve decided who the course is intended for, it leads you to the next point:
3. Organize your course
If you’ve decided to teach the course for a general audience, you should then organize it by breaking it down into several modules or lessons—each lesson more technical than the preceding ones.
4. Course preparation
Once you know what to teach about during your lessons, it is now the time to determine the medium of disseminating such information. What will you use to make your students understand the concept in a much better way? There’s a variety of options you can consider, such as pdfs, using videos (explainer videos), screen recordings, etc.
Think of the templates and examples that you’ll be needing, and don’t forget to attach the resources that you’re using. Also, make sure that you offer transcripts as well.
Also, for a more hands-on course, let the users get involved, with feedback sessions.
Try to figure out if you need to build a community around the course, where participants can collaborate, share knowledge, and work together on projects.
Remember not to lockout any of your students when creating the right learning materials. For instance, should you decide to use videos, ensure that you also consider the hearing-impaired students by adding subtitles to your content.
As part of selecting the course content, you also need to come up with an assessment plan. Would you like to test how your students are picking up with your course? You can give them an assessment either at the end of a module or at the end of the entire course.
5. Test your course
Creating an online course is a continuous process that requires lots of testing and updates. Once you’re done with your initial setup, you can share the course with a few people to get their feedback. Some of the things to look out for are if the course is comprehensive enough, if any parts were incomprehensible, and determine what the right price for the course should be. You could even launch a beta version of your course for free, just to gather feedback, before going live with the final version.
The steps from 2-5 will overlap with the website design, you can’t have one without the other unless you decide to publish your course on a marketplace such as Coursera or Udemy.
B. Design your website
Once you have everything about your course planned out, the next steps would be figuring out your domain name, choosing a hosting plan, then designing your WordPress website.
While you design your site you will need to choose a top-notch Learning Management Systems (LMS) plugin. There are many great online teaching platforms, from LearnDash to Podia which integrate well with WordPress. LearnFash is the most powerful LMS plugin in the WordPress ecosystem. DigitalMarketer, Tony Robbins, The University of Florida are developing their own courses using LearnDash.
Here are some of the LearnDash features that we love:
- it has a drag and drop builder
- supports a lot of media types
- you can manage assignments
- you can use lesson timers
- you can manage course forums y
- you can issue certificates for course completion and badges
- course reporting
- automatic emails based on triggers
- native PayPal payment integration
- works with any WordPress theme
LearnDash also has a short demo that can give you a glimpse into how courses are managed via their tool. Here it is:
C. Promoting your online course
Now that your website and course are live, here comes the headache: how can you let the world know? Well, there are several strategies that you could employ, and here’s a tiny checklist:
- run a blog and optimize it using SEO strategies
- launch a Youtube channel and share some of your knowledge there
- run webinars where you can tackle one of the topics in the course
- develop an affiliate program
- consider writing on Quora and Medium
- run paid ads targeted to your audience (Google Ads, Facebook ads, Youtube ads, Twitter ads, etc.)
- get in touch with influencers (that have the same audience as you) who can promote your course
Now, there’s one thing you should bear in mind: make sure that your audience is on the channel where you want to advertise on. Let’s say you are creating a course on learning Angular, does your audience spend time on Tik Tok or Reddit? Get the point?