Did you know that you can create a successful online course with WordPress?
how to create an online course with WordPress (Step by Step)
Selling online courses may be a popular online business concept you’ll start with a really small investment and no technical knowledge.
Whether you’re looking to make a web course to sell or just add a web course for your existing students, this tutorial is for you!
In this guide, we will show you how to easily create an online course using WordPress. We will also show you ways to form money from it and make your online course a hit.
Here are the steps we will cover to help you create an online course with WordPress:
Ready? Let’s get started.
What Do You Need to Create / Sell an Online Course?
You will need the following things to create an online course.
- A course idea where you’ll help others learn new skills.
- A domain name. This will be your website’s address (Example, wpbeginner.com).
- A WordPress hosting account. This is where your website’s files are stored.
- An eLearning management add-on (also referred to as LMS plugin) to make and manage courses.
- Your undivided attention for the next 45 minutes.
You can build a web course with WordPress in but an hour, and we’ll walk you thru every step of the method.
Let’s get started.
Step 1. Setting up Your WordPress Website
There are many website builders and online course platforms that you simply can use to create your own website. However, we always recommend WordPress because it offers you maximum flexibility and freedom.
WordPress powers over 39% of all websites on the internet.
There are two sorts of WordPress, and beginners often find themselves confusing them.
First, there’s WordPress.com which may be a hosting service, then you’ve got the first WordPress.org also referred to as self-hosted WordPress. See our guide on the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
We recommend using WordPress.org because it gives you access to all or any of the WordPress features that you’ll need.
To start a self-hosted WordPress.org website, you’ll need a domain name ($14.99 / year), WordPress hosting ($7.99 / month), and an SSL certificate to accept online payments ($69.99 / year).
This is quite a lot of startup money.
Luckily, Bluehost, an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a 60% discount on web hosting. Basically, you’ll start for $2.75 per month.
After purchasing hosting, head over to our guide on how to create a WordPress website for step by step set up instructions.
Step 2. Install and Setup MemberPress LMS Plugin
Now that your WordPress website is ready, the next step is to install and set up a Learning Management System add-on. This will allow you to make your online course and add it to your website.
First, you would like to put in and activate the MemberPress plugin. For more information, see our step by step guide on the way to install a WordPress plugin.
MemberPress is the best LMS plugin for WordPress. It is an all-in-one solution with complete course management, lecture plans, subscriptions, access control, payment management, and more.
Course creators around the world use MemberPress to make profitable courses and earn over $400 million dollars per annum.
Upon activation, you need to visit MemberPress » Settings page to enter your license key.
You can find this knowledge under your account on the MemberPress website.
Once you’ve got entered the knowledge, click on the ‘Activate License Key’ button to store your settings.
Next, you would like to modify the ‘Payments’ tab and click on on the (+) add the button to line up a payment gateway. MemberPress supports PayPal and Stripe (Authorize.net support included in Pro and Plus plans).
Simply select your payment gateway and then fill in the required information. You can also set up multiple payment methods by clicking on the (+) button again and repeat the process.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Update Options’ button to save your payment settings.
Step 3. Creating Your First Course
The course creation process in MemberPress makes it super easy to create and manage online courses. It comes with a really easy to use course builder that permits you to take courses, add sections, edit lessons, and more.
First, you need to visit MemberPress » Courses page where you’ll see a button to install and activate the courses addon.
Clicking on it will automatically install and activate the MemberPress courses addon, and you’ll be redirected to the courses page.
Simply click on the ‘Add New’ button at the highest to make your first course. This will launch the MemberPress course builder screen.
First, you’ll see the ‘Course Page’ where you would like to supply a course topic, title, and outline. MemberPress course builder uses the default WordPress block editor, so you’ll get creative and make a powerful course page layout.
You can also add ‘Course Categories’ and ‘Course Tags’, set a featured image, and supply a course page excerpt under the course page settings.
Step 4. Adding Sections and Lessons to Your Course
MemberPress also makes it easy to quickly start adding course contents for each course without switching to a different page.
Simply switch to the ‘Curriculum’ tab and click on on the Add Section button to make your course outline.
You need to supply a title for a neighborhood then click on the Add Lesson button under the section to feature lessons.
After adding a lesson, you can start adding lesson content by clicking on the edit button next to each lesson.
You will be asked to save lots of your changes then your lesson will open up with the familiar block editor screen
You can add your lecture content here with the full advantage of the block editor. This allows you to upload images, embed videos, add text, offer downloadable digital products like powerpoints, PDF eBooks, actionable worksheets, and other course materials.
Don’t forget to click on the Update button to save lots of your lesson. You can return back to the Course by clicking on the ‘Back’ link at the top of the editor.
Repeat the process to add more lessons to your course.
Once you are finished adding course content, don’t forget to click on the ‘Publish’ button to make your course accessible to eligible users.
Step 5. Creating Course Membership Subscriptions
MemberPress allows you to simply sell online courses with subscription plans. You can create as many membership plans as you wish, and users can select an idea to buy your online course.
You can also sell all of your courses under single membership, offer free courses, otherwise, you can add different courses for every plan. This depends on how you plan to structure your sales funnel.
A lot of individuals use a mixture of free courses and paid courses to create their audience and maximize passive income.
To add a membership, easily go to MemberPress » Memberships page and click on the Add New button.
Next, you’ll reach the create new membership page. From here, you initially got to provide a title for this membership plan then add some description.
After that, you can enter the membership pricing under the ‘Membership Terms’ box on the right. You can also select the access duration from lifetime, expire (recurring), or fixed expire.
Next, you would like to scroll right down to the Membership Options section. This where you can configure advanced membership options like the sign-up button, welcome email, pricing box, and more.
Once you’re finished, you’ll click on the Publish button to save lots of your changes.
Repeat the method if you would like to make more membership plans.
Step 6. Restrict Course Access to Membership Plans
The best part about using MemberPress is its powerful access control rules. They allow you to decide who gets access to your online course.
Simply, go to MemberPress » Rules page and click on the ‘Add New’ button.
This will import you to the Rule wizard page. First, you would like to pick the content you would like to guard under the ‘Protected’ content section.
For instance, here we have chosen a single course under the covered content.
Below that, you would like to pick the conditions that require to be matched for users to access that content. For instance, we’ve chosen our membership plan here.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Rule’ button to save lots of your settings.
Step 7. Adding a Link to Course Sign up and Register Page
MemberPress makes it easy to easily send users to the page where they can register and sign up for your course by purchasing a membership plan.
It automatically generates a link for each membership plan that you can add anywhere on your site.
Simply edit a membership plan and you’ll see the link below the membership title. You can also manually type in your domain name followed by /register/your-membership-title/
You can add this link anywhere on your website in a post, page, or navigation menu and it will take users to the registration page.
You can even share this link in your sales pages, webinars, podcasts, Facebook group, social media, and other traffic channels.
Pro Tip: We recommend using PrettyLinks to create memorable short links to share in podcasts, webinars, and social media.
Step 8. Preview & Customize Your Online Course
MemberPress allows you to use the classroom mode by default, which means your course pages and the content will always look good regardless of which WordPress theme you are using.
You can simply attend view a course by visiting:
Don’t forget to exchange the instance .com together with your own name.
You’ll see all your courses listed there. You can click on the ‘Preview as’ menu to ascertain how it might look to the logged out users.
Clicking on a course will open the course, and you will be able to see the course overview, sections, and lessons. It is super easy to navigate and also keeps track of user’s progress so that they can continue where they left off.
You can also customize the course page templates by visiting the Appearance » Customize page and clicking on the ‘MemberPress Classroom’ tab.
Here, you can upload your brand logo and change colors to match the rest of your website.
Don’t forget to click on the Publish button to save lots of your changes.
Step 9. Selling Your Online Course with More Powerful Features
Both MemberPress and WordPress are super flexible. This allows you to use them with the other tools to grow your business and reach more users.
For example, you’ll create a strong membership site/community that gives paid content and perks alongside courses.
You can also use MemberPress with other LMS plugins like LearnDash. This allows you to use LearnDash for course creation and use MemberPress for powerful subscriptions, payments, memberships, and other features.
Alternatively, if you would like to sell other items like physical goods associated with your course, swags, etc, then you’ll use WooCommerce to manage payments and orders. This will allow you to build a correct online store for your website.
Step 10. Promoting Your Online Course
The other advantage of the WordPress + MemberPress combo is that it also makes it easier for you to promote your online course and make money online.
Let’s take a look at few ways to promote your online course, attract the target audience, and make it successful.
1. Create Landing Pages for Your Online Courses
Your WordPress theme would be ready to assist you to create a highly engaging website. However, you’ll get to quickly create landing pages to explain course details, showcase instructors, highlight special offers, etc.
Custom landing pages and sales pages are proven to extend course sales.
We recommend using SeedProd. It is the simplest WordPress page builder and allows you to make professional landing page layouts without writing any code.
For detailed instructions, see our guide on how to create a custom page in WordPress.
2. Learn The SEO Basics
Search engines are the #1 traffic source for many websites on the web. This is why you’ll get to find out how to form your online course website rank higher in search engines.
With the assistance of WordPress plugins and a few basic SEO best practices, you’d be easily ready to compete with the large guys.
We now recommend users to use the All in One SEO for WordPress plugin.
To study more, see our complete WordPress SEO guide for beginners with step by step instructions.
3. Track Marketing Data
A lot of beginners develop their marketing strategy based on guesswork. You don’t have to do that when you can get actual data to make informed decisions.
You can see where your visitors are coming from, what they do on your website, your most popular pages, and more. You can then improve your website to improve your conversions and boost sales.
4. Start Building an Email List
After a while, you would notice that most visitors who come to your website don’t sign up for your online course. The problem is that you would not be able to reach out to those users once they leave your website.
To address this, you need to start an email newsletter. This way you would be able to collect email addresses and reach out to those users and bring them back to your website.
We recommend using AWeber for email marketing.
If you’re looking for alternatives, see our comparison of the best email marketing services.
5. Convert Website Visitors into Subscribers and Customers
Most visitors who come to your website will leave without enrolling in your online course. This is why it’s important to convert those abandoning visitors into subscribers or paying customers.
This is called conversion optimization.
The best tool for the job is OptinMonster. It is the best conversion optimization software on the market and helps you grow your business with more leads and sales.
For more details, see our guide on how to convert website visitors into customers.
Need even more tools? See our complete list of the best tools to grow your WordPress website like a total pro.
Frequently Asked Questions about Creating an Online Course (FAQs)
Over the last 10 years, we have helped thousands of entrepreneurs create their own online courses. Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about creating an online course.
How can I create high-quality videos for my course?
Videos are an important element of online courses. It helps you better demonstrate your subject matter expertise and connect with your audience.
When first starting out, you don’t need to invest in fancy video equipment. A good Ultra HD webcam like Logitech Brio is sufficient for most users.
For screencasts and screen recording, you can use Camtasia or Explaindio for Mac.
Recently, our team has started using the Descript online video editing platform, and it can significantly improve your workflow.
Can I use other online learning platforms with WordPress?
There are many online course platforms that you can use to build and sell courses.
This includes Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Udemy, etc.
You can use any of them alongside your WordPress website. Depending on your needs, these platforms may offer an easier online course creation solution.
However, they’re generally more expensive and/or take a revenue share from your course sales.
Which is the best webinar platform for course creators?
Nothing beats live webinars when it comes to online education. You can use it to boost your audience engagement and improve membership retention.
We have compared the best webinar platforms here.
Most of these solutions will let you create live webinars, automated evergreen webinars, and come with tons of webinar engagement features.
How can I validate my course idea?
Creating online course content takes a lot of time and effort. This is why we always recommend users validate their course idea before hands.
There are several ways to validate a course idea.
You can run a poll or survey on your website, ask for audience feedback on social media, or look at your most popular blog posts or YouTube videos because often the most popular ones can be turned into courses.
What’s the one “little-known” thing that I can do to make my online course successful?
While there are many tactics that you can use to make your online course idea successful and profitable.
The little-known tactic that works really well is case studies. Unfortunately, not enough course creators use them.
A case study allows you to highlight the most successful students in your community. This not only provides encouragement to others, but it can also help those who don’t know how to take maximum advantage of your products.
We use case studies in many of our own businesses for social proof to boost conversions, but also to help our new users find encouragement and motivation.
We hope this article helped you easily create a successful online course in WordPress. You may also want to see our tips on how to add push notifications to connect with visitors after they leave your website, our comparison of the best live chat software for membership sites.