In this article, I will show you everything you need to create an online course website with WordPress using LearnDash and everything involved in choosing your subject material, how to create the videos and other content required.
There are lots of ways to sell your knowledge online and I have worked with the vast majority of solutions either for my own needs or while helping clients.
During the pandemic and in 2021 online learning has been experiencing massive growth as people look to support their customers remotely and generate an income remotely. This is the art of productizing your services.
According to Forbes Magazine, the e-learning market is expected to be worth $325 billion by 2025 and that has surely gone higher as a result of the pandemic.
The idea is to find a problem people need solving, research and produce a solution in the form of a video course, and then automate the process of selling it 247 so you can scale beyond the limitations of your human time offering 1 to 1 services.
Instead of trading your time for money, you are investing your time in building a product you can sell an infinite number of times with very low operational costs.
There are pros and cons to the different setups and while I could write a comparison guide as a separate article the purpose of this guide is to look at using LearnDash and WooCommerce to turn WordPress into a learning management system.
We are also going to look at the steps involved in creating and launching your first course.
Planning Your Online Course
The first step if you are thinking of creating your own online course is planning it all out.
The most critical place to start with the planning involves brainstorming ideas and then qualifying or validating them.
Choosing Your Idea
The intersection of your passion, knowledge, and demand. This means something you are passionate about, knowledgable about, and for which there is a healthy audience of people that need the solution.
For some people the course idea might be obvious, it might be something they are very familiar with and know is a pain point for their customers.
At this stage, it’s worth breaking down what you do and how you help people so you can work out some course ideas that might work for your audience.
Choosing a Course Type
Sometimes it’s better to start with a smaller course that goes into detail about one specific issue rather than trying to solve every issue for people in one go.
I’m a big proponent of the MVP idea. That the most important first step is launching your minimum viable product and learning from the process. It’s far better to polish and expand on your idea later knowing you have tested it in a real-world scenario and even better if it’s already generating money to convince you to keep working on it.
Very few courses are perfect first time around and without any edits but it’s taking action and getting something out there that often holds people back so don’t be ashamed of simplifying it.
Here are some different course type ideas:
- Introductory course – A course that covers the fundamentals of a subject. This would cover the top-level overview of something but maybe not go into every little detail. It might be something that is aimed at complete beginners. A 5-day mini-course on launching a blog might be a good example or the basics of WordPress.
- Lazer-Focused Course – This would be a course that takes a very small component of a big topic and zooms in really close going into detail on how to solve the problem or pain-point. This course might be a bit longer than your introductory course and will show the student everything they need to know to achieve X.
- Flagship or Signature Course – This is the most comprehensive course option and probably not worth attempting until you have created 1 or 2 smaller courses first. A flagship course will cover a broad topic but will have lots of modules each going into Lazer-focussed detail. These kinds of courses might warrant a yearly subscription for continued access so you can continue to improve, grow and update your course content as time passes. This sort, of course, might teach someone how to do what you do professionally by the end and achieve the same results as you. It might also include a Mastermind group, monthly Q&A’s and other benefits. It may even give access to all of your other courses and content for no additional cost.
Finding a Problem / Pain Point
If like myself you are a web designer you could teach people how to design websites, or if you wanted to simplify it you could start by teaching people who own websites how to properly manage them to increase their performance or you could create a course on how to set up one specific type of website, like an eCommerce store.
If you are a graphic designer, you could teach your students graphic design, or you could just teach them how to create a simple yet beautiful logo for their business.
If you are a personal trainer you can teach people how to do a proper workout routine from home by following along with your lessons, or you could create a video on just how to get 6-pack abs.
There’s another advantage to taking these latter routes, when you niche down a product or course idea it’s far more likely to stand out and you will have less competition.
Validating Your Idea
When you have one or a handful of ideas that you think could make for a good course idea you want to begin the process of validation and there are a few ways you can do this.
Keep in mind you are going to need your idea to fit the three criteria mentioned earlier.
You should have already decided if the subject is something you are both passionate and knowledgeable about but you need market demand to exist for your solution too, so you need to be solving a real-world problem that people have.
If you pass that test you need to consider if there are enough people that have this issue for it to generate you the kind of revenue you want to achieve.
Research the keywords you would use if you were the customer looking for your course idea. See if other people are selling the same or a similar course. If they are good news, don’t be put off that someone has already done the same course that should be taken for granted.
They haven’t created the course the way YOU teach it and you can offer unique insights.
If there’s only one other website selling it then maybe that doesn’t fully qualify it but if there are lots of websites and courses on that topic it should give you the confidence that it can work.
If you don’t find anyone else selling your course, fret not! This might not mean there isn’t demand more that nobody has capitalized on the opportunity yet.
Try using some SEO tools like UberSuggest, SEMRush, Moz, or Ahrefs and try running some keyword searches as these tools can help you to see the monthly search volume for different phrases people might use to find your course.
If there’s no data for any of them and nobody is selling the course there might not be enough demand.
Reach out to existing customers.
If you already have customers that you offer related services to or an email list and social following the best place to start with your validation is simply asking these people.
Send them an email or social post that says “If I created XXX would you be interested in buying it?”. Then explain that you are looking to launch your first course so you can help more people in less time and wait for the response.
If you have a few ideas you are weighing up you could list three in your email and ask which one they would be most likely to buy and you could include a poll to properly measure the results.
Whichever idea has the most interest will be the one you do first, the others you can put on your maybe later list.
Go on Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Quora and straight-up ask people if they would be interested in taking a course on X.
Try finding a subreddit for your niche or target audience and ask on there.
Find people on Twitter and Linkedin asking questions you can answer and are part of what you would include in your course and ask them if they would be interested in buying a course to learn how to do it.
You are bound to get some idiots responding so keep your brave face on but if you are struggling with your own customers and audience and doing research on Google and using SEO tools didn’t help this might be your best option.
Pre-Selling Your Course
If you have a healthy audience and lots of people have expressed interest in your new course idea you could even consider pre-selling it.
The way to do this is to email everyone that said they would be interested with a short sales email that offers them 50% off or some other discount if they pre-buy your course before it’s finished.
You can entice them by telling them they will be the first people to access the course as you will open a beta version of your course before it’s fully ready for the masses so people can start learning sooner and have a chance to shape the course by asking questions and telling you what they would like to see added next.
This also means you can generate some early revenue from your course to help cover some of the time you are about to spend producing everything. This can act as great additional motivation because people have already paid and they are now waiting for you to deliver.
Creating Your Online Course
With your course idea validated the natural next step is to start creating it but you don’t want to rush into making videos etc straight away you want to work out the overview and components of your course.
Plan Course Material & Create an Outline
Start with a spider diagram or list. You want to cover the essential things people need to learn from your course to be competent at the skill you are teaching.
If other courses exist it won’t hurt to have a look at how they have structured their lessons and modules to give you a birds-eye view of what the course should entail.
This doesn’t mean copy what someone else has done, it means you should learn from it, use it to create an outline so you can see if there’s anything you have missed. This helps you to be thorough with what you plan to include without going overboard or off-track. You will have plenty of time to work on other courses in the future.
You should add and remove things as you see fit to ensure it does what it needs but doesn’t start to go off into too many different areas.
The course should be structured as modules and lessons. Think about how to group your lessons so they make sense so your students can go through a cohesive learning experience.
Think about the milestones your students will reach at the end of specific modules or chapters.
You can even gamify the experience for your students by giving them humorous awards when they reach certain stages of your course like Fitness Ninja, Coding Padawan, or the You still have some way to go young one, mind the gaps award.
Course Format & Content Types
Next, you should think about how to best deliver your course content. For most people selling online courses that will usually be in video format with some additional text content and downloadable PDFs.
Your videos might involve you on-screen presenting, they might not, they might include you physically working on something while recording yourself or they might just be a screen recording of your computer while you demonstrate how to do something.
I think having some complementary text that goes with each lesson is a smart idea for most people and using PDF’s when you want to share a report or a worksheet and template your students can download and keep is always a smart move.
With a good learning management system, you can also include a quiz at the end of each lesson or module to test your students on what they have learned.
You might also want to consider how your content delivery will occur.
- Pre-recorded and all at once – You create all of your videos and course material, put it together in your LMS, and launch. Students can go through it all in one go at their own pace
- Released Weekly – You could create one lesson per week and record and upload them to your LMS each week as you go. This is similar to preselling as you launch your course with only 1 or 2 weeks of lessons recorded. Sometimes these lessons will be live, or they could be pre-recorded each week.
- Pre-recorded – You could also do a hybrid of the above where you have already created all of your lessons but you set your LMS system to release 1 lesson per week. Or you could set it to 1 per day, you have total control over how your students progress through the course.
There are pros and cons to all of the above options, I personally favor going for route 1 myself and doing an early beta trial for customers that pre-bought.
Give it a Working Title
Once you have brainstormed your idea and have made a decision it helps to give it a working title. Something that sums up what they will learn and differentiates you from the other courses teaching something similar.
This doesn’t have to be the eventual name you give to your course when you launch but it helps to start getting the creative juices flowing with your new product name early on. This can help you to stay on course when creating because you know the name of it and what it promises to help people do.
Try and avoid anything too wordy, shoot for 3 words or fewer if you can and ensure you have a unique name that doesn’t clash with another course provider because that can be a marketing nightmare.
Make the name as relevant as you can and try and avoid cliche names.
My first course was called “WordPress Essentials”. Two words and straight to the point.
Once you have your working title, come up with a value proposition or “elevator pitch” that sells your course in as few words as possible. Something that’s snappy but covers it properly in a way that will appeal to your target audience. Don’t expect anyone to spend more than 3 seconds reading it.
The elevator pitch for my first course is “Learn how to use your new WordPress website so you can get the most value out of it and succeed”.
This course is not aimed at helping someone learn how to build a WordPress website, it’s purpose is for existing website owners using WordPress who want to improve their skills so they can use it properly themselves and not have to always rely on someone else. That’s the proposition.
Create the course material
Once you have an overview of the lessons and modules you want to create, their ideal order, and the types of content you plan to include it’s time to start creating.
If you are creating a video course there are a few things you probably need.
- Screen Recording software
- Presentation software
The best screen recording software for your needs might depend on how you prefer to create your videos.
Personally, I use OBS which is a streaming tool but also allows me to record my screen too. This works well for me because it allows me to pause using a keyboard shortcut when I need to catch my breath or refer to notes on my second screen which is where I keep my lesson plan.
The best solution for most people will probably be Camtasia, which is an amazing tool and includes a full video editor that allows you to screen record, edit, and add any intro or outro screens all in one tool.
Another good solution I have been using is Loom. The only issue is they recently limited free accounts to a max video length of 5 minutes and that won’t cut it for most people though upgrading is worthwhile if you share a lot of videos with clients.
I upgraded because when clients ask me questions, instead of writing a response I record a video showing them the answer and I have had very good feedback as a result so it’s become a worthwhile cost.
Loom may seem overkill in that it hosts your screen recordings online as soon as you finish recording and if you are creating a course to sell you probably just want them to be saved on your computer so you can upload them to a video host when you are ready.
It’s not a bad idea to have some presentation software like Microsoft Powerpoint, Apple Keynote, or even Canva so you can create some start and end screens for your videos that fade in and out and for using presentation slides during your video.
If what you are teaching is going to involve you recording yourself doing something physical then you will have to invest in more equipment, so you be tempted to buy a professional camera but you don’t need to break the bank. Most cameras on iPhones or Android smartphones are more than good enough. You might just want to invest in some affordable accessories like a tripod for your phone, some lights, a green screen, and a lavalier microphone.
If you want to show yourself occasionally in your videos or in the corner then a simple Logitech web cam will be good enough if you don’t have one built into your device already.
So once you have everything you need and you have a plan you are nearly ready to start recording those videos, doing your edits, adding any intros or outros, and cataloging them in a folder so they are ready to use when your LMS is ready.
Build your Learning Management System (LMS)
If you want you can start building your LMS and course platform while you are creating the course materials or you can just build your course first and then set up your LMS.
If you use a paid online course provider this might end up wasting money as you are paying from the day you start and perhaps won’t have your video content and course live for a couple of months but if you use WordPress and LearnDash that’s not going to be as much of an issue.
Here are the ingredients you will need to launch your online course:
Learning Management System
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing an LMS to sell your course on.
There are platforms specifically built for this though you will have to pay a monthly fee. These include Teachable, Kajabi, and a few others. If you don’t mind spending the money and want a simple platform then Teachable might be the best option for you.
Then there are course marketplaces like Udemy where you can list your course on their marketplace alongside thousands of others.
The final route is to build your LMS on your own web domain and this is the method I prefer and have built for dozens of clients. This way you own your system and have complete control. I achieve this using WordPress + WooCommerce + the LearnDash LMS plugin.
If you opt for using a pre-built online course platform like Teachable, Kajabi, or the Udemy marketplace one advantage is that you don’t have to worry about hosting your videos anywhere as that is included in their service. That is one of the best selling points for me but I prefer to have more control than these platforms provide.
How I would Build an Online Course
Here’s the top-level overview of how I would recommend building out your course to have maximum control over the layout, functionality, and SEO.
My advice is to use WordPress and LearnDash. Here’s how you do that.
1 – Buy a domain name or use your existing domain name
If you have an existing website using WordPress and plan to sell your course on that website you can skip this step but if you don’t or you want to set up a separate website for your courses you will first need to get a domain name.
Here’s a guide on how to choose a good domain name that should help.
2 – Install WordPress if your website doesn’t already use this CMS.
You will need hosting so you can install WordPress. I’d recommend Siteground for most starter websites.
Once you have signed up it’s very easy to install a fresh copy of WordPress using their site tools.
3 – Set up a basic design with a theme framework and page builder.
Personally, I use a simple theme like the Genesis Framework or Astra and then install a page builder like either BeaverBuilder or Elementor and use those tools to create a design and layout for your site.
I think the best approach is to keep it as clean and simple as possible, especially when starting out.
Less is more, focus on your key objectives only.
4 – Install WooCommerce, this will handle the checkout and will connect to either Stripe or Paypal as the payment gateway
This isn’t an absolutely essential step to making it work but I think it creates a better user experience so I will always install WooCommerce and use that to sell the course.
The added benefit is that if you ever want to sell any other digital or physical products on your website you already have WooCommerce set up and ready.
Since WooCommerce is free anyway it’s not a big decision to use this instead of the built-in payments option in LearnDash.
5 – Install LearnDash, this is the plugin that will allow us to create a members-only course and create lessons, polls, and much more.
LearnDash is a premium plugin and costs $159 for a single site license and $189 for the pro package for 10 sites and includes the pro panel plugin which gives you additional reporting features so for the extra $30 it’s not a bad idea to have that included but it’s not essential.
Once LearnDash is installed you can create your course and its individual lessons inside WordPress.
If you are adding videos to your lessons you will want to host them.
The professional approach is to pay for video hosting with Amazon S3. This is a cost-effective way to stream private videos on your website that only students can access.
The budget bootstrap approach is to upload them to YouTube and set them as unlisted. This way you can include them in your lessons without them being discoverable on YouTube itself but I don’t think it prevents people from sharing the URL directly with others so it’s not quite as secure and flawless as using Amazon Web services for your videos but might work if you are just starting out and testing the waters.
I use this option for free courses where no revenue is being generated to cover the costs.
6 – Extras
There are some third-party plugins that are worth adding to your website when you are using LearnDash.
- Login/Logout Menu – This allows you to show the login or logout link on your menu depending on if they are already logged in or not. I think this is better than showing both at all times.
- Uncanny Toolkit for LearnDash – This plugin adds some additional settings that don’t come baked into LearnDash that are very useful for improving your course experience. There’s a free and premium version of this plugin.
- LearnDash LMS WooCommerce Integration – This adds some features that help WooCommerce and LearnDash work together.
- LearnDash LMS – Notifications – Allows you to send notifications to your students inside your LMS platform.
- LearnDash Notes – Allows students to save notes on the lessons to refer to later.
- Peter’s Login Redirect – This allows you to redirect users to their course page after logging in.
- ProPanel by LearnDash – Optional if you decided to pay for the Pro package, this plugin gives you a good overview of your reporting.
Of course, I use other plugins and have to do some customization but the above is a good overview of how to put a very basic course website together with WordPress.
Perhaps I will get meta and create a video course about creating a video course at some point.
Perfecting Your Course
Once your course is ready or nearly ready you might want to consider running a beta and inviting either people who already said they were interested, people who pre-bought the course, or just your closest colleagues and people in your network.
This way you can get valuable insights before you go public.
Listen to what they are stuck with or things they didn’t find clear and go back in and improve those videos.
Then use notifications to let students know a new video has been added or an old video has been updated.
Going through this process will make your course more robust and thorough thus allowing you to make it the best it possibly can be.
There’s just no way of doing that by watching your own course, so you have to get some eyeballs on it and that’s another reason why I suggest starting with a smaller subject than trying to teach people everything in one course, especially if it’s your first course. By the time you launch you will be exhausted and the idea of going in and improving things will be far more daunting than if you bootstrapped it and launched your minimum viable product.
Launching Your Course
When the time comes to do your final public launch you want to tap into the audience you have already built and in particular, those people who have already expressed an interest if you didn’t run a beta.
You might find you have new email subscribers or people who didn’t respond when you were preselling that are now more interested as the course is finished and live.
One option is to offer a discount at launch for the first few days or a week. If you offered 50% off to the people who bought in your pre-selling/beta, try offering 20% off for the people who buy at your public launch.
You want to create a piece of PR for your website to publish on PR websites and craft some social content that promotes your course while helping people.
An option that I really like is to take your 1 course and create 2 versions, a “Lite” version, and a “Complete” version. Then let people sign up for the “Lite” version for free by just giving you their email address.
This version will only include a few lessons or the essentials and won’t go into anywhere near as much detail as your full course allowing you to hopefully upsell those free course students to your premium course once they have seen the quality and built a connection with you as a teacher.
If you don’t want to sell it for free you could allow people to purchase for an insignificant amount like $10 or $1 so you at least know they are willing to make some financial investment in their future and they aren’t just a bunch of tire-kickers.
Marketing Your Course
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, did it make a sound? This is the same with courses, products, websites, and just about anything. It’s pointless. So once your course is nearing completion or even earlier in the process, you should start thinking about how, who, and where you are going to find customers.
Sales Page / Landing Page
When you are launching your course you want to create your first piece of promotional content to help in selling it.
You should always begin with your landing page as you will use this as the main location to send organic, social, and paid traffic.
This landing page might then go on to promoting both your course and/or a freebie to get visitors to sign up for your email list so you can then warm them up with an email sequence sending them 1 email every day for 4 or 5 days delivering free value before you send your sales email at the end.
You want to start with 1 landing page/sales page for your course to begin with but eventually, you might have several for different campaigns.
The aim of one might just be to try and sell your course as the only end result.
Another might try and warm them up with a free mini-course, a PDF guide, or another useful freebie that will help them in exchange for their email address so you can warm them up over the next week with your welcome email sequence from Mailchimp or another autoresponder service.
Your sales page might sign people up to join a live or pre-recorded webinar where you have a chance to demonstrate your authority and experience while also delivering value for free with the end-goal of having the attendees buy your course.
Regardless of which acquisition channels you are using to reach prospects you need a sales page to send them to so they can learn more. This is an important part of the automation sequence especially when it comes to running paid ads.
Once you are comfortable with the process you will also want to start A/B split testing different versions of the same sales page to see which one performs better and make tweaks and changes accordingly.
A landing page is just the first piece of content you should create to start promoting your course.
While it’s best to start at the top and create one, other pieces of cornerstone content you could create include:
- Blog Posts – You could create a whole series of blog posts to promote your course, you can publish them on your own site or submit them as guest posts to larger websites and blogs.
- YouTube Videos – Why not use YouTube to expose your course to more people by giving away tips and tricks without devaluing your course.
- PDF worksheet, cheatsheet, or guide – A downloadable PDF that is going to be a helpful resource or guide for your target audience.
- Free or Cheaper Mini-Course – A smaller introductory version of your course so you can upsell to your full course at the end.
- Mastermind – Where you invite people to a community that is related to your course.
I discuss a couple of the above in more detail later.
Reach Out to Existing Customers
If you already have customers and you are maybe transitioning from offering done-for-you services to teaching people how to perform the work themselves the best place to start selling is to your existing customers.
It’s far easier to get an existing customer to buy something new compared with converting new leads.
Ideally, if you do have customers already they should be buying on launch day because you should have used these customers to qualify and validate the course idea in the first place. Hell, you might have even sold it before it was finished!
Paid Ads – Facebook or Google
The second area to look at when promoting your course is paid ads PPC (Pay Per Click) or social ads depending on the networks that you are interested in.
Keep in mind the key difference between search ads like using Google Adwords and Bing ads versus social platform ads.
People search a specific keyword or phrase on Google when they are looking for something and you bid on keywords so your link shows up and you get a click. You pay for this click at a certain value based on how competitive it is and what everyone else is willing to spend per click for that keyword.
These customers are warm, they came to your website looking for exactly what it is you have to offer provided your keyword targeting is correct.
I like to think of social marketing as interruption marketing. You can target demographics, people of a certain age, with certain interests etc and you can build a custom audience that represents the people you are trying to reach.
Your ad then shows up in their timeline or feed somewhere and has to grab their attention.
They might be on Facebook to catch up with an old schoolfriend, they are in a social frame of mind. You have to catch their attention and then convert them on what it is you have to offer.
Starting an Ad Campaign
Once you have done some research and found out which type of ads are going to be more effective for your course you can start with a small budget and run some test ads.
It’s probably worth either taking a course yourself on Google Adwords and/or Facebook ads to get yourself familiar with the process and how it works. The alternative is you can hire a PPC or Facebook ads consultant to help you get started or to manage the campaign for you.
As you are selling a course the chances are high that both Pay Per Click ads on Google and social ads with Facebook will be worth trying.
Certain products and services are easier to succeed with using one or the other but for courses, both have their advantages.
You will use these ads to drive traffic to the sales page we discussed earlier which is the next step in the sales funnel after the ad itself.
Basically, you send your traffic to this landing page, not your homepage.
Organic Social Marketing
One way you can start finding potential customers is to search on social networks like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn and help people.
Don’t just start sharing your link left right and center, start by actually helping them and afterward let them know you also have a course that they can take that will help them learn other aspects of whatever it is you were helping them with,
You can start by using the search feature on Twitter for example and search for keywords people with the problem you are solving are searching for, respond to them in the comments or DM and share the answer.
This may have more mileage in some industries than others but it’s a great way to do some market research and see if these people are on social networks asking for help. This can also work if you provide services.
SEO / Search Engine Optimization
SEO isn’t third on this list of marketing tips because it’s less important, it might be the most important but it doesn’t show fast results and takes time so it’s not where I would start when you are launching your first online course unless you already have a domain with good domain authority.
Earlier we discussed using search engines to help you to validate your course idea and how you can use SEO tools to help you find search volumes for different keywords – this is what you want to return to when you start to work on the SEO for your course website.
Technically you should be doing the SEO essentials while you build the website, things like ensuring you include the most relevant keywords on your website though not overdoing it to the point where it becomes spammy.
You should be making it as easy as possible for Google to index your public content (not your course content of course) by connecting Google Search Console and submitting your sitemap.
Because you are using WordPress, provided you didn’t do anything strange, the structure should be pretty decent but I highly suggest you use the blog to publish free content and small tutorials to entice people. This will also help you in the search engines if your content is good. It helps with your topical relevance, plus it increases the chances of earning social shares and backlinks.
The ongoing SEO work you want to do to improve your traffic is mostly related to content marketing and digital PR/backlinks.
Blogging & Guest Posting
You can use content marketing via a blog to market just about anything.
As a course owner, you can create educational blog posts that give away small chunks of your course in a bite-size fashion or create fresh content that compliments your course.
This can help you bring in organic search traffic and build your email list.
You could also reach out to other blogs and websites in your industry or related industries to see if they would publish a guest post where you help people with a pain point and then plug your course at the end.
Here’s a guide full of different content ideas for your blog.
You want to create a content strategy that allows you to create content for your target audience that can work as an on-ramp to getting people to sign up for your full course.
You could encourage them to join your email mailing list in exchange for access to your entry-level free course, which eventually allows you to email them to see if they would like to purchase the premium full version.
Ask Your Students to Become Ambassadors
If you have got a few students already enjoying your course why not ask them to advocate for your course.
They can help you in a few ways
- Testimonials – Ask your students for testimonials either in text or video format that you can add to your homepage, sales pages and also share on social media. If you need to entice some people to provide these offer them a freebie like 30 mins 1-on-1 via Zoom in return.
- Ask your students to share – Encouraging your students to share their experience, progress, and testimonials on their own social channels and with friends or colleagues they think might benefit from it is a great way to reach more of your target audience.
- Affiliate Programs – You can go a step further and offer financial incentives to your students and non-students to recommend your course in exchange for a 20-50% commission.
This goes hand in hand with all of your marketing efforts and acquisition channels whether the traffic is coming from social media, paid ads, or search engines you can use webinars as a sales tool to expand on your landing pages and deliver more value.
Most people promoting something on social or search send people to sales pages, these pages include all of the information about your course and allow people to buy now or maybe subscribe for a freebie so you can remarket to them later.
One way to increase your conversion rate when selling information products is to get your visitors to sign up for a no obligations webinar so they can get a taste of what you have to offer and your teaching style.
Webinars can be hosted live or pre-recorded or even a bit of both where you show a presentation video that is pre-recorded and then show up live at the end to answer questions and offer some interactivity with your audience.
There are lots of options available for Webinar software including WebinarJam, GoToWebinars, or you could even use Zoom but the former tools are more specifically designed to make your life easier.
WebinarJam is for live webinars.
EverWebinar is for automated webinars.
This way you will be collecting emails from people that are pretty warm and interested and more people are likely to convert after 30 minutes or an hour of your free training and those that don’t might come back and buy in the future.
Digital PR and Backlinks
Once your course is live and you have refined it until you are satisfied with the quality you are offering it’s wise to start looking for opportunities to get mentions and backlinks.
Leverage the authority of other websites and influencers to help you grow your sphere of influence.
Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is one easy way to get started by answering journalists’ questions that relate to your subject matter or niche in exchange for a backlink to your website. If you build up some good mentions from authoritative and respected sites and publications you can include these on your course homepage under “As Featured On” or “As Seen On”. This can be a very valuable form of social proof.
You could contact podcast hosts that feature people who have launched online courses or work in your industry or shoulder industries.
Local citations are another way you could build up some useful links to improve your domain’s authority and trust.
There are lots of methods of PR you could learn and leverage like Press Release Campaigns, Guest Posting, and Outreach.
And you could also hire an SEO consultant or agency that offers these services.
Once you have everything working and you have improved your content and your sales pages to the point where they are making some sales it’s time to work out where and how to automate as much of it as possible.
If you are happy with your sales pages and cornerstone content that promotes your course you need to make sure your ads and other traffic sources are sending a sustainable number of leads each week or month to generate sales on auto-pilot.
If you have been using webinars and doing them live, this is the time to start testing out using pre-recorded webinars.
You should be using your email autoresponder service to send an email sequence to anyone who registers their interest and opts in for your webinar or other gated content.
These are the main components of automation because if you are using an LMS all of your course delivery system has been automated as soon as it was launched.
The next step is to work on increasing sales.
Scaling Your Sales
If you have everything that can be automated on auto-pilot and a reliable number of sales coming from ad traffic or search engine traffic it’s time to work on how you can increase those numbers and scale.
Ads – Maybe you could run more ads, target more demographics or keywords, A/B split test ads to find the best performers or you could even decide to just hire a PPC agency or Facebook Ads consultant to teach you or help with the campaigns.
Organic Social – Could you find more people by sharing better content and being more involved in the various communities?
SEO – Could you create more free blog content, write some guest posts on authority websites with more traffic, or work on building more backlinks to your website and cornerstone content?
CRO – Is your sales page optimized for conversions? Conversion rate optimization specialists might be able to help or you could study the science yourself to learn how to improve conversions if you have good traffic coming in but you are spending way too much on your ads, this might move the needle in your favor.
These are the questions to ask yourself and work on once all of the other work is complete and you want to increase your revenue.
There you have it, now you know the top-level overview of what you need to do if you want to productize your services and skills and create your own course online.
Above might lack some of the finer details of setting up your WordPress LMS the way I would do it but it gives you a good enough overview of everything involved to show you what is involved so you can at least launch your minimum viable product and then refine things from there.
If you are interested in having an online course website built for you or having your hand held while you go through the process of doing it yourself, feel free to contact me to find out more.
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