Once you’ve outlined your course, it’s important to consider how you’ll sell online courses. This involves deciding on a platform to create, sell, and market your online course.
There are a few different ways to set up your online course website. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the options available to you for setting up your online course website and how to choose the right one. We’ll also explain what you must do once you’ve chosen a platform.
But before we get into it, let’s quickly talk about the benefits of selling online courses from your own website versus a marketplace.
Why you should sell online courses from your own website
As an online course creator, you probably already know that there are two main ways you can sell courses – via your own website or a marketplace like Coursera.
The main benefit of selling online courses from your website is maximizing revenue. Online course marketplaces – like Coursera and Udemy – take a significant percentage of your earnings. This typically ranges from 50% to 75% per sale! However, if you sell through your own website, you keep all the profits.
In addition, when you sell from your website, you can collect user data like emails. This gives you a direct channel to reach out to learners and is a great way to build your email list. Online course marketplaces don’t allow you to capture learners’ emails.
Choosing the right platform to sell online courses
Aside from online course marketplaces, there are two main ways to sell online courses. You can go with:
Hosted course platform
This is a suitable option for anyone that wants to start selling online courses as quickly as possible. Hosted course platforms – like Kajabi and Thinkific – let you create, sell, and market your online course with your own branding elements.
However, you’re limited to the tools the platform integrates with. Hosted course platforms are usually pretty expensive and limit the number of contacts and active customers you can have at a time.
Self-hosted course platform
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS), with a market share of 43.2%. The best part is that plenty of learning management system (LMS) plugins for WordPress make it easy to build your own online course website and start selling courses.
The best part is that there are tons of additional plugins that you can use to supercharge your online course website. For instance, you can use a page builder to create a unique website, create lead capture plugins to build your email lists and integrate with email marketing software to send emails.
Some of the most popular WordPress LMS plugins include LifterLMS, LearnDash, and BuddyBoss.
Which platform is right for you?
With a hosted solution, you’re limited to the features the platform offers. In addition to this, most hosted online course builders come with huge price tags that add up to a few hundred dollars per month.
As an online course creator, using a platform you own and control is best. This is possible with WordPress. You can self-host your online courses on your WordPress site and use themes and plugins to build your site how you want. In addition to this, you can set up payments the way you want and keep all of your earnings.
Check out our roundup of the 14 Best Online Course Platforms for Creators for more information.
How to sell online courses from your own website
Regardless of which platform you end up going with, there are a few essential steps you’ll need to follow to start selling online courses from your own website.
Step #1: Create a website
The first thing you need to do is get a domain name from a domain registrant. Some hosting companies allow you to buy your domain directly from them.
Once that’s done, it’s time to find a hosting provider to host your WordPress site. Choose a hosting provider with excellent performance, speed, security, and customer support.
Most WordPress-recommended hosting providers have a built-in wizard or guide to help you install WordPress on your hosting plan. Simply follow the instructions to get your website up and running.
Once your site is ready, install a free or premium WordPress theme and create basic pages like the homepage, online course landing page, about us page, and a contact form. At this stage, you can also install essential WordPress plugins like a backup, caching, and SEO plugins.
Step #2: Add online courses
WordPress is a CMS without features that let you add online courses to your site. To do this, you’ll need to choose an LMS plugin. Our top recommendations are LifterLMS, LearnDash, and BuddyBoss. The LMS plugin you choose to go with will depend entirely on your specific needs and requirements.
Check out our reviews of all three platforms to learn more:
Once the plugin is installed and activated on your WordPress site, you can start configuring its settings. This will determine your online course site’s functionality and the user experience your site delivers.
You’ll also be able to add your online courses to your site once you’ve configured the plugin’s settings. All three plugins are intuitive and easy to use, and you can have your online courses up in no time.
You can also add more material to supplement your online courses. For example, you might want to set up assignments and quizzes or create an online community. This is all possible with the LMS plugins listed above and their add-ons.
Step #4: Set up video hosting
If videos are a key part of your online courses, you’ll want to set up video hosting immediately. This is because, from a technical standpoint, hosting your online course video on your site’s hosting servers isn’t practical. You’ll run into bandwidth limitations quickly, and learners will likely experience a drop in performance if your online course videos are hosted directly on your website.
Instead, you want to sign up for a video hosting provider. YouTube is a free video hosting provider that you’re probably already familiar with. If you’re looking for a more professional option, we recommend checking out Wistia or Vimeo.
Check out our article on the Best Video Hosting Sites for Course Creators for more information.
Step #5: Start marketing your online course
If you haven’t done so already, create an online course sales page or landing page where you’ll sell your online course. This page is crucial to your marketing strategy, so it’s important to ensure your landing page is well-designed and compels visitors to act on your conversion goal.
It’s also important to have a clear call to action button on the landing page so prospective learners know exactly what they need to do to purchase the course.
Most LMS plugins have built-in e-commerce functionality that lets you sell online courses, create bundles, offer discounts, and even set up recurring subscriptions.
Outside of your website, you’ll want to promote your online course to your email list (if you have one) and post about it on your social media platforms. Start by focusing on the social media platforms where your target audience is most likely to be spending their time.
For example, if you’re online course is aimed at professionals, you might want to start marketing your course on LinkedIn. If your audience is on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, you can create content specifically for those platforms to maximize outreach.
As an online course creator, it’s important to have ownership and control over your digital products. Online course marketplaces make it easy to start selling your online course, but they have their fair share of cons. The same goes for hosted solutions.
Instead, selling your online course from your website is better. The best way to do this is by building a WordPress site and using an LMS plugin like LifterLMS, LearnDash, or BuddyBoss to create and sell online courses.
To recap, here’s what you need to do to start selling online courses from your own website:
- Create a website by purchasing a domain name and hosting plan from a reputed hosting provider. Install the WordPress CMS on your hosting server.
- Choose an LMS plugin and start adding your online courses to it. You can also create quizzes and assignments, set up a community space, and configure payment settings.
- Sign up for a video hosting provider to ensure optimized performance on your online course website.
- Create a landing page for your online course and start marketing your online course on social media platforms.
Do you have any questions about how to sell online courses from your own website? Let us know in the comments section below.