Once you’ve made the decision to create your own online course or coaching program, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to deliver it to the people.
While it seems like this should be a super simple step, in reality, the ‘how’ of creating an online course can be a bit overwhelming. There are just so many different tools, platforms, and plugins out there for creating an online course these days that it can be hard to choose.
When creating your online course, the first question you should be asking yourself is whether you want to create your course with a done-for-you type LMS system OR with a WordPress course plugin, which in my opinion gives you the most flexibility and customization.
So, in today’s lesson, I am going to give you an overview of some of the top course creation platforms out there so you can determine which platform is the right platform for you!
Now, if you’ve already decided to go with a WordPress platform for your online course, you may have done some research and know that you will need to find a course (or membership) plugin that protects your course content behind what’s called a firewall, so only students with access can see it.
If you’ve decided not to use WordPress then here are some tools you’ll want to consider:
In addition to the ones I just listed, there are many more options available to you, but these are some of the best and most reliable.
Now, before we dive in, I want to take just a minute to explain the difference between an LMS (course) plugin and a membership plugin. Yeah, if you’re confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
A membership plugin is designed specifically to protect your content and control access, although many do a lot more than that too these days.
On the other hand, an LMS plugin is designed to provide a richer course experience for your students.
You could also say a membership plugin takes care of the overall framework, while an LMS plugin takes care of the finer details.
There are dozens of WordPress membership and course plugins to choose from and having too many options can leave your head spinning, so let’s narrow down to the most popular course creation plugins right now:
Choosing the Right Online Course Platform.
LearnDash is a WordPress LMS plugin that comes with a simple drag and drop course builder, which allows you to easily create professional looking courses. You can deliver all your lessons at once or use their drip-feed feature to schedule the release of your content.
You can give your students quizzes and assignments that you can then approve or comment on. You can set prerequisites, such as finishing a lesson first before going to the next lesson and LearnDash also has a forum feature where students can ask questions and the community can help each other out.
LearnDash integrates with bbPress, WordPress eCommerce plugins, and WordPress membership plugins like MemberPress.
It also offers payment options such as subscriptions, one-time purchases, memberships, and a shopping cart for your online training course. You can accept payments using multiple payment gateways including PayPal, Stripe, and 2Checkout.
02. WP Courseware.
WP Courseware is WordPress LMS plugin that comes with a drag and drop course builder and includes a ton of features. You can create courses that have multiple modules, units, and quizzes. It supports course prerequisites and content drip features as well.
You can also create free courses and provide users a way to try out your classes. This could encourage them to buy a full course. You can sell paid courses as a one-time purchase or recurring subscriptions.
WP Courseware allows you to set up instructor profiles, student grade books, custom emails, and many other features that help create an engaging experience for your students. It also has a built-in shopping cart option where you can directly connect PayPal or Stripe so you can start selling your courses right away.
03. Woo Sensei.
Sensei is a WordPress LMS Plugin created by the same creators of WooCommerce. It is super easy to use and follows the same best practices as WordPress and WooCommerce.
Course creation while simple, is not as robust compared to plugin like MemberPress or LearnDash, but you can run quizzes, give assignments, grade them automatically or manually, and even offer gamification in the form of badges and certificates to students.
To sell your courses and accept payments you will need to use WooCommerce and for each course you want to sell, you will have to create a product in WooCommerce and then link it to your course.
LifterLMS is a WordPress LMS plugin with a lot of cool features that enable you to create and engaging learning experiences for your students. It is easy to set up, even on existing WordPress sites and supports multi-tier courses with training modules, lessons, categories, and more. LifterLMS gives you the flexibility to create small courses or full-fledged degree programs. You can also add multimedia lessons including video, audio, text, images, and more to make your courses more appealing.
LifterLMS has content dripping, course prerequisites, and group memberships to offer you the maximum control over how your courses work.
To keep students engaged, the plugin offers features like automated emails, gamification with badges, and even certificates that you can give to your students when they complete a course. It’s built-in content restriction feature allows you to restrict any WordPress page on your site, making it available to members only.
LifterLMS has a useful collection of addons, which you can use to integrate with eCommerce plugins, connect to your email marketing service, and manage any affiliates you may bring on to help promote your course.
There are multiple options to accept credit card payments, one-time or recurring payments, sell course bundles, offer coupons, and more. Among the payment options, you can integrate it with PayPal, Stripe, or receive payments manually via check.
MemberPress is one of the most powerful (and popular) membership WordPress plugins around, It’s the plugin I use to deliver my flagship program WomanpreneuHER University and I love it!
It’s beginner-friendly and can be used to easily create, manage, and sell your courses. It comes with a special Classroom Mode, so you don’t need to spend ages designing your online classroom. And even though MemberPress takes care of the design for you, you can also use other custom themes to get the look and feel you like.
Their membership rules make it easy to configure access control, sell course subscription packages, and more. You also get other useful features like content dripping, group memberships, protected file management, reminder emails, and more.
Did I say that MemberPress was my fave!! (well it is!)
06. WishList Member.
Wishlist Member is also another powerful WordPress membership plugin and one of the oldest WordPress membership and course plugins out there, and as such has earned its place as a heavyweight in the membership world and after it’s recent updates it’s a much nicer plugin to use, being more on par with options like MemberPress an MemberMouse.
Wishlist Member excels in the number of third-party integrations available, so if you’re using a shopping cart rather than simple PayPal or Stripe, or a less common email provider, it’s going to be a plugin that you’ll definitely want to consider.
S2Member though not as user friendly as some of the other course plugins, is a popular free WordPress membership plugin with the pro version being available as well. Anyone can download and give it a try. It is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.
You can drip content with the S2Member Pro vere, it integrates with MailChimp, bbPress and BuddyPress. The free version also supports PayPal, but you have to upgrade if you want to use Stripe or Authorize.net.
08. Restrict Content Pro.
Restrict Content Pro is a WordPress Membership plugin integrates seamlessly with the WordPress user interface which makes it easy to set up. Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins charge extra for as paid addons. Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree come as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.
If you are using Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products, then Restrict Content Pro is the perfect companion for that.
Other WordPress membership plugins e some tools to consider:
- WooCommerce Memberships
- Digital Access Pass
You can see how daunting a task it can be to choose the right plugin! It’s no surprise that many people become paralyzed when it comes to deciding which LMS or Membership plugin to use.
So, here’s a few things that you should know to make choosing your course plugin easier:
01. Consider not only what you need not but what you may want in the future.
If you know you’ll be creating multiple courses and offering additional content that you will want to be protected, a simple LSM may not be sufficient for you in the future. One of the biggest headaches is transferring students and content from one platform to another. So even if you have to pay a little more now, it may be worth the investment knowing that you’ll be able to grow into a more robust platform when you’re ready without the added headaches.
Before you purchase any LMS or membership platform make sure that any must-have features you need are available in your chosen option, such as being able to run free or paid trials, integrate with specific e-commerce software, allow members to purchase multiple products, gamification, etc.
02. Will you need to drip feed your content to your members?
If you find that you need to be able to schedule modules or lessons to be released on specific dates and or time intervals (i.e. 30 days from the day a student enrolls or the first of each month) know that not all LMS platforms offer the ability to do this. So if this is a must-have, make sure that you pick something suitable for your needs…
03. Consider your budget and technical savvy.
LMS and membership plugins vary in cost from $0 to $199+, and the more expensive options tend to have better tech support which can save a ton of time and frustration when things go wrong. So while there’s something for every budget the more expensive plugin doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. So my advice is this – don’t base your decision on price alone, but on how well the plugin fits your needs and skill level. Don’t be so cheap that you miss out on potential income because you are not willing to invest in the tools you need to make your product the best it can be.
04. Check out the integrations.
More than likely you’ll be already using specific apps and software in your business such as an email service provider or payment processor. Because each LMS (membership) plugin will have different options when it comes to third-party integrations, choose an option that already works with your other tools. I promise it will make your life so much easier!!
So, with that said here are some questions I suggest you answer before you look at potential plugins:
- How many courses will you be creating? Does your LMS or membership plugin support this?
- Will your content be available all at once, uploaded regularly, or released through an automated drip feed?
- How tech-savvy are you? (most plugins aren’t too hard to set up, but some definitely have a steep learning curve!)
- What payment provider do you need to integrate with? (Paypal, Stripe, etc)
- What email provider do you want to integrate with? (ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber etc)
- Do you want to integrate a forum, online community, or other social networking tools?
- Are there any other features you want to integrate with the site, such as a course plugin or affiliate system?
- What is your budget?
Once you know what your course plugin site will be and the functionality you need, it will make it easier for you to ascertain which plugin will work best when you look through the various sales pages.
You can quickly eliminate certain plugins this way. and you’ll probably find a couple of options that you like the sound of, so then it comes down to which do you LIKE the most. Which one feels right to you? Which one do you like the design of? Which one looks like it has better support? Do they have good testimonials? It doesn’t hurt to google and see what’s being said about your final choices.
If you’re thinking of creating your own passive income generating online course, be sure to check out additional resources at the bottom of this page. You can also join us inside of the FREE WomanpreneuHER FB Group to more tutorials, tips and training on how to create 6-figure success with online courses and digital products.
If you’re thinking of creating your own passive income-generating online course, be sure to check out additional resources at the bottom of this page. You can also join us inside of the FREE WomanpreneuHER FB Group for more tutorials, tips, and training on how to create 6-figure success with online courses and digital products.
Here’s to your 6-figure future!
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