As an Online Success Strategist & Digital Launch Designer, this question pops up time and time again. It appears as though nearly every entrepreneur I meet wants to share her knowledge with the world in the form of an online course or a paid membership site.
Where should I host my online course?
If you are someone who is just about ready to launch your online course or even considering the idea of creating one, you are probably thinking: “Where should I host my online course?”
Does the thought of having to set something up on the tech side make you want to ditch the whole thing?
As much as the tech side of creating your online program seams scary, you can do it and it doesn’t have to be difficult. In truth, once you know exactly which platform is best for your clients and you, setting it up can be rather simple.
The best approach to online program delivery
I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and EASY. Sounds like music to your ears, right? Keep reading! 😉
Here is my humble opinion: I’ve been building membership portals and online courses for over 7 years now. I started my journey with WordPress and OptimizedPress. Since then a lot has changed. Right now we have a ton of 3rd party platforms available, like Thinkific, Teachable, and Kajabi, etc. On top of that, we have a good selection of WordPress plugins and LMS (Learning Management Systems) solutions like OptimizedPress (theme and plugin), ZippyCourses, Thrive Apprentice, Sensei, LearDash, WPcourseware, AccessAlley and many many more.
Making the right choice can be difficult and overwhelming, for sure.
Shall I go the 3rd party platform route?
Platforms like Thinkific, Teachable and Kajabi etc. are great and pretty easy to use. They are a fabulous solution when you’re just starting out. They also can be a little too expensive, depending on your budget.
Plus, you need to remember one thing – you don’t own them! You are just renting space on the internet. Period.
Right now it may seem like the most logical step and easiest way to deliver your program, and since you don’t own them, you have no power. I’m not saying they are bad but putting it simple you are building your business on someone else’s ground. They can dictate you their own rules. There are limitations in the way they look and some tech glitches as well. Lastly, it can happen one day they will disappear, will get hacked, or god knows what and your beautiful course and hardwork will be gone too : (
And what about the cost?
Yes, they may offer a free option but to run a PRO course it may not be enough. If you need more advanced features, you will have to pay. Imagine you offer a lifetime access to your course. People pay you one off fee for access but you will have to pay for it every month. In a long run, it can add up and end up a big investment.
So yes, when starting up – using one of these platforms is a good idea. In the long run – consider creating your own online course platform.
What’s the BEST way then?
Here is my thought on that – if you are serious about selling your online programs or membership – start on the right foot from the very beginning.
It is not more difficult or more expensive to set the course platform yourself with WordPress and a good membership plugin. Plus there are many advantages:
- It’s yours! As long as you pay for your hosting you can have the platform forever almost at no cost (you will need to pay for the domain, hosting and the membership plugin updates but it will not cost you a fortune).
- You can make it beautiful – if you are anything like me this will be an important deciding factor. The aesthetics + functionality + user experience can make a huge difference.
- You can host as many courses or memberships as you wish under one roof with no extra cost.
- Since your platform is built on WordPress you can add any functionality you wish.
Sounds good so far?
Ok, so if you are willing to go the WordPress way, there are many solutions here too. Starting from the whole online course themes (mentioned above OptimizedPress, BuddyBoss + Social Learner, ZippyCourses ) or you can simply use any other theme (like Divi) and use a good membership plugin (eg. Wishlist, MemberPress, Digital Access Pass or S2 Member, AccessAlley).
You will need:
- a clean WordPress installation, preferably in a subdomain,
- a theme to build a structure and make it easy to add the content,
- a good membership plugin to protect content,
- a way to collect payments for your online program – you can either use a membership plugin that has integration with PayPal and Stripe or use a 3rd party checkout like ThriveCart or Samcart. Whichever way you go the membership plugin will make it easy and deliver your online program on autopilot. It will also add your students and buyers to your email autoresponder list so the course content and any communication will land in your students’ inboxes automatically.
I’ve personally tried and tested almost all the solutions on the market right now and my winner is: WordPress + Divi + Memberpress. I just love how these 3 work beautifully together and the easiness to use them once you have the set up, the right way.
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The Secret to make it EASY and fun
The most important part of creating a course/membership is to have a good structure or let’s call it the learning experience. You need to decide first what your content will be: videos, audios, downloads, worksheets, checklists, community, etc, and how will you structure and present it inside – with modules, lessons or maybe by category.
Once you have that part clear, you can start working on content and once you have the first module ready you can start promoting and selling your course. Then add each module as you go, so-called – DRIP FEEDING 🙂
Even if you’re only just starting out you can have your own course platform build with WordPress + Divi + Memberpress. It is very easy to set up. Yes, it will require a bit of time but it’s so worth it. Once you have it set up, you can easily add more programs and memberships in a breeze, add it to your funnel and make money on autopilot. Isn’t that what you dreamt about? 🙂
SOOOO ⇒ go PRO and invest in your own WordPress Online Course platform.
Once you have your platform ready make sure to share with us inside my FREE community.
To your BIG success with your program launch,
~ Anna || Online Success Strategist aka #DigitalNinja