How to create your own online course with WordPress

Building an online course using WordPress doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.

One big reason we created ProductPress is that online course / membership software was too expensive. When I built my first course, I ended up paying $1,288 to host my course for just 9 months. If I’d used WordPress and ProductPress, I would have paid only $39.

What you’ll need

Building an online course using WordPress doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. There’s only a few things you’ll need:

  • WordPress hosting (I recommend WP Bolt). This is where you’ll host your course website.
  • A simple theme: I’ve found that the default Twenty Fifteen theme (that comes pre-installed with WordPress) works well.
  • A Gumroad or Paddle account: Gumroad and Paddle are the easiest way to sell something online. It’s free to use, and you only pay for transaction fees. Paddle also handles all worldwide sales tax (VAT/GST) on your sales, so you don't have to worry about it.
  • The ProductPress plugin: the ProductPress plugin connects your Gumroad or Paddle account to your WordPress site, allowing you to sell memberships. When a user buys your course on Gumroad or Paddle, your WordPress site will automatically create an account for them, and email them their username and password.

The steps

Here are the steps to creating your own online course using WordPress:

1. Install WordPress:

On many web-hosts this is done for you.

2. Install the TwentyFifteen theme

To do this, go to your Appearance menu and click on Themes. Choose TwentyFifteen and click Activate.

3. Create your product in Gumroad

Log into Gumroad and create a product for your course (ie. Learn Ruby on Rails, $39). You’ll need to include a file in order to save your Gumroad product; we recommend you include a PDF / text file with instructions for your course.

Create your Gumroad product for online WordPress course

4. Install the ProductPress plugin

In WordPress, go to Plugins and upload your ProductPress plugin zip file. Activate it and connect it to your Gumroad account.

5. Create your course content in WordPress

Create a page for each lesson in your course. In the sidebar, identify which Gumroad customers you want to give course access to.

Create a course in WordPress using ProductPress

Now, only people who have purchased that product on Gumroad will be able to access that content online.

The sales process

Here’s how a customer would find, buy, and experience your new course.

1. Discover your landing page

Gumroad provides you with a landing page for each product you create. You can include screenshots, video, and a text description.

Gumroad comes with a built-in landing page

2. Purchase your course

When a customer clicks the purchase button in Gumroad, it notifies WordPress (and the ProductPress plugin). They’ll also be able to download any files associated with your course (worksheets, etc…)

3. Email notification

ProductPress will trigger your WordPress site to send the customer their login information by email:

Course registration email

(Note: these emails are sent through your web host’s mail system. I recommend using Postmark to send transactional emails.)

4. Customer logs in and learns!

The customer can then log into the course and start learning. Your course can include text, video and images.

Online WordPress course sample

The screenshot above is from a course that uses the TwentyFifteen theme we mentioned earlier.

The sales process

Want to get started? Download the ProductPress plugin and start creating your own course!

Try ProductPress today

We've helped hundreds of online entrepreneurs start courses and sell memberships to their sites.

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