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How to Create an Online Course with WordPress

Want to create an online course with WordPress?

Whether you want to monetize your skills by selling courses or you simply want to move your classroom to a virtual environment, building a WordPress course website is cost-effective and relatively easy.

Building a website with WordPress doesn’t require high-end technical knowledge, but the process can be overwhelming at first. So I recommend dedicating a few hours to getting your website up and running.

And don’t worry, in this tutorial, I will guide you through the process — you only need to follow a handful of straightforward steps.

If you have an existing WordPress website, you can skip the first three steps and jump straight to Step 4.

Now, let’s dig into the tutorial.

1. Buy a Domain and Hosting Service

The URL of your website is referred to as the domain name. For instance, the domain name of this website is athemes.com.

Picking a good domain name is very important because it’s the first thing your visitors will see. A good rule of thumb is to choose a short domain name that is easy to pronounce and remember. 

I recommend using these domain name generators to find a domain name for your online course website: Wordoid, Lean Domain Search, and Domain Hole

Once you find the domain name of your choice, you need to buy it from a hosting service that sells domain names. 

Buy a domain name for your online course site

Speaking of hosting services, you need them for more than just the domain name. To understand why you need a hosting service, let’s first understand what is a WordPress website made of.

WordPress websites are made of files and folders. You need a space to store these files and folders on the internet. A hosting service allocates space on its web server for your website to store its files and folders.

There are different types of hosting services. I recommend using a shared hosting service as you are starting out. It’s both cost-effective and easy to set up. 

Bluehost, Namecheap, Hostinger, DreamHost, A2 Hosting, and SiteGound are some of the most popular shared hosting providers out there. They all offer affordable basic hosting plans for WordPress sites along with a support team who will help you whenever you need assistance. 

Shared hosting example

In the future, when your online course expands and draws hundreds of thousands of students every month, you can upgrade to a managed web hosting service. They provide higher security, faster loading speed, and complete control over the web server. 

Buy an SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is mandatory for all websites. It helps ensure the privacy and security of a site’s visitors. Plus, it improves a site’s search ranking in Google and other search engines. 

When buying a domain name and hosting plan, the hosting provider will prompt you to get an SSL certificate as well. Most hosting providers offer free SSL certificates such as Let’s Encrypt. Make sure you get the SSL certificate and install it on your website from your hosting account.

2. Install WordPress 

After purchasing a domain name and hosting plan, it’s time to install and set up WordPress.

As I’m hosting my website on Namecheap, I’ll go through the steps in my Namecheap hosting account. However, if you are using another WordPress host, the installation process may look a little different for you. 

I recommend looking for the help docs of your hosting provider to learn how to install WordPress on your website. 

Open your hosting account and go to cPanel — other hosting providers may have Plesk or another custom hosting control panel.

Next, select WordPress in the Softaculous Apps Installer panel.

Softaculous apps installer

On the next page, you can choose the domain where you want to install WordPress and follow the setup wizard’s prompts.

You will be asked to enter information such as the site name, site description, admin username, and password. When you are ready, hit the Install button, and WordPress will be installed on your site within a few seconds.

To set up the site, you’ll need to access your WordPress admin area.

Enter your domain name into your browser’s address bar and add /wp-admin to the end.

The entire URL of your admin area should look like https://example.com/wp-admin (replace ‘example.com’ with your own domain).

It will take you to your site’s login page where you need to use your admin username and password to log into your site.

Note that this is not the same username and password you use to access your hosting account, but the one that gives you access to your WordPress admin area — you set it up while following the prompts of the setup wizard.

WordPress login screen

After logging in, you can start setting up your WordPress site. There are two important steps to take:

  1. Customize your WordPress settings
  2. Install a theme

Let’s take a detailed look at each of the two steps.

3. Customize Your WordPress Settings

The Settings menu in your WordPress admin area allows you to customize your site. For example, you can set the tagline or decide who can leave comments on your site, among other things.

You can find the Settings menu in the left sidebar. It has seven items: General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalinks, and Privacy.

Each item is dedicated to customizing a different part of your website. Go through them carefully and configure the options according to your needs.

WordPress admin general settings page

Here’s a quick rundown of the options:

General – It lets you customize the basic elements of your site, such as the site title, tagline, site URL, admin email, site language, default user roles, time zone, etc.

Writing – This option allows you to configure the basic settings of your posts. For instance, you can set up a default category for the posts published on your site. You can also change the post format from standard to video, audio, image, gallery, link, quote, aside, and chat.

Reading – With the options on this page, you can define how your visitors view your website. For example, you can show a static page or display your latest posts on your homepage. If you choose the former, you’ll need to build a homepage. If you choose the latter, you’ll have to decide how many posts will appear on the homepage and whether they’ll appear as full text or an excerpt.

Discussion – On this page, you can configure how visitors interact with your website. For instance, you can make it mandatory for users to be registered or logged in to leave a comment, automatically close comments after a certain number of days, or break comments into pages, among other things.

Media – The media settings are pretty straightforward. It helps you set the size of the images uploaded to your WordPress site.

Permalinks – On this page, you can set up the permalink structure of your website and the URL base for your category and tag archive pages.

Privacy – Given the increasing importance of data ownership, having a Privacy Policy that declares how you utilize user information is essential. The privacy menu allows you to add one to your WordPress website.

4. Install a Theme and Tutor LMS

Finding the best WordPress theme can prove to be a difficult process due to the sheer number of themes available in the market.

While some WordPress themes slow down your website, others are abandoned by the developers and stop receiving security updates, which leaves your website vulnerable to attacks.

aThemes have built Sydney with both security and performance in mind. It’s a freemium WordPress business theme that comes with several pre-built demos, including a free starter site for eLearning websites that you can use to create a fully functional course site with a few clicks.

The first step is to install and activate the theme on your WordPress website. Download Sydney, then open your WordPress admin area. Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New, and upload and activate the theme.

Add new theme screen in the WordPress admin area

Now, go to Appearance and select Starter Sites. A number of site templates will appear on the screen.

I recommend using the eLearning template because it’s designed to build online course sites.

Sydney starter sites in the WordPress admin area

If you hover your site over the eLearning template, it will reveal an Import button. Select it, and a popup will appear showing you a list of plugins the theme wants to install on your website, including Tutor LMS.

It’s a popular WordPress LMS plugin that will help you create and sell courses on your WordPress site.

👉 If you want to learn more about Tutor LMS before installing it, check out our detailed Tutor LMS review too.

Sydney demo installer, user interface

5. Configure Tutor LMS

In your WordPress admin area, hover your cursor over the Tutor LMS option.

It will reveal the following options: Courses, Categories, Tags, Students, Announcements, Q&A, Quiz Attempts, Add-ons, Tools, and Settings.

Tutor LMS, admin menu

The first thing you would want to do is go to the Settings page of Tutor LMS and customize it according to your needs.

There are hundreds of options, and you need to consider them all before you start creating your course. Tutor LMS’ help docs will guide you through the Settings page.

6. Create a Course

Once you configured the Tutor LMS plugin, you can set up your first course.

If you go to the Courses menu and select Add New, the default WordPress post editor will open on your screen. Here, you can add a title, a description, categories, and tags to your new course.

Note: Categories and tags can also be added from the Categories and Tags sidebar menus.

Tutor LMS, course editor interface

Next, scroll down, and you’ll see several meta boxes where you can configure the details of your course, such as the maximum number of students and difficulty level.

Tutor LMS, meta boxes

One of the most notable meta boxes is the Course Builder. It allows you to create topics and add lessons and quizzes to each topic.

Say you’re creating an SEO course for all types of site owners.

Using the Course Builder, you can create topics such as ‘SEO for Affiliate Marketers’, ‘SEO for WooCommerce Sites’, ‘SEO for Shopify’, etc.

Then, you can add lessons and quizzes targeting the audience of each course.

Tutor LMS, UI for lessons and quizzes

In the lesson editor, you need to add a title, summary, featured image, video, and image attachments.

In the quiz creator, you first enter the quiz title, then add the question and define the question type such as true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.

Next comes a settings page where you can set time limits, enable the quiz to start automatically after the page is loaded, set the maximum number of questions allowed to be answered by a single student, and more.

This is what my course looks like on the frontend of my site:

Frontend view of the free course

7. Manage & Interact with Your Students

Under the Tutor LMS menu, you get a few separate areas to manage and interact with your students:

  • The Q&A area allows students to ask questions that instructors can answer.
  • Announcements are used to issue and manage announcements for students.
  • Quiz Attempts show you the number of people who passed, failed, and have their course quizzes pending.
  • The Students area enables admins to manage student profiles.
  • The Tools area helps you import or export your Tutor LMS settings.
Submenu for TutorLMS's student engagement features

8. Monetize Your Course

To monetize your course, you need to install the WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin on your WordPress site (see our guide on how to install a plugin).

If you want to use another monetization plugin such as Paid Membership Pro, WooCommerce Subscriptions, or Restrict Content Pro, you’ll need to subscribe to the premium version of Tutor LMS.

Since I’m using the free Tutor LMS plugin, I installed WooCommerce on my site.

After installation, go to Settings > Monetization and connect the WooCommerce plugin with Tutor LMS.

TutorLMS, free monetization option with WooCommerce

Next, go to Products > Add New in your WordPress admin area, and add a name and description to your course so that potential students can learn about it.

Scroll down to the Product data option, select Simple product, and check the For Tutor box. Set the prices for your course, then hit the Publish button.

Set a price for your course with TutorLMS and WooCommerce

Now open the course you created with Tutor LMS, and scroll down to the Add Product meta box. Set the Course Type to Paid, and from the dropdown menu, choose the product you just created in the Products area.

TutorLMS UI, set course type to paid

That’s it. You now have an online course up and running on your brand new WordPress website.

This is what the paid course looks like on my website:

Tutor LMS, frontend view of our paid course example

Visitors who are interested in my course can purchase it by clicking the Add to cart button.

Conclusion

Creating an online course with WordPress can sometimes be difficult. In this tutorial, we looked into a straightforward process that involved the following major steps:

  • Buying a domain and a hosting plan along with an SSL certificate.
  • Installing and setting up WordPress along with Sydney, our lightweight, free business theme.
  • Creating a course with the Tutor LMS plugin and monetizing it using the WooCommerce plugin.

After creating your course, the next step is to promote it — for example, you can make an announcement to your social media followers and get started with email marketing.

That’s it for this one, folks!

Do you still have any questions about how to create an online course with WordPress? Let us know in the comments!

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