Create and Sell Online Courses in WordPress

How to Create and Sell Courses Online in WordPress? Beginners Guide [2024]

As a professional coach, one of the most profitable ways to make money today is to sell courses online. People are eager to pay for great courses that offer real value. But creating a great course is not enough for you to get more enrollments on a regular basis. You will need effective marketing techniques for a successful coaching business.

And the best way to do so is to create sales funnels that will convince your prospects to enroll in more of your courses.

Let’s say you have a course “Become An Expert with Adobe Illustrator” worth $100. While someone is about to purchase it, you may offer a related course, “How To Bid For Design Projects” worth $50 as a bump offer during checkout.

If this is accepted, you will earn $150 instead of $100 from a buyer, i.e., more revenue.

In WordPress, creating online courses is super easy with robust LMS plugins. But, you will struggle a bit to create the perfect sales funnel journey for your courses.

To help you in your course creation journey, I created a complete guide on how you can plan your course outline, create your courses, and then craft the perfect sales funnel within WordPress to maximize your revenue!

So let’s begin.

How to Create an Online Course Outline Targeting Sales Opportunity

Planning your course outline plays a big part when it comes to online course sales. And if you want to use a sales funnel, you need to have a proper breakdown of your course so that it is easy for your audience to understand, and at the same time, gives you the opportunity to make more money out of it.

Most people create a complete course first. And then they start planning a sales funnel for it. But that is not the right way.

You have to plan your course outline, and then plan its sales process even before you start creating the course online.

When you create a sales funnel, you will need to have enough resources to make it more persuasive, and profitable. So you may need to match your course online with your sales plan to make it more profitable.

Let me explain with an example.

Suppose you sell a Digital Marketing Course. Now, having a complete course on Digital Marketing at $500 will be a lot less profitable than having various digital marketing topics as separate courses at their individual prices.

There are two reasons for this.

  1. $500 is quite expensive. Many startups will not go for it as this is a huge investment on a course that they aren’t sure will work. But if you have, let’s say, a topic on Content Planning at $100, many may go for it as it’s within budget.

    So it’s best not to stay limited to buyers who can spend a good amount. You can also make tons of money from others who have lower budgets.
  1. Creating separate courses on multiple topics will help you use the core features of a sales funnel (order bumps, upsell & downsell offer) more effectively and generate more revenue.

    In this case, you probably won’t make a large profit from every single buyer. But you will have the opportunity to try and make every buyer spend more in a strategic way.

    Sometimes people do not plan on spending more. But after making a decision to purchase a course, if they get a good offer on a second related course, they often want to take the offer.

At the end of the day, it will help you get more paying customers over time.

Now, let us go ahead and see how you can devise your course outline and its sales funnel steps.

Example Of Planning A Course Outline Properly

Let us take the same, Digital Marketing Course as an example. The first thing to do is to break down your course into Topics.

Let’s say, in your course, you plan on covering the following topics:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Email Marketing
  4. Search Engine Marketing
  5. Social Media Marketing

You can see, that these are not just topics that are small parts of Digital Marketing, they can be considered individual subjects themselves.

The best thing to do here would be to plan each of them as separate courses.

So here’s what you can do. You can design a website that can act as a hub for digital marketing courses. On this website, you can sell online courses on these topics individually. Plus, you can also sell a complete package of all the courses in a bundle.

Key Takeaway:
Look for opportunities to break down a large course into multiple smaller courses, that can bring you better business opportunities.

Next, you can plan on devising a sales journey for each of these courses.

When looking at the SEO course, you may break it down into two different Lessons,
– A Beginner’s SEO guide (for someone who is new and will need to learn the basics of SEO)
– Advanced SEO guide (for marketers who are looking to perfect their SEO expertise)

So if someone doesn’t go for the Advanced SEO guide directly, the transition here would be,

  1. A Prospects purchases the Beginner’s SEO Guide
  2. He upgrades to the Advanced SEO Guide

Now, let’s plan the funnel flow for it.

Course funnel flow to sell courses online
Step 1Prepare a landing page to offer the Beginner’s SEO Guide
– clearly state its benefits and the value for money.
Step 2Once enrolled, make an upsell offer to go for the Advanced SEO Guide
– state why this upgrade is more beneficial.
– offer an attractive discount to trigger the transition.
Step 3Show a thank you page with a summary of the enrolled courses.

This is very simple, yet, just the upsell offer with a discount can trigger a higher conversion rate.

**You can then go ahead and create a separate funnel for the Advanced SEO Guide so that anyone who gets it directly, will be offered other courses, for example, the Content Marketing course can be offered during upsell to purchase alongside the Advanced SEO Guide.

**You may also choose to craft a more sophisticated funnel if you want to.

Let’s look at an example:

  1. Create a landing page to offer the Beginner’s SEO Guide
  2. During checkout, offer to take the Advanced SEO Guide instead at a small discount.
  3. After checkout, offer to enroll in the Complete Digital Marketing Course bundle which includes all 5 courses, at a significant discount.
  4. If the Upsell is rejected, you may offer to rather go for just the Content Marketing course along with the SEO Guide as a downsell offer.
  5. And end with a thank you page with a summary of the enrolled courses.

This funnel may generate more revenue than the simple one if the copies are well written.

Whichever funnel flow you choose, the idea is to make sure the user feels they are getting more value for the money.

In the next couple of sections, we will be creating the simple funnel flow of 3 steps for the SEO courses.

Design Your Courses Based on Learners’ Level

Let’s say
– the Beginner’s SEO Course is worth $60
– the Advanced SEO Course is worth $150

Before you start creating the courses, decide on the lessons you want to offer on each of the courses.

For example, for the Beginner’s SEO Course, you may explain the following:

  • Lesson 1: What is SEO?
  • Lesson 2: Ways To Rank On SERPs
  • Lesson 3: Basic Keywords Research
  • Lesson 4: On-Page & Off-Page SEO

And in the Advanced SEO Course, you may cover the following:

  • Lesson 1: Technical SEO
  • Lesson 2: SEO Optimizing A Landing Page
  • Lesson 3: SEO Optimizing Blogs & Articles
  • Lesson 4: Keywords Cluster & Relevancy
  • Lesson 5: Backlinking
  • Lesson 6: Site Optimization For Google Ranking
  • ……..etc.

**You may also plan on quizzes and Certificates for your courses. They often play a significant role in conversion.

Once you have the lessons decided, and the content for these lessons planned. It’s time to create the courses online.

In WordPress, you will find several LMS plugins that will help you create courses. However, it’s important to choose an LMS tool that’s easy to use and has all the features required to create and manage complete courses without any dependency on other plugins.

Use Learndash LMS for Course Creation in WordPress

I recommend LearnDash.

LearnDash is considered to be the single most complete learning management system for course creators that has everything you need for creating and selling courses in WordPress.

The best thing about his plugin is it has clear guides available for you to start using it right away without any confusion.

Plus, you will get several features such as course creation and customization, dynamic lesson assignments in courses, easy quiz and exam assignments, student management, reporting, analytics, and many more.

To create your SEO Courses, you may follow the guides below:

Step 1 – Create Your Courses Using the Course Builder

The LearnDash course builder provides an easy, intuitive way to build your courses. You can add new sections, lessons, topics & quizzes without ever leaving the page.

Step 2 – Manage Your Course Display & Content Settings

The course content setting determines who can see the list of lessons, topics & quizzes that make up your course. Also, manage your course materials and certificate.

Step 3 – Configure Your Course Access Settings

Access mode is the way in which someone can gain access to a course. Your course can be completely open (publicly accessible by anyone), free (free enrollment but registration required), buy now (a one-time payment required for access), recurring (a monthly/yearly subscription), and closed (private access).

In the funnel we are planning, your courses should be ‘buy now’ with their respective prices.

Step 4 – Set Up A Way To Register

You need to allow buyers to register if they do not have an account. You can easily set up a registration process via LearnDash.

Step 5 – Setup Ways To Accept Payments

LearnDash allows you to accept payments via Paypal and Stripe. You have to set it up to accept payments.

Once you have the courses ready, it’s time to create a sales funnel.

Create A Sales Funnel To Sell Courses Online

Just like choosing the right LMS tool, It is also crucial to choose a funnel builder plugin that will make it easy for you to create sales funnels for your LearnDash courses.

Now, most funnel builders in WordPress require you to use WooCommerce along with LearnDash to sell courses. But just to sell a few courses online, it doesn’t make sense to install such a heavy eCommerce plugin on your site.

Rather, you may go for a plugin that has introduced direct sales funnels for LearnDash courses – WPFunnels.

WPFunnels is the first plugin in WordPress that allows you to create a sales funnel for your LearnDash courses without using WooCommerce.

The plugin has a special feature called LMS Funnels (which comes as an Addon), which has dedicated blocks/widgets to help course creators, such as yourself, to create sales funnels easily.

In the next few steps, you will learn how you can create a sales funnel for your courses using WPFunnels.

**Make sure you have the right version of the plugins.

Step 1 – Create A Sales Funnel for Online Course in WPFunnels

Create a new funnel and include 4 steps – Landing, Checkout, Upsell and Thank You. It’s quite easy with WPFunnels.

4 step funnel flow to sell courses online

Or, you can simply import a funnel template.

Additional Step: Convert Your WooCommerce Course Funnel to LMS Funnel

**This step is only applicable if you also have an existing funnel with WooCommerce course products and you want to convert it to an LMS Funnel.

Go to the Funnel settings and convert this funnel to the LMS funnel.

Use this funnel for LMS only

Step 2 – Assign the Basic Course to Funnel Checkout

  1. Click on the Checkout step settings icon.
Add product in Checkout step settings
  1. Then assign your initial offer course “Beginners SEO” to the checkout step.
Initial course offer in Checkout step

You may offer a discount to make it easier to promote the course.

In this example, I am offering a 50% discount on this offer to encourage more enrollments. After the discount, the Beginner’s SEO Guide is now $30, which is more affordable, and more value for money.

But more importantly, this will help to bring more people into your funnel.

Step 3 – Design Your Landing Page

Select and edit your funnel Landing Page and design it with your preferred page builder. Don’t forget to customize your Next Step Button text if needed.

Edit Course Landing Page

Make sure to focus your copy around the benefits of the Beginner’s SEO guide and the discount. However, do keep a hook on the Advanced SEO guide somewhere in there.

Step 4 – Configure Your Course Enrollment Checkout

1. Edit your funnel checkout page to design and configure it for LMS.

Edit Checkout page

2. Make sure you have used the LMS Checkout widget to display the enrollment checkout.

LMS Checkout widget on checkout page

Step 5 – Set up the Upsell Offer Course

1. Select the Upsell step and click on the Settings icon.

Add product in Upsell step settings

2. There, assign your “Advanced SEO” course as the Upsell offer course.

Add Upsell offer course

When you make upsell offers, using discounts is a must. People will only go for post-purchases offers a if they feel they are getting a great bargain as well as a good product/service.

In this example, I am using a flat $50 discount. After the discount, the Advanced Guide is now $100.

Step 6 – Design Your Upsell Offer Page

  1. Next, go back to the canvas and edit the Upsell page to design it.
Edit Upsell page
  1. Improve the copy and make sure to use the LMS Pay Button so that people can pay and enroll to the course.

    **make sure the copy highlights all the core benefits it will provide, and the special discount.
  1. Use the same button again, but this time mark it as a reject button so that the prospect can choose not to take the offer.
LMS Pay Button for Upsell offer

Step 7 – Set up the Thank you Page

1. Next, click on the Thank you page edit icon.

Edit Thank you page

2. Then make sure to use the LMS Order Details widget.

LMS order details widget on Thank you page

And that’s it. Your course funnel is ready.

Here’s the summary of this funnel when it goes live:

  • Your buyer will be directed to the Landing page, offering the Basic SEO Guide.
  • Upon accepting it, he will go to the checkout page to complete the enrollment via payment.
  • Once the Basic course is paid for, he will instantly get a great Upsell offer for the Advanced SEO Guide. Whether the buyer accepts or rejects the upsell offer, he has already paid for the Basic guide and you will make money regardless.
  • And finally, the buyer will go to a Thank You page with the summary of the enrollments.

Set Up Automation Campaigns To Increase Course Enrollment Rate

Right now, we just have a funnel for the SEO courses. But when planning the course outline, we broke the initial course into 5 different course topics. So you still have 4 more courses to offer.

This is where Automation comes to play.

Here’s how it will work. You can set up respective funnels for the other courses. And then, based on buyers’ actions in the SEO course funnel, you can run automation campaigns to direct them to the other funnels.

The idea is, once your clients start seeing the value in the course they purchased, they will start trusting you enough to spend more on your other courses. And you can increase their interest even more by sending out emails with offers on the rest of the courses.

The first funnel is only a start – it is what entered them into a larger funnel to get them to purchase more courses from you.

WPFunnels has integration with several CRM & Automation tools where you can send buyers’ data based on their actions in a funnel. For tools without integration, you can send the data out via webhooks.

For automation in this funnel, we will use FluentCRM, which is a brilliant CRM & automation plugin in WordPress.

Following are the steps you can follow to setup automation:

  1. Go to FluentCRM and create a new list SEO Course Enrollments.
  1. Next, create 3 tags:
    • BasicSEO_yes – for students who enrolled in the Basic SEO Course
    • AdvSEO_yes – for students who also enrolled in the Advanced SEO Course
    • AdvSEO_no – for students who rejected the Advanced SEO Course offer
  1. Now go back to WPFunnels, and edit your funnel.
  1. On the canvas, click on Integration Tab above and create an integration.
  1. Create the following three events:
    • When User event “Main Order Accepted”
      Then Add To List “SEO Course Enrollments” Assign Tag “BasicSEO_yes”
    • When User event “Upsell Accepted”
      Then Add To List “SEO Course Enrollments” Assign Tag “AdvSEO_yes”
    • When User event “Upsell Rejected”
      Then Add To List “SEO Course Enrollments” Assign Tag “AdvSEO_no”
Integration Events - WPFunnels
  • As per the events created
    • everyone who enrolls in a course via this funnel will be added to the list “SEO Course Enrollments”,
    • everyone who enrolls in the Basic SEO course will be assigned the tag ‘BasicSEO_yes’
    • everyone who enrolls in the Advanced SEO course will be assigned the tag ‘AdvSEO_yes’
    • everyone who rejects the Advanced SEO course offer will be assigned the tag ‘AdvSEO_no’
  1. Now go back to FluentCRM and look for the automation tab. There, you can set up automation based on the list and tags assigned to the buyer based on their actions in the funnel.
  1. You can consider the following automation campaigns:
    • For buyers who enrolled in the Basic SEO course but not the Advanced SEO course, i.e. users with the tag AdvSEO_no, you can create an automation to reach out to them and try to convince them to purchase the Advanced course. Set this to go live at least 1 week after the initial purchase.
    • In the case of the buyers who enrolled in both the courses, i.e. users with the tag AdvSEO_yes, you can set up a separate sales funnel for our other courses, and then reach these buyers via automation to try and purchase the rest of the courses you have. Set this to go live at least 1 week after the initial purchase.
    • And for users, who have enrolled in the BasicSEO guide, i.e. users with the tag BasicSEO_yes, regardless of what they did in the upsell, you can set up an automation to send out nurturing emails until the previous two automation campaigns are live.

6. Once the automation campaigns are set up, your funnel is now a lot more meaningful.

Now that your funnel is ready, it’s time to market your sales funnel and drive potential traffic to your funnel landing page.

How To Drive Traffic Into Your Funnel To Sell Courses Online

Drive Traffic Into Your Funnel To Sell Courses Online

Most people that create funnels for the first time, are often not aware that a sales funnel is not something you optimize just for organic traffic.

Rather, you need to use effective marketing strategies to bring in instant traffic.

Let us look at some of the ways you can drive traffic into your funnel.

1. Building An Email List And Promote To Them

You may use lead magnets to run a lead generation campaign 1 month prior to launching your course funnel.

Make sure to give away something valuable, and somewhat relevant to your courses. For example, it could be a quick Checklist to execute Content Planning.

Giving away something useful, that is relevant to your core expertise, for free can be a great way to collect targeted leads.

Then, you can go ahead and email them your course funnel to get instant exposure.

2. Promote Through A Facebook Group

If you can create a community where several like-minded people are joined together, then it can be a great place to promote your business.

And one of the best ways to do that is to create a Facebook Group. But this will need some work long before you start selling course. You have to build up a community around the topics you are expert on by offering webinars, or workshops from time to time until it grows into a large number of students.

Also, every course you sell, ask your buyers to join the gourp.

Eventually, once this group is significantly large, then sharing any of your new courses can lead to several instant enrollments.

In case you do not have a group of your own, you can still share your courses on other existing groups that share the same interest.

3. Run Paid Ads On Google & Facebook

Design a few attractive Ad banners and run paid Ads to the targetted audience. Most marketers that run funnel campaigns rely heavily on paid marketing to get tons of traffic real quick.

In fact, Paid Ads can land 50% more conversion rate compared to organic marketing.

So it’s a no-brainer to go for it on both Google and Facebook.

4. Generate Enrollments Using Youtube

As a course creator, Youtube can be a gem if you use it right.

First, you can create a good engaging video and run Ads across Youtube, targeting your ideal audience.

According to Brett Curry (CEO of OMG Commerce), top spending advertisers in Youtube sees over 16% conversion rate.

Second, you can create a few short Youtube videos for your channel, and share useful content along with data to prove their success. In those videos, you can leave hooks and CTAs to try and drive them to your sales funnel.

5. Use Webinar Funenls To Build Authority

Webinar funnel is one of the best ways to show off your expertise and become an authoritative figure.

Simply host a free webinar to teach a certain topic and while on the webinar, you can use several examples that highlight the results you can deliver. Later, you can offer your main funnel courses to the attendees.

There could be many other ways to drive traffic to your funnels such as using banners on your main website, promoting via blogs, getting affiliates, and so on.

You need to work on bringing as much traffic as you can as soon as possible. That will help to make your campaign successful and you can then move towards more funnel campaign.

6. Utilize lead magnets to increase lead generation

You can utilize lead magnets to effectively drive targeted traffic to your course sales funnel. Lead magnets are valuable resources, such as ebooks, checklists, or templates, that you offer in exchange for a potential customer’s contact information, typically their email address.

You should follow these steps in this initiative:

  1. Create valuable and compelling lead magnets that address your target audience’s specific needs and challenges. Such as a comprehensive guide, a video tutorial series, or a set of templates.
  2. Design a dedicated landing page or opt-in form to promote and deliver your lead magnet, clearly communicating its value proposition.
  3. Promote your lead magnet through various channels, including social media, email marketing, paid advertising, or content marketing strategies.
  4. Once potential customers provide their contact information to access the lead magnet, nurture these leads through targeted email campaigns.

Final Thoughts

As you saw above, it’s super easy to create courses and then sell courses online via sales funnels in WordPress.

The example used here is just one scenario. You can use so many more funnel strategies to make your course sales campaign even more successful.

Since now you know what tools to use and how you can plan out your whole course sales process, it’s high time you take the next step. Go ahead and create the best sales funnels for your courses.

Start using LearnDash and WPFunnels now!

Rifat Ara Chowdhury

Rifat is a young WordPress enthusiast with a passion for Digital Marketing. She writes about marketing funnel, sales funnel & buyer's journey. Find her on Twitter @Rifat2104

Rifat Ara Chowdhury

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