How to create an online academy with WordPress
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The growing digitization has brought about a revolution for the world of online learning, also known as elearning.
Online training has numerous advantages such as time and cost savings. In addition, it has been increased by the social distancing measures typical of the times we live in.
The infoproducts sector began with ebooks, evolved to online courses and now to the world of academies. These generally work through the membership model, whereby the student pays a fee to access the training.
We are very used to paying a fee to receive a series of content. It is the same business model as Netflix or Spotify.
Memberships are in fashion.
When creating an online academy, there are a number of factors to take into account, starting with the theme, the ideal student and the way of consuming the content. To which must be added elements of utmost importance such as support, price and platform.
The best way to have control over what happens inside an online academy is to create it yourself.
Hello, we are Maca and Iago (from IdeandoAzul), and Franck has asked us to explain how to create an online academy with WordPress. So let's get down to business!
What is an online academy?
An online academy is a virtual space in which a training activity is taught.
In the physical world, an academy is a study center where students go to learn about one or more disciplines.
On the Internet, the same thing happens, only the place is the Internet and students connect from wherever they are without having to travel.
An online academy allows you to host the training content, create exercises or evaluation tests and answer any questions that students may have.
Students must have access to the platform, be able to consume the content easily, form a group with their classmates, put their knowledge into practice and ask their questions.
From a technical point of view, we need a platform capable of giving and removing access to students (registrations and cancellations), uploading lessons and courses, giving access to teachers and/or tutors, creating tests and seeing progress statistics. students, their number and the income they represent for the academy.
Therefore, it is not enough for us to upload four videos to Vimeo and insert them into WordPress and protect them with a password.
Creating an online academy requires a professional solution.
Types of online academies
Depending on their nature, there are 3 types of online academies.
1. Specialized platforms
They are platforms specialized in offering online training. The best known are Udemy, Teachable and Hotmart.
In the Lifestyle Squared formations they use Kajabi, which has a series of features that make it superior to the competition.
It works through a monthly fee that starts at $119.
Here is a tutorial on Kajabi.
2. Membership plugins
WordPress is the most popular software in the world to create web pages. With its extensions or plugins you can do practically anything.
One of the options you have is to install a membership plugin. With it you can give access to people who subscribe to your premium content.
There are some known as Restrict Content Pro, Paid Memberships Pro or Wishlist, but the best of all is MemberPress.
3. Elearning platforms for WordPress
WordPress has numerous advantages and is the CMS that we use in our online academy creation service.
Membership plugins are fine for giving access to some exclusive content for your community members but fall short for an academy.
The ideal solution is an LMS or Learning Management System plugin, that is, an extension that turns your website into a learning management system. What has been an academy.
The proper functioning of your platform and the training experience of your students will depend on this extension, so it is important to choose the right one.
There are two references in the market: Sensei and LearnDash.
The first is the work of Automatic, the company that owns WordPress. It works with WooCommerce, so your website will also be an online store.
We want to simplify things, not complicate them.
In addition, it has a free version but you need several paid extensions to have a proper academy.
The second option is LearnDash, a very complete plugin that comes with everything you need to create your professional academy.
While it is true that there are a number of add-ons, it is also true that most (such as the certificate functionality or the integration with ThriveCart) are free.
It is a safe bet, since it has many options such as Content Drip (release content by dripping), student monitoring and a forum system. Also, its performance is excellent.
For all these reasons, LearnDash is our choice.
Before creating your online academy
Before setting up your academy or hiring someone to do it, you should take into account the following aspects:
- Academy name: it is important that it is descriptive. They tend to work better, especially if you are targeting a niche market. If not, you can opt for a brand name.
- Installation on another server: An online academy consumes a lot of resources. The most advisable thing is to buy a domain and hire a hosting service other than the one you use to host your website. You will prevent your academy and your website from falling at the same time.
- Enough content to boot: If you want to give a professional appearance, you have to have several courses prepared when you open the doors of your academy.
- Platform to host your videos: You already know that uploading the videos to your server will saturate it and stop working, so you must host them on an external platform such as Vimeo, Wistia or Amazon Web Services.
- Alliances with other professionals: Both for the creation of new courses and for the promotion of the academy, it is highly recommended that you have other professionals to help you get where you could not alone.
- A sales funnel: If you want to fill your academy, you need to create a sales funnel that attracts new students on a regular basis. In addition, you will have to feed it with newsletters, collaborations and advertising.
- Budget: A key factor is the budget you have available. It will determine how many people you can hire to help you set up the academy and provide support, as well as the investment in advertising.
It is important to take these aspects into account before launching your academy.
Tools to create an online academy
These are the essential tools to create an online academy with WordPress.
1. Quality hosting
Hosting is the place that will host your academy, its home. It is important that it has a good foundation, that it loads fast and works well.
We always use Raiola Networks, although Webempresa is also a good option. Here we leave you a comparison between Raiola and Webempresa.
Remember that your website must be on a different server to avoid possible problems.
The cornerstone of your WordPress academy. LearnDash is the extension that allows you to turn any website into a professional academy.
It has all the features you need like a drag & drop course builder, an advanced quiz system, and drip content delivery (so people don't get fed up and then apply nothing).
Its base price starts at $159 per year, with the Plus plan ($189) being the most balanced, since it includes detailed student statistics (ProPanel) and you can install it on up to 10 websites.
The well-known video hosting system was born as a competitor of YouTube and soon differentiated itself with its strategy of hosting protected videos for online academies and courses.
It allows you to protect your videos against piracy, making it so that your videos can only be played from a certain domain (that of your academy) and making their illegal download extremely difficult.
The Plus plan starts at $7 per month, although to host paid videos (such as those from an academy) you should hire the Pro plan ($20).
ThriveCart is the platform for processing online payments that we use. It allows to automate the process and facilitates the payment of the students.
It allows you to customize the sales page, integrate it with your email marketing provider and with other payment platforms such as PayPal and Stripe.
Here is a tutorial on ThriveCart.
5. Active Campaign
This email marketing platform completely revolutionized the sector.
Its automations are practically infinite and allow the potential client to be taken along the path they "choose" based on their interaction with the emails they receive and that they end up buying.
Active Campaign is an essential tool to retain leads, attract customers and strengthen the bond with your brand.
It was born as a communication platform dedicated to the gaming world and is becoming the most popular form of social interaction on the Internet.
It has displaced the groups of Facebook, Telegram and even Slack.
It has options for gamification and community creation never seen before. It is the great sensation among the applications aimed at user groups.
In every professional academy it is necessary to have a videoconference meeting with the students.
In this way, the link with the teaching staff and the brand is fostered, while doubts are resolved, examples are given and concepts are reinforced.
It complements very well with Discord to create community.
These are the tools to create an online academy with WordPress.
In this post we have seen what an online academy is, what types there are, what you have to take into account before creating it and what are the necessary tools for it.
It is a task that requires knowing strategic, technical and marketing aspects. Therefore, to launch an academy it is necessary to train and have the help of one or more professionals who will facilitate your work.
If you want to learn how to design a website and an online academy with WordPress, sign up for the School of Strategic Web Design.