Whenever we think of an online course marketplace, the names Udemy, Coursera, and Lynda.com pop right up.
In fact, Udemy, one of the most popular online learning platforms, has more than 20,000 experts, with about 12 million students taking a course. (www.guru99.com). And it’s only going to increase.
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In fact, the Massive open online course industry is expected to be worth $374 billion by 2026. (startupbonsai.com)
Given the promising future of eLearning, building your own course marketplace with WordPress (a great choice, btw :p) is not just inexpensive but also simple.
And, to ensure you do it the right way, we’re going to walk you through a detailed step-by-step guide from A-Z.
So, sit tight, grab some coffee, and read on to learn how to easily set up your own Udemy-like Course Marketplace using WordPress and LearnDash.
NB : If you are in a hurry, grab our 10-Step Guide to Set Up a Course Marketplace with WordPress that outlines the steps and go through it whenever you get time.
Step 0 – Pick a domain name and get web hosting
This is the most basic step in creating a website like Udemy or any site for that matter.
Before beginning, there are two prerequisites you need to fulfill in order to start building your website:
- Domain Name – This is your address on the internet. For e.g: www.wisdmlabs.com is ours. A quick tip: Make sure you choose a name that is unique, recognizable, and memorable.
- Web Hosting – It is a server where all your website site files and course content will be stored to make it available for people visiting your site.
While WordPress is free, however, acquiring a domain name and web hosting costs money.
Fortunately, you have lots of options when it comes to choosing a hosting provider. But, I suggest you check out Bluehost or SiteGround since they have affordable hosting plans and a great track record. Plus, they’re recommended by WordPress.
And, once you have a unique domain name and a hosting provider, you can move on to…
Step 1 – Install WordPress to get started
In doing so, you’ll be laying a strong foundation for your course marketplace website.
And, given its popularity, most hosting platforms have WordPress-ready hosting plans or automatic tools that’ll install WordPress for you.
But, if you’re setting it up on your own, I recommend following this WordPress installation guide for the process.
Also, ensure you execute all the steps mentioned in the same order so that your site is set up properly.
After you’ve set up WordPress successfully, you can now move ahead where things begin to get more interesting.
Step 2 – Choose a Learning Management System (LMS) plugin
This is the heart of your course marketplace. And, your LMS plugin is going to be your strongest ally in setting up a powerful Udemy-type website.
WordPress has heaps of LMS plugins too that offer dynamic features for eLearning websites.
And, to make things easier for you, we did the research and found the top 3 LMS plugins used widely:
While all three plugins excel in their own capacity, but, for the purpose of this guide, we’ve chosen LearnDash LMS.
Besides its extreme popularity, LearnDash is also feature-rich and we’ve worked with them for over 5 years now. Hence, we can confidently vouch for its security and reliability.
And, after conducting your own probing, if you believe LearnDash is the right choice, then this detailed guide on setting up the LearnDash LMS will surely make your work a lot easier.
On that note, once you’ve set up the LearnDash LMS on your eLearning website, we can now proceed to…
Step 3 – Select an eLearning theme
Since a theme is practically the soul of any website, it’s important to pick an eLearning theme first.
It plays an extremely important role when it comes to creating a fully functional course marketplace – Your website design, functions, learners’ interaction with your site, speed, navigation options, etc. will depend upon the eLearning theme you pick.
Because WordPress is known for its library of themes, you have tons of options to choose from. However, we’ve done the research for you, and the top 3 eLearning themes most widely used are:
But, before you choose a theme, ensure that the theme is fully compatible with your LMS (LearnDash). This is vital for the smooth functioning of your website.
Sure, you’ll be doing your own research, but, if we have to make a suggestion, we recommend eLumine by WisdmLabs. This is because it is one of the most popular LearnDash themes with robust features and a great support team.
And, if you liked eLumine and have decided to move ahead with it then, this guide for quick installation and setup will be of immense help to you.
Having done that, you’re now ready to move ahead to…..
Step 4 – Import Demo content to set up initial courses
This step marks the beginning of turning your ordinary eLearning website into a Udemy-like course marketplace.
Before we begin, is this all too overwhelming? 🙁
Well, Take a few deep breaths.
Good to go?
So, usually, when you work on designing your website, creating courses and lessons from scratch and configuring the menus, homepage, etc. takes up a lot of time and effort.
However, if you’re looking to get started quickly without investing too much time then, your eLumine theme gives you the option to do so.
eLumine comes with a ready-to-use demo website that you can instantly import in less than a minute!
Now, the demo website provides a strong base for you to start.
- It comes with a pre-set elegant design.
- The courses, lessons, and topics are already created.
- Homepage, menus, and navigation options are pre-configured.
- Student profiles are set up along with many other functions.
You can go ahead and set up the initial courses quickly by just replacing the demo content with your content.
And, voila, you have a course marketplace………almost ready to go live 😛
Step 5 – Set up Instructors to create & manage courses
This step is a crucial ingredient that needs to be added to your course marketplace before you can serve it to the world.
To run a successful course marketplace, you’ll naturally be offering a variety of courses taught by Instructors specializing in those courses.
However, LearnDash, by default does not let you add external Instructors to create and conduct their own courses.
To help you with that, you can use the WISDM Instructor Role for LearnDash plugin to easily add multiple instructors, teachers, or course authors to create courses, lessons, topics, and quizzes, etc.
And, as an instructor, besides creating their own courses these members can also:
- Conduct, manage, and sell their courses on your course marketplace
- Share courses with other course authors
- Approve assignments, grade students, and even track their progress without any admin privileges
- Communicate with students from within the LMS
In addition, you can set up Instructor Profile pages, to showcase their photo, bio, expertise, qualification, courses created, ratings, and so on. These profile pages give instructors credibility and help them showcase their personalities which can encourage more signups.
Having done this, you’re all set to allow multiple Instructors to create, teach, and sell courses on your course marketplace.
Note: The Instructor Role for LearnDash plugin offers an intuitive Frontend Course Creator for Instructors to create and manage courses without navigating to the backend WP dashboard. It makes course creation super easy and helps even non-WordPress-savvy instructors create courses within minutes. So you can easily let multiple external SMEs, Course Authors, Teachers, or Trainers sign-up and launch a course intuitively. You can check it out by creating a course using the demo here.
Step 6 – Build an interactive student-teacher networking system
For any course to be successful, your instructor needs to be in regular contact with your students and address their queries. The bond between students and their teachers needs to be strong.
The good part is – with the WISDM Instructor Role plugin, your instructors can send direct messages to students.
In addition, you can use BuddyPress (a plugin to create a social networking platform like Facebook) which lets you create profiles, groups, micro-communities, private messaging functionality, and much more, to create a fun and interactive student-teacher network around your course offerings.
Your Instructors can tie the groups to your courses, add participants, and communicate with everybody making it convenient and simpler. With an effective networking system, your students and teachers will find it easier to work together and be on the same page always.
Once you’ve set up a full-fledged student-teacher networking system, move on to…
Step 7 – Create student groups with designated group leaders
Now, courses are mostly purchased by individuals on a course marketplace but if you’re catering to a group of students like a K-12 class, or a batch of employees, or a cohort, you’ll benefit from an extension that handles group enrollment – the WISDM Group Registration plugin.
With this add-on, you’ll be able to bulk enroll students as groups. This saves the purchaser and you the time and effort of enrolling each student individually in the selected course.
Moreover, the course buyer automatically becomes the group leader when they purchase the course in bulk. Plus, Instructors can become group leaders too.
These designated group leaders can add/remove students from the group, manage the group, and even track their students’ course progress.
Having such functionality is extremely helpful while running a Udemy-like website to ensure quick enrollments, leading to an increase in course signups.
Step 8 – Start forums for group discussions
The trick to creating a successful course marketplace is not just about its setup. It’s about the time your learners spend on your platform and what they feel about it.
So, if you want to create the feeling of a community within your class, which spurs the students to take a greater interest in the course activities, you should consider adding discussion forums and groups.
You can use a plugin like bbPress to create subject-specific forums where students and teachers can discuss the course, communicate their thoughts about various assignments in groups, and be part of a collective learning entity.
With this, you can boost healthy discussions about courses on your platform and encourage brainstorming as well.
And, after setting up discussion forums for courses on your website, let’s proceed to…
Step 9 – Configure your payment gateway integrations
Well, now that most of the needed functions are in place, it finally comes to adding the functionality that matters the most – Payment gateways!
As mentioned, instructors can add and sell their courses on a course marketplace.
While LearnDash does support selling courses with PayPal, you can also add another popular payment integration gateway like Stripe as an alternative.
Having said that, you can also choose to add better course-selling options using WooCommerce. It’ll allow you to set discounts, and sell course bundles, and physical products too.
Besides this, what you need to manage is the remuneration per enrolment that is shared between you and the instructor according to a previously fixed percentage.
These commissions are awarded to the Instructor every time a student enrolls for their course.
But, you don’t have to worry because – The Instructor Role add-on (that adds the ‘Instructor Role’) takes care of this functionality.
You can keep track of the commission earned and make payments. The percentage commission for each instructor can be varied at your discretion.
Well, guess what! That’s it.
You’re all set.
You have all the minimum requirements needed to kickstart your Udemy-like course marketplace website. Woohooo! ??
Having said that, there’s a lot you can still do to add more value to your website. So far, we have focused on setting up the basics. Now, let us take a look at how you can make your course marketplace website better.
Step 10 – Add other interesting functionalities you might need
Apart from the fundamental operational level functionalities of a course marketplace, there are several other plugins you could use to further enhance your website.
- Memberships plugin – You can create different membership levels (beginners, intermediate, advanced, etc.) on your site and associate each level with different courses using a memberships plugin.
- Quiz/Assignment reporting plugin – With WISDM Reports for LearnDash, you can empower your Instructors to generate detailed reports for quizzes and analyze student performance for actionable decisions.
- Social media integration plugin – You can use a social media plugin and enable your students to share their achievements on quiz performances related to their lesson or course on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This will motivate your students and you get to advertise your brand too.
- Forms plugin – Using a forms plugin, you can create custom forms to collect any information you need when users register for your course or you can auto-enroll users into the course of their choice.
- Email marketing integration plugin – Having an email marketing add-on can help you create a students’ subscription list. You can use it to send out marketing emails to students and potential learners leading to an increase in course signups.
We suggest you add either or all of these functionalities as and when your course marketplace grows.
All The Best!
I know! This was a really long post but now you can’t go wrong with setting up your Udemy like Course Website!
And, we hope this step-by-step guide was of value and help to you. Again if you don’t have the time, you can download our guide and go through the steps whenever you can.
Having said that, at any stage, if you feel the need to get professional help for building your course marketplace, do reach out to us.
An online course platform is a great resource to disseminate your knowledge and that of others who are in search of platforms like these. All you have to do is set up one that is powerful and precise.
1. Setting up an Online Learning Platform to Empower Instructors & Students
2. WISDM LearnDash Plugins – Recommendation Guide
3. New in Instructor Role for LearnDash: LearnDash Frontend Course Builder to build Courses Easily
4. How to collaborate with subject-matter experts to improve LearnDash courses
5. How to set up an online learning platform to support LearnDash instructors and students
6. How multiple instructors can help you drive more business on your LearnDash LMS
7. LearnDash Pricing: Understanding the True Cost of Building Courses
Feel free to ask questions in the comment section below. We would love to help you.
In the meantime, happy building 🙂