The learning industry has a huge global footprint.
Statista predicts projected revenue in 2023 will hover around $166.6 billion.
In the United States alone, revenue is expected to reach $74.80 bn in 2023.
It’s an industry with a lot of prospects for anyone looking to offer courses online.
If you are looking for ways to sell courses and subscriptions (groups) on your WordPress site, you are in luck!
In this article, we will show you how to sell courses and groups on your website by using two high performance WordPress tools, LearnDash and SureCart.
Not only will we tell you how to integrate these plugins, we will also cover how to build a stunning eLearning website that will increase your chances of making a profit.
- LearnDash: Key Features
- SureCart: Key features
- Set up your website
- Sell LearnDash courses With SureCart In 5 steps
- Sell LearnDash groups with SureCart
- Selling a LearnDash course with SureCart: Live test
- How to revoke access or refund
Before jumping into our tutorial, it’s important we talk about some key features of LearnDash and SureCart.
LearnDash LMS (Learning Management System) is one of the most powerful platforms out there for eLearning entrepreneurs to sell courses, memberships and subscriptions.
With this beginner friendly but extensive plugin, you can create a highly engaging eLearning website that offers visitors everything they can think of.
You can even create your own eLearning marketplace.
If you are looking for a serious platform to increase ROI, LearnDash LMS is a reliable choice.
Here are some of the most notable features the plugin offers:
- It allows you to feature content through lessons, topics and quizzes
- The drag and drop builder allows you to customize courses however you want
- With smart focus mode, learners can have a distraction-free learning experience
- Drip feeding is a helpful feature that ensures learners view the course in progression. This allows you to create a customized schedule for your entire course
- With the ProPanel feature, you can generate a lot of in-depth reports to show you how learners are progressing in their courses.
eCommerce stores need more resources than regular blogs because they need lots of different plugins to perform key tasks.
The more features an eCommerce site has, the more challenging it is to maintain site speed over time.
SureCart is an ideal eCommerce solution for all needs without compromising performance.
The plugin adopts a modern approach that platforms like Stripe, Shopify, Basecamp, GitHub and Twitter use.
Here are some of the highlights SureCart has to offer:
- It’s a cloud-based solution which means your website remains free of extra code
- It offers seamless integration with every major plugin including LearnDash without a need for a third-party addon
- You don’t need to spend extra on expensive addons
- It provides complete control over checkout forms, carts, subscriptions, orders and everything an eCommerce website needs
- You can connect with multiple payment processors. Currently, SureCart works with PayPal and Stripe, with more payment gateways coming soon, including Mollie, Square, PayStack, RazorPay and Mercado Pago
We love building new websites because it’s so much fun when you do it with WordPress.
You can literally build your website in less than 60 minutes.
This is one of the reasons why WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS).
When we talk about creating a WordPress website from scratch, we mean a self-hosted WordPress site for which you need to register a domain name and buy a web hosting service.
It may sound overwhelming at first but it’s easier than you think. We will make building your first website as easy as possible for you.
Let us quickly tell you what a domain name is and how you can buy the most reliable web hosting service.
A domain name is your address on the internet. Just like www.wpspectra.com is our domain name. Yours can be anything you wish.
Registering a domain name is a process that needs some attention but this guide offers everything you need to know about it. The guide will also tell you how you can pick a name that suits your project.
A web host can do a number of things.
Its primary job is to host your content. It offers space on its server where you can put your website’s data and make it accessible on the internet.
You can buy a domain name from a domain registrar, or you can get it from your web host.
Although a number of web hosts can register a domain for you, some web hosts are more focused on providing hosting services.
Cloudways is one of the best managed web hosting services around and we will use it in this tutorial.
Cloudways is a pro level service and has a reputation for providing top-notch performance.
They are reliable, offer flexible hosting options and back you up with 24/7 support.
We like how they give you an option to choose a server type and location.
To get your choice of server, click on the Pricing menu from their homepage and select a server.
You can choose from several options including DigitalOcean, Vultr, Linode, AWS and Google Cloud.
For this tutorial, we will select Vultr as our choice of server.
You can choose any of them and select server resources depending on your needs. Cloudways will charge you accordingly.
We are also a fan of their billing procedure which allows you to pay monthly or hourly. It is a rare feature in the industry, but it enables you to optimize your hosting needs based on resource consumption.
For beginners, we suggest starting with their basic plan initially. As you grow, their scalable servers allow you to upgrade resources anytime while keeping the website live.
You can also choose between Standard and High Frequency options at the time of purchasing web hosting service, or change it later whenever you desire.
The High Frequency server option is designed to handle multiple simultaneous customers visiting the website at the same time. It helps keep your website up by offering more resources.
If you want a step-by-step guide to learn how to configure Cloudways and set up your WordPress site the right way, here is an in-depth tutorial.
Once you are done installing WordPress, log into your WordPress admin panel for the next step.
As a beginner, you should know that WordPress is a very user-friendly CMS. It’s better to tweak it to suit your needs as early as possible to optimize performance.
We have a detailed guide on the essential things you should do right after installing WordPress.
As soon as WordPress is installed, you are presented with a very basic layout. It is useful to do a little bit of practice, but you will need to customize its look and feel for your project.
For this tutorial, we will customize our website to match how an eLearning website should look.
We need a theme that is compatible with LearnDash LMS.
More importantly, it should be flexible, lightweight, SEO optimized and fully customizable.
We recommend the Astra theme for its stunning performance. We are not just saying that, Astra has won the best WordPress theme award two years in a row.
Astra comes from Brainstorm Force, the same company behind the Spectra page builder and lots of other powerful tools.
LearnDash also recommends Astra for its super compatibility.
You can install Astra from within the WordPress admin panel or download it from the website.
The free version is enough to start an eLearning website with LearnDash. With this, you also get access to free Starter Templates.
There are over 240 templates available in the Starter Templates library and a lot of them are suitable for an online course website.
The free version of Astra offers enough functionality to get you started.
However, the Pro version brings more power and a number of modern features to help your LearnDash project stand out right off the bat.
Let’s install the Astra theme from the WordPress repository.
Go to Appearance > Themes and search for Astra. Install and activate the theme.
After you install Astra, you will notice a dedicated menu in the left sidebar.
It provides access to a variety of settings, plugins and templates.
The intuitive user interface is convenient and beginner friendly. If you ever need quick help, the welcome video is a handy resource.
Astra’s template library offers a wide variety of templates ideal for eLearning and online course websites.
You can start using them right away. They work perfectly with the LearnDash plugin.
So before importing a template, let’s first install LearnDash.
LearnDash is a premium plugin that you can purchase from its website.
On the LearnDash website, click on the Pricing button that will take you to the pricing page.
It will show two options:
- The standalone plugin which you can buy and use on your self-hosted WordPress site
- A cloud solution where LearnDash hosts a prebuilt website on their server with LearnDash pre-installed. You also get access to a number of prebuilt templates for your website
The standalone plugin solution is the one we will use in this tutorial.
The good part about sticking with the plugin-only model is that you get a lot of flexibility to manage your website the way you want.
We’re talking about themes, plugins, and web hosting-related matters.
Next, choose the plan that suits your needs. LearnDash offers three plans: 1 Site, 10 Sites and Unlimited.
Click on the Buy Now button to proceed with the purchase process.
Once you complete the payment process, LearnDash will provide access to the user dashboard to download the plugin.
Inside the user account area, you should also notice that LearnDash recommends the Astra theme as one of the two most suitable options for its plugin.
Fortunately, we have already chosen Astra for our website.
Now you have the plugin, it’s time to install it.
After you install LearnDash, it will prompt you with a welcome screen giving you two options.
Press the Get Started button to launch the setup wizard or ignore the process by pressing the Dismiss Setup Wizard button.
If you choose to dismiss it now, you can relaunch the wizard later from LearnDash LMS > Setup.
When you enter the setup wizard, LearnDash will require you to enter the license key and email to validate your copy of the plugin.
Validation is critical as it allows you to get regular updates and information from LearnDash.
After entering the information, click the Validate button.
The setup wizard will take you through the process of configuring your course website.
Subsequent screens will ask you about the type of courses you plan to offer and the payment methods you want to use to sell courses.
For the payment method, we suggest you choose No when the screen appears with the question Do you want to charge for your course?
Why do we ask you to hold for a moment?
LearnDash offers Stripe and WooCommerce integration through its setup wizard as default options.
However, we have a better plan for you to show you a more flexible way of selling courses through SureCart.
The LearnDash setup wizard will also create certain pages and install supporting plugins during the configuration process.
Make sure you disable the WooCommerce option on the last screen.
To successfully complete the wizard, click the Save & Complete button.
LearnDash performs certain functions through addons. Some of them are available for free in the LearnDash library.
The one we need is LearnDash Course Grid which is used to display courses nicely in a grid style.
You can access the library and install this add-on from LearnDash > Add-ons.
Scroll down to find the LearnDash Course Grid or use Ctrl + F (Windows)/ Cmd + F (Mac) to locate it.
And then, activate it.
A starter template is the most convenient way of building a professionally designed website.
With Astra installed, you can access the template library from within the WordPress admin panel.
Go to Astra > Dashboard and click on the Starter Templates tab. It will Install the Starter Templates plugin and launch the setup wizard for you.
Press the Build Your Website Now button to open the online library.
You will be asked to choose a page builder out of three options – Block Editor, Elementor and Beaver Builder.
You can choose any of them but for this tutorial, we will use the Block Editor (formerly known as Gutenberg).
Next, scroll down to choose a template you want or use the term “course” in the search box to look for relevant templates.
You will come across a number of choices but for this tutorial, we will choose Online Courses.
Click on it to allow the import wizard to process the request.
You will be able to add your logo and change the font to how you prefer.
Once the process is completed, you will see a fully designed website ready for you to sell online courses.
You can click on All Courses from the top menu and see sample courses the template created for you.
Go through them on the front end and from the admin panel to get the hang of it.
You can use predesigned courses to test your website before it goes live.
If you think you need to follow a step-by-step tutorial to create courses, lessons, and topics, here is an in-depth tutorial.
To get your online course website ready for selling courses and group access, you need to install SureCart.
Again, the Astra sidebar menu is the way to easily install SureCart. There is an alternate way to install the plugin: from Plugins > Add New.
However, we will use the easiest way to accomplish this.
Go to Astra > Dashboard and scroll down to find SureCart under the Useful Plugins widget.
On the next screen, you will be asked to set up your online store.
Press the button Set Up My Store to proceed with the signup process.
Enter your name, email address and set your password on the next screen.
The setup wizard will create a store for you. Enter the relevant information and create your online store on SureCart cloud.
The next screen will allow you to connect your store to payment processors so that users can pay you.
You will see two options, Stripe and PayPal. You can connect with both depending on your requirements.
For this tutorial, we will connect with Stripe and move on.
You can easily connect with Stripe by entering the login information. If you haven’t yet signed up with Stripe, you can do it now.
Once connected, you will see a screen with the status Enabled.
Press the Next Step button to connect SureCart cloud with your website through SureCart API.
Copy the API Token and press the Back to WordPress and paste the key in the API field.
Press the Complete Installation button.
Just one more thing before we leave SureCart.
Go to SureCart > Settings > Advanced and activate the Use the Stripe Payment Element option under Beta Features.
Save the changes.
Now that SureCart is active, it’s time to find out how you can sell LearnDash courses and groups.
We already have sample courses that make it easy for us to sell them.
At this stage, anyone can access the course. The reason is that by default, Access Mode is set to Open.
When you decide to sell courses, you will need to change the Access Mode from Open to Closed.
To do that, go to LearnDash LMS > Courses and open the desired course in edit mode.
Select the Settings page at the top and scroll down to the Access Mode option.
This option is suitable for anyone looking to allow access after enrollment.
With the Access Mode set to Closed, you will need to enter two values, course price and checkout page URL.
Select Course Price and Button URL fields respectively.
We will get back to the checkout page URL later. For now, we will only add a price.
Press the Update button and open the course in incognito mode if you are using Chrome or private mode for Safari.
It will start showing the price you just set. However, the current status will show as Not Enrolled.
Since we changed the access mode, there is no way users can access the course content except for a limited view of the course description.
This is where SureCart comes in.
To sell the course and enroll users, we need to create a product in SureCart from SureCart > Products.
Enter the product name and press the Create button.
This is how the interface should look.
Next, add a price to the product. Press the Add A Price button and enter the price you want to set.
From the payment type drop-down you can choose one of the three available options – One Time, Installment and Subscription.
Once done, press the Create Price button to set the price.
By the way, if you want to delete the pricing, press the three dots and choose the Delete option.
We will repeat the process and add a few more pricing options to give users various payment options.
We will also add an image to enhance the user experience.
Once you are done setting up the price, you will need to add integrations.
This is an imperative step that will link the LearnDash course with the SureCart product.
That means users will get access to the LearnDash course through this product.
Press the Add New Integration button and choose LearnDash Course from the drop down menu.
Similarly, choose Course Access – E-Commerce Course in this case – from the other dropdown list.
Press Add Integration button.
A checkout page is where users pay for the course before getting access to the course content.
To create a checkout page, go to Pages > Add New to open the page editor.
Enter a relevant title for the page and add the Checkout Form block.
Press the New Form button and enter a suitable title for the form, then press Next.
On the next screen, choose the form layout you want and press the Next button.
The wizard will ask you to add product(s) to this checkout form.
Press the Add Product button and choose the desired product from the dropdown.
You can select single or multiple products depending on your needs.
Then choose how your customer should pay you at the bottom. We will select Customer must select one of the options.
Lastly, we need to associate a page to thank the customer who bought our course.
Enable Custom Thank You Page and select an existing page of your choice.
With this option active, customers will be automatically redirected to the thank you page after purchasing the course.
Press the Create button.
On the next screen you should be able to customize your checkout form for a better user experience.
You can change the label and the description of each item to match your needs.
You can also enable/disable specific features for each item.
Click on each product and the relevant fields will show up on the right sidebar. You can change the values however you like.
Once users make payments, they will be redirected to the user area for accessing the course. To make the user area secure, SureCart allows setting a password field.
Click on the + sign anywhere you want to add the password field and pick the password block.
This is an invaluable feature SureCart offers that saves you a lot of time.
Just enable test mode to ensure everything is working then switch it to Live.
Once you are satisfied with the layout, press the Publish button in the top right corner.
When someone purchases a course, you would like to thank them before giving them access.
The thank you page loads automatically after a successful payment.
It can be customized to provide your customers with a memorable post-purchase experience.
Open the Thank You page from Pages > All pages and make it interactive the way you want.
You can add anything such as an Order Confirmation block, a nicely written paragraph, a thank you video, or anything of your choice.
In addition, you can add a button that takes users to the customer dashboard.
This can give them access to the course they just purchased and display the rest of the information.
The final step is where you provide your customers access to the course they purchased.
SureCart provides prebuilt blocks to design the customer dashboard in a few clicks.
Go to Pages > Add New and design a page that will serve as a customer’s personal dashboard.
Next, add a Customer Dashboard block to your page.
In order to give users access to the course they purchased, we will press the + sign in the left sidebar to the Add Customer Dashboard tab.
We will also populate the newly added tab with the LearnDash courses we offer.
The right sidebar also provides the option to change the tab label to something more interesting. We changed it to “My Courses”.
That’s it. Users will be able to access the courses according to the plan they purchased.
We will show you a live demo shortly.
LearnDash and SureCart make it easy to sell group subscriptions.
Just like we put the course on sale with SureCart in just 6 steps, it’s almost identical to selling group subscriptions.
We will first create a group in LearnDash.
Go to LearnDash LMS > Groups and press the Add New button.
The group editor comprises four tabs – Group page, Settings, Courses and Users.
You can set up the group in the following steps:
- Choose a group title
- Add some content and a short description to the Group page
- On the Settings page, set the Access Mode as Closed and choose a price for the subscription in the Group Price field
- Add the checkout page URL in the Button URL field
- On the Courses page, assign a course to this group inside the Group Courses segment
- Once done, press the Publish button
You can watch this short video to understand the entire process.
Now we have set up our LearnDash and SureCart integration, let’s purchase a course and see how users will be able to experience it.
Our test website offers three different courses, one of which requires enrollment.
Users interested in enrolling in the “E-Commerce Course” will click the Enroll Now button.
On the next page, users will press the Take this Course button.
Next, it loads the checkout page where users will need to choose a payment plan.
Enter payment information and press the Payment button to complete the purchase.
The page will redirect them to the thank you page with a button at the bottom to access the course.
Users are supposed to press the Access Your Course button.
The Customer Dashboard will load next to give users access to several things including the course they purchased.
This is just a typical user flow we created on our test website.
SureCart is a diverse eCommerce plugin that allows you to customize the whole user experience the way you want.
When you are selling courses and group subscriptions, you may want to issue refunds or revoke access to purchases.
SureCart makes it really simple to perform both tasks.
Every successful purchase creates a record in the order section of SureCart. From there, we can manage access and refunds.
To achieve this, Go to SureCart > Orders and click on any order you want to have its access revoked.
When you open the view order screen, you will have two options to complete the desired task.
If you want a refund, press the Refund button. Users will still have access to the courses or groups they have purchased.
Sometimes you wish to keep users enrolled even after refunding a certain amount.
You will need to press the Revoke button in order to revoke access.
When we do so, the user will be removed from the group membership list.
LearnDash and SureCart are a powerful combination of features, performance and reliability.
Companies, training organizations, universities and entrepreneurs can use this combination to build high-performance and revenue-generating eLearning websites.
This step-by-step tutorial provides everything you need to know to sell courses and groups with the help of the powerful features SureCart offers.
You will also know that SureCart can meet all your needs independently such as forms customization and subscription management, without third party addons.
Have you set up your eLearning website with LearnDash and SureCart? How was your experience selling courses and groups? Don’t forget to share your feedback with us in the comments!
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