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December 12th, 2019 Business

Running an e-learning business is easier when you have the right tools.

When starting your online course business, it’s natural to want to keep costs low. However, sticking to a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on tools that can help you run your business more efficiently. Take a look at these seven free tools to see how they can help get your e-learning business off the ground.

1. MailChimp

A strong mailing list is at the heart of any online learning business. Building an email list is one of the most important things you can do to start selling your courses online, as it allows you to keep in contact with people who are interested in the subjects you teach.

All businesses should use a mailing list tool to help them manage their mailing list professionally and efficiently. As soon as you gather more than a handful of subscribers, you need a tool that you can use to contact all, or some subset of, your audience via email.

MailChimp makes building and managing your mailing lists easy. Using this free yet powerful tool, you can design email newsletters that showcase your online courses and encourage potential students to sign up. With MailChimp, you can divide your mailing list into groups, which means you can target your email marketing messages to the various audiences you want to reach. For example, you can send special offers or reminder emails to people who have expressed interest in particular courses.

Although best known as an email marketing tool, MailChimp has grown to become far more than a simple email list manager. Using MailChimp’s free builder tool, you can design landing pages that encourage online visitors to sign up to your mailing list to stay in touch. Free templates make it easy for you to create a landing page that offers a free download, highlights your most popular online courses, or encourages people to enter a contest as a way of connecting with your e-learning business.

2. Zoom

Zoom is essential if you want to use webinars as a part of your e-learning offerings. Using this free tool, you can host a webinar that has up to 10,000 participants. Broadcast the content across all your social platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, or let people catch up at a time that suits them with on-demand viewing.

Zoom is also useful for conducting face-to-face meetings when you can’t physically meet with your collaborators or students. Using this cloud-based platform, you can securely and conveniently connect with individual students who have signed up for bonus sessions with you, or deliver real-time teaching to a large group.

3. Wave

You’ve created some fantastic courses, marketed them online, and attracted your first students. That’s a great start, but your business can only reach its potential if you keep an eye on your financials. Even if you’re not a numbers person, you can make managing your accounts easy with Wave.

Wave is an accounting or bookkeeping tool that many small business owners use to track their spending and revenue. It’s designed to be simple and intuitive, so don’t feel intimidated! Set up your account today and start working out how much you can afford to invest in your e-learning business.

4. Stripe

Stripe is a payment processing service that you can use to accept payments from your e-learning customers. Using Stripe, you can accept payments directly into your business bank account. If your customers want to pay in currencies other than your own, that is no problem. Stripe automatically converts payments into your home currency at a competitive rate, so you won’t face foreign deposit charges from your bank.

5. PayPal

PayPal is a convenient alternative to Stripe. You might like to offer both payment options to your customers so they can pay using whichever method they find most convenient. PayPal allows you to receive payments into your PayPal account in a range of currencies, from where you can convert the money and transfer it to your bank. You can also make payments via PayPal. Signing up for a PayPal account is free, although there are fees for some of its services.

6. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin that you can use to make sales directly from your WordPress site. You can display your courses in an attractive plugin, allowing potential students to browse until they find one that interests them.

WooCommerce is a good alternative to other shopping cart tools, which take a percentage of each sale on top of the fees you pay to Stripe or PayPal. Steer clear of these carts unless they offer specific features that you are prepared to pay for. Most e-learning entrepreneurs find that the free shopping cart service offered by a plugin like WooCommerce meets their needs without eating into their budget.

If you use WordPress to build and design your website, WooCommerce is an obvious choice for you to start selling online.

7. Facebook Groups

This last tool is a bit different to the others, as it isn’t a piece of software that you use to automate tasks. Instead, joining a Facebook Group allows you to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. This kind of community can be invaluable when you need someone to bounce ideas of off. It can also connect you to more experienced online educators who can guide you through some of your early hurdles.

From support when times are tough to someone to celebrate your successes, a Facebook Group can help you to feel less alone while you work on building an online learning business. Many e-learning entrepreneurs struggle with loneliness when they start out, especially if they are used to working as an employee in a team with other people. Facebook Groups can solve this problem, freeing you from the uncertainty that many first-time entrepreneurs face.

There are plenty of existing groups on Facebook for online course creators (including our own), so start searching for the ones that interest you today. Another option is to create your own group and encourage other people to join. Creating your own group can be useful if you have a network of people and want a space where you can talk to them about a particular niche within the larger topic of online course creation and marketing.

Free tools can make tasks like managing an email list or keeping accounts much easier.

Making use of free tools can help you to set up and manage your e-learning business without investing a lot of money in software you don’t know you will use. Many of the tools in this list offer a free service that many entrepreneurs are happy to use for years, while also offering a paid option in case you find that you need more features once your business has grown and expanded.

Too many new entrepreneurs struggle to complete tasks manually because they do not realize that there are free tools available that can help them. Check out the tools on this list to find out how they can free up your time to give you more energy to spend on what you do best—creating great courses for your students to enjoy.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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Hello, I built my website using DIVI because you didn’t need to be a website developer. I want to use this to build pages within my site. I’m scared. I do have a site that I can try it on first to see what happens but if it crashes or doesn’t work will you help me? I’m old and have to be technical lol! I read somewhere about additional plugin’s to help should they be uploaded first. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hi, see this user guide on how to use LearnDash with page builders (such as Divi).

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