One decision that many people struggle with when selling online courses is whether they should sell courses with membership plugins, or just use LearnDash.
I discussed the key considerations for this in a previous article (check it out here if you haven’t seen it already).
But alas not all setups require “one or the other”. Sometimes there is a need for both!
For example, you may want to sell individual courses, bundle packages, and access to non-course related content (pages or blog posts on your site).
To some extent this can be done by just using a membership plugin (like Paid Memberships Pro). However, there are other configurations that offer additional flexibility that could be more conducive to your course offering.
WooCommerce + LearnDash + Groups
This is a configuration we have seen before that opens up a lot of possibilities for your courses and what is included when someone purchases.
Before jumping into the details, let me preface this by pointing out that this isn’t the only possible way to get this configuration. For instance, you could use Easy Digital Downloads and similar add-ons to achieve the same result.
Perhaps I’ll address this in another article. For now, let’s stick with the following resources:
- LearnDash-WooCommerce integration (details here)
- Groups by itthinx
- Groups for WooCommerce (premium WooCommerce add-on, details here)
The Basic Set-up
After you have created your courses in LearnDash, install the LearnDash-WooCommerce integration so that you can sell your courses using the WooCommerce shopping cart.
Create your products in WooCommerce and associate the LearnDash courses. Note that you can associate one or many courses to a single product. This makes it possible to create course bundles (or perhaps discounts for bulk course purchases).
Now install and activate the Groups add-on as well as the Groups for WooCommerce premium add-on.
You’re going to use the Groups add-on to create “membership levels” (for lack of a better word) for your WooCommerce products.
Now, when someone purchases the product, they get automatically enrolled into the associated course(s) AND they receive additional capabilities that you assign to the Groups level you create.
This gives you the ability to not only grant course access but also to release other assets on your site to those who have purchased the applicable products.
With this configuration you can:
- Offer free courses using LearnDash only
- Sell courses using WooCommerce
- Sell course bundles using WooCommerce
- Offer tiered membership levels
If you want to add another element to your offering, you can sell subscription based memberships (this requires the premium WooCommerce Subscriptions add-on).
With these components in place you have no less than five different types of offers you can present to customers.
One benefit to a setup like this is that you can still offer membership levels but also allow for people to be enrolled in courses that aren’t part of a specific membership group (traditionally a limitation of membership plugins).
A Final Thought
A few things to keep in mind. First, the investment (both time and financial) to get this configuration up-and-running is certainly more extensive – although a fraction of the cost for creating an entire LMS from scratch.
That said, I’ve seen very few LMS sites that needed all of these components from “day 1”.
Work your way towards it. You may find that your courses and customers don’t really need this level of complexity.
The last thing to remember is that the tools mentioned in this article are merely an example using one shopping cart. You may find another shopping cart that is better for your needs (LearnDash integrates with four popular options).
Research which works best for you, for your theme, and for your ultimate learning program goals.