May 8th, 2017 LearnDash Tips

Setting up an LMS does mean making a financial investment but at a fraction of the cost of what used to be required.

Every week we have the pleasure of speaking with aspiring entrepreneurs about their online courses. As expected, they often have many questions on a variety of topics.

Some people want to know if certain media is supported.

Others are curious as to whether they can sell courses in different ways, such as with coupons and in bundles (yes, with LearnDash you can).

And then there are those who want to know about the expenses that they can expect using WordPress as a way for selling their courses.

While all of these questions are to be expected when you are just starting out in your online course journey it should be noted that answering a question around total cost is quite difficult given all of the potential variables.

Nonetheless, below is a list of items to consider. You will need to assess which of these apply for your situation and then account for that cost accordingly. The below can also impact your overall development time.

  • If you’re using LearnDash, then naturally there is the investment in LearnDash LMS.
  • WordPress hosting costs, which can vary depending on the size of your site.
  • The WordPress theme that you use.
  • Any premium LearnDash add-ons used to enhance your online courses.
  • Any third party paid plugins you are using for various features.

Looking at Specific Examples

Let’s consider some examples with actual figures.

If you have a small site (you’re just starting) then you can probably expect to pay $10-20 per month for hosting from a reputable WordPress host (side note: don’t fall victim to $5/mo plans – they are terrible). The cost of hosting goes up as you need more resources. You should contact your chosen hosting provider for specifics.

What about third party plugins? Many sites use WooCommerce to sell their LearnDash courses – an excellent choice. WooCommerce is free and so are many of their add-ons. Still, if you decide to use one of their paid add-ons then that is a cost that you have to account for as you map out your business expenditures.

Can you sell courses with just the price of LearnDash and hosting? Yes, but I will say that it is quite rare that this is all people want when it comes to their learning management system. Each learning project is unique and as such requires unique components.

Due to this you may find that you have to purchase some additional plugins to add the functionality that you need. While this doesn’t sound like good news it’s important to remember that this would cost you so much more to have a developer create this functionality for you – so you actually save quite a bit of money.

Remember the Benefits

In the end you should consider the benefits of using WordPress over other platforms out there for creating & selling online courses.

First, you have complete control over the look and feel of your offering. This is critical for building a brand.

You also control the policies, something not possible with the hosted platforms out there.

If you need a custom feature, chances are there is an add-on that can accomplish it. Or, you can easily find a developer to make it for you.

Last, you aren’t subject to perpetual monthly pricing that locks you into limited features.

If you are currently attempting to map out the costs for your own project then I would recommend starting off with the “must have” functionality first and then adding more features over time as you generate more business. There is no need to do everything all at once.

Leverage the success of your program so that you can grow your program over time.

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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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I’m trying to get my head around the ongoing costs. I am not worried about the development costs due to the large number of excellent courses out there and the knowledge that I can purchase any special feature I might need, but ongoing costs are something else. What I have not found is simply how much should I budget for the initial test system with 10 students, how would that change when I release to 1,000 students and what would be my monthly cost if I opened the course up to a global audience of say 10,000?

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