LearnDash LMS Tutorial: How To Create An Online Course From Complete Scratch!

Last Updated on July 15, 2021 by Fabrizio Van Marciano
LearnDash LMS Tutorial: How To Create An Online Course From Complete Scratch!

In this LearnDash LMS tutorial, you'll learn how to create an online course from start to finish. You'll also learn how to promote and sell your course and start making money! This is the complete guide you've been looking for, so let's dive right in.

I'm sure you've heard by now that creating and selling online courses is a great way to build an online business. Why is that?

For one, the process is very easy. These days, we're inundated with smart tools, software, apps, that can help use make a course quickly.

Secondly, you don't need any prior qualifications to teach online. You can simply share your skills, knowledge and earn money doing so. And thirdly, it's free to get set up! You can use simple tools like Udemy and Skillshare to start your online course! These platforms, however, take a commission each time you sell a course.

But those are not the only reasons; there are others. The growth of eLearning has been exponential. Let's look at some interesting statistics -

  • According to this source, the global eLearning market is expected to reach a whopping $375 billion by 2026! A growth of more than 85%.
LearnDash LMS Tutorial: How To Create An Online Course From Complete Scratch!
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Here's another one -

Over the last 20 years, revenue created by eLearning has increased by a jaw-dropping 900%! Need any more convincing?

But all that said, just because you can create an online course, doesn't always mean you should.

Why so?

Because it's not for everyone. Creating an online course takes careful planning, patience, and smart work. Maybe a little hard work is thrown in as well.

If all of those things aren't your cup of tea, then don't even bother. Making the decision to create an online course half-hearted on the idea is not great either! The last thing you want to do is create a mediocre course. Instead, consider offering an eBook or some consulting.

But, if you really have what it takes to create your own bespoke online course and start promoting and selling it online, then read on!

The tools you're going to need are the following -

  1. Web hosting and a WordPress website. (If you don't already have these, click here to get them.)
  2. WordPress theme (You can use any theme of your choice.)
  3. The amazing LearnDash (Affiliate link) plugin. (Hopefully, you already have this.)
  4. The LearnDash Stripe Integration plugin (To accept payments for your online course.)
  5. WPForms plugin Lite (To add a simple contact form to your online course. This is optional.)

What is LearnDash and why use it?

The main star of the show is the LearnDash LMS plugin since this is a LearnDash tutorial. I can't imagine using any other plugin or solution to create my online courses. It's one of the easiest tools to use too. And since I'm a WordPress power user, for me, it fits the bill perfectly.

So what is LearnDash?

LearnDash is an award-winning eLearning or course building and management plugin for WordPress. Everything you need to create the right learning experience for your students is included in this software. Some of the features include -

  1. A powerful and time-saving drag-and-drop course builder.
  2. Advanced quizzing.
  3. Dynamic content delivery.
  4. Learning focus mode.
  5. Sales and marketing tools.
  6. Integrations.
  7. Learning management system.
  8. PayPal and Stripe payment options, and more.

I've already reviewed this plugin in great detail, so if you wish to check it out, click here.

Why not use something like Teachable or Thinkific?

Whilst these are great platforms for creating and selling your online course, as they include everything. And all you have to do is upload your content. However, the one problem I have with using a third-party platform is 'ownership.' If I create an online course, I'd like to own all of it, including the platform it's built on. Who knows, maybe down the line, I might want to sell one of my online courses as a single product. It's tough, if at all possible, to do that when you use a platform like Teachable or Thinkific. A platform that you do not own.

OK, back to this LearnDash LMS tutorial. So we're going to break this post into several parts. I won't be diving into creating a WordPress website from scratch. If you need to learn how to create a website with WordPress, click here.

You can also watch the quick start video tutorial below to set up your online course with LearnDash. However, the guidelines below are more detailed -

Quick Note: I'm using the Oxygen Builder theme builder plugin in the tutorial video below, however, you can use any theme you wish.

Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of the video tutorials.

LearnDash Tutorial Part 1: Installing and activating the LearnDash and integration plugins

OK, let's get cracking and start putting together our online course.

The first step is to install several plugins. If you don't need to know how to install and activate a plugin, skip this step!

Once you have downloaded the LearnDash plugin from the LearnDash website, you can log into your WordPress website or blog, go to Plugins > Add New > Upload. Drag the Zip file of the LearnDash plugin and drop it into the file uploader and click Install. See the image below.

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Next, Activate the plugin, then head over to LearnDash > Settings > LMS License to enter your email and unique license number. See the images below.

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OK, so that's the main plugin installed; now we need to install and activate the Stripe Integration Plugin. This plugin will enable you to easily set up credit card payments for your online course.

Go to LearnDash > Addons > and look for the Stripe For LearnDash plugin. Click Install Now and Activate.

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OK that's all the plugins we want to install for LearnDash. The last plugin you should install is the WPForms Lite plugin to create a contact form for inquiries of your online course, however, this is entire optional.

LearnDash Tutorial Part 2: Configuring LearnDash settings

Right then, now let's configure some settings in LearDash. We'll go through each tab carefully. Go to LearnDash LMS > Settings > General, and let's start with the Design & Content Elements options.

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Here you can select the custom color you would like for accent, progress, and notifications. You can also enable focus mode if you would like this feature for your course students. Login & Registration can be switched on if you want users to subscribe to access your course.

Next, you can Upload A Logo for branding and toggle the Video Responsive CSS if you want to embed videos and make them responsive on your course.

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Last, on this page, you can go through the Global Pagination Settings. Usually, I leave this alone. However, the Admin User Settings make sure the Course Auto-Enrolment and Bypass Course Limits are switched on. REST API settings are optional, and if you're comfortable customizing your own endpoints, etc.

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LearnDash LMS Tutorial Part 3: Adding course lessons, parts, and quizzes

OK, so in this section, we're going to put our course together using the Builder tab in LearnDash. Before we can do that, we need to actually create our first course.

Go to LearnDash > Courses > Add Your First Course.

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Next, you need to add a title and some information about your course. Of course, crafting the best copywriting for your course landing page will take some time, so no need to rush this part. If you already have copywriting, you can paste it in the content field, just like you would with a blog post or page in WordPress.

Once you're done hit the publish button.

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Next, head over to settings and add some additional information about the course requirements, if there are any. Under Course Content, select whether you want the course to always be visible or only visible to enrollees. If you are selling your course, then select Only Visible to Enrollees.

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Next, scroll down a little further and look for Access Mode. Here you can select how your course can be accessed. If you are selling your course, select the Buy Now option and add your course price.

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Don't forget to update everything...

Right then, now that you've created your first course and tweaked the settings, it's time to add some lessons, chapters, quizzes, and make it awesome, so head over to the Builder tab to get started.

Under the LearnDash Course Builder, click on the New Lesson link to add some lessons. Add as many as you want.

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Then click on each lesson to begin adding information about the lesson as well as some topics and quizzes!

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To begin adding content to both the lessons and topics, all you have to do is hover your pointer over the lesson and you'll see a link to Edit or Remove appear. I usually do this by right-clicking the Edit link to open the lesson up in a new tab. You can edit however way that works for you.

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Adding content to your lesson is simple, once you're done editing, hit Update and go back to lessons to edit the next one.

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In the settings tab, you have a few options. The one I want to focus on in this tutorial is the Lesson Access Settings.

Here you will see which course this lesson is associated with. You can also adjust the Lesson Release Schedule. Under normal circumstances, you can just set this to 'The lesson is made available immediately on course enrollment.'

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Just a quick tip; if you go back to the Course Page, there is a useful navigation feature in the main right column where you will see all of the lessons associated with the course you are editing. In the sidebar, make sure you are viewing the course options and not the block options.

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OK, so we're done putting together our course. I would highly recommend playing around with the Builder and other features to get used to them.

LearnDash Tutorial Part 4: Configuring online course payment settings

Right then, now you have your course lessons, topics, quizzes in place. Let's go through some essential settings for accepting payment for your course when your students enrol.

This tutorial assumes that you are going to sell your online course. So we're first going to go through the PayPal settings -

Quick note: PayPal is the simplest way to accept payments for your online course. It's trusted and widely used. However, keep in mind that you will not have the ability to customize the user's checkout experience if you accept PayPal. If you wish to customize the checkout, I recommend using Stripe and WooCommerce plugin.

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  1. Add your PayPal email address.
  2. Select the primary currency in which you would like to accept payment for your online course.
  3. Select PayPal country. For example, I'm based in the UK, so I would select this even though my choice of currency would be in Dollars.
  4. Add the URL to the notifications page that lets buyers know their payment was canceled. You can just create a simple static page in your WordPress site and add the URL here.
  5. Add the PayPal return URL. This could be a thank you page on your WordPress site.
  6. Add the PayPal notify URL. This is the URL used for IPN notifications. This does not to be changed as it is already pre-populated.
  7. Check this PayPal Sandbox if you are testing your course payment pages and it is not yet live. Once everything is working as it should, and you have launched your online course, you can uncheck this to begin accepting live payments.

Now let's look at the Stripe settings -

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  1. Check the test mode checkbox. This behaves similarly to PayPal's sandbox. When you are testing payment pages, this option needs to be checked to add your test API keys.
  2. Select integration type. I usually leave this to Legacy checkout.
  3. Test/Live publishable and secret keys. You can get these from your Stripe account. Remember to toggle the 'View Test Data' option before going to Developers > API Keys to obtain your publishable and secret keys. The video above explains in better detail how to do this.
  4. The webhook URL should be copied. Then head over to your Stripe account > Developers > Webhooks > Add End Point. Once you have created your endpoint, click on it to obtain your sign-in secret key to paste back into the Endpoint Secret field here in your LearnDash stripe settings. Again, the video above explains this process in better detail.

Important: Keep in mind that you will need to add two sets of configurations to this page. Live and Test. Once you have added the Test settings, uncheck the Test Mode box and go through again to add the Live settings.

Once you're done configuring your course payment options, save everything, head over to the front-end, and test it. You can use dummy credit card numbers which you can find here, to test your course payment process.

VAT and Tax Settings For Your Online Course

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you sell to customers in the EU, you're likely to be subject to collecting and paying EU VAT or other taxes. Now, I'm not a financial advisor or accountant. You should do your own research into what technology and services are available to add VAT and Tax collecting features to your checkout. Here are some links I recommend for additional reading and research -

  1. EU VAT MOSS tips for Online Course Creators

LearnDash LMS Tutorial Part 5: Launching your online course!

OK, we're done creating our awesome course using LearnDash LMS. Give yourself a big pat on the back. Now you're ready to launch it and start earning some revenue. But, before you do, I want to give your some tips for giving your brand new online course the best launch possible!

  1. Create a lead capture page for your course 30 days before you are set to launch it! - There nothing more effective than creating buzz around the launch of your brand new course! Once you're done creating it, you can either launch it right away or wait a while, like, 30 days. Four weeks will give you time to create hype for your course launch date. It will also give you time to prepare everything in the background. In the meantime, you can use a lead capture page to get people signed up and ready to purchase your course. Don't forget to promote your landing page everywhere you can.
  2. Create a blog post all about your brand new course - Actually, it doesn't have to be about your course at all; you can talk about a topic that is closely related to your course. Or something that you talk about in your course. Create a super valuable blog post, then plug your course now and again. You can link to the course sales page directly or link to your email landing page.
  3. Give the first lesson of your course away for free - If you're planning on selling your online course, one idea would be to give the first lesson away for free! As a taster. You can then sell the rest of the course. If people value your free lesson, that may encourage them to purchase the full course.
  4. Create a video about your course - Videos can be very powerful, as long as you're not using them to sell. Instead, you can use videos to outline a problem and explain how that problem could be solved. Then mention your online course in the process and talk about some of the other problems your course helps solve.
  5. Create a podcast episode about your course - If you host a podcast, there are a few great things you can do. Firstly, create a show that talks all about your course, why you created it, who it's for, and the benefits of taking the course. Don't sell, again, find ways of giving away value. Secondly, create an episode in the future and offer to interview one of your students.
  6. Use existing content - If you have existing content on your blog, consider carefully recrafting it to mention your online course. If you have no existing content that you can use that's relevant to your course, create some new content.
  7. Make some t-shirts - Print some t-shirts, wear them in your videos, give them away in a blog contest, as a reward for your students completing the course.
  8. Write a few guest posts - Guest blogging is still a powerful way to increase awareness about your brand, products, and services. Get in touch with a few blogs and ask if you can write for them. Make sure to write something relevant and valuable. You can then add a link in the bio to your course landing page. If you already have a few guest posts published on blogs, perhaps you can request a change in bio and link.
  9. Create a live webinar - Live webinars can be effective but I know it's not for everyone. If webinars is not for you then consider using videos as mentioned above.
  10. To a Q&A live stream - Again, live streaming can be very effective if you feel comfortable doing it. You can use it to answer questions about your course, or a topic related to your course. Now and again, you can do a shameless plug about your course.

It's a wrap!

OK, that's it. I hope you've found this LearnDash LMS tutorial helpful and the tips above for creating hype and buzz around the launch of your online course. I want to wish you the best of luck in your course creation and launch! Now go create the best course that you can!

Recommended posts

  1. LearnDash LMS Review: The Best Way To Build An Online Course With WordPress.
  2. Podcast: Best Platforms For Creating An Online Course.
  3. How To Promote Your Online Course (Thinkific blog)

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