How to Easily Create an Online Course in WordPress For Free 2021

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Creating online courses can be an effective way to earn passive income. This is usually true especially like me working as a freelance WordPress Developer.
I once remembered this qoute.

If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.

So, not only you can master your skillset through teaching by having an online course. The best part of it is you become an inspiration to others who could benefit from your course.
And with the rise of the online learning demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this might be the perfect moment for you to start your online course with WordPress.
Whether you want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry or are looking for ways to generate a new revenue stream for your business, this tutorial is for you!
In this article, I will show you how to easily create an online course in WordPress for free and make money from it. You can also use this tutorial to add an online course to an existing WordPress site.
Table of Contents

What You’ll Need to Create an Online Course

Before getting started, there are couple of things that you need in order to create an online course in WordPress. Let’s take a look at what those are.

Setting up Your WordPress Website

Setting up your WordPress website requires both a domain name and web hosting.
If you already have an existing WordPress website, you can skip this step and proceed to the next. If not, continue reading below.
A little background with WordPress.
WordPress is now powering 40.7% of all websites in 2021, up from powering 39% of sites in 2020 as provided by W3Techs which tracks usage statistics of web technologies, including content management systems (CMS).
There are two types of WordPress. And in this tutorial, we will be using self-hosted WordPress. This is the most recommended if you want to control most of your website.
If you are wondering what is the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, and which one you should be using check out this article.
You need a domain name and web hosting to be able to use self-hosted WordPress.org. Usually, a domain name can cost as little as $15 per year and web hosting from $8 per month.
Some providers can get you up to 60% off on web hosting plus a free domain name for your first year. While others have another set of discounted offers.
Here at WPMakeSite.com, we’re using Bluehost as our web hosting provider. They are one of the best in the industry and are an official recommended WordPress hosting company.
Bluehost offers free domain name, free SSL certificates, and discounts on hosting for only $2.75 per month. A really nice offer to have.
After purchasing hosting, you can check our dedicated tutorial on how to make a WordPress website with Bluehost for a step-by-step guide.

How to Create an Online Course in WordPress for Free

Now that we covered the basic requirements, it’s time to get to the fun stuff. Let’s take a look at how you can create an online course in WordPress for free step by step:

Step 1. Install and Setup LearnPress LMS Plugin

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the free LearnPress plugin. For more information, check our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
LearnPress is one of the best WordPress LMS plugin developed by ThimPress.
Having this add-on allows you to create your online course and add it to your website.
Upon activation, you will get a message notifying you that it was successful. Select the Run setup wizard button to continue.
It will bring you to LearnPress Welcome screen. Click on the Run setup wizard once again to follow the prompts.
There will be four different tabs that needs to be set up from this wizard such as: Currency, Static Pages, Payment, and Emails.
Let’s take a look at this one by one.
The Currency Tab
This tab is where you can decide the type of currency you want to accept for your online course. In this example, I will be using Philippine Peso as you can see from the screenshot below.
Doing so will allow me to accept the payment from my students in my default currency. You can adjust this to your preferred one.
There is also an option on how you would like this to display on your website. You can specify the decimal and thousands separators, as well as the number of decimals.
Now, click on the Continue button to proceed with the next step.
The Static Pages Tab
On the Static Pages tab, you can select or create the pages that will display the content of the following landing pages of your online course website such as Courses, Checkout, Profile, and Become a Teacher.
Simply click on the Create button next to each fields to create the page.
This will open a text field wherein you have to fill it out with a name of your choice and then hit enter or click the Ok button.
You can name it the same like the screenshot below.
Once that done, click on the Continue button to proceed.
The Payments Tab
By default, LearnPress only has a PayPal payment gateway which you can use to accept payments for your online course.
Here, you can enter your live Paypal Email address and Paypal Sandbox Email.
For testing purposes, you need to select the Sandbox Mode by checking the box next to it. Check the screenshot below.
Once you are done creating your website, you can easily swap it with your Live Paypal Email account.
Click on the Continue button to proceed.
The Emails Tab
LearnPress also sends notifications to site administrators and users or teachers. You can control them under the Emails tab.
Just check the Enable emails checkbox and click the Continue button to proceed to the last and final tab.
Once you’re done, the last tab is the Finish page. On this screen, you’ll see a number of options.
You can either install a sample course, jump into creating your online course or return to your WordPress Dashboard by clicking the respective buttons.
Install and Setup LearnPress LMS Plugin
It is highly recommended to installing the sample course so you can get a preview of how your online course would look on the frontend.

Step 2. Configure the Course Settings

Although we’ve configured some of the basic settings from the setup wizard configuration, there are still some additional course settings that need to be addressed so that your online course will run smoothly.
To get started, navigate to the LearnPress » Settings section to configure course settings. Here, you’ll find seven tabs.
The General Tab
In this section, you can choose the page where user will be redirected to after logging out.
If you haven’t created a special page for logout redirect, all you have to do is click the Create button.
Configure the Course Settings
This would open a text field wherein you have to fill it with a name of your choice and then hit enter or click the Ok button.
There is also an option to update the currency settings. You can edit it here if you wish to change the settings from the setup wizard.
Once done, don’t forget to save your changes by click the Save settings button.
The Courses Tab
Similarly, you can control the course settings by switching to the Course tab. From here, you can control the courses page, set a limit for the number of courses that can display per page, control single course page, and more.
If you haven’t created an archive course page yet, all you have to do is click the Create button.
Give this page a name and hit enter to save it.
Another option that you should take a look at is the Single Course Permalink. There are a couple of choices here and I highly recommend a permalink that should look something like:
				
					http://www.yourdomainname.com/courses/sample-course/
				
			
This is way better than the first option.
Having a nice permalink structure is good for your search engine optimization effort.
Once done, don’t forget to save your changes by click the Save settings button.
The Profile Tab
This tab is where you can control how you want your user profile should look, the profile page, and if you need to add a login form for non-logged-in users.
From here, you can control different slugs for different pages of your online course. Just go through each of these options and decide based on your preferences.
Once done, don’t forget to save your changes by click the Save settings button.
The Payments Tab
This is where you can set the checkout page, payment options, terms and conditions page, and more.
There is also an option for you to Enable Guest Checkout, Auto enroll a user after they buy a course, etc.
The default options are good enough but feel free to change if needed.
Once done, don’t forget to save your changes by click the Save settings button.
The Pages Tab
This is where you can set option for Instructors Registration.
Become A Teacher Page should be set by now if not click the Create button, add a name for this page and hit enter.
Once again, click the Save settings button to save your changes.
The Emails Tab
LearnPress also sends notifications to site administrators when a new order is placed, processing order, enrolled in a course, finished a course, request to become an instructor, and more. You can control them under the Emails tab.
Configuring emails for your online course
The Advanced Tab
On this tab is where you can set up the technical aspect of your online course such as the loading of styles, caching, debugging and more.
Once you are done, click the Save settings button to save your changes.

Step 3. Creating Your First Online Course

The course creation process in LearnPress makes it super easy to create and manage online courses.
Go back to the WordPress Dashboard to get started.
From here, you need to visit LearnPress » Courses » Add New to create your first course.
If you already have created any posts/pages in WordPress before, the course editor is no different.
Now, enter a course name as well as a description of what the course is about.
Creating Your First Online Course
You’ll notice also on the right panel, you have an option to add a category and tag, and featured image to this particular course.
WordPress categories and tags are useful to help you organize the structure of your WordPress contents.
Next, you can add a section and lessons to your online course by scrolling down below to the Curriculum section. From here, you can outline the course by adding sub-sections or lessons to it.
You can add sections by filling in the entering a name and press enter field. Hit enter to save it and continue.
Now, add a brief description or summary of what this particular section is all about on the field provided just below that.
And finally, add the corresponding lessons under this section. You can do this by filling in the Create a new lesson field. Hit enter save it and continue.
You can move on by adding content for each particular lesson by clicking on the Pencil icon. But for now, we just need to add our lessons and edit it in the next step.
For this particular online course example, we have created two main sections with three lessons under them as you can see from the screenshot below.
After you’re done outlining your course curriculum, scroll down to the Course Settings section. Here, you’ll find five tabs as you can see on the screenshot below.
On the General tab is where you can set the duration of this course in minutes, hours, days, or weeks. As well as other options such as blocking the course when the duration expires.
You can also set the maximum number of students who can enroll in this course, and setting the course as featured, and more.
Similarly, on the Assessment tab is where you can choose how you’re going to evaluate students who take your online course.
Just hover the question mark icon to learn more about each option as you can see next to the item.
The first item is pre-selected and you can opt for this option if you don’t plan on using quizzes to distribute grades.
On the Pricing tab is where you can determine and set a price for your course. If you plan to make it free and accessible to the public, you can select the box next to No Requirement Enroll. Otherwise, set the price and sale price if applicable.
The last two tabs are Review Logs and Author. Under Review Logs, you can manage the reviews that your online course gets. And the Author is where you can set up the author of the course. For now, this isn’t something you have to worry about.
Once you are finished outlining the course section and lessons, don’t forget to click on the Draft button and start editing the lessons.

Step 4. Adding/Editing Lessons to Your Course

In the previous step, we’ve added sections and lessons placeholders to your online course.
And in this part, we will be finally adding the course contents such as videos, texts, pdfs, and many more.
To get started, go to LearnPress » Lessons. In here you’ll see a list of all the lessons that we’ve added from the previous step.
If you have created a sample course during the setup wizard, you can find them here as well.
To add content to a particular lesson, all you have to do is click on the Edit link under the lesson title. Or simply click on the title of that particular lesson. That should work as well.
On the Edit Lesson page, there are a couple of things you need here.
Adding/Editing Lessons to Your Course
First, add the lesson content from the editor screen as you would normally do for regular blog posts or pages.
Add your images and videos, pdfs, and any other downloadable files. As well as add links to external resources.
To the right panel, you’ll find the specific format of this lesson as well as a publishing option, and a preview of where specifically this lesson belongs from a course.
Down below is the Lesson Settings, you can add the lesson duration and select how many minute(s), hour(s), day(s), week(s) this lesson will be.
LearnPress lesson settings
After that, there will be a checkbox that allows you to make this lesson a Preview Lesson. Meaning, the student can view the lesson content without taking the course.
Don’t forget to Published or Update once you are done to save the changes.

Step 5. Adding Quizzes to Your Course

With LearnPress, you should now have an idea of how easy to add lessons to the course. Not only that, you can also add quizzes which you can include in to your course.
Quizzes are an important aspect of any learning. It could keep the user or student engaged in the course. So, not only you give attention to the content of the course but also have engaging quizzes for your students.
To add quizzes, all you have to do is navigate to LearnPress » Quizzes » New Quiz.
Adding Quizzes to Your Course
Just like Lessons, you need to add the Quiz a name add a description. Then you can begin adding your quiz questions under the Questions section.
Now, type in the question on the field provided and then click on the Add as New button to select a question format, which includes: True or False, Multi Choice, and Single Choice
Just select an option that corresponds to this question and add the question content, answers, and more. See image below.
Do the same process if you need to add more questions. Once that done, you need to scroll down to the General Settings section to set up some important points.
This includes the duration of the entire quiz, a passing grade, how many times the user can re-take the quiz, and more.
You can also choose whether or not you want to display hints to the questions.
Once you’re done, don’t forget to hit Publish button in the top right-hand corner.

Step 6. Linking the Quizzes to Your Online Course

Now that you’ve done creating the quizzes and questions, its time to finally link this to our course.
Hopefully this feature, will be made automatically on future updates of this wonderful plugin.
So to this, you can navigate back to the online course page.
Basically, what you can do is either you’ll add a quiz every after you finish a particular section on your course. Or, have the quizzes on the very last part of the entire course. This is totally up to you.
So, if you’ve decided to add a quiz to each section. All you have to do is scroll down to the Curriculum and select that particular section. Now click the Select items button to choose the quiz you have created on step 6.
A window will open with two tabs: Lesson and Quiz. Click on Quiz, then select the quiz you just created, followed by the Add button. See the image below.
Linking the Quizzes to Your Online Course
On the other hand, if you’ve decided to add the quiz to be on the last section, create a new section and name it like Assessment to Exercise or something similar.
And then just follow the same process as mentioned above.
Do the same process if you need to add more quizzes to this course.

Step 7. Preview & Customize Your Online Course

Once you’re done adding lessons and quizzes to your course, you can preview it by clicking on the Save Draft button, followed by Preview in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
Preview & Customize Your Online Course
When all is set and if you’re happy with how it looks, just click on the Publish button.

Great Add-ons for Your Online Course

Congrats on building your online course with WordPress and LearnPress.
This is not the end, it’s only the beginning. As your course and student grow, you might be needing additional features and payment options.
Let’s take a look at these great add-ons in order to give you extra functionality to make your online course run smootly.
Certificates
This add-on allows you to reward students who have successfully completed the course. The certificate is customizable, you can self-design the certification or use an available template and edit it. Click here for more information.
Announcement
This add-on allows you to send announcements to students if you have new content, new deals, offers, announcements, or news, updates, and more. Click here for more information.
Authorize.net
With this add-on, transactions can be done by the Authorize.net account if other payment gateways are not available. You have to install and setup this add-on to received the payment. Click here for more information.
Paid Memberships Pro
This allows you to create membership plans for your students. You can let your student buy Membership and pay monthly for groups of courses instead of paying for each course. Click here for more information.

Wrapping Up

At this point, we’ve already created your online course website in WordPress for free using LearnPress, one of the best free Learning Management System(LMS) plugins for WordPress. I’ve also shown you the necessary requirements and step-by-step guide and showing you great add-ons to add additional functionality to your online course website.
If you liked this article, then please subscribe to my YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
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