I started creating membership sites about 12 months ago, so when someone posted on one of the FB groups I belong to that they wanted help with a learning management system (LMS), I quickly put my hand up.

The LMS was going to be a 5 day free challenge, getting the members to start writing their book. The idea was to test out the course, and if it worked, then to sell it as a paid course in the future.

My client had been successfully helping her clients create non-fiction books and due to that success she had become too busy to help everyone who came in search of her services. She began to look for something she could scale, so that she could build her business and support all of the clients who came looking for assistance.

The only way she could do this, was by helping people do it themselves, which is how the idea for creating her course came about.

The idea was to take all the knowledge and experience that she provided in her one-to-one service and distill it into a DIY training course, making sure that the output could be turned into an actual product at the end of it

Rather than use a standalone platform such as thinkific or teachable, my client wanted something that she owned, so that she was in control of what happened with her training site.  She also wanted something that was a one-off cost, rather than an annual subscription. She already had a WordPress website and wanted something that she could integrate with that.

So even before she posted asking for help she had already decided on Learndash. As part of designing a membership site for another client, I had heavily researched Learndash, so was happy that I had the knowledge and experience to be able to support the development of the site.

So we started to work together. My client created a sub-domain from her main site and worked on the content while I started working on creating the skeleton of the course on Learndash.

She didn’t want too many pages on the website, as she wanted it to work as simply as possible. This was a problem as Learndash is a plugin and as such offers a particular type of functionality.

After a couple of discussions and some research, we realised that there were some pages that the training site would need in order to operate, but that we could keep it to the bare minimum. We would also need additional plugins in order to register people onto the site and enable them to edit their profiles.

Another problem we found when designing the course was that there was little styling incorporated into the functionality, so to get the site branded appropriately, there was a need to add quite a bit of custom CSS to the site.    

So actually, creating an LMS was more complex than creating a membership site. 

However, once we had overcome these issues, setting up the course was actually quite simple. The site is organised into lessons and topics. They allow my client to provide the training in video, audio and written format, so whatever the learning preference, the facility was available.

We looked at the gamification, so that the learners would receive awards for their progress, but that required more plugins and custom CSS, so my client decided against it. She did however, create ‘homework’ for the learners, that they could upload, so that they would keep on track with the challenge.

Then we tested everything, to make sure it was easy to sign up, to edit profiles and to take part in the challenge. Then it was time to run it. Because it was the first time, my client also added in a bug report, so that if there were any problems as the learners went through, they could highlight the.

The launch of the program was really successful and my client had over 100 people sign up to the challenge. According to stats the completion rate of online courses can be as low as 15%, and although not everyone completed it, against this number she had a fantastic completion rate.

Feedback from people who undertook the course was positive and the amount of bugs was minimum

She has since ran the course as a paid version and it continues to be popular. I have also helped her create 4 other courses, and continue to support as improvements are recognised. 

Because Learndash is a one-off cost, once you have bought it, along with the associated plugins required to make the user experience as simple as possible, there are no additional costs. Creating lots of different courses your clients will find valuable becomes a no-brainer. 

So although you do need some technical knowledge and be prepared for the upfront costs, using a plugin like learndash is a relatively cheap and easy way to provide training to your audience.

Have you ever thought about creating a membership site or training course? Whats currently getting in your way?

Do you have the beginnings of an idea but you’re not quite sure if your audience will be interested in it?

Are you worried about where to start

If you’d like a checklist to help you identify what you need to have in place for your new online course, then click here