Starting an online school or academy in 2022 can mark the beginning of an exciting journey. As online learning continues to expand due to the pandemic, online courses offer an easy and affordable way for everyone to learn new skills and an opportunity to invest in knowledge.Being able to impart this knowledge in the best possible way is a skill in itself.
Education is a beautiful gift and it should always come in a beautifully wrapped package ready to be delivered to students – whether they are students or staff.
As learning coach Connie Malamed says:
“One of the most important areas we can develop as professionals is competence in accessing and sharing knowledge.”
Step 1: Choose a platform for creating online courses
With the multitude of online learning platforms and learning management systems (LMS) out there today, it’s easy to build an online school.
However, each comes with its own features, tools, and options for creating and promoting online courses, student enrollment, and community management, and it’s essential to choose an LMS tailored to your needs.
Step 2: Validate your online course idea
Creating an online course takes time and resources. It would be best if you first check your learning item before you start creating it.
You can create a list of questions that address the needs and characteristics of your online learning audience. The answers to these questions will help you refine your idea.
- Which pains does the course address?
- Why should a student pay for this course?
- What results can your students expect after taking this course?
Using a state-of-the-art online learning management system like LearnWorlds will make your academy the must-have learning destination in your field.
During the verification process, you will most likely identify competitors with a similar rate. Make your pitch stand out from the competition by showcasing how your online course is different from the rest.
In addition, it would help if you also forecast a small budget for promoting your online course through paid advertising. Also, crunch the numbers so you know how much it will cost to develop and run the pilot program, the course itself, and the course revenue you need to make the desired profit.
Go to analyze the demand for creating new content compared to the content you already have for a specific course. You can search online for keywords and phrases that you think people will use to learn more about the subject of your course.
Dig deeper and talk to your target audience—either by sending a short survey via email or through your online community—and identify challenges your course can solve or skills your students want to excel in after taking your online course . In case you don’t have the contact details of your target audience, you can run a quick people search online.
You can also use lead magnets that cover the same topics as the course you want to create to see if there really is a demand for a particular course subject. Invite people to download pieces of content from your site (such as checklists, reports, or e-books) by entering their email address.
Another way you can test your online course idea before investing time and money in its design and implementation is to run a pilot program or webinar. A pilot program/webinar allows you to test your idea on a group of students (aka beta testers of your online course). You can create just a few course sections of your online course with enough content to provide results to your beta testers.
Step 3: Find a profitable topic for your online course
Once you have your virtual school website up and running, it’s time to add some educational content to it.
All you need is to find a profitable course idea and then work on that idea to create e-learning content. Make it a priority to choose a subject that you are interested in and knowledgeable about or relevant to your online business industry and that your students can easily follow through distance learning.
Creating course content for the first course requires setting learning objectives and then creating a course outline to help guide the learning process.
Create an outline for our online course:
To create a course outline, you will need to divide the course outline into main topics and sub-topics. Separate course sections by difficulty level, specific teaching approach, or any other category you prefer.
It might help to brainstorm ideas on how to teach the subject, research the literature, search the web, and see what others are doing on relevant topics.
Choose your learning method:
Decide on the learning method or blended approach you want to follow and stick with it. This will define the type of content and activities and the format of your entire academy, as it is not just about the course, but the space in which your teaching takes place.
Remember that learning does not happen in a social vacuum, but rather in a social environment with many variables. Besides, that’s what a successful online academy is all about.
Learning online and especially in the ecosystem that is part of your website has several interactions that you can consider or take advantage of. This includes social activities, group study or teacher feedback via messages or emails.,
Upload your first online course:
If you have already prepared training material on this topic – video, text documents or blog posts – you are one step ahead because you can reuse your content in the course. However, if you’re creating new content from scratch, our step-by-step guide to creating online courses can give you the best guidance.
Once you’ve prepared your learning materials, you can upload them to the LearnWorlds platform by following our quick instructions below:
Click the “Create Course” button to go through the course creation process.
Give your course a catchy name, choose a user-friendly URL for it, choose a course access type, and choose an image to go with it. And that’s all.
You are then ready to start editing your course layout:
and you can add your content and learning activities piecemeal:
Depending on the type of learning, training or coaching, you will likely use different learning activities. The most common learning activities in courses are e-books, PDF files, video and audio lessons. You can supplement them with educational quizzes, exams, SCORM/HTML5 or certificates.
Adding learning material:
Putting all of this into practice means thinking about how to make the most engaging use of the learning materials and tools you have in your inventory. This should help create a better learning experience and increase student numbers.
Educational and interactive videos:
It is a means of communication that increases student participation. Using the right video editing equipment and choosing its location carefully can do wonders for your video.
Add a short 1-2 minute intro video to your course and see the difference. With LearnWorlds, you can create interactive videos and add interactive elements and activities to them – such as subtitles. Try them out to avoid boring content and offer something unique!
Text document and e-book:
The most commonly used medium for delivering education both online and offline is the written word. While a video may be popular and considered highly valuable, many people prefer to read.
Creating text documents is much easier. They allow us to retain more knowledge and are more familiar to us since childhood. These can be in the form of training leaflets, guides, reports, case studies or any material you have previously used in offline training.
PDF is the best format for your Word documents, or you can spice it up with LearnWorlds’ Ebook Authoring Tool to create a web-friendly eBook.
With LearnWorlds interactive e-book, you can help students mark parts of the text, take notes, and highlight important parts.
Regardless of what you choose to add, you can customize the learning environment and output to meet the needs of the course subject matter.
Is your approach to teaching individualized and do students have access to learning materials in their own time? Excellent! You can deliver your content to your students each week and guide them through pre-recorded videos, audio recordings and informative eBooks.
Do you offer coaching? You can then run a live webinar at your school.
Is there a certificate of completion or exam? Great! Your students can also demonstrate their new knowledge.
The great thing about creating courses this way is that it gives you the ability to add whatever elements you want to the course to make it as unique and focused as possible to the learning needs of your students.
Step 4: Your school’s branding and website
First, start creating the website that will host your online school. The landing page is the first page your website visitors will “land” on, so it makes sense to start there.
Don’t forget to invest in your brand identity as you work on it. Add your logo, change the colors of the theme you are using and the fonts.
The LearnWorlds site builder does a fantastic job of this, offering the ability to personalize your website in minutes without the need for any technical or coding skills.
Choosing a unique website template:
You’ll find a rich collection of templates to choose from and customize as you see fit in the page builder. Selecting and editing yours is very easy and just like editing a Microsoft Word or Mac page file!
With this handy tool, you can get creative with your branding and logo colors to create a landing page that’s tailored to your personal or professional brand, message and audience.
You can also use it to choose the right font to suit the style you want to create for your online academy.
Choosing the right templates, especially for the header image, is key because it’s a make-it-or-break-it step. If your landing page can’t entice your website visitors to read your content within seconds, then they’ll immediately reach for the X button and the opportunity is lost.
Finalizing the look of your website:
In addition to the landing page, Page Builder can help you create any other type of page that needs to go on your school’s website. This is an “About Us” page – which can be used to introduce your brand, and a “Thank You” page – which appears after you purchase a course and can help you get your message across effectively.
Similarly, you can create any page to offer more to your current students of your education website, help recruit new ones to your academy, or serve a specific goal you want to achieve.
Subscription Pages: Need to showcase your online courses or school subscriptions and accreditations? Then choose a template you like and focus on presenting the information they need to get about them.
Create a call-to-action button that has high conversion potential and you’re good to go!
Share useful information and grow your academy. Create a blog or create an e-book to educate your audience and promote your online courses.
Tell others what your students are saying about your coursework. You can create a customer testimonial page!
For some more advanced customization, you can also customize the CSS code and customize the players of each course to create a unique experience.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless with LearnWorlds website builder and there is no need to spend money on expensive tools, hosting and maintenance to set up your school website.
With it, you have everything you need to create the most amazing pages and fill them with videos, images, text styles or even embed and mirror external content! In short, we’ve got you covered.
Step 5: The tools you’ll need
Every business has a basic set of tools that help them manage different aspects of it, automate repetitive tasks or increase productivity.
LearnWorlds comes with many of these tools as built-in features and interfaces with industry-leading software tools to take care of the rest.
Some of these come as direct integrations or can be linked using Zapier.
So what are the essential tools for an e-learning business?
- Email Marketing Software
- Referral/affiliate marketing tool
- Analysis software (see step 4)
- General Marketing and Sales Tools (See Step 5)
- Productivity apps, Zapier and more
- API and includes
Email Marketing Software:
Email is the king of web marketing software. Every business owner or marketer likes to use their favorite email marketing software to communicate with their students and sell online courses.
To make your life easier, we’ve partnered with four of the most popular email marketing software: ActiveCampaign, AWeber, MailChimp, and ConvertKit.
If you use any other email marketing tool, chances are it integrates with LearnWorlds through the Zapier integration.
Referral and Associate Tool:
Referral management tools are usually quite expensive and you have to try a few before you find what works for you. That’s why we’ve created our own built-in affiliate management tool that works incredibly well at recruiting your students as affiliates to promote your courses.
Invite your students, influencers and partners to join your online school and your affiliate program to grow your education business!
You must have a professional trainer or a higher plan to start using Affiliate Management. You then log in to your school, go to the “Marketing Tools” menu and click on “Manage Affiliates”.
Go to “Settings” and toggle “On” to enable the affiliate program:
Customize your settings by setting your own commission rate, expiration date, and commission payable after the duration:
And manage all your affiliate marketing activities through the dashboard.
Productivity apps, Zapier and more:
Productivity apps are all about making your work easier. From Hubspot CRM to automation software like Zapier.
Anything that makes boring tasks a problem can help you run your business more efficiently and save you valuable time that would otherwise be spent on activities that required more attention.
LearnWorlds integrates with most productivity apps through direct integration or Zapier. In this way, you can automate many tedious tasks, such as updating customer information in CRM.
You can create LearnWorlds Zaps to automate a large number of repetitive workflows. Learn more about LearnWorlds integrations using zapier in this article.
API, SSO and custom code:
The API can be used for more complex connections and custom work for businesses with their own technical expertise. Whether you want to create a seamless transition between your websites, automate tasks from in-house software, or any other tasks that cannot be achieved through simple integration. Please see our API documentation here.
The API is also an essential part of Single-Sign-On (SSO), which allows you to seamlessly transition from your website’s login process to your online academy without requiring students to log in twice with different credentials. We’ve also created an easy-to-implement WordPress SSO plugin to make it even more convenient!
You can use it to redirect new users to your favorite youtube video, show a popup to all users marked as premium, wish your students a happy birthday with a notification instead of a section, and much more. Read more about it from here.
Step 6: Connect Analytics and know your numbers
The course content is on the website and everything works as it should. What will be next?
Before you’re ready to launch your academy and start accepting enrollments, you need to set up your analytics tools. This is a crucial step to take as such tools can help you assess the overall performance of your online academy business model in terms of website traffic and brand exposure.
Google Analytics is a cutting-edge tool that allows you to track website traffic and can be easily integrated with your virtual learning academy.
To connect Google Analytics to your school, follow these steps.
Among the many analytics and monitoring integrations you can get with LearnWorlds, the Facebook Pixel is another powerful tool to use. This allows you to leverage the actions people take on your website across devices to create more effective Facebook ad campaigns.
To connect the Facebook Pixel to your school, follow these steps.
This is a big analytics player. Mixpanel enables more advanced user tracking and analysis.
If you want to track user interactions in more detail, our Mixpanel integration takes care of everything for you!
Step 7: Sales and Marketing Functions
As with any business, your online academy must follow a marketing plan. Adopting a marketing strategy can help sell your online courses and gradually increase the number of students.
These are tools that help you sell your digital products such as online courses, online courses and online training, create offers, manage promotions and sell to customers. LearnWorlds comes with built-in marketing tools such as the following:
Create a bundle of courses to sell to your customers. Sell multiple courses at once and offer your customers a great deal by grouping similar courses into one big package.
For example, if you have four courses worth a total of $325 if you buy them individually, you can bundle them together and offer them at a price of $150 to entice people to buy them all at once. Here’s how to create a course pack:
First, go to Marketing Products and select “Packages”:
Click on “Create Package” and then another window will open where you can select the courses you want to package and their price.
Promotions / Coupons:
Another way to increase interest in your courses is to offer promotional coupons with or without an expiration date. Coupons can be used for unique offers, sharing with partners or loyal customers as a gift.
They’re also great for sale seasons, shared via email or on coupon sites to attract first-time distance learning customers.
To create a promotion or coupon, go to “Marketing Tools”, “Promotions (Coupons)” and click “Create Course/Package Promotion”.
Then name the promotion, decide on a discount for it and select the courses to which the promotion will apply.
Create a coupon code by entering its name, set the maximum number of times the coupon can be used, and select an expiration date. And that’s all!
See these steps for more details on creating and sharing promotional coupons.
Lead capture is an excellent tool to get people to sign up for your email list. For this to work, you need to offer visitors to your school website the option to sign up for an email newsletter.
Ask them to fill out an online sign-up form and ask them to provide you with their contact details such as name and email address via the online form.
As an extra incentive, you can also offer a free course, ebook, PDF or checklist related to the subject of your course to get them more interested.
When you think about it, there are a lot of online marketing ideas that you can try. Ultimately, it’s up to you which one you prefer and which best suits your target audience. The important thing is to make sure you have a clear description of your audience; you’re not going to give the same offers to a high school student and a businessman, are you?
Step 8: The most important online academy settings
Having your own online academy goes beyond creating a website, landing page and customizing email alerts. You’ll need the tools and options to give you absolute control, and you’ll find them listed in the LearnWorlds school admin menu.
In this menu you can find various customizable settings for the smallest detail and turn the academy of your dreams into a reality:
Site settings: Login/registration and navigation:
First, controlling the student experience is more than just a setting; it also defines who can log in to your school, in which cases you can block user registration or allow social login.
This is the login/login screen. Be sure to check the settings there and adjust them to work for your dream school!
This is even more important if you plan to enable only paid users via one-click paths or run a private school for specific users you want to enroll.
Click on the navigation option below to view the navigation options on the site. From here you can control how the student moves around your school.
For example, in our case at LearnWorlds, at Just Launch It! Challenge, we run a single course school. Therefore, we choose to skip to the default page after login and redirect everyone who logs in directly to the course page.
Here are a few other options you can explore, such as sending to someone who hasn’t enrolled in any courses yet, and a logout URL where your users will go after logging out.
With this level of control, you can create a sales funnel or your own educational funnel!
Go through the General Settings:
The last section on the left side of your school menu is the “Settings” menu.
It is essential to control the student experience whether you have a fully open or private social environment for download permissions.
School information: This is your school name, your company name (if different from your school name), contact information (eg phone number, email, address, etc.), notification email addresses (for support , for sale, for general contact) and business profiles on social networks. Be sure to fill this out as it will appear in various places in your school such as receipts.
Community access: Who can comment, where and how?
Page Language: This is the language interface for buttons, automatic messages, error messages, student menus, etc. You can choose to load one of the available languages or customize it yourself. Note that each account can have one language.
Watermark settings for videos and PDF files and PDF permissions (for printing, copying and downloading).
Level of GDPR management and compliance. You can change it based on local requirements.
LearnWorlds automatically sends several emails. You have already received one notifying you that you have enrolled in school.
In the notification settings, you choose which emails will go to teachers or administrators and which will go to students.
It is a good idea to give these emails your personal contact.
Emails are always in English. If you have changed the school language, you will also need to change your e-mails.
Video hosting is included with all plans when using LearnWorlds. If you’re already using your Vimeo or Wistia account and want to continue using it, you can connect them to LearnWorlds and manage your videos directly from there.
Here you will also be able to change some typical settings, such as how the videos appear in the course player, and adjust the transcription settings.
Learning apps are apps/features within LearnWorlds that you can enable, disable and manage here. These are:
Daily News App:
RSS feed from your blog/website to present news directly to your school’s “news” page.
Best resource app:
Notepad for your students to view their notes, highlights and you can add external resources for them.
People can discover, follow and connect with others from there.
You can enable or disable the student profile page. This is a page where students can share something about themselves with their social networks and can view each other’s activities such as posts and comments.
When creating and updating a course, you’ve probably already seen the Access, Pricing, Settings, and Course Player tabs.
These are the settings for student access to the course and its content. Is your course paid, still a concept, coming soon, free or private?
The price of your course, the discounts associated with it and how to view your course payment options. Is this course bundled or subscription?
Your course title, description, tags, images, categories and SEO fields.
What does your player look like on the pitch? We have five themes and even more customization options to display your students’ information and progress.
Course navigation / Prerequisites / Completion:
Course navigation is located in the course player settings. This is an essential component for anyone providing Continuing Professional Education (CPE) training or any other accredited or non-accredited program that needs to block activities before moving on to the next activity. Read more about it here.
You can also set course completion requirements here.
Check the sections again:
Check if all units are either free or paid. While working on your course content, you may have forgotten to change the finished concept part to paid/free so your students won’t see it.
On the other hand, if you only offer a few sections and are still working on the last ones, be sure to make them draft or “coming soon”.