Selling Online Courses with LearnDash

By James LePage
 on May 21, 2020
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

Selling Online Courses with LearnDash

By James LePage
 on May 21, 2020
Last modified on January 7th, 2022

Today, we look at selling online courses with LearnDash. Why keep your knowledge to yourself when it can become a source of income? It's not a hard task to start selling your courses on your website, and you can even bring others into the fold with LearnDash affiliates. Let's jump into how all this is done so you can do it too.

Before you begin, there are a few things that you need to have in place to get set up. First, you need to have a website hosting plan in place. If you don't, now is the time to pause and register for one. Second, you need to have a free WordPress account.

A good theme is also strongly recommended. Astra is excellent for this, and the good news is that you don't need to pay for it. Finally, you are going to need to have LearnDash on your side. That one is self-explanatory, since it is the management system that is required for this tutorial. 

A site builder, such as Elementor, is also a good asset.

Setting up Your Prerequisites

The prerequisites, in this case, are the other components discussed above alongside WordPress. First, the hosting is necessary since you intend to sell these courses on your own site. Ensure that the hosting provider that you choose is one that is consistent, has fantastic support features, and is fast. 

Next, a comfortable theme is needed. You can look through the ones that are available, but whichever one you choose needs to work with plugins, page builders, and any site builders you plan to use. We always recommend Cloudways. You can get 30% off your first billing period if you sign up with our code "ISOTROPIC".

Finally, there is LearnDash. while there are other learning management system plugins available in WordPress, none of them are as optimal or as robust as LearnDash is. This is the reason that it was chosen for this tutorial. 

Installing LearnDash

The first order of business is the LearnDash setup. LearnDash is a subscription-based service, so after making your payment, you are provided with a zip file and the license. This zip file is what you are going to use to install it to WordPress. 

From your WordPress page, select "Appearance," then "Plugins," then "Add New," then "Upload Plugin." There is a button labeled "Choose File," that you click on to browse for the file you need. Browse to the location of the zip file that you received from LearnDash and select it. From there, use the "Install Now" button to run through the installation process. 

Upon completion of this installation, you then need to activate the license. Click on "Activate" at the end of the installation, then head to the "Settings" button under the LearnDash elements blade. There are six tabs, and "LMS License" is the final one. Select it and complete the provided fields for your email address and your license key. Upon doing this, you can then click on the "Update License" button to complete your activation. 

While you are on this page, it's an excellent time to set up your payment parameters. This is what controls the flow of income when online payments are processed for your courses. In the same row as the "LMS License" tab that you used earlier, there is also a "PayPal Settings" one. Select it, and fill out the form with the required details, such as your email address, your cancel URL, your notify URL, your currency, and your location. 

When you went to get your LearnDash subscription, you may have noticed that you received notifications about LearnDash 3.0. This is the version that you should use, but it is likely in legacy mode upon installation. 

Select the "General" tab from the page that you are on and select LearnDash 3.0 in the "Active Template" area. Doing this gives you access to some of the newer features that are not baked into the legacy mode. 

Create Your Courses

Note that you don't have to use a theme or a page builder, but it can cut the process time significantly. You can get a new theme by selecting "Appearance" on your WordPress toolbar, then selecting "Theme," then selecting "Add New." Use the search bar to find Astra, then select "Install," and click "Activate" once done. 

With Astra setup, there are various templates that you get access to. Select the one that you like best. There is one called LearnDash Academy that it is very well suited to this purpose.

LearnDash Academy Demo

When you select it, it indicates that LearnDash WooCommerce and LearnDash Course Grid are prerequisites. These are LearnDash add-ons, and you can install them by selecting "LearnDash Elements" on your WordPress toolbar, then clicking on "Add-ons." From this page, you can look for the ones that you need, and click the "Install Now" button to have them installed. 

If you want to make edits to the theme you selected, your site builder can help with this. If you have chosen "Elementor," then all elements of the LearnDash Academy template are fully editable. When you're ready to start using the template, simply click "Import Site."

LearnDash Academy features a course builder that uses a drag and drop workflow with lessons, topics, and other templates that allow you to explore your creativity. You can configure the properties of each course, such as the completion percentage, the title, the progress bar, and the course image from the LearnDash plugin. 

Note that all your courses can be viewed by clicking on "LearnDash" on your WordPress tab and selecting "Courses." You can add new courses from here, and you can also edit the existing ones with the settings tab, to add elements such as prerequisites, certificates, required materials, course prices, etc.

LearnDash 3.0 - The Best WordPress LMS Plugin

With that out of the way, you can select the "Builder" tab to begin adding sections and lessons for your course. This is the frame that you place the course content in. You can add your sections by using the "New Section" option, and then lessons can be added by selecting "New Lesson." 

After creating a lesson, you can use the "Edit" option to add any content that you wish. The settings tab for each lesson helps to customize things, such as binding lessons to courses, configuring access, modifying video progression, etc. 

In the LearnDash area under the WordPress toolbar, you can use the "Topics" option to make your courses more modular, and you can use the "Quizzes" and "Assignments" options to design and add these to your courses. 

Quiz Builder - LearnDash Support

Shopping Cart Setup for LearnDash Affiliate

This aspect is necessary for the setup of LearnDash Affiliate. Just in case you're unaware, this allows you to Set up an affiliate program that allows others to sell your courses and earn a commission as they do so. 

LearnDash has numerous options that you can use for your cart setup. A shopping cart must be selected, such as Cartflows or Easy Digital Downloads (EDD). 

When you set up a shopping cart, you get the option to assign your courses to products. If you wish, you can set up discounts, bundles, and more.

When a user browses to the storefront, that person sees the products that you set up. Once the product is purchased, then the user receives access to the associated courses. 

With your shopping cart in place, it's time so install Affiliate WP. Shopping cart options, such as EDD work well for this purpose, as it integrates seamlessly with Affiliate WP. This is because the creators of both are the same. 

The Affiliate WP installation works just like the LearnDash one. This means that you get a zip file, which you then import in the same basic way, followed by a license activation using the key provided.

There are several settings that you need to configure to allow the affiliate process to work smoothly. In the "Pages" section of Affiliate WP, there is one called the "Affiliate Area." This is where affiliates login to create custom URLs, track earnings, and manage their profiles. 

Next, is there is the commission rate set up. Affiliate WP allows you to configure the amount that affiliates receive when they sell your products. You can set this up as a dollar or percentage value. Ensure that whatever you select is attractive to potential affiliates, as you could struggle to get any. 

Now it's time to integrate Affiliate WP with your payment receipt application. Without this, you cannot pay your affiliates. Select "Settings" then "Integrations" from Affiliate WP, and you can use the checkboxes to select which platform is being integrated, such as WooCommerce.

The final piece of the puzzle is to select the payout method for your affiliates. Most people use PayPal Payouts, which you can set up. While there are other methods that can be used, PayPal Payouts has a lot of unique and useful features.

Chief among these is the mass payout option that allows you to send money to multiple accounts at the same time. Of course, the affiliate payment options that you have and can integrate depend on the Affiliate WP license that you have. 


Selling your courses online can be a lucrative source of income. This only serves to increase with the potential for adding affiliates. While you can follow the steps exactly as they are above, remember that there are also alternative options for site builders, feelings, and even affiliate plugins. Just make sure that you know and set up the parameters that are necessary for the avenue that you choose.  

Subscribe & Share
If you liked this content, subscribe for our monthly roundup of WordPress news, website inspiration, exclusive deals and interesting articles.
Unsubscribe at any time. We do not spam and will never sell or share your email.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Article By
James LePage
James LePage is the founder of Isotropic, a WordPress education company and digital agency. He is also the founder of, a venture backed startup bringing AI to WordPress creators.
We're looking for new authors. Explore Isotropic Jobs.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram