How to Build a WordPress LMS Business

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joshua millage: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the next episode of the LMScast Podcast. I am Joshua Millage. I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett like I am everyday. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to build a WordPress LMS business. We’re going to talk about some income and how to get this whole thing cranking. Chris, what are the different ways that someone could make money with a WordPress LMS site?

chris badgett: Well, I think the place to start is to really start thinking about value and what makes WordPress and eLearning so powerful is it gives you a tool to create a lot of value in the lives of somebody else. That what makes it so powerful. If we focus on the user experience of the student or trainee or whatever you want to call the person who’s consuming that LMS content, the question becomes how valuable is what you’re offering to that person and what’s the perceived value, what’s the actual value, what can they do with that training, what kind of new opportunities are they going to have? It’s really important to start there. Once you get clear on that, getting really zen with the goals of your teaching, your learning materials, they’ll need to start building a business model around that.

There’s so many different ways to do it. Like we mentioned in the previous episodes, the role of the teacher or what you traditionally think of as schooling or training or education or what a teacher is, is changing rapidly and is up for debate. We’re talking to entrepreneurs, talking to traditional teachers and nontraditional teachers, subject matter experts in professional things, in hobby things, and whatever you can think about, and also online marketers. All those different people can find their own value in their ideal customer.

joshua millage: Right.

chris badgett: That’s the place to start. As far as generating a business model to go on top of that, once you figure out what pain you’re going to solve or what desired outcome you’re going to help your student achieve, you can really structure something. To give you some examples, one option would be I’m a web programmer and I want to learn a skill so that I can get a job or if I’m running a business for myself, get better clients or do a better job for my client to charge more money. If that’s the case, I would be willing to pay $100 for a new, a course for a new programming language like HTML5 or 6 or PHP or Python and that kind of thing.

If I was … you’re going to take me for not knowing anything about web programming to complete master, maybe that would include a bundle of courses or kind of like the 101, 201 model that we see in universities, I might subscribe to a monthly recurring revenue model in the sense that I get ongoing training and I’ll take different courses along this journey to becoming a professional web programmer, I would pay a lot more for that, whether that’s $30 a month, $99 a month or $1,000 for a lifetime access, that kind of thing. The business model can be very different.

The other thing you can do is if you can also license your educational content to other organizations. If let’s say a company wants to require its employees to have the yearly refresher of CPR and first aid and you produce this awesome course about an online version of refresher on CPR per se then you license that to different companies that you could label it, they could put their logo on it or whatever. That will just be another example. It really is sky’s the limit.

joshua millage: Yeah. That’s really, really cool. I think the key thing I heard is start with the outcome of what you want to do and then build backwards from there. Is that kind of the key takeaway you think in that, is really have a solid focus of what you want to achieve?

chris badgett: Yeah, at the end of the day, it’s all about as long as anybody involved in a learning management system projects always keeps the end user in mind and the success of that user, you can’t go wrong and everybody wins.

joshua millage: I love that. Chris, like I mentioned in our first episode, my parents were both teachers and they didn’t make a whole lot of money being teachers. What is it actually like? We’re talking about this like there’s actually a big opportunity out there. Is there … how much money can we make from these WordPress LMS businesses?

chris badgett: Well, I mean, what I recommend people do if you’re a solopreneur and you’re just starting out is just start small. Create a course. Don’t even think about the money. Just do it so that you can get behind it and just learn yourself about how to create learning if you’re kind of new to teaching and that sort of thing. On the far other end of the spectrum is somebody who creates an eLearning platform with multiple instructors. If we talk which is not on the WordPress platform but it’s a place, it’s an aggregator where it publish, it creates a marketplace for publishers and learners come together so there’s hundreds, maybe even thousands of courses on there. Take 50% of the income of most of the courses. There’s some cases where the course author earns more or whatnot. In any case, you can build an entire eLearning platform like with their LMS plugin.

joshua millage: Wow.

chris badgett: Or you could be more of the solopreneur. “I just care about me and my thing and this is my platform.” You can be a publisher of other publishers or you can be a publisher yourself. Obviously the higher up the chain you go, the more you can make. Then the solopreneur model, the more valuable your content, the stronger your marketing, the greatness of your reach globally is going to influence how much money you can make. Really, that is the beauty of the internet. You and I work through the internet. We kind of get this concept of how powerful and a scale of how many people you can reach through the internet, that’s the difference between making a little bit of money and making a lot of money.

joshua millage: Yeah, and I think that’s a great point. I know that Udemy has actually minted multiple millionaires.

chris badgett: Yes.

joshua millage: They’ve taken, they take 50% of all sales.

chris badgett: That’s what they’re doing right now.

joshua millage: I mean, that’s a lot of sales. I think, I will say this, if you want to not have to worry about exposure so much, I think Udemy is a great option but I would encourage people to shy away from and build their own WordPress LMS site. For control and monetary control, it will probably be a longer process because you have to create your group and your following. The only other thing though is you also can be the other person. On the Udemy, you can get lost in the crowd then there’s still marketing that needs to be done.

chris badgett: There’s a alternative strategy that I use as well where I publish on my own platform. For example with my organic gardening courses website, I publish this course. It’s there on my WordPress LMS.

joshua millage: The premium ones, right?

chris badgett: I also take it to Udemy to expand my exposure, expand my reach. At the end of the day, I would rather have people on my platform only but it’s great to leverage other platforms.

joshua millage: This is kind of a pro tip think, Chris. I like you’re dropping this little bomb. I mean, you’re using Udemy as a lead gen source for, and you’re bringing people back to your organic gardening site or something else that you’re doing to then charge them and you get them into your system and you can create the relationship. Is that what I’m hearing here?

chris badgett: I actually do like two versions of that. One version is I’ll put stuff on Udemy for free and that’s more just straight up lead generation. The other thing I do is I put stuff on Udemy for the same cost as I sold on my platform that’s also a lead generation but it’s also another revenue stream.

joshua millage: Got it. I love that. Love that. You could probably do that with other places like Slide Share even, if you wanted to give some slide decks away and bring leads back. Maybe we should do other episode about lead gen and how to bring people to your courses. There’s a couple, those are some valuable nuggets right there, man. You’re not even charging for them either.

chris badgett: Yeah.

joshua millage: That’s great man. That’s really cool.

chris badgett: I do want to highlight. Like you mentioned, there are millionaire solopreneur, WordPress eLearning people. There’s also people just getting started. It can be a very small side income or it can get quite large.

joshua millage: It’s a $50 billion business. I mean, the market is huge. It’s similar market size to, well, gosh, a lot of pieces of technology are in that range. I just think it’s a silent billion dollar industry that a lot of us don’t know. Now is a better time than ever to start participating in that because I think this all plays into this. I’m going to get real macro for a second here. If you think about the macrotization of a business, if you think about people are able to start companies online easier than they ever have and there’s also shift in the fact that no one really cares, well, not no one but there are fewer and fewer people care about credentials and more about what you can actually do for them.

Especially in the younger generations. It’s all about trust. It’s all about is this person hip, cool, do I understand them, do I connect with them, is their information affecting me in a positive way. I don’t care if they have an MBA. I don’t care if they have a degree but did the stuff work? The internet’s allowing that transparency to happen. Then when it comes to education, it’s like is your information good.

I love it because it actually goes back to I think what the world was a little bit like 100 to 200 years ago where the guy down the street, he didn’t care if you were an agricultural Ph.D, he want to know, could you help me plant my corn better. If you could then you got the respect and trust is built and maybe he comes back and hires you for a day to come consult on his … I don’t know the words exactly but you get the idea. It’s like trust was built and then because an outcome happened, I think what’s interesting is people’s been able to hide behind the traditional sense of education and even in business. We need an MBA. I’ve heard that so many times. We need an MBA for this job. Do you actually need an MBA or do you need to know someone, get someone who knows what they’re doing? I think now actually that’s shifted. We don’t need more MBAs.

I’m okay. I’m an MBA so I can offend MBAs out there. We’re not that cool. I think that this is an awesome opportunity, take whatever’s in your head, download it into a structured format online and get to selling and get to putting it out there or give it away for free. I mean, if it’s not about selling, at least you have a structured way of sharing your information instead of just a bunch of web pages or something. You can actual assess and engage with the people that are learning. A lot of other things can happen out of that.

I want to shift gears and talk a little bit about WordPress LMS plugin that people can learn about at You can sign up to be notified about that. We are going … one of the things that we’re doing, one of the many things we’re doing is simplifying the eCommerce side of things. Tell me, what are doing, Chris, that’s different than other options that are out there?

chris badgett: Great question. Well, in that previous episode, we talked about why we chose WordPress and the power of the WordPress community and the extendability of the platform, one of those extendable elements is the ability to integrate different types of payment processing or eCommerce plugins into your site. The way that we are, what I would call transcending and including what has come before is it’s been a little hacky. I think this WordPress plugin, I combine it with my LMS plugin and I use about 80 … I only end up using about 5 to 10% of the eCommerce plugin but I get it just to work to do what I want and then when I want recurring subscription revenue instead of one off sales, now I got to go find another customer solution.

What we’re doing is we’re very aware of those problems because we work in that space as web developers and LMS experts. We know that tin point very well. Instead of saying, “Hey, we have this great plugin. You’re going to download this, this and this to make it work and be able to sell stuff and protect it, we just want to have you build all that right in and learn from what has happened in the past and really taking that evolution to the next level of ease of use.” Because at the end of the day, it’s all about creating a simple platform for not only the student, that’s very useful, valuable but also for the teacher, the website administrator.

With our eCommerce element, it’s going to have some shopping cart. You don’t have to install anything else. It’s going to work with PayPal out of the box. You can do one off sales. You can do subscriptions. In kind of concert with the membership component with the LifterLMS which doesn’t require third party membership plugin, you can restrict content and get creative in how you do bundles like “Okay, I want to sell course A for this much, course B for this much but if you buy them together, you can get them at this price.” Or, “You can buy them at this price for a recurring revenue if you want to have a subscription model going.”

All those common questions or concerns of how do I sell this thing now that I’ve done all this hard work creating that, we’ve worked really hard to address and as we launch into the marketplace of the eLearning community, we’re totally open to feedback and seeing if there’s anything else that people feel is needed. We’re also … one of the other hidden pieces of our plugin and I say hidden because it’s not necessarily the easiest to comprehend if you don’t have a strong marketing mind or just haven’t been involved in thinking about software user experience engagement and those kinds of things is called the engagement component.

With that, what we’re essentially doing is we’re taking a lot of the best features that we’ve learned as Infusionsoft power users and more automated human interactions and different scenarios triggering emails and notifications and things like that, we’re bringing that right into the plugin.

joshua millage: Right.

chris badgett: On that note, we’re also making it easy so if you already are an the Infusionsoft user, you can sync it up with the Infusionsoft cart. We’re going to be having Stripe coming in too for credit card processing. All the name players are going to be there. You could install the plugin this weekend. I’ll do LMS content and start selling via PayPal right away.

joshua millage: The other thing too is the reason that it’s a premium plugin is we don’t want to just sell this and never improve it. We’re taking a very iterative mindset in the sense that we’ve got this incredible suite of base, I say base meaning just what we’re launching with functionality, it gives you some incredible benefits. By no mean is it basic. It’s just what we’re launching with is incredibly awesome. The cool thing is we’re not just trying to sit there. A lot of plugins are released and they’re never improved upon. We have a very, very, very tight road map. I imagine we’re probably updating this plugin, what would you say, at least once or twice a month with new functionality, new integrations.

I think with connecting with autoresponders, I can see us going into the AWeber, MailChimp scene for that. Like you said, codeBOX, that company that Chris is a partner in, I’m co-founder and owner in also is the group that’s developing the plugin. We have an incredible background in Infusionsoft community. That’s why we’re launching first with that, that integration because we know it so well but we’re taking what we’ve learned there, we’re going to distribute that to everyone else. Anybody who’s in Entreport, MailChimp, AWeber, we’re going to come to you guys shortly. Again, you don’t have to have that for it to work. It’s completely self contained. Even with sending our emails and things for engagement, you can completely self contain it. It doesn’t need these integrations.

Then like Chris said, we’re going to be launching with the Infusionsoft eCommerce Connection as well and PayPal. Correct, Chris?

chris badgett: That’s right.

joshua millage: Then Stripe is right around the corner. We’d love to hear from you about other integrations you would like to see in the way of eCommerce so that we can prioritize what’s next and what will benefit the most people out there. If you could, you can reach out to use and let us know some of the things you like to see. We would be happy to answer any questions. You can reach Chris at [email protected]. You can reach me at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you. Chris, any closing thoughts for the people who are listening?

chris badgett: Yeah, I just want to dial back in terms of eCommerce. eCommerce is one of those rabbit holes that you can go down and you can really get hung up in. We’re aware of how that works. This LifterLMS plugin is designed so that if you just need some really simple, like you have … your website is going to have one course, you want to sell it, one time fee at $97, you can do that. Just like everything else, like Multi Teachers or this advance engagement we’re talking about or this custom membership restrictions and levels within the site, you can scale it up and make it as complex as you need. You can extend it through this other … it’s that credit card on your site with Stripe or and those kinds of things. We’re there for you. Leave a comment on this podcast on Feel free to reach out to us by email.

eCommerce is one of those things that we’re just … we pay really close attention to because we know it’s so important to you as the entrepreneur, the expert teacher, the online marketer. If you do all this work and it’s not making money for you or you get bugged down into the eCommerce part, that’s really frustrating. That’s not going to happen with our solution. We’re here for you and however to support you building a business around your knowledge and life experience.

joshua millage: Right on. I love it Chris. Well, until next time. We’ll see everyone soon.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

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