How To Make Modern Video Courses Online with WordPress

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We discuss how to make modern video courses online with WordPress in this episode of LMScast with Ali Mathis and Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Video creation is a very important tool to have in your skillset, and videos are key if you want to teach online at scale.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, and a video is worth 1,000 pictures. So video is a powerful creation tool. You can teach essentially anyone with video. Chris has worked with video for most of his life with his family and hobbies. As a young child Chris carried around his parents’ VHS camcorder, and he would record himself climbing and make short movies.

The consumption of video has increased, and the democratization of making videos has created more opportunities for independent users. And displaying them has become easier with platforms online, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and social networks.

How To Make Modern Video Courses Online with WordPress

Video is a highly effective way to communicate. When looking up tutorials, people often turn to the video section of Google or the YouTube search. Taking opportunities to maximize the impact of your videos increases the potency of your content. The Advanced Videos add-on from LifterLMS, set to be released on September 16, 2019, will give you lots of innovative features and benefits related to your embedded or self-hosted videos.

Chris and Ali discuss some of the key features Advanced Videos has to offer, including:

  • The ability to require learners to watch the whole lesson video before they can complete that lesson
  • Advanced video analytics for that essential video effectiveness and consumption data
  • Player branding and player component controls so the video elements match your brand
  • On return, resume video where left off to protect your learners’ focus
  • App-like lesson video options with some familiar Netflix-style user experiences

There are two types of motivation when learning. There’s extrinsic, where there is pressure or motivation from outside of the learner, such as a mandatory training for a job. And there is intrinsic motivation, where a learner is interested in a subject based on their own volition. A feature such as having a student watch an entire video may be something course creators look for if they are working with legal requirements for time spent watching content, for example.

LifterLMS Advanced Videos will be included in the LifterLMS Infinity Bundle, so if you own that product you can look out for it to drop on September 16th. We also have some awesome discounts leading up to the release on September 16th. If you purchase Advanced Videos on its own, you get 15% off locked in as a recurring discount, so it will be $169/year rather than the normal $199/year. If you purchase the Infinity Bundle during the period between this episode and September 16th, 2019 we will add three free months to your Infinity Bundle license, so that is a $249 value.

At you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by a special repeat guest, Ali Mathis. How are you doing, Ali?

Ali Mathis: Awesome, Chris. How are you doing?

Chris Badgett: Good. Today we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects. As a young child, I used to carry around my parents’ VHS camcorder, and then when I got into climbing and everything, I was always hauling my little digital video camera up the cliff and making little movies. The video story just keeps on continuing, so I’m excited to get into it.

Ali Mathis: It has changed a lot since you were a young child.

Chris Badgett: It has changed a lot. You know, the actual consumption of it hasn’t, but the democratization of making videos and displaying them absolutely has gotten easier.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. I was going to say, we didn’t even have video camera when I was a young child, and I know that you and I are the same age. Now everybody has a phone with a video.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I mean, that’s an important point, is just you hear these comments like the computer in the iPhone, or the camera in there, it’s like HD and whatever, and there’s more technology inside the iPhone than was in the first satellite that NASA sent up or whatever. It’s amazing that the tools are at the fingertips.

Ali Mathis: Absolutely. We have a new Advanced Video plugin coming out which is why we’re here talking about video. Do you want to tell everybody about that a little bit and talk about why we decided to make an Advanced Video add-on?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, video in online education, or eLearning, it’s not essential, it’s not critical, it’s not a must have, but in most cases, there’s some component of video. Like, I don’t know about you, but when I was in my wallpaper removing, just not very fun place, where do I go to learn tips? Oh, I go to YouTube. I watch videos. What do you do when the wallpaper starts bubbling up and then when you find more layers? You find these YouTube videos with like five million views. Videos solve problems in ways that, and sometimes it’s easier just to show than tell, you know?

Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

Chris Badgett: I bet everybody listening to this can just think about a moment you went to YouTube to figure something out that was not that fun, and it always amazes me when I end up on these home related topics, especially when there’s a problem like something’s breaking or water’s leaking. The video is not that good, but it’s super useful, and there’s millions of views. It’s just amazing.

Ali Mathis: Yeah, absolutely. I go to YouTube all the time for that sort of stuff. I know the answer to this, but why are we doing the Advanced Video add-on now?

Chris Badgett: It’s been really just people wanting to do stuff with video and having it easier to work with video has been around since the very beginning of LifterLMS. The thing that we recommend when you own the platform, it’s your WordPress website, you own it, and control it.

Ali Mathis: Sorry.

Chris Badgett: You get the extendability and everything. What we don’t recommend is that you get into the video hosting business where you upload the videos to your website and your website plays the videos. It’s a lot better to use a tool like Vimeo Pro or Wistia, which we have linked up on our LifterLMS resources page. It’s one of the most common questions we get, is like, “How do I work with video?” Somebody’s who not used to building websites with WordPress or that’s that question comes up all the time. If somebody’s trying to do it on the cheap, and like with no initial investment, you can actually use an unlisted YouTube video to serve the purpose as well.

Ali Mathis: But just to clarify, so the ability to embed a video in your course, that comes with the core, free LifterLMS plugin. But the Advanced Video add-on allows you to do some more stuff, so can you talk about what other features that our new add-on has, and what people have been looking for that we’re now solving?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, there’s a bunch. One of the most popular requests which isn’t, not everybody wants, but the people who do want it really want it, which is the ability to not allow people to complete a lesson until they’ve watched the entire video.

Ali Mathis: I’ve heard that a lot.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. This is a common situation when in learning, there’s these two types of motivation. There’s extrinsic, where the pressure or the motivation is coming from the outside, and there’s intrinsic. Like, if I want to learn how to play guitar, that’s intrinsic, that’s coming up from inside of me. I’ll watch the video, you don’t need to make me do it, but if I let’s say got a speeding ticket and I had to take some court appointed video, that’s extrinsic, from the outside, or my employer is saying you have to watch this video, they’re going to want … Sometimes that situation, people when they’re not as much intrinsically motivated from the inside, this kind of feature comes up where the employer wants to make sure that the employee watched the video about workplace safety or whatever.

Chris Badgett: Or, in a legal or government situation, that it’s definitely that we can, we have records and it’s in the statistics, and they physically cannot move forward until they watch the entire thing.

Ali Mathis: Got you.

Chris Badgett: That comes down to another feature which is more controls over the player itself. A video player inside of a website, if you stick the link inside a LifterLMS lesson of your Vimeo Pro video, no matter whether you open it on an iPhone or a tablet or a computer, or even a giant TV, that video will adapt in size and do all that stuff.

Chris Badgett: But let’s say for the example I was describing about the workplace safety, you could choose to not allow people to fast forward, as an example. That’s called scrubbing. Yeah, so there’s different … You get more control from just your WordPress website over what the player does, and what options are available, and also what does it look like? If you want your video player to exactly match your brand identity and brand colors, you can just do that really simply from your WordPress website. That’s another feature.

Ali Mathis: That’s cool. The play button could be the same color as your headers, for example?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. The video analytics are going to be there, so some people really want to get into like watch time and you know, “When did this person watch this video?” They want that data and the reporting, so that’s another feature as well as a memory feature. If I leave, let’s say you have long lessons like 45 minutes or an hour, and this is a request we get a lot, somebody’s traveling or loses signal, or just can’t do that all at once, they want the video to remember where they left off and automatically when they come back and they go back to that lesson and press play, it just knows exactly where they left off and goes from there. That’s another feature.

Ali Mathis: It’s like a Netflix like experience.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, which is something else we’re looking at, which includes that, that kind of memory, but also a video takeover option if some people are really focused on the video content, and if they … This is an idea we had a long time ago with just allowing the video element to really dominate and auto advance and do different things that people are familiar with from watching TV shows and stuff like that, but have that familiar experience and without a lot of friction, just progression through the content be an option that course creators can use.

Chris Badgett: And that’s about it. That’s just version one. We’re really excited to hear how it’s received, what else people want, and just see how people use those video tools.

Ali Mathis: Yeah, it’s super exciting, and it’s going to be part of the Infinity bundle. We do have a presale going on up until September 15th, so do you want to talk a little bit about those awesome discounts?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. When we release a product, sometimes at Lifter, we will offer it as a bit … You can buy it before it comes out, kind of like pre-ordering a book, and you get a special discount. We’re doing a 15% off. This is an advanced add-on, so it’s instead of 199, you can pick it up for $169 a year and also lock in that price for you, for as long as your plan is current.

Chris Badgett: You can do that, but you can also just get it as part of the Infinity bundle. If you already have the Infinity bundle which includes everything that we make, it’s just going to drop into your account when it rolls out on September 15th. If you don’t have the Infinity bundle yet, and you get it, we’re doing a special limited time promotion where if you get it between now … The Infinity bundle, between now and September 15th, when Advanced Video releases, you’ll get three free months added to the end, so that’s a $269 value I believe.

Ali Mathis: Wow, cool. Sounds like a good deal. So, let’s talk a little bit about the big picture here, in terms of video, and one of the first things I want to ask you about is if you have any insights on best practices for making course videos. Should people do them with their phones? Sitting at their kitchen table? Do they need a full green screen and a studio? How do you know what the right level is for you, and what are some of the best practices for making effective videos for your course?

Chris Badgett: There’s a lot, but the biggest rule is the best mix of tools and strategies is the one you’ll actually do. Because this is one of those areas where a lot of people get stuck. If you’re doing it for the very first time, I recommend just using your laptop that has a camera built in. Also, if you are going to use your smartphone or your tablet, to do that, but use some kind of tripod. But I mean, for years, I made videos both talking head and screen sharing tutorials with nothing but my laptop and my earbuds. That’s really all you need.

Chris Badgett: Especially if you’re just getting started. You can always improve it as you go, and it’s also important not to get really into perfectionism with the finished product. Like, even now, like I’ve got some umms and some ahhs, and it doesn’t make your content not valuable. Sometimes going through a big editing process can take a lot of time, so just go easy on yourself and allow yourself to evolve as a video creator.

Ali Mathis: Go ahead.

Chris Badgett: And know what type of video you need and what you can do, because there is screen sharing, so you can use a tool like ScreenFlow for Mac or Camtasia for PC, to capture the screen. Those programs can also capture your face and your voice at the same time, too. If you’re doing talking head, you can use those same tools and just use your laptop or get into an external camera. Then, there’s like action motion stuff, so think if you’re doing a yoga course or kettlebell workout or something like that. You can still do that with your laptop. The easy way to do it is just do your thing and then come back later and add the audio track.

Chris Badgett: Because once you move far away from your camera, and I imagine when you’re swinging a kettlebell or doing Warrior One, you’re not going to want to have your earbuds connected to the computer, yelling across the room. You can always do a voiceover later, and for some-

Ali Mathis: Let’s talk a little bit about that, because if you do voiceover, that involves video editing, right?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Ali Mathis: And if you’re a new course creator, and you’re making your first video, how do you even know where to start with video editing?

Chris Badgett: I would just go with what’s built into your computer already. So, if you’re using a Mac, it comes with iMovie. That’s where I learned video editing, and iMovie, I’ve seen it get better and better over the years. It’s very usable, and really you just have to start. The first thing is it lays out a video track and an audio track, and then all you need to do to begin is start cutting things out. That’s literally all you do.

Chris Badgett: Just tighten it up, because there’s usually some extra stuff. The first video editing you will ever do is cut off the beginning and cut off the end, because you probably don’t have it down to a science, how to start right away and then end right away. And then you’re going to start fine tuning and cutting, and then you can get into transitions between clips.

Chris Badgett: Then you can start bringing in other content into the video, like let’s say a picture, or a slide or something like that. But go easy, just keep it super simple. Even take it way back to just imagine doing a PowerPoint presentation. Just do that, but as a video. It’s the same thing, run through the PowerPoint, if you’re using Keynote or PowerPoint, those both allow you to make a video right then and there, when you’re doing your presentation. Just record that and that can be your version one.

Ali Mathis: I get that question a lot, and what I often recommend to people who don’t necessarily have the resources to invest in a lot of expensive software … Excuse me. Is to use what we’re using right now, which is Zoom and you can have a free account and start a meeting for yourself and then screen share your meeting and go through-

Chris Badgett: Hit the record button.

Ali Mathis: … the PowerPoint … Hit the record button, go through your PowerPoint, and do a voiceover while you’re clicking through your PowerPoint.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a great solution for people to get started and [crosstalk 00:15:52]-

Ali Mathis: I must get that question every week, actually.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a super pro tip.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. So, this might not be in your wheelhouse, but you talked about adding photos and stuff in, now when you add music into your video, you have to be careful of not violating any copyrights. I don’t want to get too thick in the weeds in this, but you know.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. My advice to beginners is just avoid music all together, because it’s really easy, what you want technically is royalty free music available for commercial reuse, with no limit on the license or whatever. And that’s-

Ali Mathis: [crosstalk] stock music programs the same way there are stock photo programs out there, too.

Chris Badgett: You can find some of that stuff for free. The quality varies, and you can find it for paid, but it often gets confusing, the licensing and all that. My advice is just to avoid it, because you’ll see YouTubers, sometimes a video, they’ll use some music that was supposed to be okay but then it got flagged for copyright infringement. It’s not something you really want to get into when you’re first getting started. If you want something, I’ll give you a pro tip. If you just can’t help yourself and you need to have a techno beat behind you while you’re talking, go to a tool like Fiverr and hire somebody to make a custom, a musician to make a custom loop track for you.

Chris Badgett: This is music that just kind of loops, like elevator music, but make it cool. Make it whatever you like, techno, grunge, I don’t even know all the genres or whatever. That’s just like your signature beat that you can either put behind everything or put behind just the intro and outro or whatever.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. But if there’s doubt, you could always just skip the music.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s not essential.

Ali Mathis: Make your life easier. Yeah. So, you talked a little bit about the different kinds of video. Can you maybe dive a little bit deeper into different types of video course creators might want to make, and which kinds are more effective for which kinds of courses?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s really cool. A lot of people talk a lot of junk about PowerPoints being boring and stuff like that. But if your course is really high level, if you just get these five big ideas, or these 12 steps, or these 10 commandments, or these seven relationship must dos or whatever they are, I don’t mind a good PowerPoint. Because if you’re really just giving me a high level thing and there’s one word on each of the seven screens, I like to see the person. Like, if you’re doing a PowerPoint, with the video capture tools, it can also take your video.

Chris Badgett: If you’re doing that PowerPoint presentation down in the corner or whatever is a video of you delivering it, I actually recommend that for a lot of different reasons, because it helps build rapport with your audience. They get a feel for your personality, and it just builds more of a connection than just voice over slides. However, you can always just do voice over slides.

Chris Badgett: I also see people who maybe they’re teaching in a language that’s not their first language, and they’ll just hire out somebody else to do the audio. They’ll make the slides and actually hire out the voiceover talent. I mean, that’s possible. Slides are good. For talking head, people ask us a lot like, “How long should a video be?” It really depends. The attention span of different audiences and different motivations is different. Like, if I could teach you, just hypothetically, how to make a million dollars this weekend, and it actually worked, would you watch eight hours of video lessons? Guaranteed, or if it didn’t work, I’m going to send you the … Yes.

Chris Badgett: It doesn’t matter. If somebody’s super motivated, if there was something else like you just found out a family member was diagnosed with something and you wanted to learn about this thing, it doesn’t matter how long that is. There’s a lot of things that say the current attention span is three minutes or something like that, but I don’t know. It’s not just across the board the case. Understand your market, what their attention span is like, and how motivated they are around this content.

Chris Badgett: That all informs the video. But in eLearning design, there’s a concept called chunking, and that’s really important where ideally a lesson is just one chunk of information, not like the entire documentary movie of the whole experience. Just one step at a time. That’s where I like to cut lessons, as opposed to like, “Oops, we hit 15 minutes, time to cut it.”

Ali Mathis: I mean, you’ve made a lot of lessons yourself and you’ve made a lot of video lessons and a lot of talking head video lessons. We have one on our academy site for the quick start LifterLMS course. Those are all varying lengths, the lessons on there, I think depending on what area you’re covering.

Chris Badgett: Exactly. If you’re doing a motion action thing, like if I’m going to teach you a certain yoga routine, I might cut the lesson into each, each lesson is its own post. Just to like, if we’re really going to focus on technique. Whereas, if I had a more holistic morning routine course that was like, we’re going to do yoga, we’re going to do water, all this meditation and everything, I would have a 10 minute, like a quick 10 minute yoga namaste workout that has a bunch of poses, and that’s only one lesson. It just depends on the purpose and the context.

Ali Mathis: Do you ever recommend people outsource their video production?

Chris Badgett: If possible, yes. Like, if you look at somebody who’s far along in the online education space, typically you will see them eventually get a video crew. Another thing people do is they just do the video themselves, but they outsource the editing. That’s another thing you can do. There’s even people out there that will help you create the content, like the slide presentations that go in your video.

Chris Badgett: I recommend it. Like, video creation can be kind of time intensive, especially if you’re not familiar with all the steps, but you can get help out there and-

Ali Mathis: Do you have any resources for people to find those … If I’m making a video and I really need some help editing, but I have no idea how to edit a video, and I don’t want to do it myself, I just want to hire somebody for it, where could I go to find somebody?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, there’s several places. If you just want a component, like a little jingle with your logo that you can put at the beginning of the video, I would go to somewhere like Fiverr to create that. I’ve hired people to do video and audio editing on That’s something. Facebook groups are probably pretty good. Drop in the LifterLMS Facebook group and ask in there, because I know people share resources that they find that are useful for that sort of thing.

Ali Mathis: I know we use Design Pickle for a lot of things internally. Can they make components like graphics or components to be dropped into videos?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, they can do that. The tool I use, ScreenFlow, I paid a little bit extra for it, and it has some B-roll it’s called, in video production, where if I’m talking about something I can go find, I can type in “woman jogging” and I then I can get a little seven second clip of a woman jogging and put that in my video.

Ali Mathis: That’s cool.

Chris Badgett: There’s all kinds of tools out there for that.

Ali Mathis: And some, but not all the ones we just discussed are on our recommended resources page. You can check that out for more information or always send us an email if you need some advice on that. I just wanted to remind people one more time before we go, Chris, about the sale. Can you go over those bullet points one more time in case they missed it in the beginning?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. If you want to pre-order LifterLMS Advanced Video, which is going to give you these set of tools that are around embedding your Vimeo Pro, Wistia, YouTube, and even self-hosted, I said I’d recommend against it, but for some people it is a good option if you have good hosting and it’s important to you to host your own videos, it will work with that as well. But if you pre-order it between now and September 15th, you’re going to lock in that individual a la carte add-on for $169 a year, which is a discount on the plan.

Chris Badgett: If you have the Infinity bundle, it’s just going to show up inside your account on September 15th and be available for download. If you don’t have the Infinity bundle yet, and you decide to get it today, or anytime before September 15th, you’re going to get three extra months added to your license after you purchase, which is a $269 value. Those are all the different ways to get at LifterLMS Advanced Video.

Ali Mathis: Thanks Chris.

Chris Badgett: Thanks Ali. Good to chat with you. Video’s one of my favorite topics. I’ve used it as a communication tool and it’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed using with family and hobbies and things like that. It’s really powerful, when you can teach essentially anyone in the world through video. A picture’s worth 1000 words, and a video’s worth 1000 pictures. Video’s a very important tool to have in your skillset if you want to teach online at scale. I’m really excited to see where this goes. Thanks so much for doing this, and I hope everybody out there has a great rest of your day.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life, head on over to and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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