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Joshua: Hello everyone and welcome to the next episode of the LMScast podcast. I am Joshua Millage. I am joined today with Christopher Badgett like I am everyday. Today we’re going to be talking about how to build a WordPress LMS Business. I’m 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: I think the place to start is to really start thinking about value and what makes WordPress LMS and eLearning so powerful is it gives you a tool to create a lot of value in the lives of somebody else. That’s what makes it so powerful. We focus on the user experience of the student or the trainee or whatever you want to call the person who’s consuming the 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 and once you get clear on that, getting really Zen with the goals of your teaching, your learning materials, then we can 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 it’s up for debate. We’re talking to entrepreneurs. We’re talking to traditional teachers, non-traditional teachers, subject matter experts in professional things and 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. 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 already in business for myself, get better clients or do better job for my clients and charge more money. If that’s the case, I would be willing to pay $100 for a course on a new programming language like HTML 5 or 6 or PHP or Python and that kind of thing.
If you were going to take me for not knowing anything about web programming to a complete master, then 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 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 lifetime access, that kind of thing. The business model can be very different. The other thing you can do is if you’re, you can also license your educational content to other organizations if … Let’s say a company wants to require its employees to have yearly refresher of CPR and first-aid.
You produce this awesome course about an online version of refresher on CPR and first-aid and you license that to different companies. You could label it. They could put their logo on it or whatever. That will just be another example. Really, the sky’s the limit.
Joshua: Yeah. That’s really, really cool. I think the key thing I heard is start with the outcome of what you what you want to do and then build backwards from there. Is that the key takeaway, you think, and that is really have a solid focus of what you want to achieve?
Chris: Yeah, it is. Even today, it’s all about, as long as anybody involved in a learning management system project always keeps the end-user in mind and the success of that user. You can’t go wrong and everybody wins.
Joshua: 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. 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: What I recommend people do, if you’re a solopreneur and you’re just starting out is 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 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 about Udemy.com, which is not on the WordPress platform, it’s a place, it’s an aggregator where it creates a marketplace for publishers and learners come together. There’s hundreds or maybe even thousands of courses on there.
Take 50% of the income, most of the courses, there’s some cases where a course author makes more and what not, but in any case, you could build an entire eLearning platform like that with our LifterLMS plugin. You could be more of the solopreneur, I just care about me and my thing and it’s just 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. In 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, but really that is the beauty of the Internet.
You and I work through the Internet and we get this concept of how powerful in the scale, 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: Yeah. I think that’s a great point. I know that u2me has actually minted multiple millionaires.
Joshua: They take 50% of all sales?
Chris: That’s what they’re doing right now.
Joshua: Yeah. I mean that’s a lot of sales. 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 that and build their own WordPress LMS based 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 only person. On Udemy, you can get lost in the crowd. Then, there’s still marketing that needs to be done.
Chris: There’s a alternative strategy that I use as well where I publish on my own platform. For example, if my wife and I use organic gardening person’s website, I publish those courses there on my WordPress LMS.
Joshua: They’re the premium ones, right?
Chris: I also take it to Udemy to expand my exposure, expand my reach.
Chris: At the end of the day, I would rather have people on my platform only, but it’s great to leverage other platforms.
Joshua: This is a little thing, Chris. I like you dropping this little bomb, but … Basically, you’re using Udemy as lead gen and you’re bringing people back to your organic gardening site or something else that you’re doing to then charge them and then you get them into your system, you can create the relationship. Is that what I am hearing here?
Chris: I actually do two versions of that. One version is I’ll put stuff on Udemy for free and that’s more just leads to straight up lead generation. The other thing I do is put stuff on Udemy for the same cost as I sell it on my platform. That’s also lead generation, but it’s also another revenue stream.
Joshua: Got it. I love that. I love that. You could probably do that with other places like SlideShare even if you wanted to give some slide decks away and then bring leads back. Maybe we should do other episode about lead gen and how to bring people to your courses. Those are some valuable nuggets right there, man. You’re not even charging for me. That’s great. That’s really cool.
Chris: I do want to highlight like you mentioned there are millionaires, solopreneur, WordPressing and running people and there’s also people just getting started, so it can be a very small side income or it can get quite large.
Joshua: It’s a $50 billion business. The market is huge. That’s the similar market size to, gosh, a lot of pieces of technology 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, but if you think about the democratization of business and you think about people who’re able to start companies online easier than they ever have. There’s also a shift in the fact that no one really cares, well not no one, but that fewer and fewer people care about your credentials and more about what you can actually do for them, especially the younger generation.
It’s all about trust. It’s all about, is this person hip, cool. Do I understand him? Do I connect with him? 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 this 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 little bit like 100-200 years ago, where the guy down the street, he didn’t care if you were an agricultural PhD. He wanted to know could you help me plant my corn better. If you could, then you got respect and trust was built and maybe he comes back to you and hires you for a day to come consult on his …
I don’t know how it worked exactly, but you get the idea. Trust was built and then because an outcome happened. I think that what’s interesting is people have been able to hide behind the traditional sense of education. 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 get someone who knows what they are doing.
I think now actually that’s shifting. 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 this is an awesome opportunity. Take whatever is 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.
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 actually 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 our WordPress LMS plugin that people can learn about at LifterLMS.com. You can sign up to be notified about that. One of the many things we’re doing is simplifying the e-commerce side of things. Tell me what are we doing, Chris, that’s different than other options that are out there?
Chris: Great question. In the 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 us, is it’s been a little hacky. I take this WordPress plugin, I combine it with my LMS plugin and I use about 80 or … 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.
Then, when I want recurring subscription revenue instead of one-off sales, now I’ve got to go to find another custom solution. What we’re doing is we’re very aware of those problems because we work in that space and as what the LMS experts, so we know that pain point very well.
Instead of saying, “Hey, we have this great plugin, you’re going to need to download this, this, this, and this to make it work and be able to sell stuff and protect it,” we just went ahead and built all that right in and learned from what has happened in the past and really taken 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, it’s very useful, valuable, but also for the teacher and 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 concert with the membership component of the LifterLMS, which doesn’t require a 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. If you buy them together, you can get them at this price.
You can buy them at this price for recurring revenue if you want to have a subscription model kind of sell. All those common questions and concerns of how do I sell this thing now that I’ve done all this hard work of creating that. We’ve worked really hard to address and as we’ve launched into the marketplace of the e-learning 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 kind of hidden pieces of our plugin, and I say hidden because it’s not necessarily the easiest to comprehend. If you don’t know how to start marketing or just haven’t been involved in thinking about software, user experience, engagement and those kinds of things, this 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 in different scenarios triggering emails and notifications and things like that. We’re bringing that right into the plugin.
On that note, we’re also making it easy so if you already are an Infusionsoft user, you can sync it up with the Infusionsoft card. We’re going to be having stripe coming in too for credit card processing and all the main players are going to be there. You can install the plugin this weekend, add your LMS content, and start selling via PayPal right away.
Joshua: One 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, but that’s … 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 roadmap. I imagine we’ll probably be updating this plugin, what would you say, at least once or twice a month with new functionality, new integrations.
I think in terms of connecting with autoresponders, I can see us going into the Aweber, MailChimp scene for that. Like you said, Codebox, the company that Chris is a partner in, I’m a cofounder and owner in also, is the group that’s developing the plugin. We have an incredible background in the Infusionsoft community.
That’s why we’re launching first with the integrations because we know it so well. We’re taking what we’ve learned there. We’re going to distribute that to everyone else. Anybody who is on Ontraport, 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 out emails and things for engagement. It’s completely self-contained. It doesn’t need these integrations. Then, like Chris said, we’re going to be launching with the Infusionsoft e-commerce connection as well as PayPal. Correct, Chris?
Chris: That’s correct.
Joshua: 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 e-commerce. Then, we can prioritize what’s next and what will benefit the most people out there.
If you could, you can reach out to us and let us know some of the things you would like to see and we would be happy to answer any questions. You can reach Chris at [email protected] You can reach me at [email protected].com. We would love to hear from you. Chris, any closing thoughts for the people who are listening?
Chris: Yeah. I just want to dial it back in terms of e-commerce and just … eCommerce is one of those rabbit holes that you can go down and you can really get hung up on. 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’s giving out one course, you want to sell at one time fee of $97, you can do that.
This, just like everything else, like multi-teachers or this advanced engagement we’re talking about or these 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 these other … Credit cards on your site with Stripe and those kinds of things.
We’re there for you and leave a comment on this podcast on LMScast.com and feel free to reach out with us by email. ECommerce is one of those things that we pay really close attention to because we know it’s so important to you as the entrepreneur or the expert teacher, the online marketer.
If you do all this work and it’s not making money for you or you get bogged down into the e-commerce part, that’s really frustrating and we don’t want it. That’s not going to happen with our solution and we’re right here for you and how ever to support you building a real business around your knowledge and life experience.
Joshua: Right on. I love it, Chris. 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.