Do you have a hub for all your content, blogs, promotions and courses? One of the most important pieces of your online business is your website. It’s your hub and where everything should be focussed, even if you don’t host courses on your website. I get a lot of questions about WordPress and thought I’d address a lot of them in this podcast. That way it can be a resource, so feel free to share it out.
Your website is your home base
Regarless if you use your website to host your online courses, your website should be where everything starts. And WordPress is my recommended website platform. WordPress is flexible, easy to use and allows you to control your home base, even if you don’t host your online courses there. You can blog, share videos, post podcasts, give course promotions and share it all out to your social media channels.
Good hosting vs. cheap hosting
A bad hosting provider and cost you in many ways even if you think it is priced cheaply. It can cause your website to slow down dramatically, increase the risk of getting hacked and many other issues that you are not even aware of.
Being on cheap hosting, which generally means you are on shared hosting is like being in an apartment complex. You don’t know who your neighbors are and what nefarious things they are doing. Shared hosting is the same way in that you might have the same server as hundreds of other people and you don’t know what they are doing.
Themes versus plugins
At the very Foundation of WordPress are two things that are very important. The job of a theme is to give the overall layout, and design of your website and nothing else. The role of a plug-in is to give you increased functionality. This might be something like a form, slider, or any other thing that helps make your website more functional.
A common mistake I see is when people purchase a theme for their website but it also includes things that I plug in should handle. So they’re theme might include things like short codes, sliders and many other things. but this is a bad thing because when you want to change to a different theme your website will break because you will lose all the functionality that was built into that specific theme. That’s why you want your themes and plugins to be different.
Cheap themes versus paid themes
While there are thousands of free themes in the WordPress theme directory I prefer using paid themes. I want to ensure that there is a developer that is getting paid for his work which means they will include support updates and other benefits in the future. By only going with a free theme you don’t know if there will be a bug in it that will never get fixed. So it’s worth the investment of purchasing a paid theme. I like the Genesis framework by Studiopress And have built many websites both for myself and my clients with this theme.
When thinking of new themes make sure to read reviews, ratings, and see when they were last updated. That way you know if the developer continues to improve the theme or if the developer released it but are not interested in supporting it in the future.
My Recommended Plugins for Online Course Creators
This is the best place to find free plug-ins. They are all vetted by WordPress but still read the reviews, ratings and when they were last updated to ensure that it will work with your version of WordPress and that it is reliable to use on your website. Well I have many paid plugins that I highly recommend I still use many free plug-ins that I find directly in the plug-in repository. I don’t recommend finding free plug-ins outside of the plug-in repository unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and how to find quality plugins by a reputable developer.
this is my favorite plug in and a must-have if you are running a business with your website. It allows you to back up your website two places that are not on your server like Amazon S3 and Dropbox. The key thing to remember with a backup plugin is that you need to know how to restore a backup once you need to. I find that some of the free or cheap back up plugins are very difficult to restore from the back up when needed. So it’s well worth the money for me to purchase this plug-in.
This is another must have plug-in since there are constantly hackers trying to attack your website. This plug-in allows you to monitor the health of your website and block people that want to hack into your website. It is simple to setup and use.
This is another premium plug-in but it is one of my favorite plugins and I use it on all my websites. It allows you to create customized forms. So whether you want to create a contact form or customize something for your students this is the best form builder available today.
Leadpages plugin for WordPress
I highly recommend Leadpages for building simple landing pages and sales pages and this plug-in makes it easy to install on your website and create a custom URL that allows you to send students to your landing pages.
This is a free plug-in but is one of the best available. It gives you a grade based on your SEO score. This plug-in has been around for awhile so it is very stable and one of the most downloaded plugins for WordPress.
I recommend creating shareable URLs for your content and in order to do that this plug-in allows you to quickly and easily create short sthatredirectbacktoyourcontent.thisisperfectforblogging,podcasting,videos, course promotions and anything else that you create and want to share.
Bluberry power press for podcasting
I love podcasting and have used this plug-in on many websites over the years. It’s easy to set up a podcast.
Disqus for commenting
While most people have become accustomed to commenting via Facebook I still recommend the website allows comments on your blogs. this will help build your community and keep people on your website so you can continue to teach them and add more value.
Learning management system plugins for WordPress
While there are many third-party solutions that offer a software-as-a-service I highly recommend having your course hosted within your website. While it does mean you have to be a little more technical the benefit is that you pay for the plugin once and perhaps update the license each year but you don’t have to pay an on-going monthly fee or a fee per transaction like you do with many software-as-a-service solutions.
This is one of my favorite learning management system plugins. They are always creating new Integrations and features. Plus, they are highly invested in the WordPress Community as well as the education sector.
Listen to my interview with the LearnDash creator here.
This is another good solution especially if you want something free to begin with. They do offer paid upgrades and Integrations but this might be a good first step if you want to test the waters of your online course.
If you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles end this plugin is a great solution.