WordPress is one of those systems that can do pretty much anything when it comes to websites. From your personal blog, to a fully fledged marketplace for online courses, WordPress coupled with powerful plugins have thousands of options in the right hands.

Today we’re taking a closer look at how you can transform a standard WordPress installation to a complete website offering online courses, eLearning and more. So if you are looking to build the next big freelance marketplace, you’re in the right place!

Choosing a style for your online course website

Before you start installing plugins and themes, you would do well if you consider the overall look and feel of the website once finished. Are you planning to connect digital freelancers with ways to improve their skills? Or are you looking to provide a service for home cooks to up their game in the kitchen?

Depending on the type of services you wish for people to find on your site, there will be not just artistic but also technical choices you will make. By having a clear road-map and style for your site prepared before you start building and programming, you can set yourself up for success.

Choosing a plugin for your eLearning system

Next, you’ll need to find out which eLearning Course plugin you want to use together with WordPress. There are some options out there from you to browse through, but one good example could be Tutor LMS, a learning management system with all the features you would need for almost any type of course website.

You’ll get access to a course builder which is the heart of the plugin, allowing you and your users to tailor specific courses as needed with an easy and intuitive layout. There’s also the options for adding a quiz for the courses, allowing creators and teachers to test their students in the material they have provided.

Of course, you’ll also get access to analytics and other important data, so you as the webmaster can optimize the content and promote certain teachers if they perform well. And to top it off, there’s an extensive range of course monetization options, allowing teachers to get paid in the ways they prefer.

Another good option could be Learndash LMS, this is another plugin that offers webmasters an easy way to set up an entire course system on their existing WordPress installation. It even integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce as well, allowing for recurring subscriptions and more.

Just like with Tutor LMS, Learndash also offers custom quizzes for students, extensive lesson and course building functionality as well as different business models to increase your conversion rates. With Learndash you can offer courses for a free trial period, bundle various courses together with a discount, and much more.

Selecting a theme and design

Once you’ve chosen your plugin, you are ready to select your overall design and theme for the page. By choosing the plugin before the theme, you will have more flexibility when it comes to the design, and you can try various themes to see which ones fit the plugin you chose the best.

Of course, you could choose the theme before selecting a specific plugin, but we recommend choosing the plugin first, since the plugin will be the heart of your website, whereas the theme easily can be changed or modified over time.

We recommend you spend some time creating a unique layout for the frontpage as well as any other important page, such as the individual course description pages, the teacher info pages and so on. By differentiating your design from the others out there, your website will be more recognizable and feel like it’s of a higher quality.

Testing things out before launching

We also recommend that you create a few test users and some test courses. Once that’s done then you should try navigating through the site as a customer would. This way you will get the full experience of a new visitor.

But even better would be if you get your spouse or friends or family members to sign up for an account and try the on boarding process while you watch them click buttons and fill in data. This will let you know if your plugin or theme has some issues that you need to fix before launching.

There’s nothing worse than spending months developing, and then months on marketing, only to have a critical error render all your hard work meaningless. And having to frantically search for a skilled WordPress developer on a deadline once your customers ask for help can be stressful to say the least. Testing thoroughly can help avoid this to some extent.

Final thoughts

That was a short introduction to how you can build your very own online course management system with WordPress and take part of the remote work movement that is currently growing around the world. By allowing people to learn from their home, you can reach people in all corners of the world and help them become better in their chosen profession.

So good luck!


Covering most topics technology related, with a focus on small business, startups, and entrepreneurs in particular. PurelyThemes started out as a WordPress theme development initiative, but has since been focusing on publishing quality content for the past few years.