In business, almost always, smart choices count as ways of saving on the two most important resources: time and money.
Whether you’re bootstrapping your business starting from scratch or you’re running an already established and successful business it’s very easy to fall into the trap and focus on the wrong tasks for too long only too find out days/weeks or months later that you wasted both precious time and money because you were not aware of some best practices.
Not following best practices and making these mistakes I am about to go through when building your eLearning Platform or Membership Site can turn 7 days into 7 months so for your own good and for your wallet pay close attention.
Through this post, I will illustrate the Top 10 mistakes you should absolutely steer clear of when building your eLearning platform on WordPress using eLearnCommerce.
1. Not getting your content ready first
This is the first and foremost error to avoid when creating your eLearning Platform using a Learning Management System like eLearnCommerce.
Content is THE most fundamental building block of an eLearning Platform.
The various eLearnCommerce Content types allow you to package your knowledge up so you can deliver it to your audience.
Knowledge through the right content type, in different formats such as:
Course Sections or Module Content, Lesson content incl. text, images, and videos.
Learn More and Preview the eLearnCommerce Course types.
Long-form video content, Office Hours, Webinars, Coaching Calls, What’s Working Now Tutorials, Presentations, Podcast Recordings.
Learn More about the eLearnCommerce Video Archive Content-Type.
Preview it here: Video Archive Preview
PDFs and Ebooks, How To Guides, Implementation Plans, Documents, and Checklists.
Learn more about the eLearnCommerce ebook content-type.
Preview it here: Ebook Preview
Offers, Deals, Teasers, Promotions and Discounts for your Members or Students.
Learn More about the eLearnCommerce offers content-type.
Preview it here: Offer Preview
Assessments and Quizzes
All Assessment questions and answers incl. certificates.
Learn More about the eLeanCommerce assessments content-type.
Preview it here: Assessments and Quizzes
Additionally, eLearnCommerce gives you one more option or alternative to present your Content to your Audience using the List Item Content-Type.
Preview it here: List Item
Not having your content ready and organized is like wanting to play lego without lego pieces or wanting to cook spaghetti without spaghetti.
This might sound funny and basic to you but I see this happen every other day.
People want to build eLearning Platforms without getting the Content which is the primary building block of an eLearning Platform ready and organized first.
The mistake here is starting from the wrong end by spending time exploring the learning management system instead of getting the content organized in a way so that it becomes easy for it to be uploaded into the platform and only afterward explore the software by directly building the platform out.
To avoid making this mistake, initially, forget about the learning management system and focus on getting all your content organized and upload ready.
These are the 3 things you need to have ready to become lightning fast at building your eLearnCommerce Platform.
1.: All your Text Content organized in Sections or Modules and Lessons using your favorite Text editor (Pages on the Mac, Word on PC, Evernote or similar).
Including all the questions and answers you have in your assessments.
2.: All the images that go into the Sections or Lessons of your Course(s) optimized using a tool like kraken.io or a service like Shortpixel.
Including the 300px width x 190px height Images for your Course Presentation Cards and the 100px width x 100px height Course Icon Image and the background image for your certificates.
You can easily produce these using a design tool like Canva.
3.: All the Videos you use on your platform uploaded to either Youtube, Vimeo or any other Video Hosting Service and all your other digital files like ebooks and PDFs uploaded to a file hosting service like Amazon S3 or similar.
You now have a text file open on your desktop containing all your texts for each Section and Lesson of each one of your courses, another text file with all questions and answers of your assessments, below that a list of all the embed URLs for each one of your videos, ebooks and digital files and a folder containing all the optimized images.
You’ve successfully created the situation in which building your eLearning Platform has reduced itself to a copy and paste affair.
Building your eLearning Platform with eLearnCommerce is easy!
Getting the content ready and organized is hard and that’s why many avoid the task.
eLearnCommerce Content uploading Superpower!
eLearnCommerce enables you to upload your Course Content using a CSV file with a single click!
All you need to do is populate a pre-formatted CSV file with all your section and lesson content and you’re ready to upload 100’s of lessons into your courses in seconds.
Learn More about how that works here: How to Import 100’s of lessons into your eLearnCommerce Platform with one single click.
2. Choosing cheap or not optimized hosting
Building a palace on sand is probably not the best idea.
The same goes for building an eLearning Platform using a learning management system like eLearnCommerce on a cheap not optimized for WordPress hosting account.
The rule is simple!
You don’t want to build your knowledge delivery platform on hosting that is not optimized for WordPress.
We humans are amazing, we have this capability to get used to the worst conditions and after some time accept them as normality.
That goes for choosing the wrong hosting as well!
You choose a cheap hosting company or the first one you find and then end up using days and weeks on support lines to fix the issues that come with cheap and not optimized for WordPress hosting.
You also get used to slow loading websites and accept those as the normality.
Don’t make this mistake!
You only want to use professional hosting that is optimized for WordPress.
We recommend the following:
The reason why you should choose from these three hosting companies is:
- · They offer professional hosting that is optimized for WordPress
- · They are scalable and adapt as your business grows
- · They come with great support
Prices for hosting your eLearning Membership Site on these service platforms start from $10/month and can go up to hundreds of dollars a month based on your requirements.
Cheap not optimized hosting is only really meant for bloggers and hobbyists and is absolutely not meant for hosting eLearning Platforms or any other kind of professional WordPress website for that matter.
3. Not starting off with a clean slate
With WordPress each time you install a Plugin and uninstall and delete it there’s junk & files that remain behind which end up clogging your database and WordPress install up.
As a consequence, a whole host of different issues will arise over time and the performance of your website will take one hit after another the more you repeat doing this.
One of the most time-consuming tasks to perform on a WordPress website is the debugging of issues which stem directly or indirectly from adding and deleting Plugins.
When uninstalled and deleted, no WordPress plugin cleans up after itself and there are many reasons for this which I won’t go into here.
The rule is: Always start your eLearning Platform Building Project from a clean slate.
You want to start from a Pristine WordPress which you installed from within the Dashboard of your Host with ‘zero plugins’, initially.
Even if you use a Plugin like duplicator to clone a site from host A to host B many things can go wrong, so if you do not have an expert on your team that can debug WordPress and if you do not want to spend the money to hire a professional debugger, the safest bet for you is to always start with a clean slate.
While it’s very tempting to “test” new plugins you do not want to do that on your eLearning Platform building site either, you can do that on some other WordPress install, on some cheap hosting account or on a subdomain dedicated to testing plugins.
On your eLearning Platform construction site you want to keep things as clean & tidy as possible at all times.
What you want to do is to first figure out which plugins you need for your Project and install only those and then stop there.
If you follow this one simple advice you’ll end up saving days and weeks of your life and hundreds if not thousands of dollars wasted to debug issues caused by a clogged up or compromised install of WordPress.
Note: The exact same goes for WordPress Themes!
4. Layering of WordPress plugins
Installing a number of plugins that do exactly the same thing in slightly different ways onto the same WordPress install is asking for trouble.
eLearnCommerce was architected from the start to play well and integrate with other learning management systems.
We do not recommend to run it alongside these other systems though if you do not have a WordPress expert on your team.
In eLearnCommerce, you can personalize the permalink for each content type and if you’re an expert or advanced eLearning Platform Builder you know that each LMS needs a unique slug to be set and if that setting is not done things break or do not work anymore.
Rookies will go in and install 5 LMS for WordPress and try them all on the same domain and then wonder why things do not work that same day or 6 months down the line.
The same mistake is being committed with any other Plugin Category.
Just because it’s simple to install a Plugin, layering a number of them that do the same exact thing is a mistake you want to avoid making at all costs.
I have personally seen countless backends of live websites both of very large and small businesses that looked like a WordPress plugin test ground mad scientist lab Frankenstein style with 70+ plugins running and things going funny all the time.
Don’t do it, it’s not necessary if you do structure things in a professional manner.
The rule is, choose one plugin for each specific task and only install the Plugins needed and then stop.
If you need to test a plugin because you’re not sure test it on your plugins test site.
5. Doing it all on one domain
When you take the decision to create and publish your course or build a school, institute or academy on your WordPress you most probably already have a blog or website setup on your main domain.
Unknowingly you now think it’s normal to just install your learning management system and all the other plugins you’ll need to run your eLearning Platform onto that same domain.
It comes naturally to think: hey I want to centralize it all and have it all on the same WordPress install, this way I can control and manage it all more efficiently.
This is the exact thought progression that leads you to time and resource wasteland. In some cases I’ve seen 5 figure sums thrown into the wind, believe me, it’s not a rarity at all.
I want you to steer clear of such a scenario.
Doing it all on one domain might look convenient at first thought until you find that it isn’t and now you find yourself having to backpaddle and rebuild it all from scratch!
Maybe all of this happens during a launch because you just hit a wall or you’re about to hit one of the many walls you do encounter when you do it all on the same one domain.
To avoid these “scaling” issues which inevitably will arise, it is best practice to work with a subdomain structure.
What is a subdomain?
A subdomain is a division or alias of your domain that can be used to organize your existing website into a separate site. Typically, subdomains are used if there is content that is different from the rest of the site. Subdomains are indicated by the section to the left of the root URL.
You can easily create these subdomains inside your hosting account.
This is a subdomain: academy.yourdomain.com
This would be your main domain: yourdomain.com
Why do you want to go with a subdomain structure?
There are many reasons why you should go with a subdomain structure for your eLearning Platform and Membership site.
The principle is that you want to separate “selling” from “publishing”.
Another way to see it is, products and sales on one domain.
Information delivery and article publishing on another domain.
Separating it out like this gives you much more stability and flexibility in the longterm.
Only install the needed plugins on each domain to support the functionalities and requirements needed for that specific install of WordPress.
You will need a set of plugins to publish information and you will need a totally different set of plugins to sell and drive your membership site and eLearning Platform.
No need to mix the two up, it’s an explosive cocktail!
Now, if you have a very small site that will stay small forever and you just want to publish one course and you will never publish another course then you can do it on the same one domain.
If you project your platform to grow and scale over time it’s a pro thing to do to work with a subdomain structure and separate things.
Main domain = delivery of information (Posts, Pages, Landing Pages, etc.)
Subdomain = delivery of knowledge (Courses, Ebooks, membership, etc.)
You can have any number of subdomains, each one fulfilling a specific purpose!
What I like to do is use the exact same theme on each domain so that my header and footer area look the same no matter if my members are on the main or the subdomain.
While navigating, most people won’t even recognize that it’s two different sites because the menu header and footer will look exactly the same.
Putting it all one domain makes for a potentially unstable situation and you want to avoid that at all costs if you think longterm.
6. I am just trying things
There is a saying and it goes like this: “practice makes perfect”
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect!
The correct approach is that you want to first find out how perfect practice works and looks like and then you want to practice that and not just head out and do as you think.
How many pros had to reprogram themselves from scratch because they practiced in a slightly wrong way and while they practiced, it turned into a habit.
Getting a habit out of your system is a hell of a lot of work.
But it goes deeper.
Trying things contains a deceiver mechanism.
You try things out and the act of trying them gives you the false impression that you’ve accomplished something while you’re totally unaware of the fact that you’ve produced nothing.
It’s easy to try things in the wrong way too and make a whole lot of mistakes in the process.
You absolutely do not want to try things out for the sake of trying them.
What does this mean and how does this connect to learning management systems?
Well, you do not want to try one LMS and then another and then another and 6 months to a year or more later while you’ve tried them all, your platform is still not set up and you’re making no sales and no growth is happening.
Sadly this is not a rarity, it’s the norm!
The most complete LMS for WordPress.
eLearnCommerce is the most complete LMS for WordPress, it is so wealthy in terms of features that it gives you the freedom to build any type of eLearning Membership site on your WordPress.
This feature-wealth is unparalleled in the world of LMS Plugins for WordPress.
What I am saying is that if you’ve chosen eLearnCommerce there’s no need to try things out as it contains all you’ll ever need to build anything, starting from simple course publishing platforms to very advanced elite training and coaching platforms.
In these terms let me tell you how perfect practice looks like.
1.: You first want to get your Content ready, then create a clear picture of how your platform should look and work from the point of view of your students, use pen and paper and make a drawing of it or use any tool you like to use on your computer and create a simple plan.
Maybe get some inspiration from some platform you saw.
2.: Do your research and list all the features you need to make your eLearning Platform and Membership site vision a reality.
3.: Match your requirements with the eLearnCommerce feature set and try things out while you’re building your platform.
If you do not have a clear picture of what you want to create, if you do not have a precise idea of how it all should look like then focus on creating that clarity before you go wasting both time and money with trying things.
You do not want to start from the wrong end and explore features while not having a clear picture of what it is that you want to build.
It’s like going to Home Depot without an idea of what to buy because you have no idea what you want to build in the first place, it’s a paradox.
I’ve seen this so many times I lost count of it.
People just keep trying this and trying that and then they go on and try that other thing and years later I talk with them and still nothing happened, still, nothing was built nor realized.
You don’t want to be that person and waste weeks, months and years and your hard-earned cash accomplishing nothing.
Work on your plan first then use the tool to build it and building it is your perfect practice.
Achieving the end-result is your perfect practice.
The end result is a fully functioning, fully working and sales making eLearnCommerce Platform.
Now let me give you a measure in order to help you be less generous with your time should you want to just try things out.
Setting a very simple eLearning platform up that contains 3 to 5 courses and 3 to 6 ebooks, a tiny video archive and a very simple signup sequence or funnel takes 1 to 2 days.
Setting an online school up with 20+ Courses 25 ebooks, an extensive Video Archive and a more complex signup sequence or funnel takes 5 to 7 days max.
Now think about this the next time you count the weeks on your calendar and your platform is still not set up while you’re out there trying things.
7. Stumbling in tech-stack darkness
Not having it clear which tools you need to build your eLearning Platform is a huge issue.
Did you know that you can plan any type of eLearning Platform on WordPress in ONE Minute?
Yes, one minute!
Why do some need days, weeks and months to gain clarity on which tools to use and which ones not to use for their particular project?
Because they do not have the one minute eLearning Platform Planner.
What is it?
It’s a decision-making tool that enables you to create ultimate clarity and remove any doubts you have around which tools to use and how to structure and plan your eLearning Platform before you begin building it.
It gives you a clear overview of all the questions you need to ask to gain ultimate clarity and direction on the tools & plugins required to set up any type of eLearning Platform using eLearnCommerce.
You’ll learn about all the different types of platforms you can build and you’ll see how one small wrong decision can massively affect the project delivery time and cause you to go over budget.
You’ll learn about a method that enables you to gain ultimate Tech-Stack Clarity!
The truth is, all great projects start with a great plan.
Great plans are simple in their nature!
They’re like a fun game.
The one minute eLearning Platform Planner. comes with a free live masterclass during which, I’ll teach you the rules of this game!
Once you know these rules you’ll be able to plan out any type of eLearning Platform in ONE minute!
You’ll know which tools to use and which to ignore.
You’ll get a decision-making tool that traces a clear path, creates ultimate clarity, removes any doubts for yourself and when interfacing with a client.
It’s the same tool we use when building Platforms for Clients and for ourselves.
Click here and download the one minute eLearning Platform Planner.
8. Not having a membership model or an inexistent content sales model
One of the topics we address in the One minute eLearning Platform Planner is the Membership Map, the Member Journey, and the Content sales Model.
You need clarity on all of them.
Having these 3 clearly defined is quintessential to launching and building your eLearning Platform on time and within budget.
Not having these things clear makes you wanna go try things and search for the answers in the features and as we’ve learned before we want to avoid that behavior as much as possible.
We first want to plan it and only after we’ve planned we proceed to build it!
To understand whether you are ready to start building your eLearnCommerce Platform on WordPress, make sure you have the answers to the following questions:
- · What is your membership model?
- · How many levels are there in your membership?
- · Do you have the customer’s journey or membership upgrade paths clearly mapped out?
- · Which content sales model will you choose: recurring, one-off, or a combination of both?
- · Which courses will have a recurring price, and which will be sold against a one-off price?
Gaining clarity over these questions is simple!
Download the One Minute eLearning Platform Planner here and let me guide you through the decision making process.
9. Not having a Growth Plan
No matter how big or small your eLearning Platform or Membership Site building project is, you got to put Milestones in place.
Milestones mark the various projected growth stages of your Platform and give you clarity both in terms of resources planning and allocation and time required to reach a given milestone.
It removes the unnecessary drama element from the management of the project and gets everyone involved onto the same page.
Even if “everyone” is only you.
Milestones give you also a way to measure if you’re getting close(er) to where you planned to be and most importantly which resources you need to get there.
You want to avoid not having milestones in place before you start building your project.
In the One Minute eLearning Platform Planner, I guide you through the decision making process and show you how you can easily establish the various growth stages of your eLearning Membership Site.
10. Not having an SSL certificate installed on your WordPress
Major eLearning Platform Builder Mistake and/or Website setup mistake is not installing an SSL certificate.
In an age when privacy and security are top-notch concerns in most countries, not having an SSL certificate installed on your website, especially one which accept payments, is a major no.
When you are handling sensitive information like client details and payment information, you need to ensure that your site is protected from online security threats.
Most hosts give you the SSL out of the box, all you need to do is install a plugin like Really Simple SSL or similar on your WordPress and you’re good.
If you’re not following this 1 best practice you’ll lose days and days chasing ghost issues cause things will not work or work partially or work sometimes or work unreliably or not at all.
These are the top 10 mistakes to avoid when building your eLearning Platform on WordPress.
Make sure you steer clear of these 10 time and resource thieves and you’ll complete your eLearning Platform building project in 7 days instead of 7 months no matter if you’re building a simple Online Course Delivery Platform or an advanced Elite Training or Coaching Platform.
All the best
CEO – eLearnCommerce
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If you want to learn how to manage a Platform building project in the most efficient manner and in the shortest time possible, read the following article: