How to Create, Host, and Sell Online Courses in 6 Simple Steps

Mariam Ispiryan • Updated on June 20, 2022 • 13 min read

You’re thinking of creating and selling an online course to get extra income, share your knowledge with the world, or increase your business leads. But coding sounds terrifying, most learning management plugins are too difficult to understand, and Udemy just doesn’t cut it for you. A no-code web app builder like Softr might be the solution you’re looking for. 


Creating web apps used to be a skill only software developers had. But with the rise of no-code app builders, you can learn to create and sell online courses and add them to your website in no time.


By the end of this article, you’ll be able to build custom online learning material using Softr and get it up and running on your sales landing page or website.



Table of contents



It’s time to monetize your side hustle!

Create and sell profitable online courses with Softr.

Why you should use Softr to build and sell online learning products


Softr is a truly no-code app builder powered by Airtable data—if you’re wondering what Airtable is, it’s a spreadsheet-database hybrid. Softr has a zero learning curve due to its 70+ pre-built blocks and templates to facilitate the app-building process, even when you don’t have any programming knowledge. 



You could say Softr is like the Guitar Hero of software development, you don’t have to be a developer to create an app, just like you don’t need to know how to play the guitar to get a 100% streak playing Dream On by Aerosmith on your video game console.

gif of a man playing guitar hero

Softr is the Guitar Hero of software development. You can play with it to create something awesome without any technical knowledge.

Source: Tenor



To use Softr, all you really need to do is choose from our templates or blocks to set up pages and add your content to them. It's also really easy to get paid for your content. Softr allows you to: 


“Softr is by no means a conventional learning management system (LMS),said Max Haining, founder at 100DaysOfNoCode. “But it gives you the ability to create a bespoke learning experience unique to your end-users. 


“For instance, we have been able to use Softr’s collection of list blocks to creatively display the course curriculum but to also show content in an interesting and more interactive way than traditional learning management systems.”

It’s time to monetize your side hustle!

Create and sell profitable online courses with Softr.

When to start building your first online course


Here’s when you’ll know it’s time to start building an online course:

  • you’ve succeeded in something and now want to share your knowledge and experience with others to position your brand as a topical expert
  • you have a specific skill (e.g. illustration, pottery, creating landing pages) that you can teach others
  • you want to try e-learning as a lead magnet to improve your email list and reach more people through an email marketing campaign


Pro tip: Digital products used as lead magnets can be offered free of charge or for a nominal price, so customers can pay with their contact information. Free courses usually provide value but leave the students wanting to know more.

How to build and sell successful online courses


To sell courses online, you need to define three things first, your hosting platform, business model, and digital marketing strategy.



1. Pick a platform 


There are many different hosting platforms for your online course to choose from 

  • online web app builders,
  • learning management systems (LMS), 
  • and marketplace builders that offer a ready-made solution for setting up your online courses (Udemy is probably the most popular one). 


There are two main advantages to using an online marketplace or an LMS (WordPress plugins are the most common) over your own online course platform:

  1. You don’t need to set anything up manually, you only need to add your content in the right order
  2. The marketplace promotes your content for you, so you don’t need to worry about getting your own marketing tools and becoming a social media wizard too.


However, in return, you have to comply with the rules and restrictions enforced by the marketplace, and you also have to share a significant part of your revenue. Here's how else using Softr beats Udemy or your WordPress plugin:

  • Softr allows you to set prices without a limit. In Udemy you can only charge up to $199.99.
  • You have the freedom on course topics. Udemy has a list of banned topics.
  • Your users will be able to pay for a monthly subscription (and get access to some sort of membership site) or pay by course. That’s not available on Udemy or most LMSs.


If you need flexibility and full control over your product, setting up your own online course platform and defining a marketing strategy for promotion is the best choice.



2. Choose your business model


Your business model is your plan to create profitable online courses. You have three offering options:

  1. Free courses. This won’t bring you money right away, but it will allow leads to enter your sales funnel and might turn into paying customers later on.
  2. One-time purchase courses. Provide full access to your content, and have users become owners of their learning journey and course content.
  3. Subscription-based courses. Grant access to your course modules through monthly/yearly subscriptions. This one is more relevant if you offer cohort-based, long-form, or courses where learners have learning objectives to complete in a time period.


Softr lets you implement either by creating a one-time product or a subscription on Stripe and setting it as a condition for accessing a specific site area.



3. Create a sales landing page


Apart from the courses themselves, you need a well-designed landing page to convert your visitors into buyers. There, you need to explain the value of the course and why people should sign up for it (Softr’s Hero and Feature/Feature Grid blocks can be used for this).


Further on, you can add Softr’s dedicated testimonial block to showcase reviews on your courses as soon as you have some, and those can come in the form of video content.


You can use the pricing block to show your pricing options and, using the conditional visibility feature, you can easily define different access levels for any block or page within your Softr app.


Softr also allows you to add an FAQ block that can be used to address some common questions about your content and include specific keywords for SEO purposes to rank higher in search engines. 


Make sure your landing page has one clear goal, and write a compelling CTA to get visitors on board—which in this case should help you sell your online course. And redirect your potential customers in your sales funnel to this page. Make sure you monitor your conversion rate and time on page to trigger adjustments using Softr’s Google Analytics integration.

How to build and sell successful online courses using Softr


The upcoming steps will only help you if you chose to build your online course with Softr. You’ll see the steps are straightforward and easy to follow.



Step 1. Build your courses area


To set up your courses pages, you need to configure a gated area with your courses (e.g. video content tutorials) and provide a checkout link for your users to purchase. The quickest way to get started is to use our online course template when creating a new application.

Screenshot of Softr web page builder explaining how to use a template

To create a new web application on Softr, go to your dashboard, click on “create a new application,” go through templates and choose to use the online course template.

Source: Softr.io



The online courses template has its dedicated Airtable base, which is already configured and filled with dummy data that you can edit with your own information. The video below shows how you can connect your Airtable account/base and set up your Softr app using a template.

By default, the template Airtable base has such fields as subject, description, video, and thumbnail for each video lesson, but you can modify or add as many additional fields as needed. You can also configure the listing in your Softr app to adjust search, filtering, and sorting. This video shows you how to configure the filtering and sorting for the list block, which is used for the online courses page.

Step 2. Set up gated content


Now that you've defined your course blocks, you can start defining your access guidelines and gating content. Softr has all the necessary functionality to help you build a member-only website without needing to connect any additional membership service.


Make sure you’ve already used user account blocks to build all the necessary pages such as sign up/sign in, reset the password, and so on, before moving up to gating content.


The page or block visibility feature allows you to specify the access level of each separate page or block. The described functionality is enough to configure membership access to your courses’ area.



Step 3. Sell online courses


As soon as you’ve set up your gated area, you can start configuring payment options, and start selling your content. To do so, you need to connect your Stripe account and add a checkout block where users will make payments. Set a one-time fee or monthly/yearly subscription plan following your business model.


In the previous section, we discussed the block/page visibility feature for logged-in and non-logged-in users. Paid access works in a similar way. You can define custom conditions for each block or page to give access based on certain parameters only (e.g. “only subscribers can access X page or block”). The adding conditions section in our block/page visibility documentation provides a detailed explanation of how this works.


All you need to do is set up a checkout page for each subscription plan or one-time purchase, and, as soon as the user makes a payment, redirect them to the block/page that is configured as previously defined conditions. This way, you can ensure granular access levels and offer a variety of subscription plans or separate products in the same place.

Is it a good idea to build an online course on your own website?


Building an online learning course on your own website is the best idea if you want to:

  • Drive traffic to your website,
  • Earn more with your online courses,
  • And share content on any topic without restrictions


Softr offers templates to make online course creators’ life easier, different gated content modalities, Stripe integration to avoid triangular money transactions, and a broad tutorial bank to help you build your dream course one step at a time.

It’s time to monetize your side hustle!

Create and sell profitable online courses with Softr.

Frequently asked questions about how to create and sell online courses

This is a common question amongst entrepreneurs or online course creators. You can sell Udemy courses on your website or other platforms as long as your content is not part of Udemy for Business because those are exclusive to the platform. But to do so, you’ll need to upload your course content to a different LMS or online course platform. You can also link your Udemy course to your online business website, and add your coupon/referral code to reduce the platform’s fees and increase your revenue.

You can create an online course for free using Softr’s no-code app builder free plan and upload your content to it. It allows you to create unlimited applications and add a paywall to them with some membership limitations, and Softr’s branding. This option requires zero technical knowledge. You can also learn how to use WordPress LMS plugins or use online course platforms like Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare, or Thinkific.

Yes, online courses can be extremely profitable when marketed properly. You can create online learning courses without spending a penny out-of-pocket, and create a digital marketing campaign or leverage your website traffic to sell it and make almost 100% profit (minus platform fees).

According to Statista, online courses will be making around 400 billion dollars by 2026. That means it’s quite a large market to tap into. Your particular course sales will depend solely on your content, promotion strategy, and user experience.

The cost of creating an online course depends solely on your budget. You can create an online learning course that costs you $0, or one that costs thousands. The difference in cost depends on whether or not you hire a team, pay online course platform fees, and invest in a digital marketing strategy.

Answering how long it takes to create an online course is tricky. The amount of time it takes you to create the course material is personal. It can take you days, months, or even years. Setting it up in an LMS or Udemy will depend on how long it takes you to complete the platform’s learning curve. Using Softr to create your custom online course on your own website, will take a few minutes.

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