Can anyone recommend a membership site platform for courseware?
I am developing a variety of "courses" for small businesses / entrepreneurs across a variety of verticals and I think I want to host these behind a paywall on a membership site platform. I am not sure yet if I want a single domain with multiple subdomains or multiple top-level domains since they will cross a variety of industries. I am looking for recommendations / input on a membership platform (i.e. membergate, wishlist, memberium, etc.) along with the rationale for the recommendation. I am thinking the main site(s) will be built on WordPress. I am also looking for any feedback on using Patreon or Kajabi Next as an alternative to implementing my own membership platform.
Thanks in advance for your feedback...
I have done much of the same as a serial entrepreneur and CEO since 1989. What you are talking about is a "Learning Management System" (LMS) that can deliver the courses, monitor, report, charge etc. There are a large number of these. Some are "out-of-the-box" services that take 50%+ as they bring customers, sell and deliver customers. i.e. distribution, not jsut technology like www.udemy.com. Others are technology platforms that you pay a fee for to use like www.Vimeo.com which just does video delivery and is password protected and easy to deliver through any shopping cart (I use both). You can see Vimeo in action here with 7 short (free) videos on developing company dashboards: http://www.airtightmgt.com/what-is-airtight-management/dashboards-and-metrics
Membership is not the key focus here and I would not recommend a "Membership" site as a core functionality. That is almost trivial. You need an LMS which is designed around course delivery plus a CMS which can do everything else (blog, membership, articles/content, admin, etc.)
Then there are open source platforms that might be best if you plan to scale. I have done a complete research project on these and will install one in the near future. I would be happy to talk by phone and compare notes. I expect some of our content would be complimentary and very little would overlap, if any. We might even be able to work together some.
Wordpress and Joomla are CMSs that have add-ins to do all of this and I have about 20 web sites and am moving to Joomla over time because of the large add-in library and support. It is more advaced than Wordpress, though there are always trade-offs between ease of use and power with platforms (PaaS).
Bob Norton office: (619) SCALE06
Scott, if you build your marketing site in WordPress, when it comes time to connect or integrate to the delivery platform for your courses, you may find it difficult and have to rebuild it all. I speak from the experience of getting a number of new clients every year who have tried similar combinations for other purposes in their startups, then when they scaled, they ended up with a new set fo expenses and disruption in got-to-market again. I also come from over a decade of developing e-learning systems and courses for many business segments. A good strategy would be to launch your website in a platform/CMS that in the beginning would be about the same cost to implement as WP, with connectivity for e-commerce and course delivery systems, then would support migration into one integrated platform you own and control as you gain traction. I input this especially from the course delivery side; there are many excellent SaaS services as to capability, branding, assessment building, etc. but they all charge either by metering the number of your courses, or learners, or both. That might be ok when you've got under 10 courses and a few dozen learners in each, but if you scale, suddenly 25-30% of your overhead could be use fees and your own, volume free system would make sense. Were it me, I would consider a hub n spoke marketing method: set up one central course delivery site, but micro sites or listings with many member type services, but as light a footprint as you can make there to drive your buyers to where they actually purchase and use the courses. One place for sure you might look at is the SBA's SCORE system, they have extensive small business courses they market and broker and have huge exposure; you might have to put up a free, or light version, and convert. Email me off MH if you want any additional thoughts.
Be careful of Moodle, Sakai, Angel and any LMS that has a core development from Higher Ed. You have a ton of functions that relate to a campus, a term, a curriuclum, class management and participation assessments, that are cumbersome for a business training environment, which is usually more of a freeform learning, get the resources, seek help as needed type of a style, and a much more streamlined LMS.
An added thought: your course content criteria includes your core lesson (in video?) but a lot of collateral pieces that are not video. Some of the platforms, like Udemy, are video / tutorial specific, with little regards for non-video resource support. You need a mixed media course authoring and delivery environment, if I understand your opening post correctly. Also, it sounds like another element you might want to integrate is a live, synchronous tool, or an asynched helpdesk type tool, to allow guest experts from the unique state/county/city government and help deal with the details unique to each of them. Most entities have both digital resources and helpdesk people for that purpose, the resource would be free to you to integrate and a huge value add in the full context of what you want to accomplish.
I'm a big fan of Thinkific. They integrate with your merchant account and it's truly plug and play. You can make it look like your wordpress site, but you do not have to do any coding or configuration. Just upload your videos and PDF's and create a course. Oh yeah, it's also free for basic membership. They just take a small percentage of each sale.
I sell individual courses and I have a membership based subscription program as well.
Here's what it looks like on my site: http://courses.improvandy.com.
In full disclosure, I am an affiliate. Here's the link to their site (it's free to sign up and start selling your courses): http://get.thinkific.com/improvandy/
Feel free to reach out of you have any questions.
Scott - One of the more popular sites for people who want to develop on-line course ware and to take on-line classes is UDEMY.COM. They provide the author with all the tools for building the course, provide hosting and account management as well as general promotion. You set the price you feel is appropriate. If UDEMY's activities result in drawing people to your course they will keep 50% of the revenue. If you attract student to your courses through your own website UDEMY pays the total amount to the author. UDEMY also has a variety of "affiliate" site owners who also help to attract students. UDEMY splits their 50% revenue with their affiliates so it does not cost the author any extra. This provides the author with 3 different ways to find students and generate income.
I have an affiliate website called The Microbusiness Academy.com which I run in conjunction with my main site - Mature-Entrepreneurs.com I am currently working on my own course-ware on home-based business startup which I will use UDEMY for. Hope this has helped.. have a great week-end Steve Chapman
I use (and am happy with) usefedora.com. This gives you the features of Udemy but with one big difference: Udemy is a marketing platform - they will sell your courses for you (or not) but your stuff is alongside those of your competitors. You also need to know that they host a lot of 'low value' content from affiliate marketers and get-rich-quick merchants.
Fedora offers you your own dedicated platform with different levels of service from free to paid versions with more or less features. I use the free version at https://mikeclayton.usefedora.com/ and am very happy.
If I were starting now, I would certainly also evaluate Zenler.com. As far as I can tell this offers the same service as Fedora (but doubtless with a few minor differences). As I am settled into Fedora, I have not researched Zenler, so cannot say which of the two is better or even how they compare. So I make no recommendation.
For a higher spec, paid only model, a 'big brother' to Zenler and Fedora is Kajabi. I know little about it, but have heard it is highly professional.
The alternative to these is to use one of several WordPress plugins to create your own platform on your website.
Good luck with your research.
John MacDonald Hi Scott, I would recommend the Wordpress OptimizePress theme, which is currently probably the most widely used by marketers (Peter Garety, Alex Becker - Source Wave University) membership theme. This because it is tried, tested and secure. It also offers many additional features, like creating landing pages, slaes pages but perhaps the most important the creators have very good training available to help you get started. - No I am not an affiliate but praise where praise is due. There are a number of Wordpress plugins that will give you some of the features and many are free, but for a small price I would recommend OptimizePress as a more complete solution.
I do see that some people have concerns with regards to security, but again there are a number of very simple ways (and free plugins) to help make your WP site secure, in addition if you also take the precaution of regular back-ups to a remote site you are pretty much covered.
I had been searching for this same thing for the longest time. I have been a big fan of Copyblogger and its founder Brian Clark. He recently launched the Rainmaker Platform which is run on Wordpress, and allows you to build exactly what you are describing. Check it out at www.newrainmaker.com or www.rainmakerplatform.com I believe.
I have it and am loving it so far!
Kajabi would definitely be a good one for both the content hosting and payment platform included or you could look at a Learning Management Systems like Absorb LMS which make great platforms for delivering courses to private groups/memberships. Just depends on budgets, but both Kajabi or a decent LMS would give good scalability.
It depends of if you're looking to get paid or use the courses as marketing.
Patreon isn't for teaching - think of it as an ongoing Kickstarter for friends/family who want to support you.
Kajabi - I've tested it a little bit. Similar options are Fedora or Udemy.
Since you're thinking about going with WordPress, I've found PaidMembershipPro a nice plugin for registering users with various monthly membership options. It supports several payment gateways, such as PayPal, Stripe and others. It also allows you to limit access to certain pages based on the user membership.
Scott, Depends on what you're trying to accomplish, but I've used 3rd party sites like coggno.com as they have a marketplace that will help promote your materials.
If you are trying to build your own site I have used PaidMemberPRO as a wordpress plugin for the membersite/security. Then I used the WP-Courseware plugin to create all my courses. Still conducting a beta test, but you are more than welcome to take a look at to following link for our introductory course. http://yoursmallbusinessgrowth.com/small-business-growth-simplified/
Finally, if you want more information from the expert I would recommend taking a look at CHris Lema's site. Here is the comparison that convinced me to go this direction: http://chrislema.com/e-learning-on-wordpress-made-easy/
I hope this helps. - Dino
The problem with Udemy is they can suddenly decide to discount your course to $1 on their promotional days. I would suggest you check out https://www.coursecats.com/ which makes the whole thing easy and runs within WordPress. Most of the security problems with WordPress happen because admins or even some website designers do not set up the system properly. Also like all software it is vital to log in and update all plugins themes etc. regularly. This takes moments so I recommend daily if possible.
Basically you are looking for Online Course Portal where Users may SignIn / Register and go for monthly / yearly paid subscription to access the course content acorss various verticals
One of the example I would like to share with you
which provide similar type of services, you have mentioned herein
In one go we cannot predict the correct Software because it require no of questions need to addressed and some of them as below:
What will be the content delivery mode to Users (Audio / Video / doc file)
How many types of subscription will be there
How many course will be there
Definitely WordPress is a good option to go with easily available Membership Plugin
but not for long run once you have hundred of files and others stuff on the website. WordPress is mere a bolg platform
Again the Platform preference depend on your plan of action
Initially you may go with MVP model as well leveraging WordPress
is altogether a content delivery Market Place (Built in RoR) where Knowledge Seekers and Subject Matter Expert meet and that's altogether a different scenarios what you have mentioned here
I am open to share my expertise in similar domain to help you out
I would like you to check Yo!Memberz , a solution that offers you to start an online membership portal. Following are the features you will get:
Optimized for profits
Find all details about Yo!Memberz here: http://www.fatbit.com/online-membership-based-website-design-development.html
Try Moodle - it's an open source LMS which allows you to put courses together. I would recommend staying away from Wordpress etc - we've had major security issues with open source CMS.
Here's a service I was recently introduced to. I think it's what you are looking for to create material that you can promote and sell. www.edloud.com
Hello Scott, you might want to explore udemy.com. You can host your courses there to begin with and then gradually migrate to a set up of your own.
You have received many ideas on which and what vehicles will work...Go with your gut here as to what seems to work best for you...Only thought I have is to go from the General to the Specific
Go with WordPress if you are low budget. Go with more elaborate LMS, if you have some money. Some real open source LMS which comes to mind are Moodle, Sakai. I can help with implementing either WordPress, Moodle or Sakai.
I like Fedora but given your "membership" description it may not be exactly what you're looking for- it is a site to build and host "courses."
Hope this helps.