It’s been over 5 years since I have been working with LearnDash for different clients, and one thing I always found with small entrepreneurs. They never realise how much does a LearnDash website actually costs.
Many believe their $50 a year hosting, $9 domain and a LearnDash domain is all they need. But after coming to the actual LearnDash space they actually end up spending over a $1000 dollars because of difference choices, just in the plugin costs. No to mention these are ongoing costs, to be paid every year.
I am never saying just LearnDash is not enough. In fact LearnDash along with a few other free plugins is all you need to build a basic courses website. But what if you need features that are not included in LearnDash? Obviously you will have to buy the additional plugins. It’s not an expense, rather an investment anyways.
After reading this article you would be able to easily budget your anticipated spendings on building your next LearnDash website so you can avoid any surprises.
Purchasing the LearnDash package
First and foremost expense, I am sure you are already aware of it. You will have to pay LearnDash to buy their plugin.
There are many people reselling LearnDash cheaper which is completely illegal, against LearnDash’s terms of conditions and you may even end up getting the insecure copy from those third party resources. Always, I would say always buy the plugin directly from LearnDash.
Now coming to which package you actually need, we are going to have a look at each.
When purchasing packages, you have to make sure to either purchase the Plus package or Pro since basic package doesn’t have propanel, which is a useful addition to LearnDash.
There is no other difference between the packages, but the number of sites you can use them on.
Math is simple, if you need LearnDash for not more than 10 sites, buy their plus package or use their Pro package.
I assume you are going to need the plus package so let’s add $189 to the cost.
Domain and Web Hosting
You can purchase domain name from any reasonably priced company, but please be careful while choosing the web hosting. Never ever go for the shared web hosting packages since they are not built for resource intensive LearnDash websites.
I normally like to buy from namecheap, they charge around $9 for domain per year. Let’s assume $9 per year for the domain.
For the web hosting I recommend following hosting companies since they are quite reliable.
For my own course websites I use cloudways, and normally their $35 per month hosting works for me for each of the LearnDash websites. You may have to purchase a higher end package in case if you have a lot of traffic. If you have a new website you can start with their $10 per month package and scale as more people start coming in.
Let’s assume $35 per month to be the web hosting costs.
Video Hosting and Video Player
Many people would argue, why would they need video hosting when they can upload courses directly to their servers?
First of all it’s going to cost you more, since videos may eat up you resources quickly. Secondly your web hosting servers are not optimised for videos so you may end up with slower video loading, security issues, downtime etc. Never ever host videos directly on your server to save costs, because you may end up paying more in the long run.
Here are some of the video hosting companies I really like, and they are highly compatible with LearnDas.
Bunny.net charges you based upon how much space and bandwidth you are consuming. Initially you may have to spend $10-$20 and they must be sufficient for you at least until you finish your website. They charge a very small monthly fee, a couple of dollars I believe and charge you for the actual usage.
I believe you will have to pay around $10 per month in the beginning, so let’s add that to the cost.
Theme and Page Builder
You need a theme and a page builder to build your pages. I won’t overcomplicate by mentioning many themes, rather I am going to mention the best two options.
I build over 30 websites every year and I always use either BuddyBoss or Kadence as the theme.
BuddyBoss is great for its beautiful layout, community features etc. I normally recommend BuddyBoss to my clients until or unless they strictly don’t need any kind of community aspect.
If you don’t need those fancy features, Kadence is the only other theme you have to look for. It is compatible with LearnDash, it is super fast and is very reliable. For my personal website I am using Kadence and I am loving it. Even my website awais.me is built using Kadence.
Now coming to the page builder, if you have technical competence Gutenberg is the best one. But if you want an easy page builder Elementor should be your choice.
No, you don’t have to pay for Gutenberg or Elementor, both of them are free ( Elementor has a pro version but I never felt need of it ) . Between these two choices Gutenberg is surely a bit complicated to use but is way faster than Elementor.
For the theme let’s assume we are going to use BuddyBoss and Elementor Free version, so add $228 to the cost.
CRM – Client Relationship Management and Marketing Automation
Although it’s not necessary but highly recommended to make your website more engaging. A good CRM allows you to automate your marketing efforts and send email based upon user’s interaction with the site i.e. If user is enrolled in a particular course, send these emails at these particular intervals.
I highly recommend ActiveCampaign which would cost you $49 a month, but if you have lack of budgets, Maillchimp’s free version might be sufficient in the beginning. You can always move to a better platform as soon as you start getting more sales.
Now this is where the surprise factor comes. LearnDash is a very versatile plugin with a lot of flexibility but it definitely has some missing features. At the same time I really like its flexibility since many of third party are actively working on improving features of LearnDash. Major third party tools are integrated to LearnDash.
Some of these additional plugins are free but you will have to pay additional for others.
Must use Free plugins.
Now coming to different paid plugins you might require and their costs. No matter how much I try I can’t predict how much you will have to pay in these costs.
Are you looking to sell your courses to difference organisations? Wisdmlab groups is must have plugin. Many people ask me about the difference between wisdmlab groups and LearnDash groups. WisdmLab groups is just an extension to Learndash groups which adds new features to the group functionality of LearnDash. I won’t go deep into that, but trust my words, if you to sell your courses to organisations you definitely will need this plugin.
LearnDash always had some gaps in its reporting, that’s where Learndash reports came in from the WisdmLabs. I can’t explain how much do I love this plugin as a Learndash developer. If you have the budget, definitely go for this plugn.
Do you need the reviews functionality to your LearnDash courses? This plugin adds reviews to your LearnDash courses.
If you need multiple plugins from WisdmLab, you can get all for just $131 per year, please never ever buy them separately or you may end up with quite a lot of unnecessary cost.
Do you need multiple instructors on the website without giving them admin or editorial access? Wisdmlabs multiple instructors is the best plugin for it.
LearnDash itself has gamification but it’s not highly advanced yet. I would recommend GamiPress if gamification is essentially required in your LearnDash website.
If you are using WooCommerce and looking to bill users on recurring basis this is essential plugin.
I really really love this plugin by combining it with WooCommerce. It allows us to massively improve the user experience of WooCommerce. Here are some of the features it adds to the website.
- Better checkout experience
- Show sales page to non enrolled users and show course page to enrolled users upon clicking the course link
- Upselling and Cross selling
- Customising Checkout and Thank You page
- Embedding checkout directly on the sales page instead of making the user click on the other page.
LearnDash notes allows users to take notes as they are progressing through the courses.
I really love the fact that through this plugin you can give a nice Dashboard to both instructors as well as students. Previously you had to rely on the backend multiple instructors functionality through WisdmLabs but this plugin has changed the game. I am waiting for this plugin to be more mature though, since it’s quite new in the market at the time of writing of this article.
It adds gradebook and report card feature to Learndash
H5P is an authoring tool which adds new elements to course authoring. H5P for LearnDash integrates Free H5P plugin with Learndash.
It allows private chat for enrolees based upon their groups or course enrolment.
If you are using a CRM with LearnDash, I can’t emphasise how amazing is this plugin. WPFusion takes your marketing automation to another level.
Here are some of the key features of WPFusion.
- It allows connection of the LearnDash with almost every major CRM
- It allows better tracking of users activity and sending data to CRM’s
- If you have multiple sites, you can use WPFusion to have a single sign on feature.
- You can restrict access to particular courses based upon difference tags.
- If you want to sell a course partially you can do that using WPFusion
- WPFusion also acts as a membership plugin
I can go on and on to explain the features of WPFusion. I almost always use it for my clients.
AutomatorWP is another blessing in the WordPress space. Through AutomatorWP you can integrate other plugins with LearnDash and may assign different events based upon different events.
i.e. Enroll user to a particular group if the user has submitted a particular form with a particular field.
Prestoplayer is essential with Bunny.net and adds new features to course video player which include.
- Customised player
- Better reporting
- Direct integration with video hosting companies
- It will allow you to add videos directly from the WordPress Dashboard rather than going to your video host to upload videos.
- And many more.
I can go on and on but the list won’t end. But you don’t need all anyways, please pick only the plugins you essentially need because plugin costs are yearly costs.
Not to mention, you will have to bear many of these costs even if you go with another LMS, but probably you won’t find all of these features in another one.
If you aren’t the DIY person and looking for a specialist to do the complete site for you, it may add to the cost. Some people on Fiverr might be offering the service for even less than $300 but any specialist who knows his job is going to charge you at least $1000 if not more.
I personally charge anywhere between $1000-$3000 for implementation but for more advanced sites the price may go well beyond that. Let’s assume $1500 for the development cost considering you need a normal website by utilising existing features of Learndash and other tools.
Do you need consultancy? I would love to offer you my consultation package for $150 ( One time ) , which will include.
Audit of your existing website – Normally I charge $100 just for this one service
2 calls – 1 hour each – Normally it costs $120
1 Year of WPFusion – Worth over $300
1 Year of Elementor Pro – $50
1 Year of Rank Math Pro SEO Plugin – $50
Thorough Action Plan – $50
LearnDash Audit Checklist – $20
So you will get around $700 in value for just $150 ( One time )