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Start an Online Academy – A Step-by-Step Guide

| June 18, 2018 | 12 min read

Starting an online academy in 2019 is really fascinating. E-learning is getting more widespread for business training while online courses are an easy, accessible way, to learn a new skill and self-improvement.

Education is a wonderful gift which should also come with a beautiful package! This is why delivering education or training also requires an awesome experience as a wrapper. Nowadays it is rather easy to build your own online academy by using a state-of-the-art elearning platform like LearnWorlds.

All you need is an idea for a course, the nature and context of your education to begin building around it. While deciding what to teach online, you shouldn’t go for subjects which you like but have not yet grasped. Try to think simple and bring to mind things you are good at and which could benefit and help others as well.

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.

Regardless of what you choose to teach, you can adjust the teaching environment and output to suit the subject’s needs. Is your teaching approach self-paced? Wonderful then, you can drip your content to your learners week by week and guide them with pre-recorded videos, audio logs and information rich e-books. Are you doing coaching? Then, you can run a live webinar inside your school. Is there a certificate of completion, or an examination? Awesome! Your students can also showcase their new knowledge.

Everything is possible with a platform that can adapt to your needs and branded as yours. Are you ready to learn how to do it?

How to start an online academy

There are various factors contributing when creating your own branded online academy. It depends much on your goals, mission and values you are bringing with you.

Creating your own online academy can be a source of passive income, reduce training costs for your company and minimize your travel and physical training needs, while reaching many more people and be available at any time, anywhere. It is no secret that teaching online can in fact be profitable, or an impressive lead magnet!

The value of your personal or company’s branding and the work you put on creating, marketing and selling your online courses can affect the course value-offering. A course instructor could be earning from a few hundred dollars per year to a six-figure income and more.

Here at LearnWorlds, we believe that a learner’s experience is as important as the instructor’s. As a LearnWorlds instructor, we wish to make it easier for you to build and customize your online school. Among a host of elearning features and capabilities you might get lost. So, why not start with the basic, shall we?

You’ll be up and running in a jiffy!

Website & Branding Customization

Being able to include your brand colours, logos, customize landing pages and more. LearnWorlds offers detailed customization in every school without requiring any coding skills. Identity and aesthetics is an important part of your online academy. Adding engaging and useful material can offer to its learners, another equally important facto, all together contributing to its success.

Leverage the power of our unique Pages Builder and create a full e-learning website for your business. We got hundreds of templates to create and customize as you seem fit. It’s as easy as selecting a template and editing like you would edit a Microsoft Word or Mac’s Pages file!

With this handy tool you can create the most stunning pages and fill them with videos, images, text styles or even embed and mirror external content!

The innovative technology of the Pages builder grants school authors detailed, quick and easy-to-use customization with which you can create your own Thank you Pages after a product purchase and upsell other products, or do wonders with the interactive Ebook creator which uses the same powerful tool.

With LearnWorlds there is no need for expensive third-party tools to setup your landing pages. We’ve got you covered!

Elearning Landing Page Examples
Let your inner web designer do wonders by following the instructions here.

Automated Email Notifications – Students Registration, Enrollments, Community Mentions and more

Your school’s notifications are practically “the voice” of your school. And just like your voice, it’s better to talk directly to your potential students and customers. The same as you would welcome them when visiting your business, show your excitement and gratitude, it’s not only politeness, it’s good business practices.

send course registration emails
Editing the notification emails of your school is easy as pie.

Our notification center is divided in six sections. Each notification, under these sections, can be edited as easy as you would edit any other text field along with the help of your school toolbar of course.


With the Notification settings of your school you can easily inform your learners and instructors about almost any event taking place at your school. Clear and informative messages for your learners and handy mails for your staff are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to communication in a LearnWorlds school.

Customizing the email notifications you and your students are receiving is easy as pie, just follow the guides below and explore the possibilities for customization!

Bonus: LearnWorlds can also send automated emails for your course’s drip content. You could be creating an email course sequence or a notification when new sections are available and customize each email in the sequence!

Develop Your First Online Course

Now that you’ve set up shop we can talk business! Your online school or academy is now ready to host your content. You probably have some training material, video or documents ready … and if not … you could always reuse your blog for course content or create new content.

There are so many choices for you when it comes to popullating your courses with content. You can use a medium that you feel comfortable delivering as educational material and depending on your resources and experience develop written, audio or video educational material.

Is this your first time teaching an online course? No worries at all, we’ve got you covered with our step-by-step how to Create an Online Course, or follow our quick instructions below.

Our course wizard will also guide you on the way. Just click on the “create course” button and it will take you into a step-by-step process.

Easy Course Wizard Setup
LearnWorlds’ Course Wizard

Find a subject you are passionate and knowledgeable

Looking for inspiration on how to create an online course? Your everyday life is the solution. Whether it is a professional or personal development course you are looking for, there is:

– A problem to be solved.
– Advice on subjects your friends, customers and colleagues always ask you.
– A much sought-out expertise on a software, method or technique you are an expert.

Find the space between a problem and a solution, and be the one who connects the two. Where you can insert yourself as the expert transfer the knowledge.

Define Educational Goals

Write down the educational goals for your students. What knowledge, skill or expertise they should get from your academy. When you have the goals, you can work backwards in breaking them into educational steps.

Your goals should be achievable and understandable. You can start with a single word, phrase or sentence and better define them into a paragraph. Writing down the goals will allow your creative juices to flow into solid form and form your vision.

Having the educational goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. methodology could help you out. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Then, you are ready for the next step.

Course Outline (Content)

You are now ready to break the educational goals down into a course outline. Brainstorm ideas on how to teach the subject, research the literature, the internet and what others in relevant topics are doing. Write a catchy title for your course and find a logical order.

The order can be based on difficulty or subject-categories, or you want to follow a specific pedagogical approach that will define your outline and content. You will have to decide on a teaching method or a blended approach you will follow and stick with it. This will define the type of content and activities, as well as the format of your whole academy.

It’s not just about the course, but about the space your teaching is happening. Remember that learning does not happen in a social vacuum, but rather in a social environment with multiple variables. Learning online and especially in an ecosystem through your website has several interactions that you can take into account or leverage. For example social activities, group study or instructor feedback through messages or email.

Here is also where you will be deciding the content of your course. You can link resources with sections and the sources you would like to use. You might need to do some additional study by yourself before moving to create new educational material, seeing examples of other courses is usually very helpful.

Create the Content or Re-purpose Existing Content

It’s now time create!

Depending on the kind of learning, training or coaching you will be doing, you will probably use a variety of learning activities. Most common learning activities on courses are Ebooks, PDFs, Video and Audio lessons. You can compliment those with educational quizzes, exams and give Certificates.

Elearning Video

Creating videos is much easier nowadays. All you need is the right equipment and tools. We have compiled some resources to help you out with it:

Video is a powerful tool for delivering education. It seems more familiar and easy to consume, however, it is more demanding and some people don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. It’s a good idea to include even a short 1-2 minutes intro video to your course.

By using LearnWorlds, you can upgrade your Videos to Interactive where you can also add elements on top of them and interactive capabilities inside the videos. Losing the boring content and offering something unique!

Written Documents & Ebook

The most used medium for delivering education online and offline is the written word. It has taken us so far since the inception of language and is still the most important medium.

While video might be popular and considered high-value, many people prefer to read. Documents are much easier to produce, allow more knowledge to be retained and is a familiar format from childhood.

You probably have number of written material already. Reusing blog content, educational leaflets, guides, white-papers or any material you have used before in offline training, have in your hard drive or repeated so many times while coaching can be transcribed as a PDF or ebook.

PDF is the way to go for your word document, or you can spice them up with LearnWorlds’ Ebook Authoring Tool. Use our templates for educational blocks and write a web-friendly, interactive and note-enabled ebook that will keep your students coming back for more!

Multimedia, Questionnaires, Certificates and Embed learning units.

LearnWorlds Academy

Are you looking for more? We got you covered ?

Our own academy is here to save the day and educate you on creating online courses. Whether you are looking for a course to teach you how to make a course or how to create an educational video in great detail, then it’s the go-to place.

Setting up the Academy – Login, Social & Navigation Settings

Having your own custom academy goes beyond website and landing page customizations. You will need the options which gives you absolute control. The LearnWorlds admin menu holds all the buttons, levers and hinges you will need to make your own online school.

In this menu, you can find various customizable settings for even the slightest detail. More specifically, you may want to offer a membership ability and limit parts of the school for the non-members while at the same time letting them navigate through particular places around your school, or you may want to allow registrations only along with a product purchase. After all, it is your Online Academy so your rules 😉

And what about those who enter the school for the first time, which is the first thing they will see? Is it a generic page, a course layout or a checkout? Again, it’s your choice!

Let’s see in a little more detail the variety of options you have when customizing your school:

Login Settings – Add More Fields and Control Registrations

If you want to have full control of the way many of your potential students can sign up or log in to your school, then you have come to the right place. School authors are able to manage the login/sign up setting as they wish with the Login settings available.

Login Settings Screenshot

Do you want to prepare your school and enable the sign up fields of the Login form when you are done with the preparations to launch your school? Do you want to disable the sign-up field for a period of time? Or do you perhaps want to give school access to your paid learners only? No matter what your plans are, keep in mind that everything is feasible.

Additional Fields – Would you like to collect more information from your users? You can also add more fields to the signup process with a simple check of the box ☑

Navigation Settings – Control the whole experience

With the Navigation settings you can specify which will the first page be that learners see when entering the school and you can even limit un-enrolled users’ movement around the school. In case you want to redirect users to your own website or blog, you can even set your own Log out URL, neat right?

Navigation Settings Screenshot

Send the logged in users directly where you want, and control their path. And, if you want your own website, blog or exit landing page to be their logout destination, you can do that too 🙂

Social Settings

You have already set the access levels around your school to match your academy’s policy. What if we told you that you can also decide which actions learners can do once in your learning community or even that you get to control their level of interaction?

We have just the thing for you!

Social Settings Screenshot

With the Social Settings you have complete awareness and control over your school’s interactive community. Your learners will be able to discuss with you and with each other about your courses and by creating groups or communicating with private messages.

Share your thoughts with all the school users or create separate discussions for each course or for each learning unit. Social setting are under your control, letting you set the level of communication your learner will have and deciding whether the discussions will be visible to all or to specific types of students.

As you must have figured out by now, when it comes to monitoring and controlling your school and learner actions, a LearnWorlds school can save your day with its multi-layered setting capabilities.

Social Community Activity Screenshot

Going Live with your Academy

Well done! You have customized LearnWorlds to your own branded online academy. You have defined your school, courses and settings and you are ready to launch.

There are two final pieces of the puzzle before selling your first course. Going live means you have connected your own domain (website) with the academy and have a payment gateway to accept payments

You can only do that when you upgrade to a paid plan.

– Integrate a payment gateway and start selling online courses

In order to receive payments, you will need to connect your academy with a payment gateway. The first sale is the most exciting moment and for that you need a payment processor, we got four for you to choose!

Payment Gateways

Below you can find our available Payment Gateways with links on how to connect each of them to your school

Install the one that works for you and let the sales flow 🙂

Make your brand stand out with Your Own Domain Name

They say do not judge a book by its cover but let’s face it, the cover is the first thing you see regarding the book, so the better it is the more enticing the content.

custom domain name

Having the academy on your own website e.g. while the actual work will be done through our servers, will give you more prestige. Just follow the instructions for the most popular hosting providers and you will have your own branded academy in no time.

Bonus: How to choose the right eLearning platform

Identify your objectives, prospects and necessities.
It is only expected that by setting a clear goal according to your company’s basic necessities and by being able to determine the expectation and demand around your products, will surely help you in this quest.

1Determine the features you will need

As you can imagine there are quite a bunch of elearning platforms out there, each with its own features, tools and capabilities. You will need one that can be customized to your needs, offer the learning and social features that will make your academy the must-go learning destination for your industry.

2Learner Experience

A learning platform should not only be easy for the instructor but offer a great experience for the learner. Deliver a modern user interface, a great and smooth experience and mindful messaging for your students to come back and spread the good word for you!

3Consider Support Capabilities and Provisions

Will you require some extra help from the Support team? Does their support center offer onboarding sessions to help you through the setup process? How responsive are they to your questions and needs? Is there a Help Center with tutorials and videos on how to use the platform?

4Trial Period or Demo

It is important to be able to test the platform before purchasing it and not only for the general provisions depending on your needs but also for the long term usefulness of the platform. Your approaches might change but the platform’s efficiency and feature effectiveness towards your needs should not.

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.

Further reading you might find interesting:

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Customer Support Specialist at

Joey Tsouvalas is a Customer Support Specialist for the LearnWorlds team. He has a Bachelor's in English Language Teaching from the University of Greenwich and loves to communicate with people of various cultural backgrounds. He values respect and patience when it comes to dealing with both learners and teachers.

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