​​How Much Does Building an eLearning Site in WordPress Really Cost

6 Min Read

One of the most prevalent topics of discussion and points of confusion that potential LMS builders and teachers ask is: “How much does building an LMS really cost?”. This question is usually followed by “Are there any hidden charges?” and “Is it worth building an eLearning website?”. While an answer to most of these are, it depends; we can at least quantifiably answer how much it really costs. 

So let’s get through some of the tools you might need to build an LMS and find out how much they cost at different price points:

  • For Beginners: People who are new to the world of LMS and want to try their hand at creating an eLearning site
  • For Individuals: People who are just starting off, and want to maybe build 1 website and create a few courses to sell to a small number of students
  • For Businesses: People who occasionally take on eLearning projects and have some experience with most of the popular tools in WordPress
  • For Agencies: Agencies and professional eLearning website builders who build complex sites on the regular, or people with a solid plan to build several websites in the near future.

Essential Tools You Will Need

1. WordPress Hosting

WordPress hosting is the main cost of building an LMS website. We’ve recently covered this topic in great detail on our blog on the best LMS hosting plans. In short, it’s safe to assume that when you start an LMS the hosting plan should set you back about $5 while scaling it up in the future will cost $20+ when you have several users. 

  • For Beginners: $5+
  • For Intermediate: $20+
  • For Businesses: $100+

2. An LMS Plugin

While LMS plugins form the center of any WordPress LMS site, oftentimes it costs barely anything compared to their potential. Most plugins have a free version which can then be upgraded to a premium version. In our case, it’s a good idea to get the free version of Tutor LMS when you get started and then invest in Tutor LMS Pro once you are familiar with everything.

You get your money’s worth by investing in a premium LMS plugin as it offers modern and powerful features that greatly enhance the student’s experience. Features like advanced course builders, reports and analytics, and priority support are usually reserved for premium version users.

Tutor LMS costs nothing to get started, while the pro version starts at $199/yr. Find out more about our pricing plan here.

  • For Beginners: Free
  • For Individuals: $199+
  • For Businesses: $399+
  • For Agencies: $799+

3. LMS Theme

Themes are an integral part of any WordPress site, not just LMS. They allow you a quick and easy method of changing the look and feel of any website. Most themes also follow the freemium model with a limited free version and a premium version with more exciting and complex features.

Our library of themes is no different, with several premium themes under our umbrella. Themes like Skillate focus on large-scale marketplaces and academic institutions. On the other hand, Docent focuses on solo instructors running their own eLearning websites. But the ace up our sleeve is Tutor Starter: a companion theme for Tutor LMS that is fully free to use. Tutor Starter can be used for free by anyone from beginners to pros, as it’s very scalable and customizable.

So you essentially save up to $200 by simply using Tutor Starter Free theme.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Individuals: $79+
  • For Businesses: $199+

4. eCommerce Plugin

eCommerce is the major source of revenue from building an LMS platform, so it should require some sort of investment, right? Well, not exactly. One of the most popular, most robust and well known eCommerce plugins, WooCommerce is completely free to use.

Of course, there are add-ons that you can later purchase to add sophisticated features but pretty much everything can be done straight out of the box. Tutor LMS was built with deep connections with WooCommerce which allows it to be the perfect companion for selling courses.

There are also several other options and other monetization plans you can use to sell courses which we discussed in our money management blog.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Individuals: $150+
  • For Businesses: $250+

Total Essential Costs of Building an LMS

Beginner ($)Individuals($)Pros ($)
LMS Plugin0199399
LMS Theme079149
Total Cost5448898

So, there you have it. To actually build a working WordPress LMS website, all you really need to pay for is the hosting which costs you next to nothing. With it you can build an eLearning platform that can bring in a huge amount of income for you just by creating and selling courses.

Optional Tools for Specific Use Cases

1. Live Classes with Zoom

After 2020, live classes have become the norm. Any LMS feels lacking without the facilitation of live classes where teachers and students can interact freely and in real time. It’s really a must have, regardless of the cost. Fortunately, though, Zoom offers a free plan for teachers just starting up. So naturally, we picked Zoom as our partner for building Tutor LMS’s live class subsystem.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Individuals: $199+
  • For Businesses: $399+
  • For Agencies: $799+

It’s clear that you need to invest in certain tools to level up your LMS website. But upgrading any of the factors will help you provide a better user experience and make your site much more robust.

2. A Website Builder

At the end of the day, an LMS site is still a website, and to build a proper WordPress website, we will need a website builder. Your LMS has to be compatible with at least some kind of website builder. A lot of pages such as sales funnels, landing pages, and course listings must be built to engage the user on your website and make sure that they convert.

Be it the original page builder like Elementor or the next-gen Gutenberg block builder like Qubely, Tutor LMS and Tutor Starter support both completely. In fact, all the starter packs in Tutor Starter are built with both Qubely and Elementor, so getting started with them is as easy as it gets. 

  1. Qubely
  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Individuals: $39
  • For Businesses: $99
  1. Elementor
  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Individuals: $59
  • For Businesses: $199

3. Security Plugin

Security might have been WordPress’s Achilles heel back in the day. But with some amazing development from both the WordPress team and other community-built tools, it’s no longer the case anymore. WordPress is simply as secure as you want it to be.

By following some smart security practices, using some intuitive tools, and careful maintenance, you can make your LMS site extremely secure from malicious attacks.

And most importantly, a lot of these tools are quite low-cost and sometimes even completely free as well. Plugins and security services such as WordFence, Sucuri, and Cloudflare are completely free to use. What’s most surprising is that these services give you more features than you will need even on the free version.

Final Thoughts

So what are your thoughts on an LMS as a solid source of revenue? I think it’s a perfectly viable way of exploring a growing industry in 2022, and also one of the surefire ways of gaining more experience in this field. Let us know in the comments below!