LMS, Tips & Tricks 6 Min Read

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

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 3 different price points:

  1. For Beginners: 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
  2. For Intermediate: People who occasionally take on eLearning projects and have some experience with most of the popular tools in WordPress
  3. For Pros: 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

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 Pros: $100

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 investing 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 $149/yr. Find out more about our pricing plan here.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Intermediate: $149
  • For Pros: $299

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.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Intermediate: $79
  • For Pros: $199

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 addons 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 Intermediate: $150
  • For Pros: $250

Total Essential Costs of Building an LMS

Beginner ($)Novice ($)Pros ($)
Hosting520100
LMS Plugin0149299
LMS Theme079149
eCommerce0150250
Total Cost5398798

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

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 Intermediate: $149
  • For Pros: $240

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

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 in 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 Intermediate: $39
  • For Pros: $99
  1. Elementor and Tutor LMS Elementor Addons
  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Intermediate: $49
  • For Pros: $199

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.

  • For Beginners: $0
  • For Novices: $99
  • For Pros: $420

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 2021, and also one of the surefire ways of gaining more experience in this field. Let us know in the comments below!

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