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Udemy vs. WordPress LMS: Which Platform Should You Use to Sell Online Courses?

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Or perhaps you already have a large following for your courses and are looking to expand your brand? If so, you’re probably considering two of the common choices for selling an online educational course:

  •, one of the most popular websites for selling courses
  • Creating your own LMS website using WordPress and a LMS plugin

While both are solid choices, you’ll ultimately need to pick one platform to use! In this post, we’ll help you figure out which platform is best for creating online courses.

Need a quick answer? The short version is this: in most situations, WordPress is better than Udemy for selling online courses. However, it does require more work and setup time.

Metrics for Deciding

How should you evaluate the two options? It depends! You should consider a number of things, including cost, types of content, and other factors. There are definite advantages and disadvantages of both Udemy and a self-hosted WordPress LMS.

Let’s look at some of the things you may want to consider. We’ve divided this section into six metrics:

  • Cost
  • Audience
  • Customization
  • Brand-Building
  • Appropriateness of Content
  • Control of Curriculum and Content

Let’s look at each one individually!


What’s your budget? How much do you have for advertising and promotion? Web hosting? And what about the materials required for producing the course itself? This can range from free (just written words) to hundreds or thousands of dollars (high-quality video and audio produced by a professional editing team.)

Additionally, it’s worth considering the pricing model of each platform. Udemy and WordPress have a different pricing structure, so let’s take a look at each one individually.

Udemy: Cost

Udemy has a somewhat complex pricing structure that can be hard to understand. Essentially, you earn 97% of your course sales for purchases made through a specific referral link or coupon. This means that the customer comes directly to the Udemy site from your website, email newsletter, or other place.

In all other situations, you only earn 37% of the revenue. This is similar to the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, where the platform is both a discovery channel and a way to sell products. These sales come from users searching the Udemy site, clicking on an Udemy ad, or otherwise making a purchase without first clicking on your referral link.

WordPress: Cost

WordPress can be as cheap or as expensive as you desire. The basic WordPress software itself is free, but you’ll also need a web host, domain name, and other things in order to actually create the website. This can be as little as $30 a year (in total) or $300 a month: it really depends on what you need.

If you want to use a LMS plugin, their prices vary as well. LearnDash starts at $159 per year for the basic plugin, while LearnPress has a very powerful free plugin. Have a look at LifterLMS too, which is both powerful and popular, starting at $120 per year.

However, the real advantage to using WordPress is that you don’t have to give any percentage of your sales to a third party. 100% of the revenue goes to you and there are no middle-men, other than payment processors.

Indeed, this is a big reason why people leave Udemy. The founder of, for example, had his revenue increase by 300% after he switched to self-hosting his courses:

Instead of relying on Udemy to attract customers for your course, you’re much better off learning this stuff yourself and building a business you have 100% control over.

This is also why Udemy courses are largely commoditized: because Udemy wants to sell more courses on their platform as a whole, they are less optimized for helping you sell more profitable courses individually. For example, Udemy frequently runs discounts of 90% or more on courses, which can absolutely kill your profit margins.

The verdict: Udemy has no recurring costs, but they do take a significant percentage of each sale. WordPress has more recurring costs, but you will retain the vast majority of your revenue.

Audience (Or Lack Thereof)

Do you already have an audience that you’ve built up via email or social media? Or do you need to rely on a third-party to help you get more followers? Which platform is better for building an audience? Let’s find out.

Udemy: Audience

Udemy is one of the most popular e-learning educational sites in the world, which makes it an excellent choice for anyone who is entirely new to creating courses. They get millions of visitors every month, all of whom are there looking for educational content. Udemy also comes with some marketing tools, which can help you grow your audience.

However, Udemy’s popularity means that everyone else is already on Udemy, too, which can make building an audience a bit more difficult. You will be directly competing against hundreds or even thousands of other educators in your niche. The number of tools available for Udemy, while not bad, pales in comparison to a fully-fledged website solution like WordPress or Shopify.

Table showing featured topics by category in Udemy

WordPress: Audience

WordPress is a self-hosted software package, which means that you install it on your own web server. Thus, you have to mostly build the audience yourself, as there is no central site with a pre-built audience like Udemy.

That said, WordPress also comes with tons of (mostly free) tools for building an audience, far more than Udemy. Extra functionality can easily be added via one of WordPress’s over 10,000 plugins. These include email marketing, blogging, social media sharing, SEO, and more. If you know how to code, you can also add your own functionality directly in PHP or JavaScript.

In particular, WordPress has excellent SEO features via plugins like Yoast and All-in-One SEO. These tools make it extremely easy to optimize your content for search engines to bring in potential customers.

Perhaps most importantly, if you already have a website with traffic, you can leverage this traffic immediately to sell courses; you don’t need to start from zero, like on Udemy.

The verdict: Udemy has a large audience already, but it can be hard to stand out among the competition. WordPress comes with no audience, but has more tools for growing one.

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