How to setup an Online Academy using WordPress in under

30 minutes

An important success factor in business startup is speed. In Sun Tzu’s Art of War, there is a quote “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns”. This same wisdom is true in business startup. Our objective is success in the business. So we should not get too caught up in perfection delaying the launch. If the set up of any business takes a long time, then the team members will lose motivation and interest. 

Hence, when you conceive the idea to setup an online school, you should do it as fast as possible. It is with this objective that Passion Digital website aims to help clients — through all our past experiences, we assemble and recommend what really works. And, instead of lengthy description, we will show you in this blog post how you can set up an online academy (or online school) website in less than 30 minutes! You are riding on our past experiences and bypassing the many failures and obstacles that we had encountered.

Divi WordPress Theme

What we describe here is applicable to the setting up of any WordPress website, for any purpose, any industry. However, we have specifically added Learning Management System (LMS).  We have also added a student community functionality using WordPress BuddyPress and BBPress Plugins. If you do not want to provide a student community or forum functionality, you can skip that step.


5 Simple Steps to setup an Online Academy

To help you read faster, some of the elaborations and explanations are hidden under the title “click here to read more”.

Step 1 – Register for a Domain Name

This is the name of your website. For example, is the domain name of Google.  These days, domain names are not limited to .com. You can have fanciful domain name extension such as .online or  .academy or .photography.  For a full list of extension, click here. There are many domain registrar and their prices varies substantially. So the company that we strongly recommend is Dreamhost because they provide free domain privacy protection forever. This will save you a lot, particularly if you are buying a number of domains to point to your online academy.

Click here to read more.

For example, you may buy the following domains:,,

and have all the above 5 domains pointing to one website. When you purchase domains, you will need to input your name and contact details. To avoid getting a lot of spam emails, it is advisable to buy domain privacy protection. It is for this reason, why we recommend Dreamhost. Dreamhost is also a very reliable hosting company. We have used Dreamhost for many years and we would say their customer support service is excellent. Their pricing plans are very competitive and you will be saving a lot compared to other hosting providers. It is the hosting company that we would recommend for anyone starting out their journey.


Step 2- Sign Up for a Hosting Plan

Hosting is where all your website files are stored. Every website needs a hosting server. Our recommended hosting provider is also Dreamhost. Our recommendation is that you start with WordPress hosting. If you click on the button below, you will get 67% discount through us. Dreamhost platform is very user-friendly.  After you sign up for the WordPress hosting plan, it will lead you step by step to enter some business information and then your website will be set up in minutes!


Step 3- Install the Elegant Divi Theme

When the website is ready (which takes about 10 minutes), Dreamhost will send you an email to set your password for the WordPress admin dashboard. Follow the link provided and set the password. Once set, you will be able to log into your WordPress dashboard.

The next thing you need to do is to set up a WordPress theme that is easy to use, equipped with Website Builder. The theme that we recommend is Elegantthemes Divi. Divi is both a theme and a website builder. It makes it very easy for you to customise and design your website without any programming. Read why we recommend Divi here.

Follow the following tutorial to setup the Divi theme. It is very simple, just download the file after you make the purchase, then navigate to your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Appearance>Themes> Upload. Then uploade the Divi zip file and click install. When it shows a successful message, click “activate”.

The full documentation on how to customise Divi is found here.


Step 4- Install the LearnDash Learning Management System

After you have activated the Divi theme, you may want to set up a Learning Management System (LMS). A LMS allows you to build and sell courses easily. It allows you to create quizzes and questions for your students and even provide reports on performance. The best WordPress LMS that we have discovered after having tried and tested many other LMS, is LearnDash. It is reliable, packed with powerful features and easy to use.

LearnDash is very intuitive and easy to use. After you have made the purchase and downloaded the plugin, go back to your WordPress website admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins. Click “Add New” followed by “Upload” and upload the LearnDash zip file. Once it has successfully uploaded, a setup wizard will automatically appear and guide you step by step to create your courses. 

The full documentation on LearnDash is available here.


Step 5- Configure your payment gateway

To be able to sell courses, you will need to connect to Stripe so that your customers can pay using credit cards. With LearnDash, connecting to Stripe is very easy. Here’s the steps:

1. On your WordPress Admin Dashboard, navigate to LearnDash LMS>Settings

2. Click on the Payments Tab.

3. Click on the Stripe Connect link

4. You will be redirected to Stripe’s page to sign in to your Stripe Account, if you already possess one. If not, the system will guide you step by step to create a new account.

After you have successfully completed the Stripe connect, when you return to your WordPress admin dashboard, you will notice that your Stripe payment is enabled. You can click the “test mode” to test so that you do not have to make actual payment.  More information on how what test credit cards you can use for testing Stripe is available here.

If you would like to provide PayPal as another option to your customers to make payment, you can enable the PayPal gateway in LearnDash. With the LearnDash LMS, connecting to PayPal and Stripe payment gateway is as simple as just a switch. However, first, you will need to create a business account in PayPal if you do not already have one.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a PayPal business account.


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