Recently LearnDash announced some very exciting news in that they’ve converted/expanded Groups to allow for Memberships (and subscriptions). There’s a strong possibility I will migrate from my currently setup to this, as long as my testing shows it does what I need it to do (spoiler alert: nothing too crazy) and a migration path is clear.
But I also thought this would be a good time to revisit my current stack, seeing as memberships are a year old.
I’ve been running my LearnDash website for over 4 years at this point, and I regularly go back and forth with my preferred stack. I wonder if WooCommerce is the right tool for me to use, or if just plain LearnDash gets the job done.
Ultimately there are tools that you can have with a WooCommerce (or any eCommerce) site that you wouldn’t get with just plain LearnDash checkout – namely cart abandonment emails and lots of stats around orders.
But those aren’t my main requirements for my membership site. What I really need my membership site to do is:
- Sell courses individually
- Group all courses in a monthly, annual, or lifetime subscription
- Tag customers with products in ConvertKit
- Trigger an automation to add students to Slack, email them, and invite them to the Student Facebook Group
- Have a clear account area on the site for students to access all of their courses.
Built on WooCommerce
Originally, I envisioned this site on WooCommerce with Sensei – before Justin reached out and saved me when LearnDash. But I still decided to keep WooCommerce.
I’ve settled on the fact (for the reasons mentioned above) that WooCommerce is here to stay. There are lots of features inside WooCommerce that I consider important for running an eCommerce site, like strong order stats, cart abandonment, and affiliate program integration.
This plugin is all about access control. I connect a product to a membership, which is basically just associated with how often that member gets charged.
Unfortunately there’s no integration with WooCommerce Memberships and LearnDash, so I actually had to write some custom code.
Transition note: With the new version of LearnDash, I suspect I’ll be able to associate LearnDash memberships with a WooCommerce product, which will make my life much, much easier.
The other side of the membership coin is WooCommerce Subscriptions, which works hand-in-hand with WooCommerce Memberships. This is how members get charged on a recurring basis. But luckily, you can also associate a subscription specifically with a product.
Transition Note: As a result, I should be able to remove Memberships (which will save me a bit of money each year), while keeping Subsctions. While I don’t strictly need this with the new LearnDash features, it will make it so I don’t have to migrate subscribers, which seems like a nightmare.
The LMS: LearnDash
I don’t need to do in-depth about this since I’ve written about it before, but LearnDash is my LMS. All of my courses are controlled here.
I went with LearnDash because I liked the feature set and ease of use. Plus the team is fantastic. 3.0 got a beautiful redesign and using it has been a joy.
Plus at this point I understand the codebase, so using it allows me to code my own customizations if/when I want to.
Helpful Add-ons for LearnDash and Orders
In no certain order, here are other plugins that help me with managing new orders:
- LearnDash Notifications: An add-on that allows me to email students based on specific actions, like enrolling, completing a lesson or module, or completing a course.
- LearnDash-WooCommerce Integration: Allows me to connect product purchases to course enrollment.
- WooCommerce – AutoComplete Orders: WooCommerce is a bit lacking on digital orders…for example you can’t mark an order complete automatically, because you’d need to “ship” it first. This add-on will complete orders and give students access to the courses immediately.
- WooCommerce Zapier: This add-on lets me trigger other actions based on an order, like inviting students to Slack and sending order details to FreshBooks.
- CheckoutWC: This one isn’t active but is coming back soon. Anything to make the checkout process easier is a good plugin.
The Other Notable Tools
Aside from WooCommerce/LearnDash plugins, there are a few others that help me run a better membership/eCommerce site:
- ConvertKit for WooCommerce: This allows me to tag users based on purchases or membership levels. That way I can deliver only useful content via my email newsletter.
- Jilt: You can recover 25% of abandoned carts with a cart abandonment email sequence. Sometimes people get distracted before they purchase. Jilt allows me to gently remind them that they were going to make a purchase.
- SearchWP: As I add more content to the site, I want to make it easy for my members to find the lesson they’re looking for quickly. There’s no better search plugin for WordPress than SearchWP.
- WP Rocket: Performance is important. WP Rocket makes my website faster.
- AffiliateWP: My affiliate program could be better. I’m working on making it better. But one thing that’s rock solid is the plugin I’m using for the program.
I Hope This Helps You!
This definitely wasn’t a how-to (though subscribe on YouTube because that’s coming soon), but I hope it showed you some of the plugins and add-ones available for your own memberships, as well as some insight into my process and future plans.
Do you have any questions about my setup? Let me know in the comments!