Using Ghost as a Platform to deliver online courses

Hey All… big congratulation on Ghost 4. It looks awesome.
I have a requirement to deliver online courses, free and on a subscription level.
I’m very keen to use Ghost to deliver this solution.
Is this a good option? What are your thoughts?

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That really depends on what you mean by “online courses.” If you mean different courses with different tiers and add-ons, then no, Ghost would not be an ideal solution (not right now, that is — more pricing options are likely coming someday in the future). If you mean simply putting content behind a paywall, with two pricing options as to how to access it (monthly or paid), then yes, it could work, but the use-case is focused mostly on “creators” (publishers, podcasters, journalists, visual storytellers, bloggers, etc.) who have a membership/subscription-driven site or content-driven publication.

It sounds like something like Podia would make more sense for your usecase. Again, Ghost is amazing. but you’re probably going to have to find some less-than-ideal workarounds to get set up with some features that online course platforms have already baked in, out of the box.

Ghost’s comparison pages might help you out: Ghost Alternatives – See how Ghost compares to the rest

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Thanks for the reply this is super helpful. We are probably looking at a subscription based system, so from that side of things we like the look of ghost.
My only concern is speed to market and other products out their seem very expensive.

For stand-alone courses, ghost probably isn’t the way to go. But I’m running a project which has access to ongoing philosophy courses by email for paid subscribers (with a linked Discourse forum), and free content for free subscribers.

As it is a hybrid, being half-way between an online course and a newsletter model, it’s still quite early days, and I’m interested to see how it goes. You can have a look at what I’m doing here.

For another project, I also use Podia. But the courses there are stand-alone.

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Thanks for the info Will… :+1:t3: this is something more like what we are looking for which would be a mixture of free content, online course (may even be live stream) and newsletter. You web example is exactly how I sort of imagined the solution. Out of interest did you develop the theme? I was looking into a theme called penang.

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Hello James,

It can works perfectly if you manage your expectations.

  • You will embed your videos from Vimeo (or Wistia, etc …)
  • You have three tier payments options : Free, Monthly, Yearly

The tiers options is the big limitation here. Per example, you can’t have basic, regular, premium for Monthly subs.

Cheers!
Pascal

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Thats great feedback @pascalandy the 3 tier payment options might work for us and we love the way it handles videos too.
I think I read somewhere that Ghost were looking in tier options.

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The theme is Joben, by Norbert and co. at @bironthemes. I can really recommend it. As for the course-as-newsletter idea, I’m still tweaking the model to see how it can best work.

I’m also thinking that somewhere down the line that I might also bundle the individual courses as separate products with a slightly different model. The idea of signing up to a course that goes on forever — although it sounds great to me — is not necessarily everyone’s idea of fun. So some of the content can be repurposed as stand-alone courses once I have a strong enough subscriber base.

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Yes, if you’re satisfied with the basic options available for reoccurring payments through Stripe.

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That’s also something else we are considering on offering individual courses and even 1 to 1 coaching. I’ve been looking at GumRoad for this as a possible integration.

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Yes, but Ghost was not built for “courses.” It’s excellent that we can find workarounds, but “more” is not the goal of the Ghost CMS. That’s WordPress. Ghost is squarely focused on publishers, who typically do fine with simple pricing options.

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I’m looking to do the same. I’m currently using teachable which made sense initially for the pricing model but now I’ve switched so you only have 3 options, free, monthly or annual. So this aligns well with Ghost.

My biggest challenge currently, which maybe you’ve solved or will face also? is that I don’t see an easy to have the more LMS type features like progress indicators and quizzes. I’m not sure those are deal killers, but embedding stuff from Vimeo into a series of posts just seems a little low-budget and could put some users off.

for ref - my currenty site (handcoded html) Learn Data Analytics at FTD Academy

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We’re still in a position where we haven’t fully decided on a LMS solution but we are still testing Ghost out in parallel to Thinkific and Podia.
I agree at the moment my mine concern is student progress indicators and quizzes and maybe the option to sell a course outside the membership plan.
One thing we did try which is a feature we wanted to deliver was live video courses which we use StreamYard for. Yes it was a simple embed of the video and chat but the feature worked and allowed for student engagement.

I’m going to start that as well, mine won’t be embedded on my site tho. Planning on using CrowdCast currently.

The other idea, which I kinda hate, is having Teachable be my backend where people go watch courses and Ghost being the front-end blog and course directory. This of course is the easiest solution, but I also kinda hate it because teachable is really difficult in many ways to integrate into other platforms.

I’m really leaning towards having Ghost just be the “site” and billing/subscription manager and then using Zapier/Teachable to host the actual courses. Also exploring the vimeo OTT course thing but doesn’t look promising.

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With the ghost/teachable integration how does the login work. Would the user need to relogin into Teachable to access course?

there isn’t an actual ghost integration, but you can use zapier to sync the members (this is what I’m working on altho might bail if I can’t get ghost to do VAT taxes)

So my flow so far is

  1. User signs up on Ghost
  2. Zapier creates that user on Teachable
  3. Teachable sends confirmation to user and notice to create their account
  4. Student logs in to teachable for course content while Ghost is just the front-end and blog
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When considering creating a personalized course, there are several options:

  1. WordPress runs a surprisingly large portion of the modern internet, and of course there is a huge ecosystem - hosting, website builders, themes, plugins, and so on. I’ve been using WordPress for a long time, though, in a simple and workable way.
  2. You can use a website builder, such as the very popular Squarespace. However, there a lot is hidden and impossible to change.
  3. The most attractive option is a static website builder, such as Jekyll, Gatsby or Hugo. But you will have to raise your own SEO site.
  4. Ghost looked increasingly interesting in this context for a number of reasons. I was drawn to Ghost’s nonprofit status and culture, its commitment to open source, its vision for online creativity and writing, and its modern design. Admittedly, these factors influenced me excessively, perhaps irrationally. But most importantly, I was interested in the good publishing experience combined with the ability to be a little closer to the creation process, the ability to manage memberships and mailing list subscriptions, and the support for paid subscriptions. This was appealing because it creates a basis for sharing, even if you don’t use the paid subscription options. Although it would be interesting to experiment with a paid newsletter model, we work in a very small community, and I’m not very sure this site will aggregate paid membership much :-)
    In any case, it’s not planned here, although I’m interested in membership functionality to make it easier to update posts and comments.

What did you end up deciding? Did you use Ghost for your front-end blog and course directory? If so, I’d like to see it for my other business website that’s currently hosted on WP.

This is awesome. I see what you did. I love how Thrivecart is working seamlessly with Ghost and Teachable. I can’t figure out how you got the ‘manage subscription’ dropdown in Teachable, but I’m definitely investigating that because one of my concerns about using Thrivecart was managing subscriptions outside of Teachable. Although, technically we’re already doing that because we have a course on AppSumo (which means people coming in with a coupon code, having already paid via AppSUmo). Looks like you solved a lot of the problems I’ve been mulling over. Can I ask which Ghost theme you’re using? It looks like an edited version of Casper. … ? Is this system running well for you?

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