Thrive Apprentice has everything you need to build a great looking course on your WordPress website. The lessons, chapters, and modules are as straightforward and easy-to-implement as it gets. Combined with the power of Thrive Architect, there isn't a better platform available for creating courses for your business.
There's just one thing missing -- albeit on purpose -- from Thrive Apprentice: A way to sell and protect your courses. Thrive Themes made the decision to stay out of the payment processing integration and protection game. Instead, they've built a platform that integrates seamlessly with other tools. I can respect their decision to focus on their core competence. Let leaves some people, however, with questions.
In this post I'm going to walk you through my favorite tech stack for building a Thrive Apprentice course sales funnel.
The video above will showcase the complete walk-through live as I integrate each component of the tech stack. What I'll do here in this post is take each component and break down the key steps and my thought process.
Build Your Courses in Thrive Apprentice
The first step is to finish up your courses in Thrive Apprentice. This tutorial won't specifically address the details of building a course in Thrive Apprentice, but with this tech stack you'll learn how to sell and grant access to specific courses.
If you're not yet a Thrive Apprentice owner, I highly recommend this platform. You'll never have an easier time organizing courses into modules, chapters, and lessons. You'll also have the ability to build gorgeous course pages using their page builder.
Membership Plugin: WishList Member
Now it's time to think about protecting access to these courses. Since this tech stack is robust, we're going to use a membership plugin called WishList Member. WLM is definitely the leader in membership plugins. They've done a ton to make their platform the #1 for integrating with other tools, making them the perfect focal point and facilitator of this tech stack.
Step 1: Create your Membership (or access) Levels
I like to make the names of these match my courses. If I'm selling a membership to all of my courses, I might consider changing the name to something branded and generalized.
Within each level you can choose additional options such as:
- Redirect on login - great to send people right to the courses
- Redirect on logout
- Emails upon registration - these are sent by your website, but if you're set up with an SMTP plugin or Amazon SES or Sendgrid, these can be a great 'welcome' account email option. Later in this tutorial I'm going to give you my recommendation for advanced email service provider integration.
Step 2: Add Access Restrictions in Thrive Apprentice Courses
Now that you have the access levels, you'll want to go back into your courses and find the Access Restriction rules. Add a rule for WLM so that only the relevant members get access. Save this rule and you're all set.
Payment Provider: ThriveCart
ThriveCart is a SaaS cart platform that offers an unparalleled number of features for the price. I own many cart solutions and I haven't found one that's quite as seamlessly and feature-rich. It seems you either have to sacrifice most of the features or pay a massive monthly payment that quickly adds up to far more than you'd ever spend on the Lifetime deal for ThriveCart.
They currently have a lifetime deal going right now that offers you their entire suite of features. To get this kind of SaaS cart service from the competition, you'd be paying $199/month. At the time of writing this, you're looking at $495 for the base and another $195 for Pro. Go Pro.
Set Up Your Product (course for sale) in ThriveCart
Setting up a product is simple. You'll basically be walked through the entire process from naming to pricing and setting up your integrations.
ThriveCart will support both one-time and subscription courses, and a mix between the two with a one-time fee and a subscription. There's even a split payments option that seems quite popular with many course creators.
The last part of setting up your product is customizing the checkout experience. I recommend the embedded cart, and if you want to do any additional customization to the checkout you can. However, since we're using Thrive Architect with this funnel, you're unlikely to need much more than the actual checkout fields.
ThriveCart with WishList Member
Under integrations you'll find a deep connection with WishLIst Member. Set this up first, then when you get to the Fulfillment section of setting up your product you can choose "Add them to my membership site" in the "What should happen after purchase" section.
ThriveCart has a great video on how to connect the two, or watch my tutorial video in this post where I walk you through it.
ThriveCart's integration with WLM will let you choose which course they get added to, and your settings inside of WLM to redirect people upon login will handle everything else. Essentially, upon completion of payment you could instantly redirect them to the course in Thrive Apprentice.
Whatever your desired flow for the student is, you can accomplish it with this integration.
ThriveCart with Thrive Architect
Integrating ThriveCart with Thrive Architect is quite simple. I'm working on another guide at the moment for the various ways in which you can get them working well together, but to sum up the simplest way you just have to grab the embeddable HTML and put it within a custom code element in TA. That'll put the cart right on the page.
Additional Features to Think About in ThriveCart
I think this is my favorite section for ThriveCart and this funnel. I want you to think of ThriveCart or whatever payment setup you have as more than just a way to get someone's money. Think of this as:
- A touch point with your customers that conveys polish and the user-experience you want them to remember when they think about your brand
- A focal point for additional integrations - this is the first point in which you get their actual real information, so you can use this to springboard to other platforms using Zapier or supported integrations.
- A/B Testing - Baked right into the platform is the ability to run tests on pricing, how you ask for payment, etc. As Thrive fans, I hope you love A/B testing as much as I do.
- Affiliate Center - ThriveCart has a built-in affiliate center that allows you to enlist affiliates to sell YOUR courses for you. ThriveCart then automatically handles everything related to managing those afiliates. This is by far the most seamless affiliate center I've used because I don't have to worry about a WordPress installation being the focal point for those affiliates.
Landing Pages: Thrive Architect
Thrive Architect's role in this funnel is to create a beautiful, high-converting landing page in minutes. Using one of the pre-made templates, you could import a landing page and swap out the content and be completely ready to go.
If you'd like to build your own (and I recommend you do) then choose one of the templates with the Smart Landing Page features and new Page Blocks. The gallery of page components will give you all of the structure and polish you need for your page, but at a higher level of customization than simply important one pre-done.
If you're a Thrive Themes Member, you'll have access to Thrive Theme Builder. If you haven't yet, check out my write-up on migrating to Thrive Theme Builder. You'll be able to use the Shapeshifter set of landing pages which are really, really top notch.
Email Marketing & Automation: SendFox
I've already written several write-ups on SendFox. You can check out my initial review of SendFox, how to use SendFox with Thrive Leads, and most relevant my topics on how to use SendFox with WishList Member.
For this tutorial, I want to emphasize why we're using SendFox for this funnel.
The key here is to do more than just use the basic notification emails built into WishList Member and WordPress. We want to take those emails of our students and put them into an email marketing service provider (we chose SendFox here). That way we can tag, segment, track, and market to these people again.
In SendFox, we can add our students to lists based on the course. Then later we can go back and say, "I bet someone who bought this course would also like this other course I made..." and send emails to them.
We also want to use automations as part of our signup sequence. It's nice to send a welcome email, but it's way cooler to send a welcome email then automatically send an email at a specific time later all about how to get the most out of your course. Then a little later an email about a particular place some students get stuck. Then an email asking how you can further help them succeed (tagging/segmenting opportunity here) and then place those people into other funnels.
I hope this has inspired you to think about how easy it is to set up a funnel that does more than give access to your your Thrive Apprentice courses for a fee.
You should also walk away (or x out or swap tabs) from reading this with a realization that you don't have to spend days, weeks, or months perfecting your funnel or even building one. Throw it together. Get it up and running quick. You can do this entire process in a single day and have a fully-automated and seamless funnel with very, very little room for failure.
If you have any questions about setting up your Thrive Apprentice funnel, or any of the services I've mentioned in this post, please leave a comment below. I'd love to help you out. I love this stuff.