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Online course membership area backends (plus free logins for some of them)

You know what I've never seen?  Pictures or walk-throughs of the backends of online courses.
I see a lot of promotional material describing them.....but rarely are pictures and videos of the actual product included.
It's kind of funny, because for nearly every single product you buy......you know what it looks like.  Even software products give you extensive tours of the software and even let you use it before buying.

"For my next trick, I shall sell you this mystery product!"

Selling Digital Product Without Knowing

I have some theories on why a lot of digital products don't openly show you the material first, but that'll turn into a 2-hour rant.  Instead, let's just take a second to go through a bunch of backends of real income-generating courses!
Well guess what....I HAVE ACCESS TO A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF COURSES. In fact I've sold 13 of my own, and helped produce another 11. I also wrote the copy for hundreds of online courses, and got to see inside the contents.
One of the cleanest course I had written in HTML from scratch. It was a course on how to hire employees off Craigslist with minimal hassle.
Here's some of the stats:

  • Priced at $69/each.

  • Was a mildly-good seller (the amount of people looking for how to hire employees is FAR lower than the amount of people looking to start their first small business).

  • Sold 377 copies.

  • 6 refunds.

  • $25,599 in revenue.

  • About $500 in labor and material costs to create.

  • Extremely helpful method of hiring many companies use till this day.

  • Ironically the guy I hired to help me with some filming and HTML writing was hired with this method!

You can see it here:


Let's take a look at some other online course backends from across the web:












WELL! We powered through 12+ backends of online courses....hopefully that gives you a much better idea of what some other people's courses look like.
I always get asked about which software to use for membership sites. They each have their own quirks, so here's just a big list of them off the top of my head + one's mentioned in this post:

  • Wishlist Member (I currently use this)

  • Memberium

  • Member Mouse

  • UseFedora (platform)

  • Udemy (platform)

  • Teachable (platform)

  • Skillshare (platform)

  • Rainmaker

  • ClickFunnels

  • aMember

I would suggest making a list of exactly what you need first, and then finding out which is most suitable to you. Sometimes you don't need as many crazy features as you think!
I sincerely hope this post helped you understand what goes into the backend of a course a little better. Let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments.

Download all these course backend examples for your own files:


I had fun showing you my backend.  And other people's backends. Giggity.
Neville Signature
P.S. In the comments, please let me know what your favorite learning style is. Or you can even give me the name/link/style of some material that REALLY helped you learn a lot in a short amount of time.  Books?  Videos?  PDF?  Software?  Lemme know!

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Guest Reginald


Massive respect for showing these Nev. I've bought a few membership plugins over the years and rarely got to see any live sites using them. Thanks for taking the effort to put these together.

I personally like video lessons like in most course. I liked the course format of your KopywritingKourse, bought it last year, and learned a lot from that. Not sure if I would have absorbed the information as fast from a book (hell, or even finished it for that matter). I've bought about 3 courses online, and have been satisfied with two of them. One of them whom I will not mention their name was pretty disappointing. It was essentially an information overload just smacked into a Word doc with links.

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Guest Gerard Dawson


My favorite learning style for online courses is the project-based approach, where the teacher shows a finished product that you'll be making, and then starts at the beginning to teach you the skills needed to get there.

The company One Month does this really well (www.onemonth.com).

For example, in their One Month Rails course that teaches Ruby on Rails, they show you a Pinterest clone, and then teach you all of the skills necessary to build the web app.

This is good for a few reasons:

-You can immediately see how the course will help you build something close to what you actually want to build (or if that's not the case, it should be clear that the course WON'T help you do that)

-You can see how you are making progress. If you're just learning random skills, you can't see how you're making progress towards a larger goal.

-At the end, you have a finished product to represent what you learned

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Guest Angelo


Hi Nev,

My guitar teacher once said: "Amplifiers are like girls: to know how they are, watch them from the back!"

For me it's the same with e-courses so thanks for that.

The best format for a course I think is a mix of videos and text. In the videos I like to see the teacher if the topic is pure theory but then slides will help when it gets more practical.

Oh, I forgot...are you still there?

I was reading the Mayan prophecy for this year and it states clearly: "Whoever is going to send a Nevbox to someone called Angelo, will receive amazing sex super powers!"

This is crazy isn't it!?

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Guest Abeniel Huten


I'll be straight up honest, I've never purchased online courses before plainly due to the very reason you highlighted in the email (that led me here). Yours (KopywritingKourse) is the first ever legitimate online learning material I've ever purchased. Legitimate? Yes, because I might have purchased a couple of audiobooks on Audible. And the price didn't bother me. I had to go for it.

I am not even halfway through the course and I am loving it. I have downloaded a couple of other online marketing materials as well. But personally, I am loving the way everything you explain in the video is complemented by either a transcript or other example below that fits with the situation. So when you are done watching the video, you still have a kind of concise summary you can jog through to rejuvenate everything you learned in that video.

So, yea, for me, Video (aural + visual) and text to sum it up works the best.

P.S. Of course I am not doing this for the NevBox, but I do believe in miracles. ;-)

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Guest Britt Malka


My favorite learning (and teaching) style is through written material.

It takes so long time to learn from videos. I can read much faster than I can listen to some stammering guy go over the same stuff.

As for the back end software: Udemy's is good. I like that you can mark a lesson as finished, and that you can add video (default), audio and pdf-files.

One of the worst when it comes to videos is ClickFunnel. I joined a video course last year where the product creator used ClickFunnel. It loaded all the videos on one page, one file, and there were many videos. Result: After he added more daily videos to the product (a 30-day challenge) it took 15, 20 and even more minutes to load.

That's another reason why I prefer written content. Loads much faster :-P

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Guest Alex Saez


Hi! Great article as always Neville! I don't read almost any email I subscribed to but I always read yours. I would like to add that in teachable if you pay you can use a custom domain and the customer see the course like it was hosted by you.
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One of the things that I look for in a course isn't so much the good looks, but how easy it is to navigate + content. And I like the ones that actually include a PDF transcript of the lesson. I'm partially deaf, so I hate it when there's only video or audio because most people who create the courses don't take that into consideration. I can completely understand if you don't have it for the Beta test, but c'mon - you need to have it for your paying customers! Go to Fivrr and get someone to make a quick transcript. I don't care about formatting or spelling (that's a lie - I'm a grammar nazi...), but to have something that I can read to go along with the video/audio is critical to me.

I also love the courses that are very clear and don't use a lot of jargon in their teaching, unless they actually tell you the definition and help you understand it better in a bigger context and how it applies. Nev, your Create Awesome Courses is like this. Easy to understand, easy to apply. You're a fantastic teacher!

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Awesome post. As always full of data and devoid of wantrepreneurship.

For me it's pretty simply. I make a study guide of everything I want to remember. It's super repetitive and lame but I find I learn by regurgitating information.

As far as something that helped me learn in a short amount of time it has to be this Greek alphabet video.

In college I pledged a fraternity and like most we had to memorize the Greek alphabet. Not sure if it's the guys voice or the way he lays out his story. But 7 years later the info is still burnt into my brain.

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Guest Aditya Sheth


I believe in do and learn. No matter how many books you read, or how much classroom sessions you attend, until you do there is no way it will register that concretely in your brain.

"Life is tough."


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Guest James Wilkinson


condensed full focused info & immediate implementation. I learn by doing a lot of one thing at a time until it becomes natural. Then making it a constant part of my routine.
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Guest Arnaud


I really like Coursera because their content is robust and of high quality. Their courses use a combination of video presentations, online quizzes/tests and discussion forums. You have tutorials or assignments to do after each lesson and you have to submit them to complete the course.

Lecturer's style doesn't jive with you? Just switch to another similar course! There're so many universities, subjects and professors to pick from, you can be sure to find something you like. The only downer is that their courses aren't short (at least 1 semester long).

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Guest Jaime Urteaga



First off, I would love to snag up a NevBox if you have any left by this time.

Second, the learning style that works best for me is teaching, and I'm sure you can agree. Incrementally exploring the pieces of information I gather and sharing them with others is how I best understand, retain, and appreciate the material.

My challenge to you would be to design a hands on, scalable course with this in mind (with minimal on hands work for you to keep scalability). A course where we learn and teach one another in a peer to peer style community of learning.

Best of luck in everything.




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Guest Rafael


The best course is the one designed for the select few, not the masses. This is where most courses fail at... They try to target as many students they can, and therefore lowering the entrance barrier to basically non-existent.

A course should challenge you and help you make progress towards the reason you took the course.

Therefore I believe a course should be based on:

- a clear clarification of the pre-requisites for the course, without sugar coating or averaging the content to meet the masses. This is counterintuitive be a use most courses focus on marketing to the masses, instead of the select view who will gain the absolute most from the course.

- state exactly what you will learn in this course, and how you will learn it. Not just from a skills perspective, but what you'll be able to DO with this information. e.g - after completing this course you will learn about copywriting. VS after completing this course you will be able to work as a copywriter for hire, increase your sales/conversion rates/CTR etc'...

- learn by doing. Projects, assignments, goals etc'. Whatever will cause you to actually practice the new skill. When you do, you fail. When you fail you learn. There's no other way to be honest...

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Guest Mark Bebout


Thanks for pulling this all together.

It really goes to show that while building and marketing a course is a lot of work, the tools are there that enable average people to teach online.

Great stuff!

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Hi Nev, Thanks for the information on backends. That was really interesting. I have purchased lots of courses on all those platforms; I think I like video on Udemy app best as I can download and watch offline. One of the best ideas I've seen is some Webinars/courses will give you a pdf of the slides. Being in Australia, a lot of Webinars and summits are on at 3,4 or 5am which is hard to do. Shaw Academy is another learning platform and membership that I have signed up for. I have tried to attend the Webinars live at 4am as they give away $1000 to one lucky listener each lesson and as it is live one can ask questions. ( I also have to admit to being totally entranced with the Irish accent which is extra motivation! ) One can also log onto to members area and access recorded lessons anytime.

Another person I have recently been impressed with is Steve McDonald. I really enjoy the down to earth way he writes and helpful free information he gives out. He is a "no BS" kind of guy.

Last of all I also joined Wealthy Affiliate. I just love all the support and all the helpful encouraging members. I can't comment on the actual lessons yet as I haven't started due to limited WiFi issues and the fact I have limited time to finish my online photography course, so it has all my attention for the next few months.

Whew, that was a long comment! Hope this was some help.



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Guest Djamel


Great post, Neville! As usual...

When it comes to an online course, I prefer the practical examples, it's so inspiring and gives much more understanding of the material. Theory is so booooring without examples.

I also like to see the teacher, it creates bonds... (not sure if you can say this in English :-)

thanks again for the very good content!

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Guest Tylor


I really enjoyed this post. I do freelance work and one of my clients is wanting to shift from a physical product they shipped out to "teach" people, to an online course. So I've been evaluating many options for us to use. This course opened my eyes to what things really need to have in it.

I like courses that have quick videos with someone speaking, as well as supplemental text that flows in with the video. So a paragraph of intro text... then a 3 minute video talking about something.. followed by a few more paragraphs (maybe a photo to illustrate something) and then another couple minute video. Repeat. I also like when I get to join a facebook group for signing up for a course. I feel like having the group to always bounce ideas off of, see what others are saying/doing, etc makes it as valuable as the content itself.

An online trading platform I was really impressed with was: http://dripapps.com/ Everything is super clean, brigh colors, good design. Give it a look.

Thanks for the awesome material Neville! You are nailing your content lately. Love to snag one of your boxes!

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Guest Adrian



Do you plan on telling us your theories as to why people tend not to show their backends for digital products? Instead of giving us a 2-hour rant, I think that could be the topic of another great blog post. I think that seeing the backend of a course can increase sales substantially. It's one more objection swatted away.

I'm trying to come up with a good reason why backends should be hidden from prospects and I just can't. It doesn't seem like vendors have much to lose provided they know how to show/explain the ways that users can interact with the content.

Also, I'm glad I read this post because I've been very curious about ZippyCourses and ClickFunnels. Because of this post, I now have a sense of how each platform works. Of course, I'll have to see much more before I make any judgements about either platform.

Thanks again for another great post!

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Guest Francisco Afonso


I've tried to learn through online courses, webinars, etc but I only get distracted! My favourite way to learn is reading books and (short) texts online. Not suited for me, but I guess this post will be great for people don't get snake oil instead of what's advertised. Keep the good work Neville
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I like any course that has immediate actionable steps to take/do. Theoretical ideas and information are a waste of time, I would rather get to work immediately. I learn best by actually doing something.
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Hey Nev! This was such a great post!

I learn well from a variety of teaching styles.

Assuming that I'm learning online, I like a good slide presentation. I enjoy watching/listening as somebody presents to an audience. I also learn really well when somebody walks me through what they're doing.

As a photographer, I tune in to Creative Live a lot. Courses air live, and are often 3 days long. Then you can purchase the course (amounting to many hours of material). Courses are a combo of slide presentation to a live audience, Q&A, watching the photographer work (they talk through their process and let you know what they're thinking as they work).

I like courses that are broken down into bight size chunks. I can watch for a few minutes, go and do what I learned, and come back when I'm ready for the next step.

I'm launching my own site soon and courses will likely be a main feature (unless my audience says otherwise). It was really good to see so many backends - um awkward. I picked up a couple ideas about how to organize my courses.

From the 3 Minute Relief course I learned that we should tell students how to know they're ready for the next phase.

I love the candid idea behind the Painting Business Pro - Learn How a 1,000,000 Painting Business Works.

Your Craigslist course is short and sweet - that's genius. Just tell us what we need to know, so that we can quickly transform our hiring process!

Thanks a million, I love getting your emails!


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Guest Adan Rodriguez


Awesome Neville! I've learned so much about courses and other awesome material that is going to really push me forward in the next couple of months
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Guest Reuben Hampton


My preffered learning style is a guided tutorial, with difficult parts repeated until all gaps are closed. Each time I do the process I'll have questions and may need help getting to the next step at certain points, but as time goes on the gaps close and soon there is only the occasional question.
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My preferred learning style is a structured visual presentation (filled with graphs, lists, definitions, diagrams, etc.), matched with a seemingly unscripted narrated audio presentation. I want the narration to cover everything on the slides/video, but it holds my attention best if the narrator strays, adds substantive side comments and stories, and doesn't come across as being eager to rush through a script.
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