Thinkific helps you set up your own website aimed at teaching and selling online courses, allowing you to set the price and terms
Expected pay: You set it
Commissions & fees: 0 – $199 a month, depending on plan
Where: Nationwide (remote)
Requirements: A smart phone or other device to film and edit your course.
Thinkific helps individuals to design and publish an online class, offer it to students and collect payments. Your class can be a simple one-hour course or a multi-part series. And the topics can range from “How to Master Excel,” to “How to Improve Your Abs.” It’s all up to you.
(This post may include affiliate links. You can read about our affiliate policy here.)
How it works
The company leads you through the process of setting up an a free account on the site and using that to launch your own course. The site’s tutorials help you use the Thinkific tools — such as quizzes and graphics — and give basic advice on how long each class should be and what elements each segment should include.
Naturally, the subject and content of the class is up to you. You also have control over pricing, how you communicate with clients, and whether your class or classes will require an hour or many hours to complete.
“You have total control over your clients, your marketing, your brand, your price,” said Patrick McGill, Thinkific’s business development manager. In fact, Thinkific often runs silently in the background of well-known teaching sites, such as HootSuite, McGill says.
The fact that the course was prepared with Thinkific software would only be disclosed if you happened to choose the company’s free plan. In that case, Thinkific places its logo on your site (much like Mail Chimp does with its free email service).
You do the marketing
What Thinkific does not do, however, is help you sell your course.
McGill suggests establishing a following elsewhere — Facebook, Instagram, or even at competing teaching site Udemy — before launching on the Thinkific platform.
Thinkific vs. Udemy vs. Teachable
How does Thinkific compare to other popular online teaching sites, such as Udemy and Teachable?
Udemy is the perfect place to start as a course creator. It provides marketing support and great beginner tutorials. Because it will present your course to anyone who seems interested in that type of content, it gives you a chance to build a following.
However, the site offers all sorts of buyer discounts, which limit your pricing power. And, it can charge really huge commissions on sales. (You can read our Udemy review here; or sign up for Udemy here.)
If you already have a following — maybe 100,000 followers on Pinterest or Instagram — and you want to sell a course to your fans, Thinkific is the most cost-effective option. It offers a truly free one-course option. And, for as little as $39, you get a host of bells and whistles, including bookkeeping, help designing your class website, and a custom domain.
But it does not find customers for you. You have to do that yourself. When that’s no problem, this site is your best bet.
Thinkific’s paid plans range in price from $39 to $199, depending on whether you want to pay annually or monthly and how many extras you want to include. (You can sign up with Thinkific here.)
Teachable is the right choice, when you’re sophisticated enough to want to offer more than one course — and maybe have additional administrators use the site, but still want marketing help. Teachable helps with referrals, email marketing and affiliate marketing.
Teachable fees range from 5% of sales, but no monthly fee; to a high-end plan that charges no commissions but costs $665 per month. (You can learn more about Teachable here. Or sign up with Teachable here.)
When to pay
When would or should you pay to use Thinkific?
When your class is enough of a success that you want to start a second course. Or you’ve hired people to help manage your course and you want them to have access to Thinkific’s platform. If you have multiple courses or multiple “administrators,” you must buy a subscription here.
These subscriptions cost between $39 and $199 per month, depending on the plan and whether you pay monthly or annually.
Want to try Thinkific?
What their users say (from SoftwareAdvice)
“Thinkific won’t host all your marketing needs, but it will nail your online course, and I’m a big fan of that. They also offer GREAT webinars and opportunities for professional development, which I really appreciate. I really do feel like they want me to succeed.”
“I really like how simple it was to create an online course. All I had to do was create the content and Thinkific supplied the platform to present it in a clarified and seamless way. Also, the customer support has been outstanding.”
“This software is quite flexible and enabled me to take over 200 students through 15 learning modules. Each module has multiple videos and pictures. Thinkific enabled me to include assignments, which I used Airtable to integrate with. The progress bar has been confusing for some of our students. Replaying courses can be slightly confusing for them too.”
“Many other free plans try to give you a taste of the software and then nudge to upgrade. Not Thinkific. They give you all the tools you need even on a free plan. And then when you decide to upgrade, they add awesome value to your investment.”
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