During the coronavirus pandemic, most of us have found ourselves not only with extra time on our hands but with time to reflect upon the direction our lives and our businesses are headed in.
At the start of the pandemic, when the world went online, I realized that I wanted to fulfill my dream to start my online course.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the online course market was predicted to reach $25.33 Billion by 2025 (Globe Newswire). Building an online course is such an easy way to monetize your skills and network with your target audience.
The only thing that is slightly less easy when creating an online course is deciding which course builder to use…
Thinkific and Teachable are the two most popular options and there are a lot of factors to look at when considering the debate of Thinkific vs. Teachable.
I’m going to use this article to tell you which of these has helped me the most in my journey to building my online course. Let’s get started…
Things To Consider Before Buying Course Building Software
When building an online course, great course building software is a necessity. Trying to build your course through Google Docs or PDFs makes it appear way less professional and means that you have to do a lot of manual labor to keep your course running.
If you’re serious about building a course that can generate leads and sales for your business, both Thinkific and Teachable are amazing. They both have a whole host of features that make it easy for you to not only create a great course but to ensure and monitor its success too.
With that being said, here is a list of the key features you need to consider when buying course building software:
- Design options
- Pricing plans
- Marketing and sales
- Payment integration
- Student communications tools
- Performance and customer service
To give a completely comprehensive review, these are the categories through which I am going to review Thinkific and Teachable.
If you’re pushed for time you can skip right to the conclusion paragraph to see which course building software is ultimately best for which audience.
However, it is best that you read through this article in full so that you can ensure that you choose the software that has the specific features that would benefit you and your style of course.
Before I go into Thinkific’s features in detail, I will give a quick overview of the software and which types of course creators it will suit best.
In 2020, over 51,000 course creators use Thinkific (Thinkific) and the reasons why are clear.
- You are able to customize more advanced designs
- It has great payment integration included
- It includes added security
- Supports some extra features-e.g. quiz function
- There is no live customer support available
- It offers fewer marketing tools
- It is more expensive
Owned by hosting company Hotmart, Teachable has hit over 100,000 course creators and boasts over $500 million generated in courses and coaching (Teachable).
- Offers a very user-friendly course builder
- Includes live chat support
- Includes extensive marketing tools
- Great value for money
- It is easy to manage student interactions and issues in the discussion forum
- Undergoes maintenance more frequently
- Offers less advanced integrations
- More limited in design options
Thinkific vs Teachable – Features Comparison
With the basics laid out, it’s time to go into a deep dive comparison of these 2 course builders’ features.
1. Design Options
Both Teachable and Thinkific offer a drag and drop design option which allows you to design your course content. You can also “drip feed” content meaning that users have to progress through each workshop to unlock the next. You don’t need to know any coding to customize on Thinkific and most changes are incredibly easy to do on Teachable too.
Where the two differ, however, is that while Thinkific is perfect if you are looking to create a slightly more complex course, the Teachable Pro Package is perfect for beginners’ use.
When using Teachable, you are given the option to import content from Google Drive. This makes it easy if you have content coming across from a number of team members. Further than this, Teachable offers bulk editing options where Thinkific requires more attention to detail.
On the other hand, Thinkific Pro offers a few advanced design techniques that are perfect if you are looking to create a course with that extra edge. As well as supporting videos, PDFs and more like Teachable, Thinkific also powers surveys and quizzes which keep users engaged.
Whilst Thinkific offers high-quality landing page design, Teachable offers the ability to integrate your course within your existing website which can be preferable for people with little time to design a new site.
Another thing to weigh up is whether you are willing to compromise the extra design elements for the iOS app that is included with a Teachable course. The course may be more simple in design but, if it means that your students can go through it on the go, this might be worth considering.
2. Pricing Plan
Both Thinkific and Teachable offer flexible monthly payment options, with a range of packages to suit different users. Let’s break it down…
Thinkific offers monthly plans ranging from $49 to $499 but offers a 20% discount if you pay annually. It also offers a free trial in which you can try out limited features for a limited amount of time.
Teachable is less expensive, ranging from $39 to $299 a month. It doesn’t offer a discount or free trial but, its most expensive package is dramatically cheaper than that of Thinkific, though you will be unlikely to use this package (the Premier package) unless you have a very large team.
Which price plan you go to will ultimately depend on your personal finances. However, it’s important to consider value for money in both cases. Throughout this article, we mention where features are only included in particular packages so pay attention to this.
3. Marketing and Sales
Developing an online course is all well and good, but half of the job is getting it out to the right audience. Attracting a wider audience more easily is going to allow you to generate more revenue, so arguably marketing tools are one of the most important factors to compare across platforms.
Both Teachable and Thinkific allow you to connect to email and external marketing tools easily as well as containing great data and analytics but there are a few key differences…
Thinkific includes easy affiliate marketing integration where you can give instant payouts when an affiliate shares your course. This is key to a strong affiliate marketing strategy and is a benefit that you only get with the Pro Package on Teachable.
Thinkific also allows you to give away part of your course for free in a “free preview,” which allows your customers to trial your content and is likely to improve your sign-up rate somewhat.
However, other than this, Teachable’s marketing tools are far more expansive. In their Pro Plan, you are able to include certificates in your course, which work to incentivize users and improve engagement. It’s also super easy to create coupon codes and promotions which drive up sales.
Their analytics are really detailed and allow you to pinpoint your marketing and perfect your course. You can view engagement on your videos, lectures, and more. Thinkific also offers analytics software but it is less detailed.
Though this is not a marketing tool, it is also important to bear in mind that Thinkific’s 2 stage checkout can lower your conversion rates. It is well known in marketing that a 2-page checkout puts people off from completing a purchase (Bolt).
4. Payment Integration
Making it easier for your customers to pay for your course is also going to drastically increase the number of sign-ups you get. Both Thinkific and Teachable offer all major payment methods (including PayPal and Stripe) but Thinkific also has the software Stunning incorporated so as to prevent failed transactions.
Thinkific also has no transaction fees on any of its packages whereas Teachable has 5% on its cheapest package.
You will never encounter problems accepting payments with either platform since most major currencies are accepted. However, it’s important to remember that, if you are selling your course within the EU, you need to stick to EU Tax laws.
Teachable largely handles the EU tax for you by giving you the option to add on VAT and even by paying the VAT for you if you use their payment gateway. Thinkific, on the other hand, does not make this process quite as simple.
5. Student Communication Tools
Providing your course students with a place to discuss what they are learning is invaluable. Not only does such a space add great value to your audience but it gives you another way to address any gaps in your teaching easily and efficiently.
While Thinkific allows you to split up your students into groups and private classes for specific teaching as well as for data purposes, Teachable has really considered user experience with their inclusion of the student discussion forums.
As well as being able to talk to your students live and one on one, the discussion forums allow your students to ask one another questions and discuss content. This feature is available even in Teachable’s basic package.
6. Performance and Customer Service
Of course, in an ideal world, all software would work perfectly all of the time. However, since this just isn’t realistic, choosing a course host that is best equipped to minimize technical problems is key.
While both Teachable and Thinkific offer great onboarding programs to get you used to the software and both have active Facebook groups for discussion of issues, Teachable’s customer support is of exceptionally high quality.
The live chat means that you can get problems resolved incredibly quickly. However, it is important to bear in mind that every few months, Teachable will go down for a while for maintenance.
Needless to say, when you are investing in any piece of software, you want to know that it is secure. While both platforms offer high levels of security, if you are particularly concerned, it might be worth investing in Thinkific over Teachable.
Teachable offers very tight security but on top of the already extensive measures offered by Teachable, Thinkific regularly backs up your data and very regularly updates its security software. It is also cloud-based so your data is closely protected.
A Few Alternatives
If you are reading this article and neither Thinkific nor Teachable seem right for you, here are a few other course builders for you to consider…
If you are just starting out with creating online courses and don’t mind hosting it on a platform without your branding, Udemy is a good option. They have an inbuilt marketplace for you to sell your course to which takes away a lot of the stress of figuring out a marketing strategy early on.
You can incorporate quizzes and interactive features too which is great considering Udemy is significantly less expensive than Thinkific. Udemy’s costs start at just $10 for new users so, if you aren’t yet sure about developing a course and want to test the waters, this is one to check out.
If you’re looking for more student interaction than even Teachable can offer, Podia might be for you since it includes a unique native live chat feature.
Whilst there are even fewer options for customization than with Teachable, Podia is known to be one of the leading course builders, so it is definitely worth taking a look at if this feature sounds good to you.
Learndash is a WordPress plugin that allows you to utilize your blog or site as marketing and create a course attached to your page. With a one-off cost ranging from $199 to $369 across the different packages, this is an incredibly affordable option if you have the technical know-how and are able to utilize separate plugins for payments.
A great benefit of Learndash, once all of this is configured, is that the content is entirely your own since you are not hosting it on an external site. If this sounds good to you, click the link to learn more.
It’s easy to be torn between Thinkific and Teachable. They’re both leading options in the world of course building for a reason!
However, whilst Thinkific offers added security and a few extra features that some might consider really important, I think that Teachable has a slight edge for most users.
Not only does Teachable make it super easy for you to create a winning course, but they give you all the resources you could need to market it too. With great student communication tools and high-quality customer service, any problems you could experience after the launch of your course will be resolved efficiently too.
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