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When I decided to create my first e-learning course several years ago, my long-term goal and basically all I cared about was to make lots of money, follow up the course with another course, make more money.
And, if possible, quit my nine-to-five and become a fulltime online tutor.
I may have been as knowledgeable as anyone and had the aptitude to prepare a comprehensive lesson plan and actually impart knowledge to music theory greenhorns, but I didn’t have a nodding acquaintance with the technical aspects of eLearning.
You could be forgiven for thinking that online learning (from the tutor’s standpoint) is all about having the talent, knowledge, and a good webcam in your possession.
Apparently, that’s just a fraction of what’s needed to set up a successful eLearning program.
In this article, I will introduce you to Thinkific, break down some of its basic features and functions, and explain to you why I chose it over all the other options on the market.
Thinkific is an internet-based platform on which tutors and businesses can build courses and share knowledge with their audiences.
The platform has been designed to support all forms of learning programs, from video-based YouTube-esque tutorials to detailed textual lessons through to multimedia content courses.
And virtually anyone can use it regardless of their preferred medium of communication.
As a music tutor, I have used Thinkific for at least six years now, and the bulk of my courses have been created on the platform.
Here are the features I reckon place Thinkific in the same bracket as some of the most revered platforms on the market:
When I rolled out my first course in 2014, I didn’t have a website, and I really wasn’t ready to part with a fortune for a project I wasn’t sure would pay off.
Fortunately, through a Thinkific subdomain, I was able to deliver lessons to my earliest students without going through the hassle of building a primary site first.
Of course, now I have my own website, which, I would say, serves me better than the brand.thinkific.com subdomain, but there is no reason to fret if you haven’t built one yet, because Thinkific has you covered.
Just recently, the platform introduced its Site Builder function, through which you can create a course site with as many pages as you would like.
It sure doesn’t give you as much freedom as a WordPress-level content management system would, but you get enough customization features to create a site that is different from others built on the platform.
It took me some time to learn my way around the mini-CMS, its theme customization process and using such tools as the countdown timer and calls-to-action (CTAs), but I got it all figured out with time.
Better yet, Thinkific has a knowledgeable and easily reachable support team that is ready to help you out in case you get stuck.
Safe to say Thinkific did their homework here as they offer one of the most seamless course-building experiences I’ve had so far.
With their drag-and-drop editor, you can upload files from different locations in your computer with the utmost ease and have a view of what your course will eventually look like in real-time.
The tool also makes customization easy and, if you ask me, fun, as you get to arrange your videos, PDFs, audios, colors, and logos without having to leave the panel or using too much time executing simple actions.
The point of building a course is to get people to enroll in it, pass knowledge to as many people as possible, and, in the end, make a profit.
Thinkific has a “Market and Sell’’ section in the administrative panel that came in handy for me as I was looking to attract new students.
I made use of the “Coupons” option to promote my existing and upcoming courses and, later, the sales widgets to link my main website to the Thinkific courses.
Affiliate marketing has also been made extremely easy and straightforward on Thinkific, as you only need to go to the “User Roles” option and add your affiliates as users.
The platform automatically tracks all users, so you know where they clicked in from, but it won’t dictate how you share your revenue with your affiliates.
One thing I like about the support at Thinkific is that they are available to your students just as much as they are to you, which, I would say, saves you the hassle of understanding the platform from the student’s perspective as well.
Moreover, the platform provides your students with features and indicators to view their progress and check how much of the coursework they have left to cover.
I realized that I could also choose how many times registered accounts could view specific content – a functionality I’ve really never explored.
But one that would be useful to you if you want to curb plagiarism or encourage focus and speed up course completion.
The ability to track your students and see which ones of them have followed the course to the end and which ones have dropped out is one of the reasons instructors prefer online course platforms to regular websites for their eLearning programs.
Thinkific’s “Progress” feature doesn’t just let you categorize students.
It allows you to track and monitor every single student and customize courses for them, depending on the plan you are subscribed to.
Some of the variables you can track include the student’s name and email, number of courses viewed and completed, last sign-in, date of course activation, and date of course completion.
While there are no built-in analytic features to help you interpret the data, I feel the fact that you can monitor any specific student you want makes up for that downside.
Not many online course platforms I have come across take self-assessment as seriously as Thinkific.
Rather than casually typing questions at the end of a course or lesson, the quizzing tool lets you set up multi-choice assessments and, for each question, decide whether there will be one or several correct answers.
Whether you have a main website or you operate entirely from a Thinkific subdomain, you can upload as much visual content as you wish without having to worry about hosting.
However, if you have your own domain, you can have the Thinkific pages forwarded to it.
Thinkific’s main competitors on the market include Teachable, Kajabi, and Systeme.io.
Thinkific and teachable have a lot in common, and, unless you have specific needs you need addressed, either can do it for you.
Both have payment gateways, shopping carts, free plans, and decent customer support.
In my opinion, Thinkific has a slight edge on the Thinkific vs Teachable debate in that it doesn’t charge transaction fees on any plan.
Teachable charges 10 percent on all sales generated from free plan courses.
Systeme.io is another online course platform I believe would outdo Teachable on a side-by-side comparison.
The platform is significantly newer and, thus, less popular, but it offers a broader range of features and has been described as a blend of a customer relationship management (CRM) system and a learning management system (LMS).
Systeme.io works best for startups and small online businesses that can’t afford to pay for a CRM such as ClickFunnels and an LMS like Thinkific separately.
Kajabi, feature-wise, is as packed as any platform, but using it may require superior tech knowhow. It, however, does have pretty reliable chat support, which is available 24/7 for the higher plans.
I have barely come across any hardships reaching the Thinkific support myself and I’ve not heard anyone complain about Teachable either, so I don’t reckon this is an aspect you can solely use to distinguish the platforms.
Overall, Kajabi is pretty professional and inclusive, but it is costly, with the basic plan going for $149 per month or $119 per month when paid annually
On the user interface front, Teachable wins it for me. The platform provides a seamless experience for users and is way easier for beginners to understand than Kajabi.
It also has a great free membership plan that gives you more and takes a measly ten percent of your sales.
It is wise to do your calculations, so you know what’s cheaper between forgoing a tenth of your gross revenue from sales and subscribing to the basic plan at $39 a month, or $29 a month if billed annually.
Thinkific, for many people, has the best free plan, as entrepreneurs don’t need to pay for transaction fees, as is the case with Teachable’s.
Their pricing for the premium plans are, however, similar, and users have to look at the tiny differences in the feature packs of either platform relative to their preferences before choosing.
Thinkific offers four pricing plans – a free one, and three paid subscriptions – which you can pay for on a monthly or yearly basis.
I would recommend you subscribe to the free plan if you want to familiarize yourself with the interface before committing, though you may not have access to most of the platform’s selling points.
Features offered in the free plan include:
The basic plan will set you back $49 a month, but you can make that $39 if you take the yearly subscription instead.
I’ve always found the option suitable for instructors and entrepreneurs who have a limited client base or are only getting started.
This is because it packs most of the advanced features and costs half as much as the pro plan.
Here’s what the basic plan offers:
The pro plan is the option with the most Thinkific subscribers, and it’s not hard to see why.
Not only is it cheaper than the Premier plan by a country mile, but it also suits the needs of most online education SMEs, who are the main targets of Learning Management Systems (LMSs).
The plan offers the following:
This is the most advanced plan on Thinkific.
It gives you the key to all features on the platform and is useful to tutors and business people who have a sizeable client base or want to set up an eLearning school.
In addition to the features in the Pro plan, the Premier plan offers slots for 50 course admins, an onboarding package, a sign-on functionality, and 5 site admins.
At $499 per month ($399 on the yearly subscription), the Premier plan is five times more expensive than the pro plan.
Still, it is worth the money if you can find a way to make use of all the features.
From my experience on the platform, there are barely any additional withdrawal prerequisites besides what the payment systems require of you.
This means your money will be available within a day or two of you receiving it in your account.
Everything comes with its perks and downsides, and e-learning is no exception.
You have to choose a suitable online course platform and familiarize yourself with it to ensure your course is prepared and delivered appropriately.
Thinkific is currently one of the leading lights in the LMS industry, and, hopefully, this review helps you understand it better and provides answers to any questions you may have about it.