An Introduction to Thinkific
Thinkific is a software platform and LMS geared to entrepreneurs who want to reach as broad an audience as possible with their courses. It’s designed for people who want to do more than just sell a few courses. The features are made with growth in mind to easily expand by offering more courses, instructors, and administrators.
Thinkific is designed to be simple to use for both students and teachers/entrepreneurs. For a learning platform to work, it has to be easy for students to access. These days, people have many choices, from free courses offered by universities to the dozens of platforms that sell courses.
On Thinkific, it’s a straightforward process for students to browse course content, sign up for courses, monitor their progress, and get the guidance they need at every stage. It’s equally user-friendly for course creators to set up fully customized and branded courses. What’s best about Thinkific is that it helps you grow and create an audience of loyal learners. For example, you can easily add instructors and admins to reach more students. There are several pricing options, letting you scale up with more courses as your business grows.
Create Customized Courses on Any Topic
Thinkific lets you quickly create branded courses without having to do any coding. You can insert content in many formats to support your online training, such as:
- Google Docs
These and other formats make it easy to drag and drop any type of material into your course.
Design a Website for Your Courses
If you are selling an online course, it’s important to create your own branding. As online learning takes off, you will have competition, and you need ways to set yourself apart. One of the best ways to do this is to create a customized website from where you can sell your courses. After all, a website is your digital property and establishes you as a unique brand.
Creating and delivering courses from your website is possible without the help of an LMS. Still, it quickly gets complicated when you start getting into crucial areas such as listing courses, delivery, collecting payments, maintaining learners’ contact information, keeping your intellectual property safe, and other details. Thinkific lets you create a website that’s seamlessly integrated with its advanced learning platform.
Choose one of Thinkific’s professionally designed themes and customize it to your brand’s style, tone, and subject. You can use your domain name, an important element for branding and SEO. It’s a lot better for marketing purposes to send customers to your domain than to that of a platform that has thousands of competing courses.
While it’s easy to build a website with Thinkific without any technical skills, the system is also sophisticated enough to accommodate developers and website designers. If you or someone on your team has coding skills, you’ll have full access to HTML and CSS to customize the site to your specifications. In this way, Thinkific is made for everyone, regardless of technical ability.
Create, Edit, and Manage Your Courses
Thinkific has many features to help you create appealing courses.
- Secure payments. Accept all credit cards and get paid in over 100 currencies.
- Promotional features such as coupons, free trials, payment plans, and upsells.
- Integrations such as Zapier, Intercom, MailChimp, and over 1,000 business and marketing apps.
- Strong security features to safeguard your site and learners’ personal information.
- Analytics tools to track your results. Integrates with Google and Facebook ads.
- Create an affiliate program to motivate students and marketers to promote your courses.
- Create membership sites and subscription plans to attract loyal and returning learners.
Pricing and Plans
You may be getting ready to create your very first course, or you may have a whole curriculum ready to offer. Thinkific offers flexible pricing to meet the needs of all kinds of educators.
- Free: Test Thinkific with access to core features such as full e-commerce, multiple instructor profiles, built-in SSL, create your website, drag and drop course builder, instant access to funds.
- Basic: $49/month (save 20% with annual billing). Unlimited courses and students, create drip content, custom domain, coupons, affiliate reporting, Zapier triggers, email integrations, manual student enrollment, and exports.
- Pro: $99/month. Basic features and two site admin accounts, five admins, create private/hidden courses, advanced pricing options, certificates, priority support, advanced customizations (themes, members-only pages, edit HTML/CSS, more).
- Premier: $499/month. For advanced users who want to create multiple courses and build their brand. 50 admins, 15 group analysts, onboarding package, unlimited growth package.
If you’re ready to scale your learning business, you may be interested in Thinkific Plus. This plan provides more personalized services such as a dedicated customer success manager, unlimited site admins, up to 3 separate websites, and ongoing account services, including content duplication and bulk content uploads. Pricing for Thinkific Plus is customized to your needs.
Thinkific Discounts: Other than the annual plan discounts, you can currently get a 30-days free pass to try out Thinkific Pro + Growth Plan via this link.
Guidelines for Success With Thinkific and Online Learning
There’s little doubt that the growth spurt of online courses is just getting started. The COVID lockdown gave the industry an unexpected boost as millions of people were suddenly forced to spend more time at home. However, the online learning trend was well underway long before this year. The ability to learn at your own pace, from any device, and without having to enroll in a formal program is a natural extension of the mobile and digital revolution.
To succeed with your courses, you need several elements. Thinkific provides a solid basis, letting you create a professional look and offer students a convenient and flexible way to learn. However, it’s still up to you to develop courses that are effective, easy to access, priced appropriately, and compelling enough to get students to stick with them. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
- Choose the right topic and focus. Even if you have a good idea of what you want to teach, it’s important to narrow it down. How narrow or broad will it be? Is it for beginners or more advanced students? Are you going to create this course on your own, or do you have partners you’ll be working with?
- Study the competition. This includes others on Thinkific who may be offering comparable courses. It also means anyone teaching the same topic, whether for free (such as in books or on YouTube) or in a paid course. It’s a good idea to learn as much about these competitors as possible even if you have to buy a course or two. Note what you can do better or just differently. What the other courses don’t cover?
- Put together the course material. Decide on what format to use for the content. You’ll most likely want to use a combination of formats such as text, images, audio, and video. Think about the most effective way to deliver the material. For today’s audiences, video is generally the most accepted and compelling method of delivery. For any topic, though, using diverse formats helps to keep it interesting.
- Devise a marketing plan. Unless you already have a certain following, you will need a way to bring your course to the attention of prospective learners. You may consider options such as social media, SEO, Facebook ads, email marketing, videos, working with influencers, or other promotional methods. Think of keywords your audience is likely to search for. A lead magnet, such as a free introductory lesson, is often an excellent way to get learners interested and for you to showcase your expertise.
This is only a broad outline of what you need to consider. If you’re new to setting up online courses, you will learn from experience. You may want to start with a fairly simple course. The benefit of working with an LMS such as Thinkific is that once you get comfortable with the process, it’s easy to scale up.
Training and Resources for Course Creators
Creating a course or building a teaching business on Thinkific may seem like a daunting task. There are many details to consider, from putting the course together to marketing. Thinkific provides some helpful support to guide you and help you succeed.
As is fitting on an LMS site, Thinkific offers training courses designed to help you get started quickly. Their basic course is The Thinkific Fast Track, which covers content creation, creating a branded sales page, a checkout to accept payments, and other course creation and delivery fundamentals. This course is free though you must create an account with Thinkific if you want to take it.
Thinkific also has a selection of experts on call in a variety of specialties who, for a fee, will help you with various aspects of course creation such as designing your website, publishing your course, marketing, branding, and more. The advantage of working with these in-house experts is that they’re intimately familiar with Thinkific, so they can help you with solutions that are specially designed for this platform.
Beyond this, Thinkific has helpful support as well as a community with whom you can interact when you’re a member. All in all, they offer more than enough resources to help you succeed, as they should, as your success is in their best interest. At the same time, you will need to invest a certain amount of time into the project.
Examples of Thinkific Courses
Thinkific has courses in every imaginable niche and industry. If you have a Pro account, you can offer certifications. Here’s a very partial list of topics that learners can find on Thinkific now.
The Thinkific website has case studies of the above and other courses which speak to the diversity of the offerings. Some of these topics, such as drones (which is actually part of a drone certification program) and ice hockey, are topics that you might think are hard to teach online. With video, however, it’s possible to get across complex technical and real-world processes and concepts.
Thinkific vs. Teachable
I also wanted to compare Thinkific to a couple of other leading LMS options. Let’s start with Teachable, which offers many of the same benefits as Thinkific, such as customizable websites, the ability to create multimedia courses, several pricing plans, and many integrations with email and marketing apps.
One of the main benefits of Teachable is that it provides more marketing tools than most LMS services, including Thinkific. You can create high-converting sales pages to attract more students. They offer advanced flexible pricing options such as course bundling, one-time vs. recurring fees, and subscriptions. The landing page builder is probably their most useful marketing tool.
Teachable has three plans, all of which provide unlimited courses, videos, and hosting.
- Basic: $39/month. Includes unlimited students, 5% transaction fees, two admins, coupons, drip course content, many integrations.
- Professional: $119/month. Basic features and five admins, no transaction fees, unbranded website, course completion certificates, affiliate marketing, advanced reports, more.
- Business: $299/month. Professional features and bulk student enrollments, advanced customizations, 20 admins, priority support, group coaching calls, more.
Both Teachable and Thinkific are leading LMS platforms worth considering if you want to create online courses. One benefit of Thinkific is that you can start creating and selling courses for free, while with Teachable, you are limited to just ten students on their free plan.
Additionally, the Thinkific Basic plan is better for personal branding as you need Teachable Pro for an unbranded website. On the other hand, Teachable’s landing pages and marketing features are quite impressive.
For more info, see our Teachable review and coupons for up to 30% off Teachable.
Thinkific vs. Podia
While Podia has some useful online learning tools, the focus is a little broader and more geared towards e-commerce and online marketing rather than primarily for online courses (as with Teachable and Thinkific).
In addition to courses, you can create and manage digital downloads, memberships, storefronts, webinars, and other content. Like Teachable and Thinkific, Podia offers many integrations (email, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, more), customizable websites, and the ability to add text, images, and videos.
Podia boasts a simple interface that’s easy to start using right away. They even offer free migration from other platforms. Podia only has two pricing plans, as well as a 14-day free trial.
- Mover: $39/month. Includes online courses, storefront, webinars, email marketing, no transaction fees, free migrations, more.
- Shaker: $79/month. Includes Mover features and memberships, blog, affiliate marketing, third-party code, offsite buy buttons, more.
Podia is a good choice if you promote a variety of content in different formats. It’s also great for integrating with an existing e-commerce site. The blog feature (with the Shaker plan) is a good way to boost SEO and build credibility. On the other hand, both Thinkific and Teachable have a greater range of features for online courses if that’s your primary focus.
See our full Podia review and current Podia discounts.
Value and Recommendation
Offering online learning is a business model that will only get more popular in the coming months and years. It can be the primary way you reach your customers or part of a larger business such as e-commerce, book publishing, public speaking, videos, podcasting, etc. Creating courses can be extremely profitable, but it also has other significant benefits, helping you establish your expertise and authority.
Thinkific is a flexible LMS platform that allows anyone to create courses and deliver them in a learn-friendly manner. Even if you’ve never created a course before, you can brand yourself as a professional online instructor. It also provides ample tools to build a business in case you want to sell many courses or even create an online learning hub.
If you have any interest in creating a course, it makes sense to give Thinkific a try. They offer a free plan that provides a good introduction to the features and lets you create a course or two. Once you sign up, you also have access to their fast track course, which will be helpful even if you end up creating courses on another platform. Thinkific is one of the most flexible LMS options available right now, with many user-friendly features for both course creators and learners.