This Kajabi vs Thinkific comparison is part of a series in which I’m focusing on tools and platforms to help side hustlers grow their businesses. These are two leaders in the industry, and you’re going to learn if one is a better option for your business.
Creating an online course is a next-level step that bloggers, podcasters, influencers, coaches, consultants, and other solopreneurs can take to grow their business and increase their income.
They’re an ideal option because you can leverage your skills and audience (clients or existing customers) to create and sell your course.
With skills and an audience in place, the next step is finding an online course platform to create, host, and sell your courses. That’s what this article focuses on today – two of the most popular options: Kajabi and Thinkific.
In this article, you’re going to get an overview of each option, a pricing breakdown for each platform, a comparison of key features, plus pros and cons.
Kajabi vs Thinkific | Which is the Best Course Platform for Your Business?
Kajabi vs Thinkific: Overview of each platform
Kajabi and Thinkific are two cloud-based platforms for course creation, and they both boast an impressive number of course creators and students. At their core, they have a very similar product: tools to build online courses. But as you’ll learn, Kajabi is considered an all-in-one software so you can create a website and sell your course.
What you’ll like about both platforms is that they’re approachable. What I mean is that you don’t have to be tech-savvy to build a course on Kajabi or Thinkific. Both sites walk you through the creation process but offer high-level customization tools if you do want to add code or integrations.
What is Kajabi?
Launched in 2010, Kajabi is an online platform where business owners can create courses and digital products, design landing pages, and run email marketing automations. It’s a complete solution for entrepreneurs who don’t want to piece together a course platform, ESP (email service provider), lead tracking tool, etc.
Kajabi has all of those features baked in, which has made it an incredibly popular option – more than 50,000 business owners use Kajabi, generating over $1.5 billion in revenue.
What is Thinkific?
Thinkific was founded in 2012 and is for edupreneurs who want an out-of-the-box solution for creating educational content. That means you can produce and host online courses, create membership-based sites that give students access to a variety of educational content, and offer coaching and training sessions.
Over 51,000 course creators have used Thinkific to teach students in 190 countries.
Thinkific is primarily meant for creating and hosting educational content, but you can integrate third-party marketing software to help you market and sell your content.
Kajabi vs Thinkific: Plans and pricing
Like most cloud-based software, Kajabi and Thinkific offer monthly and annual subscriptions with tiered pricing. Paying for a full year upfront with both platforms will save you around 20% annually.
Kajabi starts at $119/month when billed annually. You’ll get a 14-day free trial to start playing around with the software before you decide if you want to pay for a full subscription.
The way Kajabi plans are structured is based on how many products you’re selling, how many contacts you have, active course members, admins, and extra features, which I’ll cover shortly. But all of the plans come with the following things:
- $0 transaction fees
- Kajabi University (Kajabi’s online resource tool for site owners)
- Webinars and events
- Fully customizable templates
- Course assessment tools to create quizzes and surveys
- Chat support
Here’s an overview of Kajabi pricing for each plan:
Kajabi’s Growth Plan is the most popular option and also gives you 24/7 chat support, advanced automations, an affiliate program, and you can remove Kajabi branding. Kajabi Pro goes even further by adding a code editor to give you advanced customizations.
In addition to a 14-day free trial, all of the plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee if you go beyond the free trial and decide that Kajabi isn’t for you.
Thinkific’s paid plans start at a much lower price point – just $39/month when billed annually. There’s also a free option with this platform, but it’s pretty limited, and most course creators are going to want to pay for at least the Basic plan.
All of Thinkific’s plans come with the following core features (even the free option):
- A full e-commerce site, including a cart and sales tools
- Drag and drop Course Builder
- Secure cloud hosting
- Ability to pick your site language
- Built-in SSL certificates
- Phone and email support
- Instant access to your funds
- Student notifications
- Upsell offers
- Discussion forums
- Multiple instructor profiles
But if you want more features, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the extra features you get with each plan:
(Free features plus)
(Basic features plus)
(Pro features plus)
Thinkific offers an add-on to the Pro Plan called the Growth Package. The Growth Package gives you advanced features for groups and communities, more Zapier actions, advanced segmentation, a public API, integrations for Infusionsoft and ActiveCampaign, importing tools to add students from another database, bulk emails, and bulk enrollment.
The cost of the Growth Package is based on the number of active students you have in your course. The first 100 students are free, and then it costs $0.10 per student. 200 students is $10/month, 500 students is $40/month, 2,000 students is $190/month. The cost maxes out at $499/month.
How they compare:
As I mentioned, there’s a pretty noticeable difference between these options in that Kajabi has built-in marketing features, and Thinkific doesn’t. You would need to pay for email and marketing software to get the same functions out of Thinkific.
If you paid for email marketing software through ConvertKit, a popular option, you pay based on the number of email subscribers you have. It’s $25/month when billed annually for up to 1,000 subscribers, $64/month for 5,000 subscribers, $99/month for 10,000 subscribers, and so on.
Thinkific does offer advanced integrations for ActiveCampaign (another popular ESP) in the Growth Package, but you still need to pay for a subscription. ActiveCampaign is generally more expensive, but it has advanced automation tools.
It’s tough to compare pricing with Kajabi vs Thinkific because one offers tools you’d have to pay for with the other. Plus, Kajabi’s pricing is based on the number of users, whereas Thinkific doesn’t have limits.
Thinkific vs Kajabi: Breaking down the features
Even though Thinkific doesn’t have built-in email marketing tools, both of these platforms have a robust list of features to help you build your courses. They’re leaders in the realm of educational software for good reasons, and I’m about to explain why.
You can get a full list of features and even more details about Kajabi and Thinkific in these articles:
1. Course creation
After you’ve signed up for Kajabi, you will start creating your website and courses at your dashboard:
Kajabi sites come with a custom domain, although you need to pay for at least the Growth Plan to remove Kajabi’s branding. Your custom domain allows you to build a website where you can list all of your courses, link your blog, share an “About” page, etc.
There’s unlimited hosting and a bulk uploader for videos, photos, and other digital files. And there’s a drag-and-drop editor to build and customize your site with integrated marketing tools.
Kajabi sites are SEO-friendly out of the box, but you get additional tools to configure your site’s SEO even more. There’s also auto-scaling technology to adjust to any number of visitors and one-click marketing sequences that take advantage of Kajabi’s pre-built and customizable sales pipelines.
You can structure your courses with drip content if you want, and this lets you control when students can access specific modules. Instead of giving it to them all at once, they might need to wait X number of days to unlock lessons or complete prerequisites.
Kajabi courses can include quizzes and assessments. You also get course insights to see how students are progressing.
Here’s an important thing to remember: Kajabi can be used for more than just selling courses. You can create membership-based groups, coaching services, sell digital products like eBooks, and even sell physical products. You’ll need to pay attention to the number of products you can create under each plan, but you have the option to sell more than just courses.
Kajabi helps you create your content using product templates – these are like blueprints that provide the internal structure for creating each specific product. The templates make sure you’re not missing any key features, which is helpful if you’re new at this.
After you sign up for Thinkific, you start at a similar place as you do with Kajabi – your dashboard.
You can use a course template or build a course from scratch. The templates include pre-selling courses, flagship courses, mini-courses, and more. Just like Kajabi, templates are perfect for new creators who need help getting started.
There is a Bulk Importer if you’ve already created content, like videos, audio, and PDF files. These files are stored on Thinkific, and you can use the drag-and-drop editor to place them in your course.
Thinkific gives you lots of options for lesson types: videos, quizzes, multimedia, surveys, narrated presentations, audio, webinars, and more. You’ll also want to add a course description and images.
Most course creators will want to spend some time customizing their Course Player. The Course Planner is the environment where your students learn, and you can change the colors and add branding. Below is an example of the Kajabi course player.
The course player allows you to in-lesson discussion forums for students to chat with one another. That won’t work for all courses, but it’s nice to have the option. You can also send completion messages and solicit course reviews.
Thinkific also gives you the option for drip content and prerequisite lessons.
There are some advanced options for the course player, too. You can add your courses to existing websites, like WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. Or, you can create a Thinkific hosted website with a custom domain to display your courses. Your sites can also have additional pages for students to learn more about you and your products.
All Thinkific webpages give you the ability to create SEO-friendly URLs and meta tags.
How they compare:
You get the most similarities when it comes to creating courses – both platforms make it easy to build intuitive and beautiful courses. I’d say the templates are the most useful for new course creators who need help figuring out the internal course structure, and you get that with both Kajabi and Thinkific.
The most significant difference is that Kajabi lets you create a more diverse set of products, but I think that Thinkific still works well for those who are focusing primarily on courses.
2. Marketing and selling your courses
As expected, this is where you’re going to see the most significant differences between Thinkific and Kajabi. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Since it’s more limited, I want to start with what comes with Thinkific:
- Tracking with Facebook Pixel if you’re running Facebook ads to your courses – I highly recommend doing this, and you can learn more in the Facebook Ads for Bloggers course (applies to bloggers and other online business owners)
- Multiple payment options for one-time payments, subscriptions, and payment plans
- Payments via Stripe and PayPal – These two secure payment systems allow you to access funds as soon as students pay
- Affiliate management tools that allow you to create affiliate programs for your courses
- Free previews of selected modules or lessons to nurture the buying process
- Upsells to add coaching components or bundle courses
- Memberships that give students access to all of the courses in your school
- Presell options to validate your course idea before you create
- Customizable landing pages for each of your courses with easy-to-use editing software
You can build some really beautiful landing pages with Thinkific, and you can see an example in the page editor below:
The above features are standard on Kajabi as well, but what’s cool about Kajabi is something called Kajabi pipelines. These are marketing systems that combine sales funnels and marketing automations to nurture the buying process.
You can create your own pipelines from scratch on Kajabi, or you can use one of its pre-built pipeline templates for different kinds of products.
Again, templates ensure that you’re following best practices and not missing any critical components.
Here’s an idea of what one of these pipelines looks like if you were creating a Zoom webinar to prepare for an upcoming course launch. Your pipeline would include:
- Webinar registration page
- Confirmation page
- Four emails leading up to the webinar – remind your customers and get them excited
- Five emails after the webinar – move them closer towards buying your course
- A linked sales page if and when someone wants to buy through one of your emails
- Checkout page where they finalize their purchase
How they compare:
Because of these marketing features, Kajabi is much more expensive than Thinkific. Learning how to run email automations is a valuable skill – I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to build these for my business.
In my opinion, not having a marketing system in place for your courses is a huge mistake. You don’t have to use an all-on-one-tool like Kajabi, but you will need something if you want to sell your courses successfully.
Again, ConvertKit is a popular option. I use ActiveCampaign right now because it has more advanced features, but it’s significantly more expensive.
Software integrations bring two different pieces of software together so they can talk to one another and complete a more extensive system. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of integrations, and Kajabi and Thinkific both support Zapier integrations so you can get more out of each platform.
Here are a few integrations that are worth checking out for your courses:
- Stunning to prevent failed Stripe payments
- Infusionsoft for end-to-end sales and automation
- Mixpanel is an analytics platform that lets you track student actions in depth
- Google Analytics is another data tracking option
- Accredible to issue digital certificates when students complete a course
- Brillium for advanced exam options
- Sumo can be used to capture email address and add sharing buttons to your content
You can also integrate third-party email marketing software like Mail Chimp, ConvertKit, and ActiveCampaign.
How they compare:
It’s a pretty level playing field here as they offer more or less the same integration options.
4. Support and Education
Being that they are in the business of online education, you’d expect these platforms to offer education and support to business owners, and they do. There is extensive help with both Kajabi and Thinkific.
Kajabi has an easy-to-search help center that offers quick tutorials and step-by-step guides to address specific issues. Or you can enroll in a bootcamp or course through Kajabi University, which also has how-to series. Kajabi University even has options to explain business essentials like accounting and legal basics. But the biggest bonus is that Kajabi University is free for all users.
The Thinkific Training Centre that hosts webinars and has a private Facebook group for online course creators. The Training Centre also has paid support – you can hire Thinkific experts to help you with specific issues or pay for specialized courses.
Thinkific also gives you a 30-minute onboarding call and launch preparedness review with one of Thinkific’s experts.
Both platforms come with chat and email support. However, users paying for higher tiers get priority support with both Kajabi and Thinkific.
How they compare:
Both have standout features here: free access to Kajabi University and the onboarding and launch calls with Thinkififc. I do think this is another place to point out that Kajabi is significantly more expensive, and that gets you more support.
What you’ll love about Kajabi and Thinkific
Both of these platforms have some standout features, so let’s take a look at them.
Where Kajabi shines:
- Kajabi is built for selling digital content. Kajabi’s pipelines are really a standout feature that will help you sell your online content and grow your reach, and they come with each plan.
- Support and education. The Kajabi team is available 24/7 via email and chat to help with any issues you might have. There’s also tons of educational content through Kajabi University, which also comes free.
- An all-in-one business solution. Kajabi was created to help edupreneurs build and grow their businesses, not just develop courses.
What you’ll love about Thinkific:
- Intuitive course creation software. Thinkific is an easy-to-use platform, whether this is your first course or your 10th.
- Very few platforms have a free option like Thinkific does. It’s missing a lot of features, but it’s not a huge jump to a paid plan, which is still affordable.
- Training and support. The free support and training on Thinkific is detailed enough to get brand new course creators started, plus you can get paid support if something isn’t clicking for you.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning is that if you’re a blogger, you can easily connect your WordPress blog directly to either platform.
And for non-blogging business owners, I highly recommend starting a blog as part of your business model. It’s an excellent way to connect with your customers or audience on a more personal level, plus it adds more monetization methods, like affiliate marketing and sponsorships. It gives you the ability to reach more people and diversify your income – that’s a win-win!
Check out How to Start a Blog: The Easy Step-by-Step Guide for 2020 to learn more.
Where Thinkific and Kajabi fall short
Both of these platforms offer stellar features that allow you to create and sell beautiful courses, but there are a couple of things you might not love.
- The price. If this is your first course and you aren’t sure whether or not anyone will be interested, the cost of Kajabi will be hard to swallow. Remember, it’s an all-in-one system, so you don’t have to pay for additional software, but that’s not always risk-free.
- You’re relying on one platform. Ask any solopreneur, and they’ll tell you that diversification protects your business and livelihood. While Kajabi can be a complete business solution that saves you money, you run the risk of becoming too reliant on it. It’s highly unlikely that anything would happen to Kajabi, but how would you recover if the entire site crashed? There goes your marketing systems, your course, your website, etc.
- No course marketplace. Some course creation platforms have an open marketplace to promote courses, but Thinkific doesn’t have this option. Kajabi doesn’t either, but it has built-in marketing tools, and the course marketplaces are a way to market your courses for free.
- The free option is lacking. The free plan might draw you in, but the reality is that there aren’t enough features to get much out of it.
What other tools and software I recommend for courses
Kajabi and Thinkific cover your course creation needs, but here are a few more tools that I recommend for online business owners. Full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for a couple of these platforms.
- Canva is graphic design software for beginners, and it’s handy for creating professional-looking images. Read my Canva review to learn more about pricing (there is a free option!) and how to use it.
- Grammarly is editing software that will help you polish your course text until it’s spelling and error-free. My editor wrote a Grammarly review that explains what the software does.
- Loom is the software I use to create videos with screen sharing for my courses.
- Asana is a project management software you can use to plan your courses.
Thinkific vs Kajabi: The final word
Creating my first course, the Facebook Side Hustle Course, was one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. Since it launched a little over two years ago, it’s generated seven figures of revenue for my business partner and me.
Not going to lie, the money is great. But what I really love is that I’ve been able to help people improve their lives by teaching them a valuable skill. That’s where the real joy is.
I use Teachable for my courses, but I honestly think that any of these platforms would warrant the same results. That’s because for your course to do well, you need to provide high-value content to your students.
The platform only goes so far. It’s one piece of a multi-faceted system you need to be successful. And you’re responsible for creating the course content and building an audience.
I’m only bringing this up because to find success, you have to put in the hustle. Don’t spend a ton of time worrying about which platform to use for your course (any of them will be great), instead focus on creating an epic course.