This Thinkific vs Teachable comparison is part of a series in which I’m focusing on tools and platforms to help side hustlers grow their businesses. This article will help you decide if one is better for your course.
More and more bloggers, podcasters, coaches, consultants, influencers, freelancers, and other solopreneurs are realizing what’s so great about creating online courses: you leverage your existing skills and audience to increase your income.
And if you’re at the point where you’re researching course creation software, there’s a good chance you already have an idea for a course, and maybe even an outline. The next step is finding the best platform, and that’s what I’m about to help you figure out.
This article breaks down two of the most popular platforms on the market: Teachable and Thinkifc.
You’re going to learn how much they cost, what features they offer, the pros and cons of each choice, and a whole lot more.
Thinkific vs Teachable | Which has the best pricing and features for your course?
Thinkific vs Teachable: Overview of each course platform
Teachable and Thinkific are both LMS (learning management software) programs that business owners can use to create and host their courses. I consider them out-of-the-box solutions because these platforms provide the infrastructure and tools to build your courses.
Either one has tools that bloggers, freelancers, consultants, podcasters, coaches, and other small business owners can use to provide educational content for their audiences or clients.
Thinkific launched in 2012 and now services over 51,000-course creators with students in 190 countries.
You can use this platform to create and host your online courses, as well as create membership-based sites that give students access to a variety of educational content, like coaching and training sessions.
There are somewhat limited marketing features, but you can integrate third-party platforms to build marketing and sales systems – this is the same with Teachable.
Teachable can be used to build, host, and sell online courses and coaching programs, which, in my experience, lets you offer a higher lifetime value to your students.
This cloud-based platform was initially launched as Fedora back in 2013, but relaunched as Teachable in 2015. It’s now used by more than 100,000 people to create educational products and has generated over $500 million in sales.
Teachable is primarily a platform for hosting courses and coaching programs, meaning it has limited marketing and sales tools. However, there are a bunch of third-party platforms that integrate with Teachable – we’ll discuss this more in a bit.
Thinkific vs Teachable: Plans and pricing
How much are Teachable plans?
Teachable has three plans, starting at $29/month for a Basic billed annually. Monthly plans start at $39/month.
All plans come with unlimited videos, courses, and hosting. You also get integrated payment processing, student management, lecture comments, basic quizzes, no fees on free courses, and VAT for the EU.
Teachable previously offered a free plan, but it was pretty minimal, and is now no longer available. You will get a 14-day free trial when choosing the Pro Plan.
Here are the additional features you get with each plan:
How much does it cost to use Thinkific?
Thinkific also has a tiered pricing structure, with the most inexpensive paid plan starting at $39/month when billed annually. Like Teachable, annual billing provides significant savings. One of the most notable differences between the platforms is that unlike Teachable, Thinkific offers a free plan.
All of these plans come with the same core features. These include full e-commerce capabilities, drag and drop Course Builder, secure cloud hosting, the ability to choose your site language, built-in SSL certificates, phone and email support, instant access to your funds, student notifications, upsell offers, discussion forums, and multiple instructor profiles.
Here are the additional features you get with each plan:
(Free features plus)
(Basic features plus)
(Pro features plus)
Another notable difference is that Thinkific also has a Growth Package that gives you advanced features for groups and communities. These include even more Zapier actions, advanced segmentation, a public API, webhooks, 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.
Teachable builds some of those features in the Pro Plan and higher, like segmentation, integrations for Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, and Webhooks, and bulk emails and enrollment.
If you’re using Thinkific’s Pro Plan and the Growth Plan, once you have over 300 students enrolled in your courses, Teachable becomes the more affordable option since the Growth Plan will continue going up in price with more students.
Winner: Draw. Teachable can be less expensive if you want high-level features and have a larger number of students enrolled in your course, but Thinkific has a free plan that can help you test your course ideas before paying for the platform.
Teachable vs Thinkific: Breaking down the features
Both of these platforms have a ton of features, so I’m going to break them down based on how they help you create and sell your courses. You can learn more about each platform, including a list of the features for each in:
1. Course creation
After you sign up for Thinkific, you’ll start at your dashboard. This is where you can design your site, access marketing and selling tools, and manage student support.
After signing up for Teachable, you start in a similar spot as you would on Thinkific. Your dashboard is where you access course creation tools, emails, settings, site design, and more.
Creating courses on both Teachable and Thinkific start the same way: you name your course, select an instructor, and add a description. You can change your course title and description later if you want to.
What stands out to me about Thinkific is that there are course templates for flagship courses, mini-courses, and more. The templates help you design curriculums that use learning best practices. There are even templates for pre-selling, which is selling a course or product before it’s fully realized as a way to validate your idea.
Once you’re ready to start adding course content, Thinkific and Teachable let you bulk import course files so you can quickly add everything at once, then place it in your course.
Then you can go in and add the individual lessons. Thinkific gives you lots of options for lesson types: videos, quizzes, multimedia, surveys, narrated presentations, audio, webinars, and more.
Teachable doesn’t give you the option for webinars, but it does allow you to place comment boxes in the course so you can get student feedback. Thinkific doesn’t have that option.
Both platforms let you create drip content (although this is only available on Teachable’s Pro Plan and up, while it’s available on Thinkific’s Basic Plan and up). Drip content gives you control over when your students access the content. It can be on a schedule, or after they’ve completed specific modules.
More features that Teachable and Thinkific share:
- Design tools to customize what your courses look like. You can change the colors, fonts, images, add your branding, edit with CSS/HTML, and more.
- Change your course and site’s SEO – URL, meta tag, and add keywords to optimize your course descriptions.
- Drag-and-drop course creator to easily place course content.
- An advanced API so developers can go in and make custom edits.
- A main website where students can locate all of your courses and learn more about the instructors.
Winner: Thinkific. The course templates on Thinkific can be a huge help to new course creators who want help structuring their courses.
2. Marketing and selling your courses
Both platforms are primarily for creating and hosting courses, so neither has built-in marketing tools for something like email automations, for example. But both options let you connect third-party apps to fill that void.
Here’s what Teachable and Thinkific share:
- 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 designed 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 bundled 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.
Here’s an example of the page editor in Teachable:
And what it looks like for Thinkific:
Winner: Draw. Both Teachable and Thinkific give you very similar marketing and selling tools.
3. Integrations for Teachable and Thinkific
I want to spend a little time on this because I think this is where you can really start to make the most of these platforms. As I said, neither platform gives you robust marketing features, so integrations are how you can really market your courses.
Both Teachable and Thinkific support Zapier integration. Zapier has both free and paid options (it’s free for 100 actions/month, meaning about 100 students), and you can learn more about Zapier’s plans here.
If you’re new to Zapier, it’s an automation tool that connects two or more apps to complete specific tasks. For example, you could use it to connect an analytics tool to your course creation software to capture data about your enrollments over time. The two platforms talk, and course data is generated automatically.
You can connect email service providers like Mail Chimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign via Zapier. These let you build sales funnels and email automations to market your courses to your audience.
Teachable and Thinkific both allow integrations for Webhooks, Segment, Infusionsoft, Shopify, AWeber, Google Analytics, and more.
Winner: Draw. Thinkific and Teachable both give you the same options for third-party integrations.
4. Support and Education
Another thing I like about both platforms is that you have access to an extensive support and education network. This makes sense since they’re both in the business of teaching.
Thinkific has a dedicated 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.
One standout feature in Thinkific is that you get a 30-minute onboarding call and launch preparedness review with one of Thinkific’s experts. This call will ensure that your course is all set and ready to launch.
Teachable offers help through its Knowledge Base, where you can find tutorials and guides for using the platform.
There’s also an active Teachable Facebook group to get community support, onboarding emails to help you launch your first courses, and email and chat support. Teachable will also connect you with experts who are freelancers that offer paid services like graphic design, virtual assistance, web development, and more.
Winner: Thinkific. Both have a great support network, but Thinkific gives you slightly more options and proactive support.
5. Security features
In my experience with Teachable, I’ve never had any questions about security for me or my students, and that’s because Teachable employs:
- Seamless hosting
- 24/7 monitoring to protect you from outages
- 2048-bit SSL certificate to secure your student’s login and checkout information
- Teachable only works with PCI level-1 compliant payment providers
- Automatic updates
Thinkific has virtually the same security protocols:
- Built-in SSL to automatically and securely deliver course content
- Cloud hosting is PCI-compliant, and SSL enabled
- 99% uptime and 24/7 monitoring to protect you from outages
- Automatic updates
Winner: Draw. There’s no excuse for either platform to lack in security features, and they both live up to that expectation.
Where Teachable and Thinkific shine
You can think of this as a pro list for both platforms, and the reality is that it’s tough to call out a winner between Thinkific vs Teachable. I have more experience with Teachable, but I also know several course creators who love Thinkific. It’s a hard call to make for a few key reasons, like:
What you’ll love about Thinkific:
- Intuitive course creation software. Thinkific walks you through each step of the creation process, with customizations to make your course fit your teaching style.
- Very few LMSs have a free option like Thinkific does. I think you will get more out of at least the Basic option, which is still very affordable, whether you bill annually or not.
- 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.
What you’ll love about Teachable:
- Solid course platform for new course creators. You can quickly get your course up and running with Teachable’s intuitive platform.
- Teachable pricing gives you high level features no matter what your experience is
- Responsive team. I haven’t had any issues with course outages in awhile, but when they happened in the past, Teachable was always quick to respond to them.
- Course marketplace. While it’s small and limited to only some Teachable courses, there is a marketplace to browse Teachable courses. If anything, this can give you an idea of what you can do with Teachable.
One thing worth noting is that if you’re a blogger, you can easily connect your WordPress blog directly to either platform.
And for non-blogging business owners, consider 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.
Check out How to Start a Blog: The Easy Step-by-Step Guide for 2020 to learn more.
What you might not love about Teachable and Thinkific
These platforms are good, but I want to point out a couple of things that they’re missing:
- No course marketplace. Some LMSs have an open marketplace to promote courses, but Thinkific doesn’t have this feature.
- The free option is lacking. The free plan might draw you in, but the reality is that there aren’t enough features with the free plan to get much out of it.
- Clunky sign-up process for students. The Teachable reviews I’ve heard from students have been overwhelmingly positive, except for reports of a cumbersome and hard to navigate the sign-up process.
- Transaction fees on the Basic Plan. While this plan might feel more affordable, you’re losing out on course income.
It’s also worth mentioning again that neither platform has built-in marketing tools. You’ll have to look elsewhere for that, or you can check out my Kajabi review and learn about their all-in-one approach to course creation.
Personally, I don’t mind the lack of email marketing because it gives you the freedom to use whatever you want. Honestly, even if one of these had a built-in system, I would probably stick with Active Campaign as my ESP.
What other tools and software I recommend for courses
Here are a few of the other tools I’ve used for my courses. And for full disclosure, I am an affiliate for a couple of them.
- 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 Teachable: The final word
Creating my first course, the Facebook Side Hustle Course, was honestly one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. Not only has it let me do what I love – help people make more money – but it’s generated some serious income for me.
In January of 2018, we had a 6-figure launch with that course, and since adding the Facebook Ads for Bloggers course, my business partner and I have generated over 2 million in course revenue.
We used Teachable because some of my blogger friends highly recommended it, but I bet we could have had the same results with Thinkific. That’s because as long as your course has value and you know how to sell it, you’ll do well no matter what platform you use. These platforms are tools, and you’re the one responsible for how getting the most out of them.
With that in mind, don’t spend too much time going back and forth on which platform to use – they’re both great.
Spend your energy creating an epic course, and sell the heck out of it.