To make an online course, you need the right tools. This means video screen capture software, a potential camera, tripod, audio equipment, and the right editing tools. You also need the right program for selling your online course, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Thinkific is one of them, so in this Thinkific review, we'll discuss the features that make it stand out.
The Thinkific online course platform states that it has the features to help you create, market, and sell online courses from your own website. It seems like a reputable company with thousands of course creators and students using it. For instance, some of the clients include Hootsuite, York University, and Intuit.
As with most online course creators, Thinkific can be used for internal training at companies, as a for-profit course module online, or as a way for actual universities and schools to create online course solutions.
According to some users, and the Thinkific company itself, this platform caters to those who want full control over their online course design. It also looks like Thinkific has some seamless automation tools to remove all the tedious work on your end.
Well, my job is to test the product and see if these claims are true, so keep reading this in-depth Thinkific review to see if it's the right online course platform for you.
Thinkific Review: The Best Features and How They Benefit You
An excellent online course building platform typically offers you the features you need from start to finish. This includes the course building, the marketing, the selling, and the teacher/student management.
Systems like Thinkific don't host courses on your own website. Your content is actually hosted with Thinkific (so you don't have to go out and find your own hosting,) but it still gives you complete control over what your website looks like.
A Mostly Drag and Drop Editor for Quick Course Design
Part of the reason Thinkific looks so great compared to the competition is that of its course designer. You don't have to mess with any code if you don't want to.
In fact, all of your content is organized using a simple drag and drop editor, where you stack the course content and move it around vertically.
Speaking of content, Thinkific supports uploads of almost all media types. From PDFs to audio files, and surveys to quizzes, the platform is great for offering up a wide range of learning resources for your students.
As we mentioned before, all of these files are hosted on the Thinkific servers. Therefore, you shouldn't have to worry much about a file being too large or running slowly on your own shared servers.
When you customize your course site it offers some handy editing tools for the beginners out there. For instance, you can adjust items like banners, color schemes, and logos, all without touching any code.
However, the more advanced developers have complete control over the HTML and CSS. So, if you want to make your site unique, the option is there for you.
Excellent Student Management and Communication Modules
During my Thinkific review, I noticed the smoothness of the student communication tools. It's a visual student management area, with pictures of your students, names, contact information, and details for how far they are in your course.
You have the option to send customized emails to each of the students or create a conversation with the entire community.
Incentives are also a part of this learning environment since Thinkific offers completion certificates, report cards, and of course, the emails for sending out just about anything you want during courses.
Along with unlimited replays of course material, language controls, and mobile optimization, students working with the Thinkific platform should feel right at home.
Promotions on Autopilot
Some online course platforms fail in the promotions arena. This is unfortunate since there's no way to start making money unless people know that your course exists.
Thinkific does it the right way, with marketing and promotional tools built into the program. Much of this is automated as well. So, if you'd like to drip content to your students–where certain courses would be released over time–Thinkific has this functionality.
Furthermore, you have the ability to target the right people and send out automated emails based on a schedule. Pricing is also done through Thinkific, along with the option to get paid immediately when someone signs up for your course.
As for getting people outside of your website to come try it out, Thinkific includes an affiliate marketing program to reward bloggers and other people who recommend your course. Coupons are also provided through Thinkific, giving you a chance to create ads with specials and convince newcomers that your course is worth investing in.
Everything from coupons to affiliates is tracked right in the dashboard, and you can also link your Adwords, Facebook, and other social accounts to see where students are coming from.
Thinkific Review: How's the Pricing?
Although I've yet to find an online course platform that has many hidden fees, Thinkific advertises that it too has no hidden fees or contracts. That's good to know, but nothing special.
However, Thinkific does offer a free plan for those who want to test out the platform but not get bogged down by limitations. In theory, it helps you launch your store and start building a student base without having to pay a dime. There's also a free trial if you'd rather give one of the more advanced plans a whirl.
The pricing is broken up into four simple plans:
- Starter – $0 for all core Thinkific features. This plan has a high 10% transaction fee, everything you need to create, market, and sell your courses, unlimited courses, course upsells, content hosting, basic integrations, Stripe/PayPal support, and instant access to all funds.
- Essentials – For $49 per month you receive all core and starter features, along with a 5% transaction fee, coupons and promotions, monthly subscriptions, course bundles, intermediate integrations, basic Zapier, drip content, affiliate reporting, a bulk student emailer, custom domain, and additional course prices.
- Business – For $99 per month you get the features from all previous plans, no transaction fees, completion certificates, private and hidden courses, site white labeling, a host storyline, intermediate Zapier, webhooks, three-course admin accounts, advanced HTML/CSS editing, priority support, instructor payout reporting, an onboarding call, payment plans, and a direct Infusionsoft integration.
- Advanced – For $279 per month you receive all features from previous plans, no transaction fees, a single sign-on (SSO), three site admin accounts, 10-course admin accounts, an onboarding specialist, onboarding package, public API, advanced integrations, and advanced Zapier.
Thinkific has some great advantages to its pricing layout. Not only can you start your course for free (something that's not offered with competitors like Teachable,) but the additional three plans are broken down in a logical fashion.
After all, you most likely don't need API access until you really start getting advanced with your course selling.
I wouldn't mind seeing the completion certificates and the HTML editing in the Essentials plan, but $99 per month still isn't that bad.
As you can see, the transaction fees are 10% for the free plan. That's high, but it creates an excellent environment for those with low volume right now or people who don't have the upfront capital to launch a professional online store. Once you start making money you can cut down that transaction fee.
Finally, you can also save money by paying on an annual basis. So, the Essentials plan goes down to $39 per month if you pay it all upfront. The Business plan is $79 per month and the Advanced plan is $219. That makes the pricing plans rather similar to Teachable.
Thinkific Customer Support
The pre-sale support looks decent since the website is informative and you can browse through some case studies and real-world customers who have made their online courses with Thinkific.
The Resource page includes product demos for you to get started with Thinkific without signing up for a plan. You'll also find a full blog with several tutorials to guide you along the way. A free video training is also available on the Thinkific site, along with some links to the company's social media platforms.
For direct support, Thinkific provides a Help Center, complete with a getting started guide, training and community section. The community forums are filled with conversations from real users, and the support docs are your best bet for finding detailed technical solutions.
Finally, Thinkific has a contact form that places you in the ticketing queue. You don't have an option to call a direct support line or talk with someone through a chatbox. However, some of the plans have onboarding guidance, and the Business plan gets you priority support.
Overall, the online resources are impressive, but it would be nice to at least have some sort of phone line support for those who like speaking with actual people.
Who Should Consider the Thinkific Online Course Platform?
I like Thinkific for anyone interested in making a completely new online store. The interface is clean and powerful, and you get all the tools needed to build your store without the requirements of your own hosting or website.
I also like it for organizations that want to test the waters and build a following. The free Thinkific plan should work fine for some smaller courses, and it's the ideal package for getting your course setup with no upfront costs. Oh yeah, and most competitors, like Teachable, don't have this free option.
- Get started for free!
- Read Thinkific's full Guide to learn more about how to create and sell Online Courses.
If you have any questions about this Thinkific review, share your thoughts in the comments!