Thinkific Review – Is This The Best Online Course Platform?

Thinkific Review feature image

In this Thinkific review, I’m going to show you why this course platform is one of the top learning management systems online.

There are many platforms available to help you run a course business and Thinkific is generally regarded as one of the best options. In fact, it is ranked #1 here on Trialbear from a list of 10 best course platforms.

But is Thinkific really the best online course platform?

In this review, I’m going to go through Thinkific’s core features, pros and cons and even look at some alternatives if you’re not totally convinced.

By the end of this review, you’ll be able to make a decision on whether or not Thinkific is the platform for you to host your course.


This post may contain affiliate links. TrialBear earns commissions at no extra cost to you when purchases are made through links on this page. For more info, visit the disclosure page.


Table of Contents

What Is Thinkific?

Thinkific is an online course platform used by bloggers, entrepreneurs, YouTube creators and brands big and small to create and market courses and memberships.

They provide everything you will possibly need to effectively run an online course business including a website, support and education as well as various apps and integrations.

Besides courses, you can also run your own online community which helps students to connect and support each other while learning. This can boost engagement, retention and grow your customer base on the Thinkific platform.

Thinkific website

Popular brands like Later, Hootsuite, Shopify, Fiverr and more all use and trust Thinkific as their preferred course platform to provide training for their customers and employees.

With Thinkific, you can customize every aspect of your business and even remove Thinkific branding so that no one can tell what platform you’re using.

Thinkific has a lot of great features to make things easy for you as a creator and also to give a great learning experience to your students. They also have over 80 apps and integrations that you can add to extend functionality and this is in addition to being able to connect with over 3000 apps through Zapier integration.

In this article, I’ll reviews some of the core features and a few of the best integrations needed to run your course business.

To get started on Thinkific, they offer a free account as well as a 30 day free trial of their Pro account. I would recommend starting with the 30 day free trial first since it will just revert to the free account after expiry. See how a Thinkific free trial works here.

Plans start at $49/month or $39/month when you pay annually.


Who Is Thinkific For?

Thinkific provides all the resources you need to showcase your expertise and earn money by selling courses to any audience interested in learning more about your topic. Large businesses can also use it to educate their employees and customers.

The online course platform has been used successfully by creators of all sizes and trusted by popular organizations like Shopify and Fiverr.

Anyone from bloggers, coaches, entrepreneurs, YouTubers, freelancers, small businesses and large corporations can use Thinkific to create and sell courses. Thinkific has a range of pricing and features to accommodate anyone who wants to share their expertise.

You can find examples of customer success stories on Thinkific that show how various creators have used the platform to educate their audiences. Here are some examples.

  • Ice hockey coach Jason Yee monetized his YouTube following by offering courses through Thinkific.
  • Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) used Thinkific Plus to train over 1 million students
  • Podcaster John Lee Dumas generated over $1.5 million in course revenue teaching students how to run a successful podcast.
  • Entrepreneur Johnathan Levi teaches speed reading and memory skills to over 120,000 students through Thinkific courses.
  • Hootsuite educates their customers with social media training through Hootsuite Academy which is built on Thinkific Plus.
  • Using Thinkific, guitar instructor James Testani of Good Guitarist went from teaching guitar in person to teaching online courses on playing guitar to students all over the globe.
  • For years I’ve followed YouTuber BusyWorksBeats trying to learn how to produce beats on FL Studio and only just realized he also uses Thinkific for his beat-making courses.

More than 50,000 creators and businesses have used Thinkific to successfully sell courses. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced course creator moving from another platform, Thinkific has all the necessary training and resources to help you run an online course business. You can start with a free account or a free trial and build from there.


Thinkific Interface

The Thinkific dashboard is your school’s control panel and where you’ll spend most of your time managing your courses and products, checking your sales and other analytics, supporting your students and more.

It is important that you’re comfortable with your admin area and that you can find what you want easily when you need to.

Thinkific has a dashboard that’s easy to navigate and neatly laid out. The sidebar menu contain the main items that you need and there is a nested sub-menu where you’ll find items related to the main menu item.

Thinkific dashboard interface

For example, under Manage Learning Products, you’ll find:

  • Courses
  • Communities
  • Memberships & Bundles
  • Video Library

You can easily access and manage these items and all their settings through the dashboard menu.

Other menu items include:

  • Design Your SiteSite pages, Theme library, Categories, Preview website
  • Market & SellCoupons, Order bumps, Sales widgets, Orders, Affiliates, Share revenue
  • Advanced ReportingRevenue, Orders, Enrollments, Student Engagement
  • Support Your Students – Find users, groups, check their progress, manage certificates, give and check assignments and more here.

You’ll also be able to find your settings here which includes how your site and course player is configured, your payment accounts and a lot more.

Thinkific Settings interface

Also in your dashboard’s main menu, you can find apps and integrations as well as manage your account. There are also links to your training on Thinkific Academy, the help center and updates from Thinkific.

The personalized admin homepage features a clean design with some very important sections designed to get you started efficiently.

At the top you’ll find a checklist to help you with your progress and to guide you step-by-step with the things you need to do before you launch your course. A convenient button at the very top lets you start building a new course.

Thinkific personalized checklist.

You can complete each task and they’ll automatically be checked off as you make progress. This checklist can be collapsed to reveal other sections below.

Under the checklist, you’ll see a snapshot of your school and it’s stats including revenue numbers, users, enrollments and more.

You’ll also see your recently edited products so you can jump right back in and continue editing.

Thinkific also makes sure that help is at your fingertips with an entire section linking to Help Center articles on getting started

Thinkific dashboard help links

Finally, there’s a section where you can find some training videos as well as a link to Thinkific Academy for even more training.

Student Interface

Your students’ learning experience is also very important, even more than your own. With Thinkific, your students have a very clean course interface and will have no problems going through the lessons.

course player interface

Lessons are automatically marked as incomplete as students finish watching them or they can manually mark them as complete.

Although there isn’t a Thinkific mobile app, Thinkific and the site you create are fully mobile responsive so students can still have a great experience on mobile devices.


Thinkific Features

Thinkific has all the essential features you’ll need to run your course business. The core features are solid and focus on helping you get the most out of building and marketing your course.

Other course platforms may offer other bells and whistles as part of their all-in-one offering but Thinkific can easily match those by making apps and integrations available through Thinkific Labs and other third-party providers.

In this section, we’ll take a look at the most essential core features, how they work and my opinion on them.

1. Course Builder

As you would expect from one of the top course platforms, the course builder is very easy to use. When you’re building your first course, Thinkific provides a link to their knowledgebase where you’ll find a guide to walk you through the steps.

You can also learn how to do this through the Fast Start training in Thinkific Academy. A collection of videos from this training appear on the admin dashboard to help you get started.

When you first open the course builder by clicking on ‘Course’ in the sidebar menu, you should see the following screen.

Thinkific course builder

To start building your course, you can click on the “New Course” button. One of these buttons appear at the top of the admin home page so you can jump right into building a new course at any time.

There are six options for creating courses and these will give you different course creation settings and layouts.

Thinkific course templates

The different course template options are:

  1. Blank – You can create your course from a blank template and build it according to your own needs.
  2. Pre-sell – This template allows you to create a pre-sell landing page for your course so you can build a waitlist. This can help you gauge interest in your course without having to publish one.
  3. Mini course – you can create a mini-course to offer for free or low-cost in order to generate leads for your main flagship course.
  4. Flagship course – This is the main course template where you follow a curriculum outline with best practices in mind.
  5. Webinar replay – If you have a webinar replay, you can use this template to host your video and allow people to check your presentation and offer.
  6. Membership resource library – This template allows you to host downloadable resources for a membership bundle.

If you’re on a free plan, you can only host a single course so you wouldn’t be able to go back and change your option unless you delete the current course. Free trial users and plan subscribers can create unlimited courses.

After choosing a template (I chose the flagship template for this walk-through), you’re ready to build out your course. The first step is to name your course.

Thinkific -name your course

You can change the name of our course later in the course manager. Click the “create course” button to continue. This opens up the Flagship Course template with an already populated curriculum that follows course building best practices. You can then just edit the drafts and add your own chapters to build out your course.

Thinkific-course editor

If you choose a blank template, you’ll have to start from adding lessons and chapters in order to create your course. You can choose a blank template if you already know your course layout and have experience. Otherwise, the flagship course template is the easiest option.

In the course editor, there are instructions and examples to help guide you with editing and adding to your course. You can delete these or keep them as drafts so they don’t show up in the final product.

At the bottom of each lesson, you’ll find the lesson settings. Some important ones include:

  • Making a lesson free so you can give a free preview of your course.
  • Make a lesson a prerequisite so students must complete them before accessing later chapters.
  • Enable discussions for the lesson (or apply to lessons in the entire course).
  • You can also add a lesson icon and a label.
  • You can also delete a lesson through the lessons settings.

Lesson Content Types

When you add a lesson, you will see that you can add a number of different content types. This allows you to create a rich content experience with different multimedia content.

Content types are presented in two different categories – deliver learning content and assessing your students.

Thinkific content types

You can add video lessons by uploading your video to your video library first then adding the video to the lesson. Video from external sites like YouTube can also be embedded by using the multimedia lesson type.

Text based lessons, downloads, pdfs, audio files, presentations and live lessons via Zoom can also be added. Assess students by adding quizzes, exams, surveys and assignments as lessons in your course.

If you want to add other lesson types not seen in the course builder, you also have the option to add apps and integrations from the Thinkific Apps store that will level up your lessons.

Some lesson integrations let you add:

  • interactive video
  • conversational chatbots
  • collaborative whiteboards
  • social and interactive lessons
  • scenario mapping quizzes
  • and more

You can preview your course at any time by clicking the preview button in the top right. You have the option to preview your course as an enrolled student.

Tabs at the top of the course editor allow you to further customize and add settings to your course.

Thinkific course editor tabs

For example, you can:

  • change your course name
  • add course image and description
  • change the instructor name displayed
  • customize your course url
  • choose course access (hide or private)
  • customizing your course player
  • choosing the course progress and completion experience
  • adding SEO settings to your course

You’ll also be able to schedule your course lessons if you choose (drip) and set your pricing model.

When you publish your course you can publish it as a draft so no one can access it, a pre-order so students can enroll but not access the content or fully published to allow enrollments and access.

The Thinkific course builder is robust and has lots of customization options but it is also very easy to use. Beginners and experienced creators will find the experience building courses very satisfying.

2. Website Builder

Every course needs a high converting website to help market the product effectively to their target audience.

Thinkific provides a website builder that automatically adds a course page when you create a course. You can then edit the page to add your sales copy.

Other pages such as your homepage, checkout, sign-in, signup and student dashboard pages are also included in your website by default and can be further edited. You can also add a new custom page at any time.

In terms of customization, Thinkific only offers three default themes. These three themes each have about 3 or 4 different styles so you can have up to 10 different looks to choose from.

Thinkific Themes

You can choose a theme to install and then click on “build” to use it. Then when editing your website, you can choose the style you want to apply to your theme.

Themes may appear to be limited but if you’re a developer, you have the option to import a custom theme from your device or further customize your website by editing the HTML or CSS codes.

You’ll also be able to edit page level settings when editing the page. This includes modifying colors, typography, adding SEO headings and descriptions as well as editing the header and footer content.

Section blocks make it easy to build out your page with content made to convert. Checklists, call to actions and course blocks can all be added as sections to your website. You can also make specific edits for mobile devices and preview your responsive website using either desktop or mobile views.

Thinkific site editor

One thing to note is that Thinkific websites are meant to only sell your course and doesn’t have a native blogging tool. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a blog on your Thinkific website though. You can simply add an app called DropInBlog to integrate a blog into your website. No further customization is required as the app will just use your site’s theme to build the blog page.

Thinkific also has apps for site specific integrations so you can check out the apps store to further customize your website.

I must admit that I’m not too impressed by the limited amount of themes but you can definitely build a decent website for your Thinkific course that is made to convert. Having the ability to further customize the site with custom code is a plus though and you can have a blog if you want so there isn’t much for me to complain about.

3. Marketing & Sales

Any experienced course creator will tell you that the hardest part of selling courses online begins after you’ve successfully created your course. And that is getting and retaining customers.

Thinkific has marketing and sales features in place to help you with this step and to maximize revenue.

After creating a high-converting sales page for your course, you can take advantage of these built-in features:

  • bundles and memberships – bundle similar courses and sell them as one and offer memberships to earn recurring revenue
  • coupon codes – set up promotional codes to offer discounts
  • order bumps – sell an additional product on your order page
  • sales widgets – embed course cards or buttons on external websites
  • affiiate marketing – allow people to promote your courses in exchange for a commission on sales
  • payment plans – split payments into smaller amounts
  • drip content – slowly release your course content over a period of time to keep students coming back.
  • flexible course pricing – offer different pricing options
  • free trials – allow customers to try your course for free with unlocked and locked content

There are lots of different marketing and sales features available for you to promote and sell your course how you want.

If you cannot find a feature, it may be available as an app in the Thinkific app store which has integrations to help with sales and marketing. For example, there’s Hoist, which allows you to collect and feature video testimonials from satisfied customers. The Shopify store app allows you to add an online store and have another revenue stream that taps into your audience.

4. Communities

Communities allow you to grow your audience before you launch your product. This way when you launch your product, you will have a validated group of people to sell it too.

It also allows your customers to network and have a place they can belong to, thus helping you to retain your audience.

Thinkific communities are available on the Pro plan and up. You can have a single community with the Pro plan only but multiple communities if you add the Growth addon.

Communities can easily be added under “Manage Learning Products” in your dashboard menu. When creating a community you’ll be able to input settings such as your community image and name as well as who can access (eg. logged in students, enrolled students etc).

The community you build integrates directly into your site and students can access communities they belong to from their student dashboard.

In a Thinkific community, students can have their own profile, send messages and start discussions. You can turn your community into a classroom with live events. You’ll find this feature under the “Events” tab in your community left menu.

There are also several alternatives available to built-in Thinkific communities that also integrate with your website. You can add Thinkific apps such as Peerboard and Community Box that allow you to build communities or add Circle SSO which lets users connect from your website to a Circle community. Circle is one of the most popular / best community platforms available.

5. Reporting

The advanced reporting section of Thinkific allows you to see important data and analytics of your Thinkific business that includes:

  • orders
  • revenue
  • enrollments
  • student engagement data such as completion rates and more
Thinkific video analytics

You can also check your video analytics here to see the number of plays, loads, engagement rates, hours watched and more. This can help you to improve poorly engaged content and add more of what is already working.

While you can see simpler analytics on all the plans, advanced analytics are only available on the Pro + Growth plan.

6. Student support

Getting people to take your courses isn’t the easiest task in the world so it’s important that you take care of your students when they trust you as a trainer. Thinkific has a number of features that will help you to give effective student support.

In your dashboard, you can see a list of users. You can use this list to organize, segment, analyze and message your students. You can also add them to groups or manually enroll them into courses.

Other features allow you to create groups, track user progress, issue completion certificates, collect reviews and set up notifications. Quizzes, assignments and surveys can also be offered and managed . Students can also create discussions, creating an interactive experience they will appreciate.

Thinkific provides a course hosting experience that not only creators will find very rewarding but students students should also find it highly satisfying.

What’s Missing?

So what’s missing from Thinkific?

The only thing that I would say is truly missing from Thinkific is a mobile app. However, this isn’t so much of a problem as Thinkific is fully responsive so creators and their students can have a great experience while doing courses on mobile.

On first look it may seem like there’s a bit of stuff that Thinkific in missing that other course platforms have. And if you’re looking at it from an all-in-one or native perspective then you might be right.

But Thinkific Apps (integrations) is a part of how Thinkific works and with 80 apps and counting, you could find almost any feature and make it a part of your business. The downside might be the extra cost for some of these apps but they’re there.

A couple of examples of features that might get pointed out as missing:

  • Blogging tool – while there is no native blogging tool available, DropInBlog is an app that you can use to integrate a blog into your website. It costs an additional $19/month but totally worth it if you need a blog.
  • Email marketing – you may or may not already use an email marketing provider like Aweber or Active Campaign. Thinkific integrates well with these apps and more so that you can manage your subscriber lists inside Thinkific.
  • Podcasts – Some course platforms offer podcasts as a product. Thinkific doesn’t but there’s an app called Hello Audio that works well with all the popular podcast players.
  • Interactive video – this is a standout feature from competitor LearnWorlds and you can get interactive videos and images on Thinkific by installing the ThingLink app.

With so many interesting apps you can add to your Thinkific course, and with more being added, you have access to an abundance of features not listed on the Thinkific website. This is one of the reasons why Thinkific is the #1 course platform recommended by TrialBear.

In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at Thinkific’s app store – your source for integrations to level up your course business.


Thinkific Apps

Thinkific Apps Store

Most course platforms have a few apps that they integrate with to offer features they can’t offer natively or to let you use apps that you’re already using.

Thinkific does the same thing however, they way they work is to offer essential integrations such as Zoom for live classes and Google Analytics to give you insights on your traffic. Then they also give you optional integrations that are usually built by third party developers to help you do even more.

This makes Thinkific very feature rich even beyond what they state that they offer.

In the app store, you’ll find 80+ apps and counting, organized in collections and in various categories. Depending on what you want to do, you’ll find useful apps in these categories (wiwth examples):

  • Business OperationsShopify app let’s you add a store / CheckoutJoy lets you design your own checkout pages
  • Connections and Social – Zoom allows you to do live lessons / Peerboard is alternative way to create communities on Thinkific.
  • Email and Marketing – Convertkit lets you collect leads and do email marketing / HelloBar creates engaging pop-ups for your Thinkific site
  • Engagement and Assessment – Wobo is a digital workbook for students to take notes allowing them to retain their work.
  • Learning Experience – Flix transforms your student dashboard into a binge-worthy streaming experience
  • Selling and Conversion – Facebook Pixel tracks conversions from Facebook ads / Sections Kit lets you add more than 80 sections to your course website.
  • Site Design – Omnisearch makes it easier for students to find the exact part of a less they’re looking for.

Not every app is accessible to every Thinkific creator. Some apps are accessible on all accounts including the free plan while some are accessible only on paid plans. Others are accessible from a certain tier and above.

Mazetec app on Thinkific

To get started with apps, just find the app you need and click through to the details page. You’ll be able to see the requirements which will state which Thinkific plans can use the app and if you need anything else (perhaps an external account with the app).

You will also be able to see a preview video of the app and how it works, highlights of features and a more detailed description. Pricing details are summarized and in many cases, a free trial is offered. If you’re able to use the app, you can then click install to add the app to your account.

What If There’s No App?

What if there’s a feature you want and there is no app for it?

Thinkific more apps

There are several solutions to this problem. Firstly, Thinkific also supports Zapier integration so the first thing you should do is install the Zapier app if you have an account. Zapier lets you connect with over 1500 apps so you can integrate a lot of stuff with your Thinkific account even if there is no app in the Thinkific app store.

The next thing you can do is to submit an idea so that Thinkific can work on growing their App Store offerings. Your idea may be the next app to be added which will benefit you and others who want a solution to your problem.

Finally, if you’re a developer and there is no app on the Thinkific store that solves your problem, you can sign up for the Thinkific Partner Program as an app developer.

The Thinkific App Store makes Thinkific one of the most feature-rich course platforms available with apps to add essential integrations and give you more options.


Thinkific Support & Help

Creators can get help and support from Thinkific in a number of different ways. There are several channels available that include:

  • email, phone and live chat support
  • Thinkific Help Center
  • Resources center
  • Thinkific newsletter
  • Thinkific blog
  • Thinkific Academy
  • Thinkific group on Facebook

One of the limitations of the free plan is that you can only get email and phone support but not live chat. All paid plans can get an agent through live chat. Thinkific staff and chat agents are usually very friendly and knowledgeable so you can always count on getting your problem solved quickly.

Depending on the nature of your problem though, you wouldn’t always need to talk to Thinkific staff. Simply looking for the answer will probably do. You have a number of ways to get help.

Thinkific Help Center

Thinkific Help Center

The Thinkific Help Center is linked from your dashboard when you scroll right to the bottom of the menu.

In the Help Center you can search for your problem or you can use one of the categories which your problem fits into. For example, if you’re having trouble building your website, you could look inside the Site Builder card and look for the relevant section and topic.

Thinkific Site Builder help

You’ll find very helpful and detailed articles that cover each topic.

Resources Center

You can find all the different ways you can get help inside the resources center. This page also gives you a look at some customer examples of people and companies using Thinkific successfully as well as previews the blog, Thinkific Academy, Thinkific community and the Help Center.

Thinkific Newsletter

I’m not sure how I got signed up for the Thinkific newsletter – it could be that all creators who sign up for an account are automatically subscribed.

The newsletter is very interesting and contain motivating tips and some nuggets of inspiration.

Thinkific Blog

The Thinkific blog is another place to keep your eye on if you want to soak up all the great knowledge they create to help you master course creation and marketing.

There are a number of different categories that include – creating your course, creator stories, growing your business and sales & marketing.

The blog contains a lot of detailed posts that will give you strategies and tips to successfully grow your course business.

Facebook Group

Thinkific also has a private Facebook community for creators. There are over 32 thousand members in the group and it is very active. On my last visit, I counted about 7 discussions in the past 24 hours.

Then there’s the Thinkific Academy which we’ll look at in the next section.

All these different help resources were put together to help creators build successful online businesses selling courses.


Thinkific Academy

Thinkific Academy courses

Thinkific already provides all the tools and resources for any creator of any size to successfully build a course business using their platform. One important key component that goes hand-in-hand with these tools is the knowledge to use them to meet your end-goals.

All the top platforms provide training in the form of courses which are usually accessible through a portal on their website. Kajabi has Kajabi University. LearnWorlds has LearnWorlds Academy and so on. Thinkific has Thinkific Academy.

When you sign up for Thinkific, you’re gently pushed to sign up and access training inside Thinkific Academy. On your dashboard, you’ll find a link to “Training” in your menu and there’s also a dashboard card which suggests the Thinkific Fast Track course as a way to quickly create and launch your online course on the platform.

You do not need to be a Thinkific user to access Thinkific Academy but if you already have an account then you’re all set to use the training and can sign in with your Thinkific credentials.

Once signed in, you can start enrolling in courses and workshops on topics you’re interested in learning.

Thinkific Academy dashboard

Your courses will appear in your student dashboard along with any communities linked to these courses.

One good thing about doing courses through Thinkific Academy is that you’ll have the same student experience that your own students will have when they enroll in your courses. You’ll be able to see how great courses are structured and can give you inspiration.

There are many different topics you can learn about and they’re mainly categorized into Thinkific product training, creating learning products and marketing and selling learning products.

Through these courses and workshops, you can learn how to effectively use the Thinkific platform and other things like using YouTube to build an audience for your course or doing Facebook ads to market your course.

It doesn’t matter what type of creator you are, there is always something to learn through Thinkific Academy and you should definitely sign up and enroll in a course or two.


Thinkific Plans & Pricing

Thinkific pricing

Thinkific has several plans to suit different budgets and needs. The plans range from a free one with limited features to the $499/month Premier plan.

There is another plan called Thinkific Plus but this is more for big corporations that need custom resources and pricing. The majority of people reading this review will most like not be looking for that plan.

Of the regular four plans, you have:

  • Free ($0/month)
  • Basic ($49/month; $39/month when paid annually)
  • Pro ($99/month; $79/month when paid annually)
  • Premier ($499/month; $399/month when paid annually)

The Free plan is free forever but as you should expect, there are lots of limitations which makes this plan more suitable for checking out what’s possible with Thinkific.

After a free trial, if you decide not to upgrade, your account will revert to this free plan and you can continue building your course business with whatever features are available on this plan.

One good thing about Thinkific’s free plan though is that there are no transaction fees. It is one of the only course platforms that do not have transaction fees on a paid plan. However, you can only sell one course on the free plan.

Other limitations include features that are only available on paid plans, no custom domain name and no live chat support.

The Basic plan is ideal for when you want to remove some of the limitations of the free plan and get more features only available for paying subscribers. One the Basic plan, you can now have unlimited courses and you can have a custom domain name.

The Pro plan is Thinkific’s most popular plans and this is where you can get most of the paid features. This is the plan that Thinkific offers for their free trial.

Although rich with features, the Pro plan still doesn’t offer everything and somewhat limits some features. For example, you can only create one community on the Pro plan and you cannot remove Thinkific branding.

You can remove Thinkific branding on the Premier plan and build unlimited communities but the jump from $99/month to $499/month is a huge one which is why the Pro plan has a Growth addon which gives access to some of these Premier Plan features for an additional $50/month fee.

The Premier plan and the Pro + Growth package are almost identical but they’re really not the same. The Premier plan is great if you want to scale your resources. For example, you can increase your admin allowance on this plan from two to five.

The Premier plan also adds a 30 minute onboarding call for creators who choose this plan.

One thing I must mention also, is that if you’re going to use apps, then you’ll need to factor this into your budget. Some necessary integrations cost you a monthly fee which will add to your cost of using Thinkific. For example, if you want to blog on your Thinkific website, you’ll have to use DropInBlog which starts with a free trial but costs $19/month. These costs add up and should be considered when looking at your monthly pricing.

Overall, I like the pricing tiers and love that there is a truly free forever plan that’s actually useful. The free plans from other platforms usually aren’t really free when you factor in the transaction fees you incur when selling product.

You can start with an entire month free trial of the Pro plan and then continue from there.


Thinkific Pros & Cons

I am really impressed by the Thinkific platform and what it can do. However, it is not perfect and there are a few things people might complain about. Here are some of the pros and cons of using Thinkific.

Thinkific Pros

  • has a free plan
  • has a 30 day free trial
  • no transaction fees on any plans (including free plan)
  • unlimited courses, students and content on all paid plans
  • 80+ apps (integrations) for more features
  • trusted by big brands such as HBO, Shopify and Hootsuite
  • has an abundance of learning resources
  • can integrate into your own existing website
  • can edit website code for added customization
  • flexible plans allow you to scale as needed

Thinkific Cons

  • has a bit of a learning curve
  • no native blogging tool
  • no mobile app available

I love that for a free plan, even though you can only create one course, there are no transaction fees which is rare for course platforms. If you’re going to use the free account, the best way to do this is to take the free trial first since it reverts back to a free account after expiry if you decide not to go ahead with a paid plan.

The other thing I really like is that you can add almost any feature to course with Thinkific apps. Other platforms like to brag about what they have and Thinkific doesn’t in comparisons but most of the time the feature is available through an app in the Thinkific app store.

On the other side of things, I didn’t like that there isn’t a blogging feature that is native. To enable a blog, you would have to use the DropInBlog app in the app store which isn’t a bad thing. It’s an extra cost but at least you wouldn’t have to be looking at messy workarounds. Blogging may not be native but it’s built into the Thinkific ecosystem.

Finally, there is an issue of Thinkific not having an app. This isn’t much of a big deal to me but some of the other course platforms offer one. The good thing though is that there really isn’t any need for an app as Thinkific is fully responsive on mobile so both creators and students will have a great experience while on the go.


Thinkific Alternatives

After trying Thinkific, you may decide that this course platform isn’t for you and that may be for any number of reasons. Maybe you don’t like the pricing, or there’s a feature missing or you prefer what’s offered on another platform.

Here are 5 alternatives to Thinkific that you might want to consider. Each of them have their pros and cons in relation to Thinkific. I’ll try to include a full comparison for further reading.

1. Teachable

Teachable is a popular alternative with comparable features to Thinkific. However, they only offer courses, coaching products for sale and digital downloads can be offered for free. There is no native community feature but an integration to Circle is available on all paid plans.

You can start free but there is no free trial for paid plans.

Free and Basic plan users are charged transaction fees while there are no transaction fees for higher plans. Plans appear to be cheaper than those of Thinkific.

2. Kajabi

This is a popular alternative to Thinkific. They also have some great features but there are caps on how many students you can have on each plan and limited number of products. These are unlimited on Thinkific.

Kajabi does have 0% transaction fees which is a plus. You can join with a 14 day free trial before upgrading to one of their three plans. All three Kajabi plans are more expensive than Thinkific plans.

3. Podia

Podia is another great choice that lets you offer unlimited courses. They don’t have a free trial anymore but you can sign up for a free account to test drive and get started.

As an all-in-one platform, you can also sell courses, downloads, webinars, coaching and memberships. They do not have transaction fees on any paid plan. The only thing you can sell on the free plan are downloads and this comes at a cost in the form of 8% transaction fees on sales.

This platform has three paid plans which seem slightly cheaper than comparable Thinkific plans. On each plan you can create unlimited products and have unlimited customers and contacts.

4. Learnworlds

Learnworlds lets you start with a 30 day free trial without having to submit your credit card details. You can get a free trial on any paid plan but keep in mind that there is no free plan when the trial is over.

There are some great features available for building and marketing your courses and the pricing seems a bit cheaper than Thinkific’s. Their most popular plan though seems to be the Learning Center plan which may be compared to Thinkific’s Premier plan.

If you’re looking for a course player that has interactivity built-in, LearnWorlds is a great option.

5. Mighty Networks

Mighty Networks is more of a community builder which you can use to build a community around something existing like a YouTube channel. However they also have robust course building and membership site capabilities.

No credit card is required to start a 14-day free trial of their Business Plan which gives you access to all Mighty Network features. There’s also a more limited Community Plan which is great for creating a community but does not allow you to create and sell courses.

If you’re looking to create a course primarily then Thinkific, which also has communities, might be the better choice of the two.


Final Words

There are many options available to create and sell online courses. One of the options you’ll always see at the top of any list is Thinkific and for good reason.

Thinkific has created an ecosystem where all the tools and resources area available to you to successfully create and run an online course business. This includes a top notch course builder, website builder, great student experience and support, training and community.

The platform is very rich in features beyond what is available natively because of the growing App Store. This is one of the reasons why Thinkific is in my book the best course platform you can choose to create and market your course in 2022.

Pricing is also very good for all the value that is offered. Their most popular plan costs $99/month and you get even more features with the Growth addon for an additional $50/month. Factor in the price of a few addons you’ll need and it’s not a bad deal for running an online business that you can be proud of.

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