Teachable Review (2017): Best Online Course Platform?

By Adam Sayner | Online Course Platforms

Oct 10
Teachable Homepage

Online Course Platform: Teachable Review

Online Course Creation Made Simple

Features

User Friendly

Support

Price

  • Simple to get started with
  • Has most features you will need
  • Comprehensive knowledge base articles
  • Active blog with useful tips & advice for creating & selling an online course
  • Flexible & low cost pricing options
  • Limited choice of design & ability to change how your school looks
  • Has suffered problems keeping up with support requests during periods of fast growth

Review Summary: Teachable is probably the most popular online course hosting platform currently out there. Their entry-level pricing and wide range of features make it an excellent choice for anyone just getting started. You can have your school online within a couple of hours and you'll have access to plenty of tutorials & tips to help you on your journey.

Also check out Teachable's Free Training: 7 Steps To Launch Your Own Profitable Online Course

When I first made an online course back in 2014 there were hardly any options out there to simplify the technology behind hosting and selling your course.

I spent hours researching different WordPress plugins and in the end had to pay a developer to help us get it all working.

Thankfully, alongside the boom in people selling online courses, things have improved massively in the last couple of years. There are now lots of options for getting your course all set up online without touching a single bit of code.

The trouble is choosing which platform to use - which can be a major headache in itself!

All the options claim to be the best and it can be hard to know which is best for you. This Teachable review will help you decide if it's the right platform for your needs as we take a look at the main pro and cons.

Who is Teachable Made For?

In a nutshell, Teachable is made for anyone wanting to create and sell their own online course.

Check out their sales video to see how they explain what they're all about and who they are pitching their online course platform at:

As you can tell from the video, Teachable is for anyone wanting to get away from the extra work and tech headaches that can come from creating an online course on your own WordPress website.

You can get your course all set up and selling easily using their simple dashboard and features - which would take longer with your own WordPress system. You can also choose the prices you want to charge and have direct control over your communication and marketing with students (which you can't do with an online course marketplace like Udemy, for example).

So, if you want to just get up and running and focus on creating and selling your course (a wise use of your time), Teachable could be a great option for you. The platform is built with this focus in mind - to reduce the tech headaches and leave you to focus on creating and selling your course instead.

Best Features

Let's take a look at the best features of Teachable and how they can help you to create and sell your online course:

Easy to use


This is a big one! The main dashboard which you use to create and run your course(s) is really intuitive and easy to use. It's a huge benefit of Teachable - it makes it really simple to do any of the main tasks you might need to do: upload course files, check on analytics, issue refunds, communicate with students etc. It saves a lot of time which you can focus on creating and selling your course instead.

Screenshot of the simple dashboard you use to create & mange your course with Teachable

The actual content for each course is organised within Teachable using the Curriculum Editor. You can group resources together according to topics and themes.

Drag and drop functionality allows you to shift things around and re-organise without fuss. The interface is clean and uncluttered, making it easy to see what is where, but as you'll see further below, the look and feel of the area your students see is fairly basic at the moment.

Image and branding


How your online course looks is important, not just in terms of how usable it is for the student, but also in terms of the brand and positioning you wish to portray. Whether you’re working as a business or an individual, you need a professional looking design that is clearly identifiable as yours.

Thankfully, Teachable understands this and provides a nice looking theme for your school and course landing pages out of the box. You just have to upload your logos, images, text and choose colour schemes to get something that looks like this:

Example of a Teachable School homepage from StackSkills.com


You can also host your course on a custom domain (e.g. www.courses.yourdomain.com) on all plans from Basic upwards and you can remove the Teachable branding on the Professional and High Volume plans too if you wish, though it’s not intrusive if you do keep it.


Teachable offers the ability to customise the look of your course homepage and landing page using it's Power Editor, however it requires an understanding of HTML or CSS code and is not very user friendly (this is one of my main criticisms of Teachable, see below). You could pay someone to do this for you, but it sort of defeats the point of using Teachable. If custom design is important to you, you may be better of creating your course with WordPress.

Easy & efficient uploading


When creating your course, you’re likely to have a lot of files to upload - videos, pdf's, document or spreadsheets for example. This should be as quick and intuitive as possible. Teachable does well here. Its drag and drop interface allows you to easily pull in your files from wherever they’re stored. It links up nicely with cloud storage, Google Drive and Dropbox and there’s also a bulk upload facility, which saves a lot of time.

Good file handling


Teachable can handle all the main file types, including images and films. There’s no need for additional coding, embedding or manual linkage as there would be if built on your own website. Once your files are in there, they’re ready to use. Video is well optimised and supports high-quality playback across a range of devices, including iPads and other tablets. It can cope with different bandwidths and video content can also be played at different speeds.

Monitoring & Analytics


Creating a course and publishing it online is only part of the story. Once it’s gone live, it’s important to be able to keep track of how it’s progressing, how many students have enrolled and how engaged they are with your course.

Teachable Course Analytics: provides insights into your student's engagement


Teachable makes this easy with at-a-glance access to data on student numbers, revenue figures and keeping track of a student’s progress so you can see how far they've got through your course. You can then use this student progress data to engage students who may be struggling or asking for testimonials from your most committed students for example.

You can also integrate Google Analytics and conversion pixels to track where traffic comes to your courses from and which bits of content are working well at converting interest into students.

Communication with students


Although online courses are great for independent learning, communication with students is still important, either to give feedback or just to ensure they’re happy and on track. Student e-mail comes as standard with all Teachable plans. You can communicate with students within the Teachable platform, so there’s no need to swap backwards and forwards to and from your e-mail software.

The platform also interfaces with some popular e-mail software, like Mail Chimp, ConvertKit and Infusionsoft but to connect with other email clients you'll likely to need to use Zapier. 

Support

When you put all your faith in a third party platform to create and sell your course on, it's important to know there's good support on hand for any questions or problems that rise.

Screenshot from the extensive Teachable support homepage

Teachable has a good set of pre-written support articles covering all the most likely questions you may have and then a ticket system for anything more specific. On the whole, this seems to work well for people and I found my query dealt with quickly when I tested it, but I have also heard others complaining about tickets not being answering quickly (read more about this below in the section on What's Lacking).

Marketing & Sales

Teachable gives you plenty of tools for marketing and selling your online course. The actual process of collecting payments is simple, and you can make use of coupons to create limited time offers or offer subscription and payment plan options. You can also set up your own affiliate program or bundle different courses together and sell them as a package.

The Teachable Blog includes lots of marketing tips and is a really valuable resource with weekly posts looking in depth at different ways to reach out and acquire new students. There are also case studies and insights from the successes of other Teachable instructors - which feels supportive and motivating when you're just starting out, and provides really useful ideas once you're already in motion.

Teachable Pricing


Teachable is free to sign up to and there’s also no fee for running free courses. However, if you really want to make use of the main features you will need one of the paid plans.

Teachable has four pricing plans to suit the stage you’re at:

Teachable's Pricing Options

Teachable's Pricing Options

For full info about what's included at each level, check out the page this screenshot was taken from.

1) Free (no monthly cost, but $1 + 10% of any sales)


Maybe you’re completely new to developing an online course and want to see what it’s all about. Teachable’s free plan lets you try your ideas out with no monthly cost, however you will be charged $1 + 10% of any sales you make and some of the features are limited. You get most of Teachable’s main features with the free plan, but you don't have guaranteed support or some of the marketing features, making it fairly limited if you really want to make lots of sales.

2) Basic ($39/month + 5% of sales)


With the basic plan, you get all the key Teachable features like custom domains, inbuilt email marketing, using coupons, dripping out course content and running an affiliate program. You do have to wait to receive any money you've earnt though, which happens through a PayPal deposit once a month and with a 30 day delay - be aware that this can be nearly 2 months in some instances!

3) Professional ($99, no sales fees)


Teachable's most popular plan. On top of everything you get with the basic plan, and you have additional functionality like advanced theme customisation, advanced analytics and importantly - instant access to any funds you've earnt. You also get higher priority for support requests (6 hours vs 12 with Basic plan).

4) High volume ($299/month, no sales fees)


This is Teachable’s biggest package designed more for running a larger school marketplace with multiple courses. With this, you get 2 x 1hour onboarding sessions to help you get set up and priority 2 hour response to support requests. You also have the ability to bulk import and bulk enrol students. You can also have up to twenty-five separate authors.

What's Lacking?

So far, so good.

Although Teachable does pretty well to pack in a lot of features at a decent price, there are a few problems that are worth mentioning:

Poor student interface

I like good design, so this is a big downside to Teachable at the moment for me. I suspect they'll improve it in the future, but for now the interface that your students are faced with when they log in to take your course is pretty basic:

Example of the un-inspiring course home screen that your students log in to

Of course, it is completely functional - it has everything your students need to navigate and interact with your course, but it's just not very visual. It doesn't look as good as it could if the use of images were possible to link to each module for example.

Contrast it with the course homepage I made for my other business using WordPress and you'll see what I mean:

Example of an online course built on WordPress

The GroCycle Online Course Homepage - created with WordPress

It's almost as if the mission for Teachable has been focussed on making it easy for the course creator with a nice looking dashboard and lots of useful features - and they've yet to make the experience 100% for the course creators students. I'm pretty sure this will get better before long as it's a relatively simple issue to resolve and would add a lot of additional value to the platform.

Limited custom design ability

Teachable comes with just a couple of template options for your course homepage and landing page out of the box. Thankfully they don't look half bad- check out these examples to see what I mean. You can alter colour schemes, add your own text, logo and images, and make something look consistent with the rest of your brand.

However, if you have a particular look you want to create or wish to add custom features in precise places you can't do this very easily. If you are comfortable with html, css or liquid code then you can customise the design of your course and landing pages with the Professional plan and above or pay a developer to do this for you, but for me I'd like to see more of a drag and drop style editor which would give you much greater control and enable you to make it look exactly as you want.

Have to wait to receive payments (on Basic plan)

If you use Teachable on the Free or Basic plan, the payout scheme is via a PayPal deposit once a month, with a 30 day delay. Depending on the timing of a course purchase this could equate to nearly 2 months that you would have to wait to receive the funds from that sale.

This can cause difficulties for your cash flow when you're just starting out, and also just feels a bit like you're not really in control of your own hard earned money.

Support had struggled to keep up with growth at times

Although Teachable's support system is quite extensive with their combination of pre documented support articles and ticket system, it has struggled to keep up at times. I've been hanging out in the Facebook group for Teachable members and have occasionally noticed complaints from people about support requests not being answered very quickly.

This has seemed to coincide with times of peak growth for the company as thousands of new teachers have come on board in the last year alone. I read somewhere that an average day saw 200 new instructors sign up to use the platform! In theory this problem should sort itself out pretty quick as more users bring more revenue which can be spent on better support.

Each time that complaints have rolled in about poor support, Teachable's founder, Ankur Nagpal has addressed the Facebook group personally to apologise and explain what's causing the issue - so my feeling is that this is an issue they are keen to address and probably can be put down to growing pains.

Examples Of Successful Teachable Users

Teachable is used by a wide range of people, including individual trainers, coaches, subject experts and even small businesses who want to train their own staff.

Some of the most successful Teachable instructors teach very specific knowledge - like how to use a particular piece of software or a unique style of graphic design for example.

Here's a couple of successful Teachable instructors making good use of the platform:

1) Angela Fehr, Watercolour Artist

Angela has her range of courses hosted on Teachable where she teaches watercolour painting techniques; from beginner to advanced. She initially built a big following with her free YouTube videos and then created courses on Teachable for students that wanted to go a step further in their learning. During the launch of a new course in 2015 she earnt $8000 in one month! Read more about her story here.

2) Lee Wasilenko, Virtual Reality Software Develop Training

Lee teaches aspiring developers how to make virtual reality (VR) games. He started by offering a few simple free courses to build an audience and demonstrate his expertise and when it came to launching his first paid course he earnt more than $35,ooo in the space of a couple of weeks! Read more about his story here.

Teachable Review Conclusion

Hopefully this in depth review of Teachable has helped you to see what a great little platform it is. It's packed with features which enable you to create and sell your online course with ease.

If you are just venturing into the world of creating online courses, Teachable is a great place to start. You don't need to waste loads of time learning difficult technology or paying a fortune for someone else to get your course all set up online.

Which is good news, because there is plenty of other stuff you should be focussed on - like creating great course content, engaging with your students and promoting and selling your online course instead.

At the end of the day the platform you choose to build your course on is nowhere near as important as any of these things, and ultimately you should probably stop wasting your time trying to decide between all the different options and just pick one to get started.

With that in mind, the question is: is Teachable the right platform for you?

Put this way: if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are just getting started with online courses
  • You are on a relatively tight budget
  • You are not a tech wizard already familiar with customising WordPress plugins & design

.......then I think Teachable is the best option out there at the moment for creating and selling an online course with ease.


Other Online Course Platform Options...

Kajabi Logo
  • Better design options with a library of templates to choose from
  • More expensive (it's $103/month on their cheapest plan)
thinkific logo
  • Similar to Teachable + you get instant access to funds with all plans
  • Landing & course page design worse than Teachable's
wordpress logo

+

Memberpress logo
  • Better design options & complete flexibility to create it as you want
  • More fiddly to set up & can be expensive if you have to pay a developer

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Adam. I'm a big fan of creating online courses as a way for you to share your knowledge and earn some good income. I'm here with some tips to help you create a great online course & to choose the right online course platform for your needs.