So you want to use an online course platform to host your new course, but you're not sure whether to use Teachable and Thinkific. Both platforms are excellent choices with similar features so it's hard to go wrong. But each option does have some pros and cons.
What are the main differences between Teachable and Thinkific? Both platforms cost about the same, are easy to use and offer great customer support. There are minor feature differences, for example it's a bit easier to customize your course using Thinkific, but Teachable has better sales and marketing features.
In this article we'll look in-depth at the similarities and differences between Teachable and Thinkific, comparing and reviewing each side by side.
Here's how Teachable and Thinkific compare on price. I'll be looking at the cost per month when you sign up for annual plans for both platforms. If you prefer to not lock in to an annual plan and pay up front, these costs will be a bit higher.
All of our base features, plus:
Everything in Basic, plus:
Everything in Professional, plus:
Teachable makes it extremely hard to find their free plan, but it does exist! (On their pricing page, it's a text link buried lower in the page, instead of being compared to their paid plans.)
All teachable plans (even the free one) allow you to have unlimited hosting and video, unlimited courses, and unlimited students. As well as discussion forums and basic quizzes.
One of the big differences between different tiers of Teachable plans are the transaction fees they charge when you sell a course. If you're using the free version, Teachable will take 10% +$1 on each sale. For the basic version, you'll pay a 5% transaction fee. And for their professional and business plans, you won't pay a transaction fee at all.
Teachable's basic plan has some features that the free plan is lacking. These include multiple admin users, course creator training, coupon codes, the ability to drip course content, and third-party integrations.
Aside from eliminating transaction fees, the professional plan allows for 5 admin-level users instead of 2, advanced theme customization, advanced reports, an unbranded website, course completion certificates, and graded quizzes.
I wouldn't recommend anyone except large organizations such as schools use Teachable's business plan. It allows for 100 admin-level users, manual student imports, custom user roles, and priority support. But at 5x the cost, I don't think it adds any extra value for individual course creators.
Free features plus:
Basic features plus:
Pro features plus:
Test-drive Thinkific's core feature set for free.
All Thinkific plans include full e-commerce, an easy drag and drop course builder, built-in SSL certificates, discussion forums, secure cloud hosting, and more. Like Teachable, they also provide instant access to your funds.
None of Thinkific's plans charge additional transaction fees, which is nice if you're using a lower-tier plan. But like Teachable, the platform integrates with either Paypal or Stripe, which will directly charge you about 2.9% + $0.30 from each transaction.
Thinkific's basic plan allows for unlimited courses, whereas their free plan will only allow you to create three separate courses. You'll also need the basic plan to create coupons, email students, schedule or drip content, use a custom domain, and a few other features.
The pro plan includes everything the basic one does, except that you can have 2 site admins, 5 course admins, private or hidden courses, completion certificates, and advanced customization.
You'll also need the pro plan if you intend to use any advanced course pricing options. That includes creating payment plans, subscriptions and memberships, or if you want to bundle multiple courses together for one price.
Much like Teachable's business plan, I don't think individual course creators need to consider Thinkific's $399/month premier plan. It mostly includes room for more site admins and course authors, as well as an onboard package that includes an onboarding call and training from Thinkific.
There is one scenario where the premier package becomes more cost-effective than the pro package, and that's if you've got more than 3,100 students and want to use Thinkific's growth package.
Thinkific's pricing is almost identical to Teachable (both of their most popular packages, professional and pro, are $79/month.) However, Thinkific locks some of the features that Teachable includes as standard behind an extra paywall called their growth package.
Thinkific's growth package is required to white label your courses. That means removing Thinkific branding from your website and course. So if you don't pay for the growth package, you'll have another company's logos all over your course, even after paying for a $79 per month plan.
The growth package is also required to send bulk emails to reach multiple students at once. Compare to Teachable which includes integrated email marketing even in their basic plan!
You'll also need the growth package to integrate with third-party apps and software like Zapier, Infusionsoft, Brillium, or to use webhooks. As well as some other more technical items like having a public API.
Thinkific's growth package is free for your first 100 users. But once you go over your initial 100 users, they'll charge you an extra $10 per month for each additional 100 users. This maxes out at $499 per month.
The platform continues to take $0.10 per student per month, which can start really eating into your profit. Especially since you're still paying for any previous students that have lifetime access to one of your courses, but may never buy another product from you again.
So on the surface Teachable and Thinkific may seem very comparable in terms of price. But if you are going to need any of the features that Thinkific includes in their growth package (I think white labeling your course is a must-have) then hosting your course through Thinkific will become gradually more and more expensive as your number of students increases.
If you've read older reviews of Teachable, then you may have seen complaints about their customer service.
In the past this was true, and Thinkific was largely viewed as offering faster and better customer support than Teachable.
But Teachable has heard the concerns of their customers and improved the level of customer service that they provide. In early 2017 their response time to email support was around 9 business hours.
Since then, they've reached a point where they now reply to most email support questions in under 1 business hour. Teachable also offers 24/7 monitoring and is constantly fixing any issues that arise around the clock.
So if customer support is an important factor in which platform you go with, I don't think there is a significant difference between the support provided by Thinkific and Teachable. Both now provide awesome customer support and go out of their way to support their customers.
Both platforms also have Facebook groups where you can get advice and ask questions to other users of the platform and their staff. Both groups are very active.
I would say that Teachable wins out slightly because their professional plan includes live chat support, which Thinkific doesn't offer with any of its plans. But really, you can easily expect to have any support query answered by either company in less than a business day.
Plus once your course is up and running, hopefully you won't really need to use customer support for anything.
Right now it seems like Teachable has minor incidents a bit more frequently than Thinkific does. But they don't really have any serious downtimes, and most of this could be explained due to the fact that they're still growing quite quickly as a company.
Both companies use a third-party company called Wistia to host their video, so there's no difference there. Neither company has had any issues with site security in the past.
You'd likely find either Teachable or Thinkific easy to use. One reason why both platforms have become so successful is that they make it easy for anybody to create their own online courses.
Either platform is far simpler than setting up a WordPress website, configuring an LMS plugin, and trying to host all of your course content yourself.
It's easy to create courses and add content on either platform. You can bulk upload your files, and then organize it using a simple drag and drop interface.
Personally I find Teachable a little bit easier to set up. Although sometimes it can be hard to find exactly what you're looking for.
I know plenty of people who prefer Thinkific though. I'd agree that its menu design is a little more intuitive. You just work down each section of the menu and by the end your course will be fully set up and ready to launch.
I'd recommend watching a tutorial video about both platforms and see which configuration makes the most intuitive sense and is more appealing to you personally.
Both Teachable and Thinkific offer an unlimited number of students and courses on any of their paid plans, as well as unlimited bandwidth to host your course content.
Both allow you to use a wide range of mediums including video, text, audio, PDFs, and quizzes. Both offer completion certificates, allow you to schedule or "drip" content from their basic plans on up, and a number of other features where both platforms are on par.
So in many areas, course delivery for both Teachable and Thinkific are almost indistinguishable.
There are a few items that we can look at where the two platforms do differ though.
Both platforms allow you to bulk upload content. However, Teachable allows you to import files from Dropbox or Google Drive while Thinkific doesn't.
Maybe it's just personal preference, but I feel like Teachable's course player and course area provides a better student experience and looks more professional overall. I think Thinkific looks a bit generally outdated.
One big drawback is that Thinkific doesn't allow you to mix different types of content in a lesson. So for example, you can't put a video and then have text or a PDF file below it. Teachable allows you to mix and match different mediums in a single lesson.
Thinkific has built-in capabilities to use surveys as a way of collecting feedback from your students. Teachable does not. It's not a huge deal and you can make a basic Google form to collect feedback if you're using Teachable, but it would be nice if they made it a built-in feature.
Both platforms offer basic quiz capabilities and even graded quizzes, but Thinkific has more capability when it comes to quizzes. This is since it integrates with a service called Brillium where you can produce more complex quizzes, exams, and assessments.
Thinkific provides detailed course analytics on all of their plans. Teachable provides basic analytics on their lower tier plan, but you need their professional plan or higher to get advanced analytics about courses, students, videos, and upsells.
Right now, only Teachable has an iOS app. Neither platform has an Android app, and Thinkific doesn't have a mobile app at all. If making your course available via a mobile app is a must-have for you, then Teachable is your only option.
But both platforms are fully mobile responsive, so students can take your courses from a tablet, phone, or computer. Both platforms also feature fully responsive admin dashboards so you can check in on your students and courses from your phone too.
Both platforms have built in discussion systems. However, Teachable has a built-in comment system that allows students to comment on individual lectures. Something that Thinkific lacks.
Overall, I'd say Thinkific is more customizable than Teachable and site design is a little easier. Both allow you to customize your site's text, including very easily changing the language for your entire site.
Both platforms enable SSL by default on all pages of your site. It doesn't matter if you host your course on their domain or use your own.
Both platforms feature a visual drag and drop page builder. You can use it to design all of your pages including your homepage, sales page, and other pages on your site. Thinkific's page builder is a bit more powerful though. It lets you add custom elements.
Teachable doesn't really have themes. You can change the overall color of your theme and your font, but that's about all you have access to without adding custom CSS or HTML code.
Even common elements like the style of buttons that your site uses can't be easily changed from Teachable's theme settings. Thinkific includes a whole library of different themes to choose from that can be instantly applied across your entire site.
Teachable has some built in blogging capabilities. Thinkific doesn't have any blogging capabilities at all. Although I'll say that even Teachable's blogging abilities are quite limited, and if you're serious about blogging I'd recommend just setting up a separate WordPress site to host your blog content and then link it to your course pages.
Both platforms have advanced editors that allow you to customize your page using CSS and HTML code. I would say that Thinkific's is a bit more robust. For example, it allows you to import and export custom themes. If you're a developer or have a decent grasp of coding, either platform allows you to make completely customized websites.
Thinkific might have slightly better customization capabilities, but Teachable really pulls ahead when it comes to marketing and sales.
Teachable integrates with MailChimp, Aweber, Infusionshoft, and Mixpanel right out of the box. Plus you can integrate with almost any other marketing tool using Zapier.
Thinkific also has Zapier integration, but lacks some features like not allowing you to automatically unenrol students.
Both Teachable and Thinkific now both offer instant payouts on all of their paid plans. In the past, Teachable would collect payment and delay payouts for 30 to 60 days on their free and basic plans.
However, in order to get instant payouts on Teachable you need to use a custom payment gateway or Teachable Payments. If you use their monthly payment gateway, you get paid via Paypal at the start of each month for any purchases made over 30 days ago.
In order to send bulk emails with Thinkific, you'll need to use their growth package which costs extra. Teachable has integrated email marketing as part of all of their paid plans. You can separate students out based on multiple different factors when you're sending them emails.
Teachable supports tracking pixels, while Thinkific doesn't. Teachable can provide you with first and last touch attribution, which tells you were a student first heard about you, as well as what campaign converted them into customers.
Teachable allows you to set multiple pricing options for both individual courses as well as bundles. For example, you can sell a bundle that costs $50 per month or $500 per year. Thinkific allows for multiple pricing on individual courses, but not on bundles.
Teachable also allows you to price your course in multiple currencies. If you have customers from all over the world, you might want to set specific prices in USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, and AUD. On Thinkific you can only charge in one currency.
Teachable has a one-step checkout. That means users make a payment first and then enter their information to create their account. This can lead to higher conversions.
Thinkific uses a traditional two-step checkout where users need to create an account first before they can make a payment. This can result in a noticeable percentage of users dropping off during the registration process before making a payment.
With Thinkific, there's no simple way to customize your online course's checkout pages. Teachable lets you add custom elements to your checkout page including things like a money-back guarantee and testimonials.
Teachable lets you add 1-click upsells into your course. This can be a promo video or adding a coupon to your thank you page. Thinkific allows for 1-click upsells but doesn't let you add coupons or videos.
Teachable gives a higher level of control over your affiliate marketing. You can define a custom cookie period, and Teachable lets you use their affiliate system even if you're using an external sales page on your own separate website.
You can also allow an affiliate to only promote specific courses. In contrast, Thinkific doesn't allow you to restrict course permissions, use their affiliate features on an external sales page, or set a custom cookie duration.
If you're in Europe, keeping track of VAT is very important for your business. Teachable allows you to automatically add VAT on top of your base course price for students located in the EU. The platform will even pay your taxes to the proper authorities for you if you use their gateway.
Thinkific doesn't provide any support for adding VAT on top of your base course price. You'll need to keep track of sales and pay tax to the proper authorities out of your total revenue. If most of your students are from Europe, this can effectively cost you 15% of your revenue!
Both platforms only allow you to create coupons on their basic paid plans or higher. You can create individual course coupons or sitewide coupons that apply to your entire course catalog on either platform.
Teachable allows you to offer payment plans and subscriptions for your courses on any of their monthly plans. Thinkific only allows payment plans and other advanced course pricing options on their pro ($99/month) plan or higher.
Both platforms allow you to send information to third-party apps when your students take specific actions on your course.
There are a few areas where Thinkific is better when it comes to sales and marketing:
Both platforms allow you to offer free course previews. However, only Thinkific has a built-in ability to collect emails in exchange for a free preview.
Thinkific has built-in support for gathering and displaying course reviews. Teachable doesn't.
Obviously, there are more than two online course platforms that you could use. However, for most people just getting started on a lower budget, I think Teachable and Thinkific are your best two choices on the market right now.
There are more complex platforms out there with more features, like Kajabi which brands itself as an all-in-one online business platform.
You'll get more marketing features like a range of different themes and landing page designs, as well as email automations and their Pipelines funnel builder.
However, it comes at a higher price point as well. The most basic Kajabi plan starts at $149 per month, so if you're on a tighter budget then Teachable or Thinkific are both solid options.
You could also decide to create your online course on your own WordPress website. This is more complicated as it involves you setting up and configuring plugins, as well as dealing with all the tech side of your course going forward.
However, it also gives more customization and features, plus it's usually cheaper in the long run too.
Are there any options to avoid?
There are a couple of platforms I've see others use which are just not ideal for online courses.
For example, I don't think Clickfunnels is good for an online course or membership site. They have alot of hype and aggressive marketing through an army of affiliates but it's just not built all that well for the purpose of online courses.
Also, some people have a website built on Wix, and then try to make a course there too - read my article here for more info on why it's a bad idea.
Before you commit to either platform to host your online course, you might want to know about the size of both companies and if they'll both be around for a while.
While there is no guarantee about how either company will be performing in a decade (any company can be rocked by scandal or financial issues,) right now it appears that both Teachable and Thinkific are strong companies that are still experiencing a lot of growth, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Teachable is based in New York. The company was founded in October of 2013.
Their website gets 104,000 visitors from organic search traffic each month and has 18,000 backlinks (other domains referring to them.) The company has approximately 65 employees at the time of this article.
Teachable currently has 12,000 paying customers that have created over 125,000 courses.
Thinkific is based in Vancouver, Canada. The company was founded in 2012.
Their website gets 43,000 visitors from organic traffic each month and has about 9,300 backlinks (other domains referring to them.) Thinkific has around 70 employees.
Teachable has more than 25,000 course creators, but it doesn't disclose how many of those are free vs. paying customers.
So overall, Teachable seems to be growing a bit faster as a company, getting more publicity, and doing better with their on-site SEO. But I expect both companies to be strong leaders in the online course industry for many years to come.
It should be clear that both Teachable and Thinkific are great platforms with a lot to offer. You wouldn't go wrong choosing either one to create and deliver your online courses to students.
But personally, I lean toward recommending Teachable as my top pick. Where it really shines is its list of comprehensive sales and marketing features. When it comes to online courses, I think having flexible tools to promote and sell your courses is a critical part of any platform you use.
Not only is Teachable's checkout process more optimized, but the platform also supports pixel tracking, has a better affiliate system, and many other marketing-based benefits. I think the average person can expect better conversion rates from Teachable than if they chose to go with Thinkific.
To me, Teachable's course area also just has more of a premium feel and appears more professional. However, Thinkific does win out when it comes to ease of customization.
Teachable and Thinkific are in a constant ongoing battle to one-up each other. As end users, we all benefit from this competition as both sides continue to add new features to try and beat out their competition. So let's hope this rivalry continues!
What I might want from an online course platform might be different than what you want.
When you're evaluating whether to choose Teachable or Thinkific, I'd start by making a list of must-have features that you want to be included.
Then I'd rate them to determine how important they really are. Perhaps some are critical to running your online course, while others are just nice to have.
Once you've made a list of these features, I'd take a look and see which course offers the closest set of features compared to what you're looking for.
Most likely it will be a very close choice. Both platforms are great, and in the end it might just come down to personal preference.
One thing I'd urge you to do is to look at things long-term. Don't just evaluate the different online course platforms you have to choose from based upon what you're offering right now.
Think about how many different courses you may be offering 5 or 10 years down the road, as well as how many students you expect to have enrolled in total.
The features you might want when you're teaching thousands of people might differ from what you want when you only need to interact with a couple dozen students.
Once you do choose a platform, I'd plan to stick with it for the life of your course. It can be very difficult to migrate all of your course material and students from one platform to another, regardless of which platform you choose.
Overall both are great platforms though and you can't really go wrong with either. You can grow your online courses into a six-figure business with either one. So the important thing is just to pick one and get started!
If you absolutely can't decide, it's important to remember that both platforms offer a free version. So the best way to see which you prefer might simply be to sign up risk-free for both and give each one a fair try.
You don't have to actually launch your course on either, but you can experiment with the back-end and see how everything works from a course creator's point of view.
If you have any questions or you'd like to share your own experience using either Teachable or Thinkific, please leave a comment below!
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