The 3 Best Alternatives to Thinkific for Creating an Online Course in 2021
Looking for an alternative to Thinkific, especially in 2021? This is the guide for you.
Thinkific describes itself as offering “everything you need to run your education business under one roof.” It’s a software platform that allows people and businesses to create online courses, and sell those courses to their audience under their own brand.
While Thinkific has a number of strengths, it’s also lagging behind other alternatives as the delivery of online courses, community, and membership benefits is shifting today in real-time.
Whether you are just starting to explore how you might launch your first online course or you’ve been a long-time Thinkific instructor ready to look at alternatives, the Thinkific alternatives you have today have never been clearer or better.
The ONE thing you need to succeed with online courses in 2021
Any conversation about Thinkific alternatives needs to start with what makes a successful online course in 2021, as many creators are moving physical events, workshops, and courses online.
When Thinkific first got started in 2012, the “state-of-the-art” online course platforms focused solely on content. Online courses were a way to, through content, push your knowledge out to an audience and charge for it. The benefits were clear to the instructors: to make money from sharing what you know.
At first, the novelty of an online course of structured, step-by-step instruction about a topic people cared about had people signing up in droves. The problem was they didn’t stick with a content only course. Without a community, an online course has embarrassingly low completion rates, a lack of results, poor word-of-mouth, and, in many cases, a course that’s dead before it even gets going.
It turns out, a community is THE essential feature of a thriving online course. While some instructors continue to rely on a Facebook Group to deliver the community component of their online courses, others are looking at Thinkific alternatives that:
- Offer online courses and community together in one place.
- Enable a beautiful, streamlined marketing, sales, and course delivery experience under their brand.
- Allow for maximum flexibility in how online courses and membership benefits are delivered.
After reviewing and analyzing a handful of different alternatives to Thinkific, there are three that stand out as the best Thinkific alternatives for 2021. But first, let’s talk about where Thinkific shines and where it falls short.
Where Thinkific shines
Thinkific hits all the marks of a hosted online course content platform. If you are focused on content alone, Thinkific remains a great choice.
On Thinkific, you can create and sell online courses, from dripped courses to those whose content is available all at once. Plus, the technology is hosted and managed for you, so there’s no need to find a developer or build an expensive custom website.
Even their integrations are fairly easy to set up, and, again, you don’t need to be a developer to tie your Thinkific offerings to your day-to-day business, marketing, and analytics tools. Thinkific’s free plan offers unlimited courses and is great for beginners because you can try new things and experiment without paying a hefty fee.
Thinkific also has an easy drag-and-drop course-building interface, bulk import tools, as well as quizzes and tests. If accreditation or certification are an important part of your program, Thinkific has got you covered.
Finally, you can easily tie your course homepage to your main website to create a seamless extension into learning for your current site visitors.
Where Thinkific falls short
Thinkific’s weaknesses start to show up when you look at their community or student interaction features.
There’s no community option, and live events, Q&A sessions, in-person coaching, or any other event-based learning isn’t possible on Thinkific. There’s also no integrated support for your sales funnel.
As soon as you want to expand your online course content into something bigger–a website with one or more course communities, member benefits, subscriptions, mastermind groups, or a “freemium” model to convert prospects, you have to start looking at alternatives to Thinkific.
3 alternatives to Thinkific
Thinkific alternative #1: Mighty Networks: The “all-in-one” course and community platform
Mighty Networks is a new player into the world of online courses and just dramatically expanded its online course offering. It started as a world-class community platform (picture a Facebook Group on steroids), then added paid online courses and memberships more recently.
A Mighty Network stands out among the Thinkific alternatives in its flexibility to offer a website, courses, community, and sales pages in a few different flavors. Delivered in the same way as a Shopify ecommerce store or Wix website builder (only with native mobile apps as well), a Mighty Network is offered under your brand, and instantly available on every platform–mobile and desktop web, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Within a Mighty Network, there are three ways to deliver online courses:
- A content-only online course. This option funnels students into a single community in the main Mighty Network and offers online courses as a benefit of membership.
- An online course with a dedicated course community. In this configuration, there is a separate community only visible to the members of that online course.
- A course delivered “live.” The last option is the most interesting one, especially for instructors creating their first online course. With this alternative, the dedicated course community is front and center, with course content being created and added as you go.
The key difference from other Thinkific alternatives is a Mighty Network’s ability to keep students engaged, which then translates into higher completion rates, better results, stronger word-of-mouth, and faster growth.
Thinkific alternative #2: Teachable: The next best course content platform
If you’re happy having your online courses and community spread across multiple places, then Teachable is the best alternative to Thinkific.
Teachable has all the features you need to create courses, enroll students, and collect payments. It doesn’t have integrated email nor does it offer the same kinds of complex marketing features our next Thinkific alternative, Kajabi, is known for.
With Teachable, you’ll have your online courses taken care of, but you’ll still need the following to sell and engage your online courses:
- An email provider like ConvertKit or MailChimp.
- An online marketing platform like Clickfunnels.
- A Facebook Group or a Slack channel to engage people on a mobile app (Teachable doesn’t have mobile apps)
- Plus, Teachable doesn’t integrate well with a website you’ve already built, whereas Thinkific will link back to your site from your course homepage.
Choosing Teachable means managing more services in different places, but it remains a legitimate course-only alternative to Thinkific.
Thinkific alternative #3: Kajabi: The course + marketing option
The third Thinkific alternative is Kajabi. Kajabi is known for its top-of-the-line tools for the business and marketing side of courses and content. It’s a stable, savvy platform for running paid memberships and online courses.
In addition to the ability to host and run online courses with different delivery methods (drip, self-paced, etc) and engaging quizzes and polls, with Kajabi, you get sophisticated marketing tools for email campaigns, welcome flows, weekly updates, and more. There are optimized marketing landing pages, and a feature for creating waitlists or “windows” for purchase. Checkout and payments are clean, easy, and support multiple currencies around the world.
The reason Kajabi isn’t the best Thinkific alternative is its lack of a native mobile app as well as its price. For all its business, branding, and customization features, instructors don’t have the option to offer courses on their own private-label, branded mobile apps. Plus, Kajabi is the most expensive platform on the market.
Thinkific alternative #4: Pairing an online course platform with a community built on Mighty Networks
Another great option to consider if you already have an online course in place on an online course platform without community features is pairing it with a Mighty Network. Online communities are great at expanding your business and giving you more freedom to produce less content, and instead, focus on building the most worthwhile content and experience for your members as possible.
A challenge that all online course creators must face is figuring out a strategy to keep people after they’ve completed your course content. An online community is a great place for that because you can build lasting relationships with your members, but more importantly, between your members.
These lasting connections will give your business more value, and allow you to create your own network effect. That means that each new person who joins your community adds more value to your business by sharing their expertise and perspective. Additionally, you wont be stuck making an endless array of content, and instead, can produce the best work possible.
On your Mighty Network, you can host virtual events, create a paid membership site, connect your online course students together, and much more.
The best option: Mighty Networks
When you start a Mighty Network, you’re choosing a much more cost effective platform that gets more valuable to everyone in your course with each new person who joins and contributes. Compared to swapping out Thinkific for Teachable or Kajabi, the decision to use a Mighty Network is a clear one.
Choose the right Thinkific alternative for you
Between a Mighty Network, Teachable, and Kajabi, you’ve got three great Thinkific alternatives for running online courses and memberships. Whether your emphasis is on a course-only alternative, aggressive marketing tactics, or you’re ready to scale faster by bringing your courses and community together in one place, there’s a platform for you.
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