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. It gives people the option to either run a self-hosted course or else to use the WordPress plugin to integrate it with an existing WordPress site.
Thinkific has a lot going for it, but at this point, there are a lot of other options on the market that will provide you with more complex solutions for creating and delivering your online course. So 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.
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In this article…
What Thinkific does well
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.
Thinkific hits many of the needs for a hosted online course content platform. On Thinkific, you can create and sell online courses, from dripped courses to those for which content is available all at once. It uses a simple e-commerce checkout system, and 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 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. And if you choose to add credits or certificates to your course, you can do that.
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
The ONE thing you need to succeed with online courses in 2022
Any conversation about Thinkific alternatives needs to start with what makes a successful online course in 2022, as many creators are moving physical events, workshops, and courses online.
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. But creators could discover from looking at analytics that most of the people who bought their course wouldn’t finish it. Many wouldn’t even start. The craft of creating online courses was young, so there certain were issues with teaching quality.
But it also became clear that successful asynchronous learning was missing some things that were essential to the traditional classroom: accountability and support. After all, hopefully, your teacher never just handed you the textbook and told you to read it.
The solution to low uptake and finishing rates is to create options for engagement, in real-time. And this is where Thinkific hasn’t really adapted its model well. As soon as you want to go beyond a simple 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'll be looking for a much more robust and flexible platform than what Thinkific currently offers.
The alternatives to Thinkific we’ll talk about here have adapted a lot of different features Thinkific hasn’t, from robust communities to live streaming to native apps, from polls to integrated email features–state-of-the-art options to help your course stand out in a sea of competition.
4 Alternatives to Thinkific
1. Mighty Networks
Best “all-in-one” course and community platform
Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that brings together courses, community, content, and commerce, all at a lower cost to many of the Thinkific alternatives.
Mighty has a ton of amazing features but is still intuitive to use. And with flexible Spaces to create your courses in, you can add a bunch of awesome community features, things like live streaming, live events, member profiles, short and long-form content, messaging, chat, and discussion forums.
Best of all, it comes with an app on every plan, meaning your students can learn from their phone AND stay engaged with community activity through notifications–just like with any other social media app.
Basically, the word for Mighty Networks is engagement, since you’ve got a ton of options to build long-term value for your customers, not to mention offering them new products, events, and subgroups if you choose.
With Mighty Pro, you can even get a totally branded app of your own in the App Store and Google Play Store.
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.
Best content only platform
Another option that’s an alternative to Thinkific is Teachable.
Teachable has all the features you need to create courses, enroll students, and collect payments. It lets instructors add videos, create quizzes, and even links to your own website with a custom domain. Teachable also has an affiliate feature you can use to recruit others to sell your course for you–a great way to incentivize your course growth.
Unlike Mighty Networks, Teachable doesn’t offer comprehensive community-building solutions or an app. 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. But Teachable is similar to Thinkific in the features it offers, making it a viable alternative.
Best marketing funnels
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 things that are a knock against Kajabi are its limited app options, very basic community functions, and its price. Compared to the rest of the Thinkific alternatives, Kajabi is the most expensive. Their platform fees start at $119/month and go up from there. Add in all the costs you'll accrue through your various integrations and you can easily spend over $300 a month to keep everything running.
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. And the “community” it offers is basically just a forum.
Best marketplace option
One final alternative we’ll talk about here is Udemy. Udemy is a totally different business model from Thinkific; instead of being a course platform alone, it’s a course marketplace. This can be a blessing or curse depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with your course.
The marketplace means that your course will live alongside thousands of other courses. It must compete for attention, and you’re limited to their design options. BUT you have an existing audience to sell to, which can be a plus. It just depends on your course goals and whether you already have some idea of how to market it to people.
Udemy works on a revenue share agreement. If you bring someone to your course through an invite link on one of your channels, Udemy will let you keep 97% of the revenue. If someone finds your course on Udemy and buys it, you’ll keep 37% of the course price.
As far as features, Udemy has a decent course-building platform, and it lets you offer certificates for your courses. You can charge anywhere from $0 - $199 for your Udemy course.
Choose the right Thinkific alternative for you
Between a Mighty Network, Teachable, Kajabi, and Udemy, you’ve got four 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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