If you’re looking to create and sell online content, no doubt you’ve heard of Teachable. It’s the best known “course-only” platform for running online courses today. Yet, when you choose to build your online courses on Teachable, you’re also making the choice to piece together all of the other elements you need to run an online course in 2021: marketing, upselling and cross-selling, and–most importantly–building the community that will ultimately get your learners the best results.
In 2021, there is not only a range of Teachable alternatives for the course piece of your offering, but new and emerging approaches for tackling online courses in much more effective ways.
In this article, we’ll cover alternatives to Teachable if you’re just looking for somewhere different to host your online courses, but we don’t stop there. Running online courses today means thinking holistically about how you use your online courses to find, market, and then deliver amazing results for your students. And this bigger picture is where the Teachable alternatives are the most compelling.
Taking it from the top: what makes an online course successful today?
To truly understand the latest and greatest Teachable alternatives, you want to first think about the different pieces you need to create and grow thriving online courses:
- Identify your ideal learners. The clearer you are in who you serve with your online course, the easier it will be to find those people, recruit those people, and deliver something meaningful to those people. This is critical no matter what course platform you ultimately decide to use–Teachable or one of the different Teachable alternatives.
- Craft a unique course or program for these ideal learners. Then, there’s the actual course content or structure that you want to create for the online course to be clear, easy, and motivating to consume.
- Market your online course. Once you have an online course, then you actually need to market it to your ideal learners. This has typically been done via a ton of email, “webinars,” and marketing landing pages designed to deliver a hard sell to prospective students.
- Ensure learners apply your online course to their lives. The biggest opportunity available for both aspiring and established course creators to distinguish their courses from the competition today is paying attention to how your learners become a community mastering your topic together. Increasingly, this focus on community is unlocking faster growth, better results, and the ability to charge a premium for a new generation of online course creators, especially as more people seek to launch their own online courses.
3 alternatives to Teachable
In the context of what makes an online course successful today, there are three ways to think about Teachable alternatives:
Option #1: The “course-only” alternative to Teachable
Teachable’s focus is on creating a strong learning experience for your members. They’re known for their easy setup, beautiful interface, and multimedia course delivery. You can support all kinds of learners with audio, video, and PDF content in your lessons, and learners can check their progress with quizzes or other written responses.
Therefore, the first category of Teachable alternatives are other “course-only” platforms like Thinkific (or Podia) that are the most similar to Teachable, but may have a few features you prefer or a design that’s more to your liking.
Option #2: The “course + marketing” alternative to Teachable
The second category of Teachable alternatives are those platforms like Kajabi that seek to differentiate themselves from Teachable by heavily investing in promoting and selling online courses, not just delivering them. In this category, you see software-as-a-service platforms that not just deliver online courses, but add the ability to send emails, set up sophisticated landing pages, and professionally market online courses to new learners.
This category is the most compelling Teachable alternative when you understand digital marketing and want more of your tools together in the same place as you are delivering your online course. For someone who is less tech savvy just starting your first online course, the “Course + Marketing” alternative to Teachable may be overkill.
Option #3: The “Course + Community + Marketing” Alternative to Teachable
With the first two categories of Teachable alternatives assume you’ll be using a Facebook Group or a Slack Channel for your students to build relationships with each other as they go through your course, the biggest area of innovation and growth happening in online courses is happening today around the community component of a modern online course.
When you can integrate an online community into your online course, your students are more likely to stick with your online course and actually get the results that you promise. This means better testimonials. This means more positive word-of-mouth and referrals. This means you’re able to grow faster, get better results, and even charge a premium for your online course when you make a community a “first order” feature and selling point of your online courses.
Even better? When you invest in a combined course and community alternative to Teachable like a Mighty Network, you don’t have to send as many aggressive emails or embrace the sales tactics of a used car salesman. A community makes marketing and selling your online course easier and more natural.
With this as context, let’s look at where Teachable works, where it falls short, and three alternatives to Teachable you can choose to explore from here.
Where Teachable works
With Teachable, you can go from idea to execution pretty quickly. It’s been the best alternative to date for online course creators launching or growing their first online course and scaling up from there.
Building your online course on Teachable doesn’t require special technical skills or coding to get your course materials in place. It has payment processing you can configure different ways to bundle your courses or offer ongoing access with a subscription fee.
Teachable also has an interesting pricing model that lets creators start at no cost. Build your online course and enroll students, and you only pay when your course sells. There are fees with each transaction that are based on a flat fee and a percentage of your course price. This is convenient if you’re experimenting, but it can start to feel steep once your course is selling well.
One additional unique feature of Teachable is that it’s set up to support more formal learning and training. They have tools to make sure members meet certain requirements, like compliance checks to ensure students have completed the required part of the courses. They also offer certificates for completion.
Where Teachable struggles
The three most common complaints about Teachable are:
- No community option. Course creators on Teachable either start a Facebook Group (which is noisy, distracting, and has a habit of cheapening the value of your online course offering) or go without a community altogether (which means people don’t stick with their courses). Without any kind of community feature, members miss the opportunity to take the course with other people. What do people add to an online course? It turns out, a lot. For any given student, fellow classmates keep them engaged and focused via sharing stories, experiences, inspiration, challenges, and wins. It’s this living, breathing, incredibly dynamic asset that makes the difference between a successful online course and one that’s “dead on arrival.” This has never been more true than it is today as tens of thousands of people launch new online courses every week.
- Extremely limited marketing features. Teachable’s success has come from its focus. It just does online courses and it does them pretty darn well. Teachable stays fairly self-contained. To market online courses on Teachable, the vast majority of savvy course creators use a combination of third party tools from an email provider like ConvertKit or MailChimp; landing page services like Clickfunnels or Unbounce; and more. It’s a lot to juggle (and pay for), especially if you are just getting started.
- A weak mobile presence. For Teachable, a native mobile app experience was not the priority. It’s been built well for the web and has a very light app, but both course creators and learners find it glitchy. Not having a good app not only limits when busy people can work through their course, but it’s also a non-starter if you’re seeking to differentiate your online courses by your community. Without a native mobile app experience, you can’t rely on push notifications to get your learners to come back and finish your online course. And without native mobile apps, a community is impossible to deliver.
The best Teachable alternatives
We’ve researched a dozen different alternatives to Teachable for this review. Ruling out custom development on WordPress or a homegrown online course website you build out yourself, we’ve narrowed down the list to one winner per category of Teachable alternatives.
Teachable alternative for “course + community + marketing:” Mighty Networks
Let’s start with the most powerful option. If you’re ready to energize your online courses by connecting your learners to each other for better results, this Teachable alternative is the best place to start for course creators with a purpose.
Mighty Networks is the newest player in the field of paid online courses. It started as a world-class community platform with a feature set similar to a Facebook Group. Then, as more and more course creators started replacing their Facebook Groups or Slack Teams with a Mighty Network community, they asked for Mighty Networks to build online courses and marketing online courses directly into a Mighty Network.
Today, a Mighty Network is the only alternative to Teachable where you can get the full power of a sophisticated online course platform and a community together in one place, and branded for you. You can market, run, and charge for your online courses (and/or launch paid mastermind groups) directly in a Mighty Network.
A Mighty Network comes equipped with a combination of native marketing tools and integrations to help you make the most of your sales funnel. It also supports the most ways to connect and communicate with your learners: interactive polls and questions, rich media articles, private and direct messaging, as well as online and in-person live events with RSVPs.
With a Mighty Network, you can start simple and scale to bundles of online courses, groups, and more. Your website, email marketing, blog, course, and community are all in one place.
The best part of a Mighty Network is that it’s instantly available to your members or students on every platform–web, iOS, and Android. Over 65% of Mighty’s rapidly growing engagement happens on its native mobile apps. And when you’re ready, you can upgrade to offer your entire package of courses, community, and memberships on your own native mobile apps available directly in the Apple App and Google Play Stores.
A Mighty Network might not have the same official-ready certification setup of Teachable, but if your course doesn’t require compliance and a certificate, a Mighty Network is the easiest and most obvious alternative to Teachable. What you lose in certificates, you gain in the power of the community and native mobile apps drive better results, faster growth, and deeper engagement.
Teachable alternative for “course + marketing:” Kajabi
Kajabi is another well-known, savvy platform for running paid memberships and online courses. If you’re looking for an alternative to Teachable that will bring your course marketing and delivery together in one place on the web, Kajabi is the answer.
Marketing and sales tools are where Kajabi makes its mark. With Kajabi, you get powerful marketing tools to deliver email campaigns, welcome flows, weekly updates, and more. They have optimized marketing landing pages to create email waitlists or sell exclusive “windows” for purchase, and they have checkout and payments that support multiple currencies around the world.
Kajabi is the most expensive platform on the market. Its strength in marketing online courses has meant that it could charge instructors a lot of money for its platform.
That being said, Kajabi’s community is an extremely limited forum feature. It’s web-only and pales in comparison to the features and availability of a Mighty Network.
Teachable alternative for “course-only:” Thinkific
If you’re looking for an alternative to Teachable to deliver just your online courses, Thinkific is a similar course-only platform and also offers a free tier. It’s the winner of this category of “course-only” Teachable alternatives.
Thinkific offers two things that Teachable doesn’t. First, it has more advanced quizzes, with question banks and randomization, as well as surveys you can use to communicate with people who take your courses. Results from your surveys and course feedback can be embedded in marketing pages offered in the paid tiers, which is a nice way of closing the loop.
The other thing that Thinkific offers is a closer connection to your website. Like Mighty Networks and Kajabi, Thinkific will also link back to your website. With a little technical know-how, you can integrate your website with your Thinkific online courses for a more seamless brand experience. This is a long way from putting your courses, your site, your community, and your marketing under one umbrella, but it’s a step.
Thinkific has added more features and integrations that support marketing efforts, but they have yet to take any steps to support any real community feature. Choosing a course-only option like Thinkific or Teachable means you’ll be not only missing native marketing tools but also the opportunity for like-minded learners to inspire and encourage each other on the way to the finish line.
The Winner: Mighty Networks
When you choose a Mighty Network as a Teachable alternative, you’ve got the newest and easiest way to launch or grow online courses faster, more efficiently, and with more energy. It’s a powerful platform that’s easy to learn and is perfect for someone “low tech” just starting out or a sophisticated course creator ready to take their business to the next level.
Compared to swapping out Teachable for Thinkific or Kajabi and then needing to augment it with other services–including a Facebook Group–the decision to use a Mighty Network is a great one.
Choose the right Teachable alternative for you
Between Teachable, Thinkific, and a Mighty Network, you’ve got three great options for running your online courses and memberships. Whether your emphasis is on certification, a mobile presence, or you’re ready to scale faster by bringing your courses and community together in one place, you’ve got some great choices.