- More than 20 years experience in the e-learning industry, with a Particular focus on businesses that sell education (as opposed to, by Way of Example, corporate training departments, that do not have to convince their students to buy)
- Extensive experience designing, developing, and executing online class platforms (I was the founder and CEO of an e-learning platform and path development company.)
- Over a decade of experience tracking and exploring online course platforms and assisting individuals and organizations pick the Ideal platform for selling courses
I’ve been Monitoring Thinkific and other suppliers that have emerged as a new class of course platforms within the previous years. These are platforms which LMSes, or are less costly and more user friendly than learning management systems. They’re a blessing for solo edupreneurs and companies that are looking to enter the course enterprise. Over time, I believe they have potential to interrupt the learning management system market that is conventional.
Having said That, let us get started.
Building and Presence Your Online Course Web Site
Using Site Builder — which is simply part of the admin board for the stage — you now have the ability to prepare an attractive home page to your course website and make as many custom pages as you need (e.g., to give details about you and your other services). Despite the fact that you do not have complete control — you can’t, as an example, set up your own style sheets (CSS) — you do possess very good capabilities for changing branding elements like colors and font styles and you can upload pretty much any kind of pictures or media you would want to utilize.
Site Builder Comes with three topics and there are multiple variants for each of those themes. (The company says more topics are a part of their future growth program.) Additionally, there are a range of pre-fab”sections” you are able to insert and change on any webpage to provide for things like social proof (e.g. customer quotations or”as seen on” logos), calls for action, count down timer, and pricing choices — basically, all of the essential tools you require for conducting a successful path or membership website. There’s also a blank slate”media & Text” section which can be used to make pretty much anything you want.
As is the case With more or less any content management system, it took me a while to work out how to do some basic things like delete segments (the topics provide a home page pre-populated with sections) and include custom pages to the site menu. However support has been readily available for them. Thinkific has a solid support website on which you can look for help, but I often just use a Google search together with the phrase”Thinkific” to discover whatever I want (e.g.,”create custom website pages Thinkific”). I’ve yet to not find decent support using this method, whether to the Thinkific website or from a different user.
Some added Features to note:
- Custom URL (under Settings > Website ) — By default, you are assigned a thinkific.com speech — e.g., learningrvolution.thinkific.com. With a paid plan (beginning at $49 per month for Fundamental ) you can get a customized URL
- SSL (Under Settings > Site) — With any plan you have the choice to turn on SSL (secure socket layer), a best practice for virtually any Web site nowadays. (Google smiles on this.)
- White tagging (under Settings > Website )– By jumping up to a Pro Plan ($99 per month) with the Growth Add-on ($.10 per busy student/per month) you can quickly remove the”Powered by Thinkific” speech on your website and courses.
So, you might be asking,”Can I use Thinkific for the primary Web site?”
For edupreneurs That are only starting off and do not already have an Internet presence the response is an emphatic”yes.” Using Thinkific is a good way to have a big item from your”to do” list (i.e.,”figure out how to get a decent Web site set up”) and focus on creating and launching your classes. It is possible to worry about a more sophisticated Web site later.
If you already Have a Web site, though — especially on a fuller-featured content management system like WordPress — I wouldn’t recommend relying on Thinkific (or some other course platform) to your primary Internet site. Site Builder is great for what it does — and can create a fantastic course site to match your primary Web site — but finally it’s relatively limited. A few of the key current limitations include:
- All themes are single column. Therefore, as an instance, you can’t put email signup forms, promotions for class, or other items down the left or right side of your website.
- As mentioned, you can’t use your own CSS (cascading style sheets), mostly a limit in the event that you really wish to mirror the branding of an present Web website.
- There’s absolutely no control on search engine optimization configurations on Web pages — e.g., you can’t specify the name tags or meta tag descriptions. You can, however, do this on course landing pages, which is arguably more significant for the typical edupreneur.
- Thinkific lacks the wealth of plug-ins and the extensive network of seasoned contractors who are available to support platforms like WordPress.
Regardless of those Limits, Site Builder is likely to do the job well for most edupreneurs and is a little better than what most online course platforms provide.
Creating Online Courses with Thinkific
While you Definitely want an attractive, user-friendly website to house your classes, the courses themselves are the main attraction. As you might expect, this is a place where Thinkific really shines.
To start with, the Platform provides a range of pre-configured templates which can be very beneficial to course builders searching for help with how to arrange their content. The templates cover the range of standard scenarios you would be likely to consider for offering an educational item. These are:
- Blank — Start fresh and build your course to match your specific curriculum requirements.
- Mini-course — Utilize a low-cost or free mini-course to generate prospects for a complete flagship program or assistance.
- Flagship Course — Build a complete online class using a robust curriculum outline made with best practices in mind.
- Pre-sell — Create a pre-sell landing page and start constructing a waitlist to gauge interest in your program.
- Digital Download — Host downloadable files in an internet course to generate revenue or collect email addresses.
- Membership Resource Library — Host downloadable tools to be included in a membership bundle with this template.
- Webinar Replay — Host your webinar replay video to allow registrants to assess your presentation and offer.
If you have zero Experience working with Web content, there will inevitably be a bit of a learning curve, but my opinion is that Thinkific has done a good job making that curve as manageable as possible. Invest in making your it up, and you will reap the benefits.
And, if you are Already comfortable with other Internet content programs — like, for instance, WordPress or a different course platform — I think you will find working in Thinkific to be a breeze.
Overall Of putting together a course in Thinkific makes complete sense. After choosing”New Course,” choosing your course type, naming it (which you may change at any point), and rescue it, you add”Chapters” (or modify ones in the template) to produce the structure of this course. As mentioned above, if you do not like the expression”Chapters,” you can change it to whatever you prefer.
You fill the Chapters with content in a way very similar to how I described using Website Builder above. There are 11 choices:
- Video classes — Upload a video file. (This has saved in a movie library for re-use in other courses. Videos stored in this library are protected from access by anyone who is not a registered user of your site.)
- Classes — Create a quiz for the students. (More info on quizzes under )
- Multimedia classes — This can be a means to link out to articles not hosted on Thinkific and make it an integrated part of your course. A Few of the possibilities include:
- Webinar tools (supply the URL to some live Zoom session, for example)
- Surveys (e.g. Typeform)
- Appointment booking tools (e.g. Calendly)
- Presentations (e.g. Prezi)
- Google Docs
- Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate documents (Requires Professional or Enterprise license. More on this below)
- Text classes — Combine text, images, videos, etc. into a single lesson. This is basically the equivalent to”Text and Media” Website Builder option mentioned previously.
- Survey lessons — Collect information/feedback from the students by building a brief poll in Thinkific.
- PDF lessons — Publish a PDF file to be looked at within the course participant.
- Disqus lessons Disqus discussion boards to your program. (Note: there’s also a discussion alternative built into Thinkific which you may turn off or on beneath Support Your Students > Discussions.)
- Audio lessons — Upload an audio file.
- Downloads resources available for downloading from inside the program participant.
- Demo classes — synchronize a presentation as record sound and a PDF document for each slide.
- Classes — Contain a Brillium exam in your program. (A Brillium permit is separate from Thinkific and begins at $49 a month. More about that below.)
The aforementioned options Will find the job completed for all but the edupreneurs. The primary places they fall short is in
- Providing for branching scenarios — i.e., allowing learners to move down different paths based on their performances in the course or data you collect about them — and
- Inserting elements like learning games.
Use of Articulate and Captivate at Thinkific
Many course Founders will be perfectly content with using the tools in Thinkific to make classes, but some may prefer the option of producing their classes with third party e-learning course creation software such as Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate.
Fundamentally, using a Third-party tool is an alternative to seriously consider if you (a) currently have a significant number of courses built out in these tools (in which you case you probably don’t want to need to re-create them utilizing Thinkific course creation tools), or (b) you anticipate developing a substantial catalogue of courses with a relatively long”shelf life” — in which case you might not wish your courses locked into a specific delivery stage.
You can use these Types of tools with Thinkific — Articulate Storyline and Captivate are encouraged — but there are a few limitations you should be aware of if you go this path.
First, Thinkific (like all other platforms in its own class) hasn’t implemented SCORM, which stands for the Shareable Content Object Reference Model. There is a whole lot to SCORM, but the main thing for edupreneurs to know is that it provides criteria for how an online course can communicate using a learning platform to deliver it data like how much time a learner has invested in a program, or whether specific areas of the class have been finished successfully. Thinkific monitors this kind of information. (More about SCORM here.)
Second, you Can’t Import an Articulate or Captivate route into Thinkific all on your own. These courses comprise of over a single file (such as, as an example, a video file), so to get them into the platform, you have to zip up the files and send them to Thinkific customer support.
The Features and How They Benefit You
An excellent Course building platform offers you. Including the teacher/student management, the marketing, the selling, and the training course building.
Systems like Thinkific don’t host courses on your own site. Your articles is actually hosted with Thinkific (so you do not have to go outside and find your own hosting,) but it gives you complete control on what your site looks like.
In comparison to Systems like Udemy, Thinkific certainly provides management that is branding and more freedom. Let us explore some of the other standout features.
Outstanding Student Management and Communication Modules
During my Thinkific review, I noticed the smoothness of the pupil communication tools. It’s a visual student management area, together with pictures of your students, names, contact information, and details for how far they are in your course.
Incentives are Also a part of this learning environment because Thinkific offers report cards, completion certificates, and of course, the mails for sending out just about anything you want throughout classes.
Along with Infinite replays of language controllers, course content, students, and mobile optimisation working with the Thinkific platform should feel right at home.
A Mostly Drag and Drop Editor for Quick Course Design
Section of this Reason Thinkific looks great compared to this rivalry is that of its course designer. In case you don’t need to you don’t have to mess with any code.
In fact Your content is organized with a simple drag and drop editor, in which you stack the course content and move it around vertically.
Talking of Content, Thinkific supports uploads of all media forms. By PDFs to sound files, and surveys to quizzes, the stage is great for offering up a vast range of learning tools for the students.
As we mentioned Every one of these files are hosted on the Thinkific servers. For this reason, you should not have to worry about a file running in your very own servers that are shared or being too large.
When you personalize Your course site it offers some editing tools to the beginners on the market. As an example, you can adjust items such as colour schemes, banners, and logos, without touching any code.
The more, however Advanced programmers have complete control over the HTML and CSS. Consequently, if you would like to make your site unique, the option is there for you.
Promotions on Autopilot
Some online course Platforms fail from the promotions arena. This is unfortunate since there’s no way.
Furthermore, you Have the ability to target the ideal people and send out automated emails based on a program. Pricing can be also done through Thinkific, in addition to the choice to get paid instantly when somebody signs up on your course.
As for becoming It is tried by people beyond your site out, Thinkific includes an online affiliate marketing program to benefit other people who recommend your course and bloggers. Coupons can also be supplied through Thinkific, giving a chance convince novices that your class is worth investing in and to create ads to you.
Everything from Vouchers to affiliates is tracked in the dashboard, and you could link your Adwords, Facebook, and other reports to see where students are coming from.
Handling, Engaging, and Supporting Students
Aside from Enabling you to produce your classes, one of the reasons for utilizing a technical online course platform is that it makes managing and monitoring your customers and their data much simpler.
Communication with Learners
As already noted, For instance, you can enable discussion for your classes and then manage your pupils contributions under Support Your Students Discussions, where you can sort talks by course, respond to students, and — if needed –“Disapprove” gifts which you don’t wish to appear in the course. (Note: Letting talks is currently an all or nothing option in Thinkific — i.e., either all courses have it or no classes have it. The workaround for this is to use the Disqus alternative on a course-by-course foundation )
You can also Enable your student. Then you have the ability to approve these testimonials (they are not published automatically) and utilize them as social proof on your earnings page to the program. Unlike discussions, this feature can be enabled on a course-by-course basis.
Finally, there are Numerous notifications which can be disabled or enabled at the Thinkific platform, some of which can be customized. You can send a customized message when they register for your site to students, enroll in a specific course, or finish a course. It is also possible to send out weekly reminder messages. (Note: Reminders are site-wide, maybe not course-specific.)
Managing and Organizing Learners
To start with, When a user signs up at your website, Thinkific captures all their key contact data (e.g., first name, last name, e-mail) and using custom sign-up fields (under Preferences > Orders & accounts) you can easily add fields to capture whatever special information you want from your own users. (Notice that, unlike platforms such as Udemy, you get complete access to the user information you accumulate.)
You can also Organize users into classes. This feature may have a big impact on your business model by making it possible for you to sell classes in bulk to organizations — one of the greatest ways for online course sellers to drive revenue growth that is significant .
Tracking and Reporting
A motive to Have a technical course platform — to posting content behind a password on a Web site, instead, for instance — is it is going to track quiz and survey information in addition to things like completion and course progress.
Thinkific’s Advancement tracking (under Support Your Students > Progress) enables you to select a specific student and monitor numerous variables for each class in which the pupil is registered. For every course you may see:
- Percentage of Course of Viewed
- Percentage of Course Completed
- Student Name
- Student Email
- Course Completed in (date)
- Course Started at (date)
- Course Activated at (date)
- Last sign in (date)
I like this you If you are adding new classes to an already completed course May also opt to reset the completion percentage of a student at any moment.
Overall, the Course reporting is rather basic, but I guess it’ll serve the needs of the huge majority of course entrepreneurs.
Contrary to the Program Reporting, the quiz and survey reporting is exported into a .CSV file (rather than displayed on screen) and e-mailed to you. The .csv file includes the responses from all students who have taken a survey a quiz email address, along with their name, and if it was taken by them. For quizzes, in addition, it supplies percent and the amount .
What Thinkific is Missing
Anyone who has Been operating in the e-learning sector for the last few years (as I have) will understand that Thinkific offers a remarkable range of features at a really affordable price. It was not long ago that a system with these capacities may have cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.
With that in mind, It’s really hard to assert that Thinkific is”missing” much. Nonetheless, there are gaps which can rule it out for a few class vendors — and all of these tend to be. The main ones that I find are:
No support for xAPI/TinCan or SCORM
As mentioned previously, While Thinkific can host and deliver classes created in shared authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate, it doesn’t actually make use of the SCORM (or xAPI/TInCan) packaging capacities of these applications. In case you have a reason for using one of the major e-learning criteria, then Thinkific might not be the thing to do.
Like I Are areas that aren’t served by programs that are in Thinkific’s class. To acquire a platform that supports all three generally means a starting price point than Thinkific — and it could go far from there up. So, be sure that these truly are gaps for you before ruling out Thinkific.
No continuing education credit capabilities
No multi-tenancy alternative
Multi-tenancy Means that you can make and manage a number of instances of a platform. This can be useful if you are a training company with many clients and those clients want their branded instance of this platform for serving and managing their own customers. While the Group performance in Thinkific makes you a part of the way there, it is not the exact same matter as multi-tenancy.
Although I’ve yet To discover an online course platform that has many hidden charges, Thinkific advertises that it also has no hidden charges or contracts. That is very good to know, however, nothing special.
However, Thinkific Does offer a program that is totally free for those who want to test the stage out but not get bogged down by constraints. In theory, it helps you start building a pupil base without needing to pay a dime and launch your store. There is also a free trial if you would rather give a whirl to one of those more advanced plans.
The pricing is Broken up into four easy strategies:
Starter — $0 for all core Thinkific features. This plan has a top 10% transaction fee, all you need to make, market, and market your courses, unlimited courses, class upsells, content hosting integrations support, and access to all funds.
Business — For $99 per month you receive the attributes from all prior plans, no transaction fees, completion certificates, personal and hidden classes, site white labeling, a host storyline, intermediate Zapier, webhooks, three-course admin accounts, advanced HTML/CSS editing, priority service, teacher payout coverage, an onboarding call, payment plans, and an immediate Infusionsoft integration.
Advanced — For $279 a month you receive all features from previous programs, no transaction fees, a single sign-on (SSO), three website admin accounts, 10-course admin accounts, an onboarding professional, onboarding package, people API, innovative integrations, and advanced Zapier.
Thinkific has some Fantastic advantages to its pricing layout. Not only are you able to start your course at no cost (something that is not offered with competitors like Teachable,) but the additional three plans are broken down in a reasonable manner.
After all, you Most probably don’t need API access until you really start becoming advanced with your course promoting.
I would not mind Seeing also the HTML editing and the completion certificates but $99 a month still is not that bad.
As you can see, The transaction fees are 10% for the plan that is free. That is large, however, it creates an environment for individuals who do not have the upfront capital or those with low volume. As soon as you start making money you’ll be able to cut that transaction fee down.
You can Also save money by paying an annual basis. If you cover it all upfront, so, the Essentials plan goes down to $39 per month. The company program is $79 per month and also the Advanced plan is 219. That makes the pricing programs much like Teachable.
I’ll finish this Thinkific review where I began: this is. Hopefully it is evident by now that it supplies a range of the characteristics that are most vital to support your edupreneur in selling classes.