- Over 20 years experience in the e-learning Business, with a Particular focus on companies that sell education (compared to, by Way of Example, corporate training departments, that do not have to convince their learners to purchase )
- Extensive experience designing, creating, and executing online course platforms (I had been the founder and CEO of an e-learning platform and course development company.)
- Over a decade of experience tracking and exploring online class platforms and helping organizations and individuals pick the right platform for selling classes
I have been closely Monitoring Thinkific and other providers which have emerged as a new class of online course platforms within the past several years. These are platforms which LMSes, or are less costly and more user-friendly than conventional learning management methods. They are small businesses that are looking to get into the course business and a boon for solo edupreneurs. Over time, I think they have real potential to interrupt the learning management system marketplace.
Having said That, let’s begin.
Building and Branding Your Online Course Web Site
Using Site Builder — which is simply part of the admin panel to the stage — you now have the capacity to prepare an appealing 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 don’t have total control — you can’t, for instance, set up your own style sheets (CSS) — you do get very good capabilities for modifying branding components like colors and font styles and you can upload just about any type of pictures or media you would like to use.
Website Builder Comes with three topics and there are multiple variants for each one of these topics. (The company says more themes are part of the upcoming development program.) Additionally, there are a range of pre-fab”segments” you are able to add and modify on any page to provide for matters like social evidence (e.g. customer quotes or”as seen on” logos), calls for action, count down timer, and pricing choices — basically, all of the critical tools you require for conducting a successful course or membership website. There is also a blank slate”media & Text” section that can be utilised to create pretty much anything you desire.
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 themes offer a home page pre-populated with sections) and add custom pages to the site menu. But service has been readily available for these. Thinkific has a solid support website on which you can search for aid, but I often only use a Google search together with the word”Thinkific” to discover whatever I need (e.g.,”create custom site pages Thinkific”). I’ve yet to not find decent support by doing this, whether on the Thinkific website or from a different user.
Some additional Features to notice:
- Customized URL (under Settings > Website ) — By default, you’re assigned a thinkific.com address — e.g., learningrvolution.thinkific.com. With a paid program (starting at $49 a month for Basic) you can get a custom URL
- SSL (Under Settings > Site) — With any plan you have the option to turn on SSL (secure socket layer), a best practice for virtually any Web site these days. (Google smiles on this.)
- White tagging (below Settings > Website )– By jumping up into a Guru Plan ($99 a month) using the Growth Add-on ($.10 per active student/per month) you can easily remove the”Powered by Thinkific” speech on your site and courses.
Thus, you might be asking,”Can I use Thinkific for my primary Web website?”
For edupreneurs That are just starting off and don’t have a Web presence the answer is an emphatic”yes.” Utilizing Thinkific is a great way to take a huge item from your”to do” list (i.e.,”figure out how to get an adequate Web site set up”) and focus on creating and launch your courses. You can worry about a more sophisticated Web site after.
If you already Have an Internet site, however — particularly on a fuller-featured content management system like WordPress — I wouldn’t recommend relying on Thinkific (or any other route platform) to your main Internet website. Website Builder is fantastic for what it does — and may create a fantastic course website to match your main site — but ultimately it is relatively limited. A few of the key current constraints include:
- All themes are single pillar. Therefore, as an example, you can not put e-mail signup types, promotions for course, 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 want to reflect the branding of an present Web site.
- There is no control over search engine optimization configurations on Internet pages — e.g., you can’t define the name tags or meta tag descriptions. You can, however, do this on course landing pages, which is arguably more important for the average edupreneur.
- Thinkific lacks the wealth of plug-ins and the extensive network of experienced contractors that are available to encourage platforms like WordPress.
Regardless of these Limits, Site Builder is very likely to do the work well for most edupreneurs and is a little better than what many online course platforms provide.
Creating Online Courses with Thinkific
While you Definitely want to have an attractive, user-friendly site to house your classes, the classes themselves are the primary attraction. As you might expect, this is an area where Thinkific really shines.
To Begin with, the Platform provides a variety of pre-configured templates which can be very beneficial to course builders searching for help with how to organize their content. The templates cover the assortment of standard scenarios you would be prone to think about for offering an educational item. All these are:
- Blank — Start fresh and construct your own course to match your specific curriculum needs.
- Mini-course — Use a low-cost or free mini-course to create prospects for a complete flagship course or service.
- Flagship Course — Construct a full online class using a strong curriculum outline created using best practices in mind.
- Pre-sell — Create a pre-sell landing page and start building a waitlist to gauge interest on your course.
- Digital Download — Host downloadable documents in an online course to create revenue or collect email addresses.
- Membership Resource Library — Host downloadable resources to be included in a membership package for this template.
- Webinar Replay — Host your webinar replay video to allow registrants to assess your presentation and provide.
In Case You Have zero Experience working with Web content, there’ll inevitably be a small learning curve, but my view is that Thinkific has done a good job making that curve as manageable as possible. Invest in making your it up, and you’ll reap the benefits.
And you are Already comfortable using other Internet content systems — such as, for example, WordPress or another program platform — I think you will find working in Thinkific for a breeze.
The logic, overall Of putting together a class in Thinkific makes sense in my perspective. After selecting”New Course,” choosing your course type, naming it (which you may change at any stage ), and rescue it, you include”Chapters” (or change ones in the template) to produce the structure of the course. As mentioned above, if you don’t like the expression”Chapters,” you can change it to anything you would like.
You fill the Chapters with content in a way similar to how I described using Website Builder above. There are 11 options:
- Video classes — Upload a file. (This has stored in a video library for re-use in other courses. Videos stored in this library are protected from access by anyone who isn’t a registered user of your site.)
- Quiz lessons — Create a quiz for the students. (More information on quizzes below)
- Multimedia lessons — This can be a means to link out to articles not hosted on Thinkific and also make it an integrated part of your course. A Few of the possibilities include:
- Webinar tools (supply the link to a live Zoom session, by Way of 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, pictures, videos, etc. into a single lesson. This is basically the equivalent to”Text and Media” Site Builder option mentioned previously.
- Survey lessons — Gather by building a survey in Thinkific.
- PDF lessons.
- 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 under Support Your Students > Discussions.)
- Audio classes — Upload a sound file.
- Downloads resources.
- Presentation lessons — Upload a presentation as a PDF file and record audio for each slide.
- Lessons — Contain a Brillium examination on your course. (A Brillium license is separate from Thinkific and begins at $49 a month. More about that below.)
The aforementioned options Will get the work completed for all but the edupreneurs. The main places they fall short is in
- Providing for branching scenarios — i.e., allowing learners to move down different paths depending on their performances in the course or information you gather about them and
- Like studying games, Adding components.
Use of Articulate and Captivate in Thinkific
Many course Founders will be content with using the tools in Thinkific to create classes, but some might 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 option to seriously think about if you (a) currently have a substantial number of classes built out in one of these tools (in which you probably don’t want to need to re-create them utilizing Thinkific course creation tools), and/or (b) you anticipate developing a substantial catalog of courses with a relatively long”shelf life” — in which case you might not want to have your courses locked into a particular delivery stage.
You can use these Types of tools with Thinkific — Articulate Storyline and Captivate are supported — however there are some limitations you should be aware of if you go this route.
First, Thinkific (like the rest of the platforms in its course ) has not 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 internet course can communicate using a learning platform to send it information like how long a learner has spent in a course, or if specific areas of the class have been finished successfully. Thinkific monitors this kind of information with its own procedures. (More about SCORM here.)
Secondly, you Can’t Import an Articulate or Captivate route into Thinkific on your own. These courses are made up of more than a single file (such as, for example, a video file), so to get them inside the platform, you have to zip the files up and send them into Thinkific customer service.
The Features and How They Benefit You
An excellent Online course building platform typically offers the features you need from begin to finish to you. Including the promotion, the marketing, the training course building, and also the management.
Systems like Thinkific do not host classes on your own website. Your content is really hosted with Thinkific (so that you don’t have to venture out and find your own hosting,) but it gives you complete control over what your website looks like.
When compared to Systems such as Udemy, Thinkific certainly provides management and more freedom. Let us explore a few of the other standout attributes.
Excellent Student Management and Communication Modules
Within my Thinkific review, I noticed that the smoothness of the pupil communication tools. It is a visual student management area, together with images of your students, titles, contact information, and details for how far they are in your course.
Incentives are A part of the learning environment since Thinkific offers report cards, completion certificates, and throughout classes, the emails for sending out just about anything you want needless to say.
Along with Infinite replays of speech controls, course material, pupils, and cellular optimisation working together with the Thinkific platform should feel.
A Mostly Drag and Drop Editor for Quick Course Design
Part of this Reason Thinkific seems so great in contrast to this rivalry is that of its class designer. In case you don’t want to, you don’t need to mess with any code.
In fact Your content is coordinated using 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 media types. From PDFs to sound files, and polls to quizzes, the stage is great for offering up a wide assortment of learning tools for the students.
As we mentioned Before, every one of these files are hosted on the Thinkific servers. You should not need to worry about a file running slowly in your own servers that are shared or being too big.
When you personalize Your course website it offers some editing tools for the novices on the market. You can correct items like logos, color schemes, and banners, all without touching any code.
The further, however Advanced developers have complete control over the HTML and CSS. So, if you want to make your website unique, the alternative is there for you.
Promotions on Autopilot
Some online course Platforms fail in the promotions arena. As there’s no way to start making money unless people understand your path 19, this is unfortunate.
Furthermore, you Have the ability and send automatic emails based on a program. Pricing is done through Thinkific, in addition to the option to become paid instantly when someone signs up on your program.
In Terms of becoming People outside of your site to come try it out, Thinkific includes an online affiliate marketing program to benefit bloggers. Coupons are provided through Thinkific, giving you a opportunity to create advertisements and convince novices that your class is well worth investing in.
Everything from Coupons to affiliates is tracked directly in the dashboard, and you could also join Facebook, your Adwords, and other accounts to determine where students are coming from.
Handling, Engaging, and Supporting Students
Aside from Allowing you to produce your courses, one of the important reasons for utilizing a specialized class platform is that it makes monitoring and managing your customers and their data much easier.
Communicating with Learners
As noted, By way of example, you can empower discussion for your classes and manage your students gifts under Service Your Students Discussions, where it is possible to sort discussions by course, respond to pupils, and — if needed –“Disapprove” contributions that you don’t wish to appear in the program. (Note: Letting talks is currently a nothing choice in Thinkific — i.e., either all courses have it or no courses have it. The workaround for this would be to utilize the Disqus option on a course-by-course foundation )
You can also Allow your student to submit testimonials for your courses. You then have the capability to approve these testimonials (they are not published automatically) and utilize them as social proof on your sales page for your course. Unlike discussions, this feature can be enabled on a course-by-course basis.
Ultimately, there are Numerous notifications which can be disabled or enabled at the Thinkific platform, a few of which can be personalized. You can send a customized message when your site is registered for by them to students, enroll in a 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 of their key contact information (e.g., first name, last name, email ) and using custom sign-up fields (under Settings > Orders & accounts) you can easily add fields to catch whatever special information you desire from your own users. (Note that, unlike platforms such as Udemy, you get full access to the user data you accumulate.)
You can also Organize users. This simple feature may have a large effect on your business model by making it possible for you to market classes in bulk one of the greatest ways for internet course sellers to drive revenue development that is significant .
Tracking and Reporting
A reason to Have a specialized online class platform — to posting articles behind a password on a Web site as opposed, by way of instance — is it is going to monitor things like path progress and completion as well as quiz and survey information.
Thinkific’s Progress tracking (under Support Your Students > Progress) allows you to select a specific student and monitor numerous factors for every class in which the pupil is enrolled. For every class you will see:
- Percentage of Course of Viewed
- Percentage of Course Completed
- Student Name
- Student Email
- Course Completed in (date)
- Course Launched at (date)
- Course Activated at (date)
- Last sign in (date)
I like that you If you are adding new classes to an class May opt to reset a student’s completion percentage for instance,, at any moment.
Overall, the Course coverage is fairly simple, but I suspect it’ll serve the needs of the vast majority of course entrepreneurs.
Contrary to the course Reporting, the quiz and survey reporting is exported into a .CSV file (instead of displayed on display ) and emailed to you. The .csv file includes the responses from all students who have obtained a survey a quiz e-mail address, along with their title, and if it was taken by them. For quizzes, it also provides the amount and percentage of questions the student got correct.
What Thinkific is Missing
Anyone who has Been working in the e-learning industry for the last few decades (as I have) will understand that Thinkific provides a remarkable range of features at a really affordable price. It was not that long ago a system with those capabilities may have easily cost tens of thousands of dollars.
With that in mind, It’s hard to argue that Thinkific is”missing” much. There are gaps which will rule out it to some course sellers — and these tend to be. The main ones that I find are:
No support for SCORM or xAPI/TinCan
As noted above, While Thinkific may host and deliver courses created in common authoring tools like Articulate and Captivate, it doesn’t actually take advantage of the SCORM (or even xAPI/TInCan) packaging capabilities of these applications. If you’ve got a reason for using one of the significant criteria, then Thinkific would not be the thing to do.
As I said, these Are areas which, for the most part, are not served by additional platforms which are in Thinkific’s course. To acquire a platform that supports all three normally means a beginning price point a few times greater than Thinkific — and it can go a lot from that point up. Thus, be sure these truly are gaps for you before judgment out Thinkific.
No continuing education credit capabilities
No multi-tenancy alternative
Multi-tenancy Means that you can make and manage multiple instances of a stage. This can be useful if you are a training company with many clients and those clients want their branded example of the platform for serving and managing their own users. While the Group functionality in Thinkific gets you a part of the way there, it isn’t the exact same matter as multi-tenancy.
Although I’ve yet To discover an internet course platform which has hidden fees, Thinkific advertises that it too has no hidden charges or contracts. That is very good to know, but nothing special.
However, Thinkific Does provide a free program for those who wish to test the platform but not get bogged down from limitations. In theory, it helps you start your store and start building a pupil base. There is also a free trial if you give a whirl to one of the plans.
The pricing is Broken up into four easy strategies:
Starter — $0 for many core Thinkific capabilities. This plan has a high 10% transaction fee, all you want to create, promote, and market your courses, courses that are unlimited, class upsells, content hosting, basic integrations support, and immediate access to all capital.
Business — For $99 a month you receive the features from all prior plans, no transaction fees, completion certificates, personal and concealed courses, website white labeling, a host storyline, intermediate Zapier, webhooks, three-course admin accounts, advanced HTML/CSS editing, priority service, instructor payout coverage, an onboarding call, payment plans, and an immediate Infusionsoft integration.
Advanced — For $279 per month you get all attributes from previous programs, no transaction fees, a single sign-on (SSO), three site admin accounts, 10-course admin accounts, an onboarding professional, onboarding package, public API, innovative integrations, and advanced Zapier.
Thinkific has some Great benefits to its pricing design. Not only are you able to begin your course for free (something that’s not offered with competitions such as Teachable,) but the additional 3 plans are broken down in a reasonable manner.
After all Most probably do not need API access until you start getting advanced with your course selling.
I would not mind Seeing the HTML editing as well as the completion certificates but $99 per month still is bad.
As you can see, The transaction prices are 10% for the plan. That’s high, but it creates an superb atmosphere for anyone who have low volume right now or individuals who do not have the upfront funds to launch a professional online store. Once you get started earning money you’ll be able to cut that trade fee down.
You can By paying on an annual basis Save money. So, the Essentials plan goes down to $39 a month if you cover it all upfront. The Business program is $79 per month and the Advanced program is $219. This makes the pricing plans quite much like Teachable.
I’ll end this Thinkific review where I started: this really is. Hopefully it’s clear by now that it supplies a full range of the essential features to support your edupreneur in selling courses that are online.