Thinkific Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Initially I thought of Thinkific as of a little guy since I was first exposed to Teachable and heard of Thinkific much later.

But after further investigation I got surprised (maybe you will too).

I learned how both of these companies are more similar in lots of fields than I thought initially.

More on that later..

Thinkific seriously impresses me in terms of their user friendliness and intuitive web experience.

I mean Thinkific usually makes me FEEL good, when using it!

I know you might think it weird to hear me talking about feelings here, but if you ever switched from Windows to Mac, you know what I’m talking about (or when you started using iPhone..err, if ever).

For EXPERIENCED course creators right now Thinkific has an edge over other online course platforms.

When I say experienced, I mean you are more demanding – for example about teaching tools or your branding.

I have used Teachable a lot, but recently little by little I am leaning towards Thinkific, just because of the ease of use. It’s just so enjoyable to edit course curriculum & work with your students there.

Anyhoo, that’s it for my feeling ramble – time for some details.

Let’s get to the core of Thinkific.

..yet if you were looking for Thinkific vs Teachable comparison go there first.


Here are shortcuts to skip around:


Examples of Successful Course Creators on Thinkific


I really love Thinkific’s customer case studies.

Instead of just listing their schools and giving links to them, Thinkific has gone two steps further and created several nice PDFs outlining the process each company & individual went through when creating their online school.

Different case studies will give you ideas for more unique cases you can use online course platform for!

It’s not just about selling a course, you can do much more!

Thinkific Case Studies:

  • Later, Instagram marketing platform, who used Thinkific to create a course for their new customers teaching them how to use Later’s platform features to great success. If your business sells software, create a course to increase customer retention!
  • MyExcelOnline, here’s a story of the guy who was selling courses on Udemy before switching to Teachable. A classical video course content creator!
  • Wishpond, another SAAS company who sells software and who has created over 50+ that train their customers on how to use their platform better with great success.
  • Elizabeth, who has successful health & wellness blog, did 1 on 1 coaching until finally she moved to online courses with success. Consultants out there can leverage online courses to share the knowledge that can be easily recorded.
  • Marketing expert, Justin Brooke trains both his employees and sells courses online.

Check all the case studies here.

Online Course Platforms are great not only for selling online courses, but also:

  •  training your employees
  • and educating your customers how to use your software.

But how does easy it is to start using Thinkific?

Read on..


Thinkific Sales & Setup Process


This is where we look how easy it is to setup your course with Thinkific.

Let me start by saying, that Thinkific’s setup process is the most impressive I’ve seen yet.

When you join Thinkific, first you’ll receive email inviting you to live webinar, which is great for asking questions & learn more about how Thinkific can help you.

As you login in your account, what really stands out is how much Thinkific helps you to learn their platform quickly. Backend is filled with videos like these (look below) showing you quickly how to use Thinkific features.

 

As you start creating your first course you can choose between templates that pre-populate the course with demo content essentially showcasing how to use their software (very handy). Demo content isn’t a dummy text either – it contains more course creation tips.

As you keep editing there are even more unexpected tips hidden throughout Thinkific.

It’s those little things that make Thinkific joy to use.

Example on unexpected tip. Look to left bottom corner! (oh and center too!)

It’s a great user experience – most features feel intuitive to use, with just a few exceptions.


Even on Thinkific free plan you get almost a full taste of all functionality!

Everyone should start with the free plan to get a feel for the platform first.

The core features for setting up your course content, setting up landing page and simple payment options are available on free plan.

However even features that are on paid plan have these kind of sections:

You cannot use “Coupons” on free plan, but you can get a taste. You can see a nice preview video showing how coupons look like as well as there is “Learn More” button that goes to Thinkific Knowledge Base explaining the functionality even more with helpful screenshots.

In this way it feels like you know EXACTLY what to expect. It’s not like you are buying cat in a bag.

Many companies just mention that feature is behind paywall. Without upgrading you cannot really understand what that feature does or where you would use it.

This is not case with Thinkific.

Customer Support & Onboarding

For onboarding process Thinkific has webinars, blog and lots of videos.

Wait for their emails or just find all information on their website – up to you.

If you seriously consider Thinkific – I do recommend that you join their live webinar at least once.

If this is company you will use for at least next few years, you should learn as much as you can to use it the most effectively.

..

For support Thinkific has email support and they are responsive on their Facebook Group.

Thinkific are quite famous for their customer support and for a good reason.

For a long time it was their NR.1 selling point in the battle against Teachable.

Thinkific support always goes above and beyond to help people even if the issue is not on their side.

I guess the easy setup process is one of the things that make Thinkific great, you don’t feel “stupid” for long..

..I’m sure you know the frustration of not being able to figure things out?

Generally it doesn’t happen with Thinkific, only place where it happened to me was that I kept forgetting where they have hidden their checkout and thank you pages!

But the mere fact that I can single out only one case is a good sign, don’t you think?

Now, let’s get to discovering all Thinkific resources that will help you both to become better with courses and be part of community.


Thinkific Additional Resources


Thinkific has a lot of educational resources, that can help you become better at creating & selling your courses.

Oh, and keep in mind you don’t need to be Thinkific customer to use these 😉

  • Youtube Channel – Thinkific has become very active with videos in 2018, there are over 200 videos available there. You’ll find a lot more case studies from creators there and many more tips.
  • Webinars – join their free live webinars to get training and be able to ask questions!
  • Thinkific Facebook Group – very active creator community with 17,000 people
  • Thinkific Knowledge Base – Thinkific does great job by mixing text, video and small GIF animations to answer all the questions, I spend a lot of my time there when working on course content.
  • Thinkific Blog – a lot more in-depth well-written educational articles and guides

Now, let’s talk about the LOVE/HATE relationships with Thinkific..


3 Things I LOVE about Thinkific


*Note: These sections are shorter, because I went more in depth in the main Thinkific vs Teachable showdown, here I recap and emphasise some points. Endnote*

Thinkific has a big strength that sets it out from MOST online course platforms which is 100% white-labeling.

If you’ll choose so – nobody will know that you are using 3rd-party platform to handle your courses.

This is GREAT for branding:

  1. White Labeling, You get 100% unbranded website
  2. Intuitive backend, it’s enjoyable to create your courses & work with students on Thinkific
  3. Little tips & videos hidden throughout Thinkific editor

These three things I believe make Thinkific unique and stand out from the crowd.


One Thing I HATE about Thinkific


Surprisingly this list is short.

Actually I realised the more I use and understand Thinkific’s backend, the less HATE stuff I have about it.

I guess it’s not surprising, but sometimes there are softwares where opposite happens. The more advanced you go, the more confusing or frustrating software becomes.

I thought hard to find more HATE things, but ended up with only one big dislike.

This dislike is here, because I have experienced other softwares handling it much better, like Teachable.

So what is this one thing?

Limited customisability options on Checkout Page and Thank You/Upsell page.

I don’t think Thinkific has really figured this thing out.

It does work kinda, but it’s far from being polished.

These pages:

  • should be minimal,
  • look trustworthy
  • and should help you to convert more people and ideally sell them on extra upsells.

With Thinkific I really miss customization options like:

  • being able to easily remove header section,
  • ensure that upsell video and button are above the fold
  • and these pages look as trustworthy as possible (guarantee badge, testimonial)

But instead you’re pretty much stuck with the way Thinkific has set it up by default.

If you have your own WARM audience, who really want to buy, they will trust you and you need to do much less heavy-lifting with your sales, checkout page, however…

If you will be driving COLD traffic (like Facebook ads) to your sales page, you will need to use a custom solutions (like ClickFunnels) because then every pixel matters.

This is also the only section, where I got confused with my customization options & finding these pages in the first place.

In the next section we’ll talk if Thinkific makes a good LONG TERM solution? We’ll try to look in the future..

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…


Current State and Potential Future of Thinkific


Thinkific is a stable and well run company that has been founded in 2012, based in Vancouver, Canada.

Scratching their own itch.

Thinkific’s CEO Greg Smith before starting Thinkific was a teacher himself and was looking for ways to improve learning experience and reach more students.

He created the course platform to do just that along with three other co-founders Matt Smith, Matt Payne and Miranda Lievers.

At their core Thinkific are teachers themselves and you can feel it in the way they have built Thinkific student learning experience & tools to help instructors to ensure that students complete their courses successfully.

Thinkific is a venture backed company:

  • with 70 employees
  • since 2016 are doubling in size every year.

Thinkific hasn’t been loud with raising a lot of money and that makes me feel safe.

From outside it looks like Thinkific is growing patiently and not try to chew too much at a time.

Thinkific is a good company to be with for a long term. No doubt about that in my mind.


Final Words: Conclusion


I would definitely recommend Thinkific for individuals & companies who require more teaching tools and who really care about their branding.

Thinkific works well and is a platform that is very easy & quick to learn. I’m sure in one week you will feel in Thinkific like home.

This is a platform that you can rely on for years as you grow your own training business from using their sub-domains to completely white-labeled unique branding experience.

You are in the full control of your platform and it shows!

Would I recommend Thinkific?

Oh yes, I recommend Thinkific often to friends & clients who already have stable businesses and who want to retain the control over their courses while not worrying about technical hassles which you would get with WordPress custom solutions.

That said I want to be crystal clear that the same way as with Teachable, I will reserve the recommendations of Thinkific to only individuals or companies that I know would be a good fit for it long term.

Every case is different and sometimes you will care less about having the full control and care more about having less things to worry about! Teachable helps you more with taxes & affiliates in exchange of speed & some control for example! Read the full Teachable Review here.

HOWEVER if Thinkific sounds like a good fit for you, go and sign up for their free plan right now.

No point in procrastinating any more!

Make your course idea reality and start bringing in money as soon as the next week!

Still confused? Use this self-serve recommendation page that helps you answer some questions and pick the right platform for yourself in FEW SIMPLE STEPS.

Do it now.

Let’s get you unstuck and moving towards your goals.

I’ll meet you on the other side of the pool so we can sip pina-collada and enjoy the beautiful opportunities that online education has brought to us. Cheerio!