Everywhere I go when it comes to course platforms, the conversation inevitably ends up comparing these both solutions: Thinkific vs Teachable.
Conversations get emotional, it’s crazy.
To me it is more about weighing pros and cons. Looking at each specific person & company’s use case and only then making the decision.
There are both love and hate situations with both of these platforms. And full disclosure – I’m brutally honest.
All these details might leave you feeling that there is no right answer because I don’t scream in awe about neither Thinkific nor Teachable. I give my praises and criticise them where they deserve it.
If you like this approach – awesome!
Just remember that no matter what you choose – both of these platforms are really good solutions and you can hack things together with either of them. They work!
But here we are putting these platforms under the lens and really taking the long-term view in your course creation future.
I’m sure you would love to make the right choice from the start and not switch platforms one year in, which will just confuse your existing students!
And remember this one thing..
TRUTH: there is no such thing as perfect software.
..but there are better or worse solutions for YOU!
Eh, I wish somebody had given me this info when I was going through all this process.
But nothing existed online to help me with the choice of Thinkific vs Teachable.
Just lots of BS all around.
I remember reading on Quora how one guy suggested how Teachable being able to automatically collect VAT taxes was the key reason why he picked it.
But it’s not that simple.
Did you know there are many cases where VAT doesn’t need to be collected at all?
You can legally evade it or include it in the price yourself.
Me as a customer wouldn’t want to pick a $97 product just to find out at checkout, that product actually costs $126.
There is no black/white colors as most people would like to paint it.
There are lots of grays mixed with yellows and greens.
Bottom line is that this comparison will give you all the answers so you can make INFORMED, SMART decision, while seeing the FULL picture.
Down below you’ll see the table of contents (yep, guide is that big).
Read it all through or jump to your interesting sections, it’s up to you.
Now let’s put our Sherlock’s hat on and dive in?
Aye, aye, Dr. Watson!
Table of Contents
(use this to jump around and on bottom right corner use go back to the top button)
- Introduction: The State of E-learning
- What Online Course Platform is SUPPOSED to do? (and what NOT)
- How I FEEL about Thinkific and Teachable
- Pricing: Let’s Explore All Pricing Plans Available (including Free Plan)
- How Easy It is To Create Courses, Work With Students And Deliver The Content?
- How Easy It Is To Build, Customize and Design The Landing Pages, Brand Your Content?
- All About Selling, $$$ Management Side of Things
- How Strong Is Community & Customer Support? How Safe is Your Content?
- All About Integrations With 3rd Party Software & Tools
- How Good LONG-TERM Choice Is Thinkific & Teachable?
- Conclusion: Bringing it All Together – Thinkific or Teachable?
- Sign Up For Thinkific Free Plan Now
Introduction: The State of E-learning
These days more and more people are turning to digital content to learn just about everything.
In fact, online learning and digital courses have become one of the popular digital products of the decade.
E-learning market size was valued over $165 billion in 2015 and is likely to grow at over 5% rate from 2016 to 2023 to market size of $240 billion according to Global Market Insights research.
Then on the flip-side a study has been done by CollegeBoard showing that college costs are rising faster than financial aid!
And results are felt already at higher education schools where 52% of private colleges and 44% of public colleges didn’t meet their enrolment goals according to survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education!
Here’s what’s happening in plain English:
- Traditional education is getting more expensive, while at the same time not being able to keep up with rapidly changing world
- It has never been easier creating online courses online and explain complex topics through video than it is now
- If 12 years ago it would have cost around $100K to build an online school, now you can do it for FREE!
If you really want to understand what this means to you and everyone else, I really recommend you reading this article by Michael Simmons, who explained perfectly why NEARLY EVERYONE should become a polymath in a modern knowledge economy.
“Jack of all trades, master of none” – has a different meaning now.
Read the article, do it now, I’ll wait!
It’s still a wild west in e-learning world and land grabs are happening now IF you’re up for the opportunity and have an expertise people would be ready to pay for!
This is Google Trends snapshot from “Udemy” in the last 5 years.
There are so many success stories:
- Youtubers teach how to do card magic, watercoloring, physics, fitness, yoga, make money as indie musician – you name it!
- Authors either add video content to their books, teach writing or share exactly how they successfully marketed their writings.
- Enterprises use course platforms to teach their employees or increase retention rates of their customers by educating them how to use their platforms!
- entrepreneurs even start niche course marketplaces themselves by unifying many creators under one roof!
Do you think this trend is slowing down?
Investors in Teachable don’t think so.
In April 16, 2018 Teachable raised $4M more money with a whopping $134 million valuation.
Nagpal (founder of Teachable) says that Teachable is aiming for a business that will generate more than $200 million in sales this year, which might not be so far off given the speed at which it has ramped up from just $5 million in 2015 to around $90 million in 2017.
Pretty exciting times, huh?
Simply put: There is a lot of money to be made with online courses, but you already know that since you are here.
Just thought to share this as a reinforcement and reminder that you are on the right path!
What Online Course Platform is SUPPOSED to do? (and WHAT NOT?)
I am including this section in here, because too many softwares nowadays claim to be ALL IN ONE solution, but are far off with their quality as online course platform..!
- Clickfunnels can be used for membership site, landing page creation, funnel building, email marketing. EVERYTHING. But they are really great at only one thing which is building advanced SALES FUNNELS! They are average at other things!
- Convertkit allows you to build landing pages, small sales funnels, email marketing. You can do a lot there, but Convertkit’s one thing is EMAIL MARKETING.
So what an Online Course Platform should do?
The Nr.1 reason why we use Online Course Platform is to deliver courses SECURELY. We need something optimised for teaching and learning.
This means we are looking for:
- Video & other asset hosting
- Privacy, secure environment (to ensure only paid students get access to your content)
- Tracking progress (we want to know how students are going through course. If in some part students drop of, we want to know it and be able to fix it)
- Interaction (quizzes, surveys, can we easily segment students & communicate with them?)
All the other things course platform is able to do is ICING on the cake, but its NOT the cake!
*Fun Fact: Many bigger companies like New York Times & Hootsuite use Thinkific or Teachable for their employee virtual training and onboarding process.
If you have a team, consider making a course for your employees to go through and put videos online for easy consuming. From there you can observe how well your employees are learning the content the same way you would be observing your students.
Both Thinkific and Teachable in addition offers:
- Landing Page Builder
- Shopping Cart, Payment Gateway
- Simple Email Marketing
- Simple funnel building (landing page + checkout + thank you page, upsell)
There are several examples I know where content creators just use Thinkific or Teachable for this secure content delivery & enhanced student teaching experience.
It’s already a great pain relieved from their shoulders!
Look at MentorBox for example:
Then checkout John Lee Dumas, Podcasters Paradise, where he uses Thinkific also ONLY for content delivery (they build their own landing pages, for payment gateway they use Infusionsoft).
All this ramble… what’s my point?
My point is that you should know what ONE thing online course platforms are supposed to do.
This will help you to understand how you could eventually “upgrade” your game.
If initially you use Teachable for everything, eventually you could:
- Build advanced landing pages using something like Thrive Architect or LeadPages
- For advanced email automation use ActiveCampaign to do deep, personalised segmentation
- Use ClickFunnels for advanced sales funnels, when you are scaling with paid traffic (FB ads)
- Use your own WordPress plugin for payment gateway or something like SamCart to really be able to customise it.
Most people will never do this, but it’s good to know what’s possible.
Nowadays Online Course Platforms do a lot and you can use them for:
- Landing page creation
- Sales page creation
- Payment Gateway
- Affiliate management, coupons
- Simple sales funnel for checkout and 1-click upsells on Thank you page
- Course delivery and simple email notifications.
All the softwares are trying to get the bigger piece of the pie and try to be ALL IN ONE solution, Thinkific or Teachable are no exception.
That’s why it’s good to know what you 100% will need aside from online course platform.
This is simple.
You know the answer already.
There are two minimum expenses you will need when owning an online business:
- You need your own website (WordPress, Squarespace) – any creator needs his own hub and even if for example Teachable offers blog and page creation, you shouldn’t really use them.
- Email marketing – like Activecampaign or ConvertKit – you should build relationships with your audience in your email.
These are two additional MUST HAVEs – everything else is just optimisation and will bring you only incremental improvements.
Sheesh, okay, got this off my chest.
Hope it brought you some clarity!
Lets move on!
How Do I FEEL About Thinkific and Teachable?
You promised detailed analysis and now you are talking about feelings?
Yep, I am really going there.
While it’s very important to know all the functionality Thinkific and Teachable does – it’s AS important to also notice how does it FEEL using these platforms?
If you are an Apple user, can you explain what’s so great about iPhone or your Macbook Pro?
It’s hard to put it to the words.
For me it just feels nice using Apple..
It just works..
When you will make your choice on course platform, you will need to trust it.
You should like using it in order to be motivated to create, edit your courses.
You will be spending hours in there editing, communicating, optimising..
It would be nice to enjoy the process, no?
Teachable Feeling Score – 8/10
We used Teachable on my business 1stWebDesigner when it first came out and was called UseFedora.
We were looking for alternative to Udemy back then, so I do feel a bit nostalgic about Teachable.
I really do like Ankur Nagpal, the CEO’s story and how they popularised online course platform market.
They are raising money, growing like crazy and doing all the right things by improving their customer support.
The reason I didn’t put higher score is because their backend could be better. WordPress has taught us to expect live website builder capabilities and flexibility with click of a button.
Right now it’s not so easy to make an unique Sales Page, I can easily spot Teachable sales pages, because they all look almost the same & are simple (they still work though).
Right now you cannot preview live how your page looks like while you are editing it (it requires extra click – View Demo).
I have come to expect live editing everywhere since I have it on WordPress and most site/landing page builders.
I saw some screenshots showing that they are working on new website builder, but right now it’s just OKAY, not great.
It does work, but you must have a bit of hackers mindset to be able to customise things (like know some HTML/CSS).
Learning curve is a little longer than on Thinkific.
With that being said I love all the marketing capabilities (1-step checkout, affiliate, powerful 1-click upsell) they have built in.
That’s where Teachable shines.
I know Teachable are working hard on rewamping their backend and I cannot wait when it comes out.
This lack of editing isn’t a deal breaker, but it does affect how nice (read easy) it feels to use their platform.
Thinkific Feeling Score – 9/10
Thinkific was founded in 2012 (Teachable in 2013) is like David in this battle.
Thinkific is a less known underdog, fighting back against Goliath (even though both companies are more similar then they would like to admit).
For some reason Teachable is better known and receive a lot more monthly visitors, but Thinkific holds its ground very well with Greg Smith, the CEO leading the charge.
The reason why I feel so good about Thinkific is because the getting started process has been super pleasant with them.
- Right after registration on site, I got a video popping up introducing me to the platform.
- Then as I wanted to create my course, there were course templates I could choose that pre-populated course with demo content.
- As I was going through sections, every section had nice video introducing the section and the live site builder is enjoyment to use.
I truly enjoy spending my time on Thinkfic backend and it feels good using it.
That being said, while I love using Thinkific, what I don’t love is their payment checkout process.
But more on that later.
Where Thinkific beats Teachable in usability and beauty…
…Teachable beats Thinkific in marketing capabilities and simplifying some technical aspects (taxes, affiliates).
1. Pricing: Let’s Explore All Pricing Plans Available (including Free Plan)
In this section we’ll answer these questions:
- How good is free plan?
- The first paid plan?
- Their most recommended – Pro/Business plans?
I am really not the guy who likes shopping, just ask my wife.
When she needs to buy something, I try to first figure out if she has any girlfriends she could hang out with instead.
When I do shopping, I try to be in and out from the shop in few hours.
I don’t like trying on hundred things.
If I like something, I get it and move on.
When it comes to shopping for online course platforms – it’s hard!
On pricing pages you get a full list of features, but you don’t completely understand how they work and if/why you need them.
Thankfully both Thinkific & Teachable offer free plan with no credit card required.
At least you get a feel for a platform.
But still you cannot test drive all the advanced features.
You can just check them out to the level you would when doing window-shopping in the mall.
..but there are still so many unanswered questions.
Here I try to break it down how it’s like being an actual user of these course platforms.
And if you are anything like me, this matters.
Remember, we are trying to make the best informed decision before opening our wallet and investing hours in building out this membership site engine.
Thinkific & Teachable Free Plans
This is a cool thing about both of these course platforms.
You can give them a test drive by registering for their Free Plan, with no credit card required.
This is where you can test your own “feelings” of the software and play around with each of them.
It’s actually what I would recommend you to do – just register on both sites and play around a bit.
Set a timer and record your experience.
When you make your decision for Thinkific or Teachable – don’t start with a paid plan.
Set up as much as you can without paying anything.
You can setup your course and landing page with their free plans.
Only when you are ready to start driving serious traffic to your pages, you should upgrade to get better transaction fees, white labeling and other more advanced features.
You get unlimited video bandwidth, hosting and access to the CORE features for free.
This means you can start selling your course already, but you’ll need to share the revenue.
There are no fees on free courses though, meaning that you can test drive your courses & build your student base without any money investment if you would want to.
Fees on free plans:
- Thinkific will take 10% from every paid course sale you make;
- while Teachable will take 10% and 1$ from every sale.
This option is great if you are starting out and are looking for creating your own rags to riches journey.
Start with no upfront investment.
Free plans for both Teachable and Thinkific are very similar.
The only bigger difference is that for Teachable you’ll receive money once a month (basically 30-60 day delay), where for Thinkific your funds will be immediately deposited to your Stripe account.
Its not a deal breaker if you don’t mind waiting, and it’s easier to handle refunds this way.
Other little difference is that Thinkific allows email notifications as well as email integrations of their free plan, while Teachable doesn’t.
You can do a bit more with Thinkific on their free plan than on Teachable.
Many beginner users use these platform free plans for long time.
It’s not ideal, but it works.
They are working towards their own rags to riches stories without excuses.
Basic Paid Plans – 39-49$/mo
If you already have built your community and have some money coming in, you will be looking at the paid plans.
When you transfer to paid plans you’ll get better functionality, your own branding and start paying less in transaction fees.
Both platforms have their basic/essentials plan for $39/mo for Teachable, $49/mo for Thinkific.
With this plan you’ll get your own custom domain, pay 5% in transaction fees and get access to integration.
Let’s compare the basic plans:
- 5% in transaction fees
- You can have your custom domain (foundertips.com vs foundertips.teachable.com)
- Access to coupons, affiliate marketing, drip content and third party integrations
- Integrated email marketing – you can send customized email messages to students straight from Teachable
- 5% in transaction fees
- Custom Domain Support
- Access to coupons, affiliate marketing, drip content, basic integrations, upsells & bundles
- More access to student details & send bulk email messages from Thinkific
This is the basic plan, that everyone should upgrade to get the base of online course platform functionality.
This is the plan you should choose when you are selling some courses already, but the volume is not high enough to allow for Pro plan with 0% transaction fees and to let you aim for white-labeled, unbranded website.
Premium Plans: Professional & Business Plans – $99/mo
This is the plan you should choose if you want to take the full advantage of all the built in functionality of these course platforms and get 0% in transaction fees.
With pro plans you get access to HTML/CSS editing so you can really customise your sales pages and student dashboard.
This is where you can get white-labeled, unbranded website, so people don’t get confused with Teachable or Thinkific branding somewhere.
You’ll also get access to their priority support/live chat for both of these platforms and for Onboarding Call from Thinkific.
There are other subtle differences, but pro plan is for people, who are selling courses successfully and want to take full control of everything on their online course platform.
Overview for both platforms:
- 0% in transaction fees
- Access to HTML/CSS for sales pages
- White Labeled / Unbranded website
- Priority support, access to Live chat
- Advanced integrations and reporting
In general it’s very similar for both and its impossible to list all the features here.
I will do dig more in features in next sections.
But if you want to dig in deeper yourself:
- Check the full price & feature comparison for Teachable here: https://teachable.com/pricing/comparison
- Check the full price & feature comparison for Thinkific here: https://www.thinkific.com/feature-comparison/
Summary on Pricing
As you see both platform pricing and features are very similar, you will only feel small differences in their Free plan.
All in all, pricing will not play a big role in your decision.
However now we move on to the bread and butter of these course platforms.
Their pricing on features may be very similar, but they differ quite a bit on executing these features.
Let’s get to it!
2. How Easy It is To Create Courses, Work With Students And Deliver The Content?
Under this category we’ll talk about:
- Course Creation Process
- Student Course Progress & Tracking
- Content Dripping
- Quizzes and their variety
- Course Attachments ( PDF, videos, files, images)
- How Can You Consume Content? (download to view offline, mobile)
- Student Experience
- Email Marketing – Progress emails (can you track who hasn’t logged in for a few weeks and reach out to them for example)
Now this is where it’s all about the backend.
About student experience.
About teaching experience.
How effectively can you communicate to your students and help them consume your content?
This part is crucial, because if your students won’t complete the courses they purchase:
- they WON’T recommend it to their friends (no referrals)
- they won’t purchase your next courses
- they are likely to ask for a refund
And that, my friends, is a bad business.
Here is a dirty little secret of online learning – 90% of people who purchase the course DON’T finish it!
If you want to dig deeper in this fact, here is a great article explaining why it happens.
But the point is that you must do everything in your power to encourage your students to consume your content!
Do you understand now why its so important to look at course platform teaching tools and student learning experience management?
I hope you do.
You can help your students by:
- Creating action tasks for students
- Tracking your student progress and reaching out to them, when they stop learning
- Creating online community to make it feel like a tribe, where students motivate each other
- Creating different forms of interaction – video, audio, text, quizzes
- By offering certificate for people who finished the course successfully. (for example ClickFunnels has created Two Comma Club for people who have created a million dollar funnel, they get a special trophy and get to join the club – how’s that for motivation boost? anyhoo..)
DISCLAIMER: Before we start just so you know I’ll be comparing now Thinkific vs Teachable on their Pro – 99$/mo plans.
The reason I do that, is because we are looking at this for the long term. You might not use all the functionality YET, but eventually you will graduate to it.
And when you do, these features will be deal breakers. And we don’t want you or your students to go through the painful experience of moving to new platform if we can potentially avoid that, right?
Now.. How Easy It Is To Create Courses?
Lets look at this from a teacher’s perspective.
You want to start creating your course:
- add PDF, quizzes
- design the whole student experience.
It is really a joy to create a content on Thinkific thanks to their intuitive page builder.
Teachable’s interface is alright, but it hasn’t been updated for a while and you can feel it.
To make some things work on Teachable you need to “hack your way through”.
Their text editor is very simple and you will need to use something else if you’ll want to style your content (or use images for effects) like you would on WordPress.
But with Thinkific you can easily write your content within their editor.
Student Course Progress & Tracking – Sending Emails To Students
Again both solutions are very similar here. They have some basic overall analytics and you can check individual student progress and send them emails.
Teachable wins with course reporting tools giving more data out of the box for PRO plan, but Thinkific is not far behind.
They both have nice student support features like allowing to bulk email your users based on set filters and check individual student progress.
You also get to optin for various student milestone or action notifications like when:
- student completes course,
- asks questions,
- signs up,
- enrolls to new course.
When it goes for email marketing, you’ll get to send broadcast emails to segmented groups of users within platform, but for advanced email marketing you MUST use something else like ConvertKit, Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign.
Don’t look at course platform as your email provider.
They will help with basic emails like:
- weekly reminder emails,
- welcome email,
- purchase receipt,
- course competition email
But if you want to personalise the student experience based on actions they take or don’t take, you’ll need something more advanced.
From usability standpoint its easier to find all student related tools in Thinkific, but Teachable has pretty much the same functionality, just takes a little more time to find it.
Teachable Course Creation, Delivery & Supporting Students Score – 7/10
- In view settings students can select the video speed and whether to auto-move to the next video or not after finishing. (On Thinkific students need to press Next button in far edge of the screen)
- Has bulk content editing, allowing to quickly make several pieces of content downloadable, published/draft or free preview on/off
- Has advanced reporting features on their PRO plan giving you nice overview on lecture completion, video stats. Thinkific also has some reporting, just Teachable has more.
- In spite of their bulk uploader, its harder to add new pieces of content than on Thinkific. It takes more steps and more time.
- Text editor is hard to use. You need to use something else to customise your content and then paste the code in their text editor.
You can do pretty much the same things you can in Thinkific editor, but user experience is so much better in Thinkific.
On Teachable you must know some coding or use external tools to create textual content.
For example to do a survey you should use Google Forms, where Thinkific has surveys built in.
Same thing is for Competition Certificate, Thinkific supports them for PRO plans,
where Teachable doesn’t.
(June 20, 2018) Update: Teachable just unveiled their own Completition Certificate (For PRO plans)
But still Thinkific uses Accredible, so you can integrate it with Teachable yourself too for little extra cost. I mean it’s not a deal breaker, you can find a workaround, even though it’s nice to have it out of the box.
Just be prepared when using Teachable to have a little longer “figuring things out” phase than with Thinkific.
Thinkific Course Creation, Delivery & Supporting Students Score – 9/10
- When creating new course, Thinkific offers picking between course templates – blank, mini-course, flagship course etc. Templates populate the demo course with contents so you can easily change it. Helps you avoid staring at the blank page
- Bulk upload – Teachable also has bulk upload, but on Thinkific you can start editing course content, WHILE videos are uploading. Feels amazing! On Teachable you need to stare at the screen and wait till the upload completes.
- Curriculum editor is awesome, it’s so easy to add new content and create it WITHIN Thinkific – choose between different types of content like Video, Quiz, Multimedia (Google Docs etc), Survey, PDF, Presentation, Audio etc.
- Text editor is a joy to use.
- Within curriculum editor there is a little suggestion box giving small tips on how to improve your course.
- In Pro plan has built in support for Competition Certificate
- No bulk content editing – in order to make videos downloadable, you need to check box one by one, in Teachable you can bulk edit your content.
The one hate is not a deal breaker, I guess I should call this a “subtle dislike”.
But seriously Thinkific’s course management is very well thought trough and is optimised for good teaching/student experience.
If you are person who’s not too tech/coding savvy, Thinkific will be much easier to start using.
1-0, Thinkific in the lead!
3. How Easy It Is To Build, Customize and Design The Landing Pages, Brand Your Content?
These are the things we’ll be looking at in this section:
- User experience
- Setup experience
- Page builder
- Site Language
- How Does it look on mobile?
- Whitelabel, branding opportunities?
- Thinkific is more enjoyable to use when creating your courses and building sales pages.
- Teachable is harder to learn and customise, but they have an edge on better user experience on Sales, Checkout and Thank you page designs
Setup Experience (how easy to learn?)
- Thinkific has lots of great intro videos within the backend.
- Teachable takes a little more digging in their knowledge base to uncover the functionality.
- Thinkific has an edge by allowing to build a great looking landing pages without any need to touch code
- Teachable customisation is outdated, but it does the job.
Both platforms offer different languages and being able to customise text elements on your course.
How does it look on mobile?
Both course softwares are fully-responsive.
Teachable has iOS app, while Thinkific doesn’t.
Downside is that it’s Teachable app, which doesnt make it very good solution for whitelabeling.
However for Thinkific, you can encourage your students to save your Thinkific site to their home screen and use it on their mobile platforms, as Thinkific is fully responsive.
Workarounds are everywhere.
WhiteLabel, Branding opportunities?
Thinkific has a big edge here.
If you really care about your branded URLS and you don’t want ANYONE to find out you are using third party online course platform you should use Thinkific.
If you are not obsessed with branding Teachable does the job okay, but keep in mind that there will be little indications of Teachable in login/checkout URLs.
For most people this will not matter but for others who really care about their branding, this could be a deal-breaker.
From usability standpoint its far more enjoyable to design sales pages on Thinkific.
It seems now that Teachable motto is to focus on sales and conversions, where Thinkific is more about design and great user experience.
Simply put I think of these platforms as..
Thinkific = Apple
Teachable = Android
Teachable Design, Customisation, Ease of Use & Whitelabel Score – 7/10
Teachable has a little outdated backend editor.
Where they shine in their marketing & sales functional capabilities, they lack in ease of customisation.
Their backend editor and landing page builder really asks for update. Over years they haven’t improved that part a lot.
Teachable will get the job done with the landing page, but if you want more customisation, I would recommend to use third-party landing page builder and link the Call-To-Action button straight to checkout page.
Otherwise you’ll need to hire a pro to edit HTML/CSS for you to make it look really sexy.
Where Teachable shines though is on their checkout process.
You cannot customise a lot, but their checkout page has 1-Step checkout, and Thank You page has a nice option to add video and add one click upsell.
I’ll talk about this more in marketing & sales section, but I wanted to give a little sneak peak, just so you know that Teachable is not all that bad.
It’s just that Thinkific really stepped up their game with design and Teachable hasn’t cached up yet – they were busy giving their customers better support and marketing tools.
Yeah, and finally about White Labeling..
I don’t know why Teachable doesn’t offer an option (though Infusionsoft also doesn’t), but it’s not nice that you cannot use your own domain secure URLs for checkout and login pages.
I understand why they are doing it.
Teachable is a platform that focuses on simplifying things for their users.
Their business model is building their community inviting course creators to collaborate together under Teachable brand. You can see it with their myTeachable section and Teachable iOS app efforts (read more what it does).
MyTeachable means that if a student already has Teachable account, they don’t need to create a new account on Teachable and can see all Teachable courses within one dashboard. That could help with conversions for repeat Teachable users.
These subtle differences make Teachable easier to use for beginners in expense of lack of customisability.
Thinkific Website Design, Customisation, Ease of Use & Whitelabel Score – 9/10
Thinkific earns the badge of great setup experience by use of videos and giving a video tour to new users.
It’s also much easier to feel like a BADASS web designer when using their website builder.
It’s hard to make your sales page look bad.
Thinkific has several theme designs and a lot of building blocks you can use to make your website look unique and expensive.
It’s much harder to make Teachable sales page look expensive, Teachable is much more minimal.
Thinkific is a must go solution if you really care about whitelabeling.
The only thing I hate with Thinkific in terms of design is how little you can customize your checkout and thank you pages. But we’ll talk about this more on Sales & Marketing section.
If you need more flexibility over your checkout process you will need to use external checkout systems (like SamCart) through Zapier integration.
But so far 2-0, Thinkific leads..
4. All About Selling, $$$ Management Side of Things
Design matters, but in the end of the day it’s all about whether or not your courses are bringing in the money..
Just pretty design will not do the job. You need to know your customer to be able to craft the message that speaks to him and you need sales tools to seal the deal.
This is especially important if you are using paid traffic like FB ads, because these are “cold” leads, AKA people that don’t know you and you need to have polished sales funnel to make it work.
Then there is the side of handling affiliates, offering coupons, payment options, different currencies, collecting and reporting taxes.
This is the backend part that most people don’t see, but that eventually makes or breaks your business.
Let’s look what’s under the hood, shall we?
For Teachable they recently updated their checkout process allowing people to checkout with 1-step. Plus you can add trust badges and testimonials on Checkout page, which is great for conversion boost! On Thinkific it’s two steps (they allow to sign-up with FB and Linkedin..which is nice), but 1-step will be better for conversions.
Landing & Sales Page Creation
We covered this before, Thinkific allows to build sales pages better, Teachable does the job, but has outdated design and limited customisability.
Both companies offer 1-Click upsells, but Teachable does the job better, by offering clean above the fold upsell with video, customizable call to action and decline button. Absolutely love Teachable here.
Both companies offer coupons site-wide or for individual course.
Only difference is that Teachable has built-in bulk coupon generator, where Thinkific you must request it for a cost.
Here Teachable offers far more flexibility of managing affiliates for you (if you use their payment gateway).
For example you can define how long affiliate cookie lasts.
Then more importantly Teachable offers to do payouts to your affiliates automatically.
You can read more about Teachable affiliate program here.
Just know that for this management, you will get also delayed 30-60 payouts (because Teachable manages money part).
Thinkific will provide you with affiliate data, with only difference that you will need to do payouts yourself once a month.
In this case it’s just nice that Teachable offers two options:
- you can do it with your own payment gateway and have instant payments, but manage affiliates yourself
- or do payments through Teachable and let them take care of affiliate payments.
Payout Process, Payment Processor Integration
Both platforms let you integrate with Stripe and Paypal.
Thinkific offers Stunning in addition with Stripe. Stunning helps to prevent failed Stripe payments. Handy.
Teachable has additional option where you can choose that Teachable handle payments. This includes them taking care of VAT taxes and affiliate payments.
This option might be helpful, if you are willing to wait and you have issues with VAT taxes.
Just know that you can handle taxes on Thinkific with third party solutions.
What I don’t like with automatic EU VAT tax collection on Teachable is that often VAT could be exempt due to to discussion groups & instructor involvement.
I mean, there are ways to legally avoid paying VAT and you should take control of this because every $$$ counts.
This is a business/cost saving decision as everything else. You shouldn’t pay any more dollar in taxes than you absolutely must.
Course Pricing Options
Both companies offer different payment options for your students, but Teachable has a little more options like allowing you to create a pricing in other currencies.
Explore this more if its important, but usually everyone is used to paying online in USD.
Course bundle creation – both platforms offer easy course bundle creation.
Sending Emails within Course Platform – again both platforms do good job and don’t differ much.
Finally, this is a small mention, but you should know that both platforms have native SumoMe integration.
SumoMe is a great tool that offers a bunch of free apps that help you market your content.
In sales & marketing section Teachable takes a clear lead.
I personally LOVE Teachable’s Checkout Page design and 1-Click Upsell process.
Thinkific gets close there, but not quite.
When it comes for using Teachable payment gateway to get EU VAT and affiliate payouts handled..
It’s helpful, BUT to be honest, you should manage these things yourself.
You should take control of your money.
I would use Teachable payment gateway only when getting started. You just need Paypal account then – no need to go through hassle of setting up Stripe account.
Teachable Sales & Marketing Score – 9/10
Teachable clearly offers more flexibility and ways to customise the way you collect payments.
For checkout process Teachable will give you better conversions than Thinkific unless you really optimise it yourself.
The only thing I don’t like on Teachable is their sales page creation tools.
Out-of-the-box solutions do look outdated.
Thinkific Sales & Marketing Score – 8/10
Thinkific has all the tools to get the job done, but when comparing to Teachable.. the biggest difference I would say is the checkout process.
I love Teachable checkout process and strongly dislike Thinkific checkout process.
It’s just not as polished as Teachable’s..
But on flipside Thinkific sales page creation is very nicely done, when Teachable has this area poorly developed.
When it goes for affiliate payment management and EU VAT collection..
Yes, it’s nice that Teachable offers you the option of handling these things, BUT you should look further and learn if you really must pay EU VAT tax, because you really don’t. You can easily optimise your school to be exempt of this tax.
For me paying unannounced 20-30% tax on checkout process would make me abandon the cart. This is what happens on Teachable – course is listed as being $97, but then on checkout you are suddenly charged $30 extra for tax.
Creators should include tax themselves in the course price.
Unannounced tax is like buying book for 20$ just to find out in checkout that you must pay 40$ for shipping.
Are we keeping score? 2-1 – Teachable catching up!
5. How Strong Is Community & Customer Support? How Safe is Your Content?
In this section we’ll focus on community side of things like:
- Knowledge base (ease of learning)
- Email support, live support
- Facebook Group
- Webinars, videos, blog – How do they help you become better?
- How safe is your content? (backup, hosting,uptime)
Ouh, it’s been a long read huh?
It’s all in these nitty gritty details though..
But I have a surprise for you, this section will be very short.
The reason is that both of these companies are doing BRILLIANT job with their support.
For a long time Nr.1 complaint why customers switched from Teachable to Thinkific was because Teachable had horrible customer support.
Even now you can see it mentioned on Thinkific comparison page.
It was true in past, but not anymore.
Teachable has turned their customer support around.
This is a huge turnaround.
Support and community is vibrant and active on both sides.
For Pro plans both companies offer live chat & priority support.
Though even if you are on your free plan, you’ll get a great support on their Facebook groups, support tickets in few hours (if its working hours) and their knowledge bases will answer most technical questions.
Here is the ninja tip though!
If you want to really become better with creating, marketing and selling your courses you’ll sign up for both of these softwares no matter which one you choose.
Let the emails come in and let them educate you for free..!
It’s like getting your personal trainer.
Join both of their groups and let the like-minded members inspire you!:
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/thinkific/ – 16,731 members
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/thefedorafamily/ – 22,884 members
What about Uptimes?
Since these course platforms are hosting your content, you must be aware how good is their platform uptime!
Check for yourself here:
In my experience Teachable has a little more incidents than Thinkific, but this could also explained by the fact that they are growing faster. I haven’t experienced any serious downtimes though.
Videos are hosted on Wistia for both of these platforms, which is a company with a good reputation.
Don’t know much about Teachable hosting, but Thinkific has publicly stated that they are having daily backups and secure cloud hosting.
None of these companies has had any issues with their content security in past.
I must give equally high score for both of these companies in terms of customer support and community.
3-2 – Thinkific-Teachable
6. All About Integrations With 3rd Party Software & Tools
This is another short section, because both of these platforms are very similar as it comes for integrations.
There are lots of integrations available through Zapier as well as there are direct integrations with most email marketing providers, Segment.io, SumoMe, Paypal, Stripe, Google Analytics, easy way to add tracking pixel to your school.
For both platforms you can easily embed 3rd party tools like Google Apps & Typeform Forms.
I must mention that Thinkific has a few more unique integrations for students like Brillum for exams, Articulate, Storyline and Captivate.
Thinkific really focuses more on better student/teacher experience, where Teachable focuses more on sales & marketing segment.
This may be important if you are looking for something like LMS (learning management system), Thinkific gets close to that with their 3rd party integrations.
There is also a direct ActiveCampaign & Infusionsoft integration for Thinkific, where Teachable offers this integration through Zapier. Maybe it makes a difference to you.
Now are you ready for the final round?
We are close to the end…
Let’s find out what future holds for these companies?
7. How Good LONG-TERM Choice Is Thinkific & Teachable?
If your mind is not blown already, I am truly delighted.
Its been a lot, but we are at the final stretch.
Since we are considering to use either of the platforms for long term its important to look how both of these companies might look in the future.
- Organic traffic per month – 104K
- Backlinks (Referring domains) – 18.1K
- Domain Rating: 86/100
- Company size: 64 employees
- 125,000 courses,12,000 paying customers
- Have raised money: $12.5 million
- Founded: Oct 3, 2013, based in New York, US
- Facebook Group size: 22,884 members
- Organic traffic per month – 43.2K
- Backlinks (Referring domains) – 9.3K
- Domain rating – 83/100
- Company size: 70 employees
- 25,000 course creators (no data of paying customers)
- Venture-backed, but the amount raised is not publicly available
- Founded: 2012, based in Vancouver, Canada
- Facebook Group size: 16,731 members
*Data recorded on Apr 21, 2018
In nutshell Teachable has been doing a bit better with their publicity and they have been raising a lot of money and getting Techcrunch to cover it.
Teachable has investors like Accomplice Ventures and AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant as well as a few smaller investors including Shopify founder Tobias Lutke, Weebly founder Chris Fanini, Lynda CEO Eric Robison, and Getty Images founder Jonathan Klein.
Thinkific is also venture backed, but the information about the amount of money raised and who are investors aren’t publicly available.
Both companies have been rapidly growing in the past two years:
- Thinkific grew from 10 to 35 employees in 2016, and ended 2017 with 70 employees
- Teachable grew from $5 million in sales in 2015 to around $90 million in 2017 and have valuation of $134 million as of 2018.
This is a though call, because both companies are very similar in size and are both doing a great job improving their services:
- Thinkific recent update on their new site builder and announcement of themes, hugely improved usability and power of the service
- Teachable had big issues in 2017 with their customer service, they focused on it and as of 2018 the’ve really turned it around and improved response time from 7 hours to 1 hour.
Both companies are stable, growing and doing the right things to keep in the game and competing hard for the place on the pedestal.
I am a little worried of how many investors Teachable has, because investors don’t care about the customers. Investors care about ROI, getting your money in their wallets.
The more investors you have, the less decision freedom you have. The trick is now to juggle the balls in air between the customer (you) and investors.
On other side, Teachable investors like Lynda CEO (learning platform), Shopify founder, Weebly founder (website builder) could be great advisors and secret weapons to Teachable. Their vote of confidence from these people also means something.
Before doing proper research I actually thought of Thinkific as underdog, but when digging deeper I understood how truly similar these companies are.
The battle of the giants is happening right now!
And we will only benefit from this close competition. We will get better service.
I must give an equal score to both of these companies. There is no clear victor here.
Thinkific vs Teachable – Which One You Should Choose?
I really hope these analyses helped you to understand the benefits and downsides of both Teachable and Thinkific.
It’s been a lot, but if you are making a long term decision, then few hours you spend here, will save you days/weeks of time spent making your own trial and error.
I have repeated this several times already, but repetition is mother of learning so..
..remember, there is no such thing as PERFECT SOFTWARE!
You must be prepared to hack it to your own needs. Both of these software are open to many integrations and you can do pretty much the same things in both software, but since we are looking for the best fit based of course platform core functionality, this final comparison will be useful.
But as we go into more detail Thinkific & Teachable has few subtle, but important differences.
Let me conclude them here to help you with the decision.
- an established brand who requires 100% white-labeled solution
- a teacher, who needs advanced student training tools and LMS type of features (and you know (and care) what LMS stands for)
- dedicated Apple user and care about intuitive and user-friendly design a lot
- focused on being in full control over your payment processing
- not a good designer and don’t want to hire one, but want to create something good looking yourself without touching the code
Do NOT choose Thinkific if…
- you want to create a course marketplace and build ‘udemy’ of your niche
- you need better sales tools and customization out of the box (you don’t want to use additional 3rd-party tools)
- you don’t need pre-created designs for you and you prefer to tinker with HTML/CSS yourself (or give it to your designer)
- obsessed about marketing and creating minimal, but CONVERTING sales funnels without touching the code.
- a new course creator who is easily overwhelmed with legal & payment challenges
- looking for solution where platform helps you to take care of tax, affiliate and money management side of things
- “android” type of user, who cares about functionality more than pretty design
Do NOT choose Teachable if…
- you want to create a beautiful and unique sales pages without extra help
- you get easily overwhelmed with technology (Teachable takes a little more coders mindset)
- you want completely unbranded platform with 0% indication that you use 3rd party course delivery platform
- you need more student training capabilities with integrations of Brillum, Articulate & Captivate
- you care about usability & intuitive course creation and want to do it all in one platform (Teachable course text editor is hard to use, best to use 3rd party and then copy the content as code)
The way I view these platforms right now is:
Thinkific = Apple experience
Teachable = Android experience
This may be oversimplified answer, but I think it drives the point!
If you are still confused reach out to me below and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and give you my best suggestion for your SPECIFIC case!
100% self-hosted WordPress or Udemy marketplace option.
I wrote alternative course platform list article exactly for that.
P.S. If you benefited from this article at all and decided to go for Thinkific, I will be grateful if you will use this link to signup (affiliate link). It means I will get a small commission at no cost to you.
And remember, everything I wrote here is unbiased research and me trying my best to answer all questions I had when I started and to help you come up with the best solution for YOUR needs.
Have a question? Ask away!