Selling video courses is one of the best ways to turn your knowledge and skills into a recurring income. This guide to Teachable vs Thinkific will explore two of the most popular platforms for creating and selling online courses.
I tested Teachable and Thinkific to determine how they performed in a variety of areas:
This article will walk you through what I discovered and settle the debate of Teachable vs Thinkific once and for all.
Table of Contents
What to look for in course building software
Teachable and Thinkific both provide course building software, alternately known as learning management systems (LMSs). In order to create an effective course, you want to find an LMS with the following features:
- Easy-to-use course builder. This is the system you’ll use to organize your lessons into a course. Course builders usually use drag-and-drop functionality to simplify reorganizing lessons. You shouldn’t need to learn any code to build your course.
- Content dripping. This is the practice of releasing content to people at specified intervals. For example, you might release one lesson to students every Tuesday.
- Video lessons. You want to be able to embed videos directly into your lessons. Some software also lets you make it mandatory for students to complete one video lesson before moving on to the next one.
- Quiz building. Quizzes are a great way to ensure that your students are absorbing class materials and to evaluate their progress. Look for an LMS that makes it easy to create simple quizzes. You also want to be able to prevent students from progressing until they complete the quiz.
- Community. Encourage students to work together and discuss the materials through commenting functions on lessons and/or course forums.
- Unlimited video. Courses take up a lot of space, especially if your lessons tend to run on the longer side. Unlimited video means you don’t have to worry about how long your lessons are or how many courses you can create.
- Integrations. Look for course building software that is compatible with marketing tools you’re already using. Note that some integrations may be restricted to higher-tier plans.
You also want to pay close attention to how payments work. How do students pay you? How do you get paid? When do you get paid? Can you charge for courses as a subscription, or are you only able to set them up with a one-time fee? All of these factors will influence how you structure your offerings.
The following features are available on the Basic Teachable plan:
- Unlimited students
- Unlimited video
- Ability to sell course access as a subscription
- Course builder
- Coaching program creator
- Members-only community
- Content dripping
- Basic (non-graded) quizzes
- Custom domain support
- Coupon code generation
- Integrated email marketing
- Third party integrations with Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Zapier, and more
- Two admin-level users
How to use Teachable
Teachable is an easy-to-use LMS that allows you to create a virtual school. You can sign up and even build your first course for free, but you must sign up for one of their paid plans to start selling that course.
Once you have purchased a plan and created your account, you’ll be directed to a personal profile. Click “Create New School”. This will open a page where you can name your school.
Teachable will then ask a variety of questions about your business. Your answers will be used to create an admin area for your school. Once complete, you will be directed to this area.
On the front page, you’ll find a list of steps you can follow to build your first course:
This was one of my favorite things about Teachable, as it makes the process accessible to people who are building their first course. I was particularly impressed by the webinar, which runs several times a day and provides a comprehensive tutorial.
Another standout feature of Teachable is the ability to create coaching packages as well as traditional courses. You can easily choose between these options on the “Create Product” page.
How to create courses
When you choose to create a course, you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter the course title, subtitle, and description. You’ll also find another standout feature of Teachable here: the ability to use a course template.
Teachable offers templates for short courses (three lessons) and full-length courses (three units, each consisting of three lessons and a quiz).
Choosing a template will take you to the course builder. This is an intuitive system that lets you organize lessons into units. You can also drag-and-drop lessons and units into new positions.
The sidebar contains links to areas where you can customize things like the price, fee structure, and information about the course. You can also create coupons and certificates for the course.
How to create lectures
If you click on a lesson title in the course builder, you’ll be taken to the lecture editor. A new sidebar in the white area of the page lists elements you can add to this lecture:
The lecture editor is compatible with all forms of media, including images, audio files, and video. Individual videos can be up to 1.5 gigs.
Content in Teachable lectures can be rearranged at any time using drag-and-drop functionality.
How to create quizzes
You can build quizzes by entering any lecture and clicking “Add Quiz”. This will open an editor where you can add questions and answers.
I’ll be honest: I found the quiz builder to be the most disappointing aspect of Teachable. While it is as easy to use as other aspects of the software, it lacks flexibility. You are only allowed to enter multiple choice questions.
The Pro and Business plans do allow grading on quizzes, but there is no option for additional question types at any level.
Teachable offers three plans:
- Basic. $29/month, billed annually. Includes all features listed earlier and 5% transaction fees.
- Pro. $99/month, billed annually. Includes all features of Basic, graded quizzes, integrated affiliate marketing, content dripping, advanced reporting, and an unbranded website. Up to five admin-level users are permitted. No transaction fees are charged to Pro accounts.
- Business. $249/month, billed annually. Includes all features of Pro for up to 20 admin-level users, advanced theme customization, and group coaching calls.
This is one of the most important things to consider in the debate of Teachable vs Thinkific, as the Teachable Basic plan is a full $10/month cheaper than its Thinkific equivalent.
For more information on the plans available, check out Teachable’s pricing page.
Thinkific does offer a free plan, but most users will want to sign up for the Basic plan, which offers the following features:
- Access to Thinkific’s course builder
- Unlimited courses
- Unlimited students
- Support for video, audio, and PDF content
- Content dripping
- Ability to email students
- Email integrations
- Zapier triggers
- Manual student enrollments & exports
- Instant access to your funds
For more information, take a look at Thinkific’s pricing page.
How to use Thinkific
You can get started with Thinkific without paying a dime. All you need to do is give them your name and email address and create a password. This will direct you to a page asking if you have taught online courses before. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you haven’t.
Thinkific will then walk you through a series of questions about your audience, course materials, and your industry.
Upon completing this information, you’ll be directed to the Thinkific teacher dashboard. Here, you’ll find a series of resources to help you build your first course:
You can also sign up for live trainings run on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
How to create courses
To start building your first Thinkific course, click the “Manage Learning Content” button at the top of the sidebar. This will open a smaller menu with several options:
For now, click “Courses”. This will take you to a page where you can manage existing courses. You’ll note that there is already a draft of your first course.
Click on this to go to the course builder. Here, you can choose to take a tour of the software or to dive in your own. The program is simple enough that most people will be fine without the tutorial, but it’s an excellent resource if you’re feeling intimidated.
Thinkific divides its courses into chapters. The “First Course” template comes with one chapter build in. Click the “Add Lesson” button inside the chapter box to reveal the many lesson types available:
When you choose a content type, Thinkific will take you to a page where you can create a lesson title and description. You’ll also be able to upload any relevant files on this page.
Further down the page, you’ll find a Lesson Settings area where you can make the lesson downloadable or choose to offer it as a free preview for the course.
When you’re satisfied with all of the info, press the “Save” button in the bottom right corner. This will close the lesson editor, returning you to the main course builder page.
Press the “Add Chapter” button in the bottom left corner to create a new chapter. There is no limit to the number of chapters you can have in any one course. Lessons and chapters can be reordered at any point using drag-and-drop functionality.
How to create quizzes
This is one of the most important notes in the debate of Teachable vs Thinkific. While Teachable only allows for multiple choice quizzes, Thinkific offers two types of tests for students:
- Quizzes. These are multiple choice tests that you can program the answers to.
- Surveys. Surveys offer a variety of question types, including multiple choice questions, text response questions, and ratings questions.
You can create either of these by clicking the “Add Lesson” button of the appropriate course chapter. “Quiz” is listed in the first row of content types and “Surveys” is the first item in the second row.
Click on the type of test you want to create to go to a page where you can edit the questions, answers, and behavior of the test.
In addition, certain Thinkific plans give you access to Brillium exams. These are highly customizable exams that can include several question types. You can also set a passing grade for Brillium exams. However, these are only available with certain Thinkific plans (more on that in the pricing section).
Thinkific offers a variety of plans, including a free plan that allows you to build up to three courses, but lacks some key features like content dripping. They also offer four paid plans:
- Basic. Available for $39/month, billed annually. Comes with all core features across unlimited courses, plus content dripping, email integrations, Zapier triggers, coupon creation, and more.
- Pro. Available for $79.00/month, billed annually. Comes with all features of Basic plus the ability to create memberships and bundles, advanced pricing options, advanced quizzes, assignments, and more.
- Growth. Available for $79.00/month, billed annually, plus $0.10/month for every student past the first hundred. Comes with all features of Pro plus advanced segmentation, groups, Brillium integration, and more.
- Premier. Available for $399.00/month, billed annually. Comes with all features from the Growth plan plus capacity for 50 course admins/instructors, an Onboarding Package, and more.
For more details, check out the Thinkific pricing package.
Teachable vs Thinkific
When it comes to the debate between Teachable vs Thinkific, Teachable is the clear winner. Both programs are quite simple to use, but Teachable shines in a couple of other key areas:
- Features. All Teachable plans include the ability to create memberships and coaching programs as well as courses. This makes it easy to diversify your business without needing additional software.
- Value. The Teachable Basic plan is available for $29/month, a full $10/month less than the equivalent Thinkific plan. This can lead to enormous savings over the long term.
Still not sure which one you want? Here’s a handy side-by-side comparison:
|Cost||Lesson creator||Quiz builder||Additional benefits||Personal Thoughts|
|Teachable||$29/month at lowest level||Compatible with several media types, including code examples||Multiple choice questions only||Ability to create a coaching program||Teachable provides better overall value, but the limitations on quizzes may be frustrating for some users|
|Thinkific||Limited free plan available; $39/month at lowest paid level||Includes text editor; compatible with video files||Offers both multiple choice quizzes and surveys with a variety of question types||Thinkific offers better testing options and an effective course builder, but provides fewer features for more money|
All in all, if you want to build courses, Teachable is probably a better tool for you than Thinkific.