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The Thinkific eLearning platform was founded by Greg Smith in 2012 with a mission to create an online platform where teachers and entrepreneurs could sell their content to a wide online audience. They set out to revolutionize how people learned and earned online by creating software that enabled educators to create, market, sell, and deliver their own online courses. So far there have been 51,000+ course creators, 64 million participants across 190 countries, and over $340 million earned on the platform.
It sounds like they must be doing something right. So, we wanted to test it for ourselves to find out what’s good, what’s not so good, and provide you with the details in our in-depth review. If you’re thinking about building a website to sell your online courses then read on to find out if Thinkific is the right fit.
If you don’t feel like reading the full review right now, no worries. You can save some time by skipping ahead to the bottom line to find out if Thinkific is the right platform for you.
Thinkific is a website builder specifically set up so that users can build and sell online courses and create membership sites. If you’re an entrepreneur or expert in your field then you could use Thinkific to create and sell online courses to potentially thousands of students and start making an income from your talents.
There are some, but not much drag and drop capabilities to the Thinkific site builder. You can drag the different sections of your web page into a new order from within the sidebar, but that’s it. It makes it really simple to rearrange elements without messing up the design. This is great for complete beginners as you can’t mess with the professionally designed templates that have been made for you. However, this could be frustrating for anyone looking for a platform that gives you complete design freedom. The lack of drag and drop capabilities means that you will have to stick closely to the ready-made designs.
This is the same for the course builder as well, you can only drag the different lessons into a new order, everything else is edited in a point-and-click style.
Getting started on Thinkific is really simple, you just need to enter a few personal details before you will be taken through to the dashboard where you can start creating content and building your website. The dashboard has a short welcome video that shows you what can be done on the platform as well as a step by step guide that details everything you need to complete before you’re ready to launch your very own online academy. It crosses out all of your complete to do’s and has a ‘Get ready to launch’ percentage tracker so you can keep up to date with exactly what you’ve done and what you have left to do.
You also get a guided tour of the website and course builder that shows you where you can find different features and describes a little bit about them. It doesn’t go into too much detail but it’s enough to get you started.
There are two different editors on the Thinkific platform, the first is the site builder which allows you to be able to create a website to showcase your online courses and convert leads into sales. The second is the course builder itself which allows you to create your online courses. They both work in a very similar way and make it really easy for you to create a professional look and feel.
Starting with the site builder, there are three main themes to choose from which include Empire, Vogue, and Vision. Each theme has up to 4 different style options to choose from, so you have a few options to help you get the right look for your business. It is possible with a paid plan to import additional themes and make edits to the theme’s code for further personalization and optimization.
The editor allows you to work from desktop, mobile, and full-screen sizes which are great for making sure any design changes you make work across all screen sizes.
Most of the editing takes place from within the sidebar. You start off by selecting the page you want to work on and then you can drill down to the different elements or content blocks to make changes.
When making changes to text you will have to edit from within a text box in the sidebar. You have the ability to change the size by using the sliding scale and override the themes suggested colors. You can edit colors precisely using Hex or RGB codes.
To upload a new image you just simply click ‘replace image’ in the sidebar. From there you can upload a new image from your own device, Google Drive, DropBox, Instagram, Facebook, link to a URL, or use the ‘search the web’ feature. There is a really simple image editor that allows you to crop, circle, or rotate your images before uploading them to your webpage.
When it comes to options for adding content, there are 23 different types of content blocks to add to your web pages. They vary from simple things like a text box with CTA, a banner, and an image gallery; through to more complex content boxes like lead capture forms, product sections, and countdown timers.
The course creator works in a similar way where you add new content blocks in the sidebar and can rearrange the order of lessons using the drag and drop feature. You can add content to each lesson by working on the page that comes up to the right on the screen. This might be typing up text content for a lesson, uploading a video or audio file or creating an exam to test your students.
The types of content you can include in your lessons are video, quiz, multimedia, text, survey, PDF, audio, download, presentation, exam, and assignment. Each type of content will have a title field as well as space to type text or upload content from another source like PowerPoint or a PDF file. You can personalize the look and feel of your course by making changes to the colors, theme, and fonts as well as uploading your own logo.
Thinkific has a great range of features and tools to help you create e-learning content and websites. Additionally, some features also help you to promote and sell that content, enabling you to start generating revenue.
Something we thought was worth highlighting from the course builder is the advanced quiz feature. Importing and creating quiz content to grade your students has been made simple with templates and you can specify if users need to achieve a specific grade to pass the course section.
A stand out feature from the website builder was the code editor which gives you the ability to add to the functionality and capabilities of your website. If you’re a beginner you might be thinking, there’s no way I’ll ever be using the code editor, and sure, it’s possible that you’ll never need to use it. However, having a code editor enabled on a website builder platform means that you’re not confined to the widgets and functions the platform creates for you. You can either learn to code or get a professional developer to design new elements for your website as your business and budget grows. This means you will be able to create a truly unique website and have the flexibility to create website functions that are specific to your audience and business.
The last thing we want to highlight is the live lessons with Zoom feature. Since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, Zoom has become part of our everyday lives. Thinkific has created a live lesson function using the popular video conferencing software for premium members. This enables you to add zoom meetings and webinars straight into your course content, adding to the overall experience of your students.
SEO is important to any website’s long term strategy as it’s the key to achieving organic search traffic. We ask our expert ninjas who specialize in all things SEO to conduct independent SEO audits on every brand we review to help you understand the chances of ranking well if you choose this particular website builder.
Thinkific is not a dedicated website builder, so we were not expecting it to pass our SEO tests with flying colors… and it didn’t. However, there are some positives to talk about and we’ll also let you know about the areas for concern.
So, let’s start with the things that we were pleased with. Firstly, the site scores very highly on our Google page speed tests which is important because Google considers loading as a direct ranking factor. The platform also supports SEO basics such as HTML headings (H1/H2/H3 etc.), automatic sitemaps, the ability to edit image alt tags, and friendly URLs. Additionally, HTTPs is enabled and canonical tags are present. All of this plays a role in ranking well on the search engine ranking pages (SERP), so it’s great to see all of this present.
However, there were also a number of key things missing that stops us from being able to recommend Thinkific as a platform that enables good SEO. These included a lack of schema data, no minifield code, and caching was left unconfigured. Unfortunately missing these core components means that you will find it difficult to rank well in the SERP.
Every e-learning website is an online store. Instead of selling physical products, they sell digital products in the form of educational content. So, every e-Learning website builder worth its salt needs to be set up for eCommerce. All Thinkific templates are set up ready for you to start selling your e-learning content. When you create a course it will be saved and then you can list it by selecting that course on your listing page, it’s as simple as that.
Something we loved about the Thinkific platform was the flexible payment options that give your customers a bigger choice on how they can purchase your content. It also gives you more chances to close a deal – it’s a win-win! The options include one-time payments, subscriptions, payment plans, free courses and additional course prices.
As an e-learning content provider, a common problem is thinking about how to get more revenue from a single customer. Thinkific has helped you out a bit by making it easy to create upsell offers with course bundles. You can sell each course individually and bundle relevant courses together at a discounted price to incentivize customers to spend more money.
There is no integrated bookings and reservation system built into the Thinkific platform. However, you can add in third-party applications to add this functionality to your website which will help you offer services like one-to-one coaching sessions. Thinkific recommends using booking platforms such as Calendly, Doodle or SimplyBook.com, which are all fully compatible with Thinkific.
You can find out more in this article about how Thinkific supports one on one coaching.
Something that makes Thinkific way more appealing than some of its competitors is that it doesn’t charge any transaction fees. Yup, you heard us right, you will be charged 0% on all transactions from Thinkific. You’ll only have to pay the fee outlined by the payment provider you choose to link your site up with.
The two payment providers that are supported and recommended by the platform with full integrations are PayPal & Stripe. It’s also possible to add in other payment providers if you don’t want to use these two…
Thinkific goes beyond a free trial and actually offers a free plan to users who might be starting out without heaps of content. It also gives you the chance to test out the core features to get a sense of if this could be the right platform for you. It’s super generous and not something that’s offered regularly by other brands.
The free trial includes the ability to create three courses, have unlimited students, make quizzes and surveys, host video, audio, and PDF content for free, and have instant access to your funds.
As well as the free plan, Thinkific offers three different pricing plans which include Basic, Pro, and Premier. The entry-level plan starts off at $39 and enables you to create an unlimited amount of courses, enroll an unlimited number of students, and add a custom domain name to your website.
Thinkific has a number of useful resources that help users to learn how to use the platform. These resources include a blog, an FAQ page, a help center, and a training site. The training site offers paid-for courses that teach you how to create the ultimate online education courses, as well as a free course that details how to make the most of the Thinkific platform.
Thinkific made sure they had the triple whammy of support functions; email, phone, and live chat. So, you’ll be able to get in touch whatever your preferred method of communication. To send them an email contact [email protected], call them on 1-888-832-2409, or head to the contact us page to speak with the live chatbot.
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