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Review: Thinkific provides the tools to create and sell an online course

Thinkific doesn't dictate how much you charge for your course, nor does it limit your ability to communicate directly with your clients.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

What: Thinkific helps you set up your own website aimed at teaching and selling online courses, allowing you to set the price and terms

Expected pay: Varies

Husl$core: $$$$$ (scale of 5)

Commissions & fees: 10% of your course price or a monthly fee

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Where: Nationwide

Requirements: Have a course to teach and the legal right to teach it

Like better-known Udemy, Thinkific allows individuals to design and publish an online course. It can be anything from “How to Master Excel,” to “How to Improve Your Abs.” However, Thinkific doesn’t dictate how much you charge for your course, nor does it limit your ability to communicate directly with your clients.

“You have total control over your clients, your marketing, your brand, your price,” said Patrick McGill, Thinkific’s business development manager. In fact, Thinkific often runs silently in the background of well-known teaching sites, such as HootSuite, McGill says.

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The fact that the course was prepared with Thinkific software would be disclosed only if you happened to choose the company’s free plan. In that case, Thinkific places its logo on your site (much like Mail Chimp does with its free email service).

Also unlike Udemy, the only courses you’ll see on Thinkific’s site are those offered by people who have provided the site with testimonials and case studies. SideHusl chatted with one such client — John Michaloudis of MyExcelOnline.com. He raves about the platform.

What Thinkific does not do, however, is help you sell your course. McGill suggests establishing a following elsewhere —Facebook, Instagram, or even at Udemy — before launching on the Thinkific platform.

Why does SideHusl rate Thinkific so much more highly than Udemy? Because it will not discount your class (Udemy will). And you can use the platform for free, paying just 10% of revenue if a course sells. This is a far lower commission than charged by Udemy.

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Better yet, if you start selling a ton, as Michaloudis did, you can switch over to a monthly fee plan. That can save highly successful users a fortune on commissions. The fact that the site will try to put you on the cheapest plan is one of the many reasons users rave about the platform.

What users say (from SoftwareAdvice):

“Thinkific won’t host all your marketing needs, but it will nail your online course, and I’m a big fan of that. They also offer GREAT webinars and opportunities for professional development, which I really appreciate. I really do feel like they want me to succeed.”

“I really like how simple it was to create an online course. All I had to do was create the content and Thinkific supplied the platform to present it in a clarified and seamless way. Also, the customer support has been outstanding.”

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“This software is quite flexible and enabled me to take over 200 students through 15 learning modules. Each module has multiple videos and pictures. Thinkific enabled me to include assignments, which I used Airtable to integrate with. The progress bar has been confusing for some of our students. Replaying courses can be slightly confusing for them too.”

“Many other free plans try to give you a taste of the software and then nudge to upgrade. Not thinkific. They give you all the tools you need even on a free plan and then when you decide to upgrade, they add awesome value to your investment.”

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.


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