Teachable, Thinkific offer free online teaching help in October

Fingers type on a laptop keyboard
You can make money by teaching a class through an online teaching platform. But while many people have deep knowledge about a topic, the process of designing and implementing an online course can be a mystery.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Do you have a skill that people would pay to learn? Whether you’re an expert in social media marketing, using Excel, or building tables and chairs, you can make money by teaching a class through an online teaching platform. And this month you can learn to teach free.

Like podcasts, online courses are proliferating. And, for someone with a teachable skill, such as pastry making or appliance repair, it can be an extraordinarily good way to earn semi-passive income. After all, once a course is designed and launched, it can live on the web forever, pulling in new students and new revenue year after year.

However, the big barrier to entry is that, while many people have deep knowledge about a topic, the process of designing and implementing an online course is a mystery. How do you structure, film and edit a self-paced course? How do you define and find your target audience? And how do you market to those people to sell your program?


This month two of the best online teaching platforms — Teachable and Thinkific — are answering those questions with free workbooks and online courses for potential creators. Both sites normally charge hundreds of dollars for the packages that they’re offering free in October. So if you’ve ever considered making extra money by sharing your knowledge, now is the time to check it out.


Teachable, for instance, has a 23-page workbook aimed at helping you find a course topic, develop it, identify a community that needs that information, and generate sales.

The workbook takes you through the process of not only figuring out what skill to teach and how to name your class, but how to sell yourself. In other words, how do you convince strangers to pay for your course? It also shows how to use social media to market and sell your class.

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Notably, if you decide to put your class online, Teachable gives you four ways to do it. You can post the class free, paying a commission on each sale, or you can enroll in a monthly subscription plan that allows you to keep more — or all — of the course sales price. (Once you secure more than a dozen sales each month, monthly subscriptions are usually more cost-effective.)

If you choose the second option, paying a $29 to $39 monthly fee, the site provides another group of freebies, including mini courses that teach you how to write for publication, how to increase your Instagram following and how to set up and expand an email list.


All of Teachable’s plans are fully refundable for 30 days, so even if you pay for a plan, you have no financial risk until the 30-day period is over.


Thinkific also offers a group of step-by-step guides on developing a curriculum, using the site’s software to teach an online class and creating an engaged community that can become a marketing arm for your course.

The site suggests that people who want to get started sign up for the site’s free plan and use it to follow along. The best place to start is with the curriculum-building course, which helps you turn your knowledge into a class and turn your class into a business.

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Much like the courses it suggests you make, Thinkific’s free “learn to teach” modules are done in easily digestible snippets, ranging from two to 15 minutes long. Each takes a narrow topic — such as putting up your first class — and walks you through the steps.

Add surveys and quizzes to make your course more interactive, the site suggests. And it shows how you can do that with a drop-down menu included in the site’s software. Thinkific also helps you to build a website to support your course sales. This website is hosted by Thinkific, so there is no cost to offer it.

Thinkific’s free plan is truly free — indefinitely. However, the site’s free plans are branded with the Thinkific logo and lack some bells and whistles.

During October, the site is offering a one-month free trial of a far more extensive paid plan designed to help you develop a community. Community marketing can be a powerful way to sell courses, as well as ancillary products such as T-shirts, books and webinars.

Thinkific’s bundle comes with a plethora of courses that show you how to find and connect your community, as well as the software that can manage sales and contacts. However, this bundle is structured as a one-month free trial, so you need to cancel within 30 days of signing up or the site will begin charging you $99 for the site’s monthly starter plan.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.