They existed even before 2019, B.C. (where B.C. stands for Before COVID), Online Course Platforms were already a thing. They were created for the same purpose: to sell and create online courses.
Back then, most courses were much more focused on niched things like leadership seminars, wholesomeness, and self-help classes. There were also classes and courses that covered normal topics.
These classes were designed to bring education to the most convenient and comfortable places.
People who were housebound due to multiple reasons (maybe childcare or health problems) could keep studying and learning despite not being able to go out. Due to its flexibility, people who are unable to attend school regularly due to scheduling conflicts or duties could still complete courses.
Then the pandemic happened, and everything else was forced to shut down. However, people still needed to learn, and online course platforms and other eLearning platforms made it possible for a lot to continue their studies.
The industry saw a 221% rise in course creators using one Course Platform during the initial stages of the pandemic. This growth may be shared across multiple online platforms.
Everyone, from solopreneurs and entrepreneurs to professionals in human resources and educational institutions, has used at least one course platform during the pandemic.
Not only that, but the pandemic also showed the potential of these platforms as a way to earn extra profit. They say, “knowledge is wealth.” Online course platforms gave that maxim legs and provided people with an instrument to turn knowledge into wealth.
Nowadays, there are countless online courses people can partake in. From the usual life coaching stuff about making your life better to tutorial classes of the usual academic subjects like Algebra. Even to courses about making your courses more profitable.
Online courses are everywhere, and if you want to get in on the action, the next question is which platform you will use to share that treasure in your noggin.
For those of you who prefer a more visual experience, here is a video review from Ross Herosian on his YouTube channel Tricycle Creative. To get a comprehensive overview of Thinkific, you may still want to check out our article below, which compares it to some competitors.
Thinkific: Your Go-To Online Course Platform Can Thinkific vs Ascend
The Thinkific Overview
Thinkific is one the most popular options for selling, hosting and building your courses.
One of the main reasons why Thinkific stands out is that you know they are doing this in a place of passion. It is clear that they are more concerned with providing the best learning experience possible to creators as well as their audience. They also understand that making money is important to maintain the business.
It’s impossible to not! After all, it is one of the few online course platforms that provide a full-on free service. Yes, Thinkific has a free service that is as good as their paid lowest-tiered one.
The platform is ideal for beginners as it allows them to see how content and courses are built, as well the industry’s overall environment. Using the free plan allows users to glimpse what they are about to partake in without any investment.
The only limitation of this free plan is that it only allows you to create one course and one course, and in my opinion, that is generous enough.
Thinkific also does not take any cut for a transaction fee whenever a user makes a sale on the platform. All the profits go to the content owner.
Thinkific even makes sure that all profits are directly available upon being sold. That means that course makers and content creators can use their earnings directly, with no need to wait for a quote or a certain threshold to reach before being able to touch the money.
This is a testament to how Thinkfiic views its customers.
Let me start by saying that almost all online courses platforms have the same features. The course builder is first, followed by the website builder to create your courses and finally the marketing features.
They are all the same except for how they work and some other unique features. As such, we will be focusing on these aspects of Thinkific’s features.
Thinkific’s main focus is their ability to create course curriculum. The creation part of Thinkific’s features is the most important. They ensure that online courses are as interactive as possible.
Thinkific’s user interface is very easy to get into. It’s intuitive and logical. Users will have no problem navigating everything. All other features can be accessed through a sidebar menu. They are properly classified to where they are, except for occasional hiccups. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Users who love to check on analytics and performance will love this interface, as everything is placed and organized neatly on the dashboard.
The dashboard shows you how you are doing in revenue and student accounts. You can also see student course enrollments and sign-ups.
We can make the interface look a bit more appealing if we have to.
As mentioned above, Thinkific’s main focus is on the creation side of course creation. As such, the platform ensures that the course creation mechanism is easy to get used to. Thinkific lets you try all the features of the course creator even if it is a free plan.
This course builder also allows you to include a multitude of media types. These media types include quizzes and surveys, assignments, pdfs, content, and student discussion areas that allow for peer-to-peer interaction.
Other highlights include scheduling of course content as well as some automation in terms of drip-feeding content.
The marketing features of Thinkific are where I fear the platforms will fall flat. Don’t get me wrong. It contains everything you need to market and promote your courses.
But that’s just about it. Thinkific’s market features compare poorly to its competitors. It doesn’t include a sales funnel builder. This is the most noticeable aspect. The overall checkout experience is pretty clunky.
You can’t do much about it because it is so limited in customization.
Even email marketing features lag behind the competitor. Most of it is quite basic, and at most, you can notify your students of new courses or products, as well as send them their course progress and notify them about their course progress as well as updates.
Thinkific can also integrate third-party apps. Rather than band-aids, you can consider these third-party apps as bandages to fix some of Thinkific’s deficiencies in the marketing department.
Thinkific integrates five of most popular email marketing platforms, including Aweber and Drip with email marketing.
I guess it makes sense, given the platform’s repeated promises of focusing on course creation. It would be smarter to invest all resources in ensuring that they get the course creation part right, and then to hire third-party apps for the marketing part.
While I have already mentioned Thinkific’s Free Plan and how great it is, that plan is still limited and is a far cry from what Thinkific’s paid plans are. It isn’t like most of the competition.
Thinkific is a lower-cost option that allows you to create unlimited courses and enroll unlimited students. This is in line with their mission to be focused on the education part. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
As such, if you want to use a more affordable plan and have many content ideas you think will sell, Thinkific should be one of the best matches for you.
|$0 per month||$74 per month||$149 per month||$374 per month|
|Create and launch your product using a website and checkout experience
|Add products to your company and create a cohesive learning experience.
|A complete set of tools is available to help you increase your sales.
|With a platform that scales, optimize your workflow to create premium experiences.
Thinkific offers a more complex and customized plan, Thinkific plus. Thinkific Plus takes the best of Thinkfiic, makes it powerful, scalable and simple-to-use, and then adds more.
Of course, it still maintains its dedication to course building, teachers, and students.
To get Thinkific plus, you need to contact the platform’s sales team and ask for this upgrade. They will help you to get the best out of your platform. Lastly, you will also discuss with them the total cost of this upgrade.
Each Thinkific Plus plan is unique, and as such, different Plus plans might more or less have different costs. This is one thing that is certain. Thinkific Plus will offer you all the benefits of the most expensive plan, plus these extra features.
- Unlimitted Products
- Unlimited Administrators
- Three+ separate Thinkific sites
- Service Level Agreement 99.9%
- Build a Customer Success Team
- Check out multiple seats or a tiered pricing option
- Email white-labeling
- Only one sign on
- Bulk Selling App
- Enterprise API Access
Thinkific Pros and Cons
- The Thinkific free package is permanent free. It also is not just a glorified free trial. You can only take as many courses as you like.
- Thinkific does not ask for transaction fees whenever a sale is made. All earnings by content creators are theirs. Creators can even claim and use these funds as soon as they arrive in their account.
- When it comes to payment options, Thinkific can be flexible and has different payment options for different types of students and schools.
- Thinkific’s premium plans remove the restriction on the number of courses. Users can create unlimited courses and enroll unlimited students in these courses.
- In terms of interface, Thinkific has one of the easiest to understand. The majority of options are logically placed and easy to find. This interface is easy to use for users just starting out.
- Speaking of easily getting the hang of, Thinkfic’s course builder is similarly easy to use. You can also choose from many course materials to make your course more engaging and exciting.
- Thinkific gives you the option to offer incentives, such as leaderboards and awards, to motivate your students.
- Not everything in Thinkific’s tools are user friendly. Some would need guides and a bit of time to get used to.
- The marketing features of Thinkifiic make it hard to recommend for people who are more focused on propping up businesses on the platform. You will need third-party integrations to get a better experience.
- Despite Thinkific having one of the most intuitive user interfaces, it looks outdated, and there are times when the experience can be clunkier than expected.
- The platform lacks many customization options. As such, it is not impossible to find other websites that may look the same as yours. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
The Thinkific Summary
Thinkific is one the most popular online courses platforms on the market. It is a great platform for beginners as well as those who are looking for more course-focused platforms. Despite its limitations, it still competes with other more “advanced and feature-rich” platforms.
My opinion is that its greatest strength would be its commitment to providing the best course experience possible and a free plan. As for its weakness, Thinkfiic has already provided some kind of solution to it. Using local third-party integrations can remedy any problems you have with the platform.
If you’re looking for the best online course creation software that builds courses from scratch. You can never go wrong with Thinkific.
Thinkific Versus Kajabi
Kajabi is an open-source platform that allows you to run an online business. It is primarily focused on productivity and selling. It provides tools that are geared towards simplifying your operations.
Kajabi’s top features include automations and pipelines, email marketing and a mobile application.
As for products, there is a lot you can sell through the platform. Apart from courses, there are many other options. You can also sell memberships, communities and podcasts.
Kajabi has many marketing features. It’s no surprise that they have sales funnels, email marketing, and automations. This allows Kajabi users to sell their products more easily.
Kajabi is a rare product that can be described as an “all-in-one” platform. It’s a course-creation platform that offers more than just decent marketing features. It even has automation features that could help you focus more on marketing or creating than the menial tasks.
That said, not everything is good in Kajabi land. For starters, it has one of the more expensive platforms available in the market. The lowest plan is $149 per month. These plans are not unlimited. In the case of the lowest plan, you can only sell 3 products.
Aside from that, Kajabi is not as feature-rich, especially in the gamification and community engagement department. So you might need some third-party integrations to address these issues.
Kajabi claims to be one of the best platforms. They even have one of the more expensive plans in the course creation market. As such, it is only to be expected that the audience will have high expectations of the product. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Let’s now take a look at the Kajabi interface and see how great they are.
At first glance, Kajabi’s interface is pretty normal. It’s minimalist, clean, and modern. The majority of features are accessible in just 3-4 clicks. The page also includes a search assistant that allows you to quickly locate the tools and features within the application.
Kajabi’s pages load quicker. It makes it easier to work and provides a smoother experience.
Kajabi offers a variety of course creation options. You can create mini-courses, online or drip courses, as well as creating your own. You can choose among these types for whichever suits your needs. (i.e. long courses for long content, mini-courses for product launches).
For easier building experience, Kajabi provides blueprints which are akin to templates. These “skeletons” can be used as templates, so you don’t have to worry about adding content.
These courses could be properly structured too into categories, subcategories and posts. As such, it would be very easy to organize your content neatly and properly. They can be arranged according to their content and types. So you can text and slideshows in one area, audio and video to different areas.
Kajabi offers cloud storage via Dropbox and Google Drive, so you don’t have to worry.
Kajabi has robust and extensive marketing features.
It also offers the traditional stuff of offering coupons in a flexible way, which, as we have seen, is an old and proven marketing strategy.
If you want to market through email, Kajabi has a powerful email marketing solution that is already built in the platform which has plenty of features in and of itself. Email templates can be created for different functions.
Another conversion tool they possess are their pipelines, which can help you convert more customers and increase your sales. These are easy to use, and the platform even provides templates that customers can easily access.
Kajabi offers a dedicated affiliate program to users who have a higher plan. This feature makes the entire process extremely simple and easy. It organizes both affiliate links and affiliates in its own category, making it easier to track down and find them.
Kajabi’s lack of an integrated payment solution is the main problem. Instead users will have to rely on the integration form other payment gateways such as Stripe, Paypal, BitPay, Authorize.net and others.
This is entirely disappointing given how robus their marketing tools are as well as how good their checkout is at doing things like upsells, bump offers, and downsells.
Overall, while its not perfect, Kajabi offers a lot of features that are both geared towards marketing as well as course creation. As such, it is easy to see that these features are good for almost everybody who are serious about making an online business.
Potential users must be prepared to pay a high price for these tools.
It is undeniable that Kajabi is among the most expensive service when it comes to the course creation market. Their lowest plan starts at $149 per month and this plan doesn’t even include unlimited courses. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
If you feel that Kajabi’s high price and more advanced features such as automation are something you really need, then you can choose to purchase it.
|$119 monthly billed annually||$159 per month, payable annually||Monthly payment of $319|
Kajabi Pros & Cons
- True to its name, Kajabi is an all in one content making and marketing tool. You can create courses using various tools, such as a drip or mini-course. Then, you can combine them with marketing automations to make sure they sell.
- Kajabi provides blueprints and templates to help you get started on your project.
- Kajabi allows you to sell other digital products like coaching, webinars, communities, podcasts, etc. It is also one of the best places to do so.
- Kajabi also includes an assessment function that allows students to grade their performance and monitor them. This feature is especially useful when used in conjunction with drip courses. Drip courses allow you to offer courses that are only accessible when the correct grades have been achieved.
- Kajabi’s mobile app makes it easy for students to access lessons and classes wherever and whenever they want. It even includes a notification feature that can help with alerts.
- Kajabi has a membership option that allows users create and sell membership options for their customers. This feature can be used by users to offer additional and exclusive content.
- Kajabi’s automation feature can automate the purchase of offers, post-completion of courses or memberships, assessment completion, as well as other tasks. Users can also use more advanced options with conditional filters to be precise in the automation process.
- Kajabi has one of the strongest marketing features among the content and course-building platforms available right now.
- Kajabi’s Email marketing is one of the best in the business. It includes various email templates that can be used in different situations. Kajabi also has the option to automate email sequences by using triggers and actions. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
- Kajabi’s pipeline feature makes it possible to have various OVO funnel templates. The pipeline features automate the selling of the products and “funneling” your customers to where you want for better conversion rates.
- Kajabi’s price point is nothing to laugh at. It starts at $149 per month and does not even offer unlimited course creation. It offers only 3 products and 3 pipelines.
- Kajabi does not offer course completion certificates, something that some users want to receive as proof of going through the class
- Kajabi does not have page templates to design landing pages, thank-you pages, checkout pages, forms or other pages. This means that users will have to create all pages from scratch using the page builder. It will be difficult for non-tech users and new users.
- Kajabi doesn’t offer a guarantee badge on its checkout page. A guarantee badge is a great tool to increase conversions. Guarantees assure buyers of a product’s quality.
- Kajabi does not have a local payment gateway. You must rely on Stripe and Paypal integrations to take payment from orders.
- Kajabi has some great features but it still lacks some key features, particularly in the community section. There are no gamification or community engagement features.
It is undeniable that Kajabi is a juggernaut of a platform regarding course creation and marketing. They have the most advanced tools for marketing alone.
They have the tools that provide a great marketing experience. Users would love to have their pipeline and automation features if they want to convert at a high rate.
That said, Kajabi is not without its flaws. It lacks features that allow you to connect with students and customers. These features allow you to create a great community. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Kajabi is also pretty expensive. People might find it difficult to justify buying a plan which can only host 3 products when there are cheaper alternatives that offer unlimited products.
Overall, Kajabi has advanced marketing features and is a great creation platform. It is perfect if you are looking for a platform for its marketing features. Although it is a little expensive, Kajabi’s features are well worth the cost.
Podia Versus Thinkific
Podia is another popular digital content-selling platform. It is also an all-in-one platform that has powerful marketing features. Online courses, coaching, webinars and community are just a few of the many products that you can sell through this platform.
Podia is also one of the most affordable digital content-selling platforms on the market. In fact, it might be among the lowest prices. It does take a portion of your profit when you sell. This might be their way to offset the high price of its powerful features.
At the end of the day, Podia is an excellent tool and platform, especially for those who are more focused on the business side, such as marketers, promoters, and the like.
In terms of features, Podia has loads of them.
From looking at the interface, Podia has it clean and minimal. It is designed to have all the other features accessible within 3 clicks. It is so easy that almost no learning curve is required to use Podia’s interface.
This makes the platform very beginner friendly. There are no more complicated terms and actions needed just to reach or access something that you need or want. In fact, almost all of Podia’s functions can be accessed straight from the dashboard.
For its Course creator, Podia supports various files that can serve as the building block for your lessons. You can include text, embeds, quizzes, coaching, and files in a course. With some imagination, you can create interesting lessons with the platform that is given to you.
Nevertheless, there are some areas where the course creator is lacking. Unlike most other platforms, Podia only supports very few lesson types. Furthermore, it does not have a proper assessment feature to help you monitor student performance. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
That said, it has a very powerful embed tool that supports several platforms. These websites include:
- Youtube, Vimeo and Dailymotion are video hosts.
- Podcast and music platforms like s Spotify, soundcloud and podbean
- Slideshow platforms such as speaker deck, presentation and google slides.
- Social media sites like Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, and Behance
- Form Builder websites such as Google Forms, Typeform, and Paper Form
- Github and Codepen are two examples of coding websites.
Podia recently added the ability to issue certificates. This certificate feature can be viewed as an incentive/prize to complete your courses. However, Podia only has one type of certificate for now. They cannot still customize and design your certificates.
Podia’s marketing focus is on the bag. You can use it to increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Tools like Pre-launch, upsells, and coupons make great strategies to promote your products.
This marks Podia as an excellent choice for marketers who want to sell their products on a smaller website.
Nevertheless, not all things are perfect. In this case, Podia’s weakness is its email marketing, which only provides the basics. It allows you to send broadcasts and email campaigns but lacks some features, such as split testing and personalization fields.
People looking for automation features may also have lost their chance since Podia’s isn’t as advanced as theirs.
For payment processors, Podia has a local payment gateway. That said, you will need to connect your bank account or PayPal account to payment processors. For a simpler solution, you can also integrate with Stripe and PayPal.
Your audience can use their credit cards at checkout. These usually are processed within 2 days and will be credited to your bank or PayPal account. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
It is also one of the most affordable on the market in terms of pricing. What’s more, is that the platform has recently added its own free plan. While this free plan does not offer much, it is still a good way to figure out how Podia works.
|$0 per Month||$33 per month||$75 per month||$166 per month|
Podia Pros and Cons
- Podia’s strong point is its clear and simple UI/UX. It is very easy to use and has a non-existent learning curve. Users of all edges and tech levels will find it intuitive to set it up.
- Podia has many functions and can become a one-stop shop for all your needs. Digital products can include memberships, webinars and bundles.
- Other than the free plan, Podia allows you to sell unlimited courses and products. This means that you can make as many pages as you like for your products and courses as long as there is energy.
- Podia also allows you to upload as many videos as possible for your content. This is thanks to the unlimited storage and bandwidth that the platform offers its users. This way, you don’t need to use Vimeo or Wistia.
- Podia has a built-in affiliate program for your audience that is only available for Shaker and Earthquaker plans.
- Although it only provides the basic functions, the email marketing tools built-in are sufficient to support campaigns and broadcasts.
- Podia has supported a pre-launch mode among its marketing features. It will generate buzz about your products and encourage early conversions of email customers. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
- Except for the free plan, Podia charges no transaction fee on sales.
- Podia has a new feature that allows content creators to give certificates, community, and quizzes. You can even create memberships in the community area.
- Their email marketing provides only the most basic functions. Especially in its email composer, which lacks personalization fields. Aside from that, the tool lacks templates, drag and drop editor, and other features
- There is a noticeable lack of course-compliance features in the platform
- Podia does not offer many customization options. It lacks custom CSS/HTMl customizations. Podia will result in generic websites.
- Podia does not have landing page builders and funnels. These are essential tools considering Podia’s focus in marketing.
- The free plan does not allow you to host more than one product. It also charges an 8% transaction fee.
- There are no course blueprints available in Podia.
- Podia supports only a handful of lesson types. Podia does not support certain types of lesson, such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline.
- It has some good marketing features but it is still lacking others. These include cart abandonment, downsells and order bumps.
- Podia does not have a mobile app, which can limit its user base or access, given how much the world has depended on smartphones and tablets. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Overall, Podia is a decent platform to host your content. This is pretty true especially given the price point it is offered.
Many might think that with Podia, you get what you pay for. It isn’t true. Podia offers a lot more with what you pay for it. With enough creativity and good ideas, you can create impressive courses and sell them at a good price.
Despite some of its limited capacity, it is still an all-in-one platform. It’s perfect for many people. Content creators, teachers, marketers, and people who target marketers. Podia will be able to serve their needs if they need to.
Kartra Versus Thinkific
Kartra is a completely different product to the ones listed above. Scratch that, Kartra is entirely different from the other products listed in this review.
Instead of a course creator, we have an all-in-one platform that sells your products. It is also a marketing platform.
In this vein, Kartra should not be treated as a separate website or your product’s website.
Instead, focus on the strengths of your site and sell products, memberships, and services.
Kartra is properly fitted to create and sell both digital and physical products. It allows you to sell an unlimited number of them and different kinds of products. It also allows you to choose from multiple pricing options, which will allow you to set a more flexible price.
Kartra is an entirely different beast, so we may focus on features that aren’t found in most course-building sites. Kartra might not have a course-building website.
Katra lets you sell multiple products, as we mentioned previously. Each account can sell an unlimited number of them and offer them at any price point.
To maximize the profits of its users, Kartra focuses on marketing and lead conversion. As such, one of their main features is funnel building.
Funnels literally mean a “funnel” for sellers to direct potential customers to buy their products. Although funnels are not considered campaigns by Kartra, they function in a similar way. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Kartra makes funnel building relatively easy. You can build one from scratch if you already have experience in this field. You can also have Katra build it for you with their plug-and play campaigns, which are from industry leaders.
For personally built campaigns, you can also choose to share them with other Kartra members. Your campaigns can be marketed and sold to make money.
Kartra manages all of the billing and payment processes so that you can concentrate on improving your funnels as you gain more experience.
Kartra also has page-building capabilities, and it is surprisingly powerful. These features allow users to create product pages, checkout pages and opt-in pages. You can even use professionally designed templates to speed up or start the process.
These pages can also be optimized for desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. These pages can be hosted on your domain, or on Katra.
That said, they are still limited in capacity and features to be considered a proper website. Even Kartra feels it themselves, as they wouldn’t allow you to host those pages in your domain otherwise.
The marketing features are to be considered as Kartra’s shining jewel. It has all that is needed for email marketing.
First, it can send broadcast messages either by email or SMS. This will require integration with all available SMS gateways.
Aside from that, Kartra also has automation which it can use to create email sequences. Drag-and-drop visual sequence builders make it easy to create them. Once you’re done, the program can run on autopilot.
Behavior-based automation is another feature that makes the platform unique. This powerful tool allows to send emails based upon the behavior of recipients. As such, when you are done setting up the hard work, you can just sit back and relax.
Kartra’s price is steep for a platform focused on marketing and lead conversions. That said, depending on what you need, the platform’s price point on its plans might be worth it. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Kartra offers advanced features that aren’t available in other products.
|$79 per month when billed annually||$149 per Month when you pay annually||$229 per Month when you pay annually||Monthly payment of $379 when you pay annually|
Kartra Pros and Con
- You don’t need any external marketing integrations. Kartra has it all: built-in email marketing, automation, sequence builder, and other essential features needed to perfectly market your products
- Kartra offers an automatic translation feature for its checkout pages. It works based on the user’s geographic location. In this vein, it also supports different currencies.
- Kartar also allows you to drip content and vary access to different levels if you have a membership site.
- You can use A/B testing to refine your automated email responses as you set them up.
- Kartra has an agency feature that allows you to hold multiple client accounts. This allows you to manage different websites in just a single dashboard.
- Some might feel that Kartra’s pricing is too high for the quality of what they offer
- There are no plans that offer unlimited integrations
- Kartra’s interface is quite slow and might get frustrating to use at times. Can Thinkific vs Ascend
- Even Kartra’s pages can load slow
- For beginners, it can be difficult to understand the many features.
Overall, Kartra is a powerful all-in-one platform for sales and marketing.
There are many tools and features available that will allow you to create engaging and compelling promotions and products.
That said, it isn’t a course builder and definitely not a website builder. As such, If you use Kartra, ensure that you are doing so in conjunction with a proper website page maker. Kartra is quite expensive for the features it offers. This can be difficult to swallow.
However, if you take the plunge, you might just get your money’s worth and more.
Overall, Verdict Can Thinkific vs Ascend
Course builder websites are pretty useful when joining the industry.
There will be many platforms available to provide the service you require, just as there are for most industries and markets. In the case of course building and selling, we have Thinkific, Podia, Kajabi ( and a little bit of Kartra), among others.
In a market-like course building, these platforms will offer almost identical services. They will have very few differences. Of course, some might excel in one aspect or another.
To find the right product for you, you must decide what direction you want to go. And find the platform that is best aligned with that. Chances are, you will find that their features will be most useful to you.