Best Thinkific alternatives
Finding a good LMS (learning management system) is a critical step when starting your own business around e-learning. Features are the most important, naturally, but the same goes for your budget.
Thinkific is a great platform, but it’s not the only one. If you think it’s too expensive—or it lacks something you need—then consider its competition. There are dozens of similar platforms, so there’s no reason for you to settle for something that doesn’t meet your needs.
Today, we’re taking a look at some of the best platforms fitting that criteria. If you’re interested in getting Thinkific, but something stops you, then you should definitely take a look at these.
I want to start with Podia simply because it’s my personal pick as the best alternative to Thinkific.
That’s because Podia is an amazing platform for entrepreneurs who want to build a diversified venture. That’s because it’s perfect for online courses, but the array of features it provides are suited for other types of businesses.
You can create membership websites or even sell a range of digital products besides courses.
As soon as you sign in, you’ll find an intuitive dashboard with different buttons to create membership sites, courses, and digital products for others to download. For every button you press, you’ll be taken to the creation section.
Once there, you’ll be able to edit your sections, text and images, files, and more. Customizing courses is seamless thanks to a visual editor, so you don’t need to mess with a single line of code.
You can use your custom domain with Podia, and you can create free and paid programs. Student process can be tracked for every course, and you can brand your store to your needs.
A definitive highlight in Podia is its unlimited bandwidth, so you don’t need to worry about the size of your website and individual files. You also get a nice set of marketing features, like coupons and upsells for all products. Upsells are available regardless of your plan, and you can offer different types of coupons with different limitations.
If you get the Shaker plan for Podia, you can embed your checkout forms right into any website. This frees the customer from being directed to a different site to complete their checkout process; it makes the process a lot faster and better for conversions.
Pros and cons
Podia adapts to a lot of business, and if you want to offer more than just online courses, then it’s perfect. Having instant payouts makes it a lot easier for customers to pay, and Podia doesn’t charge fees for transactions.
Having unlimited bandwidth is also a huge advantage, especially when compared to other platforms in the same category. You also have good email marketing functionality, and the dashboard in general is really easy to use.
When it comes to the bad things about Podia, I can mention two: gateways and design. You don’t get many gateways to handle payments, the customization features are quite limited when we consider what you can do with other solutions.
Before paying anything, you can check out both the live demo for the platform as well as a 14-day free trial. Podia then offers 2 different subscriptions: Mover and Shaker, for $39 and $79 every month, respectively. If you pay for the entire year, you get 2 months for free.
The Mover plan is your basic option, with the features necessary to host your online courses and digital products. There’s nothing really especial here, but the Shaker plan is something else.
You get all features from Mover, but it lets you build entire membership websites for your products. Other features include blogging, the ability to embed your checkout pages into different websites, and affiliate marketing programs for your products. This plan also lets you install code from third parties, like Facebook’s Pixel.
Other platforms often charge transaction fees, averaging at around 5% like Thinkific. Podia doesn’t charge anything other than your subscription, so it’s a very affordable alternative if you want to implement even more features into your business.
Teachable is easily one of the most popular choices in this category, and it’s a favorite among the countless YouTube gurus and instructors. It’s an excellent platform if you want to offer a simple course structure, but you’ll need to do pretty much everything else yourself.
However, it’s the only free entry in this list, so it’s worth a look if anything. Keep in mind that it’s really limited, though; you can consider the free version as a free lifetime trial.
After signing into Teachable, you’ll be taken to your dashboard Here, you can create sections and lectures; the former refers to the general topics, and the latter refers to the lessons and content: videos, PDFs, audio, slides, and the like.
You can implement quizzes for your courses as well. These are quite simple regarding what you can do with them, and you definitely won’t find advanced functionality like randomized questions. They’re great for straightforward assessment.
A nice feature is the setting for course compliance. This feature lets you ensure your students are completing the necessary lessons and assessments necessary to move into the other lessons and sections without feeling lost.
The editor is really easy to use, and you have access to a templates library and the option to create your own templates. You just need to drag the elements to where you want them.
When it comes to integrations, you have plenty available—Zapier being the most notable. Luckily, you have in-built features for upsells, affiliate centers, and course bundles.
Pros and cons
It’s arguably the most beginner-friendly option in this list, especially considering you can start for free while you get a feel for the platform. You can upsell other products with your courses, which is great for marketing.
However, you’ll have to pay transaction fees for the lower plan. Also, while this definitely plays into why Teachable is so easy to use, all features are quite basic.
The free plan lets you host a free course for up to 10 students; you’ll need to upgrade once you hit that mark, and you also need to pay transaction fees.
You have 3 options for the monthly paid plans: Basic for $29, Professional for $99 and Business for $399.
Kajabi is another very popular course platform, and it can be considered both simple and complex, depending on how you use it.
You can host entire courses with Kajabi, yet a lot of people also use the platform for more than that. It offers a lot of other features like building pages and funnels, hosting webinars, email marketing, and more.
Kajabi lets you sell a wide range of digital curses, including online courses and membership program. Right from the Basic plan, you can host webinars and other live events.
A nice feature is that all plans let you implement surveys and quizzes. These are great for keeping your students engaged and gather feedback for your products. Course setup is also straightforward thanks to the amount of templates available.
The basic plan starts off with support for 1,000 active members, and while it’s limited, you can create unlimited landing page; the same goes for sending out marketing emails.
More advanced plans increase the amount of active members exponentially, and they also offer more features. Affiliate marketing support is one of the features you can add to your courses, and you can remove Kajabi’s branding.
Pros and cons
Kajabi is great as a CMS for entrepreneurs focused exclusively on e-learning as a business. It’s also great for beginners thanks to the drag-and-drop editor with premade templates.
You also have access to plenty of features even with the most basic plan. It’s great for promoting products as well thanks to funnel support, coupons, upsells, and even marketing emails, with integrations including MailChimp and other popular services.
The main problem for most people will be the price. Those with the budget might have trouble with the customization limits when designing course, and there’s admittedly a stronger focus around marketing than actually providing good learning features.
First off, you can try the platform for free. Then, you have 3 different pricing plans: Basic for $149, Growth for $199, and Pro for $399. These are all billed monthly, but you can pay for the entire year right away, which also gets you a nice discount.
The Basic plan already comes with plenty of features, but you’re restricted to a single admin user. Since the Growth plan increases this to 10, it’s often the best plan for most entrepreneurs. Besides, you get to remove Kajabi’s branding in your courses and create affiliate programs.
Let me get this straight: Kartra is in a different league. The only reason it’s not the top pick for this list is that we wanted to stick to learning-centered platforms. Kartra is a lot more than that.
It’s a full marketing suite, which includes membership sites, online courses, and digital products. However, you also have affiliate marketing, customer support, forms, sales funnels, and email marketing all built into the platform.
If you want more than just hosting a course, Kartra is your best bet.
The main feature making Kartra famous is its support for marketing funnels. You can create entire funnels with different pages to “warm up” your visitors towards conversions and recurring sales.
There’s also an integrated calendar app, which you can post on your website for customers to book their own appointments with you. The integrated help desk lets you create customer support hubs for your products. It offers a page and form builder with templates.
You can even create affiliate programs and post them in Kartra’s marketplace for others to join and promote your products.
Of course, you can also host online courses and videos, as well as create membership sites with different tiers and content restrictions.
Pros and cons
It nearly does everything: funnels, email marketing, customer support, course hosting, page building, and more. It has solid sales funnels and email marketing capabilities, and you can edit your funnels and pages with an intuitive drag-and-drop builder.
Problems are quite minor: you can only use a single time zone for your dashboard, for starters. It’s also quite complex, so the learning curve is more prominent. Naturally, it’s more expensive than other entries.
There are 4 monthly plans available: Starter ($99), Silver ($199), Gold ($299), and Platinum ($499).
Luckily, you have access to all features right from the Starter plan, except for a limit on how many membership sites you can build. Luckily, the Silver plan already removes the restriction, and you can basically upgrade depending on how many leads, emails, products, and domains you want to manage as well as how much bandwidth you need.
Our last entry is the best choice for those looking for a platform to integrate seamlessly with WordPress.
It’s quite similar to the other platforms, but its main selling point is that it’s the most popular plugin for creating courses and membership websites on WordPress. It’s packed with plenty of features to let you do everything from WordPress.
Once installed into WordPress, you can turn your website into a platform for online courses. Activating it is the same as other plugins, and it’s perfect for people with experience with WordPress.
It simply blends with your current website theme, so there’s no reason to worry about it changing your website’s branding. If you need to change anything, page creation and editing is the same process as WordPress.
Once you access the LearnDash LMS option in your dashboard, you receive access to all features; these include dynamic forums, course structure, quizzes, and more. You even get a grade book to track student performance.
It also integrates with PayPal and Stripe, and other features include email notifications, certification, and lesson restriction.
Pros and cons
The best part is how easy it is to use; it’s also very affordable. Certification is a huge advantage as well, given how it might be somewhat rare among these platforms, and if you already plan on using WordPress, it’s your best bet.
The main issue is that it’s only a learning platform. You won’t get any marketing features like with the other options, and installing more plugins to make up for it is detrimental for your loading times.
What makes LearnDash so affordable is that all of its 3 pricing options are lifetime licenses for a single payment. You have the Basic, Plus, and Pro packages for $159, $189 and $329 respectively.
Therefore, it’s more expensive than other options upfront, but it’ll save you lots of money in the long-term.
There’s no trial period, and you get a single year for support, but there’s a refund guarantee for 30 days. You can also check out the demo website template to see how it works.
ClickFunnels is similar to Kartra: it builds funnels and offers affiliate marketing, email, automation, webinars, and membership solutions. The main reason it’s not in the main list is that it’s too basic when it comes to creating courses.
It’s basically a marketing platform with basic membership and online course features. However, if you’re interested in that, you might as well just get Kartra for a similar price and way more features.
However, if you want to prioritize marketing over an advanced membership website, ClickFunnels might be worth taking a look. It offers a free trial for 14 days and 2 pricing options for either $97 and $297 monthly.
Ruzuku is a platform for online courses, and it also offers almost everything you’ll require for creating and selling your own courses.
Besides course creation, you can also use it for tutoring. It offers engagement tools like the ones you can get with Podia or Kajabi. Its price starts off at $99 monthly, and you also get a 14-day trial.
However, it’s quite limited with customization, and you can’t create sales funnels or landing pages. There’s no marketing here in general, and customer support is only available through email.
Given the price, you might as well get another option from the list. It won’t be too different in terms of costs, and you’ll get more advanced features anyways. However, it’s still a worthwhile mention, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check it out.
Thinkific is amazing—don’t get me wrong. It offers all the necessary features to start your own course and membership website, but it’s not the only solution—nor the cheapest.
There are many platforms available with a similar goal, which also use a different approach. This difference often translates into other features and limitations, so it’s always a good idea to check out alternatives in case you find something that better suits your budget and needs.
Besides, most of these platforms offer free trials, so there’s nothing to lose just by testing them.
I hope you found this guide useful and if you have any questions, please comment down below. I’ll be more than happy to assist you.
Once again, thanks for reading my Thinkific Alternatives and I wish you the best of luck.