Looking to create a course? Great idea. Online courses are fun, profitable, and help you build your brand — and are extremely profitable, to boot. Check out this comprehensive Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi review to pick the best platform for hosting your work.
Why This Matters
Choosing a platform for your course is the first step on your roadmap to success. Why the first one? Because, presumingly, you already know what the course will be about. If you don’t, are you really an expert? Can you really teach that thing?
Pro tip: People aren’t stupid. Creating a course because it’s a ‘trendy topic’ is not the winning strategy. Look for the intersection of your expertise and what is popular. Only do a course if you’re knowledgable enough on the topic.
There isn’t one perfect platform for everybody.
In the case of Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi, I am looking at the three most popular options. There are other hosting opportunities, too. For instance, a lot of beginner course creators use Udemy. Here is why I picked those three:
- All of them are reliable and high-quality
- They offer great value for money
- Knowing my audience, these platforms will suit your needs best
Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi: The Basics
Online courses come in different shapes and sizes. When you pick a platform for you, here is what you should consider:
- Technical skill level
- Marketing features
- Payment handling
- Customer service
All three platforms are beginner-friendly. They don’t require a lot of technical know-how.
The more advanced option – WordPress Courseware, will require you to install and configure a plugin yourself. Otherwise, you’d have to hire a developer to do it. That brings the price up. I would not recommend it if you’re new to online courses. There is plenty of time ahead of you to learn new things and upgrade your skills.
Now let’s look at the basics about each of these platforms.
What Is Teachable?
Teachable is a very user-friendly platform for hosting your course. It supports all the basic formats you need – video, audio, PDFs, and images. Teachable also includes a sales page builder. They can handle your payments and taxes. Depending on your plan, you might be allowed to handle them yourself, too.
The main selling point of Teachable is it’s so affordable! We will talk about budget a bit later but keep that in mind. Teachable is perfect for beginners because it’s cheap, easy to use, and it integrates smoothly with useful tools like email marketing essential ConvertKit.
What About Thinkific?
It’s the less popular twin to Teachable. The two platforms are very similar. Both of them are targeted at newbies. Thinkific aims to make it as easy and affordable as possible to start your course. Does that sound like Teachable? Sure does.
Their courses look very sleek, which is a perk. There is no free plan, unfortunately. On the plus side, none of their plans has transaction fees. Basically, you pay for the service and take all of your earnings. Depending on how big your course gets, Thinkific might turn out to be less expensive than Teachable. Either way, both are budget-friendly and built to be beginner-appropriate.
Kajabi Or New Kajabi?
Whichever name you prefer, Kajabi is the most pro option out of all three. It is an all-in-one solution for online course creators. Unlike Teachable and Thinkific, Kajabi includes the email marketing and website building within the platform.
This means less fuss (there is no need to link ConvertKit or anything like that) but also a higher price point. The large range of marketing tools means you can do it all at once. The price tag seems large at first. Thinking about it, though, it winds up saving you money in the long run. You can easily cancel your subscription to other services and do it all through Kajabi.
The number of products, affiliates, and admins is limited with all of their plans. Be mindful of that.
Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi: Your Budget
Consider your entire starting budget. This includes marketing budget and I’ll tell you why:
Whether you have a built audience or not, online courses need promotion. Email lists will become your best friend. Hopefully, you have already collected some emails. This is the most efficient way to market your products online (yup, good old-fashioned email is unbeatable).
The other aspect of budgeting you should consider are transaction fees. Depending on the platform and the membership plan, you might be charged a percentage for each purchase. Play around with the numbers to figure out the cheapest option. For instance, if you have a lot of courses with plenty of students, it’s more affordable to pay for Teachable membership than to share a fraction of each transaction with the platform.
So How Much Are They?
It has four main plan options. You can get started for free. Then there is the Basic, Professional, and Business plan. Here is how much each of them will set you back:
First of all, whether Teachable handles your payments or you do, PayPal and Stripe will charge you. This is how the standard fees look like for different payments:
A processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ for US transactions (credit cards and PayPal).
An additional fee of 3.9% + 30¢ fee for credit cards, and 4.4% + 30¢ fee for PayPal payments for international payments.
Once again, you owe these regardless of your plan. They don’t have to do with Teachable, they come from Paypal/Stripe. Now let’s look at the additional transaction commission that the platform might charge you.
For the Free plan, you don’t pay a membership fee. Instead, there is a transaction fee. On each purchase of your course, Teachable receives 10% + $1. This is on top of the PayPal and Stripe fees.
On the Basic plan, you owe Teachable 5% per transaction. The plan itself costs $29 per month (if billed annually) or $39 per month if you pay monthly.
The Professional and Business plans come with 0% transaction fees. They are $79 or $399 respectively if billed annually. The monthly price is $99 for the Professional plan and $499 for the Business plan billed month-by-month.
The Thinkfic Membership Plans
Just as a quick recap:
- Free plan = no subscription plan but a large transaction fee (10% + $1)
- Basic plan = $29 or $39 per month (it’s cheaper if you pay for an entire year) and a 5% transaction fee on each purchase
- Professional plan = $79 per month, billed annually, or $99 if you pay every month. No transaction fees.
- Business plan = $399/month billed annually or $499/month billed monthly. No transaction fees.
So what does each of these options include?
All the membership plans come with:
- Instant payouts (if you set up Teachable Payments, otherwise you’ll be paid once every 30 days)
- Product support
- Course creator training (they have an interactive knowledge base)
- Custom domain support
- Coupon codes
- Drip course content
- Integrated affiliate marketing
- Integrated email marketing
- Third-party integrations
The Professional Plan is the cheapest membership option with no transaction fees. At $79 per month, it winds up being cheaper for large courses or creators with multiple courses on their platform. The Professional also includes:
- 5 admin-level users (as opposed to 2 admins for the Basic plan)
- Priority customer support (although the Teachable customer service is pretty great as is)
- Graded quizzes
- Advanced theme customization (they have the Power Editor that helps you make edits to the template; either way the themes are slick and nice-looking but still)
- Advanced reports (on the courses but also on your upsells, which helps a lot with optimizing your earnings)
- Unbranded website (your website doesn’t bear the Teachable logo anywhere)
- Course completion certificates
- Course compliance
Finally, the Business Plan is the priciest and least-suited to independent creators. Unless you run an actual online school, you don’t need to pay for that. 100 admin-level users? Cool but who really needs that? Moving on…
Which Is The Best Teachable Membership Option?
It should be clear. The Professional Plan works best because it’s cheap but doesn’t charge transaction fees. When you first start out, stick with the free plan and then upgrade directly to Professional. No need to bother with Basic – it’s a paid plan but you’ll still pay for transactions. Nah, not worth it!
On Thinkfic you can also get started for free. The free plan includes:
- 3 Courses
- Unlimited students
- Quizzes & surveys
- Content hosting
- Instant access to funds (which Teachable doesn’t offer with their free option)
Teachable Vs Thinkfic Free Plans
The free plan on Teachable includes an unlimited number of courses. Thinkfic only lets you host the materials for three courses. In terms of the hosting they offer, it’s similar. You get all the basics – video, audio, PDF’s, etc.
The Teachable free plan does not come with instant payout. That is only available to paying members. Thinkfic, on the other hand, does include that.
The cool thing about Thinkfic is they don’t have transaction fees on their free plan. Of course, you’d still be paying PayPal and Stripe. Other than that, however, it’s all good. This makes the free Thinkfic option the single most affordable one in this article.
Other Thinkfic Membership Options
Note that all membership plans are 20% cheaper if you pay for them annually. If you’re not fully on board with Thinkfic, pay for the first month separately. After that, though, consider moving to annual billing. It saves a lot of money which means more profits for you.
Now let’s look at what each membership option gives you:
- The Basic Plan is $49 per month (billed monthly).
It comes with unlimited courses & students, access to students’ emails (but you can’t email them in bulk), drip content, affiliate reporting, a custom domain, email integrations, Zapier triggers (which allow third-party tools to look at data about your course), manual student enrollment & export
- With the Pro Plan, you’ll be paying $99 per month (billed monthly) and you get all the features of a Basic membership plan.
On top of that, as a Pro member, you receive priority customer service, 2 site admins and 5 course admins or authors, you can create private or hidden courses, advanced course pricing options (they let you be more flexible, for instance by offering subscriptions, payment plans, or free courses).
The Pro plan supports memberships and course bundles. Your students will get a certificate upon completion of the course and you can send them assignments. This is all at no additional cost. And there are still no transaction fees, other than the ones for PayPal and Stripe.
There is also a Premier Plan which sets you back $499. Once again, I don’t think a lot of you will be interested in it. If you want to check it out, look at the Thinkific pricing page. However, for most course creators, the price is way too high and you’re paying for stuff that you would never use.
The Thinkific Growth Package
Thinkific offers an interesting marketing opportunity. Teachable doesn’t have that so that’s bonus points for Thinkific.
The Growth Package is available on the Pro plan and it’s free with the Premier plan. For Pro users, it will be free for up to 100 active students. After that, it’s $0.10 per active student but you can’t go over $499/month.
So, what is an active student? Anyone enrolled in your course. Not potential customers or people checking out the course. People who actually paid for the course and participate in it.
What does the Growth package include?
You can contact all of your students with bulk emails (directly from the dashboard). There is advanced segmentation for communicating with students more effectively. For instance, you can bookmark certain people, look at their progress, etc.
One of the coolest features is the Brillium exams integration. Brillium lets you create customized examination forms. You can track how many times a student attempted the test, set time limits, etc.
With the Growth package, there is no need for manual enrolment. Instead, you can enrol people in bulk or import them from another platform using just the XLSX or CSV files.
The Growth pack can pretty much be considered a feature of the Pro plan – because it’s free for up to 100 students (and very cheap after that). If you needed any more reasons to pick Pro, this is the one.
So Kajabi is the priciest of all options. There is a good reason for that. Kajabi is more than just an online course platform. Remember how I told you they are an all-in-one solution? Well, let’s look at that that actually means:
Kajabi Email Marketing
Email automation is great… If the company actually put effort into it. I am not paying over $100 in membership fees for a month if the email marketing tool looks like a MailChimp knock-off.
Anyway, Kajabi is not like this. Since the money is in the list, you should be thrilled by this. The Kajabi email marketing tool gives you detailed information on things like open rate. They also feature an HTML customization tool. I highly recommend you take advantage of that. Boring marketing emails just will not cut it these days.
You want to turn the customer journey into an automated pipeline? Kajabi is here to help.
Pro tip: If you’re not pipelining, you are missing out. The whole student experience is smoother, sleeker, and more professional this way. Unfortunately, getting a bunch of tools to work together can be tricky. Kajabi gives you an easier way. They have pipelines integrated and included in your end ptice.
So how does pipelining work?
Say you want to do a webinar.
Another pro tip: Webinars are an awesome marketing tool and you can pre-record them.
You can set Kajabi to email your students in advance and drip a few emails into their inbox. The pipeline itself could be customized. For instance, different customers can get different emails, depending on the courses they bought or their performance.
The Kajabi Membership Plans
All of this comes at a price. And in this case, the price tag is pretty hefty for a strartup. While I sincerely believe Kajabi is the best, smartest product out of all three… Budget matters. Don’t go overboard when you’re first starting. It will backfire on you.
You are making this course for profit. Consider your profit first. In the case of Teachable Vs Thinkific Vs Kajabi, all are reliable and high-quality. If you can’t afford Kajabi right now, go for a cheaper option and call it a day!
The full range of pricing looks like this:
- Basic –$149/mo comes with support for three products and three pipelines. You get to have unlimited marketing emails and create as many customized landing pages as you want. The basic plan supports up to 10,000 contacts and up to 1,000 active members (students for your courses). They only allow one admin with this plan and you can’t remove the Kajabi branding.
- Growth –$199/mo supports up to 15 products and 15 pipelines. The limit on contacts goes up to 25,000 and the one on active members to 10,000. You still get one site but no Kajabi branding if you don’t want it. Plus, you can have up to 10 admin accounts
- Pro – $399/mo gets you support for up to 100 courses and 100 pipelines. Weirdly enough, you get unlimited landing pages but up to 2,000,000 marketing emails. The limit on contacts is 100,000 with up to 20,000 active members. The pro lets you build 3 websites and have 25 admin users.
All of the membership plans have 0% transaction fees. As with the others, this does not include Stripe and PayPal’s money.
Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi: Other Aspects
Now that you know literally everything there is to know about their pricing structure, let’s briefly consider other aspects to these platforms.
Technical skill level
Kajabi requires the most know-how. Still, all of them are third-party platforms. Using them is a breeze, compared to WordPress and plugins.
They are no Udemy. You will have to bring in your own students. The perk is that they are your students. You don’t get any limits on talking to them, receiving their emails, upsells, etc.
In terms of integrated features, all look similar. Kajabi is cool because it has it all in the same package. With Thinkific and Teachable, you’ll at least need a good email marketing tool.
Out of all three, only Teachable handles EU VAT payments. For the other three, you will need 3rd party software. Consider this if you’ll be targeting the EU market. Oh, and while we’re at it, also make sure you are compliant with the new GDPR rules.
You need good customer support. Period. Problems always come up and I can’t stand unreliable companies.
Kajabi definitely stands out here. They have chat support. For pricier plans, it’s a 24/7 service. You can’t get quicker than this. As for Thinkific and Teachable, both of them are known for speedy and efficient customer service. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive your membership, the more priority you will have when they handle your problems. Either way, they are decent and I have no complaints about either.
Teachable vs Thinkific vs Kajabi: The Fine Print
I don’t mean to be a hater. These are the things people don’t usually tell you in reviews. But, you know the drill, I’m all about honesty. This is the fine print for all three online course platforms:
Teachable is nice and user-friendly. It attracts a lot of beginners. The free membership option sounds cool enough to them. Carefully consider the transaction fees, though. Make the actual calculations yourself. Otherwise, you wind up paying more than you should.
Thinkific has the best free option in my opinion. Bear in mind that the number of courses on that is limited. In fact, no matter what your membership plan is, you will have a cap on the product number. With premium membership pricing comparable to that of Teachable, I don’t think the limit is a smart move.
Kajabi is professional and fully integrated. They are, however, way too keen on slapping their branding everywhere. For $100 per month, I don’t think this is acceptable. Would I still go for Kajabi? Probably yes, but the branding bit is something to be mindful of.
I told you in the beginning. There is not one platform that will work for everybody. However, now you have the info to make an informed decision. Good luck and report back your thoughts and experiences…