Our Guide to Building an Online Course with Thinkific

For online course creators. 7 minutes read

If you’re looking for an all-in-one course creation platform to host, build and market your online course, then Thinkific is quite possibly the best on the market.

Used by over 36,000 course creators, including enterprise-level course creators like Hootsuite, Samsung and Later, Thinkific is an industry-leading online course platform, perfect for big and small businesses alike.

So, if you’re wondering if Thinkific is the right platform for your online course we’re going to do a deep dive into the platform to see just how easy it is to use, give our honest take on what we think about the platform, and what the experience of building a course with it is like.

To show you how easy it is, we gave one of our copywriters, Will, the task of building a simple online course, and a landing page to market it, and to walk you through the process.

Want to see what he managed to come up with?

Read on!


Table of Contents


Choosing a Pricing Tier

As you can see, Thinkific has four pricing options with more and more features depending on which you go for.
But what we LOVE about Thinkific is that all you need to build a profitable online course is the free version, alone.


Free Version

The free version is ideal for those who are dipping their toes in the water or only have a simple online course that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to be a success. What’s great about the free version is that it is genuinely free. It does not take a percentage of your course sales, and there aren’t any hidden fees or costs involved.

One of the only major limitations for creators who want to create a great online course experience is that there is no custom domain option, and so your course domain will look something like this:


Not the most professional-looking, is it?

You also can’t do live lessons or give your students assignments, and your marketing and selling options are somewhat limited.


Start ($74/ month)

On the next tier up, the cost rises steeply, but so does the number of features.

You now have access to:

  • Custom domains
  • Live chat support
  • Assignments for students
  • Affiliate selling
  • Advanced website code editing

But most importantly, you can now create and host unlimited online courses.

So, if you want a bit more control over your course content, marketing and course presentation, then this is the tier for you, but if you still want even more control, then the next tier up is for you!


Grow ($149/month)

With Grow, you’re getting 4 new features, but these features are powerful.

You can now remove all Thinkific branding from your website and replace it with your own branding. If credibility is what you’re looking for, then complete control over your branding is exactly what you need. You can now send emails to your students en masse with a bulk emailer, and you can also enrol students in bulk, also.

If you need cross-platform integration, you are now also given API access.


Expand ($374/ month)

Lastly, the Expand tier includes the ability to use your own custom SSL certificate so that you can show your company name next to the padlock in your visitor’s browser windows. If you want the additional branding, this is a nice additional touch.
What makes the expand tier truly valuable is its priority support option. With Expand, if there are any problems whatsoever you can be assured that you won’t need to wait anytime whatsoever for them to be solved.

For today, we’ve picked the Free tier to build our online course and website.



Once you’ve chosen your pricing tier and logged in, you’ll see Thinkific’s homepage dashboard with a series of options on the sidebar, like this. Before we dive in, we’re going to head to the settings tab and name our school.



Here, you have the option to enter a custom site address, but only if you are on using the paid version.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a quick tour of the dashboard.


Dashboard Tour

As you can see, you have a number of options on your dashboard.


Let’s give each of them an overview, one by one.

Manage Learning Content

Here, you can manage your:

  • Courses
  • Communities
  • Memberships & Bundles
  • Video Library

While there are many things you can do here, most of you will be here to create a course, and so we will be creating one of our own along with you!

From courses, you can go here and click on New Course



Next, create your instructor.


If THAT GUY can build an online course with Thinkific on a lazy Friday afternoon, you can too!

The next step will be to create your course!



As you can see, even with the free tier you have a wide array of media types you can use to create your lesson, and this is one of the best things about Thinkific.

You can use:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Multi-media

You also have numerous options for assessing your students, including:

  • surveys
  • quizzes
  • assignments (from Start onwards)
  • exams

The first thing that you’ll need to do is add a chapter, and in each of these chapters, you can add individual lessons with their own media type.

We’re going to create a simple text-based course.

Once you’re finished, you can preview the course to see how it will look for your students!



Now that we’ve built an online course, it’s time to design our website!


Design Your Site

With the paid version you can start by selecting one of three themes.

These are Empire, Vogue, and Vision and each comes with 3-4 styles that will alter the colour scheme and typography of each theme.



We chose Vogue in the Manhattan style.


And in about 20 minutes of playing around, Will, our technologically illiterate Copywriter (his words, not ours) managed to put this together:



Not too shabby, huh?

Keep in mind that this is what was achieved in 20 minutes of work, from a Copywriter who doesn’t know his HTML from his CSS.

If you want to see examples of what our expert designers have come up with using Thinkific, get in touch with one of our friendly team, here.

Now that we’ve built our course and designed our website, our next task is to market and sell our online course.


Market & Sell

Next up we have the market and sell tab which allows you to handle the marketing and financial aspects of your course.

Apart from Sales widgets (which allow you to embed a widget for your online on an existing website or blog) and Orders (which helps you keep track of your orders), these options are available only on higher tiers.

Though if you do upgrade, these additional options can help you find more students for your course.




Advanced Reporting

This is a super-handy and easy-to-use dashboard that allows you to track and visualize all of your course metrics in one place.

You need to be on the Grow Plan to access this feature.

Here, you can track your:

  • Revenue
  • Orders
  • Enrollments
  • Student Engagement


The filtering options allow you to get granular, and you can narrow your data down based on everything from payment provider to affiliate source.


Support Your Students

Finally, Thinkific enables us to track, monitor and engage with your students and administrate your course with ease.

This is where you can access your students information, monitor their progress and even hold class discussions on the course material.



Pros and Cons of Thinkific

At ClassGrowth, we’ve never been shy about the fact that we LOVE Thinkific, but here’s a list of our Pros and Cons to the platform.


  • Great website builder and template library
  • Deliver mixed media courses
  • Can use custom HTML & CSS to make a professional website
  • Affiliate marketing options
  • Free to start
  • Course creation templates to make course creation easier


  • No live chat support for the free version
  • The highest tier is costly
  • White labelling only available at top tier


But really, we had to wrack our brains to come up with a list of cons. This is a FANTASTIC platform that we recommend to all of our clients, whether they’re small-time creators looking to dip their toes in the water, or they’re highly profitable companies who need all the bells and whistles.


Summary of Thinkific

Thinkific remains one of the most popular online course creation platforms on the market, and in our book, for very good reason. It is an all-in-one solution for all of your course creation needs, from your website to your marketing. Whatever it doesn’t have natively, you can easily integrate it with third-party plugins.

In short, there is nothing you can’t do with Thinkific.

Here’s a quick recap of some of it’s top features.


Manage Learning Content

Allows you to manage your:

  • Courses
  • Communities
  • Memberships & Bundles
  • Video Library

Design Your Site

Gives you access to a range of awesome themes and layouts with a highly intuitive page builder that let’s you build an awesome, professional looking website.


Market & Sell

Allows you to track your course revenue and offers a range of features that allow you to market your course all in the one place, with ease.


Advanced Reporting

Track and visualize a range of key metrics including:

  • Revenue
  • Orders
  • Enrollments
  • Student Engagement

Support your students

Enables you to track monitor and engage with your students as well as administrate your course with ease.


What’s next?

If you’re looking for a place to build, host and sell your online course, Thinkific is our #1 pick of all the platforms on the market.

But choosing the right online course platform is only half the battle.

You can have all the tools at your disposal, but without an expert team of online course marketers at hand, putting your course in front of an audience can be exceedingly difficult. At Class Growth, we know online courses. We have years of experience in turning underperforming online courses into massive revenue machines that can see a 10X ROI in just months.

If you want to know how you can start building an online while your course is still in development, get in touch with our friendly team, below!

Get your free Growth Session Call

Book a free “Growth Session Call” to have a 30-minute chat with one of our experts.

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