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Martin Barrett
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who started Thinkific

Who Is The Founder Of Thinkific? [Company History]

Thinkific was created when one of the co-founders and the current CEO, Greg Smith, wanted to take an LSAT course online and enlisted the help of his brother named Matt Smith to help him make this option for more students available.

Greg Smith realized that the ability to do a course like this online meant that more global students would be able to take courses and complete them.

This was seen as an avenue not just for extra freedom, but also for revenue.

Soon after starting Thinkific, the revenue from the service was creating more than the corporate law Greg Smith was working in, and more students and businesses were reaching out to work with the online education business.

The goal was to sell more and more courses under the brand to help with course business growth.

There were other co-founders who helped this become a reality: Matt Payne and Miranda Lievers. 

Now you have more information on who started Thinkific and how the company started, we will go over more about this service so you can see exactly what it is that Greg Smith set up, and how this aligns with the company goal of Thinkific to make education and courses more widely available to those who want to take them!

Thinkific Overview

When it comes to looking at some of the most popular online course-selling platforms and online learning platforms, Thinkific is one of the most consistently popular. It allows users to be able to create their own courses as well as sell them.

You can make multiple courses you make full of videos, images, files, and rich text.

On top of the course creation tool, you also have the ability to create a sales page with all of your personal branding where you can grant access to your course and collect any payments. 

You get plenty of creation options like making a curriculum for both you and your students to use for easy navigation.

These will let them choose different parts of the course, take on quizzes, get certificates, and see their progress throughout the course.

There are 4 different price points for Thinkific which all have their own pros and cons as well as restrictions.

There is the free plan which is of course the most limited, then the basic plan will cost $49 a month, the start plan is then $99 monthly, and finally, the grow plan is $199 a month with the most features included.

It is worth noting that these are the monthly prices of the tool, but for when it is billed annually.

For a good starting point, we recommend the start plan for $99 a month, this is because you get access to advanced pricing options like subscriptions or payment plans.

You will also get access to the necessary affiliate tools which aim to help you sell your course.

You also get to use completion certificates with this package as well.

So, if you want to know what the specific advantages and disadvantages of Thinkific are rather than just which payment plan will be best for you, let’s have a look at what we think are the strengths and weaknesses of Thinkific.

See also: Thinkific Review: In-Depth Analysis

Thinkific Pros

This is one of the few course hosting platforms which has a free option that is not limited by using transaction fees.

Compared to a lot of similar services which feature a free version, the free version which is used with Thinkific is actually pretty strong. The only real issue with it is that you only get 1 course for free.

The phone support which is featured on Thinkific is amazing, and not something which is offered for similar services with email customer support now being more common.

Having this extra level of care is appreciated, and you can also get priority access when you are paying for a higher plan.

You have plenty of great customization options available with Thinkific, which means you can get the service to match the aesthetic of your website and your business as a whole. Thinkific Course Creation Features.

While you will be hosting your domain and course with Thinkific, you can set your domain to make it match the rest of your website, so having this customization is great for keeping your brand cohesive. 

If you plan to use a lot of videos, there are some great voice-over PowerPoint tools that make presenting information in this form a lot more simple and clear.

You have the option to offer specific payment plans. For example, you can make a student payment plan which can be billed monthly instead.

There are loads of options for subscriptions that recur every month. This will provide ongoing access to your course through a membership-style model.

Thinkific Cons

  • Thinkific, unfortunately, does not feature a course marketplace, which can make marketing your course quite awkward.
  • Another feature that Thinkific is lacking is that it does not have any email marketing features included. In spite of this, you can use a 3rd parties email service like Aweber or Mailchimp if you need these features, but it is a shame that it is not natively supported.
  • There is also no integrated funnel builder for sales, but similarly to email marketing, you can use a 3rd party plugin like LeadPages or Clickfunnels to cover up these missing features.
  • Finally, it is noticeable that while there is phone support, there is no chat support. While some people prefer this switch, the more options which are available, the better, so it is a shame that this is not included.

Thinkific Features

Thinkific Free Plan

While the free plan of service is not technically a feature, we really think it is worth highlighting it here for just how much you can get out of it.

Out of all of the similar course hosting options, Thinkific is the only one which has a free payment option that you can consider using for the long term and still get great results from.

Generally speaking, similar services which provide free versions will either last for a limited amount of time, will have steep transaction fees, or will remove some pretty fundamental features, however, this is not the case for Thinkific.

Even its biggest competitor, Teachable, used to have a free version, but this has been removed now. 

Whereas, with Thinkific, the free version has absolutely no transaction fees, and it actually features most of the premium features which you get from the paid plans on Thinkific.

You will have the ability to set up your own online courses, then customize your branding, take payments, and create quizzes.

The main reason to upgrade to a paid course with Thinkific is if you want to make more than 1 course, however, upgrading will give you access to lots of other features as well.

Who Is The Founder Of Thinkific? [Company History]

Thinkific Customization

When it comes to customization options, Thinkific is also one of the best course hosting platforms around. You are given the option to brand your course as well as your storefront so it can match another website.

You can also offer your students surveys and quizzes. There are also areas where you can encourage discussion between students, and even offer prerequisite course lessons.

You can also offer completion certificates which is a great option if you want your course to carry some weight and build up a reputation.

This is only the surface of the customization features, but hopefully, you can grasp just how much is available. These features are designed to be as intuitive as possible so even those who are not as technically literate can use them.

But if you are lucky enough, you do have more customization options buried in Thinkific like being able to modify CSS and HTML. 

Similar to its competitors, if Thinkific is missing any major features, it has the option for 3rd party plugins and additions. One of the clear exclusions from Thinkific is a lack of email marketing, but you can use a MailChimp plugin to fix this.

If there is not a 3rd party piece of software that is already in use with Thinkific, you can also use Zapier to make installing and integrating them into your Thinkific course simple.

Thinkific Community

One of the newest features which have been added to Thinkific which plenty of its creators and users are loving is the new community feature.

As many know, being able to communicate with students is important, especially when taking into account different learning styles.

This is why the community feature was introduced as it lets a course owner create a forum and then manage it.

This forum can be used by course students however they like, whether this is sharing ideas and knowledge, or helping each other with work. The course moderators also have the ability to control whatever they want to.

Students who use the forums can post on a board that can be accessed by students who have joined the forum community, and they can then comment on other posts as well.

A community on Thinkific can have images, videos, rich text, and files, so there is not much limit on how you customize it. 

You have the option with the community feature to make a community that is built around an existing course, or you can instead just make a community that is standalone.

The community feature can be offered for free as a bonus feature, but you can also add the community as a bonus paid feature which you can control how customers pay to get course access.

Of course, if you make your community a premium feature, you will be expected to put plenty of effort into moderation.

If you have the free, basic, or start pack, you can make one community for free, however, if you have the grow plan, you can make up to three.

How To Make A Thinkific Course

So, with how tempting it is to make a Thinkific course, especially with the free plan being such a good deal, you are probably wondering how to make a course and then start making money from it using Thinkific.

Luckily the tools which are offered by Thinkific are incredibly robust and simple to use. The tools with Thinkific let you make an attractive and sleek course website which makes buying and hosting your online courses simple.

The accessibility of Thinkific’s tools is also matched by the amount of versatility you get with the tools. This section will be dedicated to the steps you need to take to set up your course using Thinkific!

Firstly, you will need to create the school in which your Thinkific course will be hosted. You will start on Thinkific’s website and there you will make yourself a free account, or instead can sign up for a free trial of one of the paid plans.

You will follow the standard account setup steps, and then once this is done, you want to go onto the settings tab where you will be able to change the name of your school.

The school also lets you set a custom site URL as well. It is worth noting that you can not take Thinkific out of the URL of your website unless you are paying for the service.

Once you have done this you will want to select the manage learning content option which is where you will be managing your courses. This is where you track the instructors, the video library, as well as the share revenue.

You can also check out the design of your site page which is where you build the course, as well as select themes, and preview the design of your pages.

The market and sell page is where financial information is kept, like your coupons, your orders, as well as any marketing integration tools you potentially want to add to your service.

Who Is The Founder Of Thinkific? [Company History]

Then, if you want to track your student engagement, enrollments, or your revenue, you can check this on the advanced reporting tab.

This will also lead you to the support your students’ option which helps you look at progress and assignments specifically.

One of the best things you can do to make your Thinkific course look unique is to choose a unique theme that matches the aesthetic of your course.

There is a wide variety of themes available on the Thinkific library, and you can customize them in the site builder as well. One of the best places to start with customizing is when changing the site banner.

You can change this using the home page tab and then it is as simple as choosing a picture for your banner. It is also worth noting that if you are happy with a change, you should be hitting save after each change, this means you will not lose your progress. 

After you have chosen a theme that you like, the next important step to work on when creating your Thinkific course is to make the pages, you can do this by going onto the site builder and selecting the pages, then you can make your own by selecting the custom page option and then adding.

Within the pages you can select the section type to add an advanced section, these will provide some templates like; CTAs, logos, social proof, or testimonials.

All of these sections are especially useful to use if you are using them on a landing page.

Before you start actually making the course, we recommend you make a simple page design like an about page which will help you get acclimated to using the builder before you start making more confusing content.

When it comes to actually putting together the course itself, first you will want to choose one of the premade templates which are provided by Thinkific, but if you want it to be wholly original, we recommend just making a blank one from scratch.

The first step is to name the course, and then add chapters to it.

Then, within the chapters, you can add lessons, and if you already have lessons made with a different format, you can import these using a different multimedia format instead. You can do this using Thinkific’s bulk importer option.

After the lessons have been uploaded and the course has been made, you can rename the lessons and chapters, and even add separate descriptions to each of these. There is even an option to add links to extra resources that you want to make available.

If you are looking to add a quiz to your course, you want to look at the lesson tab and then add a lesson.

There will then be a selection of different lesson content to include, when you reach this section you click on a quiz, and then add as many questions and then answers as you want.

Quizzes and basic lessons are by no means the only options, for example, you can add videos, record and add audio, or even import PDFs as well. You also have the option to customize other options with the settings option as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Thinkific Legit?

Thinkific is a legitimate tool to use, the company which runs it currently employs over 100 employees, and there are more than 36,000-course creators who use the service. 

Is Thinkific Safe?

Yes, there are plenty of security measures in place when you use Thinkific. For example, your course can not be accessed by any users who are not authorized, and the only people who can access it are paying students.

Does Thinkific Own Your Content?

Luckily, while you are hosting your content on Thinkific, this does not mean that they own it, and all the content which you create and post on Thinkific is still yours, they are just hosting it.

Is It Easy To Use