Teachable Alternatives to Build and Grow an Online Course Business
There is no time like the present.
With the online learning market booming more than ever before, you need the best course building software out there to road map your success.
While many course building platforms restrict your success by being overcrowded, Teachable is a simple in-between that sets you up with beautiful-looking courses inside your own corner of the internet. However, its limited software upgrades have resulted in a dire need for some Teachable alternatives.
Online course builders tap into every area of the online teaching market covering everything from WordPress LMS plugins — that help you build your own website from scratch — to marketplaces with templates that’ll give you a simple course in a matter of clicks.
We’re going to break down the alternatives to Teachable you should be paying attention to so you can build a website you have full control over.
So let’s dive into some Teachable alternatives to build better online courses...
Why is Teachable So Popular (and Why Look for an Alternative)?
What’s the big deal with Teachable?
In our opinion, the platform gets a lot of attention because it looks good.
Teachable makes it easy for beginner course creators to build their first course with an intuitive course builder and theme options to make sure each online course looks professional.
The platform suggests you have the potential to grow with it, and while this is true, it’ll cost you more money as you scale your teaching business. At first glance, it promises to make you an entrepreneur with funnel integrations, pretty landing pages, and great testimonials to match.
All-in-all, Teachable positions itself as a visually impressive solution for new and growing course creators to focus on their content, and not the technology.
But does that claim pan out?
Well, we’re here to explore alternatives. One reason why is that behind Teachable’s sleek front-end, lurks clunky features. So, entrepreneurs trying to produce quality courses quickly get bogged down.
And being able to make the customizations necessary to build the perfect learning environment is a big part of what makes an online course-building tool worth paying for. We feel that Teachable doesn’t deliver on this requirement, which has paved the way for competitors to catch up. And they are — fast.
What We Like About Teachable
- It’s super easy to create your first course
- It offers beautiful landing page options
- It integrates with several other tools
- It provides you with course examples and tutorials to get started
- You can include a variety of media types in your lessons such as audio & video
- It handles tax collection for U.S. customers
What We Don’t Like About Teachable
- Customization is limited
- The student experience is clunky and difficult to navigate
- Payment plan options are limited
- Commissions are imposed on you until you pay Teachable $99+ a month
- Features are limited until you pay for the ($249 a month) Business account
- VAT collection is limited to U.S. customers
- Your course is hosted outside your own website — severely limiting control over your business
How Much Does Teachable Cost?
To fully access all of Teachable’s features and get your money’s worth, the Pro option comes in at $99 a month.
However, there are several other plans available to get you started.
Teachable has a Basic $29 a month option as well as a Free option — both of which take commissions from each sale you make on the platform ($1 + 10% of transactions with the Free plan and 5% of transactions with the Basic plan).
To gain full control and ownership over your business website, you’ll need to spend $249 a month for the Business option. This is the only way you can white-label your online school and remove the Teachable branding.
How To Choose the Right Teachable Alternative for Your Business
But before we go through all the alternatives to Teachable, let’s narrow down the different course builder formats that exist and which would work best for your business.
WordPress LMS Plugins
There’s also WordPress Learning Management System (LMS) plugin solutions. These are downloadable add-ons you can install on your WordPress website to expand its functionality.
LMS plugins are course-building software aimed at helping you create info-products you can sell from your WordPress website. This is for the ambitious infopreneur (like you), who is looking to build, grow and maintain full control over their online course business.
WordPress online course plugins offer flexibility and maximum control in exchange for self-managing your own tech stack. Over 41% of today’s websites are hosted through WordPress thanks to its popular CMS interface. Best of all, build your business on WordPress means you own all of your content.
WordPress LMS plugins include Thrive Apprentice, AccessAlly and LearnDash.
SaaS Course Builders
This fun little abbreviation stands for ‘Software as a Service’ — a sassy model that’s ideal if you’re looking for software to host your course.
SaaS is an umbrella term for subscription-based services that can be held independently through a cloud-based platform, with the option to integrate into your website. SaaS solutions can be great if you want to start from scratch, but are not looking to manage your own website yet (although, we recommend you do as soon as feasible).
SaaS course building solutions that are Teachable competitors include Podia, Kajabi and New Zenler.
Online Course Marketplaces
Course marketplaces offer an easy way to create online courses. However, this makes them crowded platforms when it comes to selling your online course products.
Competition is fierce because all the courses offered within each marketplace are forced to use a one-size-fits-all template and race-to-the-bottom pricing. Individuals selling courses on marketplace platforms tend to be less business savvy or looking for a cheaper alternative to Teachable.
Marketplaces limit customization and take hefty commissions while preventing you from directly marketing to your existing customers.
Online course marketplaces include Udemy, Coursera and SkillShare.
Best Teachable Alternatives in 2022
The best alternatives to Teachable cover all three of the course building formats covered above. Let’s see which solution is right for you...
Thrive Apprentice (included with Thrive Suite)
Thrive Suite gives you all the tools you need to set up your own successful online course business using WordPress. Included in the online business building toolkit is Thrive Apprentice, a fully-customizable, visual course building LMS plugin for WordPress.
Thrive Apprentice prioritizes professional course building that is simple and intuitive.
Its course builder interface allows you to quickly map out the modules, chapters and lessons of your courses with a drag and drop ease. You can then individually assemble each lesson's content with the powerful Thrive visual editor.
What's more, Thrive Apprentice is the only course builder that allows you to customize your school and course pages to completely curate the student experience. This gives you the flexibility to build the kind of course you require — including written, audio, video and hybrid lessons.
If you want to build an online course business, every aspect of Thrive Apprentice is conversion-focused.
Because Thrive Suite caters to course creators, you get instant access to sales funnel templates, evergreen launch automation features and online marketing tutorials that don't just get you started fast, but help you grow your business through time.
Best of all, Thrive Suite gives a no questions asked, 30-day money-back guarantee so testing it out is risk free!
Thrive Apprentice Pros
- Affordable for any online entrepreneur ($19/a month)
- Makes building and launching your courses fast and easy
- 300+ beautiful landing page templates to choose from
- Complete ownership of your content and customer info
- Total online school & classroom design freedom
- Tons of resources available to help start & grow your online business
Thrive Apprentice Cons
- Tailored for DIY Solopreneur who want to manage and maintain their own website — you don't have to be a techie, but you do need to learn WordPress
- You're in charge to build, maintain, manage & market both your business & website
If you’re looking to create courses quickly, Thinkific can help.
Thinkific doesn't charge commission fees, so you can create your first course and start making money with the one-course & limited feature Free version. This lets you test out Thinkific’s features to decide whether it’ll work for you before making a major purchase.
The template options for your courses and sales page can be customized to match your brand color schemes. The Basic package includes domain integrations, so you can embed your Thinkific course directly into your website. Note that you’ll need the Pro package to build courses with quizzes, assignments and drip lesson content.
However, the Thinkific interface is anything but sexy.
It provides a more university-style course layout that presents some limitations. Their templates only provide conservative design options for styling your online course using their block-based page builder.
- Simple templates
- Easy to use and quick to get started
- Web domain integration
- The free version lets you test the waters without committing to their big price tag
- No sales funnel options
- Minimal customization options – only pre-designed templates available
- The Pro package is $79 per month, while the Premiere package is $399 per month – a big jump in cost!
As the most recognized LMS plugin for WordPress, LearnDash prioritized giving users ownership and control over their courses.
LearnDash has a popular feature called focus mode which allows students to learn in an intimate environment free from distractions. However, this WordPress LMS course builder is neither pretty nor intuitive, making it overwhelming for first-time users.
Although LearnDash offers online course-focused WordPress themes as well as a basic page builder to help set up your storefront, it focuses primarily on creating an immersive learning experience for students.
The plugin pricing starts at $199 per year, which gives you 1 website license. You can try it out with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Student-focused page designs
- Complete control over your online course business
- Training resources plus a Facebook group to help learn how to use the plugin
- An long list of course creation features
- No marketing or sales funnel integrations
- Premium add-ons required to integrate with other tools outside of LearnDash
- LearnDash’s clunky, code-filled backend makes it unusable for non-techies
- The UI is overwhelming if you just want to build a simple online course
- Student monitoring is restricted to the Plus ($229 per year) and Pro packages ($369 per year)
Udemy is the top dog among all the online course marketplaces.
It sells most of its courses anywhere from $0 to $20. However, you'll occasionally see a $200 priced courses on the platform. But as you might expect with low-priced product marketplaces, course quality often leaves much to be desired.
Udemy’s course builder is basic and doesn’t offer an independent landing page building option.
And for course creators just getting started, Udemy also makes it tough to get customers. Your courses are launched into a massive marketplace of competing products, with only keywords to help your products stand out from the crowd.
While Udemy is a popular platform for students seeking courses, the sea of options available makes it easy for top-quality info-products like yours to get overlooked.
- Tons of potential customers
- Easy to get started
- A clear — but limited — course template
- 50% commission - Fifty! Percent! Commission!
- You’re forced to compete against other course creators with low prices
- You won’t make money without massive sale volumes
- The customer base is too broad, keeping you from reaching your niche market
- Your courses can be discounted or bundled without your explicit consent unless you manage your default Udemy account settings
- You do not own your customer contact data. In fact, they’re not your customers, they’re Udemy’s
- Udemy is free to promote deals, competing courses and unfair discounts because course creators effectively work for Udemy — not the other way around
Kajabi is a course-building SaaS platform that includes sales funnel and marketing tools.
It's for entrepreneurs looking to sell online courses to establish themselves as an expert in a particular field.
With a Kajabi membership, users get access to online course building resources and customization features — such as brand color matching and pre-designed templates.
The platform brings together all the services needed to create a course within a single cloud-based platform — that's where their ‘all-in-one’ claim comes from. The Basic package ($149 a month) limits you to 3 courses. That means you’ll need to get the Growth package ($199 a month) to grow a business that sells several.
But even with the Growth package, you're limited to 15 courses, so consider the Kajabi 'all-in-one toolkit' claim not fully kicking in until you spend $399 per month for their Pro package.
- All-in-one course toolkit
- Sales funnel templates
- Tons of beginner resources to help get you started
- Easy to use
- 14-day free trial
- No course outline customization options
- The Pro package is $399 a month to get their complete 'all-in-one toolkit'
- Even though Kajabi claims to do it all, customers often complain the SaaS tool fails to do each thing well
AccessAlly is an LMS and membership plugin for WordPress that offers an all-around course building management service with the tools to market and sell your product.
Focusing on both course creation and membership cultivation, AccessAlly’s plugin packages are business-oriented with affiliate program structures to get you going.
The course builder is basic and intuitive, allowing you to drag and drop blocks to build courses with ease. AccessAlly offers no templates, so you'll have to design your course layout yourself.
With customization features that are ideal for tech-minded course creators, AccessAlly is good solution for membership site businesses.
The AccessAlly Essentials basic package has a steep $99 per month price tag for an entry level tool, however it's still cheaper than Teachable. But if you want to include a variety of content — such as assignments and quizzes — you’ll need to upgrade to AccessAlly Pro for $129 per month.
- E-commerce and sales-centric
- Great customer service
- Gives you complete ownership over your course business
- Offers a basic drag and drop course builder
- Includes several course gamification features
- Not a beginner course builder tool
- No course templates included in AccessAlly
- Non-techies might need to hire a dev and/or designer to build their course
- Integrations require complex configurations
- Limited payment customization
- Doesn’t have a page builder
New Zenler is the 2020 version of old Zenler, which has long been a favorite among the SaaS course builders. It claims to be the first-ever, all-in-one course business tool. The new version is really turning the heads in the Teachable competitor space.
The software includes sales and marketing funnel templates, automation tools, website creation assistance, landing page builders, and an easy-to-use course builder. Zoom integration is also included if you want to host live classes and webinars with it.
New Zenler Pros
- Easy to use interface
- Includes sales and marketing funnel templates
New Zenler Cons
- No option to remove white label branding
- The Beta price isn’t affordable... it's $647 a year (and scheduled to double after New Zenler launches!)
- You can only customize the colors on your website
- It’s still in Beta — you’re a guinea pig
- There's no locked-in New Zenler launch date — when will the Beta end?
As a platform for beginners, Ruzuku lays on the ‘easy-to-use’ messaging thick.
The course creator layout is intuitive, but achieves this with limited customization templates.
Ruzuku promotes a 14-day free trial and allows you to create multiple courses within that period to really get a feel for the platform before you invest.
It also provides internal video hosting, Paypal and Stripe payment integrations, plus several course type templates that include everything from free course layouts to drip content scheduling.
- Allows students to create their own profiles
- Easy to create courses
- Steep price tag for bootstrapped solopreneurs — $83.08 per month to set up shop!
- Limited resources for sales and marketing
- No sales funnel support — how will you get customers?
- Limited course customization — you can only add your content
- Licensing rules clearly express you do not own your content — yikes!
An increasingly popular SaaS platform known for its affordability, Podia offers instant access to most things you need to start teaching online.
The platform has become a popular service for influencers looking to sell ebooks, courses, digital products and build online communities — all of which are easy to do on the platform.
Podia helps you host a micro-site that's set to look good with its customizable theme, page and course templates.
With Podia's branding removed when you purchase their mid-range Shaker package ($89 a month), you'll be able to start an affiliate program and use their email marketing features to help scale your business.
Podia covers all of the basics of course building. The clear fill-in-the-blanks approach in their pre-built templates make it easy to build and market all types of courses —presell, drip, cohort, etc.
During the course-building process, you can add downloadable resources and quizzes without limitation on content creation. However, the only thing you can add and edit is your content.
And because there’s so much setup guidance, it would be hard not to set up shop successfully. Podia also makes it low-risk to get a feel for the platform with their 14-day free trial.
- A large bank of content creator resources
- Easy to use
- One — and only one — pre-built storefront sales page template
- No transaction fees
- ZERO site customization options — everything is made with Podia’s templates
- Podia reserves the right to edit your content at any time — what?!
Skillshare is another well-known online course marketplace with a focus on supporting creatives and entrepreneurs.
One of its most attractive features is the company “Teams” section of the platform. It gives you the opportunity to sell your courses to entire companies, not just individuals.
Skillshare also offers tons teaching resources, including a forum for you to interact with your fellow instructors.
In terms of course building, you get a basic course layout to work with, but receive no customization options or landing pages to help sell your products. Your courses are sold among other competing products, just like all the other marketplace solutions.
What's more, Skillshare operates on a “subscription model”. That means each month, a percentage of the membership money earned by Skillshare is paid to teachers based on the number of minutes premium students watch their videos for. This is around $0.06 per minute. That’s $1.80 per 30-minute lesson.
- Big, existing audience
- Has a teaching community of peers you can interact with
- It’s the only marketplace limited to the creative and entrepreneurial niches
- Offers a seriously questionable payment scheme
- Limits lesson lengths and subjects
- Zero ownership of your content — you work for Skillshare... earning slave wages
What to Look For in an Online Course Building Solution
Now that you know which Teachable alternatives make sense for you, it's time to make a decision. So let’s narrow down what we, as course creators, look for in a conversion-focused online course builder...
Conversion-Focused Course Builder Requirements
- Flexibility in course structure creation
- Conversion-focused landing page and sales funnel templates
- Total customization freedom
- FULL control and ownership over your content and business
- Intuitive user interface
- Flexible content creation options with multiple types of media
- A jam-packed knowledge base full of advice on starting and growing an online course business
- Powerful online classroom customization options to create a truly unique learning experience for students
The Best Teachable Alternative: WordPress LMS Plugins That Build Businesses
To fully leverage your online business potential, you need to have complete control over every aspect of how you create and sell your online courses.
And to be in control, you need to own and manage not only the content that goes into your course, but how it looks too. To do that, Teachable competitors in the online course marketplace and SaaS platform spaces just don’t cut it.
Without running your own website, you’re not building your business — you’re helping SaaS platforms and online marketplaces build theirs.
And this is why WordPress LMS plugins take the top spot when it comes to Teachable alternatives that are scalable for solopreneurs.
To learn more about how to build and scale your own online course business, check out our guide on How to Create an Online Course — that Actually Makes Money!
What Makes Online Courses Successful
There are so many courses out there — all fighting for attention.
So, how do you stand out?
First of all, don’t let a saturated course marketplace intimidate you. Online courses are still the best business model for individuals who can teach desirable outcomes to others.
But in order to shine a bright spotlight on the expertise you teach, you’ve got to stand out with quality content taught in a professional learning environment.
Dare to be different with unique marketing, conversion-focused sales funnels and an online course experience that marches to a different beat compared to the competition.
You'll need a flexible WordPress LMS course building solution that gives you the power to do just that.
So to finish up, let’s look at our Teachable alternative recommendation that will help you build online courses that shine where the competing platforms can't...
Build Successful Online Courses with Thrive Apprentice
Thrive Apprentice takes care of everything you need to build high-quality online courses. And it comes packaged with Thrive Suite, a powerful WordPress toolkit that includes everything you need to build and market your courses.
Whether its building sales funnels, landing pages, content, opt-in forms, quizzes, countdown timers, or courses — Thrive Suite has the tools and training you need to build a thriving course-based business.
And Thrive Apprentice was created with the solopreneur in mind too. It prioritizes customization and control, covering everything from lesson building to online school design.
What’s more, you know that any course or marketing content you create exists on your website — which means you’re in total control of your online business.
We also understand you can’t just create a course and expect it to sell itself. So the Thrive Architect page builder includes several tutorialized sales funnel templates that contain all the marketing resources you need to get your online course selling.
Teaching online shouldn’t be limited to the technically savvy either... Thrive Suite was built with the non-techie course creator in mind to make sure your online course business can achieve success — even if you don’t know how to code or don’t consider yourself a marketer.
Thrive Apprentice is much more than just a course-building alternative to Teachable. It’s a toolkit that empowers DIY solopreneurs like you to build and sell outcome-oriented online courses that your target customers can’t wait to buy.
Your Turn to Build Successful Online Courses
Time to leverage your expertise and build an online course business you control.
That’s why although there are many alternatives to Teachable out there, few give you the online course and business building power that Thrive Suite does.
So are you finally ready to become an online course creator whose products really stand out from the crowd?
Check out Thrive Suite for Course Creators today!