Thrive Apprentice: The Past, Present and Future of Our Online Course Builder
You know how every major TV show has a flashback episode?
Buckle up as we take you through the past, present and future of Thrive Apprentice, our online course builder for WordPress.
Thrive Apprentice? ... Yes, that’s right. Today’s post is exclusively about Thrive Apprentice!
You’re about to learn what’s just over the horizon for WordPress course creators everywhere. It’ll be game-changing. It’ll be trailblazing. It’ll be all yours with Thrive Suite!
Looking Back at Thrive Apprentice
A long time ago...
... in a crowded WordPress theme market far away...
We launched a few WordPress themes with a powerful feature built right in: a way to add an online course to your WordPress blog.
We called this feature Apprentice.
This allowed anyone to build an online course for their audience using WordPress, and with a little marketing know-how, they could sell it too. For 2014, it was really neat.
However – sad piano music – as our focus moved away from individual themes, and more towards creating conversion-focused plugins, the Apprentice feature slipped further from our priorities. Eventually, we stopped selling those original themes entirely.
Then, when all hope seemed lost, Apprentice was reborn from the ashes as its own WordPress plugin: Thrive Apprentice!
Free from the constraints of any particular theme, Thrive Apprentice was finally able to grow and develop.
As we added more and more features, it became clear that Thrive Apprentice had so much more potential to disrupt the online course scene by giving everyone the opportunity to build a successful course-based business.
Let’s jump ahead to when things started to get really interesting for Thrive Apprentice.
* ThriveCart is not a Thrive Themes plugin. It’s an entirely different company that offers an excellent checkout and payment management tool.
The Present Day Thrive Apprentice
Looking back, I think you’ll agree that Thrive Apprentice is now a very different tool than when it was first launched.
Better features, better customization, better integrations, better UI.
It’s simply better in every single way!
Thousands of people are now building online course businesses using Thrive Apprentice — all with TOTAL entrepreneurial control inside WordPress.
Already, Thrive Apprentice is gearing up to be the only WordPress online course builder you’ll ever need.
Excuse us as we bask in the warm glow of these satisfied comments…
So many excellent features. Grateful that my faith many months ago in going with Apprentice over other dedicated course plugins – on the basis that you would deliver on your promises in due course – has been borne out.
Cannot wait to put these new tools and features into action!
Rob ‧ Thrive User
Just..... unbelievable. You guys are AMAZING. You have created a set of tools so that little guys like me can create a fully functioning online business, AND make it look good! I am so proud to be a Thrive member. Sending lots of gratitude your way.
Andy ‧ Thrive User
Thank you very much. I've spun my wheels for months to understand how to do all of this. In just 1 day I created everything I needed to sell my courses.
behappy ‧ Thrive User
But we can’t stand around patting ourselves on the back for too long. Our arms will get tired and we still have lots of great features to add to Thrive Apprentice!
Over the past few months, our development team has been busy taking it apart, putting it back together again, polishing, augmenting, enhancing, breaking, fixing, and laying the groundwork for some really special upcoming features.
... can you guess where we’re heading with Thrive Apprentice?
The Bright Future of Thrive Apprentice
It will come as no surprise to learn our mission is nothing less than transforming Thrive Apprentice into the best, most customizable online course builder available. Anywhere.
And that means FULL visual editing: course overviews, modules, lessons, the works. If it can be customized, we’ll find a way.
It means professionally designed templates you can apply to your online course to make it look stunning, with absolutely no coding or design training necessary.
It means the ability to make your Thrive Apprentice courses look exactly the way you want them to.
We want to give you complete design control.
From any other company, this probably sounds like marketing hyperbole. But if you’ve been a Thrive Suite user for any length of time, you’ll know this is just a typical Tuesday for us.
So what’s really in the pipeline for Thrive Apprentice?
Many game-changing Thrive Apprentice features are still under lock and key in our super secret research facility.But coming up next is what we can reveal...
Malleable, Designer-Made Course Templates
Online course design is hard.
Learning-focused, completion-focused, and conversion-focused design is even harder!
Phew! That’s a lot of focusing.
But what if we could do this job for you?
That’ll free up a whole load of focus for writing and structuring your course material, setting up marketing funnels, writing supporting content, and well, making even more successful online courses!
Over the coming months, we’ll not only make Thrive Apprentice templates entirely visually editable… we’ll deliver a matching set of designer-made templates that completely re-imagine the look of online course platforms.
With these new templates, you can immediately launch your course with impressive course overview pages, modules, lessons and more. This will be Thrive Apprentice like you’ve never seen it before.
As with all professional templates found in Thrive Suite, you’ll also be able to customize your course templates to your heart’s content. Colors, styles, spacing, mobile responsiveness... everything. All in the same powerful visual editor you’re already familiar with.
Exciting LMS Features... the Way they Should be Done
When Thrive Apprentice was first released, we purposefully chose to avoid trapping our users in the incredibly complex Learning Management System space. Our philosophy was simplicity.
Your online course should be simple to build, simple to market, and simple to sell.
LMS’s, on the other hand, have traditionally tried to offer screen after screen of frustrating options and settings. Like a brand new pilot being asked to fly a 747 instead of a Cessna – you risk spending more time reading the manual, than actually building and launching your course.
So what changed?
We think Thrive Apprentice can offer LMS features the way they’re meant to be done… simple, intuitive, and entirely optional.
And optional is important... you don’t need fancy LMS features to launch a successful course. Plain old text and video lessons can still sell like hotcakes, and we don’t want you getting lost in the tech or distracted by shiny objects. But when the time comes that you do want more learner-centric LMS features, we’ll have your back.
Quizzes, dripped content and improved progress tracking just to name a few. No promises on exactly which features will be added – or when – to Thrive Apprentice, but we can reveal our team is currently working their magic on giving you the choice of how simple or feature-rich you want to make your online course learning experience.
To set your expectations: full visual course editing is the priority (it’s going to be awesome!), so expect LMS features to come after that, later this year.
But you don't have to wait until these advanced features are released... here's a great video showing how easy it is to build an online course using Thrive Apprentice right now.
Full Control Over Your Course Material, Design, Learners & Marketing
Ownership and control.
Possibly the two most important factors for building a long-term, profitable course-based business.
We’ve always urged you to retain ownership and control over every aspect of your course, whether that’s the teaching material itself, your design choices, or even the contact data of your learners.
With Thrive Apprentice, this won’t change. In fact, we’re building in systems and features to give you unprecedented control that you won’t find in most other online course platforms.
But why are ownership and control so important?
OK, gloves off time...
Hosted solutions like Teachable and Thinkific
You’re building your business on someone else’s platform, forced to comply with their terms of service, your course design is limited to only what they allow you to customize…
... AND you get to pay them for the privilege.
Online course marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare
A race to the bottom. You’re building someone else’s business by giving up your great course material for them to discount, bundle, and even give away for free as part of their terms of service. You barely – if at all – get access to your customers’ data, because they’re not really your customers.
And don’t forget the devaluation of your brand when your course is sold alongside hundreds of $20 low-effort competitors.
WordPress LMS plugins like LearnDash and LifterLMS
Significantly better in the ownership department, these online course solutions are lacking when it comes to control. Sometimes they offer too much control over every irrelevant, minute detail, so you’ll need a Ph.D. in payment gateway APIs or WordPress user roles before you can even build your online course.
But mostly, they lack the design control you’ll need if you want to customize the look and feel of your course. LMS plugins are also pretty expensive with yearly subscription fees that rival Thrive Suite in cost… and you only get a single LMS plugin for that!
Simply put, today’s online course scene is begging for someone to come along and build a product that gives you full control over every. single. aspect. of your online course-based business.
Better Integration with other Conversion-Focused Tools in Thrive Suite
Successful course creators know that you can’t just build a course and wait for the sales to come rolling in.
“Build it and they will come” is a beginner’s trap. And it stops so many people from achieving their dream before they even get a chance to prove themselves.
You’re not just building an online course.
You’re building an online course-based business.
You have to take design and marketing super seriously.
That’s going to require great tools to help with design and landing pages (Thrive Architect), marketing (Thrive Leads), social proof (Thrive Ovation), and engagement (Thrive Quiz Builder). But more importantly, it’s going to take all these tools working together as an integrated solution to sell more of your courses and convert more customers.
We’ve already laid the groundwork for better integration by moving away from selling our WordPress plugins individually, to simply offering EVERYTHING together under Thrive Suite.
Next up is to bring Thrive Apprentice fully into the same total design control ecosystem that powers our other flagship tools. It’s nearly there!
And one more thing...
We aren’t just building Thrive Apprentice into another online course plugin. We’re transforming it into an online course solution for marketers. That means all the conversion-focused bells and whistles you need to sell and deliver your course as a paid product.
We're already planning 3 steps ahead for high-converting features that will help you sell more courses, upsell your students, keep them engaged and coming back for more.
Thrive Apprentice gives you everything you need to build your online courses today. It's part of Thrive Suite, a collection of powerful WordPress tools to transform your courses into a successful online business.
What are you most excited for?
If you’re new to Thrive Apprentice, now’s the time to get onboard and build your first online course in WordPress. There’s some amazing things coming soon, and we’d love to see your business blossom and grow.
If you’ve been a Thrive Apprentice user for some time now, well you better hang onto your hat... things are about to get wild (in a good way!) We’re super excited to say thank you for your early faith in Thrive Apprentice, by making it the best and only online course builder you’ll ever need.And if you’re just here to dream about starting an online business, you’re very welcome too! Drop us a comment below and we’ll be happy to share what we know.