Thinkific vs Udemy – A Complete Comparison Chart

If you’re reading this article you’ve likely been considering the idea of starting your own online course business.

More than that you’ve probably been considering the idea of using Thinkific or Udemy to host that course on but before you choose one or the other you’ll want to read this article first.

Choose a Platform

To start Thinkific and Udemy are two very different platforms and if you’re not quite sure what the differences are you’ll find this article helpful.

Personally, I’ve used both platforms and found good and bad things in both, and at the end of this article, I will share which platform I recommend the most.

I also recommend before you choose a platform is to sign up for a free account.  Thinkific offers a free plan and Udemy doesn’t charge a monthly fee to join.  Doing this will allow you the chance to see differences for yourself.

Related Article: Thinkific Review – A Complete In-Depth Review

With that said let’s get started.

Thinkific vs Udemy – Comparison Chart

Below is my complete comparison chart of everything you would want to know about Thinkific and Udemy.

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Where Thinkific and Udemy Differ

Now that you’ve had a chance to see how Thinkific and Udemy compare I want to share my top 10 areas where Thinkific and Udemy differ.

#1 Design

To start Thinkific lets you customize the look and feel of your course from the course graphics to custom CSS and HTML. In fact, Thinkific offers various themes to help you customize the look and feel of your site.  Here are just a few of the page you can customize.

  • Check out – Sign In Page
  • Check out  – Payment Page
  • Check out – Thank You Page
  • Sign In
  • Sign Up
  • Student Dashboard

With Udemy you don’t get any of these options except for the ability to choose your course graphic.  Other than that you can’t touch the course layout and style.

#2 Custom Domain

Thinkific also allows you the options to set up a custom domain for your school with any of the paid plans.  However even though you can’t get a custom domain with the Thinific free plan, you can adjust your name to reflect your business.

For example here is my free URL

With Udemy you don’t have the option offered through the Udemy dashboard.  However, this doesn’t mean you still can’t do this.  You could always just buy a domain name and redirect it to your course.

#3 You Can’t Remove Your Course

One of the biggest issues that separate Thinkific from Udemy is that they don ‘t  allow you to technically have full ownership of your course. In Udemy you can have your name on the course and you can add, and update lessons but you will not be able to remove the course itself from Udemy.

However, this doesn’t mean you couldn’t move it to another platform like Thinific.  With Thinkific you can do whatever you want to do with your course because you own it.

#4 Strict Control Over Course Pricing

Next, Udemy has very strict pricing guidelines when it comes to their courses.  You can only choose from one of five pricing tiers.

  1. Free
  2. Tier 1 ($19.99)
  3. Tier 2 ($24.99)
  4. Tier 3 ( $29.99)
  5. Tier 4 ( $34.99)

At one point you could price your courses up to $200 and now the highest you can go is $34.99.  The problem I have with this is that a quality course will demand a higher price point and if you’ve got a quality course worth far more than this then you may want to consider Thinkific.

With Thinkific you can charge whatever you want for your course.  If you want to charge $97 or even $999 for your course you can.

#5 No Market Place

One downside with Thinkific is that they don’t offer any sort of marketplace like Udemy.  So if you’re just getting started you’ll find this a big help if you don’t have an email list or a big social media following.

On the other hand, while the marketplace is full of people ready to buy courses you’ll still have to do everything you can to market and sell your course here.

For example, you can’t just create the next course on how to set up a WordPress blog and expect to get a lot of sales.  The reason for this is because it is very competitive and you’ll need a lot of reviews to help bump your course up in the rankings.

Reviews are the lifeblood of the marketplace.  The more quality 5-star reviews you have the more likely you’ll rank higher in the marketplace.

On the other hand with Thinkific you can create your own marketplace that sells just your courses.  Sure you won’t have a lot of students at first but as students sign up for your courses you’ll be able to sell them on other courses you have.

#6 You Don’t Own Your Students

Another big issue with Udemy is that you don’t own your students, and there are very strict guidelines on what you can do with their students.

For example, you’re not allowed to send students to any type of squeeze page or email opt-in page.  In other words, you’re not allowed to siphon students from Udemy and put them on your own mailing list or sell them other products outside of Udemy.

With Thinkific you can take all of your students with you.  You can even upsell them on other courses, and products.

#7 Get Instant Access to Course Sales

One thing I like about Thinkific that almost no other platforms do is that they give you instant access to your course sales. This means if someone buys your course right not you’ll get paid right now.  To do this all you have to do is integrate your PayPal or Stripe account

With Udemy you will have to wait roughly 3 months till you get paid.  The reason for this is because every course on Udemy comes with a 30-day return policy.

Technically you can offer the same guarantee with Thinkific as well but if someone asks for their money back you may have to pay the money back that you were paid.

#8 Multiple Payment Options

Thinkific also gives you the option to offer multiple payment opportunities.  Udemy only allows you to offer your course for free or to offer a one-time payment option.

However, Thinkific offers 5 payment options for you to choose from.

  • Free Technically this isn’t a payment but it is none the less an option
  • One Time Payment – One fee and your customers will own your course forever
  • Fixed Payment – This lets you set up a monthly payment plan for a fixed number of months
  • Recurring Payment – Finally you can offer a recurring payment plan that pays you until they cancel

Altogether you can offer anything thing from a free course to a recurring membership plan. The options here are endless.

#9 Extreme Transaction Fees

Both Thinkific and Udemy do collect transaction fees.  This is collected everytime you sell a course.  However, Udemy’s transaction fees are far more aggressive than Thinkific. Thinkific Transaction fees are as follows.

  • 10% if you are on the Free Plan
  • 5% if you are on there Essentials Plan
  • 0% if you are on there Business Plan and up

Now let’s look at Udemy and see how much they take in transaction fees.

  • 3% if you promote and sell the course on your blog or email list
  • 50% if Udemy promotes your course through their network.
  • 75% if affiliate and paid acquisition sales, this would include running ads on Facebook.

If you’re promoting the course to your own email list this is a steal of a deal but if you’re looking for Udemy to carry most of the weight and do the selling for you then you’re looking at giving up anywhere from 50 to 75% of every sale you earn.

This is where a platform like Thinkific would make the most sense, after all, this is your course that Udemy is profiting off of.

#10 Building Your Business on Rented Land

Finally, the worst part about building your course business with Udemy is that you’ll be building it on rented land.  If you’re not familiar with this analogy consider this,  if your courses are all on Udemy technically they could change the rules at any point and time.

They can determine how much you price your course for, how much you earn from each sale, or they could even shut down the whole thing taking all of your students with them.

With Thinkific they could change things about their platform but if you don’t like their platform you could move to another one and take every course, student, and paying customer with you.

Thinkific vs Udemy – And the Winner Is…

For me, Thinkific is the clear winner here.

While Udemy does offer a huge marketplace they don’t give you much in the way of control, and I feel like their fees are a way to steep.  On top of that Udemy could change the way they do things at anytime and when your business is built on rented land this is a bad idea.  This wouldn’t be the first time that has happened either.

Thinkific, on the other hand, looks great and has a lot of options to offer.   From multiple payment options, design options, to have complete control over your students, Thinkific is the real deal.  Sure they don’t have a marketplace like Udemy but with Thinkific you can build your own marketplace.

So are you ready to sign up for Thinkific?  Click and start your own course business with Thinkific today.


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