Updated May 9, 2019
If you are selling or thinking about selling online courses, you don’t have to do much searching to come up with a Teachable review. There are plenty out there. What makes this the best Teachable review, aside from the fact that it is extremely thorough, is that it is written by someone with:
- More than 20 years of experience in the e-learning industry, with a specific focus on businesses that sell education (as opposed to, for example, corporate training departments, that do not have to convince their learners to buy)
- Extensive experience designing, developing, and implementing online course platforms (I was the founder and CEO of an e-learning platform and course development company.)
- More than a decade of experience tracking and researching online course platforms and helping organizations and individuals pick the right platform for selling courses
- Personal, hands-on experience in creating, selling, and delivering online learning experiences
I’ve been closely tracking Teachable and other providers that have emerged as a new class of online course platforms in the past several years. These are platforms that are much more user-friendly and less costly than traditional learning management systems, or LMSes. They are a real boon for solo edupreneurs and small companies that want to get into the online course business. Over time, I think they also have real potential to disrupt the traditional learning management system market.
So, having said all that, let’s get started.
High Level Teachable Review and Pricing
In general, Teachable is a straightforward, solid platform. The interface is clean, and your learners will have no trouble accessing and navigating your courses. In my opinion, its strength is with video-driven content. And, Teachable also shines when it comes to simple tools that help to support selling courses – like, for example, it’s customizable sales, checkout, and thank you pages.
It’s also worth noting that Teachable is one of the biggest, if not the biggest player in its class of platforms. This is an important point given the large number of companies that have rushed in to try to sell online course platforms. A lot of them will be gone within a couple of years. I don’t think Teachable will.
As far as pricing goes, Teachable still offers a free plan at the time I am posting this review. Under this plan there are no limits on courses or students, but you do pay $1 plus a 10% transaction fee whenever you sell a course.
Paid plans currently start at $39 per month ($29 if paid annually). With the lowest level paid plan you still pay a 5% transaction fees on all sales. Transaction fees disappear once you jump up to the next level.
Since pricing and related features can change pretty frequently, I encourage you to visit the Teachable site to compare the various plans that are available.
Now, let’s start taking a look at the Teachable experience in detail.
Building and Branding Your Online Course Web Site
My bias is that an online course platform should not be relied on as your main Web site. (The exception is if you use an all-in-one platform like Kajabi.) That said, like most platforms in its class, Teachable does offer a range of options for configuring and branding the site where your courses will live.
There are enough options that, if you are just getting started, you could, in fact, rely on Teachable for your Web presence for at least a while. Here’s a quick run-down of the key areas you can control.
Theme – The “Site” area of the Teachable administrative panel provides a user-friendly interface for adjusting key elements of your course site’s branding, including adding your logo, uploading a background image (or choosing from a variety of stock images provided by Teachable), and changing the fonts and colors that will be used throughout the site. Even with these basic tools you can put together a nice-looking site, but for more advanced users, there is also an option for inserting custom CSS in the “Code Snippets” area.
Custom Domain – By default, the address for your school will be a sub-domain of Teachable.com – e.g.., learningrevolution.teachable.com – but with any Teachable paid plan (starting at $39 per month), you have the option for adding a custom domain – e.g., learn.learningrevolution.net. At the Professional level and above you also have the ability to turn of Teachable branding – which otherwise shows up as “powered by teachable” on all your site pages.
Navigation and Pages – Teachable comes pre-loaded with default navigation links and some stock Web pages, but you have the ability to edit these. You can also easily add links to both the main navigation and the footer menus in Teachable. These can link to pages you create and – a very nice feature – you can easily control whether the navigation items are seen by logged in users, logged out users, or all users.
These capabilities make it possible to add as many pages as you like to your site and control who sees them, but keep in mind there is no drop-down or side bar navigation. So, so your menus can start looking crowded pretty quickly.
Blog – Unlike many of its competitors, Teachable offers the ability to publish a blog within your school site. If you are already blogging somewhere else, this may not matter to you, but if you don’t have a blog or just want a place to publish content that ties tightly to your courses, this can be very valuable. As I have said on many occasions, a good blog is one of the most valuable assets any edupreneur can create.
Custom Text – Teachable has some of the most extensive capabilities I’ve seen on any platform for changing the default text in the system to language you prefer. This includes everything from e-commerce links, to course navigation buttons, to error messages. Basically, there doesn’t seem to be anything you can’t change to language you prefer.
Creating Online Courses with Teachable
Setting up a course in Teachable is pretty straightforward.
One of the first things that struck me in the Courses area of the administrative panel is that Teachable is clearly geared toward selling courses. As part of the set-up process for a course you specify basic things the name of the course and the instructor, but you can also specify a search engine optimized (SEO) URL, page title and meta-description for each course you create.
You can also easily upload a thumbnail image that will be displayed in the catalog and on the course interface as well as a promotion video that can be displayed on the sales page for the course.
Of course, before you start selling, you have to have something to sell. Teachable’s approach to course creation is fairly basic, in my opinion, and definitely favors on-demand, video-based courses. Still, this is likely to be sufficient for most online course creators.
Course are organized as Sections filled with Lectures. You name the sections as you set them up (e.g., Introduction, First Module) and, if you want, you can use the Custom Text feature discussed above to replace the word “lecture” with something more to your liking. Lectures can consist of multimedia files (video, audio, PDF, etc), text that you type directly into Teachable, quizzes, or any combination of these.
There is also an “Add Code” option for Lectures that you can use to embed live video streams or webinars directly into a lecture. This is a nice option, though likely too advanced for most course entrepreneurs – it would be nice to see a more user-friendly option for streaming video and Webinars.
Finally, there is a “Drip” option that allows you to publish lectures over a period of time based on the number of days after your students enroll. (Requires Basic plan or above)
Aside from the “Add Code” feature, I think most online course creators will find it pretty easy to set up a course in Teachable, and the final product looks attractive and professional.
Keep in mind that one of the key features of Teachable is that you can create Authors who then have the rights to do most of what I describe above – as well as earn a revenue share from sales of the courses they create. So, if you want to set up a Teachable site and then have multiple other people create some or all of the content, Teachable makes that pretty easy to manage.
Before wrapping up this section, I want to cover some areas that Learning Revolution readers often ask me about.: quizzes, certificates, and the ability to import course made in course authoring software like Articulate or Captivate.
Creating Quizzes in Teachable
Teachable provides for simple, multiple choices quizzing. You can indicate as many potential answers as you like for any question you create, and questions can have one or multiple correct answers You also specify whether a quiz will be graded or not. If it is, then the scores will be viewable in the reporting area of Teachable (more on that below).
That’s it. Creating quizzes in Teachable is an easy process, but keep in mind that your options are fairly limited. There is no way to provide students with feedback on their answer choices, for example. And more advanced features like randomizing questions or storing questions in a question bank so that you can use them in multiple quizzes are not available.
There is also no ability to bulk import quiz questions. So, if you happen to have a collection of quiz questions you have already been using, you will have to enter them into Teachable one-by-one for each course in which you use them.
Completion Certificates in Teachable
Teachable has good capabilities for creating a certificate that can be awarded upon completion of any course, but you have to have a Professional plan or higher to access them.
To create certificates, you can choose from three templates or – if you have the capabilities to do it – you can create a completely custom template using HTML and/or the Liquid coding language.
With the templates, you are able to insert your logo, change the colors, add a signature (as JPG or PNG file), and change the pre-set text. Teachable automaticalluy inserts your school name, the student’s name, and the name of the course when the certificate in generated for a student. (There is no ability to remove these items from the certificate.)
All in all, the certificate capabilities are probably good enough to meet the needs of the vast majority of online course entrepreneurs.
Use of Articulate and Captivate in Teachable
Many course creators will be perfectly content with using the tools in Teachable to create courses, but some may prefer the option of creating their courses with third-party e-learning course creation software like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate.
Basically, using a third-party tool is an option to seriously consider if you (a) already have a significant number of courses built out in one of these tools (in which you case you probably do not want to have to re-create them using Teachable course creation tools), and/or (b) you anticipate developing a significant catalog of courses with a relatively long “shelf life” – in which case you may not want to have your courses locked into a specific delivery platform.
Teachable does not provide any capabilities for importing and configuring courses developed with third-party tools like Articulate and Captivate. It is possible that, like Thinkific, the company would configure these courses for you, if requested, but I haven’t found anything that suggests this is the case.
Bottom line: if getting the full benefit of using tools like Articulate and Captivate is important to you, Teachable is probably not your platform.
Marketing and Selling Teachable Courses
As I mentioned above, Teachable is clearly geared toward marketing and selling courses, but I only scratched the surface. Other sales and marketing-oriented features you will find in the Curriculum area of the administrative panel include:
Pricing – You have the ability to set multiple prices for a course and there are multiple types of pricing plans, including free, subscription, one-time purchase, and payment plan (to allow learners to pay for the course with multiple payments over time). A nice touch: there is an option under Setting to allow or not allow students to opt out of their payment plans (basically, cancel their enrollment). By default it is set to not allow them to opt out.
Coupons – You can create coupons to offer discounts to specific customers. Coupons can be created for all payment plans and come in the form of a set amount or percentage off. (Requires Basic plan or above)
Bundling – You can bundle multiple courses together to sell them in a single transaction.
Sales Page – Teachable gives you the ability to customize your course sales pages, including:
- Customizing the “hero” header at the top with an image of your preference
- Including a coupon banner, if appropriate, to promote any discounts you are offering
- Creating a course description
- Displaying a bio for the course author/instructor
- Displaying the course curriculum
- If the course is a bundle, showing all the courses that make up the bundle
- Course Page Closing Letter to help seal the deal
- Enroll Button
You can remove any of the “blocks” above and/or add in your own custom or pre-made blocks, including:
- Rich Text
- Background Image
- Embedded Video
- Embedded Form
- Featured Courses
All in all, Teachable gives you pretty much everything you need to set up effective sales pages for your courses.
Once a prospect clicks the “enroll” button, Teachable generates a checkout page with the standard e-commerce options for entering payment information, but you also have the option to add in three elements to help you close the sale.
- Testimonials –easily insert testimonials you have gotten for up to two customers
- Value Proposition bullets – list the major positive outcomes students will get from participating in your course
- Guarantee – use one of the 30-day guarantee images provided by Teachable or upload a custom image of your own
Here’s what the results can look like:
Thank You Page
Teachable is very focused on empowering you to squeeze as much value as possible out of the sales process, right up until the point where you thank your new student for the purchase.
On this page, you can simply say “thank you” and provide a button for the student to easily access the course, or you can also opt to drop in a video with a personalized thank you or other messaging from you – a great way to build engagement with your students.
Finally, you can encourage customers to enroll in other relevant courses you offer by including an “upsell” block in this page. This enables you to easily include a purchase link for one of your other courses or bundles and set the price, including the ability to set a discount.
As easy as it is to include an upsell item, Teachable could improve this process significantly. Right now, the only way to “set-up” the upsell is by including a video block in the page. While this is a good approach, there is no way to add explanatory text or images to help the student understand what the offering is and why they should consider it.
Authors and Affiliates
A couple of additional areas I definitely do not want to miss in Teachable are the ability to set up Authors and Affiliates.
I’ve already mentioned Authors above. These are people who you set up to have rights to create and manage their own courses in Teachable, and who get a share of the revenue (set by you) from those courses.
I mention Authors again here because they can be powerful partners in selling. They have skin in the game, so to speak, and Teachable provides tools for them to track their own sales and payouts. They can also, if you allow them (under Settings > General), do things like set their own course prices, create coupons, and customize their course sales pages. Additionally, Teachable gives you, as the site owner, good tools for tracking and communicating with Authors.
In addition to Authors, you can also create Affiliates who earn commissions from selling your courses. As with Authors, Teachable gives you good tools to track and communicate with Affiliates and Affiliates are able to easily track their own sales.
Also, if you use Teachable to process all of your course sales (more on this below), you can also opt to have them manage all of the payouts to your Authors and Affiliates through their Back Office program. An extra 2% fee per transaction applies, but this may be well worth it to many edupreneurs to cut down on the hassle of handling these payouts yourself. (Link to post re: choosing good affiliates.)
Finally, Teachable offers three main options for accepting payments for courses.
The first is to use Teachable Payments (introduced in October 2018), which is available on all payment plans for residents of the United States and Canada. When you do this, Teachable walks you through a process to set-up a Stripe Express account (or add an existing account). This enables you to accept credit card payments through Stripe and it is also possible to opt to allow PayPal payments.
Under this option, Teachable charges no transaction fees on course sales for Professional and Enterprise users (though PayPal and Stripe fees do still apply). Free plan users pay a 10% fee plus $1 per transaction and Basic plan users pay a 5% fee.
For users outside of the United States and Canada, Teachable’s legacy Monthly Payments option remains available – though I have to admit the difference between this and Teachable Payments are not very clear to me (or very well documented by Teachable).
Finally, you have the option to set up a custom payment gateway that connects directly to your PayPal Business account or your Stripe account. The main advantage of doing this is that you get paid out faster and will usually have lower processing fees.
Most online course platforms offer integrations with other types of platforms (e.g., e-mail marketing, customer relationship management). Teachable is no exception.
In case “integration” is not a familiar term, it just means that one piece of software is able to “talk” to another by passing data to it through some special coding. This is one-way integration. If the other piece of software can send data back – i.e., “talk back” – there is two-way integration.
The number of pre-configured integrations available in Teachable is relatively limited compared to some other systems. Instead, Teachable relies heavily on the use of Zapier, a popular platform for creating integrations – and Zapier is only available as an option under paid plans.
With a free Teachable account, you have the ability to insert Google Analytics code and connect to the marketing platform Sumo (which, among other things, enables you to create forms for collecting e-mail addresses on your Teachable site). Note that Sumo is free only up to 200 subscribers. After that, plans start at $29 per month.
With any of the paid plans, you get access to integrations with:
- Convert Kit and Mailchimp – two of the most popular e-mail marketing. (Surprisingly, Teachable does not have a pre-configured integration with Aweber.)
- Segment a unified interface into hundreds of analytics services (enabling you to pass Teachable data to these services). I think only more advanced users will be interested in this, but it is good to have as an option.
Beyond those integrations, the main approach is – as noted above – is to use Zapier and/or to use “Webhooks” created in Teachable.
Teachable does make it easy to access a number of the most popular “Zaps” – the connections between software applications created in Zapier. These include, for example, Zaps for Aweber, Infusionsoft, Drip, and Google Sheets. Keep in mind that Zapier is free only up to 100 “tasks” per month. Beyond, fees kick in starting at $20 per month. (So, for example, if you enroll 100 students in a month and use Zapier to put the e-mails of students into Aweber, you have to start paying before student 101 enrolls that month.)
Webhooks, which you can create in the aptly named “Webhooks” area of the administrative panel, can enable you to do some of the same things that you might with Zapier, but this is a somewhat more advanced area that may feel daunting to most online course creators.
Managing and Communicating with Students
When a user signs up at your site, Teachable captures their contact data (e.g., first name, last name, e-mail). Beyond this basic information, Teachable does not provide options for collecting more detailed and/or or custom data about learners (as, for example, Thinkific does).
Nor does Teachable provide for organizing learners into groups – like, for example, a group from company A and a group from company B. For online course creators that sell to businesses, this is a shortcoming that may be a deal breaker. (Again, this is an area in which Thinkific offers more options.)
On the other hand, Teachable does offer the ability to enable MyTeachable accounts on your school, making it possible for anyone who has already signed up to take courses on a different Teachable school to very easily register at yours. As the company puts it,
This solves the common student frustration of needing to create a new account every time they want to take a course on a Teachable-powered school. For you, as a school owner, this means that new students will potentially be able to sign up for your school with a single click, resulting in higher conversion rates and a smoother user experience.
Given the market share that Teachable has achieved, this does seem like a valuable feature.
As far as communicating with your learners goes, there are a few options in Teachable.
First, you can enable Comments on a Lecture-by-Lecture basis in Teachable. (Remember, Lectures are basically the components of a Teachable course and you have the ability to call them something else by changing the language under Site > Custom Text.) You can also specify, on a sitewide level (under Settings > General), whether comments will be moderated – i.e., you or another instructor reviews and approves them before publishing – and whether the responses will be threaded – i.e., all of the responses to a comment are nested under that comment, making them easier to find.
Under Settings > Notifications you can set whether you will be notified when a new comment or reply to a comment is posted or when a comment require moderation. Under this area, you can also say whether you want to be notified when a new student registers for your school, enrolls in a course, or cancels an enrollment or subscription. These e-mails, as well as all of the various automated e-mails that get sent out to students from Teachable, can be modified under Emails > Template Editor, though making modifications does require some familiarity with HTML.
With any paid plan you also gain the ability to manually send e-mails out to your students. These can be sent to all of your site users, individual users, or just the enrollees in a specific course. As with all other e-mails, you have the ability to customize the template for these e-mails (though, again, you need to be comfortable with HTML).
One final note: Teachable does not currently feature any way for student to submit reviews for courses. So, if you are looking for the market insight and “social proof” that reviews can provide, you’ll have to reach out to students through e-mail, an end-of-course evaluation, or some other method.
Tracking and Reporting
Teachable offers relatively standard visibility into student enrollments, progress, and quiz scores for this class of system. Keep in mind, though, that progress reporting does not kick in until the Professional level, potentially a drawback for serious teachers who are not yet prepared to go to that level.
One of the more notable features of Teachable reporting is the Video Heatmap. For each video in your courses, the heatmaps indicate which parts of a video have been watched (in green), rewatched (in yellow), rewatched multiple times (in orange), or skipped (in white). Keep in mind that this feature applies only to videos that have been uploaded directly to Teachable using the file uploader. Any videos that have been embedded using an embed code are not included in the Video Heatmap report. For course producers who rely heavily on video, it’s definitely worth taking advantage of Teachable video hosting (included with the platform) and the Video Heatmap feature.
Support for Course Creators
The ideal situation is to have a platform so easy to use that you don’t need any support. The reality is that most of us are going to need at least some support figuring out how a platform works and getting up and running.
Teachable offers reasonably good “inline” support throughout the platform – i.e., explanations that pop up when you click the question mark icon next to a specific feature. That said, the use of the question mark icon throughout the platform is pretty inconsistent and incomplete: you may or may not find one there when you need it.
There is also a knowledge base that provides articles about all major aspects of the system and seems to be kept up to date.
Finally, with any paid plan you get access to Teachable U, a collection of online lessons, live and recorded Webinars, and other resources to support you in creating and launching your courses and growing your business. All in all, a useful and valuable part of the Teachable offering.
What Teachable is Missing (so far)
Teachable is a very solid, straightforward platform for online course creators who want to get up and running quickly with professional-looking, user-friendly courses. But, like any platform, there areas where it may fall short for some course producers. These include:
No multi-tenancy option
Multi-tenancy means that you can create and manage multiple instances of a platform under a single umbrella. This can be really handy if, for example, you are a training company with many corporate clients and those clients want their own branded instance of the platform for serving and managing their users.
Arguably, you could achieve a limited version of multi-tenancy in Teachable by enabling Authors to publish their own courses and customize their sale pages. Still, if you need true multi-tenancy, there are many better options (like most of the platforms on this page).
No continuing education credit capabilities
While Teachable does enable you to issue a completion certificate for a course, there is no way to indicate the amount of time associated with a course or the amount of continuing education credit that may be available. While there may be work-arounds, if earning continuing education credit is important to your learners, Teachable is not your best option. (If you are serious about continuing education, I recommend checking out the platforms in the Tagoras Learning Business Platform Directory.)
No support for SCORM or xAPI/TinCan
As noted above, Teachable has no capabilities for importing or configuring courses created in common authoring tools like Articulate and Captivate. By extension, it also does not support the use of the SCORM, xAPI/TinCan, or other e-learning standards for packaging courses. If you have a strong and valid reason for using one of the major e-learning standards, Teachable would not be the way to go. (More on SCORM.)
Very limited multi-lingual support
While it is technically possible to create courses in multiple languages, it is not all that easy. And, there is not option for presenting your school navigation in more than one language. In general, if you are serious about multilingual, Teachable is not your best option
The Bottom Line
All in all, for edupreneurs with relatively simple course creation needs – and particularly those relying heavily on video – Teachable is a great option. I find the platform easy to use and the end user experience very good. At the professional level (currently $99 per month), Teachable offers the range of features that most solo edupreneurs or small businesses will need for successfully creating and selling online courses and the pricing is on par with similar platforms in the space (e.g., Thinkific)
Of course, I still recommend that you do the work to figure out your specific needs and priorities before making a platform decision. For doing that, I recommend downloading my free Course Platform Selection Guide – to understand your needs and make your own decision.
And, if you do end up going with Teachable, I encourage you to share your own Teachable review in the comments here.