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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
I talk a lot about ThriveCart around here, so of course, I had to do a techie episode on the podcast where we dive deep into all the details about ThriveCart Learn as an online course platform. After designing and launching online courses for entrepreneurs for over five years, I’ve seen it all and used SO many different new softwares pop up and different ones shift to the forefront of the market. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had a lot of clients switch up their courses to ThriveCart Learn. So, is it right for you, too? Let’s unpack all the details on ThriveCart to find out!
But before we dive straight into the episode if you want a shortcut to learn whether ThriveCart is a good option for your course or not, you can take my brand new quiz! It’ll ask you a few questions and then spit out a custom recommendation on whether you should consider ThriveCart Learn or move onto a different online course platform.
ThriveCart is an online software that helps you sell digital and physical products. Whatever you have to sell, with ThriveCart, you can set up product pages, purchasing links, and payment processing. Once everything is live, people can purchase your goods, services, and courses through ThriveCart, then you receive the money. Seriously, you can sell SO many different things on ThriveCart. Here are just a few examples of things I’ve seen people sell:
ThriveCart comes with a built-in online course creator called ThriveCart Learn. They’re both packaged together for one flat price, though you can upgrade to Thrivecart Learn Plus or Thrivecart Pro if you want more features.
It’s ThriveCart’s built-in online course platform, where you can build and host online courses. Within each ThriveCart Learn course, you can create modules with videos, worksheets, audio training, and whatever else you’d like students to access. You can use ThriveCart Learn to build your course and use ThriveCart to market and sell it. Students then log into ThriveCart Learn to watch lessons, review materials, and work through the course.
Just to be totally transparent about it, I am a huge cheerleader for ThriveCart Learn and think it’s pretty great for most online course creators. I always recommend it to my clients and think it’s especially well-suited to beginners or creators with a smaller student base. That said, let’s dive into some of the pros and why ThriveCart Learn is so great.
ThriveCart’s lifetime deal is excellent and a great budgetary decision for most course creators! Most of the other online course softwares on the market charge monthly fees for course hosting, which can get pretty expensive. As your course grows, some softwares even charge you based on the number of students or products you have. So, as your course becomes more and more successful, you’ll have to pay more money to keep it running. When you think about other big course creation softwares like Kajabi, Teachable, or Kartra …all of them charge monthly fees.
Depending on your choice, the starting prices are anywhere from $60-$250 per month.
In contrast, the ThriveCart lifetime deal is a one-time fee of $495, then you get to use it forever. That’s a higher price tag up front, but over a whole year, you could save thousands of dollars. Even if your online course software only costs $60 monthly, that’s $720 per year – considerably more than you’ll pay for ThriveCart!
The more you invest upfront, the more it takes to make your money back and have a profitable course. Ultimately, keeping those hosting costs down helps you get to the point of profitability sooner. I’ve seen so many people shut their courses down before they wanted to because they couldn’t justify the monthly expense of the software they were using. With the ThriveCart lifetime deal, you pay course hosting fees once, so you can keep the course open as long as you like, giving it more time to succeed and sell!
ThriveCart Learn’s layout is intuitive and easy to use for course creators and students. Here’s a peek at how it looks:
*This course layout example is from Chelsea Cole’s course, The Cookbook Lab.
ThriveCart has one video in the middle and a list of modules and lessons on the side. It’s super clear on where you are and what to do next, which is SO much more accessible for students to navigate. While there will always be students who have questions about navigating a course, user-friendly layouts save you a lot of customer service time spent helping students find their way to all the resources.
On the creator’s side, figuring out where to upload things and tweak different modules is simple. If you’re totally DIY-ing your course, the help articles and videos should be enough to help you work through any tech hangups and get your course live. Even if you hire an online course consultant to help you get things initially set up, you can save time and money over having to outsource things constantly whenever you want a more minor change.
Typically, if you want to connect online course platforms to software you already use, you’ll have to use Zapier to string everything together. That works fine most of the time, but it can also get messy and glitchy. ThriveCart Learn has several native integrations built in, so you won’t have to bother with setting up a bunch of Zapier tech.
For example, if you want to use ConvertKit for your email marketing, you can connect it to ThriveCart Learn from inside the software. You won’t have to use a go-between app like Zapier to make everything work together.
You can build as many products or courses as you like in your ThriveCart account. If you go with another software, your budget might be OK with the entry-level price of three courses. But as your course grows, you may realize you actually need four or five courses. If you’re not ready to upgrade, you might have to choose what to launch vs. what to keep in your course catalog based on your budget…or pay more money each month than you originally planned.
And even if you’re sure you don’t need more than three courses, you might be surprised at what counts as a course. Even if something isn’t a full-on course, it will still count as an “additional” course in your software. So, things like founding member bonus content, mini-courses, and training courses – even if they’re only two or three lessons long – count as separate courses. ThriveCart Learn gives you more freedom to build out your courses however you want.
More established platforms make a few upgrades here and there, but they’re not as quick to add new features. Since ThriveCart Learn is newer, their team is consistently making upgrades and adding new features as they go. While there are no guarantees as to what they’ll add down the line, it’s a pretty safe bet to sign up for the ThriveCart lifetime deal now and count on ThriveCart getting better and better over time.
Also, it’s interesting to note that ThriveCart recently received a large chunk of investment money (we’re talking millions of dollars) to help them grow and invest in their software. So I expect to see some new features roll out over the next few years.
While I LOVE ThriveCart, I’m all about looking at the big picture and discussing the downsides to anything you’re considering spending money on. Everything has ups and downs! The “downs” can make or break a software for you, so I think they’re important to know before you make a decision. Here are the biggest cons I’ve seen with ThriveCart Learn that have been sticking points for some of my clients.
Some online course platforms include email marketing software, so everything you need to build AND market your course is a one-stop shop. Kajabi and Kartra are two of the most prominent examples of online course platforms that include email. However, with ThriveCart Learn, you’ll need a separate email marketing tool, like Flodesk or ConvertKit.
This is a huge sticking point for some people, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. This one is up to your preference, but if having built-in email is a must, then ThriveCart isn’t the best software for you!
This one’s a funky thing about ThriveCart Learn, but it’s simple to adjust to with a few workarounds. While most other online course platforms allow you to upload videos directly into their software, ThriveCart Learn doesn’t actually host any videos for you. However, you can easily host them somewhere else, like Amazon or Vimeo, then embed them into your ThriveCart course. The end-user experience for your students is still the same; they’ll log into their course and watch video content inside your course. Those videos just technically “live” somewhere else on the internet. It’s a good idea to have copies of your videos outside your course software as a backup, so embedding them inside ThriveCart is just one extra step.
Those also have to live somewhere else, like Amazon web servers, your website, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Like with videos, students’ user experience remains more or less the same: they click on a link to download materials, then they can save them however they like. It’s just that instead of you uploading those materials into ThriveCart, you’ll need to plan to manage them somewhere else, then link to them in ThriveCart.
Some students prefer having a dedicated app so they can download lessons on their phone or tablet and watch or listen whenever they like. Apps are a “nice to have” feature because they make things convenient for students – and the easier it is for students to complete your lessons, the more likely they are to complete your course. Even though there’s not a ThriveCart Learn app (yet), you can still use the regular site on mobile – it works pretty well and is easy to navigate!
I’m going to add this to the list with the big caveat that I really think ThriveCart will add this feature at some point in the near future. It’s high on the list of user-requested features, and they can’t put it off forever! But right now, there’s no way for people to comment directly on lessons.
In other softwares, students usually can comment within a lesson and ask questions as they come up. Community in courses is really powerful, and giving people an outlet to comment as they’re working through a lesson is a fantastic way to build community and communication. That said, hosting your community features somewhere else (like Facebook, Slack, or Circle) is possible. For smaller courses, people can email you directly with questions (a personal touch also has its upsides!)
If you’ve already signed up for the ThriveCart lifetime deal, then building a course on ThriveCart Learn isn’t going to cost you any additional money. New members pay a one-time fee of $495. The basic plan is suitable for most people, but if you launch multiple courses, add team members, or enroll larger numbers of students, you might want some of the additional features that come with ThriveCart Pro, which costs an additional $195.
I hope this post helped you decide! The “right” online course software depends on the individual business – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Doing research is always a good idea, but don’t get so caught up in the details that you procrastinate on making a course! So many options exist, and you can always change your mind. People switch online course software all the time as their businesses grow! Just think about what you need in your business right now and think about what will serve your students – that will help you make the right decision. If you’re still in doubt about which online course creation software is best for you, take my free ThriveCart quiz!
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