LMS Review: Teachable.com

Update: A year after writing this article, my top recommendations are now Thinkific or Coach (aff links). I don't have a favorite. but you can compare the features by downloading the LMS chart. :)


It's no secret: there are a million online course platforms out there. I've narrowed down my favorites to Teachery, Ruzuku, and Teachable. Each one has it's pros and cons, so I've decided to review each platform to help you choose which one is right for you. First up: Teachable (formerly known as Fedora).

"The primary difference as I see it is those tools are all about the delivery of online education, while our specialty is the marketing and sales of online education.” -- Ankur Nagpal, Founder of Teachable (Source: https://www.producthunt.com/tech/fedora)

First Impressions

I’ve been meaning to review Teachable since it was called Fedora. To be completely honest, back before their name change I wasn’t a huge fan of the platform. I thought they were only out to prioritize marketing at the expense of learning and quality.

However, after my interview with Ankur Nagpal, Teachable's founder, I had a completely different perspective: marketing just might be the trojan horse Teachable uses to usher in a change in the learning landscape. 

Was that the truth? I decided to find out.

What is Teachable?

For those who aren’t already familiar with the platform, Teachable is an online course platform or Learning Management System (LMS). Why do you need one of these? Because they simplify the online course development and launch process by allowing you to upload your course content and not worry about the technology and design aspects. Yep, no need to stress over using Wordpress and plugins for your courses.  

I won’t go on and on. I’ll just say this: there are only a handful of LMS platforms I recommend for online entrepreneurs, and Teachable is one of them. Here’s my breakdown:

What I Like

  • Teachable is easy to use - I won’t deny it: Teachable is pretty darn easy to use. Sign up, create a new course and upload your content. Done. 
  • Teachable is focused on helping you build your brand - Teachable isn’t just setup to help you create a course, it encourages you to build a school filled with courses. They want you to be successful and make online courses part of your business model.
  • Teachable is made for entrepreneurs - Once you start working with Teachable, you realize that they understand their audience very well. They know that you don’t just need a solution for building your course, you also need help with marketing and selling your course. And they’ve built in features with your needs in mind.
  • Lots of built in sales and marketing tools - Sales pages. Promo videos. Plus weekly webinars and articles on how to market your course.
  • Flexible pricing options - Multi-tier pricing, recurring subscriptions, bundle courses, and coupon/ promo codes
  • Great option for free courses - They have a free plan. So if your courses are free, it won’t cost you a dime.

Areas for Improvement

  • Can’t Drip Content - This is a feature that a lot of entrepreneurs use. It needs to be an option.
  • Course Builder is Unintuitive - The section of the course builder where you create your structure and content is called a Syllabus. Other than being a misnomer, the Syllabus is just not intuitive. You have to click around to figure things out. To add content, you click on "New Lecture," whether you're adding a lecture...or a quiz, or a discussion--it's all called a lecture. This is confusing and unintuitive. It would be make more sense to have a dropdown with options to add activities, quizzes, projects, etc.
  • Lack of Focus on Learning Elements - I'd like to see more than just media, text and very basic quizzes. For example, the ability to do live, synchronous workshops or office hours. Or the ability to state learning goals. How about course portfolios or projects? These are all features that other platforms have.
  • Integrations - There aren’t enough of them. They’ve got the basics covered, for sure, but this is an area they really need to work on. Right now, there are only six native integrations. For everything else, they rely on Zapier. For example, want to integrate the platform with your email service? If you don’t use Mailchimp, you’re out of luck...unless you use Zapier. I’d specifically like to see integrations with Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Navigation menu - It feels weird. When you click on certain elements, like Courses or Site, a sub-menu overlays the main navigation menu. I’d much rather see a tree-style menu or drop down, like in Wordpress.

As you can see, most of the areas of improvement have to do with learning elements. That’s my biggest gripe with Teachable: you get the bare bones from a teaching perspective. After doing some digging you soon realize that they’ve put most of the work into marketing features. 

Costs

During this review, I realized the cost of LMS platforms deserves its own article. But I didn't want to leave you hanging. 

One of the things I like about Teachable is that they don't stick you with per user pricing, unlike some others out there. They also don't limit the number of courses or students you can have. It's always lame when platforms do that, so kudos to Teachable on this point.

Teachable has four pricing tiers. (You can check out Teachable's pricing here.) I'm only going to review the first three. So what will it cost you on each one?

Let's say you have a course that costs $297. We'll also assume you'll use Stripe as a payment processor. Their fees are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Finally, to make it easy, let's say you have 100 students and run your course for 6 months. Here's what it'll cost you on each of Teachable's plans:

Free Plan ($0/mo)

  • $30.70 per transaction + 8.91 per transaction (for Stripe) x 100 = $3,961.00 Final Cost

Basic Plan ($29/mo)

  • $23.76 (Teachable) + 8.91 (Stripe) per transaction x 100 = $3,267.00
  • PLUS $29/month (Cost of Plan) = $174
  • $3,441.00 Final Cost

Professional Plan ($99/mo)

  • $14.85 (Teachable) + 8.91 (Stripe) per transaction x 100 = $2376.00
  • Plus $99/mo (cost of plan) x 6 = $594 
  • $2970.00 Final Cost

Summary

Teachable is made for online entrepreneurs who have simple video or text-based courses and need a platform that focuses on marketing. Their learning features are limited. In fact, the syllabus section—where you actually create course content—almost feels like an afterthought. I do think this will change in the future, but for now it’s clear that their target audience is entrepreneurs who want to focus on marketing over content. Specifically, they want to convert Udemy users.

All that being said, they have one of the most usable platforms out right now. They’ve put a lot of time into thinking about the features you need to make a career teaching and selling courses. And that's a good thing. They spend a ton of time helping hosting webinars that help you with marketing and sales strategies, which is a very real challenge for a lot of people. 

The Verdict

Teachable is great for course creators who are primarily focused on branding, marketing and selling. If you’re an online course creator who wants to engage deeply with your students and have more learning features, Teachable might not be right for you. 

Grade: B

Don't Have Time to Keep Researching LMS Platforms?

I get it. Luckily I've done the work for you. If you’d like to get a detailed comparison of the top five LMS platforms, I've got something for you.

It’s a free chart comparing the features of Teachable, Thinkific, Teachery, Ruzuku and Pathwright.

Click the image below and enter your email to get access to your free LMS Comp Chart.

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