THRIVE APPRENTICE REVIEW
What is Thrive Apprentice? Thrive Apprentice is a plugin for building premium online courses on WordPress. It's a lightweight tool that makes building digital courses simple, however, it doesn't come without its flaws...
In this review of Thrive Apprentice I'll be giving you a breakdown of it's features...
...the good and the bad!
FEATURE BREAKDOWN & REVIEW OF THRIVE APPRENTICE
Creates beautiful, intuitive courses
Not the cheapest, but very affordable
Ease of use
After initial set-up, very easy to use
Support offered only through Tickets
Summary: Thrive Apprentice is the 'new kid on the block' when it comes to online course creation software on WordPress. It's beautifully designed, elegant and easy to use (once you've got set up). It's a powerful tool, that if used correctly can be a great way to launch and sell online courses successfully.
There's a revolution going on right now, and it's happening in the e-learning sector.
In fact by 2020 online learning is set top become a $37+ billion market.
People are moving away from the generic teachings of a traditional classroom in search of hyper specific learning from experts online.
If you want to share your knowledge and get in on the action, but your not sure where to start or what the best software solution is for building your online course, hopefully this article should help.
I hope to shed a bit of light on that for you today with this Thrive Apprentice review.
Thrive Apprentice is what I use to create online courses for this blog and I love it, but it's certainly not without it's flaws. Whilst extremely powerful in the right hands, it's not necessarily an easy tool to master.
In this Thrive Apprentice review I'm not going to try and sell the software to you, I'm simply going to highlight the most important features needed to create and sell a successful online course and what you need to consider when choosing the right software to build it.
Keep in mind that no matter what tool you use to create your online course, the real value comes from the content you create, and the transformation you can give your audience.
The software you use is just the icing on the cake.
Now, there's a little bit of technical jargon and a few advanced concepts in this post that can be a little complicated. If there's anything that you don't understand, feel free to use the comments section for any questions.
BUILDING A PREMIUM ONLINE COURSE?
The first question you have to ask yourself is how serious are you about creating a top quality, high ticket online course?
If you plan on investing a little of your time into creating a quick course to use as either a lead magnet, or to sell in the $15-$50 range then maybe Thrive Apprentice isn't the best choice for you. Instead a free option like Learnpress could be the way to go.
LearnPress is great if you want to dip your feet into creating an online course. It's basic yes, but it's free so its a good place to start.
If however you're looking to build a premium online course product, and you want a high quality, polished finish, then keep reading, you're in for a treat.
SO WHAT IS THRIVE APPRENTICE?
Ok, so Thrive Apprentice is a WordPress plugin that makes building an online course a breeze.
It’s packed with all of the functionality you’d expect. In just a few clicks you can set-up a new course with lessons, modules, chapters much more.
Your lessons can include video, audio, images, downloadable pdf's and much more. And to make things even more flexible you can even add more dynamic content like podcasts etc when used in conjunction with Thrive Architect (probably the best drag and drop editor for WordPress).
You can create free online courses as opt-in bribes to boost email subscribers, or better still, create top quality, value-packed paid online courses (that's what this review is really about).
In effect, Thrive Apprentice turns your average WordPress site into a fully fledged info-product marketplace.
WHAT FEATURES DOES A GOOD ONLINE COURSE CREATION PLATFORM NEED?
The objective of good online course creation software is to enhance the learning experience for your customers.
This is achieved by creating a seamless user experience, with the capacity to showcase learning material in a number of different formats.
Such as: Images, video, mp3, digital downloads etc.
On top of that (as we’ll be charging for our premium online courses), it must also provide the ability to sell your online course, add membership (monthly subscription), and offer an affiliate program for incentivising new users and influencers.
This is the core feature set tech that makes for a good learning experience, and for creating a profitable online course.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BE PAYING?
There’s a big difference in the prices you can expect to pay. Varying from free if you want to host it on Udemy, all the way up to $119p/m +
So what are the big differences?
Lets look a little further in this table:
% Commission on sales
Value for money
$348p/y or $39p/m
Free - $49p/m
Thrive Apprentice + SendOwl
$67 + $15p/m
50% (Udemy restricts the price of your course to $50)
There's a huge price difference between the each of these products. Some with huge price tags.
Unless you're already earning $20k and upwards from your courses, it's probably wise to choose a product that's not going to kill you before you even get started.
Thrive Apprentice stacks up remarkably well in terms of value. In fact it sits head and shoulders above the rest in this table.
THRIVE APPRENTICE BREAKDOWN
Thrive Apprentice is one of over 100+ different online course creation tools on the market right now. So how does it stack up against the competition when we break it down to the core features that online course creators and marketers actually need?
Video is king nowadays when it comes to creating a high ticket, quality online course. All of the top online course creators in the business rely heavily on video to tell their message.
So how does Thrive Apprentice rate in this department?
Thrive Apprentice takes a different approach to many of the other leading platforms out there by seamlessly integrating video from any third party software.
Whether that be YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia or even self hosted on your WordPress site using the JV Player.
Ultimately, what Thrive Apprentice gives you is choice.
On the flip-side many of the premium platforms encourage you to upload your video content to their platforms. They make this super easy, and it's can also save on expenses too.
But, it doesn't come at zero cost.
By forcing you to upload your content onto their platforms, you lose control over your content. Granted, this may not be a huge issue if you haven't built a successful online course yet.
But, as you grow and your course becomes a bigger slice of your income online, ownership of your content becomes a big deal.
However, something to consider...
In order to protect your video content (make it unavailable unless it's been paid for), you might need to pay for a premium account. These costs should be considered when comparing prices:
- YouTube - Free
- Vimeo - $7p/m
- Wistia - Free - $99p/m
Quizzes can be a great way to increase engagement with users on your course. They can also be a great way add accountability throughout the learning process.
Unfortunately, quizzes aren't a feature that's present on Thrive Apprentice. Nor is the ability to add certificates of completion or badges etc.
For these features you may need to pay a higher premium for a full service platform like Thinkific.
However, for me, these features are not a necessity, and I'm not convinced they add that much value to the end user. For that reason, this is a feature I'm happy to live without for now.
*Note: Although quizzes aren't a feature within Thrive Apprentice, it is however available as part of the Thrive Premium Membership ($19p/m), alongside 10 other premium plugins which I use personally and highly recommend.
MP3 + TRANSCRIPT SUPPORT
Everyone learns differently. Some are visual learners, others can wade through textbooks with ease.
And students taking part in your course will likely consume your content in a number of different ways too.
For that reason many top course creators offer .mp3 and video transcripts in addition to their video content.
Now, because Thrive Apprentice is self hosted and almost infinitely flexible, adding things like downloadable .mp3's, transcripts etc. is a breeze.
A big thumbs up here.
Out of the box, Thrive Apprentice isn't natively capable of turning your online courses into a full membership site.
In fact, Thrive Apprentice alone isn't even able to accept payments for your courses.
Not very handy when you're trying to build up a library of paid courses to start generating passive income!
However, here's the catch...
Thrive Apprentice CAN offer all these things (and more), as part of their deep integration with Send Owl.
What is SendOwl?
SendOwl is an online platform that makes it easy to sell digital products anywhere you can paste a link.
From your blog, to social media, email, comments... you name it.
SendOwl effectively creates an online storefront, making it easy and inexpensive for you to launch and sell your digital goods and services.
A super lean tool, SendOwl makes the checkout experience as close to "one-click" as you can get.
SendOwl is a wildly popular option for people selling digital products, and it's price point makes it affordable to everyone.
For just $15p/m you'll have access to these features:
- Up to 30 products
- Affiliate program
- PDF stamping
- Full customisation
- 3 GB storage
I'll go into a little more detail on SendOwl a later in this post, but for now it's important to acknowledge that SendOwl integration is a necessary component to making Thrive Apprentice truly shine.
SendOwl offer a free trial which you can access here.
Having an affiliate program for your course is non-negotiable in my eyes. To maximize your earning potential, you must maximize your reach.
So how does Thrive Apprentice stack up?
As mentioned previously, it doesn't have an inbuilt affiliate program which is a shame.
However, once integrated with SendOwl, you'll have a first grade affiliate system at your fingertips. The affiliate program set up and execution using the deep integration with SendOwl is actually really very good.
UNLIMITED DESIGN FLEXIBILITY
This is where Thrive Apprentice really hits a home run.
Lets face it, if your course looks ugly, and it's hard to use, it just ain't cool.
So, how come Thrive Apprentice leaves even the most expensive course platforms to shame when it comes to design?
Well, it's because it works alongside probably the best 'drag-and-drop' editor out there.
It's called Thrive Architect...
- What is Thrive Architect?
Thrive Architect is another premium plugin from the team at Thrive. It's simple, intuitive and very powerful.
Put simply, you have the creative freedom to pretty much build anything you want (without touching a line of code).
The design possibilities are endless.
It's this power and flexibility to craft course pages and maintain brand continuity that puts it in a league of it's own.
SEAMLESS USER ON-BOARDING
When a student buys your course, they want access to it... Like, now!
And, they don't want that process to be difficult.
Many of the other budget option platforms make user on-boarding a mess.
Too many steps...
Redirects to ugly default theme pages.
Access and privilege issues.
It really can get messy at times. But above all, it creates a horrible user experience and could put them off for life.
Thrive Apprentice makes this simple.
You buy the course, you get your access details and your away. SendOwl handles all of the complicated redirects and privileges behind the scenes.
Happy students = More money in your bank.
SUBDOMAIN OR NO SUBDOMAIN?
Alongside many of the basic packages on most online learning platforms comes a pretty big compromise.
Your course will not only be hosted by them (ie. they own and control your data), but you'll be forced to used a non branded subdomain.
Which will look something like this:
A subdomain like this doesn't look very professional. I'd much rather keep control over my brand and keep that in house.
Using Thrive Apprentice the URL will look something like this:
Keeping your own branded url on many of the course platforms usually involves a hefty price increase up to one of their premium packages. So take this in mind when shopping around for the right platform for you.
COURSE PROGRESS MONITORING
People flow through courses in many different ways. Often jumping back and forth between lessons, and modules to take the pieces they need.
Your course software must have a way of recording this so your users know what lessons they have, and haven't taken already.
Thankfully Thrive Apprentice uses sticky cookies to manage this part for you.
Each time a user completes a lesson, the lesson gets marked complete.
A small feature, but very valuable in the overall user experience.
DRIP FED CONTENT
Drip feeding content is a powerful content delivery model. Drip feeding is essentially the process of scheduling the delivery of content to the user so that they don't get all the content at once.
Drip feeding content to your users can be a great way to manage the learning experience for your users so as not to bombard them with too much information too quickly.
But there's more.
Drip feeding content is becoming a valuable tool for online course creators to mitigate their losses from product refunds.
How do they do it?
Let me explain.
Industry standard is to allow a 30 day money back guarantee. This is great for the users as they get to try your product out for size and see if it fits, risk free.
However, as always, there are a lot of people who take advantage of this.
Drip feeding your content helps manage this.
By feeding your content to your users week by week the 'tire-kickers' have to make a decision. No longer will they be able to churn through your valuable course material that you've been slaving over for months, just to knowingly return it 30 days later.
Now they must either commit or not to your product in order to complete the entire training.
Now that we know what drip feeding content is, and how it can reduce your refund rate, the question is, "Can Thrive Apprentice drip feed your content for you?"
Natively 'NO'. With SendOwl deep integration 'YES'
With so many important features coming from the integration with SendOwl, it's safe to say that using the two products together is essential to get the results we are looking to achieve.
As you can see, Thrive Apprentice is a feature packed, powerful piece of kit that is certainly worthy of consideration when choosing an online learning platform for your course.
I really like using Thrive Apprentice to create the online courses for my sites as I love the unlimited flexibility it offers, and how simple it is to use. I really do think it's one of the best platforms out there, and with regular code updates, it's improving all the time.
However, it’s certainly not for everyone.
With over a 100+ different learning platforms to choose from, no matter what your needs and requirements may be, there’s sure to be a perfect solution for you.
I hope this Thrive Apprentice review was helpful for you guys.
If you have an questions, please leave them below in the comments.
Thanks for a thorough post, Rowan. I’ve been looking around for an LMS and I’ve heard a few people talking about Thrive Apprentice. This is a very in depth review and I definitely know where I’m going to be spending my money now. Thanks for your time, Lauren X
Yeah, I had been searching for an LMS for WordPress (that was actually good…) for ages. I think you’ll really like Thrive Apprentice, I certainly do.
Let me know how you get on.