Course Creators October 12, 2020

Selling without Thinkific or Teachable

Max Mirho @EntrepreNerd

There are a load of options for publishing your online course, and usually I just used course creation tools like Thinkific. Teachable, or Kajabi, but if you want a lot more flexibility in design and structure at a much lower cost point, you can always build it yourself.

If you boil it down, an online course is simple educational content (usually with video) behind a paywall, and there are a million ways to build that setup.

First, if you're putting videos in your course, just pop them on YouTube as "Unlisted" uploads or on Vimeo. Nobody will be able to find them, and you can embed them wherever you want.

Next, find where you're going to host the content. I would consider using a Notion page, as the structure is page-organization focused, and it's incredibly easy to design. You can even use something like Fruition or Super to make your Notion page into a full website!

Now, there are a few ways you can hide content on a website - the easiest way is by using a paid tool like MemberStack. Unfortunately, it's about $25/month for one site plan, and that's a little expensive for my taste. Plus, you can't use Memberstack on Notion websites - it has to be built on a more formal website tool, or built from the ground up.

The second way, which is a little more hacky (but basically free), is using a simply payment redirect with something like Gumroad. When you set up a product in Gumroad, you can embed the product on your site, or simply link to a Gumroad page. Then, when the product is bought, you can redirect to a different page you've built in the same Notion workspace - and that page would contain all the fancy course info.

This, of course, has a problem - you're just linking and anyone could share that link - but I want to dispel this as a serious issue. Yes, anyone could share the link with their friends, and they would all get free access to the course - but I know a few info-product creators that do this and it hasn't resulted in a loss of sales. As it turns out, the people that find a way to "hack" around your paywall in some form or another were likely never going to become customers, and it's going to be one in a thousand people that actually notice they could just share the link of the website.

When people purchase a product, they assume everything functions like it's supposed to. Nobody checks every time they buy something online for whether or not they could share it for free - it's not a common thought. So, it's my belief that you shouldn't worry about it.

But overall, I think this is a superior method as opposed to out-of-the-box course software. You get an immense amount of control over the design of your course, the same content and structure, it's cheaper if you use tools like Notion, and you actually get to keep more of the money. Assuming you use Gumroad, they take 8.5% of your profit - whereas tools like Thinkific and Teachable take 10%.

However, it's going to take more time, of course, to design something from the ground up. I would love to build a template on Notion for this specifically.

Also, I did a live stream on this topic, and you can peek the highlights here if you're interested!

  1. 2

    Thanks for sharing this, Max! I can totally see how a notion page could serve as a landing page for your course. Your input on how sharing the resource makes no difference because those other people wouldn't be converted into sales anyways I found particularly interesting. I found myself in a situation like this where a friend of mine opted to just share an ebook, but because it wasn't accessible I bought it myself- but I was convinced to do it and was happy to because of the credibility of the creator via their following, existing free content, trust, etc.

    If you've got extra time on your hands and the incentive to be more creative, it's a cool way to start out! But depending on the medium, some hosting platforms may also end up being a big help later on.

    1. 1

      For sure!! I usually only suggest this method if you're getting started, or experimenting. If you're going big, and you've got a large community, or you're doing big marketing pushes behind an expensive online product, you're going to want to look into more robust platforms! :)

  2. 2

    It makes perfect sense. Many people find a way to work around and create better looking and more advanced products, but for most people out of the box, products are just fine. Most people don't understand even the most essential tools with good explanatory videos, proper documentation and know-how database. For them to work around, it is impossible.

    1. 1

      Absolutely - I totally agree. And I'm super glad this makes sense!!

  3. 2

    Great post, Max. Love seeing these "third door" options for getting around gatekeepers. Also, super spiffy website design, too. I'll be saving this should I ever decide to host a workshop or create a course.

    1. 1

      Heck yes!!! I'm super glad you got value out of it!!
      And I'm super glad you like my website <3 I wasn't sure how it looked we did a redesign a few months ago.

  4. 1

    This is interesting, but if you pay the very low gumroad monthly fees, or if you use thinkific, you're just getting charged the credit card transaction fees. Is it really worth the hassle of going through all this when you have a system that can do it all for you and to end?

  5. 1

    Can also check out Avocado Audio ( to build an audio course in addition to your e-course. Offer your students double the information for a bundle package!!

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