Thrive Suite Review: Real Talk About Thrive Themes And How It Compares To Competitors

After being a Thrive Themes member for multiple years, here is my no-BS review of their plugin suite, how the cost stacks up, and how it compares to the competition.

There are so many tools a blogger could buy, it just makes you wanna puke. So, when us bloggers talk about Thrive Suite and you know we’re all using affiliate links, well…

I get it. How do you know that Thrive Suite is really worth y our hard-earned money?

What’s the real scoop?

When you’re first starting out, startup capital is limited. There are so many tools you can buy, but that budget is limited. You want to make sure it is spent wisely.

My long-time readers have long known that I am a fan of Thrive Themes tools. In this Thrive Suite review, I want to fully lay out the case for why.

I also want to take a critical look at the budget-friendliness of Thrive Themes – and compare that to some of the other tools often compared with Thrive.

Then, you can make up your own mind. Whatever that might be.

I want to be clear…

Today I want to show you exactly why I now believe that Thrive Themes is absolutely the biggest no brainer out there for blog owners.

Yeah, I’m biased. 😉 But, I’ll also be sure to tell you who I think should NOT be using Thrive Themes. Because, as much as I love their tools, this very site is not running on it anymore.

There are always startup costs associated with spinning up a new business. I want to fully explain to you why I think a Thrive Themes membership is one of the top purchases you should make (for most people).

Quick note: I am an affiliate for Thrive Themes, so if you purchase it through one of the links on this page, I will earn a commission. You know how this works. 🙂 That said, I only recommend what I personally use and vet for myself. I also offer some bonus training for Thrive Themes if you end up buying through our link.

OK, let’s get goin’…

Thrive Themes – It Isn’t About Themes

When one hears about Thrive Themes, it is easy to assume it is just about themes. But, to be clear…

Thrive Themes is way more than just Wordpress themes.

When they got started, themes were the full focus of their work. But, then things developed and today themes are not their focus. The company has evolved way beyond traditional themes – as you’ll see in a minute.

When it comes to just themes, there is obviously a whole library of free themes available for Wordpress. There are also numerous sources for paid, premium themes. StudioPress is one of the most popular.

StudioPress, in particular, is a textbook case of why I am so keen on what Thrive Themes is doing. See, while StudioPress themes are very nice and based on the solid Genesis Framework, truth is they are difficult to modify.

Unless you have developer skills, tweaking a StudioPress theme can be quite complicated. You end up delving into the developer world of hooks, actions, custom PHP functions and the like. There’s just no way the average blog owner will be able to deal with that unless they hire a third-party developer.

Most other traditional themes are the same way. If you want to modify anything beyond the basic color settings, you’ve either got to be a developer or you need to hire one.

Using most traditional themes, you’re either severely limited by your own skills… or you’re dependent on others. For me to recommend something like that to you would be doing you a disservice.

Things are beginning to shift. Wordpress is clearly moving toward a full block editor and I think it will evolve to be able to take full control of your whole site. But, as of this writing, it isn’t there yet.

Yet, things have evolved. We do things now in a “no code” way. You no longer have to get as nerdy to make a really nice looking, high-converting website. And tools like Thrive Suite are a big reason why.

So, let us dive into the Thrive Suite…

A Tour Of The Thrive Suite, From Thrive Themes

Thrive Suite Tool Collection

When you sign up with Thrive Themes, you’re getting their full Thrive Suite. The Suite includes their universal theme platform – Thrive Theme Builder. It also includes a number of plug-ins that provide a wide range of functionality specifically geared toward online marketers using Wordpress.

Let’s go through all the tools in their suite. Let’s get started…

Thrive Theme Builder

Thrive Theme Builder is more than a theme. It is a theme platform. One, universal theme platform that you can literally turn into anything you want – using the full drag-and-drop editing of Thrive Architect (See below).

The Theme Builder platform works by activating “skins” on it. As of this writing, the only available skin is ShapeShift. Over time, they will launch more. Thing is…

Shapeshift is a chameleon. Using the drag-and-drop, visual interface, you can mold it into anything look and feel that you want across your entire site. It truly is pretty amazing what they’ve done with it. As an example, I present this very website. This site is running on Theme Builder and the design you see here now began as Shapeshift.

There’s no need to repeat myself here. I’ve already done a full review of Thrive Theme Builder.

Since I originally started using Thrive Theme Builder, it has just gotten better and better. It has matured greatly. It works with WooCommerce. And the same visual designer has now even been brought over to Thrive Apprentice (see below).

So, this is not a theme.

It is a theme platform.

You can pretty much turn Theme Builder into anything you want.

I want to be clear about something, however.

Who should not be using Thrive Theme Builder? And, why did I personally stop using it here at the Blog Marketing Academy even though I love the product so much?

Well, the use case here is a fully developed membership site. If you’re going to be using LMS systems like LearnDash, or want the community features of BuddyBoss, then a platform like Thrive Theme Builder is going to prove limiting. Theme Builder works gorgeously with other Thrive products. But, it isn’t really geared toward special purpose sites (like community-driven membership sites).

For most blogs out there, though, Theme Builder is an elegant platform that definitely makes life easier.

Thrive Architect

Thrive Architect Website Screenshot

Thrive Architect is really the foundation for their suite. It is the primary editor. You will be using Architect to build all your landing pages, optin forms, etc.

You can also take your blog posts up a notch by using Thrive Architect as your blog post editor. It provides a ton of power and flexibility over the default editor.

I’m not going to give a full rundown of Thrive Architect here since that’s not our purpose. However, the gist is this…

Thrive Architect will provide you full, visual control over the look and feel of your site without any need to learn coding.

Everything is drag-and drop. To edit any particular element, you just click on it and edit the properties. Everything is “what you see is what you get”.

Like any software, there will be a little learning curve to get used to how to use it, but trust me it is infinitely easier than trying to deal with CSS and PHP code to hack a theme the traditional way.

With Architect, you can be self-sufficient with the look and feel of your site without sacrificing the quality.

How does Architect compare with something like Elementor? Well, it compares very well. 🙂 That said, clearly Elementor surpasses Architect when it comes to third-party integrations. But, when working within the Thrive Suite, Architect is a real powerhouse and, in my opinion, more streamlined for day-to-day usage.

Thrive Optimize

Thrive Optimize

Thrive Optimize is another plugin that essentially tacks right onto Thrive Architect. It enables full A/B split testing and conversion tracking right within your own site.

If you’re not aware of what split testing is, it simple means that you split your traffic between 2 different versions of the page so that you can see which one converts better. You run a test, find the winner, make the winner your new default version, then repeat. This constant process of gradual improvement over time is how you put together landing pages that convert like crazy.

Traditionally, setting up a simple A/B split test could be a little daunting. Some more expensive software has it built in. Or you are left trying to figure out how to set up an experiment with Google Analytics. And the Google documentation is, shall we say, not a fun read? 🙂

Thrive Optimize allows you to set this up all in-house. It will take care of the whole enchilada and it is pretty easy to use for non-techies.

Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads, from Thrive Suite

Thrive Leads is the opt-in form manager plugin. You will use it to manage all of your optin forms across your entire blog.

It has the ability to insert opt-in forms anywhere you please. It will measure performance, conduct split tests all right within your Wordpress site. It even makes lead magnet delivery easy.

What I personally really enjoy about Thrive Suite tools is how they all integrate with one another. So,  if you have opt-in forms designed in Leads, you can easily (for example) drag and drop that form into any blog post using Thrive Architect.

I compared Thrive Leads to OptinMonster and, in my opinion, Thrive Leads comes out on top. That said…

When it comes to Thrive Leads versus ConvertBox, it was a different story. Thrive Leads is probably the best option for Wordpress, but a hosted app like ConvertBox is easier to use and has more capability. And, for that reason, I switched. That said, Convertbox does cost more money. Thrive Leads is part of Thrive Suite and continues to be one of the strongest values for your money.

Thrive Ovation

Thrive Ovation, from Thrive Suite

We all know that social proof (like testimonials) is a pretty important component of conversion. But, many of us make the mistake of not asking for testimonials. Plus, if we happen to get one, where do we store it? How do we use it?

Thrive Ovation is a testimonial manager. What it will do for you is:

  • Give you easy forms  you can have on your site to automate testimonial collection
  • Allow you to manage and organize testimonials right inside Wordpress
  • Allow you to easily display testimonials anywhere on your site.

I have a number of testimonials in my system. When I am creating a landing page, I can easily drag and drop testimonials right into my page. You can customize everything with Architect. You can select testimonials to show… or even show them dynamically.

You can truly create an automated system for gathering testimonials on autopilot.

Thrive Ultimatum

Thrive Ultimatum, from Thrive Suite

Another important component of conversion is urgency. And one of the most classic tools for urgency is the deadline timer. Thrive Ultimatum makes urgency in your marketing easy.

With Thrive Ultimatum, you can have classic deadline countdown timers, recurring countdowns, or evergreen campaigns. For instance, let’s say that you wanted every new subscriber to have their own personal deadline for an offer you were making right after they subscribe to your lead magnet. Using Ultimatum, you can set that up and it will be fully enforced for every subscriber (no fake scarcity).

Thrive Ultimatum makes real scarcity easy. It all integrates together so you can easily put it anywhere you please. And simply put, it will increase your sales and commissions.

Certainly, Thrive Ultimatum is not the only solution for countdown timers. But, in my opinion, it is the best option currently available for Wordpress.

Thrive Apprentice

Thrive Apprentice, from Thrive Suite

If you want to get into offering online courses, Thrive Apprentice is going to make you a happy business owner. It completely solves the problem of how to organize and display online courses on your site.

Create beautiful lesson pages, organize them into chapters and modules, and provide full progress tracking. It integrates with all the major membership site plugins and has a deep integration with SendOwl. Of course, I was a little surprised they focused so much on Sendowl, but it also integrates with several membership site plugins, Thrivecart and WooCommerce.

Also cool is that Apprentice will work with other themes. But…

Thrive Apprentice now has a full visual theme builder just like Theme Builder. It works beautifully with Theme Builder itself. This makes Apprentice perhaps the most visually flexible and easy-to-customize online course platform out there. I consider it rather groundbreaking in that department.

As a full LMS, it definitely has differences from powerhouses like LearnDash. But, for most people, Apprentice will work well.

If you’re going to get into online courses (either as paid products or even as free ones to build your list), Thrive Apprentice is a solid solution.

Further Reading: Thrive Apprentice Review: What’s It Like To Build An Online Course With This Tool?

Thrive Quiz Builder

Thrive Quiz Builder, from Thrive Suite

Online quizzes have become popular for viral marketing on social media. They also make great list building tools. Based on their answers, you can offer them specific opt-ins and segment your list.

The problem with quizzes has always been that it requires either custom programming or a more expensive tool. Thrive Themes has a tool for this called Quiz Builder.

Using Quiz Builder, you can create pretty awesome online quizzes to amplify your list building or just get viral traffic. You can give them different calls to action depending on their answers. You can use quizzes as surveys.

Honestly, the fact that they’ve built a way to do this right inside of Wordpress is pretty freakin’ impressive. I have personally hand-coded stuff like this in the past. Quiz Builder would have saved me literally DAYS.

Thrive Headline Optimizer

Thrive Headline Optimizer, from Thrive Suite

Your blog post headline is the most important part of your whole blog post. And most of the really smart content marketers out there SPLIT TEST blog post headlines.

Of course, I admit that I usually don’t. But, that’s another story. 😉

That’s exactly what Headline Optimizer does. For any blog post you write, you can come up with multiple headlines for it and Optimizer will split test them to find out which one pulls in the most traffic.

Which post headline gets the most clicks? Which one results in more engagement on the post? You can find out with Headline Optimizer.

This plugin is sometimes forgotten in the Thrive Suite, but it is pretty cool.

Thrive Comments

Thrive Comments, from Thrive Suite

There is a debate out there on whether blog comments are worth having. There are cases to be made either way. That said, if you’re going to have comments on our blog, shouldn’t it count for your marketing?

Thrive Comments is, essentially, a replacement for the default comments system. It provides far more capability (like upvoting, etc.), but it also turns comments into part of your conversion strategy. For instance, you can give them a call to action if they post a comment such as to share the post or optin to your list.

Thrive Comments turns your blog comments into a marketing tool.

Thrive Clever Widgets

Thrive Clever Widgets, from Thrive Suite

This is one of their older plugins, but serves a pretty cool function if you have a blog sidebar. It allows you to put conditional logic on any sidebar widget to control exactly where it does and does not appear.

Want to have a widget only show up on certain posts, certain categories, certain tags? That’s what this does. Or, you could exempt widgets from showing up in certain instances. For instance, maybe you have a login widget in your sidebar but it would make no sense to show it if they’re already logged in. Using Clever Widgets, you can hide it for logged-in users.

This plugin can be handy in some instances, although some of it’s functionality has been taken over by other plugins. For instance, all of this capability is built right into Thrive Leads so that you can have full control of where all your optins show up.

Thrive Automator

Thrive Automator

Thrive Automator is the newest addition to Thrive Suite. And, as of this writing, it is still in beta. But, where this is going is going to be big for Thrive Suite users.

It is a big automation plugin that, once more developers do their thing, is going to make the Thrive Suite work seamlessly with a lot of options that are not part of Thrive Suite.

For more on this, you can check out my initial video I made on the day Thrive Automator was announced.

An Evaluation Of The Cost Of Thrive Suite

In early 2021, Thrive Themes bundled all of their plug-ins and theme builder into Thrive Suite and discontinued selling products individually. I’m sure this has simplified things for them, but it actually works out quite favorably for you.

NOTE: Since this review was posted, Thrive Themes has brought back the option to purchase these plugins individually. See my post about the Thrive Themes pricing changes.

The Thrive Suite is, in my opinion, the best “bang for your buck” out there for any Wordpress-based online business owner.

Now, I want to make the case as to why. Their membership is billed at $299/year. When you’re bootstrapping in the initial phases of your business, that could feel like a tough nut to crack.

I want to be as direct as I can here…

The value for the money that you will get with Thrive Themes is unlike you will find anywhere else.

The reason I so strongly recommend a Thrive membership is because for one investment, you get access to quality tools that will give you:

  • The ability to build any site layout you want using one, universal platform.
  • The ability to design any landing page you want (and you will need this to build your business)
  • The ability to build a real, high conversion optin strategy across your entire site.
  • The ability to do split testing to perfect your results over time.
  • The ability to build online courses
  • The ability to use quizzes for your online marketing.
  • The ability to do advanced evergreen marketing funnels, all within Wordpress.

In terms of the efficient use of limited startup capital, this is the best deal you will find.

And they most definitely earn their money. Thrive Themes releases new updates to their software almost every week. When they promise updates, this isn’t something you’re going to see just a few times per year like some other companies. The Thrive Themes developers are busy. 🙂

With the Thrive Suite, you can lock it all in for $299/year. You get every tool they have. You get access to their Thrive University training site. Plus, the membership allows you to use their tools on up to 5 different sites! All the standalone prices above are for just one site.

The amount of marketing strategy that you can implement using this suite of tools makes it a better deal than anything else I have seen. That’s why I believe it is a no-brainer for anybody looking to build or grow a real business on top of Wordpress.

Access to this course is FREE as a bonus if you purchase Thrive Themes via our affiliate link. Click here to learn more.

Why Thrive Suite Versus The Competition?

Despite my recommendation, I have had people go with other options. Some people have looked at that initial $299 purchase of their membership and they try to avoid it.

But, let us look at the comparisons here…

  • OptinMonster. A direct competitor to Thrive Leads. To get an OptinMonster account that is equivalent to what Thrive Leads does will cost you $29/month paid annually ($348/year). While OptinMonster is nice, the pricing is more expensive than an entire Thrive Suite. It is a no-brainer, really. Click here for the full comparison.
  • Elementor. Elementor is a page builder that competes directly with Thrive Architect. It is cheaper, at only $49 for one site. For more sites, the price goes up. Also, while Elementor is robust, it is harder to use. It is certainly the closest option to Architect, tho. You can read my comparison of Architect and Elementor here.
  • LeadPages. Some find themselves looking at LeadPages as an easy option for landing pages. But, don’t get me started with this thing. While they have a nice platform, it is severely overpriced in my opinion.
  • Elegant Themes & Divi. Divi is a full site builder and it is indeed very powerful. The pricing is also quite favorable. Thing is, Divi is really difficult to use. At least, I found it that way. You can read my experience with Divi here. In terms of ease of use, it doesn’t hold a candle to Thrive Theme Builder or Architect. Not to mention… all the other functionality you get with the Thrive Suite.

There are others. Some of them even free. But, they generally don’t stack up in terms of features. Plus, they don’t have the suite of tools that Thrive does. That’s the thing about the Thrive membership… you’re not just getting optin forms, you’re getting the whole SUITE.

I’ve seen some of the major third-party all-in-one tools. For instance, Clickfunnels has become popular and it is a nice tool, to be sure. It also costs $97/month, so do we need to get into what the better bang for the buck is here? Plus, you’re totally dependent on Clickfunnels. With Thrive, you’re using Wordpress and you’re in control of everything. You’re not locked into anything.

Any Negatives?

When you consider the return on investment, no. That said, like anything, there are always little things to keep in mind.

I wish Thrive Architect had the ability to have third-party extensions. Elementor does that and, as of this writing, Architect does not. I’ve been told the company is open to it, however. So, we’ll see what happens in the future.

Support is pretty good, for the most part. It is all done via a forum that has both public and private elements. It works nicely. That said, there have been times where I thought the person answering the ticket was a little too templated in their response and was giving me generic answers. I will say, though, that they are responsive. One time I reported a bug with Architect that was keeping me from using shortcodes from Membermouse as button links. They confirmed it… and fixed it in a later release of Architect. So, they definitely pay attention.

I have also noticed a little bit of code bloat with pages built with Architect. When you “View Source” and look at the HTML, there’s some… nasty code in there sometimes. This is just me being a bit of a perfectionist, however. In the end, it doesn’t slow down the site and everything works in different browsers. Since that is the goal of a page builder, it does that job well. If I were to hand-code it, however, it would be thinner code. Of course, the whole point of Architect is that I don’t have to hand-code a thing. 🙂

They did recently do Project Lightspeed to increase the efficiency of the code.

Thrive Suite Review Final Thoughts

It is easy in this market to assume that everything is done for affiliate commissions. I hope that experience with me has shown that I never recommend something to my readers solely for that purpose. I have certain requirements before I ever recommend something – one of them being my own personal experience. If I wouldn’t buy it myself, I could never recommend it to you.

I am a Thrive member. I use their tools in my business. I would never consider cancelling because I feel I get way more value from them each year than I pay.

And in this post, I hope I’ve made the case for why I think this is a super smart buy for you, too. Even with limited funds to invest.

Nothing in my training requires the use of Thrive tools. You can, of course, choose any tools you wish to do the job.

For the most budget setup that will give you a ton of horsepower, you could couple Thrive Suite with WooCommerce for taking payments on your site and FluentCRM for your email. This combination will work together beautifully.

And don’t forget, you’ll get a FREE course as a bonus if you purchase Thrive Themes via our affiliate link. Click here to learn more.


  1. Good presentation, David. I’ve used Thrive Themes for a few years myself and I too love it.
    I will admit I’ve spent a LOT of time figureing out how to do various things but in the end it isvery neat. As others have said, their support is great.
    You didn’t mention Shane! I love watching his videos. It’s almost worth the price of the subscription just to watch his presentations! (You mileage may vary, of course.)

  2. What 3rd party payment processor do you recommend to collect payment from your site customers (i.e. buying one of your courses?) Paypal or Stripe or….? Thank you!

  3. Thanks for the article on Thrive Themes. I’ve been contemplating on whether or not to make the investment on them. However, now understanding the purpose of my blog and creating my business, I’m definitely gonna make the purchase.

  4. David;

    I bought a subscription to Thrive Themes and I have to say that my initial impressions are that I love it. They have excellent training videos and once I actually understood how their support team gets back to you (by you opening a ticket and then checking your membership panel or whatever they call it to see their response to your ticket) I have to say they are quick and helpful so far for anything I’ve had issues with.

    That being said, there is one issue that troubles me about it. And I wonder what your thoughts are about this.

    When I edit a page or post in my WordPress editor, I can edit either with the way I used to do it or by selecting “edit with the Thrive Themes editor.” But what shows in one window (standard editing) doesn’t show in the other window (the thrive themes editor).

    For this reason, I don’t feel like I know how it works. Worse yet, I feel that now that I’m venturing down this road of using Thrive Themes to edit my web site, if I ever wanted to change to a different way of doing it or switch to a different vendor for a similar product, I don’t see how my data is contained or maintained.

    In a worst-case scenario, if Thrive went out of business, is there any feasible way to capture what I developed in the “thrive themes” option and archive it, migrate it, capture it to do in the regular editor or the like?

    And when I update a page or edit or create a page, how does my wordpress site decide which “version” to display? I assume that is controlled by the Thrive Themes plug-in too?

    Not knowing how it works leaves me feeling like I am now at their mercy. In other words, if I don’t like bluehost (and I”m getting iffy about them) I can have siteground help me migrate my site to their hosting and all would be good.

    But what do I actually “have” with the thrive themes setup and how safe/transportable/alternative-friendly is it?

    Hope I didn’t over-explain. But that is a concern for me. Thoughts?


    1. It is a valid concern, but my understanding is that it isn’t a problem. You are correct in that the Thrive editor isn’t going to display anything you do inside of the main Wordpress editor. This is, in fact, a good thing because the Wordpress editor would inevitably screw up anything you built with Architect. 🙂 So, essentially, Architect has a little switch in there that tells Wordpress what the editor is for the content. And, you can flip back and forth. You either use the WP editor… or you use Architect. But, not both.

      Inside the database, though, I believe the content is all stored in the same place. So, if you ever stopped using Thrive, the content would still be there. Of course, if you de-activated Architect, while the content would still be there, any stylesheets and stuff likely wouldn’t be so it would probably look really weird, but you wouldn’t lose content. Secondly, even if Thrive went out of business, it isn’t as if the plug-ins will just stop working. They are installed locally to your website.

      Hope that makes sense.

  5. Great review—thanks David! I have already signed up for Thrive but haven’t started doing anything with it.

    My main reason for switching is that my WordPress database is pushing 4 years old, and has junk data from dozens of of old plugins that we no longer use—yet that still cause conflicts and errors even after being deactivated and deleted.

    Eager to start fresh with an integrated suite! And yes, to stop needing obscure Genesis code snippets to do anything 🙂

  6. First off. Thanks David for sifting through a lot of this overwhelming information and products for website business development. I have a question though, are Thrive Themes, the themes themselves easy to use? Is it a type of drop in, visual setup? Programming? I am completely green with all this website. web marketing, and all of it.
    I have surely been dragging my feet, but at least learning some each day and trying to have a solid base to start. I want to do the products things, but also a membership type deal that is a long the lines of interaction between me an the members. Oh, my focus here is photography. @Tony

  7. Just a quick note on the price comparison, the Genesis/StudioPress themes can be used on client websites on the condition that the developer provides the support, which is great for me when I create client sites because I can access the entire StudioPress library and just get on with it.

    Thrive’s Agency Membership for $228 per year is only for use on your own sites.

  8. Thrive is awesome. I’ve tried leadpages, 10 minute funnels, click funnels, optimize press, and instapage.

    While it isn’t a “funnel builder” per se, you can definitely create funnels with it.

    For everything it does, customer support, and constant innovations in staying up to date with trends, its VERY reasonably priced.

    Awesome software!

  9. I love Thrive Themes. They’re the longest I’ve ever stayed with a theme. I swapped to Divi because I was building a client site in it, and I wanted to use the theme to get a feel for the quirks. 2 months later and I’m itching to get back to Thrive. I miss it so much! The ability to deploy a sales funnel in 45 minutes, all fully branded is just a-mazing. I cannot imagine using anything else

    1. I’m currently using Divi & have not used Thrive Themes. So I’m really curious as to what made you switch to Divi and why you’re itching to switch back to Thrive Themes.


      1. I swapped as I’m building a site for a client in Divi. If the client has questions about the site functionality I want to be able to answer them. For example I can have category based optins in focus areas on Thrive in 2 clicks, maybe 3. To have the closest thing in Divi I need to add the single post php file into the child theme, then create a layout and then add the layout IDs to the file. This gives me a custom header on a single post where I can add an optin, but I can’t segment them at source like I can with Thrive. Thrive has it’s moments where I can’t make it look as good as I could in Divi, but the advantages Thrives gives me far outweighs the prettiness aspect. The speed advantage it gives me is hard to compete with.

        1. Yep. That’s the thing with Thrive… you’re getting a lot more than just some themes. 🙂 Thrive Leads is a highly flexible opt-in form manager.

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