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So you’ve heard of this thing called Podia, it’s about half the cost of typical online course platforms, and you’re wondering:
Is this cheaper alternative going to be just as good as a Teachable, Thinkific, or Kajabi?
I work with a lot of course creators as clients and have seen how well (or not so well) most of the online course platforms out there work.
There are positives and negatives to all of them, so it made sense for me to put together a Podia review to help people make the right decision.
There are 5 types of tools that Podia claims to replace platform:
- Membership Sites
- Email marketing
- Live chat
And while the Podia platform can replace a lot of those tools, it might not be in your best interest to replace them all. I’ll explain more below.
Podia Pricing Plans
Let’s start with a review of Podia’s pricing. When you go to sign up for Podia, you’ll see two main plan options:
The Mover Plan ($39/mo)
This Mover plan allows you to build your own website, use Podia to host your online courses, promote and sell your digital downloads, sell access to webinars and pre-recorded videos, and you can use Podia’s email marketing features.
Some things you cannot do with the Mover plan are:
- Run a membership site
- Integrate with Zoom
- Have a blog hosted on their site
- Use offsite buy buttons (that you host on your site)
- Use their affiliate tools
- Add third party code (like a Facebook pixel, Sumo, Olark chat, and more)
That last one is kind of a bummer and would be a non-starter for me. But, if you’re just getting started and you aren’t running Facebook ads yet, then it might be worth it. Once you start selling a few products a month, you’ll probably pay for the upgraded Podia plan by itself.
The Shaker Plan ($79/mo)
The Shaker plan is the upgraded Podia plan that includes all of the features and functionality they have. I’ll detail these more in this review below.
The Earthquaker Plan ($179/mo)
The Earthquaker has the same functionality as the Shaker plan, but includes much more personal support, 5 team member accounts, and ongoing calls with the higher tiered members and Podia staff.
It also comes with a higher email subscriber allowance (50,000) instead of the 20,000 you get with the Shaker plan.
Transaction Fees – $0 = FREE99 = No Fees
The really important question when it comes to online course platforms is how much does the platform charge in transaction fees?
As you scale your business, these small fees will start to eat away at profits, and that’s no fun at all.
Thankfully – Podia doesn’t charge transaction fees
And that goes for both the Mover and the Shaker plans.
I love this part of Podia because it’s the way it should be. As a course creator, you’re already getting charged credit card transaction fees and you have to pay for the course platform itself.
When you compare this to Teachable, you’re saving around 5% every single time you make a sale.
It adds up!
There are a lot of “pros” to using Podia, some of which include:
- No transaction fees
- Pricing is affordable
- Easy to use
- Modern, professional design
- Unlimited courses
- Unlimited students
- Excellent help when onboarding
- Their team even helps migrate you from other platforms FREE (up to 2,000 customers)
- Payment plan options
- Recurring subscriptions (so this can be used for a membership site too)
- Embeddable buy buttons
- Can use custom domains
- Built in email marketing so you can email students when they reach certain milestones
- Their customer support is top-notch
While there are a lot of great features to Podia, this wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t list out some of the cons as well:
- No standalone community aspect – this might be a limitation if you are building a membership site
- No phone support
- Doesn’t have completion certificates (not a huge deal IMO)
- There is no free plan – I had to call it out, but honestly if you’re making any sales at all, it should pay for itself pretty quick.
As with so many softwares on the internet these days, Zapier is kind of a necessity when trying to link two together.
While Podia does have some built-in integrations, combining it with Zapier is where it really shines.
Some of the more common ones are integrations that transfer customer information over to your email marketing service or online cart platform when someone purchases from you.
Some of the more popular integrations between Podia and Zapier are:
These integrations come in handy if you need to house customer data outside of Podia to deliver any bonuses or add them to your email marketing lists.
Podia has a ton of features and functionality you can use to ramp up your online course business. Here are just a few of my favorites.
Podia allows you to create as many coupon codes as you want. These can be a great way to drum up more sales, or give your long-time email subscribers a discount for being so awesome.
But if you’ve been on the internet for any amount of time you know they get distributed pretty quickly through apps like Honey and Rakuten.
So it’s nice to set end dates for them, or give each person a unique code so a coupon can’t be used more than once.
Podia allows you to do ALL of the things when it comes to coupon codes:
- Custom Coupon Codes – You can set specific coupon codes (code: CHENELLSBIRTHDAYSALE)
- Auto-Generated Coupon Codes – You can have codes automatically generated (code: 23jd83dj).
- Product Specific Coupons – You can choose which products the code applies to
- Entire Store Coupons – You can set up codes that are able to be used on everything you sell
- End Dates – You can set a code to expire at a specific time, on a specific date, or is able to be used until you turn it off.
- % or Value – You can give a % off of products, or a specific dollar amount.
- Coupon Limits – You can set a limit on the number of times a coupon can be used. Or you can leave that option alone and allow it to be used any amount of times.
The options Podia gives for coupon codes are pretty great. You can review analytics on the website for coupon usage at any time and in a few different ways. There aren’t many downsides here except for one thing.
Once you set up a coupon, you can’t really edit it after the fact. You can turn it off and start a new one, but you can’t change anything about them after they’re created.
I’m pretty sure this was done so it wouldn’t impact the stats they give you on usage, but if you mess up with the code or any of the options, you’ll need to archive the old code and create a new one.
Certificates of Completion
A certificate of completion is like a piece of paper you can give students who have finished your course to print out or send to their boss if this was a work requirement, etc.
Podia does not offer certificates of completion for your students. But, they do provide instructions and a free template for you to create your own. You can setup a template and have Zapier do the work of sending out completion certificates to students.
Most course creators don’t need this functionality, but it is something to call out for those of you who are looking for this option.
Selling Products With Podia
Products within Podia are essentially anything you can sell – it can be a digital download, a course, multiple courses, webinars, videos or a combination of any or all of the above content.
Podia makes it really easy to combine different products together for you to offer your customers.
Membership Sites with Podia
Podia isn’t just an online course platform, you are able to create a membership site as well. You can use gated content and have as many membership levels as you want.
You can set up digital content that is accessible via specific membership levels. You can set up private posts that only certain levels can see as well.
Multiple Membership Levels
It’s not just free or paid either. You can setup a bunch of tiers for memberships (unlimited to be exact) so you can have a free plan, a $5/mo plan, a $25/mo plan, and then your mom can give you $50/mo because she’s scared you can’t pay rent since you work for yourself on the information highway. 🙂
Webinars & Live Videos
Are you regularly running webinars for audience? With Podia you can sell your webinars or give them away for free.
If you’ve created a lot of video content in the past, you can also sell access to that or offer it to your current email list for free.
You can also sell the live version, and then make sales down the road of the same webinar so your video doesn’t go into the content graveyard. RIP.
You can also sell digital downloads with Podia. A digital download are digital products (not necessarily online courses) such as PDFs, checklists, templates, e-books, and more.
In the past, if you were just selling digital downloads, you’d need to cobble together Gumroad or Shopify Lite with your website in order to sell one-off products.
With Podia, you can now get rid of those subscriptions as well. And the platform is a little more robust as well, allowing you to create sections within the products, almost like a mini-course.
You can also set start dates, enrollment dates, and integrate with other email service providers.
You can bundle multiple products and courses together to create bundles that you can sell on Podia. So if you have a “basic” version of your course, but also a more advanced version, you can sell those separately without having to create 2 different courses and re-upload all of the same content.
If you’re building out a membership site, you can also give away free trials so people can test it out before they buy. While this is one of the features might not be for everyone, when you need it, it’s nice to have!
If you’re selling online courses that are high-ticket items, you’ve probably considered setting up payment plans for your courses or products. With Podia, you can set these payment plans up for customers to purchase using Stripe.
Payment plans are one of the great Podia features to have in your toolbox as you scale your business and increase your prices. Being able to split larger payments up into 3 or 6 month installments can help drive more customers.
Using Podia’s upsell features, you can also add other products or courses to upsell after someone has purchased one of your products.
When you’re a digital products creator, increasing customer value is important. Podia works well with this and you can usually find an easy way to add value for your customers.
Podia does allow you to run email marketing campaigns through their platform.
Their platform has all kinds features you’d want in an email marketing platform:
- Segmenting customers based on products purchased
- Automated emails
- Email address capture forms
- Email analytics – seeopen rates, click throughs, conversions, etc.
- Drip campaigns – create email sequences for specific segments of your audiences that help you move them toward converting
These are all great features. But here is where I disagree with them telling you that you can get rid of your typical email marketing provider.
While it’s amazing that you can send out custom emails to people who have purchased your products, and drip content to customers, I would really caution you against using it for all of your emails that you’re sending.
Here’s why: as your business evolves and changes, you might end up going with another course platform. When you’re so tied into the one you’re using, changing is that much harder.
You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you either have to pay a consultant an arm and a leg to help you switch, or it’s just too complicated and you end up sticking with the platform you’re on just because you can’t see how you can make the change.
Affiliate Programs in Podia
Want to enable people to review your products and courses, and refer their friends or own website audience and earn a slice of the pie? Podia makes it easy for you to do this on your website.
Once your turn on Podia’s affiliate tools on, you can set commissions terms (either a % or $ amount per sale) and decide how often you want to pay out affiliates with Paypal.
As of writing this review, cookies for affiliates last for 15 days, and this cannot be changed. I would hope that in the future they’ll review that policy and let you change the timeframe.
You must have the Shaker plan ($79/mo) to be able to use the affiliate tools in Podia.
Custom Domains & Subdomains
You can change the subdomain for your Podia website to be something relevant for your business.
But the true power here comes with custom domains.This is definitely something to add to the “pros” column.
This requires a little technical setup, but instead of your online courses and digital products living on hustletostartup.podia.com, you can have them live on courses.hustletostartup.com.
This looks way more professional and offers a more seamless experience for your customers to review too.
Posts & Messaging
Posts allow you to give your customers updates on what’s new in your business, different than an email marketing tool.
This is kind of like a Patreon type of feature within Podia. You can update people and decide whether everyone can see it, or if you just want certain membership levels to see it.
Messaging is what Podia calls their live chat functionality. You can chat with customers in real-time and decide to reach out if someone is on a specific page, or you can message a specific student!
You can also choose to enable the messaging feature to only be for logged in customers or everyone (but that could get a little overwhelming).
Podia offers unlimited video hosting for any videos in your products on courses. So with this, you can essentially get rid of your Vimeo plus account or Wistia. While some of the features aren’t as robust as some other video hosting options, it is free with all plans.
Podia allows you to connect Paypal and Stripe to allow your students to pick whether to pay with credit cards and bank accounts.
This is pretty standard as far as features with a course platform, but it’s always good to make sure these are options for you.
User Interface and Design Options
I love when things on the internet just look nice. They don’t need to be complicated, and Podia seems to know this all too well.
Their user interface is one of my favorite in terms of online courses – even the Podia website looks nice. The customization options they offer are pretty robust, although some people think they are limiting. When you’re trying to get something live that looks good, I think Podia does this well.
Podia’s Customer Support
Speaking of live chat, Podia’s live chat agents and customer service are top-notch.
There are lots of rave reviews of the live chat support Podia offers. Heck, they’ll even migrate your entire course and students for free from another online course platform.
While their customer service representatives are very responsive and super helpful, as I mentioned above you can’t exactly call anyone. If customer support via phone is one of the features you were looking for – you’ll want to go with another course platform.
So Podia sounds great, but you need other features or want to compare it to other alternative platforms, right? Here are some main differences between Podia and these online course platforms:
Kajabi vs Podia
Some main differences between Podia and Kajabi are:
- Podia is either $39/mo or $79/mo (I go into detail about Podia’s pricing plans here)
- Kajabi starts at $149/mo and runs all the way up to $300/mo
Kajabi charges based on all kinds of things like # of contacts, number of products, # of visitors, etc.
It’s freaking expensive.
With that price tag, you can pretty much put your entire website on Kajabi. This is a great feature if you like simplicity, but man oh man are you going to be stuck on that platform for a while.
But that should make it easier for you to decide: are you looking for an all-in-one option, or do you want to just host your courses?
Thinkific vs Podia
- Podia is either $39/mo or $79/mo
- Thinkific is either $0, $39/mo, $79/mo, or $399/mo
Thinkific offers a free plan for those just getting started, but they also have an almost $400/mo plan for once you grow your online course business quite a bit. While another Podia review mentioned Thinkific being top-notch, I just don’t agree wholeheartedly.
As a user, I just don’t like Thinkific and cringe when someone offers a course on it that I want to take. It’s just not for me. But I’m an audience of 1 so don’t let that deter you – Thinkific has a lot of functionality that Podia doesn’t offer yet…with an almost identical pricing structure. With Thinkific, you can setup course certificates.
Teachable vs Podia
- Podia is either $39/mo or $79/mo
- Teachable is either $29/mo, $99/mo, or $249/mo
Teachable charges transaction fees on that lower plan as well, so while it may seem cheaper up front, those 5% fees add up quick.
Also, I’m going to start getting signatures from course creators on the internet to petition Teachable to figure out a better login flow. Good lord, I understand the internet and can never figure out if I need a school or myTeachable login – it’s SO confusing.
But content creators love Teachable because they have a great community and it just works (once you get logged into the right website of course).
Kartra vs Podia
- Podia is either $39/mo or $79/mo
- Kartra is either $99/mo, $199/mo, $299/mo or $499/mo
This is similar to Kajabi in terms of functionality and pricing. Kartra is a favorite for a lot of people who want a full, all-in-one funnel system. Here’s my problem with it, it always seems SO slow to load, especially the popup forms for collecting an email address. I wouldn’t want my entire website and course content hosted on a platform like that.
You can do a lot with Kartra, and their sales page lists all of those things out, but it’s just not for me.
Clickfunnels vs Podia
- Podia is either $39/mo or $79/mo
- Clickfunnels has pricing plans at $97/mo, $297/mo, or $2,497/mo
If you’re looking to host courses and digital downloads, I’d choose something a little more robust than Clickfunnels. While it’s a great landing page builder and funnel creator, it kind of falls short when it comes to hosting online courses.
That highest level of pricing is for people in the 2 comma club, which is for people making $1 million online.
Podia Review Final Thoughts
So you’ve seen some of the downsides to Podia (not a great community platform, no course completion certificates) but Podia does have a lot of features to offer online creators who build courses and digital products.
In my opinion, Podia is a great platform to use whether you’re a beginner or advanced creator. You can publish content for different membership levels, setup payment plans, and allow your customers to sell for you with affiliate links. The pros outweigh the cons for me in terms of the features Podia offers.
Podia is not the option for you if you’re looking for a sales funnel builder or need phone support. If you primarily sell memberships instead of courses, you might want to look elsewhere since the community aspect is currently lacking a bit.
While you can build sales pages, they’re not as sophisticated as a Clickfunnels or other funnels platforms.
Podia makes it really easy to use their platform and make it look like it lives on your website, not some third party site. The user experience is great, and it allows you to do most things a Teachable or Thinkific does, while also giving you enough customization options to make it your own.
You can sign up for a 14-day free trial and start using Podia today.
Related: here is a breakdown of the best online course platforms.