PodiaStarts at $39 a month
Features & Functionality7.5/10
UI & Ease of use9.0/10
Pricing & value for money9.5/10
- Extremely easy to use and setup the courses & memberships
- Incredible value for money with tons of features included
- Fantastic customer support
- Unlimited email marketing & video hosting
- Although the page builder is good, availability of templates would be good to start with
- No tagging or behavioral based automation possible in email marketing
Do you have the expertise in a specific field, want to share, teach online and build a business around it? Well, there has been no better time to do it.
You can build a standalone online course, sell a digital product like an e-book or build a membership site that gives an opportunity to build an active community and earn a good monthly recurring income.
There is an incredible number of tools available that can be used to do all these. In the case of the WordPress ecosystem, there is LearnDash, TutorLMS, LifterLMS, MemberPress, WishList Member, etc. each good in a few things and not so sog in others.
Among standalone SaaS products, Teachable, Kartra, Tinkific, and Kajabi are some of the big players.
However, there is one product that has always stood out as it can do all of the online courses, membership sites, digital downloads at a great price.
And that is Podia. Why do I consider Podia to be the best among a sea of other similar products? Well, that's exactly what this review is all about. Let's dive in.
Dashboard & UI
Right from the initial sign up process and the onboarding, it is pretty clear Podia is built for and intended to be used by content builders that are new to the whole digital space.
After the initial set up, you are welcomed to the dashboard to either start with a personal bio or build your first product.
You can either start with setting up a personal bio first or get right into you building your educational product.
As illustrated, there are three options to start,
- Online course
- Digital Download.
The first thing is to name your membership based on who the audience is and what exactly are the contents inside the membership.
The next step is to build a plan for the selected membership.
The plans can either be free or prices can be set up if by connecting your Stripe or PayPal account.
It is possible to add any products including or courses already built with Podia in your account.
The membership can be connected with your Facebook account, slack or Palapa, which is a community-building platform to stay connected with your membership community at all times.
Once you have your content uploaded, it's time to build the landing page to market the membership. Podia's landing page builder is simple and intuitive.
You start off with the main storefront page which is a clean and neat canvas.
Although there are no templates available to start with, It is easy to add a lot of sections and elements with just a click of a plus button next to the element type.
The below elements are available to add in any section,
- Image with text
- Video with text
In addition, global elements like your bio and the newsletter sign-up form can also be easily added.
Each element in the section can be set to pre-defined theme styles or be completely customized to match your brand and colors.
It is possible to add multiple pages apart from the main landing page for your course or membership. Just click the add new page button. These pages could be custom about me page apart from the main bio or a contact page, etc.
There is a "powered by podia" branding at the footer. It is upto you to leave it as such, but I enquired if there is a way to remove it.
I was informed by the support team that with a one-time payment of $50 or with any annual plan, there will be an option to remove the branding completely.
Considering how affordable and cheap Podia is, I think that's a fair and reasonable price to have the branding completely removed.
Similar to other features in Podia, Email marketing is extremely simple to set up.
To start with, just name the email and select if it is a drip email sequence or a one-off broadcast email.
If it is a broadcast email, just select the email list you want to send the email to, build the content of the email, add an attachment if needed, and send it. It is as simple as that.
In case of a drip email sequence, select the trigger that should activate the sequence and the email list corresponding to the trigger.
You can get detailed stats like sent, opened, clicked, the number of sales done, bounced, unsubscribed, etc. from all the campaigns you run or just for a specific broadcast email.
It is also possible to see the list of subscribers who took these actions and easily filter through it. This will be really useful if you would want to send a follow-up email or add them to a separate sequence.
Podia lets you import upto 2,500 contacts from your current auto-responder for free. Although it would be nice to have an unlimited number of contacts imported, the limits are understandable to preserve the email servers of Podia and to ensure high delivery rates.
If you need deep tagging and automation sequences based on the tags, Kartra or Kajabi are still the better options.
If you are on the Mover plan, you can add affiliates to promote any of your courses or membership programs.
The commissions can be set up as a percentage of the sales amount or a fixed amount per sale irrespective of the sales amount.
It is also possible to set product-specific commission percentage which could be different from your regular commission percentage.
The affiliate program can be set up open for all the students or it can be invite-only and you can invite specific students whom you want to be an affiliate.
I might have stated it many times now, but the simplicity and ease of use in every feature impress me every time. Setting these all up in other platforms might take hours, while it takes few minutes in Podia.
This is a really unique feature in Podia available only in Kartra among all the online course builders.
Offering live chat support to your students would definitely offer you a competitive advantage over courses in the same niche.
You will see all the messages you receive in the messages sidebar and you can also start a conversation with a specific student.
The chat can be manually set to either online or away and also be set to automatic, which will show you online only when you are logged in to your Podia account.
It is also possible to disable messaging or to display the chat widget only to visitors when they are logged into their course or membership account.
Podia has a really good coupon generating system to offer special offers to your students.
Coupons can be generated for a percentage of the sale price or a fixed amount.
Also, coupons can be set up either for all the products across the storefront or specific courses and memberships.
You can also set up your webinars within Podia. It is possible to sell your webinar, either by pre-selling in advance or sell the access of recording, give free access or bundle it with other products and memberships.
Podia doesn't host the webinars as such, but it smartly leverages the power of YouTube. Just use YouTube live to schedule the live stream and set the stream unlisted.
The next step is to copy the URL of the live stream. Head over to the main dashboard of Podia and select Webinar under new products.
On the next page, you should be able to able to provide instructions about the webinar to the attendees. Just paste the live stream's URL in the YouTube Embed link field and you are good to go.
You can give additional information like the start and end time of the webinar and set up the time zone. It is also possible to set up automatic reminder emails. There are three email notifications that can be set.
- Email 10 minutes before the webinar starts.
- Email when the webinar starts.
- Email when the webinar ends.
Additional to YouTube, it is possible to use Zoom for webinars in Podia. The process works similar to that of YouTube, except that connecting to Zoom is relatively easier.
Even though Podia has built-in email marketing for unlimited contacts and emails, it's nice to see it have naive integration with other email marketing tools like ActiveCampaign, Aweber, ConvertKit, Drip, GetResponse, MailChimp, and MailerLite.
It is useful if you are using one of these email marketing tools for a long time and do not want to move over to Podia's native email marketing.
Stripe and PayPal are the only payment gateway integrations. Although this will cover a big majority of the users, it will be nice to have more payment gateways integrated for users in some countries who can't have access to both Stripe and PayPal.
If you are selling to EU based customers, it is possible to set the VAT settings as well.
Google Analytics and Hotjar are natively integrated for analytics and for advertising, Google ads, Facebook ads, and Pinterest ads cover most of the advertising needs.
Podia has a very simple pricing structure consisting of only two plans.
Both the plans come with unlimited products including courses and digital downloads, zero transaction charges, unlimited email marketing and in-app messaging to offer live chat support to your students.
The features that are not available in the base plan include membership sites, the ability to install third-party code on the pages, a blogging platform, and affiliate marketing to set up affiliates for promoting your products.
Both the plans offer incredible value for money as just for email marketing, you will have to pay more with dedicated email marketing tools.
More team members can be invited & added for an additional charge of $20 a month per member. The permissions to view and edit can be turned on or off for each member based on your requirements.
This is another aspect that Podia absolutely excels in. The help and support is really 5 star.
Podia offers 24 x 7 live chat support both on the website and within the dashboard and every time I got a response at a very short time with clear and concise answers.
There is a lot of text documentation and also video tutorials on how to implement the different features of Podia.
The official YouTube channel of Podia also has a lot of valuable videos, not just on Podia but on many different aspects of how to build a business with courses and memberships.
Considering the number of newcomers into the online education space who would be interested in the product, the Podia team has nailed this on.
The founder himself conducts a weekly live demo explaining the features of Podia to the new user who has registered through the website. This is not just a pre-recorded demo video, he actually comes live every week to give a demo, welcome and clear the doubts of any new user wanting to use Podia.
Super impressed with the support and have not seen any other competing platform come close in terms of the support offered.
Free tools & resources
Podia has some really cool and useful free built-in tools to start with your journey of building courses and memberships. The two free tools are,
- Sales copy generator
- Digital download generator
You can just add the details of your planned course and the tool generates a custom sales copy matching your brand and colors.
Input the details like product name, length of the course, the outcome for students and how it helps them, brief details of each lesson, benefits of the course, any testimonials if available, course image, etc. and you will be provided with a sales page with the copy generated.
This is incredibly useful for new entrepreneurs building their first course or membership.
It is the attention to detail like this on helping their users which makes Podia a really special tool and a team to work with.
The official YouTube channel of Podia also has tons of helpful videos for anyone selling courses and memberships.
Although Podia is a very good tool to build courses and memberships, there are quite a few alternatives with their own strengths.
While the likes of Teachable are obvious alternatives, there are some other lesser-known tools that are quite good as well. Let's see a few of them.
LearnWorlds offer plans starting from $29 a month with some really neat features.
You can build a complete website in LearnWorlds matching your brand with a lot of customization.
The base plan charges a fee of $5 per course sold, while there are no transaction charges in the other plans.
LearnWorlds also comes with built-in blogging, so you can have your whole business running on a single platform.
The top-end plan comes with some great features like complete white labeling, single sign-on, interactive videos, a custom mobile app for both iOS & Android, etc.
LearnWorlds also comes with a wide range of native integrations including MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Aweber, ConvertKit, HubSpot, FreshChat, Intercom, Mixpanel, SumoMe, Fomo, etc.
Mighty Networks is one of the best platforms to build a community of users for your platform or business.
You can build courses, memberships, and charge your community to join it. It is possible to set up everything in your own domain to offer a completely branded experience.
There are no limits on the number of members that can join and that provides a lot of value for your money.
One more unique and perhaps the best aspect of Mighty Networks is the availability of mobile apps for both iOS & Android that lets you be connected with your community at all times. It offers a perfect alternative to something like Facebook Groups.
Kartra is a seriously powerful platform with tons of features and automation capabilities.
Where Kartra really shines is its full-blown funnel builder with lots of fantastic templates, excellent membership site builder, and a highly powerful email marketing system.
Although Kartra offers most of the features as Podia does, there are two issues when you compare it with Podia,
Learning curve - For someone new to building an online course, Kartra has quite a steep learning curve. The platform is not easy to get a hold of immediately and takes some time to get used to.
Pricing - The base plan costs $99 a month and unlike Podia, there are limits on the number of email subscribers, email sent per month, and also the bandwidth used. When you scale up, the cost goes significantly higher.
Heights Platform offers some unique native integrations like Instagram and Unsplash. It has a good level of white labeling feature which you can use to completely brand the platform under your brand and colors.
It falls short in not offering a built-in email marketing system and also not native integration with other email marketing tools like ConvertKit, Aweber, etc.
Plans start from $49 a month and all the plans come with zero transaction charges.
If you are planning to sell physical products like merchandise for your brand along with digital products and subscriptions, Sellfy is a great option for that.
Plans start from $29 a month and come with zero transaction fees, integration with both PayPal and Stripe.
CartFlows is a WordPress plugin that works along with Woocommerce to add the functionality of building an entire sales funnel.
If you are comfortable working in the WordPress ecosystem and have a good quality web hosting account, CartFlows could be a good option to build your courses and funnels.
It is compatible with all the major page builders in WordPress like Elementor, Divi, and Brizy.
Upsell Plugin is another WordPress based plugin that can be used to build powerful pages with any well-known WordPress page builder.
You can build custom checkout pages, sell digital downloads, and subscriptions easily. It integrates natively with LMS plugins like LearnDash, Lifter LMS, and affiliate plugins like WPAffiliate to offer a full-blown membership system.
To conclude, how good is Podia, and how much I recommend it?
It is a seriously good tool and I will go as far as to say it provides the best overall value for money with tons of features for so little money.
Coupled with the excellent support and a helpful team, Podia must be the first choice for any entrepreneur wanting to build a business around their own educational or informational products.
If you need extensive tagging and automation based on the tags or need to build a lot of sales pages with the available templates, Kartra or Kajabi might be better options irrespective of their high costs.
However, if you have an idea and want to get a course of membership in the shortest time possible, nothing comes close to Podia matching its simplicity, ease of use and customer support.
What is Podia?
Podia is an easy to use tool to build online courses, membership sites, and downloadable digital products to sell.
How much does Podia costs?
There are two plans in Podia. The base-level Mover plan costs $39 a month and the higher level Shaker plan costs $79 a month.
Do I need additional email marketing tool if I use Podia to build my courses?
No, Podia has built-in email marketing for unlimited contacts and emails.
What are payment gateways available?
You can use Stripe and PayPal to link and charge for your courses and memberships.
What are the available customer support channels?
Podia offers 24 x 7 live chat assistance to all the customers regardless of the plan they are in.
What if I already have courses built in other platforms like Teachable or Thinkific?
No problems about that. Podia offers free migration of content from other platforms.