Earlier this year, I started researching online course platforms.

I had created and launched my first two online courses 9 months prior, and was hosting them on a password-protected page on my website. I worried about how secure my content really was and wondered what the user experience was like for my students.

I decided it was time to look into an online course-hosting platform.

In true Rory Gilmore fashion, I spent a few days researching and making lots of pros-and-cons lists. I narrowed down my options to Thinkific, Teachable, and a relatively new platform called Podia.

Here’s a closer look at the comparisons I made between these three platforms and how, ultimately, I chose Podia.

Please note: All opinions expressed here are my own. Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you decide to sign up through any of them, I will earn a small commission. I only recommend products I use (and love!) myself. Thank you for your support!

 

THINKIFIC

  • free + 10% transaction fee

  • $39/mo + 5% transaction fee

  • instant payout

  • unlimited courses, students

  • discussion forums

  • multiple instructor profiles

  • self-directed, group, hybrid courses

  • coupons & promos*

  • drip content*

  • custom domain*

  • bulk student emailer*

*available in Essentials plan, $39/mo.

PODIA

  • $32.50/mo + no transaction fee

  • instant payout

  • unlimited courses, students, bandwidth, file size, sales

  • ability for students to comment on course content, ask questions, and interact with each other

  • very simple checkout process

  • ability to pre-sell courses and sell courses and digital products in one storefront

  • single owner/author

  • ability to host free courses

  • coupons & promos + payment plans

  • custom color/branding

  • drip content + drip emails

  • custom domain

  • ability to track student progress

  • integrated email marketing with no limits on subscribers or emails sent

  • free migration (Shaker plan or annual Mover plan)

  • ability to sell monthly and annual memberships and subscriptions*

*available in Shaker plan, $65.84/mo.

TEACHABLE

  • free + $1 + 10% transaction fee

  • $33.25/mo + 5% transaction fee

  • monthly payout

  • unlimited courses, students, bandwidth, hosting

  • discussion forums

  • multiple owners/authors*

  • ability to host free courses

  • coupons*

  • drip content*

  • Teachable-branded website

  • custom domain*

  • integrated email marketing*

  • integrated affiliate program*

*available in Basic plan, $33.25/mo.


Podia vs. Thinkific

 

Cost

The first thing that drew me to Thinkific was their free plan. I liked the idea of not having to pay a monthly fee and just paying a transaction fee on each sale. However, when I did the math on the number of sales I was currently making, 10% of every sale added up fast.

Even at their next higher plan, paying $39/month (Essentials, annual plan), they still charge a 5% transaction fee on every sale.

Podia’s consistent monthly fee of $32.50/month (Mover, annual plan) ends up being a better deal, especially as I continue to create new courses and digital products to sell.

Podia offers a free 14-day trial, and if you sign up for a plan within the first five days, you’ll get 15% for life! This brings your monthly cost down to $27.63.

Both of these platforms offer instant payouts, meaning you don’t have to wait to get paid, which is great.

Thinkific has two other plan options:

  • Business: $79/month (annual plan) + no transaction fees
    Advanced: $219/month (annual plan) + no transaction fees

Podia has one additional plan:

  • Shaker: $65.84/month (annual plan) + no transaction fees


Features

Both platforms offer unlimited courses and students, though Podia goes beyond that to include unlimited bandwidth, file size, and sales, as well.

Podia lets you customize the branding of your storefront, by uploading your logo and setting a primary color.

Podia includes hosting for both online courses and digital products in one storefront. You can also host free downloads and courses on their platform.

Podia also includes email marketing integration, with no limits on number of subscribers or emails sent. This is great for walking students through a course (you can write and schedule all the emails in advance) or following up with people who download or purchase one of your products.

Thinkific includes bulk student emailing in the Essentials plan. They also include affiliate reporting, which Podia provides at the Shaker level.

Thinkific (Essentials plan) and Podia both include:

  • use of coupons & promos

  • ability to drip content

  • custom domain integration

Looking for more? Podia also includes the ability to sell monthly and annual memberships and subscriptions at the Shaker level. Learn more about that here.


Support

Thinkific offers email and phone support. Podia offers email and live chat support (and they are super-responsive!) for all customers.


User Experience

Podia offers a very simple checkout process, meaning more conversions from potential customers.

Thinkific offers the ability for students to take quizzes and surveys and participate in a discussion forum tied to your course, which helps build community and a structured learning environment. In addition, they offer the option of creating self-directed, group, or hybrid courses, and having multiple instructors.

Podia includes the ability for students to comment on course content - ask questions, leave comments, and interact with each other - and track individual student progress so you can provide more tailored support and guidance, if needed.

 

 

Think Podia might be the
right fit for you?


Podia vs. Teachable

 

Cost

Teachable has a free plan, though they charge $1 + 10% on every transaction, which can add up quickly.

Even at their next higher plan of $33.25/month (Basic, annual plan), they still charge a 5% transaction fee on every sale, whereas Podia’s plan is $32.50/month (Mover, annual plan) with no transaction fee.

Podia offers a free 14-day trial, and if you sign up for a plan within the first five days, you’ll get 15% for life! This brings your monthly cost down to $27.63.

In addition, Teachable does monthly payouts for their Free and Basic plans (as opposed to Podia’s instant payouts), meaning you have to wait several weeks before you see your income actually appear in your checking account.

Teachable has two other plans:

  • Professional: $83.25/month (annual plan), no transaction fees
    Business: $399/month (annual plan), no transaction fees

Podia has one other plan:

  • Shaker: $65.84/month (annual plan), no transaction fees


Features

Teachable and Podia both include unlimited courses, students, bandwidth, and hosting, which is great.

Podia lets you customize branding - uploading your logo and setting a primary color to match your website. They also offer the option of hosting both online courses and digital products in one storefront. You can host free downloads and courses on Podia and free courses on Teachable.

Podia also includes email marketing integration, with no limits on number of subscribers or emails sent. This is great for walking students through a course (you can write and schedule all the emails in advance) or following up with people who download or purchase one of your products.

Teachable includes email marketing integration in their Basic plan. They also include an integrated affiliate program, which Podia provides in their Shaker plan.

Teachable (Basic plan) and Podia both include:

  • use of coupon codes

  • ability to drip content

  • custom domain integration

Looking for more? Podia also includes the ability to sell monthly and annual memberships and subscriptions at the Shaker level. Learn more about that here.


Support

Teachable offers email support at the free and Basic level. Podia offers email and live chat support (and they are super-responsive!) for all customers.


User Experience

Podia offers a very simple 2-step, checkout process, meaning more conversions from potential customers.

Teachable offers the ability for students to take basic quizzes and participate in a discussion forum tied to your course, which helps build community and a structured learning environment. In addition, they offer the option of having two instructors in their Basic plan.

Podia includes the ability for students to comment on course content - ask questions, leave comments, and interact with each other - and track individual student progress so you can provide more tailored support and guidance, if needed.

 

 

Have I convinced you?


These are the questions I asked
before choosing Podia:

 

If you’re like me, you have a long list of questions for any potential course platform.

After researching and comparing Podia, Thinkific, and Teachable, I made a list of all the questions I had for Podia about their Mover plan and sent them a long email.

I received a reply from Spencer, the CEO, within 15 minutes. I was impressed! Here are my questions and their answers:

Email Marketing

  • Are there any limits on the number of subscribers I can have or number of emails I can send?

    • No limits.

  • Can I import my current subscriber list? Can I have multiple lists/ways of tagging or segmenting people?

    • Yes, but we are not a traditional email system. You can have a general newsletter, but the email features are limited to sending and basic formatting. It's more supporting the courses/downloads/memberships.

  • Is there a way to set up email automation and drip campaigns for new subscribers (customers who buy courses or products and people who download free things)?

    • Yup! You can set up drips.

  • Are there embeddable forms I can use on my website to collect emails?

    • Yes, you can embed a general email capture form. You can style it as well.


Courses

  • Does this come with a custom domain or a way to attach it to my existing domain? How does this work with Squarespace?

  • What video player do you use inside courses?

    • We use a combo of Amazon and Wistia for hosting and Wistia for the player.

  • Is there a limit on how many students can have access to a given course? This wouldn’t affect individual experience, right?

    • No limits on anything.

  • For self-paced courses, do customers have instant access to the course once setting up an account? Is there anything I have to do from my end to give them access?

    • Yup, they'd have instant access after buying.

  • Do you require a refund policy/return period?

    • Nope. It's your Storefront, you can do whatever you want with it. 😃


Products

  • How do digital downloads work: is it an instant access link?

    • You just create the product and then the person purchases and then can download it. They'll have an account so that they can always go back.

  • Do customers have to create an account to access products? What about free things?

    • Yes, they always have to create an account. Helps to prevent SPAM.

  • How long do customers have access to digital downloads/links?

    • Forever.

 

The Church Musician Primer - an online keyboard skills class for church musicians.png
 
 
 

5 Things I Love About Podia

01 | Amazing customer service

From before I started my free trial to now, 6 months after signing up for a plan, Podia has continued to impress me with their customer service. They truly go above and beyond. Between email inquiries and live chat questions, they are extremely responsive and helpful and go out of their way to handle the back-end of my storefront, help me manage my products, and ensure my students have a great experience.

02 | 15% off for life!

This was a surprise to me. I heard a rumor about this offer in an article I read before signing up for my free trial, but I wasn’t sure if it applied to me. Sure enough, when I logged into my dashboard for the first time, there was the offer to save 15% for life if I signed up for a plan within the first 5 days of the trial. I love surprises, don’t you?

03 | One digital storefront for all my products, courses, and downloads

This is something that I think sets Podia apart from its competitors. Most platforms are limited to courses, leaving you to host other products (digital downloads, eBooks, free resources) on your website or in a digital storage space like Dropbox. I love being able to have a digital storefront that features all of my products (free and paid) in one place. Want to see what this looks like? Take a look at my storefront here.

04 | Added value, education, and resources

Every week, Podia sends out an article on a topic related to my business - marketing online courses, copywriting, course design, creating customer personas, and affiliate marketing, just to name a few. In addition, I’ve been invited to attend an exclusive webinar and access a $97 training course on how to create engaging, game-like online courses for free. Podia continues to add value by providing high-quality, educational research and insights, week after week.

05 | Extremely easy to use

The Podia platform is extremely easy to use and set up. They offer just enough customization options to design a storefront, sales pages, product listings, and course dashboards that match the look and feel of my site, without getting stuck in HTML coding and endless menus. I love the drag-and-drop functionality for setting up courses and laying out sales pages. See an example here.

 

Ready to get started?