There are dozens of online course platforms in the market and some of the well-known ones include Kajabi, Teachable, and Thinkific. However, one platform that has gained a lot of attention in the last year or so is Podia.
Many creators who are interested in using Podia, ask us whether it is a viable option for creating an engaging, successful online course/membership site or not.
So, I thought I will leverage my experience of working with hundreds of course creators on different platforms including Podia and do a comprehensive review.
This isn’t a typical Podia review that you’ll find on the internet and so, I won’t just tell you why it is a good or a bad option for hosting your online courses.
Rather I will evaluate the platform based on all the important features that course creators need in order to build a successful online business.
I will also do a direct comparison of Podia with some of the major course platforms like Teachable and Kajabi.
By the end of this review, you’ll have a clear idea about what Podia has to offer and whether it is the right online course platform for your business or not.
Podia Review Summary
Podia is the simplest solution out there for creating and selling online courses and memberships. You can host and deliver your content, build a beautiful storefront and start selling them, and you can do all this in a few hours even if you have zero technical knowledge or coding skills.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use
Course Creation and Engagement
Course Creation and Engagement
Site Design and Customization
Site Design and Customization
Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing
Customer Support and Training
Customer Support and Training
What I like about Podia?
What I don't like about Podia?
Now let’s take a deeper look at the Podia platform.
(This is a super in-depth review and so, you can use this table of contents to navigate to different chapters in the guide.)
What is Podia?
Podia is an online platform that lets you create and sell online courses, memberships and digital downloads (e.g. ebooks).
So, you can host your course content, deliver it in a professional manner, build a storefront to sell your courses as well as accept payments on your website.
The first thing you need to understand about Podia is that it is very different from a marketplace like Udemy. So, you own the student data (email addresses, etc.) and you get complete control over things like pricing, refund policy, etc.
What Podia provides you is the infrastructure and the tools you need to get your courses online and start selling them.
I first got to know about the platform back in 2016 when it was called Coach. It was still at an early stage at that time and had very little to offer in terms of features for course creation and marketing.
Since then, the team has been constantly adding new features and have upgraded the platform in a big way. So, Podia is definitely a much-improved platform in 2019 compared to what it was a couple of years back.
Here’s an overview of what the platform has to offer:
The thing that stands out for me as far as Podia is concerned is its simplicity and ease of use. So, you can quickly set up your courses and your storefront even if you've little technical knowledge, and everything looks elegant out of the box.
However, this ease of use comes at the cost of flexibility. So, every feature you use in Podia, whether it’s their course builder or the page builder, you’ll find that they always prioritize simplicity over customization options.
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that Podia is still a relatively new platform and so, there are certain essential features that are either completely missing or are kind of incomplete.
We’ll discuss all the features including what’s there and what’s missing, in detail in the subsequent sections in this Podia review.
1. Course Creation and Student Engagement
Course creation and delivery is the most important job of any online learning platform and a good option should let you host your content, create course structure easily, deliver it professionally, engage your learners and enable you to track their progress.
In this section, we’ll see how Podia performs on each of these aspects of course creation. Let’s discuss content uploading and course structuring first.
Content Uploading and Structuring
With Podia, you get the ability to host your content including videos, audio files, etc. on the platform. As far as video hosting is concerned, Podia uses Wistia and offers unlimited video storage as part of your subscription.
When it comes to uploading your content, you can either do it one-by-one or you can bulk upload multiple files at once and Podia will create lessons from them automatically.
While the content uploading process is pretty straightforward, what I don’t like is that you can’t import files directly from Google Drive/Dropbox/OneDrive.
Cloud import is much faster than uploading files from your computer and is really an essential feature. This becomes even more important because Podia doesn’t have a video library.
When it comes to creating your course structure, you have two levels in Podia — sections and lessons. Lessons are where the actual content lives and sections are nothing but used to organize your course lessons.
So, every file that you upload in Podia basically becomes a lesson and then Podia’s course builder allows you to easily reorder your lessons and move them within a section or between sections as well.
The course builder is super easy to use but it lacks flexibility in terms of adding multiple content items to the same lesson.
For example, you can’t add a video and a PDF download in the same lesson. Similarly, you can’t have a quiz and a video in the same lesson.
Say if your course has a lot of downloadable resources that you want to go alongside your videos, you’ll have to create separate lessons for all of them which isn’t good.
Apart from this, there are a couple of other essential things that are missing from Podia’s course builder:
To summarize, the process of setting up a course in Podia is easy and it won't take you much time to get up and running. It’s just that their course builder isn’t very flexible and lacks a few essential features like cloud import, etc.
Content delivery (Course Player)
The course player is where your students watch your content and so its design influences your learners’ experience to a great extent.
The good thing about Podia is that it has course player which is very well-designed from a user experience point of view and at the same, it looks aesthetically quite attractive.
Your students can watch the course in the content area on the right. Then you have the “Table of Contents” in the left sidebar which your students can use to navigate through the course.
Plus there are the next and the previous lesson buttons below your content which make navigation further easy for your students.
If you have turned “Comments” on for your course, the comments area will appear nicely at the bottom so that your users can ask questions and leave a comment without leaving the course player which is how it should be.
Another thing that I like about the course player is that your students can click on the little icon at the top which hides the navigation sidebar, and the content area takes the entire space on your screen which is great for distraction-free learning.
Now, Podia has another product type called “Membership” which allows you to not just bundle your courses but you can also create individual “Posts” for your members.
These “Posts” appear separately in the membership area and they work great for delivering one-off content which doesn’t have a linear structure like online courses.
Plus you have additional options to schedule your posts, send an email notification, etc. and overall, this is a really handy feature if you want to create a membership site.
The only downside of the course area design in Podia is that there is just one default template and you can’t customize any of the design elements.
So, if you don’t like the design for any reason or want to give a unique look and feel to your course area, that won’t be possible on Podia.
Otherwise the course area design is mobile responsive (even though Podia doesn't have a mobile app) and looks professional and should work well for most course creators.
Course creators use all sorts of learning tools to engage their students and help them achieve the transformation they were promised.
Some of the popular learning and engagement tools include quizzes, course compliance, certificates, etc. Let's start with the learning tools that Podia offers.
First, it allows you to drip your course content. So, you can define a schedule for your course sections and you can create emails that will be sent to your students automatically when the content is available to them.
One handy dripping feature that Podia offers is the ability to unlock dripped course modules for specific students. So, if you want to grant immediate access to certain modules or even the entire course to certain students, you can easily do that.
Another very popular learning tool that Podia offers is Quizzes. So, you can create a multiple-choice quiz which can be useful to test your students.
Design-wise, a quiz created in Podia looks elegant but that’s all. There are many features like the ability to add images to your questions, add other question types, import questions from an external file, etc. which are missing from Podia Quizzes.
However, the biggest limitation for me is that you can’t set a passing grade for your quizzes which means you can’t automatically evaluate your students and this is the reason I call Podia’s quizzing feature incomplete.
Apart from content dripping and quizzes, Podia doesn’t really have any other learning tools. For example, you can’t create assignments and accept submissions from your students.
Similarly, it doesn’t have any content locking feature. So, if you want to restrict the progress of your students unless they’ve completed certain lessons or passed a quiz, you can’t do that on Podia.
Even when it comes to student discussions and community, you have limited options with Podia. So, the only thing that Podia lets you do is to allow you to enable a comments area in your course lessons.
It doesn’t let you create a standalone community area. While most course creators will be fine with embedded comments, it can be a limitation if you’re building a membership site and want to host a community on your own website.
Another useful tool for student engagement that’s missing from the platform is certificates of completion which means you can’t create and issue certificates to your students natively.
So in terms of learning tools, Podia has very little to offer and this is probably the weakest aspect of the platform.
Course Reporting and Analytics
Another area where Podia really lacks as an online course platform is course reporting tools. The reporting capabilities are very limited and some critical components are missing.
For example, there are no reports available for course completion or lecture completion or even for your quizzes.
You can track these for individual students for a specific course but you can’t really track any metrics at a course level or lecture level or quiz level.
Similarly, there is no analytics available for your course videos. Podia doesn’t provide you data for any of the video metrics like video engagement or play rate and so, you can’t track the performance of any of your videos.
Now, these are some very essential reporting features that we’re talking about here and most of Podia’s competitors including Teachable and Kajabi do a much better job at it.
Course Creation - The Bottom Line
Overall, Podia does an average job as far as course creation and delivery are concerned. The course builder is super easy to use and the course player is very well designed from a user experience point of view.
I also like the flexibility that Podia offers for creating a membership site. So, apart from bundling courses, you can also create 'Posts' to deliver content to your members from time to time.
However, Podia lacks quite a few important course creation features:
Having said that, if you want to create a membership site or deliver a fairly simple online course, Podia will be a good option in that case.
2. Site Design and Customization
In this section, we’ll see how Podia performs when it comes to letting your create your website on the platform.
The biggest advantage of using a hosted platform like Podia is that you don’t need to buy website hosting or SSL certificate separately or worry about any of the technical things like security, updates or maintenance.
In addition, every school built on Podia gets a free subdomain (mysite.podia.com) and you also have the option to use your own custom domain (mysite.com).
Now let’s talk about the tools that Podia offers for building and customizing your website.
When it comes to site building, the first feature that comes to my mind is Site Themes. Now, Podia doesn’t have any site themes and there is just one template that all the stores built on the platform use by default.
The only thing that you can change at the site level is colors. So, you can set a main color and also colors for background, headings, text and buttons.
In addition, you have the ability to change the default font for your body text and headings.
Apart from that, you don’t have any control over the high-level design or style of your site. For example, you can't change the style of your site header or other elements like navigation menu or buttons.
Moreover, if you’re an advanced user, there is no place where you can access your website’s backend or add some css code to modify the styling.
However, the good thing is that the default template has a clean, modern design, and your storefront and sales pages will look good out of the box.
Plus you’ll be able to customize your pages using their page builder which we’ll talk about next.
In order to customize your Podia storefront and your sales pages, you’ll have to rely mainly on their page builder.
The page builder has several pre-built elements that you can add to your page with a single click. So, you can easily create a product banner, add course description, show author bio, add FAQs, display testimonials, etc.
And then there are some basic elements like “Image with Text”, “Video with Text”, “Columns”, etc. which can be used to create custom sections for your sales page.
Plus they have these section themes which allow you to set colors for background and text at the section level and it is a really useful feature.
Overall, the page builder is super easy to use and you can create a nice looking sales page very quickly even if you have no design experience or coding knowledge.
However, not everything is so good about Podia’s page builder. First, their text editor is quite restrictive and it doesn’t let you for example, change text size or, add images and adjust spacing in between text.
Moreover, you don't have the ability to modify the spacing of various elements, add animations, show/hide specific elements on mobile vs desktop etc.
Another thing that I don’t like about it is that there is no easy way to add enrol buttons in the middle or at the bottom of your sales page.
So, the page builder isn't very flexible and you can't modify the standard design much. Otherwise, the page builder will work well for creating sales pages for your digital products.
Another thing that I would like to discuss before we close this section is site text customization. While Podia doesn't allow you to change the default site text, you have the ability to choose the language you’d like for your entire school.
Website Creation - The Bottom Line
Site building in Podia is mostly about their page builder which is super easy to use and you can create a good-looking sales page with minimal effort.
Plus their team takes care of all the technical aspects like hosting, security, etc. which is awesome.
Apart from that, it has very limited capabilities. There are no site themes available and the page builder has very limited customization options.
So, Podia is good for hosting only your sales pages but it’s not really the platform for building a fully-fledged website.
3. Sales and Marketing Tools
When it comes to sales and marketing, Podia offers you the essential tools to process payments and sell your courses.
It doesn’t offer a sales funnel builder or a full-blown email marketing solution and it makes sense because Podia isn’t really an all-in-one solution.
With that in mind, let’s explore what the platform has to offer in detail.
Product Pricing and Payment Processing
When it comes to payment processing, Podia supports both Stripe and PayPal, so your students can pay via credit/debit card as well as PayPal. Plus the money goes straight into your account (instant payouts).
As far as pricing options are concerned, it works differently with “Products” and “Memberships” in Podia.
So, your “Products” (Courses, Digital Downloads and Product Bundles) can have a one-time price and a payment plan but it isn’t possible to have a recurring price for them.
Another problem with pricing “Products” is that you can’t have multiple price points. So, if you want to sell the basic version of your course for $99 and the premium version for $199, there is no easy way to do that on Podia.
When you create a “Membership”, you do have the ability to have multiple plans and choose what Products and Posts will be available under which plan.
Plus you can price your membership either as a monthly subscription or as an annual subscription.
However, there are a few problems with Membership pricing as well:
Another issue with the way pricing works in Podia is that you can choose the currency at a store level only and all your products will be priced in the same currency.
One useful tool that Podia offers for product pricing is coupons. So, you can discount your products either by an amount or by a percentage. You can choose to create coupons that applies to all your products or specific products only.
Plus you can create direct links to your sales page that automatically applies the coupon on the checkout.
Podia has a multi-step checkout process but it’s well-optimized. Your users don’t need to create an account before making a payment plus they’re required to enter only enter a few details in order to complete the payment.
There is no real checkout page and the entire checkout happens in a popup. The upside of this type of checkout process is that your user can complete the payment without leaving the page.
Plus you can add this checkout experience to external pages outside your Podia website as well.
So, you can embed a buy button or a product card or text link on your main website and your customers can complete the checkout without leaving that website.
Another thing that I like about the checkout process in Podia is that it allows you to collect EU VAT for your courses. Under settings, you can turn on the “Collect EU VAT” option and Podia will automatically add the correct VAT amount to your course.
The EU VAT feature in Podia works like a charm which means you don’t need to use an external solution like Quaderno for EU VAT handling.
Finally, you can add a 1-click upsell to your checkout and apply a discount as well. The best part is that you can add multiple upsells for the same product.
However, there are a few downsides of the checkout process in Podia as well.
Firstly, you can’t add any conversion elements like testimonials, money back guarantee badge etc. to the checkout page. Similarly, you can’t add any videos, custom message, etc. on the upsell page.
Another criticism of the checkout process and this is totally debatable is that while the popup checkout works very well for lower-priced digital products, they might not work as well for higher ticket items.
I don’t have any data to back this up but I have never seen a top course creator using a checkout popup for their flagship courses. They all have some sort of a checkout page.
To start with, Podia offers some basic lead generation tools. So, you can add a pre-launch signup form to your sales page or, you can also add a newsletter signup form to the storefront and collect email addresses.
When it comes to email marketing, Podia allows you to send both one-off emails as well as automated emails. So, you can send an automated email campaign to your course buyers or those who join the course waitlist.
Using their campaign builder, you can create a series of emails, set the schedule for them to drip out and also define the trigger when the emails will be sent.
However, Podia’s email capabilities are really basic and it’s far from a stage where it can act as your email marketing platform. In fact, it’s not meant to replace your email service provider.
Firstly, you don’t have any real landing page capability on Podia and if you use an external lead generation tool like Leadpages, there’s no way to bring your subscribers in Podia automatically.
Secondly, Podia doesn’t have any features for list management — so you can’t tag your users or create segments.
Thirdly and most importantly, you don’t have the ability to create any automation rules and without that, you can’t do any real email marketing.
So, Podia’s email marketing features are good for sending notifications to your students or send an onboarding campaign but that’s pretty much it.
If you want to leverage affiliate marketing to promote your courses, Podia has got your covered. So, you can add affiliates to your store and Podia will create unique affiliate links for all your products.
Plus your affiliates get a private dashboard where they can access their affiliate links and track the sales and commissions.
When it comes to affiliate commissions, you can give your affiliates either a % of the sale amount or a flat commission. Plus you can customize the commision at a product level which is really handy.
Now, there are a few things about the affiliate tools that can be improved. Firstly, there is no way to upload any swipe files or assets for your affiliates.
Secondly, all your products will show on the affiliate dashboard by default and there is no way to hide specific products from showing up. The workaround obviously is to set a 0% commission for those products.
Thirdly, you can’t change the cookie tracking period for your affiliate links. Finally, there is no easy way to collect and manage tax forms from your affiliates.
Apart from that, Podia’s affiliate system is simple and has all the basic features, so it should work well for most course creators.
Another useful sales and marketing tool that Podia offers is the native 'live chat' feature which allows your site visitors and students to start a conversation with you via the widget.
Third Party Integrations
Since the inbuilt email marketing capabilities in Podia is pretty basic, you will in all likelihood use a third-party email service provider. The good news is that Podia integrates with many of the popular email marketing platforms.
It has a native integration with MailChimp, ConvertKit, Drip, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, and MailerLite.
So, when a user enrolls in one of your courses, you can pass the user information to your email service provider and add him/her to a specific list or tag.
Now, Podia has a Zapier integration as well. So, if you use of the email solutions that Podia doesn’t integrate directly with, you will still be able to pass user data via Zapier.
Plus you can use Zapier to integrate with thousands of third party apps including Accredible (certificates), Quickbooks (accounting), ClickFunnels (funnels and checkout) etc.
Sales and Marketing - The Bottom Line
Overall, Podia does a decent job as far as sales and marketing is concerned. What I like is that it has a well-optimized checkout process and that you can embed it even on an external website.
In addition, you can offer 1-click upsells, handle EU VAT, do basic email marketing as well as run your affiliate program.
However, there are a few things that I would like them to offer/improve:
Having said that, Podia offers you all the essential features you need to sell your courses and it should work fine for most people.
4. Customer Support and Training
If there is one thing that Podia has done really well right from the beginning, it has to be their customer support.
I have always heard great things about Podia’s customer support from my clients as well as my blog readers. Even during my limited interactions with them, I have always found them to be very friendly and responsive.
In terms of support options, you can either reach out to them via email or you can just leave a message in the chat widget from your admin dashboard. It’s not exactly a live chat option but it’s much better than going back and forth over email.
During work hours, you’ll generally get a response from the Podia team in 5-10 minutes which is amazing. Outside the work hours or during the weekend, you’ll have to wait slightly longer to get your queries answered.
On top of that, Podia has an extensive knowledge library which has a lot of resources on how to do different things on the platform. So, you can simply search through the knowledge base and
When it comes to course creator training, Podia has a lot of free guides on their website. So, you can find articles on course creation, marketing, sales funnel and several other topics.
One thing that I would love to see Podia do is create a Facebook community for its users. Almost all of Podia’s competitors have these Facebook Groups for their users where they can ask questions and network with others which is awesome.
Finally, let me tell you about my favorite customer support feature. So, Podia offers free migration on their Shaker Plan ($79/month) under which they will move your content and audience from another platform to Podia free of cost.
This is huge if you’re planning to switch to Podia from another platform and I don’t know about any other course platform that offers a feature like this.
5. Podia Pricing Review
This Podia review won't be complete without a discussion on pricing. Because unless you know how much does Podia cost, you won’t be able to make a decision about it.
Podia pricing is pretty straightforward. It offers two plans - the Mover Plan that costs $39/month and the Shaker Plan that costs $79/month.
The best thing about its pricing though is that there are no transaction fees and you get instant payouts on both the plans.
In terms of what’s included in each plan, the Mover Plan offers you all the features that you need to create and sell online courses and digital downloads.
What you don’t get is Memberships, Affiliate Marketing, Embedded Checkout and Third-Party Code which are only available on the Shaker Plan. And free migration is also available only on the higher tier.
Podia pricing is pretty reasonable and I like how they have kept things simple. However, there are a couple of things that I don't like.
The first problem is that neither of these plans offer the ability to remove Podia branding from your school and you'll have to pay separately for that.
But my biggest issue I have with their pricing is the fact that they don’t allow to use any third-party scripts on their lower tier.
So, if you were to use a popup solution like ConvertBox, a countdown timer like Deadline Funnel or even integrate with Facebook Pixel, you can’t do it on the Mover Plan.
This is something that almost everyone will need and I don’t see the point of restricting it only to the higher tier.
If you want to try out the platform, you can get a 14-day free trial on either of its pricing plans. The good thing is that you don’t need a credit card in order to start the trial.
Plus they offer a 15% lifetime discount to you if you upgrade to one of the plans within the first five days of starting your trial.
You can also get an additional discount by switching to an annual plan where they offer you two months free.
Podia Competitors and Alternatives
Before we conclude this Podia review, let’s do a quick comparison of the platform with three of its main competitors - Kajabi, Teachable and Thinkific.
Podia vs Kajabi
Kajabi is one of the most popular online course platforms in the market. Unlike Podia, it is an all-in-one platform, so you can do everything including your website, blog, marketing funnels, email marketing, etc. on the platform.
Even in terms of the course creation features, Kajabi has much more to offer than Podia. So, it offers a library of 10+ course player themes, a more flexible course builder, ability to create a Community, iOS/Android mobile app, assignments, better quizzing feature, content locking, etc.
Simply based on features, Kajabi will be a winner over Podia any day. However, it is not that simple.
Kajabi is priced much higher than Podia, its lowest tier — the Basic Plan costs $149/month. So, unlike Podia, Kajabi pricing won’t work for everyone, especially the beginners.
So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to build your online course business, Kajabi should be a better fit for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a solution just to host and deliver your courses, Podia should work better for you.
If you want to explore the Kajabi platform further, you should check this Kajabi review.
Podia vs Teachable
Teachable is the market leader in the online course platform space and it is similar to Podia to a great extent in terms of the broader offering and pricing.
However, Teachable has much more to offer when it comes to course creation. So, you have a much more flexible course builder, graded quizzes, course compliance, certificates, better course analytics etc.
One area where Podia does a better job is Memberships. While Teachable lets you only bundle courses as part of a membership, Podia is more flexible here, allowing you to create individual Posts as well.
As far as website creation is concerned, both platforms have limited capabilities and there are only minor differences between the two. Moreover, they are very similar in terms of sales and marketing features.
When it comes to pricing, Teachable pricing starts from $0/month and the Basic plan costs $39/month (+5% transaction fee) while the Professional Plan costs $99/month (0% transaction fee).
If you would like to read more about how Teachable compares to Podia, you should check this Podia vs Teachable guide.
Podia vs Thinkific
Thinkific is another popular course platform and like Teachable, it does a much better job at course creation and delivery than Podia.
So, you can create advanced quizzes, assignments, learning paths, certificates, etc. which aren’t available on Podia.
Another area where Thinkific does a better job than Podia is site building. So, Thinkific offers a library of website themes and the page builder is more powerful as well, so you can create a fully-fledged website on the platform.
However, Thinkific doesn’t do as good a job as Podia when it comes to sales and marketing tools.
So, its checkout process requires users to create an account before making a payment which isn’t optimal for conversions. Moreover, it doesn’t allow you to collect EU VAT from your customers.
Now, Thinkific pricing is very similar to Podia in a sense that there is no transaction fee on any of the plans. The first tier on Thinkific is the free plan while the next tier is called the Basic Plan and costs $49/month.
Their most popular plan is the PRO plan that costs $99/month and has most of the features that the platform has to offer.
If you would like to learn more about the platform, you can check this Thinkific review.
Podia Review - Final Verdict
In this Podia review, we’ve discussed everything that the platform has to offer and its shortcomings as well.
What stands out the most about the platform is how easy it is to use. Setting up a course (or membership) is really straightforward and the course player looks great out of the box.
Moreover, you can build a good-looking sales page for your products and start selling them very quickly. The checkout process is well-designed and you can embed it even on an external website which is really handy.
Now, not everything is so good about Podia. There are quite a few important course creation features like graded quizzes, certificates, community, etc. that are missing.
Plus you don't have a lot of design flexibility around how your website and your course area looks.
Having said that, if you’re looking for an affordable solution to create a membership site or deliver a simple online course, Podia will work great for you.
If you want to give the platform a try, you can start a 14-day free trial (no credit card required) by clicking on the button below.
I hope you found this Podia review useful. If you have any questions about it or got some feedback, please let me know in the comments below.
Click Here to See Podia Review Update History
UPDATE #3: Podia has released a new feature that allows you to add a live chat widget to your store.
(21st December 2019)
UPDATE #2: Podia now lets you create site-wide coupons as well as coupons that apply to specific products.
You can now change the default font used on your Podia school.
(5th November 2019)
UPDATE #1: Podia now allows you to add custom pages to your storefront. Earlier you could create just the sales pages.
(6th September 2019)
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