Welcome to my Podia review.
What Makes My Podia Review Different?
I’ve created my own online courses and consulted on dozens of others on the following online course platforms:
Super cool, right?
No. Not even remotely. It’s a bit sad, really….
I tell everyone who wants to sell online courses the same thing: There’s a 90% chance you need either Kartra or ThriveCart. They’re the most versatile, affordable, and convenient ways to sell online courses.
I signed up for Podia and spent hours researching it just to prove that to you.
In this Podia review, I’ll cover everything you need to know before creating online courses, digital downloads, or coaching with this online course platform.
- Why it’s a solid (but flawed) platform
- My thoughts on pricing
- The pros and cons of using Podia
- My thoughts on Podia's competitors
- Key features
- More cool insights from my 5+ years as a course creator and consultant that will help you avoid common mistakes and sell more courses
Ready to learn everything about Podia? You better be, because I spent a whole weekend doing this.
Quick Verdict: Is Podia the Right Platform for My Online Courses or Digital Products?
Podia is a cheap, solid platform with almost all the features you need to create, optimize, and sell online courses…
It’s just nowhere near as good as its competitors, and it’s not cheap enough to justify its lack of features.
And as with everything in life, cheap things are cheap because they’re not as good as expensive things (except Thai street food… I really don’t know how they do it). And, as you’ll see below, it’s not even that affordable.
Let me explain…
Podia positions itself as an affordable platform where you can host courses, digital products, coaching services, or communities on the cheap…
But it’s really not.
If you actually want all of the features you need to build a successful online business, it costs $89/month.
- Way fewer features (no chat desks, marketplace, landing pages, conversion optimization, CRM, or blogging)
- Fewer automations
- Fewer templates and design options
- Fewer course enrichment options
- Slower support
- No funnel optimization features (like ThriveCart)
- Garbage analytics
As a professional course creator and consultant, please heed my advice:
An online course is just like any other business—you have to take it seriously. You can’t cut corners.
You buy cheap, you get cheap. And when it’s time to grow, you won’t have enough features, integrations, support, or customizability. And by then, you’ll be so deep into the platform that you can’t get out.
There’s a reason Podia comes cheap: because it is cheap.
Do you know what cheap S*** does? It breaks.
So, while I see the appeal (it’s an all-in-one platform that gives you a ton of cool features with no limits for ~$40 a month), if you’re serious about selling online courses, you can’t go cheap.
You want cheap? Go sell on Udemy. If that’s more your style, please click this link to learn more about how to waste your time, make no money, and quit courses within 6 months.
Just kidding, I couldn't sleep at night if I linked to a Udemy guide.
Podia Pros and Cons
NOTE: I’ve seen a lot of other reviews say things like “replaces email marketing” as a benefit of Podia.
Every single course platform does that. The following pros and cons are solely what Podia does better or worse than OTHER course platforms.
- Great UX and low learning curve
- Cover all your bases with a membership site, digital download, coaching packages, and traditional courses
- Affordable entry-level plan
- Excellent customer support (if you pay!)
- Useless free plan
- Limited features will stifle growth
- Not as cheap as you think
- Lacking high-end functionality like CRM or blogging
- No conversion-boosting features
- Multiple integrations needed
- Lacking helpful analytics (except for emails)
3 Reasons I Don’t Recommend Podia for Your Online Course Business
First, let me say this.
I know it seems like I’m drinking the hater-ade and just bashing the Podia platform.
To be fair, I am kind of doing that.
But I don’t think it’s “bashing” if it’s actually true. You’re trying to find the best course platform for selling your digital products, and I don’t want to mislead you.
And it’s not that it’s bad.
Podia offers plenty of helpful features with a simple and intuitive interface. But it’s just not as good as competitors and that’s a fact.
Here are 3 reasons why I can’t recommend Podia for selling online courses.
Podia’s Free Plan Is Worthless
This actually surprised me.
The “free plan” is a total joke in my opinion. Not trying to be insulting or anything, but it’s basically useless. They push this big time in their marketing, so I was a bit put off by how limited it was.
8% transaction fees? What?
The crazy thing about the “free” plan is that it’s expensive. How can a free plan be expensive?
No idea, but Podia pulls off this black magic trickery somehow.
You can’t actually publish courses, and you only get one coaching product on a Podia subdomain (e.g. yoursite.podia.com). And if anyone buys anything, you pay 8% PLUS credit card fees.
Compared to Thinkific, which offers pretty much every feature you need to actually publish and sell courses for free, this is a joke.
Here’s what Thinkific gives you totally free:
So, Thinkific actually lets you publish courses with 0% transaction fees… Why would you ever choose Podia? It makes zero sense. Step your game up or change your marketing, Podia.
Podia Is Not Cheap (If You Want to Actually Sell Courses)
This is a common trick in SaaS, especially course platforms. They rope you in with a “cheap” plan but make sure to hide crucial features in a higher tier. That way you have to upgrade if you actually want to grow.
And since you’ve already paid, uploaded your videos, and started running your online school, you’re stuck.
Podia isn’t as bad as some others (TEACHABLE, TEACHABLE, TEACHABLE!), but it’s pretty bad.
Check it out…
You need to upgrade to Shaker if you want affiliates, which you will 100% need to grow your business. Without an affiliate program, you won’t get anywhere.
In the beginning, your budget will be super limited and you won’t have consumer trust yet. An affiliate program creates an army of motivated salespeople working 24/7 to build your brand FOR YOU. This is how every course creator succeeds.
Kartra includes all of its features on every plan starting from $99.
Cool, you saved $10 a month but tanked your business! Great job!!!
Podia Severely Limits Your Growth
Podia is missing key features like funnels and campaigns that help you 2x, 5x, or even 10x your business.
Before we jump into this, let me defend Podia right quick.
If you are missing a feature, you can always integrate another tool and get it. Let’s take blogging as an example. There’s no native blog feature on Podia, but you can always just start your own website on WordPress with a blog and connect to Podia.
But this creates tons of new issues:
- It’s expensive to pay for new tools
- Now you’ve got to manage more tools (e.g. web hosting, WordPress, Zapier, etc.)
- It creates multiple points of failure
- It makes it harder to track everything
See what I’m getting at here?
Podia limits your growth by making it hard as hell to scale.
Here are just a few things you get with Kartra for $10 more:
- Pages – A legit drag-and-drop builder with high-converting templates
- Leads – A CRM to manage users and tag everyone
- Funnels – Build legit multi-step funnels to increase conversions
- Helpdesks – Create your own helpdesk portal
- Forms – High-converting forms to capture more leads
- Marketplace – Hire experts or purchase high-converting funnels, websites, or templates from others… or even sell your own.
If you choose Podia, you’ll need to integrate landing page software, your own CRM, and a funnel builder like ClickFunnels if you really want to scale.
Meet ClickFunnels. You’ll be paying hundreds of dollars per month for this tool if you choose Podia.
So, no. Podia does not include all the features you need to run a business—even though they say they do.
Podia Review Deep Dive: What Is It? What Do You Get? Pricing, and More
What Is Podia?
Podia is an online digital product platform that empowers users to create, manage, and sell products like online courses, membership sites, coaching or consulting packages, and even communities.
Instead of duct-taping a dozen different tools together, Podia gives you almost all the tools under one roof, saving you time, money, and endless headaches… in theory.
Podia was founded as an affordable alternative to more advanced platforms, offering a free plan, a cheap entry-level plan, and an advanced pricing tier below $100, which is basically unheard of in course platforms.
Unlike other platforms, Podia tries to simplify and streamline everything through simple UX, limited options (not always a good thing), and less confusing features and metrics. That definitely benefits new users, but it comes with some serious drawbacks.
What Can Podia Do?
Podia gives you the power to create, brand, and scale an online digital product business fairly easily by putting most of the key creation and marketing features at your fingertips.
All of this comes out of the box for about $40/month:
- Create a course, membership site, or workshop
- Sell coaching or consultation packages
- Create, market, and sell digital downloads like eBooks
- Grow and monetize a community
- Build your own custom website
- Email marketing
- Standard integrations
There’s a reason Podia has become one of the most popular platforms out there—it does a lot.
What I like most is how it gives you so many monetization options outside of courses.
Say you’ve got a marketing course.
You can put on a training workshop or write a supporting eBook and offer it as an upsell or one-time purchase to your email list. You can do all of this directly within Podia for no extra fees.
And for communities, you can message students directly, which is a huge plus compared to other platforms. That’ll help you connect with students, improve engagement, and boost lifetime customer value.
Podia Key Features
I want to cover some of the key features in detail so you can see what you’re paying for before you buy.
My advice is this:
Take a while to think about your course and where you want it to be in a year. Then, think about the next few years after that.
How far do you want to take this? Because if you want to grow into a six or even seven-figure brand, you’re going to need a ton of elite features.
Read through this breakdown and see if Podia provides what you need.
Podia is the total package for digital courses. It makes it super easy to create and sell any type of digital course above and beyond most other platforms. It’s definitely a beast of a course platform flexibility-wise.
If you want to make courses, Podia lets you:
- Host all your videos
- Organize videos into lessons and modules
- Enrich videos with quizzes and chat
- Host sales pages and landing pages directly within the platform (not recommended)
- Link everything to a custom domain
- Offer lead magnets to collect email addresses
- Pre-launch to test ideas
- Accept payments
- Track progress
- Offer completion certificates
Not only that, but you can create just about any type of course you can imagine:
- Standalone courses
- Membership courses
- Drip courses
- Cohort courses (courses where students take them as groups for a certain length of time)
The course builder is stupidly simple, which is a big plus. I hate when platforms get in your way. It’s super simple to name your course, upload content, and add extra features like quizzes.
Podia is also a beast for selling digital products like eBooks, templates, PDFs, workshops, one-off video lessons, or even one-to-one coaching packages.
You know that spreadsheet you have sitting around that you keep bragging to people about?
Why not just upload it to your site and start selling it?
…probably because nobody wants it. But you might as well try!
Check it out:
You can even sell music files by embedding links from other sites. Pretty wild.
Basically, any and all digital downloads you can think of you can sell with Podia.
The two key ways to utilize digital products are:
- Lead magnets: Give away your digital downloads for free to collect email addresses and start warming the audience up.
- Upsells: Would you like fries with that? When someone goes to buy your main course, offer them other digital products as a bonus. Learning to be a freelance writer? Here’s a client management spreadsheet for $5 extra!
Coaching and Consulting
Podia allows you to sell coaching, but it’s really nothing special. This is one of the more disappointing features if you ask me.
You can add a coaching session as an upsell or sell it directly on your Podia site. There’s really nothing much else to add here.
You just integrate an app like Calendly, offer a coaching package, and accept payments through Podia with 0% transaction fees on paid plans.
It’s not a bad thing. There’s just nothing special about it.
Podia’s #1 feature is its free community builder.
You can build and monetize a community for free on Podia. This is probably the only thing Podia does better than competitors (besides Mighty Networks).
The awesome thing about this is that your students can talk to you AND each other in the same place they consume your content. This is a huge value add.
You can create topics, sub-forums, groups, a free community section, and more. Plus, you can chat directly with students via live chat, video, or comments.
The best part of the entire feature is the level of control you have over your community. You can control everything down to the topic level.
For example, you can allow access to certain topics, forums, and sections only to paying members.
That way, anyone can interact and consume content, but you can also monetize certain aspects of your community without locking everyone out and looking greedy.
Podia’s email marketing features are the secret sauce for growing revenue on autopilot.
Everything is super streamlined – from embedding the capture form on your site to sending automated campaigns that gently lead customers down your funnel to paid products and upsells.
In case you’re new to email marketing tools, let me cover the basics first.
Having built-in email marketing tools is a godsend for your business. Now, you won’t need to pay for an external provider and figure out how to connect the two.
Podia’s email marketing features let you capture customers’ addresses and store them inside your system. Then, you can bombard them with emails until they block you or buy something. Either one is cool.
But all email tools do that. What makes Podia’s different?
I didn’t use the email marketing feature for too long, but 3 things stuck out to me instantly:
- Revenue metrics: Next-level feature here. You can see exactly how much revenue each email generates. Not sure how helpful it’ll be, but it looks cool.
- Simple customizations: It’s dead easy to adjust colors, fonts, format, and design. And it’s super simple to add images, logos, and even gifs directly into your emails. That way, you can always be on brand, and write more fun, engaging emails than competitors.
- Helpful analytics: Podia’s analytics are overall lacking, but its email marketing metrics are super helpful. Open rates, conversions, drop-offs, clicks—they’re all there on an easy-to-read dashboard so you can see what’s working. My advice is to send a welcome sequence and test who is opening the first email and where they’re dropping off in the sequence. That’s where you should hit them with an offer before they fall asleep.
This screenshot from their email page illustrates it perfectly. Hard to beat that dash.
Overall, it’s a solid tool.
It’s not as good as Kartra or Kajabi. They both offer way better tagging, segmentation, and automation. But it’s not bad, and it’s unlimited. Can’t complain. If you really want to level up, though, you’ll need email marketing tools like ConvertKit.
Webinars and Workshops
Podia makes hosting and selling webinars, workshops, live streams, and one-off classes as simple as humanly possible by handling all the tricky logistics.
You can still use Zoom or YouTube Live to host your videos, but Podia will handle payments, registrations, and tracking so you don’t have to.
This doesn’t sound like much, but using a platform like Podia to sell a webinar or workshop makes your life easier AND it makes you more money.
Say you host a YouTube Live session and you don’t have Podia. Now, you’ve got a zombie hoard of anonymous YouTube users commenting god knows what.
When the video is over, they go back to their graves and sleep for eternity, never to be seen again.
With Podia, that anonymous user has to sign up via your system. Now, you’ve got their email address and name, and you don’t have to manually handle payments. This makes it way easier to interact with them AND sell to them further down the line.
You can even sell video replays to customers. Pretty cool, aye?
Podia integrates with just about anything you can possibly think of in one way or another. Even if it doesn’t integrate with the tool, you can probably find a way to Human Centipede it together in some shape or form.
I like how simple it is to paste in custom code for basic integrations.
Want to add a countdown timer to your sales page? Just paste the code.
Found a pop-up tool that you absolutely have to have? Just paste it on in.
Like I said before, even if Podia lacks a feature, there’s always some workaround.
Native integrations with email service providers include:
Those are all of the main email service providers, so it’s not a big deal that they’re missing a few.
If you want more advanced features, you can also integrate with:
- Google Analytics
- YouTube Live
- Facebook Advertising
- Google Ads
- Deadline Funnel
The most helpful part of integrations is all the easy embeds, though. In just a click (or two), you can upgrade your pages in so many ways.
Podia embeds include:
- Google Forms
- GitHub Gists
And Podia integrates with the rest of the world through Zapier, which opens you up to thousands of more integrations.
Podia’s customer support has a good reputation… as long as you’ve got priority support. If not, you may have to wait a while for a response.
I like that they have chat and email support. Some platforms don’t even offer that. And, as far as I can tell, they are all real people… or just really good chatbots.
Both of those platforms have detailed guides and complete walkthroughs not only for their features but also for their marketing strategies.
Like, they’ll explain how to set up email campaigns within their tools AND guide you through the marketing strategy behind a successful email campaign.
I’ve already covered Podia pricing plans at length, so I’m going to keep it brief here. You know where I stand. If you really want to see what comes with each plan, just click the pricing page or check this image out.
I think the real value here is getting my thoughts on Podia pricing plans compared to the market as a whole.
That’s my main gripe. Podia doesn’t have any single unique selling point. There isn’t any single thing that makes it stand out from its competitors.
Don’t believe me? Check this out:
- It offers a free plan, but Thinkific’s free plan is way better
- It’s not really all-in-one, since it’s missing a ton of features that Kajabi and Kartra offer
- It’s got an awesome community feature, but Mighty Networks’ community is way better
- It has some good features for cheap, but not enough to actually grow a business
- It’s not as cheap ThriveCart, which is $690 for LIFE
So what exactly is its position on the market here?
- It’s not the best free option
- It’s not that cheap
- It doesn’t have the best features
- It’s not the most convenient because it’s not actually all-in-one
- It’s not the best community tool
- 0% transaction fees? Cool, everyone else does that too
It’s kind of in no man’s land.
If we squint really hard we can vaguely see the silhouette of a unique pricing position:
Podia offers a solid set of features to start an online business for about $40/month, but it’s not enough to really grow or scale.
So, if you want to save some money and just get a course and community going online, then be my guest. Just know that you’re sacrificing a lot of power, flexibility, and ultimately, sales, by trying to take a shortcut.
NOTE: Always be very wary of companies that charge this much more for “priority support.” I know it’s common in SaaS, but it’s really off-putting, especially after seeing bad reviews online for regular chat and email support.
I’m not sure if you’ve read the previous ~3,500 words, but in case you haven’t, let me make something clear: I do not recommend the Podia platform.
There’s also a sneaky 3rd wheel making its way into the party. If you’ve been reading, you probably know what it is already.
Here are my 3 top Podia alternatives with better features, pricing, UX, and support.
Price: Starting from $99
USP: All the tools you need in one place for one low price
Kartra is by far the best, most convenient online course platform for new online course creators for one reason: It’s the only true all-in-one course platform that comes with EVERYTHING you need under one roof at an affordable price.
Kartra does everything Podia does, plus a ton of stuff it can’t do. Just to name a few:
- Landing pages
- Real analytics
- High converting forms
- A marketplace
- Advanced automations
So, instead of hitting a wall with Podia, you’ll have everything you need to build a thriving business without the need for integrations (though they will help).
Plus, it comes with excellent customer support and tons of knowledge at your fingertips. You won’t ever need to buy another tool again. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it. If you want to build a legit business as conveniently as possible, get Kartra.
Price: $495 lifetime
USP: It’s $495 for life. Can’t beat that offer.
You want to talk cheap? THIS is cheap. $495 for life is outrageous. That’s nothing. For about a year of Podia, you get a lifetime of ThriveCart.
And with ThriveCart Learn (its new online course platform) there’s almost nothing that ThriveCart can’t do. Plus, it comes with the best conversion-boosting forms, templates, and pricing hacks out there.
The upgrade to $690 is totally worth it. $690 for life is still a steal.
Price: Starting from free
USP: A legit free plan that lets you publish courses
Thinkific’s free plan is the best in the business. You can actually publish course videos and start selling to your target audience 100% free… and there’s zero transaction fee.
Podia claims to have a great free plan, but you can’t even publish your course content. I’m not sure how you can claim to be a creator-centric platform and not allow someone to publish their course.
Free plans are never enough to run a legit business, but they’re good to start the course creation process. Thinkific is the only platform that gives you all the basic features for free.
You get the course builder, one community, one course, and chat email and chat support along with some basic marketing features.
The only drawback is your sales page won’t be on your own website. But if you just want to test out course creation or beta test your course, Thinkific is where you should do it. Not Podia.
Note: As far as I know, it’s not easy to offer digital downloads on Thinkific. It’s just for courses or communities.
Podia Review Verdict: Is Podia the Right Platform to Sell Digital Products?
I think the conclusion of this Podia review is pretty clear. Podia is a solid platform with some helpful features like unlimited video hosting, unlimited courses, email marketing, and killer community and digital products marketing.
It’s not really great at anything, and it’s not cheap enough to justify the lack of advanced features. I don’t see how it can be the right online course platform for your business if it’s lacking so much.
So, while Podia offers a lot of helpful features, it just isn’t as good as its competitors.
If you want the best platform out there, get Kartra. If you want the best deal, get ThriveCart. And if you just want something free to test out course creation with a 0% transaction fee, Thinkific is for you.
The conclusion of this Podia review 2024 is NO. Sorry, Podia.
Kartra is a no-brainer for most people and ThriveCart if you're on the fence, it's simple.
Podia Review F.A.Q.
Q: What are the problems with Podia?
A: The problems with Podia compared to other tools like Kartra are that it’s not really an all-in-one platform, the affiliate program is only available on high-priced plans, the builder for sales pages is a bit limited, and it doesn’t have enough ROI-boosting features to help you sell digital products. Podia costs about ~$90 per month, but it’s very limited as a platform. Kartra is $99 per month, and it’s much better for course content, course digital downloads, and any online store for that matter.
Q: What is Podia best for?
A: Podia is best for anyone who wants a simple course builder and a tool that integrates with email service providers for their online courses' digital downloads. However, it’s not the best course creation tool available. It’s lacking advanced tools for course creation, a sales funnel, and customization options.
Q: Which is better Podia or Teachable?
A: Podia is better than Teachable due to its course builder, sales page builder, pre-launch feature, user interface, and pricing. If you want to create and sell courses, then the Mover plan from Podia is a better value than anything from Teachable. Teachable, on the other hand, has better affiliate marketing. Neither tool is better than Kartra or Kajabi. With Kartra, you only need one platform for all of your course needs. You can even sell webinars, create coupons, offer certificates when students complete courses and gain access to advanced customization features for your landing pages.