Podia vs Thinkific (2020): Our Favorite Revealed

Which Will You Choose?

Now's a great time to start selling educational content online. Why? Because the eLearning industry is a booming business attracting new learners and instructors every day.

It doesn't matter whether you’re a veteran in your field looking for a new challenge, or if you want to share your skills and hobbies with a broader audience, creating an online course could be the best way to go.

Nowadays, it's much simpler to create and sell online educational content than you might think. Platforms like Podia and Thinkific provide all the tools you need to create stunning online schools…without having to write a single line of code! From design and presentation tools to marketing and sales features, these kinds of SaaS's have lots on offer!

So, if you’re in the market for an online course building platform, look no further. In this article, we're taking a deep dive into how Podia and Thinkific compare. Hopefully, by the end of this review, you should have a better idea about which (if either) is right for your content and audience.

Let's dive straight in!

Podia vs Thinkific: About Podia

podia homepage

Founded in 2014, Podia wants to be the most creator-friendly service on the web for building online courses (which they do a pretty good job of!). And, not only can you create e-courses using Podia, but you can also sell digital downloads, memberships, and subscriptions.

What stands out about Podia is its all-in-one nature. With its email and affiliate marketing tools and a variety of course creation features, this SaaS is more than just a course builder – just like many of its competitors, Podia also provides everything you need to craft a website and online school.

👉 Read our full Podia review.

Podia vs Thinkific: About Thinkific

Thinkific first launched over 11 years ago with its CEO, Greg Smith. He found other platforms too limiting when he was attempting to teach a weekend course. So, in response to this dilemma, he created Thinkific.

Thinkific is easy to set up and customize, with plenty of beautiful templates to choose from. Any of Thinkific's professional-looking layouts would lay the perfect foundations for your online school. Plus, its drag and drop course and site editor is intuitive to use.

Thinkific's most notable features include (amongst others) that you can register multiple instructors, drip feed your content, set evergreen content, and publish materials with an expiry date.

👉 Read our full Thinkific review.

Podia vs. Thinkific: Pricing

Podia Pricing

Podia keeps its paid-for plans straightforward. With monthly pricing at a flat-rate fee and no transaction fees, Podia's pricing is as transparent as it is simple. There are only a couple of packages to choose from!

At this point, it's worth mentioning; you'll get two months for free if you pay on an annual basis. Also, if you want to try Podia’s features without risking your hard-earned cash, you can make the most out of their 14-day trial.

Each Podia plan entitles you to 7-day-a-week support, and unlimited courses, storage, and students. So, as you may have guessed, there aren't any restrictions where selling potential is concerned.

Mover ($39 month-to-month billing)

The Mover plan is best if you're just getting started with online course creation. It provides all the necessary tools for building your website and course so that you can hit the ground running.

The Mover plan comes with all the following features:

  • Your own storefront (hosted either on Podia's subdomain or via your own custom domain name).
  • You can create and sell online courses
  • You can upload and sell digital downloads
  • Email marketing features: You can send one-off newsletters to your whole list or target a segment of your customers. You can also track and analyze the performance of your emails (including open rates, click rates and unsubscribe rates for every email sent), and send drip email campaigns.
  • Webinars: You can host webinars (either free or paid), which are scheduled in advanced or delivered live, and you can share replays.
  • Messaging: Podia's built-in live-chat tool enables students to communicate with you directly.
  • Hassle-free migration: Migration is free on any annual plan and includes all products and up to 2,000 customers. You can fill out a form on Podia's website by clicking ‘start your migration.' Migrations are usually completed within two weeks, depending on how much content there is. The team will keep in touch with updates throughout the process.

Shaker ($79 month-to-month billing)

Whereas, the Shaker plan is better suited for those ready to grow their business. It boasts all the features the Mover plan offers, plus a few new additions:

  • You can sell memberships
  • You can add a blog to your website
  • You can install offsite buy buttons to increase your sales reach: You can embed these on websites, blogs, landing pages, etc. so that visitors can purchase your products without leaving that page.
  • Access to affiliate marketing tools: You can issue affiliates with codes for them to sell your course. This tracks their sales; then, you pay them a commission (which you decide on).
  • You can insert third-party code snippets onto your website (Facebook Pixel, Sumo, Olark, etc.)

Thinkific Pricing

You can take Thinkific‘s free plan out for a spin before upgrading to one of its premium packages. It's free for life –  so you have all the time you need to get a feel for its features, interface, and get comfortable with the platform.

Thinkific's freemium package allows you to:

  • Create three courses
  • Register an unlimited number of students
  • Set student quizzes and surveys
  • Host your content (for video, audio, and pdf files)
  • Get instant access to your funds.

If you’re still unsure whether online course creation is for you or if you're still undecided about your topic – the free plan is ideal. Then once you boast a better sense of direction, it's easy to upgrade to one of Thinkific’s premium plans. And even then, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're unhappy with the service – so you have nothing to lose by giving Thinkific a try!

The Basic Plan ($49 a month, or $39 a month paid annually)

The Basic plan includes core features for building your online courses and launching a website, including:

  • Being able to create unlimited courses with as many students as you want
  • You can set and manage coupons and discounts.
  • You can email individual students.
  • You can drip feed your content
  • Access to affiliate reporting
  • You get a custom web domain
  • Access to email integrations (AWeber, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp) and Zapier triggers (See more about Thinkific's relationship with Zapier under the ‘Integration' section)
  • You can enroll students manually
  • Reports: These generate revenue, order, and enrollment insights as well as student engagement.

The Pro Plan ($99 a month, or $79 a month paid annually)

The Pro plan expands upon the Basic package by focusing more on tools for creating a fantastic student experience. It's ideal if you already have an audience, and you're ready to grow your business.

On top of the Basic features, the Pro plan includes:

  • Access for two site admins
  • Five course admins/authors
  • You can create private and hidden courses.
  • Advanced course pricing options
  • You can create memberships and product bundles.
  • You can set and manage student certificates.
  • Advanced customization: You can modify the HTML and CSS of your site, so providing you have the know-how, you can change anything via the code.
  • Access to Thinkific's priority support
  • You can set students assignments
  • One community: Thinkific's communities are like forums where students can create posts, comment on others, and follow threads. They'll get notified when they receive an answer and can create a basic account profile.

The Premier Plan ($499 a month, or $399 a month paid annually)

If you're ready to build a larger educational site, Thinkific's Premier package could be the perfect fit.

With the Premier plan, you gain access to:

  • Five site admin accounts
  • 15 group analysts
  • 50 course admins/authors (contact Thinkific to get a quote if you need more authors)
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Thinkific's onboarding package, which includes an onboarding call and training

Growth Plans

You can also add the Growth plan to Thinkific's Pro plan. These features are free for the first 100 students; then, it’s $0.10/month for every active student that's actively enrolled in a course (up to a total of $499).

The Growth bundle adds the following features to the Pro Plan:

  • Groups. Quickly sell courses to cohorts or organizations and assign analysts for reporting.
  • Remove Thinkific's branding— By this, we mean, you can white-label your website and student course player.
  • Advanced segmentation. You can utilize search filters and bookmarks to organize student communications and progress tracking.
  • Webhooks. These allow developers to send course data from Thinkfic to other tools in your kit. You can also use webhooks to integrate external applications with Thinkific.
  • Bulk emails: You can send emails to multiple students at once, directly through Thinkific's dashboard
  • Bulk enrollment: You can enroll multiple students at once, and quickly add or remove students from courses and/or bundles.
  • Import students: You can easily import students from other databases using XLSX or CSV files.

With the growth plan addition, you also unlock integrations with Zapier, ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft, Zapier, and Brillium exams.

Podia vs Thinkific – How Does Their Customer Service Compare?

It doesn't matter what software you purchase; excellent customer service is essential – especially when it's the cornerstone of your venture!

So, can you count on either of these two providers? Let's find out…

Podia

Podia promises all-human, no-bot interactions via its website's live chat. You can also get in touch via a contact form on their site. Here you'll see how long it will take (on average) for one of their team members to respond to you. Podia doesn’t believe in support tickets and AI-fuelled responses. Instead, it prioritizes a human-to-human connection.

Their live chat is open 9 AM – 6 PM ET, Monday to Friday, and 10 AM – 2 PM ET on weekends, with an average response time of two minutes. If you need help outside of these hours, Podia still encourages you to send a message even when they're not operating the chat. They'll get back to you as soon as possible, often responding outside official contact hours.

Thinkific

Thinkific offers extensive self-help resources for instructors on their website. This includes a demo of their features and topics ranging from migrating your content over to Thinkific, to getting started, to managing learning content, customizing your site, and market and selling.

If you need to contact the team, you can fill out a form online, and someone will get back to you. Thinkific also provides a phone number for support, available Monday to Friday, 9-5 PST.

Podia vs. Thinkific: Integrations

Both Podia and Thinkific integrate with Zapier, which makes connecting with thousands of third-party apps a breeze. But, in addition to Zapier, both platforms offer several native integrations.

Some of Podia’s in-built integrations include:

  • Mailchimp
  • ConvertKit
  • AWeber
  • Drip
  • ActiveCampaign
  • MailerLite
  • Sumo
  • Olark
  • Google Analytics
  • Stripe
  • Paypal
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Thinkific integrates with, amongst others:

  • Stripe
  • Paypal
  • Salesforce
  • WordPress
  • ConvertKit
  • Mixpanel
  • InfusionSoft
  • MailChimp
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Aweber
  • Google Analytics

We want to clarify that with Thinkific, there are two levels of integration with Zapier. At the first level (with the Basic plan), you can set triggers to other third-party apps that kickstart action there—for example, automating tasks like updating mailing lists on MailChimp.

Whereas, the Growth plan unlocks the second level of Zapier's integration. This also allows you to send triggers from other apps back to Thinkific, which permits you to enroll students from third-party apps.

Podia vs Thinkific: The Pros and Cons

Every SaaS has its pros and cons, which makes carefully weighing up your options before settling on a provider all the more critical.

So, to make your decision a little easier, we've listed some of the more blatant pros and cons associated with both Podia and Thinkific.

Podia

First, the perks…

Podia Pros 👍

  • Email marketing tools are included in each plan. While this isn't an extensive service, if your email marketing needs are simple, you'll save having to purchase a separate app.
  • No transaction fees
  • Access to a straightforward and transparent pricing scheme
  • Podia offers excellent value for money, especially for solo creators and DIY instructors. The Basic plan unlocks loads at just $39 a month, offering features many other platforms reserve for their more expensive tiers.
  • You can create unlimited products, register an infinite number of students, and host as many courses and files as you want.
  • Podia's integrated live-chat is exclusive to Podia right now.
  • Podia offers hassle-free migration with each of its plans. So, you can quickly move content across to Podia from another platform or data file.
  • You can sell memberships and digital products on Podia. Thinkific, on the other hand, focuses more on course creation, so it isn't as versatile.
  • Podia is intuitive, boasting a smooth learning curve for beginners.

Podia Cons 👎

Now, for Podia's drawbacks:

  • You can't award student certifications.
  • You can't set course compliance standards functionality.
  • Podia isn’t as customizable as its competitors. For instance, some customers complain about not being able to get rid of empty spacing between sections or adjust the font size. If creative freedom is essential to you, this platform might be too restricting.
  • Podia's email marketing tools are limited. If you want to send more detailed or advanced email campaigns, Podia’s email marketing features won't suffice. You'll likely have to purchase a subscription with your favored email service provider.
  • There's no free plan. Podia only offers a 14-day trial.

Thinkific

Again, let's start with the sunnier side of things:

Thinkific Pros 👍

  • Thinkific is highly customizable. You can access the HTML and CSS code, so there are no limits on customization.
  • Tinkific's templates look as beautiful as they do professional.
  • Thinkific has a free plan! This allows you to create three courses and test out its functionality with an unlimited number of students.
  • Thinkific doesn’t charge any transaction fees on its paid plains so that you can benefit from flat-fee, transparent pricing.
  • Thinkific offers more advanced pricing options than Podia, for creating online schools at scale. With onboarding and a Growth package that provides more sophisticated school management features, you'll have everything you need to provide higher-quality educational content.
  • You can award students course certifications.
  • You can set compliance standards, graded quizzes, surveys, and narrated presentations.

Thinkific Cons 👎

  • Thinkific’s email marketing features are even more limited than Podia’s. At least Podia allows you to send one-off newsletters and drip-campaigns. Unfortunately, with Thinkific, you can only send emails according to your segmentation conditions. Also, you can't email students in bulk until you’ve purchased a more expensive plan.
  • Thinkific is only a course building platform, whereas Podia allows you to sell other digital products. Yes, you can sell memberships on Thinkific, but at a steeper price than Podia ($99 a month compared to $79).  If you see yourself branching out in the future to sell other types of content, then Thinkific might be too restrictive.

Podia vs Thinkific? Which Online Course Builder is Right for Your Business?

Now we’ve come to the end of this Podia vs Thinkific comparison, it all comes down to you. Which course builder is the right choice for your business? Both furnish their users with useful tools and offer similar pricing with their cheaper plans.

So, if you’re still unsure, here's who we'd recommend these providers to:

Podia is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an easy-to-use and transparent service. Their customer service is praised all over, and their online course editor is incredibly intuitive. You'll wrap your head around it in no time!

Podia is also a versatile service that includes both live-chat and email marketing tools and enables you to sell digital products other than just online courses. In the long-term, this affordably priced option gives you the flexibility to expand into different types of content.

In short, Podia's excellent for solopreneurs and DIY course instructors.

Whereas, Thinkific could be the choice for you if you care more about design flexibility. Their stunning templates are easy to edit, and if you have web development know-how, you can put these skills to good use! Thinkific also offers more than Podia when it comes to course creation – with a combination of quizzes, surveys, interactive presentations, and much more, as well as compliance standards and certificates; you're bound to keep your audience engaged!

However, Thinkific is a little more expensive than Podia, and you'll need to subscribe to third-party tools to access better email marketing features.

In short, Thinkific's ideal for building a traditional classroom learning experience and growing online schools to scale.

If in doubt, you can always sign up for Podia’s trial period and/or Thinkific’s free plan. That way, you'll be able to assess their core features for yourself.

Do you have any experience with these online course builders? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Keep sharing your knowledge, we looking forward to chatting with you soon!

Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to e-commerce platforms, you can find her published on Reader's Digest, G2, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.