You might already have an online course (or a few online courses) under your belt. But do you have a great website to sell your online courses? Whether you have one or not, I’ll be posting a detailed review why you should be using Podia to sell your online courses and take your online business to the next level. I’ve been using Podia for a few years now so I’ll be giving a genuine review of the platform.
What is Podia?
Podia is not only an online course website builder like Teachable or Thinkific. It’s an entire website builder. It allows you to do things like selling your online courses (obviously), create your own membership platform, email marketing and even digital downloads. I’ll explain this in more detail a little later.
It isn’t the most popular or well-known platform, mainly because it’s a relatively newer player in the field, but it does pack a lot of punch as I’ll discuss shortly.
One thing to note is that their development team are quite active and there are newer features being rolled out quite regularly. Compared to when I first joined Podia, there’s a lot of features included now which makes it compelling for online course creators to use to build a business and there are more features to be rolled out in the near future!
So in short, if you want to sell online courses or digital products, then Podia is a great platform to use.
What are the standout features of Podia
There are a few features I’ve found with Podia that stand out compared to its competitors.
Easy course builder
It’s really simple to set up your online course. You’ll rarely need to rely on any guides. When I first started, I just figured it out as I went. It’s that easy. The interface is really clean and intuitive and you won’t really wonder what button does what.
Your online course website will look beautiful. It looks like one of those Wix or Squarespace kind of websites. You’ll be sure to improve the engagement levels of your students just with how smooth everything looks.
If you have a library of online courses, you could also set up your Podia website as a membership website where students pay you monthly to access your new content. This can be a great way to earn a more stable and predictable monthly income that stacks up over time. I’d also recommend creating a membership website if you create shorter length courses where you can’t justify a $100+ price point. Setting up your own membership site is also a breeze.
Bear in mind, this is only available on their highest plan only.
Webinars and Zoom
Webinars are a great way to increase your sales, especially if you sell more high ticket online courses. I’ll be honest, I’ve rarely used this feature of Podia so I can’t really comment on how well this works. It is a newer feature that they’ve recently implemented into the platform.
From what I know, you’ll be able to sell or give away webinars and Zoom meetings. This might suit you if you do coaching or any kind of consultations, etc.
Bear in mind, this is also only available on their highest plan only.
You don’t need to only sell online courses. You can also sell digital downloads as well! You can set it up like a Shopify store but instead sell digital products instead of physical products. You could sell eBooks, PDFs, templates, artworks, audio, software apps and so on. I’m probably giving away my niche by doing this, but I sell 3D models on my Podia website. It’s not a full digital store, but it compliments my online courses nicely.
Another very common way to use digital downloads (and one that I always do) is to make it free and turn them into lead magnets. This is great if you want to build an email list, which you can then later use to promote your next online course.
Their plans start at $39/month and their highest plan is at $79/month. That’s the only 2 plans they have and you can upgrade later if you feel it’s working well for you. It seems like a lot when you compare to Teachable, but it actually contains so many more features that it’s well worth the price. The marketing automation features that you get with it, will allow you to quickly recover those costs as the sales roll in on autopilot.
Saved the best for last! This is by and far the BEST feature that I find about Podia. It lets me scale my business to crazy heights because of email marketing.
Not a lot of people know this, but Podia lets you have unlimited email subscribers and send unlimited emails. I currently have about 6000 or so people on my list and I can send emails whenever I want to them.
Right now, all I’m doing is putting out digital downloads (or as the sales experts call it, “lead magnets”) and collecting email addresses.
Podia has autoresponder features built in and they are fairly advanced. You can set rules like, when a person has downloaded my lead magnet, send them Email A, then a day later send them Email B and so on.
This is what I mean by sales on autopilot. As long as I have valuable courses on my site, all I have to do is promote my lead magnet on places like YouTube, Pinterest and my blog and let the email marketing do its own magic.
Even dedicated email providers like MailChimp and ConvertKit place limits on how many emails can be sent per month or how many subscribers we can store. However, email providers do have more advanced features that you won’t find in Podia.
Other course builder platforms like Teachable and Kartra also have email marketing automation built in, but they have limits on how many subscribers and emails can be sent. Otherwise, we’d have to pay more.
The not-so-good features of Podia
The customizations you can make with the landing pages and course pages are relatively basic. You do get a drag-and-drop builder, but you don’t get that many elements to play around with and as a result, you’re sort of stuck with that Podia website look. Don’t get me wrong, the design is amazing and can sell on its own. But if there’s any advanced element I want to add in, like a countdown timer, it can’t be done. If you’re not so fussed about it, then it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
If you do need that unique distinct looking website, then Kartra would be much better. Not only are there a ton of different elements to play with, but there’s also plenty of templates and funnels that you could swipe. You could also buy templates created by other Kartra members, or perhaps create your own unique template and sell to other Kartra members. Anyways, getting too ahead of myself.
Might not be a good idea if you’re just getting started
If you’re just getting started with selling online courses (or digital products in general), you might find that costs add up pretty quickly. You’ll definitely need to spend time creating online courses (which can take months).
If you’re completely new, I’d recommend starting off with Teachable as they have a forever free plan.
There’s no marketplace
There is also no course marketplace so getting discovered will be quite a challenge. I learned this the hard way. I created a bunch of online courses on places like Udemy and Skillshare. I was lucky to have made a lot of sales. But the thing is, I didn’t do much marketing or promotion. I gave away discount and even free coupons at times (which actually helped me gain over 50,000 students).
Then when I moved over to Podia, I was stunned at how I wasn’t getting any sales whatsoever. And I can’t bring over my student base from Udemy to Podia, as I’d be breaking Udemy’s Terms of Service.
So I needed to learn marketing and driving traffic on my own in order to make sales.
You might find this a challenge too if you’re migrating over from a course marketplace like Udemy.
Podia also has the ability to allow you to create a blog which you can leverage to build your leads and sales.
To be honest, it’s not really that great. The blog looks very basic and you’d have to sort of go through a hacky way of setting it up. It would be better for you to use an actual blog platform like WordPress for this though.
A Deep Dive into Podia
Just so that you have an idea of how Podia might work for you, let’s take a closer look and see how each feature looks like and whether it would benefit you.
The Course Builder
Let’s start with the course builder. Perhaps the most important component of Podia as this is where you will create your online course masterpieces.
Say you have a new online course idea ready or perhaps you’ve prepared videos that are ready to go. Creating a new online course in Podia is relatively straightforward.
You just need to go to the Products tab, press the +Create Product button and pick “Online Course”.
You then give your online course a name. It doesn’t matter what name you give it at this stage as you can change it later on.
You then need to give your course a description. Make sure it’s relatively SEO friendly, or at the very least clear in what outcomes your students will achieve from taking the course as well as what topics will be covered. Don’t worry about the copywriting stuff, as that will be done on your course landing page.
The way courses are structured is similar to what you’d find on Udemy. There are a number of sections. Each section can have a number of videos or other types of content (like text, audio, PDFs, etc). Sections are great for breaking down your course into smaller, more manageable bites. Ideally, you’d want to make your sections long enough for your students to go through in one sitting.
In Podia, you’d simply add a section by clicking a button. You’d then give the section a name, and optionally a description so that your students will have an idea what will be covered in the section.
After that, you can upload your content to the section. Podia allows you to change the name of the content so that your students won’t see you file name and will see something more useful. For example, you can upload a file called “Video01.mp4”, but you can rename it in Podia as something like “Getting Started With Your Weight Loss Journey”.
Personally, I prefer Teachable’s course builder over Podia’s as Teachable as reordering sections and content is a lot smoother than Podia’s. This isn’t a deal breaker though.
Setting up the Sales Page
Aside from preparing the content for your online course, another major part of building your online course is the sales page (or the landing page). This tends to be the first page someone sees when trying to find out whether to enrol in your course.
It’s important to treat this importantly, as a bad landing page can kill sales and you could go months without earning anything, even if your course is so amazing and life changing.
Podia creates a default landing page every time you create a new online course. To change it, go to the Dashboard and click Edit Site and you’ll have a visual builder to play around with.
If you’ve used something like Wix or Weebly before, you’ll find this easy and straightforward. You just find whatever element you want to add to your page and just drag and drop it. Then you modify the settings to make it look how you want it and that’s it.
Like I mentioned earlier, the number of elements you can drag and drop are not extensive and the amount of customizations you can make is very limited. If you don’t care about having that full control over the look and feel of your website or course, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
The look and feel that comes out generally looks great and should convert well. It’s modern, sleek and uncluttered. If you don’t mind having a website that may have a similar look and feel with other Podia websites, then Podia should be great! There are ways to customize it to a level that makes it look distinctly yours and different looking.
Email Marketing Automation
This is my favorite feature of Podia. If there’s anything that can help you make sales on autopilot, it’s email marketing automation. Let’s look at how easy it is to set up for your online course website.
Setting up automated emails
To set up an automated email, you just need to go into the course settings and select the Emails tab. Then you can create an email sequence quite easily. The whole process is smooth and straightforward. It’s more intuitive than something like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.
3 different ways you can capture and grow your email list with Podia
There are 3 different ways you can capture emails in Podia.
- Newsletter: Podia allows you to capture emails via the usual newsletter feature like you’d see on blog websites. People sign up to these newsletters to hear more information about your products and/or be updated when you post out new content.
- Digital Downloads: When someone downloads your digital products (whether it be a paid digital product or a free one, aka, lead magnet), they will automatically be added to your email list as they need to enter an email address and check a box to consent to receiving marketing-related emails from you.
- Your Online Course: When someone enrols for your online course, they will automatically be added to your email list. Whether you make your online course paid or free, you can still collect emails this way. Emails that come through this method would be considered more valuable for your business as they would be more likely to buy another course from you if you put out another course. You’ll need to nurture and care for these emails really well.
Would Podia be the right fit for you?
Personally, I’m really happy with Podia as it does most of the heavy lifting for me in terms of marketing and hosting. It allows me to focus on creating great online courses and running traffic to it.
However, in terms of whether it might be a right for you?
- If you’re just starting out, I recommend you go for something like Teachable. They have a forever free plan but do they have caps on how many students can join your website. This is a good place to start to see if an online course business is your thing. Podia could be a little more on the expensive side if you’re just starting out. Having said that, if you’re a wizard at making sales, have an existing email list or have a great course idea that you know will sell, then Podia might be great for you.
- If you don’t want to spend time on the technical aspects and just want to focus on teaching and selling online courses, then Podia will be great. Podia will help you quickly and easily build a beautiful and high converting online course website. The lack of customizations might actually be a good thing, as you can focus on the most important parts of the business (The 80-20 rule).
- You want to run a simple membership website and a way to make recurring income from your existing students. Podia supports the creation of memberships websites so this would be a good fit for your needs.
- If you’re an expert with a large audience and money to spare (or a smaller audience with high paying clients), Podia might not be a great fit. You would be better off with a more advanced website builder like Kartra. Check out this article I wrote about Kartra to see if this is something that will work for your business.
Hopefully I’ve provided enough information to help you decide if you want to use Podia for your online course website.
If you’re still on the fence about it, I’d suggest to try out the free 14-day trial of Podia so that you can at least get a feel for what it would be like.