Business owners, influencers, and educators finally have the ability to make their own course and generate revenue.
The problem is that there are a lot of options out there, and some of them have predatory practices that just want to lock you into a deal.
Among the very best course creators out there, you have Thinkific, and you have Podia: two time-tested, community-beloved course creation services that help you make the most attractive and educational courses out there.
It’s time to draw a comparison. Thinkific vs Podia: who has the better deal for your money, your time, and your vision? We’ll go over all the benefits and drawbacks from both of these course creator sites so you can decide what works best for you.
- Thinkific and Podia Compared
- What Course Building do They Offer?
- How Hard is it to Make a Course?
- Course Delivery
- Pricing (Including Payment Methods)
- Thinkific Pros and Cons
- Podia Pros and Cons
- Which is the Best Option to Host Your Course?
Thinkific and Podia Compared
You’re ready to sell your online course, and apart from delivery, you need to make sure your course building service has the concessions available to make your experience enjoyable, and see value in what they’re providing.
Thinkific and Podia have a similar goal, but give you different paths to get there. Which one ends up being better for hosting an online course? We’re about to find out together.
What is Thinkific?
Thinkific is an online tool and service where you can create your own courses, market them, and sell them to prospective students. Essentially, what you’re doing is taking your knowledge and adding it in linear modules within Thinkific to create a learning path.
Do this effectively, and you have an online course where users can learn a new skill from start to finish, and acquire a level of mastery in a skill, using a program, or enhance their understanding of a creative art.
Thinkific is an all-in-one service that lets you build everything from the ground up, and become the online education entrepreneur you were meant to be.
What is Podia?
As an all-in-one service, Podia helps you build courses, host them on your own domain without any subdomain to mess it up, accept payments, and more.
With Podia, you just have to know what you want to teach, and their intuitive course building options will help you carry out the rest. Much like Thinkific, Podia is all about helping you teach people through modules: video, text, and image-based segments of courses, each with learning material to help you slowly master skills.
Podia is a complete package deal: host, accept payments, sell, market, and everything all from one platform.
What Course Building do They Offer?
With Thinkific, you get access to embedded tools such as Screenflow, which helps you design and fiml your video content right from the get-go.
Thinkific has an emphasis on video content being the main driving point of most online courses, and they have some validation in that regard. Thinkific allows you to build all-in-one courses that offer video, images, text, and some interactive qualities, although they’re still not too keen on those (they’re expanding into it at the time of writing this).
Podia knows that a lot of online courses are teaching complex skills or those that require screencapping, so they allow you to screencap right in their course builder tool and incorporate those videos into your plan (don’t worry; there’s a way to edit).
That’s one major strength of Podia, but on top of that, they also allow you to upload pre-recorded videos, text documents, images, and any other downloadable materials that you have to offer to your students.
How Hard is it to Make a Course?
You want to make an intuitive course that has a clean user interface.
Well, Thinkific might actually stun you in this round because they don’t hit the nail on the head quite like they should have. This is all about how easy it is to make a course, even with no prior knowledge or experience with course building sites.
Thinkific is one of the leaders of online course building, but that doesn’t make them exempt from scrutiny. You go onto your dashboard and choose your course—which is easy enough to do—and then you either add or change a course template.
Choose a template, and you’re good to go. They offer multiple ways to get your course started, but it becomes a bit clunky with their bulk importer. It’s a tool that’s designed to make this entire process easier, but it’s actually a little tricky to get to work properly.
Overall, they still walk you through the process in a step by step formula, but Podia just ends up being easier to use than Thinkific in several areas.
Podia has a linear process. They walk you through absolutely everything that you need to do to make a course from the ground up. It’s true that you might run into some restrictions here and there, but in a way, it makes the course building experience a little bit easier.
Input your own pre-recorded video or make screen capture from within Podia, upload images, text, and DLC to offer to your students. You go from module A all the way to Z (or more, if you need) in a structured, straightforward course development plan.
Course delivery is all about how the course materials are fed to your students.
How they get to access them, how access is provided, and everything in between. We won’t spoil anything but… Thinkific has a lot of experience in this space.
Thinkific really thought this part of their service through. You can have prerequisite courses to drip feed content to students, set up schedules via a calendar to sdrip content, by student, by course, and basically every customizable feature for content dripping that you could ever need.
There’s even a way to set up automated messaging to let students know that their next batch of content is scheduled. Content dripping is great, but be sure to use those landing pages that Thinkific offers so that you can accurately display how this works to your students before they make a purchase.
Podia offers content dripping, though it’s nowhere as intuitive as Thinkific’s design. You’ll end up accessing the FAQ here and there to learn how to do it properly. Content dripping is all about restricting access to certain content for a certain amount of time.
You can use this to make one-month batches of courses available, and upon the second month in a membership, a customer/student would then get access to month two’s content. Podia offers this, but other than that, it’s a standard module-based delivery method.
Pricing (Including Payment Methods)
If one of these two are really looking good to you right now, we’re sorry, but we have to drop the price bomb and let you know what they cost.
Will these features be worth the monthly or annual costs? Keep in mind that Podia and Thinkific both offer bundled pricing, but neither have lifetime access.
Thinkific offers four pricing plans, with an undefined larger size for enterprises that you and I don’t really need to worry about right now.
- Free: It’s just what it sounds like; free as can be. There are obviously going to be restrictions, such as not custom domain and customer service support, but it’s a good way to build your course slowly before paying for it monthly.
- Basic: For $49 per month, you’ll get a custom domain, some enhanced SEO benefits, affiliate benefits, email integration, and so much more. This is a good place to start when you have no current expectant students. Annually, this plan is $39 per month.
- Pro: For $99 per month, you get advanced customizations, live Zoom lesson integration, and the ability to build a community through forums, assign work, and more. The main reason people choose Pro is for the ability to have multiple course admins for larger sites. Annually, this plan is $79 per month.
- Premier: For $499 per month, you get unlimited constant customer support, up to 50 course admins, five site admin accounts, onboarding packages to help you get started, SSOs, and group analysts to help your site be the best it can be. Annually, this package is $399 per month.
Podia has two very simple, linear pricing structures with no frills. There’s no free option like Thinkific has, but you can access a free trial for the time being.
- Mover Package: For $39 per month, you get access to your own website, digital downloads, online courses, email marketing, webinars, and messaging. The only problem is you cannot make memberships at this price. Pay annually, and you’ll save $78.
- Shaker Package: The Shaker Package includes everything previously mentioned in the Mover Package, but with the addition of memberships, third-party coding, a blog, Zoom integration, offsite buying buttons, affiliate marketing solutions, and more. You’ll be able to save $158 in total when you pay annually.
Templates give you power on your website. Since both Podia and Thinkific give you the ability to build your own websites, you have to be able to lay out your content and information in a way that’s actually appealing to potential customers and students.
Thinkific includes templates that have a known marketing advantage to others. They allow you to open up your site and display your content in ways that plenty of others find attractive and easy to navigate.
Half of UI is about making sure your customers and students actually know what they’re doing, and nobody wants to aimlessly navigate a website while trying to figure that out.
Thinkific’s templates give your students plenty of control and easy, clear paths to get from one page to another without dawdling. Not as good for individual page retention, but hey, it will show your customer where to get to.
Podia is known for having multiple templates available, but some of the best ones are actually third-party templates that you would buy similarly to how you buy WordPress themes.
For the most part, Podia already arranges information and data in fairly accessible ways, so in this case templates are more like skins than anything else.
This is either a pro or con depending on the way you look at it: if you like the basic Podia setup, it’s beneficial, and if not, it can be limiting.
Features are how you interact with your site, how potential customers and students will interact with your site, and it will dictate the limitations that a site has. Overall, you want more features than you’ll need for an LMS system like this where you’ll be hosting courses.
- Complete Course Builder: You don’t have to use a SCORM file here: you can build the entire site from within Thinkific without any external or additional information necessary.
- Video, Text, and Image Courses: Use all the media you need to make your courses the absolute best that they can be. There’s almost no limitations in this department.
- Discussion Forums: Implement community-accessible forums that people can ask questions on, or just chat with fellow students.
- Landing Pages: Podia is known for having excellent landing page templates, which will help you draw in traffic from Google.
- Selling Tools: Market your courses with coupons, internal upsells, and even have course affiliates that can earn commissions by promoting your online course.
- Fast and Secure Payments: You’re in this to earn money, so you’ll be able to get money fast from Podia with near instant payments.
Thinkific Pros and Cons
- Voice Over PowerPoint: Many sites make you do this separately, but you can actually use Thinkific to make videos. Video production with PowerPoint (common in online courses) and your own custom live voice over can be a very powerful combination.
- Customization Options: Out of all the full feature LMS systems out there, Thinkific gives you some of the best customization options. You choose how your site comes across to potential students. You have more access than just what’s in the template shop.
- Marketing Tools: You can assign coupons and other marketing tools to help you bring your course into the spotlight. It doesn’t take long to get started with it, and you can track coupon analytics to adjust prices as you see fit.
- Student Payment Options: Making in-depth Masterclass-level stuff? You can design payment plans so that you students can do installments, or discount for bulk purchase all at once (hey, more marketing tools).
- No Chat Support: True, they do have phone support, but we all know how long that can take to get help from. There’s no chat window, so you’re left hanging on the line if you run into problems. There are no premium support options for course creators.
- No Sales Funnels: You can make landing pages… kind of. The marketing tools that Thinkific suggest are less all-in-one than most of us would think going into it.
Podia Pros and Cons
- Instant Payouts: Need to scale fast? Podia can instantly pay you as soon as the money makes it to them, so you don’t have to wait to reinvest in your business. Just be sure you have a pool ready for refunds so you don’t get lost in this feature.
- They Host: It’s still your domain name and site name, but Podia will host your site so that you don’t have to worry about most restrictions that hosting companies instill in their packages. Keep this feature in mind when you make your final decision, because it’s worth almost the entire cost of using Podia and then some.
- Unlimited Bandwidth: Some hosting platforms only allow X amount of visitors per month, but Podia will literally support you as much as you need. They’re just happy to be assisting you in making your online course that much better.
- Full Service Course Builder: Podia is basically as all-in-one as any other LMS system out there. You have the ability to make your courses in intuitive ways. Whether it’s from the ground up, or you’re exporting/migrating files from another site, it’s easy to get going.
- Less Payment Gateways: There are less ways for your students to pay you in the first place, so you end up with restrictions that could cost you a sale or two.
- Email System is Sub-Par: There’s an integrated email system, but… you might be better off having your students hit you up with a Gmail address if we’re being perfectly transparent here.
Which is the Best Option to Host Your Course?
We’ve divulged the high points and low points of both sites, but which one seems to fit your idea of what a course creation service should be?
Which one has exactly what you need to take your idea and turn it into a reality?
Managing your own course has its challenges, but thankfully, Thinkific and Podia both do an excellent job of making it easy for you. If neither of these tickle your fancy, be sure to check out our other guides to learn about more course creation services and sites to help fuel your creativity.