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Thinkific vs Podia (2020): Comparing Online Course Platforms

With online learning on the rise, so has the popularity of online course platforms like Thinkific and Podia. Teachers, experts, and coaches understand this market and are migrating many of their courses to a virtual platform. It’s not surprising, too. Students and learners find online learning convenient. Moreover, you can access materials from both local and international sources.

So if you’re one of those who have the knowledge or skills to share, where do you start? While Thinkific is arguably the most popular platform for selling online courses and coaching, Podia’s all-in-one storefront approach makes it a worthy consideration. Here, we compare Thinkific and Podia based on their course builder, website customizations, marketing features, and pricing. 

Thinkific vs Podia Comparison Chart

NameThinkificPodia
 podia logo
PriceCheck Price at Thinkific.comCheck Price at Podia.com
Best FeatureExtensive third-party integrations, and customizable site settingsAbility to sell online courses, as well as digital downloads 
Transaction Fees0%0%
Number of CoursesUnlimitedUnlimited
Number of StudentsUnlimitedUnlimited
Payment IntegrationsPayPal, Stripe, StunningPayPal, Stripe
Mobile AppNoNo
BlogsNoYes
Native CertificationYesNo
Affiliate ProgramsYesYes
Discount CouponsYesYes

Course Builder

Thinkific’s course builder allows for more customizations compared to Podia’s. Both allow bulk uploads, and come with drag-and-drop functionalities.

Here is a look at Thinkific’s course builder. 

Both Thinkific and Podia allow users to add multimedia content to their courses. In Thinkific, you can upload images, audio, video, PDFs, and text. Moreover, the platform comes with a bulk import feature so you can build lectures faster. All of the content you upload can easily be managed and structured into chapters or individual lessons. 

If you’re not sure where to start, Thinkific includes a number of course templates. Each is designed for a specific objective in mind, like setting up a webinar replay or creating a membership resource library. Meanwhile, customizations can be applied both to the entire course player—which is your student’s learning environment—as well as individual courses. Either way, you can modify fonts, change a primary color, and add a logo.

On the other hand, Podia structures your content into sections and lessons. Lessons are where your content is uploaded, while sections organize the individual lessons. Like Thinkific, you can bulk upload content, and easily organize them as you see fit. However, Podia does have a slight edge in terms of its course player. The interface is much easier to navigate compared to Thinkific, and you get a comments area with your lectures without the need for third-party integration. 

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That being said, Thinkific and Podia do not support uploading different content items in an individual lecture. This means that a PDF file or a video upload will be treated as separate lessons. In addition, you can’t directly import content from cloud-based storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. 

Website Builder

In terms of customizing your site, Thinkific has the edge over Podia.

In Thinkific, you can customize site details and URL along with its design.

Since Thinkific and Podia are essentially hosted course marketplaces, you don’t need to purchase a web host or SSL certificate. These come with any site created using either of the two platforms. And for those who want to truly ‘own’ their online course site, you can even set up a custom domain. In both platforms, however, you’ll need to be on a paid-plan to access this feature.  

When it comes to website themes, Thinkific does have an advantage. Currently, Podia only has one site template, which allows for limited modifications to the font style or site colors. While it isn’t made for personalization, the default theme looks great on its own. 

On the other hand, Thinkific comes with a modest website theme library offering three templates. By any means, it’s not extensive, but each theme does come in a few different styles. So in reality, you do get several theme and style combinations to choose from. Regardless, if you’re not satisfied with any of the built-in templates, you can always choose to upload a custom theme instead. 

Just like in Podia, Thinkific also allows customizations to the preset themes. Site text, landing pages, fonts, and brand colors can all be adjusted in the platform. For more extensive modifications, you can update the backend of a Thinkific theme. 

Sales and Marketing Features

Whereas courses take center stage in Thinkific, Podia goes beyond by allowing users to sell a variety of digital downloads.

Podia’s digital downloads include almost anything—from templates to eBooks, audio files to PDFs.

Thinkific is largely a course-centric platform. But that doesn’t mean it has left out marketing from its capabilities. While the focus of the company is to allow users to build and sell online courses, there are a couple of options for you to promote your offerings. 

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Rather than offer built-in marketing features, what Thinkific does is to rely mostly on third-party solutions. For instance, you can automate messages to current students and potential subscribers through the platform’s integrations with MailChimp, ConvertKit, and AWeber among others. To capture leads, you can bank on Thinkific’s support for the robust Sumo. Finally, if you want to increase conversions, Thinkific allows you to install Hello Bar’s range of modals and floating bars to your website.

Podia, on the other hand, tries a more one-stop-shop approach. So aside from some standard features like upsells and affiliate programs, the platform also includes lead generation tools, like its own email marketing service. However, the feature only comes with basic automation while also lacking list management capability. If you need to send more than notifications, you’ll most likely end up using one of the third-party email services it supports.

Instead, where Podia shines is in its ability to let you sell digital products conveniently. Apart from online courses, you can also sell digital content like text files, eBooks, templates, PSDs, and even audio files. Moreover, Podia is an ideal platform for hosting live video sessions—and earn from them. The company’s Webinars feature includes sales pages, coupon and payment plans, as well as affiliates. 

Pricing and Plans

When it comes to plans, Thinkific offers more flexible options while Podia keeps subscriptions simple.

Here’s a look at the pricing and plans of both Thinkific and Podia.

Aside from a 14-day free trial, Thinkific also comes with a free-forever plan. While functionality is limited, you do get some standard features including unlimited students and the ability to embed third-party tools and sites. To access more advanced features like affiliate marketing and custom domains, you can choose from Thinkific’s paid plans: Basic for $49/mo, Pro for $99/mo, and Premier for $499/mo. 

The Pro plan, which is its most popular, can be substantially boosted with a Growth Package add-on. Designed to increase the visibility of your courses and grow your audience, it adds robust marketing and lead generation tools at the cost of $0.1 per active student per month. Are you running a high-volume business? The platform also offers Thinkific Plus, which comes with white-glove service, alongside advanced business and security features.

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Meanwhile, Podia offers a simpler two-plan scheme. For beginners selling their first digital products, you can sign up for a Mover plan which costs $39/mo. For creators looking to scale, then the Shaker plan, which costs $79/mo, will include additional features like memberships, a Zoom integration, as well as a blogging module. Like Thinkific, you can test Podia through a 14-day trial.

Both platforms offer substantial discounts if you opt for an annual subscription. On Thinkific, you get to save around 20% on monthly fees when you pay yearly. With Podia, you can enjoy a discount of about 16%, translating to a Mover plan at $33/mo and a Shaker plan at about $66/mo. 

 Verdict

Thinkific is better for creators who only sell courses or coaching services. If you want to earn from digital downloads, then opt for Podia.

With its customizable sites and powerful course builder, Thinkific is easier to recommend to those who want to focus on selling online courses. The platform supports course authoring software, while also including native integrations that bolster your quizzing and marketing capabilities. Plus, if you want to scale your business, Thinkific offers more flexible plans through the Growth Package add-on and Thinkific Plus.

However, if you’re a beginner just starting out with the online learning community, then Podia is a reasonable choice. The platform comes with a user-friendly interface, as well as basic lead generation tools to help you market your online courses. If that’s not enough, you can always bank on several integrations to third-party apps as well. Moreover, you have the option to sell digital products, thereby expanding your catalogue of products to an online learning market hungry for content.

FAQs

📌 Can I use my own SSL certificate on Thinkific?

Yes, you can use your own SSL Certificate on Thinkific. However, you’ll need to be on the Premier plan to access this feature. Otherwise, you can always opt for Thinkific’s auto-generated SSL certificates.

📌 What course authoring software is supported by Thinkific?

Currently, you can import course files to Thinkific created using Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline, and iSpring.

📌 What’s the main difference between Thinkific and Podia?

Thinkific is a course-centric platform that boasts robust quizzing capabilities and extensive third-party integrations. On the other hand, Podia gives you a storefront where you can sell digital products and host webinars apart from offering online courses.

📌 Does Podia charge transaction fees?

Whether you’re on the Mover plan or Shaker Plan, Podia will not charge transaction fees. However, third-party payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe will charge standard transaction fees that vary based on your location.

Mari Bassig
Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.