By: Podia Labs, Inc.
Today it is very much convenient to search and purchase any product or service online. We witness a similar scenario in the education field, where several sites offer online learning. Some create and sell their content; others hire professional individuals/partners who deliver the learning material.
We have platforms that allow users to sign up and use their tools and techniques in the process of course creation and sales. Podia is open for anyone passionate about creating content, but not limited to online courses only! They also support membership sites and digital downloads.
Many online content creators start their journey with zeal and enthusiasm, but it reduces along the way as they face various challenges.
It may be the case if the sales are unrewarding; they may attract the audience, but retaining them becomes an enigma. Imagine the kind of hard work the creator has to input to keep the students hooked.
Online courses may witness a slow death over time; thus, the membership feature can save the day. The creator gets an assurance of recurring income with the subscription payments.
Membership websites are protected by login credentials, hence the content is available for members only. It is similar to the gym and club memberships, where the member receives privileges.
Although, the creator is solely responsible for catering value-adding content to its audience. They can include materials such as cheat sheets, webinars, downloads, bulk courses, etc. into their membership.
Podia also offers digital downloads such as e-books, PDFs, checklists, audio, among others. It can be referred to as a one-stop solution storefront as it offers online courses, membership sites, and digital downloads.
Its rivals have a focused approach, e.g., Thinkific and Teabchabe dwell on online courses, Kajabi offers membership, and digital downloads are from Shopify and Selz, etc.
They currently have 2 paid plans, Mover (unlimited everything), and Shaker, which has a membership. The shaker plan offers free migration in case the subscriber is moving one another platform to Podia.
They also provide embedded checkout, which enables the customer to buy products on your website/blog without leaving the page.
Over 23 thousand creators have utilized their service, and they offer a 14 days free trial period, which requires no credit card details.
We venture into various features of Podia to determine how easy it is to use and its effectiveness for content creators.
The main agenda of platforms such as Podia is to provide individuals with tools to design, create, and publish their online content.
It is a cloud-based service (SaaS), and they provide unlimited hosting for the creators. They tackle all the technical parts of running a website, hence relieving the users.
The creators only have to focus on creating the content that can earn them income. Along with course creation, Podia assists when it comes to marketing the course, digital download, or membership.
The majority of its competitors only provide the course as their primary offering, but Podia has managed to catch the limelight by incorporating membership and digital downloads.
The sign-up process takes only a minute to submit an email address and password. Then there is a series of feedback questions that inquire if the user is new to selling digital products.
The next query is regarding the availability of a product to sell on Podia. The creator selects the country of residence, after which the dashboard loads.
Almost all the websites try to design their site in a way that provides a pleasant user experience. An uncluttered and straight forward UI enables the user to navigate easily.
Podia’s dashboard is minimalistic as it only contains the tabs of products, membership, emails, customers, affiliates, and sales.
The dashboard’s appearance changes after course creation and enrollment of customers. It displays the customers and the product summary.
The dashboard can be rated to be average, as the design is basic with white background. The reason could be that they aim to provide an easy to use system.
The first dashboard showed 2 sections, which hinted the user to create and edit personal bio and first product.
The personal bio is similar to giving a private statement about yourself and your business. You can edit the bio using Podia’s editor. It happens to appear on the storefront and sales page. Let us now move forward to the course creation process using Podia.
We have mentioned that Podia has much more to offer than online courses, but we cannot fail to notice that it makes up the majority of all the products and membership offerings.
The products section on the dashboard allows the user to create the online course via the “new product” button.
We can see that the pop-up window allows the creator to create a course, digital download, or product bundle.
The selected product has to be named, and then one can continue with the process of creating the online course.
A course builder page reloads and has tabs of content, setting, pricing, promote, customers, comments, and 2 drop-down menus of preview and draft.
The main body offers options for the creator in terms of the content, whether they want to add section, files, link, text, or quiz.
We notice that Podia provides freedom when it comes to the course layout. Thinkific provides templates for their courses, which can be edited by the creator.
It can be seen as a plus point or undesirable one, depending on your preference. Being guided by a template makes work easy, but it can be rigid as well.
Anyhow, we can start by adding a section, which can then have content such as video, file, text, or a link. With this, another window pops up with 2 segments; section info and drip settings.
The section info needs one to input details on the title and description. The drip settings allow the creator to switch on the feature for the section.
After saving the settings, the created part appears on the main body with a drop-down arrow of “add content.” Another button allows the creator to either edit or deletes the section.
We have already mentioned that Podia offers content attachment of files, links, texts, or quiz. The file can be added only through drag and drop only.
We fail to access the browsing through the local files function here. The uploading is possible via dragging and dropping the desired document.
If the user needs to add a link, then they have to provide a URL for the same. Along with it, the creator needs to give it a title and description.
The text can be added using the standard text editor with options to modify it using bold, italic, adding a link, heading, quote, bullets and numbers.
The quiz part comes drafted, and the creator edits the section by adding questions. By default, a typing space for the subject appears with answers option in terms of A and B.
The creator can add the answer to it or else save the question and proceed in adding some more. One can determine the student’s level of know-how after grading such quizzes.
In summary, the platform allows the creator to include videos, text, audio, links, PDF, PSD, PPT, among others, in their lesson content.
We cannot help to point out that Thinkific offers more abundant material than the average offerings of Podia.
Thinkific provides templates to create surveys, webinars, presentations, and much more! But on the bright side, Podia has no restriction of content size, the number of courses, or the audience.
It can thus prove to be adequate for the creators to aim to deliver a large quantity of information. All the content included in the course appears on the page so that the creator can get an overview of it.
Apart from the CMS part, we have other segments such as settings, pricing, promote, customers, and comments.
The creator can have a sneak-peek into his/her course and sales page of the product. The system allows one to save the content as draft, pre-launch, or publish it.
The pricing part allows the creator to provide valuation, and the customers can purchase it via credit cards, PayPal, or Stripe. There are options to include upsells or coupons for the course.
The comments allow the customers to interact with the instructor or other students. The visibility of the section can be set to be on, off, or locked.
The course page gives the creator an idea of how his/her product will appear on customers website. Below is an image depicting the same.
We can now venture into the creation of digital downloads using Podia.
The concept of a digital download is that the interested customer purchases the file, which contains the product (documents/programs/software.)
The seller then sends the buyer a URL link, usually via email, which permits them to download and access the material.
Digital products such as eBooks, PDF, software, photography, course, stock video/audio, short films, digital art, guides, templates, or documents can be put up for sale using Podia.
We have seen a full acceptance of digital newspapers. These days people no longer purchase a hard copy; they access it using their smartphones or PC/laptop.
The same scenario is facing physical books, whether its academic, novel, or any other kind. We have all turned towards eBooks as it offers ease of access and flexibility.
In the system, we select digital downloads under new products, and like an online course, we provide it with a name.
The same course builder appears, whereby the creator has options to add sections or files. However, the creator can only include files in the digital content.
There are no options for links or text like we have under online courses. The file can be uploaded using drop and drag.
The creator is allowed to include files such as PDF, images (PNG, JPG, GIF), video/audio (MOV, MP4, MP3), eBooks (EPUB, MOBI), among others.
The creator can enable prelaunch downloads. It gives them an impression of how many people are willing to purchase the product and also get their email list.
We can see that there is an email sign up bar for the pre-launched digital download products. It is an efficient way to gauge the audience's response too.
When it comes to adding products, Podia allows the creator to publish bundles too. It will enable them to package products to sell as one.
It is a great way to earn additional revenue. It can be used to attract the audience into purchasing a new product, which will be in pairs with other content.
The creator chooses the products to be included in the bundle and gives it a price. The option is also available under membership, and it is convenient to offer multiple products at one go.
Whether it is an online course, a digital download or a bundle, all the products appear on one page. The creator can edit them, look at the sales and course pages, enroll students, view customers, or even delete it.
Membership is a part of Podia’s offering, but it appears on a separate tab.
We recognize that very few online learning platforms offer membership sites. Providing courses and bundles is a norm, but making the exclusive audience members is a one-off event.
Only the people who sign up for the membership can access the material which is gated by protected login credentials.
The subscription fee can be either monthly or annually. Some of the content may also be offered for free, depending on the choice of the creator.
The type of content under the membership is diverse with courses, webinars, private groups (Facebook or Slack channels, digital downloads, group coaching, professional services, blogs, etc.
The content creator secures recurring payment and builds a relationship with the audience due to the frequent interaction.
Such associations result in higher lead generation, whereby the potential customer due to having familiarity with the creator ends up purchasing various other products.
A membership site demands the creator to produce frequent, updated, and exciting content that can keep the audiences engaged.
A course may take several months until it gets published, but the membership does not require long and extensive content. Something short and straight to the point kind of material does the work.
The essential element of any membership site is the community. All members have similar goals and needs.
They work together to achieve their targets and, in the process, learn from each other too. The communal spirit does wonder when it comes to learning and growing.
Podia has a separate tab for memberships, and this service is available in its shaker plan only. The creator has to provide a name for the site.
The first thing the system urges the user to do is to create a plan. It is crucial to know the purpose behind the creation of the membership site.
The plan decides the content, its name as well as the pricing structure, monthly or yearly basis. Once that is done, the procedure can be published.
The system displays a warning notice before plan publishing. It is because one cannot alter the price after including it in your storefront due to the limitation of Stripe.
Thus, it is critical to decide on the most appropriate costing system for the plans. It may have several contents within it, and the pricing should be able to address that.
The creator is allowed to add more plans to the membership. One is now free to make posts, which can be pinned, public, scheduled or published.
Files and text can be a part of your posts. It can be made private hence accessible by members only. The members can also receive email notifications for the posts.
The published posts appear on the sales page of the membership plan. The editor allows customization of the page, which we shall discuss next.
Apart from the posts, there is a section for comments where the audience engages with the creator. It is the part that allows members to discuss the posts.
There are tabs of promote and sales, which encourages the creator to market the membership plan to earn revenue.
The settings section allows the user to link their Facebook, Slack, and Palapa URLs with their existing membership group.
Facebook groups allow interaction and sharing of content amongst the members. Slack is a collaboration software tool that acts as a community platform.
It eases communication and allows integration with other third-party applications. Palapa is also a platform for creating an online community.
A thriving community has active members who are constantly interacting. As far as a paid membership is concerned, we cannot manually add new participants.
The creator can send a 100% off coupon to the audience, who can then be a part of the community without paying.
For the free plans, its much easier as all that is needed is the members' email address. The recipient of the email can then set a password and gain access to the site.
Thus, the site can create multiple plans for the members, with different prices and content too. The sales page is customizable by the editor. We now look into the personalization of Podia.
We know that every individual and business is different. There arises a need to personalize some features to reflect the disposition of the brand. There may be generic or custom software.
The custom software is explicitly designed to meet the user's requirements. We fail to achieve that level of personalization in Podia.
However, the creators who lack technical knowledge will be able to customize a few pages within the system.
The Podia Editor allows customization of the storefront, sales, course, membership, bio, and also custom page.
The brick and mortar storefront hosts all the products of the shop. The same applies here; everything that the creator publishes for purchasing is available on this page.
We have mentioned that the editor allows one to make changes to these sections within the page. The storefront is accessible from the dashboard under the user’s account.
We have the choice of viewing or editing the page, and we have observed it (above image). We now see the various ways to personalize it.
The editor holds a navigation panel on the left, where we can see sections of appearance, header, products, membership, bio, newsletter, and we can add other custom sections too.
The appearance section deals with the font and color of the page. It aims to change the heading styles and the color of the background, buttons, text, brand, etc.
The header has the logo of the creator's school, its favicon, and social image. It is a global section (publicly visible), and the changes made here are published automatically.
We can then edit the product section, which shows the online courses, bundles, and digital downloads.
We can select the layout to be that of a grid or list. Each product can further be edited by providing its description or attaching a file along with it.
The theme can be set here if the creator wants to default, light, dark, custom, or none. The same applies to the membership, where one can edit the plans in a similar way available for the courses.
One can enhance the bio section of the page by providing details about themselves. It enables the audience to build trust and increases the leads.
We can add an avatar to the section, along with the headline, description, and bio background file. The creator can further add links to his/her social media accounts, e.g., Facebook, website, LinkedIn, etc.
Another section that can accompany the bio is the newsletter. Its role is to obtain an email list for the interested audience.
The customers can leave their email address through which they receive notifications from the creator. A reCAPTCHA can be included to avoid spam signups.
These can be the standard sections under the storefront; however, one can decide to add other kinds of parts too.
Podia offers general options of text, an image with text, video with text, testimonials, FAQs, categories, or columns.
The testimonials are the reviews given by the student who undertook the course, and it holds a lot of weight from a sales perspective.
A custom page within the storefront enables the creators to give more information about themselves and the product/service.
The creator develops content for his/her products and hopes that the customers will start enrolling in it. The sales page provides information related to the product and allows them to sign up for the content.
The sections under the product are shown along with its material, whether it has video, audio, text, link, etc. The page has a button for starting and enrolling for the product.
The paid course go through checkout and account set up. But the free content is also accessible only after the customer submits his/her email address.
The user then needs to set up an account to access the product. The system asks for the first and last name and a password for logging in.
Hence, it is the page that is responsible for increasing conversion rates. Let us look at the editor and how it can edit the sales page.
The editor has sections of appearance, header, product banner, table of contents, bio, and of course, the creator is allowed to add other parts if need be.
The appearance and header sections are similar to what we discussed under the storefront. They provide editing of the fonts, color, and images (logo, favicon and social images).
The product banner provides editing the title of the product, its image/video, and its background image. The table of content offers insight into the product.
One can modify the heading, whether or not to show the file count and its appearance. Adding an FAQ section or a promo video can enhance the sales page.
So, if the customer decides to purchase your content after viewing the sale page, he/she first signs up to create an account. They can then make the payment through Podia’s checkout process.
Once that is done, they face the product page, which again informs them of the content and its sections.
Podia provides minimal personalization choices, and we fail to see advanced customization using webhooks or custom CSS/HTML editing.
Again, Thinkific takes the crown as it allows white labeling of the system, and Teachable also offers more customization options than Podia.
A content creator may be able to create a website using WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, among others.
However, it becomes a challenge to attract customers, hence little or no sales. Such an individual can quickly sign up and integrate his/her website with Podia.
Under the settings, one can enter their custom domain. All the websites have IP addresses, as computers do not understand words.
The DNS translates between the system’s IP address and domain name. What if a case of multiple domain names sharing the same IP address arises?
The CNAME records help the administration of different ports from a single IP address. The creator establishes the CNAME with the domain registrar and mails Podia for the creation of the custom domain.
The custom domain allows you to display your brand identity, e.g., the creator can create pFind.com, whereas the subdomain would have been pFind.podia.com.
With it, one can also customize their email address; hence, your customers relate to you in a better manner. In short, you become the owner and face minimal restrictions.
Furthermore, the user can embed Podia’s checkout experience on his/her website. Thus the customers will be able to purchase the products without having to leave your site.
It is possible by embedding buy buttons, product cards, or text links on external pages such as blog posts, sales pages, and others.
Thus, with the custom domain, the creator can retain its branding and at the same time, increase their customer base.
To convert leads into customers, the creators need to improve their sales and marketing strategies.
Email marketing allows you to group your customers and to create personalized messages for them. It encourages them to visit your website hence improving response rate.
However, it is necessary to avoid sending frequent and irrelevant messages that can annoy customers. Regulatory policies such as GDPR protects the privacy rights of consumers.
Podia has an in-built email service that allows the creator to send drip campaigns and newsletters. It is available for integration into the products and membership; hence, one can gather email contacts of potential customers.
Maintaining the list of customers plays a vital role, and one can import it if it is not available in Podia. It can be manually or automated messaging, and it can also include your branding.
Podia offers opt-in forms that can be made to be a part of the storefront or pre-launch pages. It is not a robust system as it is created to promote its products and membership.
They can share content, such as updates or free offerings, to increase their learning experience. The creator can track the performance of his/her email marketing too.
It is through the reports section which provides details on information about the open, click, and unsubscribe rates.
The drip campaign works best in communicating with the students who have purchased the products. It enables them to address customers’ queries or to keep in touch with them.
The creators need to decide the trigger event (new sign up, product purchase, pre-launch sign-ups, etc.) and add emails of the customers.
The next step is to input the day to send, subject, and body and then enable the toggle for the email status.
The creator can run a sales funnel on Podia, which starts with lead management and ends with an initial or repeated purchase.
One can attract customers by providing a free preview or free digital downloads. The drip campaign can then be used to send emails to potential customers.
These follow up emails can be sent to thank you notes, share tips, or provide links to your products. Upsells can be attached, which enables one to sell cheaper products along with the costly ones.
The key is to keep interacting with customers to learn about their needs and demand. You can then create content that meets their requirement, achieve your sales target, and grow your business.
Podia allows integration with third-party applications such as MailChimp, MailerLite, or Zapier. Their emails may lack options for customizable fields, but it is adequate for promoting the products.
Apart from email marketing, Podia allows creators to use affiliates, upsells, prelaunch, bundling of products, among others, to enhance the marketing of the products and membership.
We have mentioned that the emailing section of Podia may not prove to be as efficient; hence, integration with a substituting and comprehensive application can do the work.
The third-party tools provide you with a code snippet that can be copied and pasted in the custom code section of Podia’s settings.
We have two types of codes available; website tracking (appears on every page under your storefront) and conversion tracking code (after the customer's purchases products or membership.)
When the lead converts into a customer, analytics tools play a vital role in providing you with various information about customer’s actions, the traffic source, etc.
Some third-party integrations may require the creator to develop a thank you or success page. These appear after the completion of a purchase by the customer.
Apart from that, Podia offers ConvertKit, AWeber, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, MailChimp, MailerLite, Zapier, and Drip integration.
The creators need to track the visitors once they have published their products and membership. Google Analytics allows one to study the behavior of the customers and strategize accordingly to achieve higher sales.
It provides metrics such as bounce rate, traffic from various social platforms, areas of interest, devices used, and the locations of your potential customers.
Podia has a tab that hosts all the details of the customers like who made purchases (free or paid), who subscribed to the mailing list, or the revenue earned from them.
The list of the customers can be exported along with their emails so that you can use in different email service. The consumer can be enrolled in a course, turned into an affiliate, or deleted from the system.
The creator can come up with different payment plans for the customers, either monthly or annual annually. It applies to the community members who can choose how to pay the subscriptions.
One can offer customers incentives such as coupons, upsells, promotional pricing, among others. They also get to experience the Podia checkout which is safe as it collects no consumer information.
The checkout is fast hence improves the conversion rates. They offer payment gateway option of PayPal or Stripe.
The creators can utilize the promote section, which allows one to share the content on their social platforms, embeds codes, and also the option to turn on the affiliate feature.
These provide opportunities to increase conversions and achieve increased sales. There is a sales tab on the main navigation panel that provides details about the customers, invoices, and refunds.
The content creators sign up with Podia to gain more exposure in the market by attracting and retaining customers.
If they create valuable content and meet the needs of their customers, then Podia offers enough tools to track and maintain customer satisfaction.
The customer support team of Podia offers service via email and live chat. They also provide frequent webinars and training sessions for the creators.
Their blog is also full of articles that address online courses, membership, digital downloads, marketing and sales, case studies, and others.
Their 14 days of the free trial can provide passionate creators a chance to test out the platform, which offers an exceptional service of membership.
Their products can be sold for free or at a price, and the customers can pay via Stripe or PayPal. They do not charge any transaction fee, and their checkout is available for embedment in the creator’s website/blog.
The UI is uncluttered and straightforward, as it aims to facilitate the novice individuals to operate their system efficiently. It may be their strong point, as well as an undesirable trait.
It is because it offers limited customization in the course creation and its editor. Thus, the storefront, sales, and course pages do not get the ability to stand out from the crowd by reflecting the creator’s brand identity.
Despite that, according to us, Podia is an excellent choice for beginner content creators who are not tech-savvy. Their easy to use system also allows membership sites to offer bundles, hence attractive to individuals who are interested in such an arrangement.
However, if the creator seeks advanced customization features, with free plans like the ones offered by Thinkific and Teachable, then Podia is not the answer! Still unsure? Try their 14 days free trial and decide for yourself.