Thinkific vs Podia [Jan 2020]: Which is the Best Online Course Platform?

By Ewen Finser | Courses


Last Updated on

If you’re thinking of launching an online course,  one of the first things you need to figure out is which platform’s best to host your content- which is probably why you landed on this page, right? 

Luckily for you, we’re going to review two top-notch solutions; Thinkific and Podia. Hopefully, this will help you decide which program best suits your needs.  

It’s worth acknowledging from the get-go that more people have heard of Thinkific, but just because it’s made a greater name for itself, try to keep an open mind. Podia has helped entrepreneurs launch online courses for around four years, so it’s safe to say they also know a thing or two about creating and launching digital products!  

Main Differences Between Thinkific vs Podia

The main differences between Thinkific and Podia are:

  • Podia is easier to use, whereas Thinkific requires more technical ability
  • Thinkific has more interactive classroom features than Podia
  • Thinkific allows for more advanced customization and technical integrations
  • Podia has a simple two tier pricing structure, whereas Thinkific has three tier structure
  • Podia allows you to bulk email at lower pricing tiers, whereas Thinkific only allows individual emails below the “Pro” account
  • Thinkific is more suitable for accredited higher ed institutions, whereas podia is best for DIY content creators

With all that being said, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of this review.  

Our Pick

Thinkific Homepage

  • More virtual classroom features (surveys, chat, quiz’s, forums, certificates)
  • More expensive in general
  • Slightly more technically complex to setup (but not overwhelming – lots of good tutorials)
  • Detailed-oriented course creators
  • Replicating a classroom experience online
  • Accredited programs
Our Pick
Best For?
Our Pick

  • Fewer interactive “classroom features”
  • DIY product creators, digital marketers, and food bloggers

What is Podia? 

Podia relaunched their brand back in December 2017.  They wanted entrepreneurs to take them more seriously as a platform to host online training courses- and boy oh boy did they succeed with that! 

Podia offers a one-page storefront for course creators to modify as they wish, making it an excellent choice for newbies launching and selling digital products.  

The key things to note: 

  • It’s incredibly user-friendly 
  • It’s a fabulous solution for launching courses quickly 
  • The site’s pretty secure 
  • They don’t charge transaction fees 
  • Payouts to course creators are instantly available either via Stripe or Paypal. 

It’s the main selling point: 

Podia allows users to send emails to students via their dashboard. Plus, you can see and analyze your open rates. At the time of writing, Thinkific doesn’t offer these kinds of analytics. 

podia homepage

What is Thinkific? 

Similar to Podia, Thinkific allows you to host and sell online training programmes where you can include files in the form of videos, documents, pdfs, etc. It’s  also incredibly user-friendly and provides SSL certifications for all the web pages (which is an essential feature for building trust with both your audience and Google’s search engine!)   

It’s the main selling point: Course creators enjoy greater interaction with their students. For instance, you can insert and use a discussion forum as part of your course. Plus, you’re also able to monitor the progress of your students and provide completion certificates as a reward for finishing your entire class.   

At the time of writing, Podia doesn’t offer these kinds of student interaction features.  

Another key selling point: Thinkific enables you to create numerous pages within your storefront page. By this, we mean things like: about me pages, blog posts, FAQS, etc. You get the idea- you can publish virtually any kind of web page! 

Thinkific home page

Now we’ve provided you with an overall comparison, we’ll now weigh up more specific aspects of both courses in greater detail… 

1. The Cost 

Here’s how much these two programs will set you back: 


Thinkific offers users a free starter plan, which is excellent for anyone new to writing courses. After all, why fork out for software when you’re unsure if you’ll even make a sale? 

The free plan is best for entrepreneurs looking to test both the Thinkific platform and to get a feel for whether your course content will be a success. With this account, you can make as many as three courses, enroll an unlimited number of students, publish quizzes and surveys, host all your course content, and enjoy instant access to your funds.  

Historically, the primary issue with Thinkific was when you started to make sales, you had to hand over 10% of every purchase you made to Thinkific. This is NO longer the case. Thinkific NO longer charges transaction fees! 

However, there are other limitations to the free plan. So, once you’re ready to scale and market your course you’ll probably want to upgrade to one of Thinkific’s paid plans, which are as follows: 

The Basic Plan: $49 per month 

This entitles you to everything included in the free plan in addition to: 

  • Sell courses online: You can create an unlimited number of courses  
  • The creation of coupon codes for customers to make purchases at discounted prices  
  • You have the option of e-mailing individual students  
  • You can drip feed pre-scheduled content 
  • You can create an affiliate program 
  • The use of a custom domain, this gives your online school a more professional feel 
  • You can integrate Thinkific with your e-mail provider (MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, etc.) 
  • Send Thinkific data using Zapier integration triggers 
  • You can also manually enroll students and export student data outside of Thinkific 

As you can see, you’ll get access to a wealth of additional features when you make the upgrade.  

The Pro Plan: $99 per month 

This is the most popular of all Thinkific’s plans; however, for most entrepreneurs and startups, this is a pretty significant outlay.  

You’ll get everything in Thinkific’s basic payment plan, in addition to: 

  • Two site admin accounts (which is ideal for small teams) 
  • You can register five authors to one course 
  • You can create private and hidden classes 
  • Course creators have the option of setting advanced pricing options  
  • You can offer your audience both membership site packages and bundled products (if you’re thinking of creating a membership site area, this is the lowest priced Thinkific package available to you) 
  • You can provide students with certificates to reward their work 
  • The advanced customization features included more sophisticated themes and sales funnel elements, as well as the option to edit your HTML/CSS. If you’re a coder or web designer, you can fully customize the experience you provide students.  
  • Access to priority support 

Now, although this price package sounds excellent- and trust us, it is. This is where Podia has a slight edge over Thinkific. For just $79 a month (even less if you pay for a year’s subscription), you can do the majority of the things listed above- but, more on that in detail in a sec! 

The Premier Plan: $499 per month 

If you’re looking to launch an educational empire, you may need Thinkific’s more extensive bundle, the Premier Plan.  

You’ll get everything included in their pro plan in addition to all of the following benefits: 

  • Five site admin accounts 
  • As many as 50 admins and authors for each of your courses  
  • An onboarding package which includes a call, training, and a review to assess whether you’re ready to launch your course. 

As you can see, there’s a paid plan to suit everyone’s needs and budgets. However, how does it compare against Podia? 

Thinkific’s price structure


Podia’s pricing structure is a tad simpler; they only offer a choice of two plans. Unlike Thinkific it’s unfortunate they don’t offer a free program. However, their paid plans tend to be more cost-effective, and if you upgrade within the first five days of your free trial, you’ll receive a lifetime discount of 15% on any plan you’re on! 

The Mover Plan: $39 per mo or $390 per year (two months free!) 

You can try this for free for up to fourteen days. We recommend making the most out of this time to get a feel for whether the Mover Plan is a good fit. 

This is what to expect to receive for your money:  

  • Podia allows you to build, sell, and manage your online course from the convenience of one dashboard.  
  • You can sell digital content and digital downloads with ease 
  • Creating sales pages, secure checkout forms, and publishing content is a breeze 
  • Podia helps you build your e-mail list, nurture it and create one-on-one relationships with your fans. 
  • You don’t pay any transaction fees! 
  • You’re entitled to around the clock support.  
  • Enjoy selling unlimited products to customers.  
  • There aren’t any barriers to the number of e-mails you can send or files you can host.   

The Shaker Plan: $79 per month or $790 each year  

This plan entitles you to everything in the Mover Plan in addition to:  

  • The option of launching a subscription-based product  
  • Access to embedded buy-buttons, you can insert these onto your product pages. Prospects can purchase your course without even leaving the page they’re reading!   
  • You can launch your own affiliate program. Your affiliates receive a unique code to promote your course. You control how much you pay them per sale.   
  • You can insert third-party code like the Facebook Pixel, Sumo, Olark, etc. 
  • Podia offers fabulous migration services that move your current content and audience to their platform (Thinkific apparently offers similar services for their Pro and Enterprise accounts). 

All in all, when it comes to price, Podia certainly trumps Thinkific.  

Podia pricing

Podia IS Awesome! I LOVE Podia. Here's why. It's simple to use . Fun. Works for courses, digital products, and memberships like a charm. It's going to be our FINALIST for 2019 Tools of the Year. Need I say more? Free 14-Day Trial Podia IS Awesome! We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

2. Customer Service 


Podia customers report their customer service to be second to none. If you’re after a speedy response use their live chat feature.   They typically respond within minutes. Nothing is too much trouble for them. If they don’t know the answer, they’ll make an effort to find the solution for you. Alternatively, you can reach out to them via e-mail. Unfortunately, they’re unable to offer telephone support, so if that’s your preferred method of contact, you’re out of luck! 


Thinkific offers telephone support for its U.S. customers, which is excellent. However, if you’re an international Thinkific user, you’ll have to rely on their e-mail support. Unfortunately, they don’t have a live chat feature. However, they’re usually pretty good at getting back to you within the day.  

3. Features 


As we’ve already established (depending on the payment package you opt for), each platform offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to create unlimited courses for an infinite number of students. However, Podia takes this one step further by providing entrepreneurs unlimited bandwidth and file space. 

Like we’ve already said, Podia also includes an email marketing integration. This doesn’t place limits on the number of subscribers you can have or the number of emails you can send. Course creators find this feature particularly useful for scheduling e-mails that walk students through the structure of the course. Ideally, this kind of email should be sent immediately after a customer purchases your course. Whereas, to access this kind of feature, you’ll have to purchase Thinkific’s Essentials plan.  

podia features


As fabulous as all the features Podia provides are, Thinkific undoubtedly trumps them when it comes to functionality. To get a better idea of what we mean, here’s a list of things Thinkific provides that Podia doesn’t: 

  • Reports on student progress       
  • Built-in student discussion forums 
  • The option for students to leave a review of your course (this is great social proof for marketing your product!) 
  • The ability to register more than one instructor and site admin per course  
  • You can upload voice-over presentations     
  • The distribution of student completion certificates     
  • The ability to launch time-sensitive classes and prerequisite lessons before students can access your full course. 
  • You can bulk import course content and student enrollments 
  • Access to a site builder with a drag and drop page designer    
  • Webhooks     
  • Custom HTML/CSS for all your web pages 

Just to name a few! 

Thinkific features

4. Customer Experience 

Podia offers customers a straightforward checkout process, which is essential for boosting sales. Although Podia excels in this area, Thinkific does a way better job at conjuring a sense of community amongst your students. Although Podia allows course creators to set quizzes, Thinkific’s combination of tests, surveys, discussion forums, and completion certificates do a great job of fostering a sense of cohesion.  

With that being said, it should be acknowledged that Podia allows students to comment on course content. As such, students can post their questions and interact with other students. You can also track the progress of individual students which enables you and your support team to provide more accurate advice (should they require it).  

Final Verdict: Podia or Thinkific?

All in all, both of these solutions have fabulous qualities. They’re both reliable and provide everything you need to create and launch a top-notch digital product. However, Podia tends to be better for entrepreneurs on a tighter budget who are willing to compromise on some of the student interaction and design features Thinkific provides.  

If you’re willing to pay the extra, Thinkific is best for course creators with a specific vision of what they want their online course to look like.  Not to mention, you can take your time creating your course, just utilize their free plan to write and upload all your lessons. You don’t have to pay a dime during the ‘creation phase’ of your digital product.  Then, once you’re ready to kick things up a notch, upgrade to payment plans that entitle you to more features to sell online courses.

Podia IS Awesome! I LOVE Podia. Here's why. It's simple to use . Fun. Works for courses, digital products, and memberships like a charm. It's going to be our FINALIST for 2019 Tools of the Year. Need I say more? Free 14-Day Trial Podia IS Awesome! We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Bottom Line:

  • On a Budget? Not sure EXACTLY what your course will look like? In this case, go with the more affordable and user-friendly Podia package here.
  • Looking for student interaction? A “Classroom-like” experience? In this case, go with the more fully featured end-to-end digital classroom with a Thinkific package here.
Our Pick

Thinkific Homepage

  • More virtual classroom features (surveys, chat, quiz’s, forums, certificates)
  • More expensive in general
  • Slightly more technically complex to setup (but not overwhelming – lots of good tutorials)
  • Detailed-oriented course creators
  • Replicating a classroom experience online
  • Accredited programs
Our Pick
Best For?
Our Pick

  • Fewer interactive “classroom features”
  • DIY product creators, digital marketers, and food bloggers

Have you got any experience using either Podia or Thinkific? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments box below. Speak soon! 

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About the Author

I blog about the tools I use every day because everyone hates hype-mongers. Don't be a hype-monger. I build web assets every day and I know the struggle with choosing the right tools. From SEO to website creation, to sales funnels tools, I've used them all and now I'm here to tell you about them.