So, you’re planning to offer a digital product as part of your solopreneur business.
With most solopreneurs starting as service providers, getting to the point of offering a product, course, or membership is an exciting part of the journey in diversifying your revenue streams and creating an earning avenue that’s not so heavily dependent on your time in creation mode.
As you venture into this new realm of your business, you’re likely asking yourself, “what’s the best platform for hosting a digital product?”
While we’re big believers in exploring a variety of options to find the best fit for your personal goals and needs, we have fallen hard for Podia, a platform specifically designed for creators who want to monetize their genius through digital products, online courses, and membership offerings.
In fact, if you wanted to build out your entire online business on Podia if you so desire, that’s just how much this platform can do.
So, to give you the scoop from a user perspective and experience, from selecting it as our platform to actively using it, we’re sharing our honest Podia review to cover the reasons why we went with Podia as our preferred online course and membership platform including:
- Its features as an all-in-one platform that can replace 5+ other pieces of tools and tech
- The top-notch customer support
- The ease of affiliate capabilities to add exponential earning potential
Before we dive into each of these aspects (and more) in detail, first, let’s answer the question...
What is Podia?
Podia is a digital product platform that empowers creative entrepreneurs to make a living doing what they love.
That’s their mission, but the brass tacks of Podia is that it’s one of the most creator-friendly tools to help you sell online courses, digital downloads, membership subscriptions and more to your audience.
Overall Podia Review of How This Platform Plays into Your Solopreneur Success
When you’re wearing all the hats in your business, the key to keeping your solopreneur sanity is streamlining (aka the less amount of stitching 20 different tools together the better).
When venturing into offering digital products like courses, downloads, or memberships, it’s not uncommon to get into your research and discover there are a lot of assets that need to come together, as opposed to services where it’s as simple as taking someone from your website over to Dubsado for all your CRM needs.
Now you need a sales page, a check out/cart, product delivery system, and of course, hosting the product itself…and if you’ve done any prior research, you know there are about 100 individual tools for each one of those pieces.
No need to stress, solopreneur. Podia takes care of them all!
As they say on their homepage, Podia is the hassle-free way for creators to earn a living from their passion.
The Overview: Pros and Cons
All-in-One - As they boast on their site, Podia has the capabilities to replace 5+ tools in your tech stack, and we’ve found this to be true. Like we mentioned above, when you’re a one woman shop, the less pieces to cobble together and manage, the better. Podia ensures that all your tech talks to each other because, well, they provide all the tech!
Affiliate Capabilities - This was a big one for us. If you want the ability to leverage your audience as affiliates, creating your own program can be quite the undertaking, but Podia has affiliate capabilities baked right in and it’s as easy to implement as a toggle switch. More on this in a bit.
Amazing Customer Support - As we’ve gotten up and running with Podia, we have been in touch with their support team several times with questions and requests for insight, each with great response times and very helpful support that never put a kink in our momentum.
Free Migrations - While we didn’t need to use this benefit of Podia’s platform, if you’ve built out a product on another platform, but are now re-envisioning how that product fits into your business model or suite of offerings, Podia makes it easy to switch by getting all your products and customers moved over seamlessly when you sign up for their “Shaker” plan or select annual billing on any other plan.
No Transactions Fees - You’ll be hard-pressed to find other platforms that offer as much with their overall features PLUS no transaction fees. While transaction fees are often par for the course with running a business, if you have the opportunity to keep more of your hard-earned dollars without sacrificing all the other features you need, it’s a no-brainer.
Limited Design Customization - While we’re happy with the current design options provided by Podia, for those who want to keep every inch of their design elements 100% on brand (think landing pages and sales page), Podia’s design capabilities are a tad limited. Again, they’re all about simplifying and streamlining - easy to set up can mean less room for some customizations.
Limited Community Interaction within Memberships - Currently, Podia only allows for students or members in your community to comment on posts made from you, the product creator. Not a big deal if you’re creating a membership focused primarily on content delivery, but if there’s a community element to your membership, you’ll need to integrate an additional space such as a Facebook group or Slack community, for example.
We have heard from Podia’s customer support team that more community features are on their roadmap for the future.
Product Listings - Online Courses, Downloads, Memberships and Webinars
There is no shortage of platforms that cater to each one of the popular categories of digital product offerings, but a platform that is specifically built to host them all and can do it well?
That’s harder to find, and we know because we spent hours and weeks researching the various options available (you’ll see some of our other platform comparisons near the end of the Podia review).
We love how each one of the digital product categories has its own set of features that beautifully align with that offering, for example, when you create an online course in Podia, you can set up your content to drip out over a certain time frame and add quizzes to the end of modules to help your students retain information.
Compare that with a download (i.e. eBooks, PDFs, cheat sheets, checklists, video files, audio files, etc.), which are usually a lower-ticket item, thus, Podia gives you the ability to offer an upsell or bundle your download with other offerings like your courses or with your membership.
With their membership capabilities, Podia allows you to create an unlimited number of plans or levels with different perks, content, and prices as well as the ability to publish members-only content with features including adding pinned posts, scheduling content in advance, and controlling which membership plans see which posts.
Finally, there is the ability to host and sell access to webinars.
Using the integrated power of Podia and YouTube Live, Podia makes it possible to host and sell live video sessions to unlimited participants, and they also host the recording, making it available for replays or to sell the recording.
Communication - Email Marketing and Messaging
Yes, inside of Podia you actually get an email marketing system built right in!
From sending your regular newsletter to sequences to segmentations, Podia allows you to collect emails through opt-ins and via your products, and rather than zapping that information over to a separate email delivery system, all of that info can stay right in Podia along with your email marketing.
Here at One Woman Shop, we still use ConvertKit as our primary email marketing platform since we have a large list with a lot of segmentation that was in place prior to Podia, but where we like leveraging Podia’s email capabilities is for sending follow-up sequences specific to a purchased product.
If you’re like us and would plan to keep your existing email marketing system, Podia does make it easy to send your email data to ConvertKit with their integration. Simply tag the purchasers of your product with a specific tag inside ConvertKit (image below), and then run your sequences and automations inside ConvertKit.
Podia has a ton of options to integrate with other platforms and systems, making it even more powerful- but the ConvertKit integration totally sold us.
However, if your pre-existing list is on the smaller side with minimal segmentation and migrating would be super simple, or you want to have all your communications in one hub, Podia can deliver that for you as well.
In addition to email communication, Podia makes messaging or live chat on your Podia storefront and inside your product portals incredibly simple. We used the live chat/messaging feature during our annual bundle sale and we loved hearing from customers in real-time!
Podia allows you to capture customer questions, feedback and requests in real-time (you can mark when you’re online and available to chat live), or while you sleep (customers can leave their questions and comments for you to answer when you’re back online). No need to get a separate live chat tool and configure a bunch of code to make it work!
This is a great tool to have on hand, specifically during live, open cart/close cart launches where you may have a concentrated burst of potential students or customers asking questions before purchasing.
Selling and Storefront - Creating Your Website, Sales Pages, and Pre-Launch Mode
If you’ve been in business for awhile, it’s likely that you already have a website, but if you don’t, or you’re looking to minimize your subscriptions and number of tools you use, Podia makes it possible to build out your entire website on their platform (hosting, custom url, web pages, etc.).
We can’t speak to all the possibilities and features with the website capabilities since the One Woman Shop website is hosted on WordPress (for customization and blogging purposes), but the ability to create a “Storefront” page with all your products is great for anyone selling downloadables, printables, or other evergreen offerings.
( Important Note: Podia does make a mention of using their membership features as a place to blog, but if blogging is a critical piece of driving traffic to your business as part of your content marketing strategy, we’d suggest hosting your blog on a platform like WordPress, Squarespace, or Showit for SEO purposes. )
Regarding the selling aspects of Podia, this is really where they shine as a platform.
For example, let’s say you want to begin collecting emails of potential customers for a specific product, course, or membership during a pre-launch period; Podia makes it a simple menu switch to toggle between “Pre-Launch” mode (aka a waitlist page) to the sales page when you’re ready to officially launch.
And if you’re selling in an open/closed cart launch, you can also hide the product from your Storefront after you’ve closed the cart (we did this with the Solopreneur Success Bundle sales page since that’s a one-of-a-kind, one-time product), however, if you’re planning to sell the same product again in a future launch, we always think it’s nice to be collecting emails on a waitlist 24/7!
Speaking of sales pages, we found Podia’s sales page builder to be super intuitive and provided a nice range of design capabilities while not being too over-the-top with the customization.
This allows for building sales pages that both feel on-brand, but don’t cause a hold up on the design process from having too many choices to tinker with. (Ideal for those solopreneurs who feel comfortable with DIY design when working off of a templated-style framework.) Here's an example of a sales page built in Podia for one of our Monthly Expert-Led Masterclasses:
Podia also boasts a 12-second checkout process that’s optimized for conversions, and we have to say...if you have your card info saved in your computer, it’s really more like a 2-second checkout!
If you have ever considered having an affiliate program for your own products and done even a little bit of preliminary research, you know that getting the tech to run your own affiliate program can be:
- And costly
Podia has made having your own affiliate program so simple it almost feels too good to be true, but it’s not because we use it and it really is insanely simple.
As in, you choose between your affiliate program being closed, invite only or open. (See example below.)
With the invite option, this is great for bringing in affiliates who aren’t already a pre-existing student or member.
The only thing to point out about Podia’s affiliate marketing capabilities is that, although you can set specific affiliate commissions per product, you can only set one level of affiliate commission per product.
For example, when we sold the Solopreneur Success Bundle, we wanted to have two tiers of affiliates for the Bundle, but could only create one level.
Not a huge deal for us since there were only a small handful of our second-tier affiliates, who we manually paid the percentage difference between level one and level two after our launch was over.
If we had to sum up Podia’s customer support in one word, it would be — incredible!
Between being extremely timely (you’re never sitting on a support request for more than a day) to getting in touch with you the way that will be most efficient at solving your problem or answering a question (they use their own live chat feature or will hop on a call with you), Podia simply has made contacting them for support a breeze.
In addition to the ease of getting 1-on-1 support, Podia has done a great job building out resources and help docs that address every feature and walk you through simple tutorials that are easy to follow along with. They have live calls every week, support chat available every day, and their reps are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.
Ever signed up for a tool where it felt impossible to navigate all the help docs (many of which are outdated) to find the answer to your specific question? Yep, that’s not the case with Podia.
If you want to see a robust list of comparisons, Podia provides in-depth comparisons between numerous platforms over on their site, but we thought we’d quickly highlight a few of the specific platforms we considered when we were doing our initial research for a place to hold both individual digital products as well as the One Woman Shop membership offering.
Mighty Networks - Mighty Networks had a great community component (something we considered since we’re thinking that we would eventually like to move the One Woman Shop community off of Facebook), but seeing as Podia has this element in their future roadmap, we still went with Podia since Mighty Networks didn’t have capabilities on the digital product hosting side that were even comparable to Podia. Additionally, the membership limitations were too much to make Mighty Networks a front runner for us. Podia was also slightly more affordable, which was another win for us.
Teachable - While we love the look and feel of Teachable, they don’t have a way to easily sell downloads or a membership, which made this platform not a great fit for us due to its lack of versatility. Not to mention, the transaction fees were steep (5% with Teachable compared to no transaction fees with Podia).
Kajabi - We know there are some serious Kajabi lovers out there, but we just didn’t see where we’d get a good bang for our buck....Kajabi’s pricing is steep considering the lack of features you get (Kajabi is really best for those selling digital courses only), but again, we preferred all the options that came with Podia for a much more wallet-friendly price point.
SendOwl - SendOwl is the original One Woman Shop product delivery system we used, but as the One Woman Shop brand and offerings has grown, this platform just didn’t provide enough additional features and integrations for it to be the best fit with where we’re headed. SendOwl is focused primarily on giving easy access to downloadables (think PDFs, spreadsheets, and printables), it’s not catered to courses or memberships.
When looking at the things we wanted out of a platform (namely, ability to sell courses, memberships, and downloads), Podia was the only platform that was easily able to offer all three in addition to meeting all of our secondary and “wish-list” needs (i.e. - affiliates, easy communication with students and members, and affordability).
The Wrap-Up on Podia for Building Digital Courses, Products and Memberships
If it wasn’t obvious by now, we’re huge fans of Podia, and after significant research prior to making our product platform decision, we can confidently say we’re proud to be Podia customers.
Not only do they provide a great platform and service, but the people working at Podia are truly top-notch. We’re believers of voting with your dollars and supporting businesses that do great work and promote principles that align with ours at One Woman Shop.
And to get started with Podia today, click here to start your 14-day free trial and we also suggest signing up for their 10-Day Product Launch Challenge!
For those who are aiming to bring their first digital product to life, this challenge will get you from idea to pre-launch in a flash!
This Podia review contains affiliate links for Podia and other online subscriptions. As always, we only include affiliate links for products + services we personally recommend and think might benefit you and your business.