The Membership Machine Show – Jonathan Denwood and Spencer Forman – for advice, tips, and insight on planning, running, and growing a successful membership website, plus what is the best technology solutions from WordPress and SaaS, plus interviews with membership industry experts.

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Sensei LMS: Sensei LMS

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What Are The Best Course Building Platforms For 2022/2023

On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of the common (or dangerous) myth of “passive income.” There are plenty of snake-oil salesmen out there who are only too keen to sell you on the dream that running a membership is a quick path to untold, effortless riches. Somehow you’ll be kicking back on a beach somewhere, sipping cocktails, as all of this delicious, passive income just magically appears in your bank account. It’s a nice dream, but that’s all it is.

The truth is that if you start a membership in pursuit of passive income, then you’re probably going to end up disappointed!

Don’t get me wrong; you can make good money with membership sites. But it’s leveraged income, not passive. And sometimes, the amount of actual work involved in running a membership site can come as a bit of a surprise to some people.

In the this episode of the Membership Machine Show podcast and video, we looked at most of the leading and most popular SaaS-based platforms that compete directly in one way or another with WordPress.

For an extended period, WordPress, to be honest, wasn’t the most straightforward or accessible platform to use to build and market a membership website. It still had strengths associated with ownership, design, and development freedom, but it had some significant weaknesses connected to digital automation and email marketing.

However, this situation has changed with FluentCRM and its recent update, which now includes an easy-to-use newsletter builder that integrates into the central marketing automation part of the plugin. I have been waiting for this because I have been using FluentCRM for my own and my customer’s automation needs, but I have been forced to use a separate plugin (MailPoet) for my newsletters (I use it to send out this particular newsletter). It is a great solution.

Fluent CRM’s update means we won’t have to use two different plugin solutions on customer websites. With this great functionality, we have a WordPress plugin solution equal to or better than SaaS marketing platforms like ActiveCampaign or membership systems like Kajabi.

I can now confidently say that by using either LifterLMS or LearnDash with FluentCRM, you will have a much more powerful, flexible, and cost-effective platform than any of the SaaS solutions we discussed in episode 05 of my “The Membership Machine Show.” Plus, you will own it yourself.

In 2023, WordPress looks just great when it comes to offering the best and most cost-effective solutions for entrepreneurs or organizations looking for the best membership and eLearning website-building solutions.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:03.840] – Intro

Welcome to The Membership Machine Show, talk you through your membership website from the initial idea all the way to the finished product. Here’s your host, Jonathan Denwood.

[00:00:16.310] – Jonathan Denwood

Welcome back to the membership show. It’s episode five. We’re recording this on Friday, the 25th, or the 11th, 2022. We called this at 08:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Every Friday, I got my cohost, Spencer. In this episode, we’ll discuss the best membership platforms to build your course in 2023. It should be a fascinating discussion. Spence, would you like to introduce yourself to the audience?

[00:00:52.610] – Spencer Forman

Sure, it’s Spence. And now I’m saying from that’s Forman, and that’s a hub where you can see all the rest of the stuff I’m up to.

[00:01:02.290] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. Spent has got a lot of knowledge you need to go over there. So let’s go straight into it. Spence. So I’m starting with teachable. Teachable, I would say, is one of the biggest players in this space by the user base. I think I’m just going to give you my fault, and then you can give your fault. I also think, like CRMs and many of the things we’re going to be talking about, Spent, you can parcel these solutions into different buckets. And I think I see a lot of people use Teachable, but they also use WordPress, their main websites on WordPress, and then they use Teachable as a kind of subsection, a sub-website where they have their courses. I see quite a few people doing that. I personally feel there’s nothing wrong with it, but I also feel that it hasn’t progressed a lot. I think there are better solutions out there. What are your general thoughts about Teachable?

[00:02:25.950] – Spencer Forman

Spence well, Teachable has been around the longest and I just feel like I have to make this sort of statement across the board of all of these. There are some situations where somebody has already grown an audience or there are some situations where a SAS platform like we’re going to discuss actually brings an audience. And that is one of the few compelling things on my list. Personally. I know you and I discussed differences here as to why somebody might use a platform rather than just using a WordPress solution. In many cases, the audience already existing. Sending traffic is almost a guarantee that they’re going to get attention. So from that standpoint, Teachable has a promise in their revenue share and so forth, that if you put the stuff on there, that it’s essentially going to be discoverable almost like a miniature search engine. But in the old days, that was more of a truth than maybe today because there’s obviously so many different competitors, right? So YouTube is, to many people’s eyes, a search engine and it’s a marketing machine. It’s also a place to put videos. But in the early days, it was the only game in town.

[00:03:36.960] – Spencer Forman

Nowadays people might put on other social networks and so forth. And so considering what it does in the price, I think it’s a solid, it’s the granddaddy. It’s not really designed to give you sort of fancy features, but if you just want to get up and running for one purpose, great. You know, like put your lessons in there and monetize it. I’m pretty sure that they still take a share of your revenue, though, as.

[00:04:00.910] – Jonathan Denwood

Part of the free plan is outrageous. I think 7% the next, that’s on top of the 2.9% that Stripe and or PayPal would take. And then I think the next level up, it goes down a bit, but they still take 5%. I’m pretty sure about that. I think another thing that you just pointed out, that I forgot to point out is what you said about them. They market themselves that they’d be able to market your calls. Because I forgot to point out there’s also a subcategory. There’s a bit of confusion between what we’re going to be talking about and what I call Marketplaces, like Udemy, Skillshare and maybe even YouTube where they’re Marketplaces, which can have their use in getting you can put a course on to get exposure either on YouTube, Skillshare or Udemy, but they’re going to take an enormous cut. Plus you’re not going to build up your email list, but if you just want to get build an audience and build recognition, they still got their place. But you find in a lot of lists online that they mix Udemy and Skillshare as a platform, but where I see it as a marketplace.

[00:05:30.090] – Jonathan Denwood

What do you think about that? Do you think I’m on the right track?

[00:05:33.710] – Spencer Forman

Yeah, I mean, it’s good to bring up you to me because Udemy is in a weird way, like the real Grant, the old goat of all of this. They’re the first one that came out at a time when it was still possible to do things on your own. But they provided everything in one box and because it cost nothing, essentially they did a deal with you. They said, we’re going to take a.

[00:05:54.450] – Jonathan Denwood

The piece, we’re going to take a piece of your action.

[00:05:56.730] – Spencer Forman

You know what I’m saying? And the thing is, we’re seeing evidence of that even in the WordPress space for people who don’t know better or care. So I want to point out that unlike a lot of things I’ll say in the show, I don’t feel that that in and of itself is a bad situation. In other words, in exchange for just staying focused on the one thing you need to do, somebody gives you a place where very simply, they give you all the tools, they maybe again promote you. They take share the revenue, blah, blah, blah. And that’s all you have to think about. A comparable to that would be something like MINDBODY online for yoga teachers. Now, I think that as we go to this list, however, I’m going to point out the subtle differences because sometimes the fees and everything else add up to be almost borderline usury, considering what you could do on your own for the same or little effort.

[00:06:48.570] – Jonathan Denwood

Oh yeah, I totally agree with you. We feel that you should build this on WordPress, but we agreed, me and Spencer, we would cover other topics and solutions. So I totally agree with you, Spencer, and I’ve got no problem. You just got to understand what you’re getting involved. Like you to me, Skillshare. And obviously YouTube is free, but you can use it to get an audience.


[00:07:14.740] – Spencer Forman

When it comes to even on the platforms though, like even amongst the other competitors, some of them have fee structures that just aren’t as competitive as the other ones.

[00:07:24.630] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, but the good things about Udemy and Skillshare is they still have their use because they take an enormous chunk. It’s been like publishing a book. If you go to establish publishing instead of trying to publish yourself. They have costs, they provide infrastructure to get your book published, but they take a big cut. It’s the same with these, but they can be useful. But it does cause a little bit of confusion. Hopefully we’ve clarified that. We’re going to go for a break where you hear some messages from our major sponsors. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.

[00:08:07.540] – Speaker 4

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[00:08:38.740] – Speaker 5

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[00:09:10.090] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re coming back. We’re talking about the best Saspace platforms for publishing your membership website in 2003. Obviously, we think WordPress is best, but you might look at these solutions as well. Also, I’d like to point out we’ve got some great special offers from our sponsors. Plus, if you’re looking for the best SAS or WordPress solutions for your membership site, I’ve got a created list of all the best offerings for you. You can get all these goodies by going over to Wptonic Slashdeals, wptonic Slashdeals and you’ll find all those recommendations and goodies there. So on we go. Thinkific I think they started maybe before teachable or maybe before. The good thing is they don’t charge this seven or 5% hierarchy free or their lowest paid offering. When it comes to interface design, I think it’s a bit more rougher than teachable, and I think a lot of people, if they just want to I see a lot of people that got a Facebook page website and they use Fincher for one course. Which puzzles me in some ways. I think, why don’t you use something like Lifted LMS or learn about on your website? But there’s quite a few people and also you don’t get the email functionality at all when you don’t get that teachable, you have to use a third party solution.

[00:11:04.160] – Jonathan Denwood

What’s your thoughts about finkyfic?

[00:11:09.490] – Spencer Forman

It’s kind of along the same lines. If you have something that you are going to sell and you feel that it’s got a product market fit, they’re not holding your hands or anything in terms of giving you an audience, but they do give you sort of a tool set if you like the interface. It’s competitively priced. I mean, it starts with free, which is, again, a rev share and a limited amount of set, and then it works its way up to on a monthly $199 a month. I think they also have this thing called plus, which is if you when.

[00:11:38.850] – Jonathan Denwood

I looked, it was 49 for the base start was 99, and growth was $199.

[00:11:48.060] – Spencer Forman

Yeah, but I want to point out something that I think is sort of informational as well. It’s sort of low key, but I don’t find it appropriate. Even if you’re at the $99 a month, it’s still branded. It’s thinkific, okay, you have to pay $299 actually a month to remove the branding. And I just do the math, folks. That’s $2400 a month. Now, you could right now go on $500 a year. I think you mean sorry, 2400 a year to put your content into somebody else’s gilded cage for 2400 a year. You could hire a freelancer and have them essentially work for you every month to do exactly the same thing. And again, I’m not saying we’re not talking about this or we said WordPress. I’m saying these are the things that one should think about when you’re using any of these platform solutions, like, okay, what am I getting at a certain price point? And then compare it to hiring somebody to just use the open source tools for me or one of the other platforms. And I think that’s a high bar to remove branding, in my opinion. $199 a month.

[00:13:06.790] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. I think just take this spot onto the next one, mighty Networks. I include network spent. I consider it a totally different beast because it’s linked to one of our previous shows, which about building community, but when you go online and you start doing some searches, it’s in these lists. I understand why they put it in these lists, but I don’t think you should consider it unless you’re considering building a community website, which we’ve discussed in a previous episode. What’s your thoughts about Mighty Networks.

[00:13:52.240] – Spencer Forman

For those of you who missed the previous episode. In a previous episode, Spencer Forman revealed how he went at it with the CEO of Mighty Networks in a previous lifetime. Mighty Networks is what I will call the legacy of Ning with Nig gene Bianca is the CEO. She’s a very capable CEO. I can’t fault her at all. But the basic premise of this, as you’ve rightly pointed out, is the legacy of this thing they’ve been trying to do for since 2006 ish five fish that is a social network for anything. And now in a world of Facebook and so forth, we’re seeing a resurgence of that. But as the features you’re talking about carry over to, okay, can I put a course on? Yeah, you can, but same stuff I’ve always said, a gilded cage. B price point on this still, again, like we just said, $99, still not white labeled. It’s still mighty networks. You have to go up to the Learn More level to figure out how to remove their branding. Think about that, folks. You’re putting your blood, sweat, and tears into a business. You could own it, control it, you could have somebody do it, but you have to pay at a level that they have to have a meeting with you first to talk about to remove Mighty Networks from the branding.

[00:15:05.520] – Spencer Forman

And furthermore, I don’t know if this really would be something I would suggest, because remember, I’m saying your Lane guy, okay? If you’re doing a course, running a course is a top down, one directional publishing model, right? It’s like writing a book and it gets published. A social network is running a camp for kids ages four to eight and all that goes along with it. And having a social network is not something a book publisher wants to do. I’m thinking Stephen King running a daycamp for kids like, never was that going to ever exist. So I don’t think this would be a tool that I would choose for the price point, especially for those reasons. My personal things aside, I also feel anybody who is running a social network, there are other compelling new versions like Circle, if you really must have a platform for social network versus Buddy Boss, circle is a more compelling product, in my opinion. The smitey Networks is an old dog with new tricks.

[00:16:06.340] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I just included because it’s included in all these searches. But if you’re not looking to build a community, if you’re just looking to get your courses up, I definitely wouldn’t look at my network because of the overhead, because it’s really focused, or they market it focused at building communities. And that’s a lot of extra work. So it’s not, in my opinion, the right tool for the right job. So on to the next one. I included this Talent LMS, because there’s also a subcategory, folks, but you find this also listed if you do a lot of searches. It is more focused on what I would call the internal training market of a company. But if you’re selling courses, paid courses, you can use Talent LMS. But I would say its focus is really more focused. If you’re working for a company or organization and you don’t want to look at WordPress and you’re looking for a solution to build an internal training platform, what’s your thoughts about Talent LMS?

[00:17:35.440] – Spencer Forman

I kind of agree with you on that. The end customer? It’s hard to say because I don’t really know they have solutions. I was looking to see if they had some examples. But if you go by industry, I think they kind of hint as to where they’re going with us. Right. You’re manufacturing, healthcare, software consulting and so forth. I think what they’re looking for is something that would be training either your corporate employees or the employees of your customers. And so I can’t fault them for their pricing. But this pricing also seems to me to reflect not the type of people that are doing a onesie two z kind of a course. This isn’t put on your big girl and boy pants level, but it’s pretty much getting into that range where they literally and I appreciate this list out the pricing where on the front it takes some big ones to say, 459 a month.

[00:18:34.690] – Jonathan Denwood

I’ve used it because of some clients we’ve had and it’s a pretty good interface and it’s a kind of professional level tool. But some of the other ones that we’re going to be talking about, they’re around the same price, but it comes from a slightly different background, a different focus. It’s what Spencer said. It’s really focus at the professional market. I’m not saying that the others are professional. I’m struggling for the right wording, but hopefully you’re getting the drift. We’re going to go for our break. We will be back in a few moments.

[00:19:17.360] – Spencer Forman

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[00:19:49.760] – Speaker 1

This podcast episode is brought to you by Lifter LMS, the leading learning management system solution for WordPress. If you or your client are creating any kind of online course, training based membership website, or any type of elearning project, LifterLMS is the most secure, stable, well supported solution on the market. Go to and save 20% at checkout with Coupon code Podcast 20. That’s podcast 20. Enjoy the rest of your show.

[00:20:27.710] – Jonathan Denwood

We’re coming back. I just want to point out, if you’re looking to utilize WordPress for your membership website. Have a look at what WP Tonic has to offer. We provide great hosting. We provide a great list of plugins, professional level plugins as part of our hosting plan, plus we provide all the email functionality. We set it up for you initially. We just make it so much easier to utilize WordPress for your membership solution. So go over to WP Tonic and have a look at what we’ve got to offer. So let’s go on. This gave us something that’s totally different to talent LMS in its history that’s cartra, you could go from one extreme to the other, really, because cartra, it comes from marketing optimization, marketing background, really, the sales funnel tool, basically, which got a bit lost. They tried to pitch it to agencies as one white label agency tool that didn’t really work out for them. So then they pivoted and positioned themselves as at all as a competitor to Kajabi. Really. What’s your thoughts around Carter? Do you initially agree what I outlined?

[00:22:06.040] – Spencer Forman

Yeah, I mean, we can cover all the points that I would use as a checklist. Right. So number one, why are you wanting to use this? What’s your primary motive? I would say that many, as you rightly pointed out, many of the historical reasons that people would come to this would be it’s a click funnels, Kajabi something something sales funnel alternative. Right. The fact is that you could sell people courses as the content that they’re buying. Right. So in other words, it was nice that this was one of the earliest success stories of a standalone platform where you can actually take the money, do the sales funnel up, sell down, sell and deliver. But times change, phones change, technology changes, online streaming video changes. Nowadays, I have about a 75 inch 4K TV for $500 that was delivered to my doorstep the next morning that weighs £26. It covers the whole wall and has a remote control that lets me connect to anything that’s ever been created anywhere, content wise. Now, five years ago, that would be a miracle. A miracle. It cost me probably a kidney. So I think the problem is they, as you rightly pointed out now, had to throw in kitchen sink type things in order to keep people there, in order to attract new people.

[00:23:29.190] – Spencer Forman

But I think that’s a state of diminishing returns. The more these platforms try to throw stuff in, the more they dilute. What their primary thing? Is it’s literally like, name the thing that somebody’s known for, right? Oh, she was in that movie, right? Well, if she’s in 47 bad movies, then you’re like, oh, I don’t remember what was good about her as a movie actress. Well, same thing here. What is cartridge good for? It’s not the price. It’s not really their features are great. It’s just that they kind of have the whole kitchen sink, and if they find somebody, then they can catch them before they figure out there’s other competition.

[00:24:05.590] – Jonathan Denwood

And don’t get me wrong, listeners and viewers, they are highly promoted by YouTube influencers. And I’m not just picking on them and I’ve got nothing wrong with it, as long as you understand they offer very attractive affiliate packages to influencers. And I totally agree with what Spencer outlined. They have become sorry, Spencer, what are you going to say?

[00:24:37.830] – Spencer Forman

Is it cartra ClickFunnels Kajabi, the holy trinity of SaaS services that exist from a previous generation, that still exists today, that are essentially doing the same stuff?

[00:24:52.460] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, I would agree with you there. I just think there’s better solutions. There’s better solutions on this list than what cart? If you want what they’re offering and where they come from, there will be better solutions that we are going through.

[00:25:14.140] – Spencer Forman

Honestly, I don’t even know just to throw one, I think. I don’t even know if courses is the thing. I mean, it’s got surveys and quizzes and memberships and videos, but courses is not actually one of the features.

[00:25:31.610] – Jonathan Denwood

You’re totally right if you’re looking to do courses, seriously, I would not use this plan. It does. Yeah, but they are from a marketing optimization bank. They got a bit lost and it wasn’t working out for them. This is my outlook. And they hitch their wagon to membership again because they were a bit lost onto another strain. Well, I’m going to leave Spencer’s outline. Excess ally. I never pronounce it correctly, a WordPress plugin, but it’s all in one solution. How would you classify excess ally? How would you put out to start off with? Because I get it wrong, don’t I?

[00:26:38.210] – Spencer Forman

I go with excess ally.

[00:26:40.120] – Jonathan Denwood

Right, ally.

[00:26:46.090] – Spencer Forman

Well, we had the pleasure of having Nathalie on the show.

[00:26:49.460] – Jonathan Denwood

She’s a lovely life, she’s really a.

[00:26:51.370] – Spencer Forman

Great person and everything else, but these bones of contention haven’t held her back. But at the same time, we’ve already been very clear about things that in a time machine would have been nice to have done differently, but that hasn’t stopped her success. So good for her, you know, I mean, like everybody, if somebody doesn’t tell you you’re wrong, you’re really not doing something well. So she’s really doing something well. And us saying it’s wrong for this and that really just sort of props up the fact she must be doing something really right. But it’s not for everybody, because the consumer and the end users who I care about on these shows and I want people to understand, look, there’s cars that had an engine in the middle, cars in the engine in the front, cars with no engine. You need to know what’s going to happen when you get in that Porsche with a mid engine on a slippery road if you’re not a race car driver. And that’s what’s going on with some of these platform tools.

[00:27:44.590] – Jonathan Denwood

I just think I need to quickly give some background here. I think when Natalie and her husband got into this business and she’s been highly successful in other online businesses. You couldn’t do marketing optimisation that easily on WordPress. There weren’t any solutions like Fluent CRM, which is the one that we highly recommend and use. There just wasn’t marketing optimization. There wasn’t an easy way of automating membership. There was a lot of kind of sticky tape. You take this solution, you take that solution, you hire a developer. It was a totally different world when excess airline started and they coded an all in one solution. The world has changed. It’s moved on. Do you think that’s a good summary?

[00:28:44.060] – Spencer Forman

Well, I mean it’s no secret that she was essentially right at the cusp when Infusionsoft Clay Mask was becoming or became keep. And now we’ve learned how that episode six of the Clay Mask drama is that he revealed now after the fact as a Mia culpa. Well, the equity guys made me screw up this whole company. But by the time he was done with the being screwed up, about 55 other companies came along that are in the same space. Well, Access ally came into that moment where theoretically I am of the opinion they were bridging the gap between what Infusionsoft was and what WordPress could do. But they made a deal with their own devil on that one by saying, well, we’re going to build this very special set of rules where you drive your car upside down on the wrong side of the road on Tuesdays only. And as a result, by committing to that, they built a framework and a plug in just like memberium in some ways, like infused woo in some ways. All these old fashioned bridges between what was the market leader at the time in Fusionsoft and WordPress, then Jack Arturo at WP Fusion and subsequently a couple other players like fluent CRM come along and they just rewrite the book.

[00:29:57.190] – Spencer Forman

Like we’re doing this the right way, we’re doing this lightweight, and we’re not going to put everything under the sun into this one framework, which is also unique because that’s where the conversation of like, Wpfusion connects X number of hundreds of plugins and manages the user’s journey there with whatever CRM you want versus you got to use infusionsoft. And now I think they have active campaign for the last year or two. But the point is these two CRMs have to be baked into your whole setup in a certain particular way which again, go back to the bottom line. There’s other membership plugins and themes that I won’t mention here that are well known for newbies in the WordPress space by really talented people. But they’re selling a tricycle to people who probably would be better if they were sold a proper two wheel bike with training wheels and somebody who knows how to teach them. Because the problem is always you make that deal when you don’t know and then you’re stuck with a tricycle riding off to your first date in high school.

[00:30:58.610] – Jonathan Denwood

Onto another one. I’m going to struggle pronouncing it. Spencer all put me right. He’s used to my inability to pronounce. New Zenia. New Zenia.


[00:31:13.160] – Spencer Forman

Zendler. I’m going to go.

[00:31:14.440] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. What do you like? Choose knives that are without support.

[00:31:19.240] – Spencer Forman

I have a rule that I’ve taught entrepreneurs and freelancers. Easy to say, easy to spell, easy to remember. Now, Zendler doesn’t bother my English sensibilities, but it’s one of those names that means nothing, I don’t think, unless it’s some language that I’m not sure of. So it’s easy to spell, it’s easy to say once you know it. I can’t fault them in the same way. It’s not an accident highlight apartment. But it just doesn’t mean anything to me. It doesn’t conjure an image up. It’s good.

[00:31:50.410] – Jonathan Denwood

It’s a kind of quasar new player. I think it’s from some people that work at Kajabi. I’m not too sure that’s coming from our memory bank. It’s really aimed at Kajabi, though.

[00:32:06.040] – Spencer Forman

You caught me up surprised at this. This is one of those rare instances. I never heard of this reviews on Dress Pilot, though, so clearly it’s been around.

[00:32:16.080] – Jonathan Denwood

Well, they had a version one and then they had to do a version two. They up their game. It doesn’t do anything. In my opinion. It’s got a slightly more modern interface than Kajabi. It’s not bad, folks, but it’s not the cheap. If you’re frustrated with Kajabi, there’s a lot of people that knew this. They were also doing a lot of heavy discounting and getting a number of influencers to plug it. It’s not a bad product, but I think there’s some better solutions on this list. Basically, I have to defer to you.

[00:33:00.310] – Spencer Forman

On this one because there’s two things that I would tell you. Not knowing what this product is strike me is interesting. I don’t say judgmentally. Number one, unless there’s something wrong with my web browser, I have no information about who’s in charge of this, who’s behind it. It literally says pricing and login. And number two, again, if it’s the new Zender, what happened to the old Zenddler? I’d like to find out where’s the about us, our story, how we got here, what is it supposed to do? I get the features, but I don’t really get a clear sense, and that always raises my red flags, right? I mean, to be fair, not everybody has to tell their entire origin story. But if you’re a company that’s this is not cheap, I mean, if you’re charging hundreds of dollars a month or 647 a year or whatever, I think you owe it to people to explain, like, where you’ve been. This is one $447 a year or $197 a month. That’s not small peanuts. Might like to know who’s in charge, who’s running the ship, in my opinion. But I don’t know anything else about the features.

[00:34:10.090] – Jonathan Denwood

What a good point. I totally agree with you. We’ve got a much more happier. Show than last week. We agree that you see, I’ve got irritated you this week.

[00:34:24.410] – Spencer Forman

I’m doing my own Twelve Step Jonathan program for our review.

[00:34:28.080] – Jonathan Denwood

You got so.

[00:34:34.840] – Spencer Forman

I have one of those stress balls. I’m clenching under the table.

[00:34:38.660] – Jonathan Denwood

My ability to widen people is legendary. I don’t see it myself, but that’s the Kajabi. Let’s go on to one of the big gorillas, Kajabi. What can you say about Kajabi? It’s a really slick platform. It’s pricey. The founders really knew what they were doing. They did a fantastic job of marketing it. But there’s been some problems on building the business. But the two founders, they do add a market. It’s established itself. Like a lot of these other plays. I don’t think it’s the best. I think there’s a couple of others that we’re going to be talking about that are better depending on what you’re looking to do. What’s your own fault about Kajabi Spencer?

[00:35:41.060] – Spencer Forman

Well, first of all, my origin story around Kajabi is that I was a huge fan of Andy Jenkins, who in my mind was one of the most clever and creative and fun to watch marketers ever. Unfortunately, he was a bit of a wildcat and part of the California digital marketer mafia. So his lifestyle or something caught up with them and he passed away early. I think it was only four or five years ago, but he was much too young to pass away because he was younger than me. And his partner, Phil I want to say Falsami, but I think he carries on as the head of this. The product itself was an early days solution, alternative to using infusionsoft, using salesforce, using HubSpot. And with Andy’s marketing in the early days, I mean, it was really exciting because he would make these videos that I emulated and still do to the states to some extent, where he would use Keynote. And it was just like his great voice. And it’s like my whole evil genius persona came out of Andy Jenkins. So I couldn’t agree more that as a product and the origin story and where it came from, like, they’re very clear.

[00:36:53.650] – Spencer Forman

You can go and see in the footer, like, about us, where we came from, all the stories of who’s doing what. It is not really a membership product, like an LMS product. It is a sales funnel marketing platform. And that is 100% true. So again, going back to even their current feature set, it has online courses, coaching, podcast, memberships community. That’s fair to say. But I’m not saying that I would choose this first and foremost for all the reasons we just discussed, which is it’s $200 a month to start, and you get this many products, 15 products, 15 funnels, this many contacts, but it’s all in one box. But I’m just here to claim, as we’ve talked about before, $2,400 will get you really far with a box of stuff that I’ve talked about a million times and will continue to talk about the future on WordPress.

[00:37:48.640] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, it’s slick. It’s got a good interface support. They won’t build anything out for you. My only problem is with some of their marketing propaganda they make, it’s literally like they give the impression that you sign up for an account and the course will be built, like out of a genie. It will be set up for you because you bought it. Nothing more could be the truth. You still got to work in it.

[00:38:20.890] – Spencer Forman

I want to comment on that because that’s true. Right. But I want to use some I’ll give them the benefit of this. When you compare the direction of their competitor at the time, click funnels with Russell Bronson. Okay, here’s how I see it. When Andy Jenkins was at the helm, click funnels like Russell, and ClickFunnels. And I believe they overlap for a couple of years, and Andy Jenkins, like, they were going head to head, like sales funnel. Look and click funnels has built a reasonable product. Not amazing. They’re selling look at all the people who’ve made millions of dollars and gotten their record. So they’re selling herbal life around Russell’s marketing expertise and enthusiasm. And it’s absolutely true. Like, Russell’s marketing skills are unparalleled. But the software, the service, the support that they’re giving you isn’t really what you’re buying. You’re buying because you saw somebody with a gold record and, oh, I can basically do that with my ID, which is also true. But there’s a big gap between the skills of those people who built their businesses with a product market fit and what the software does for you, because there is no person here to make this happen.


[00:39:32.910] – Spencer Forman

Kajabi, to their credit, has actually changed direction away from gold records. And look what Bob and Susie did and how they made a million dollars. And it’s about the product, but what they’ve done is essentially made it more of a competition to, like, a HubSpot or to something that is a marketing tool and a platform. So I give them credit for that. Honestly, for me, I didn’t even know they’re alive or dead. I still reference them, but it’s just one of several products now in a category of, like, there’s no more. I mean, listen, to his credit. Russell drives everybody crazy, but in a good way. He’s constantly reinventing things, and I just can’t say he’s not a genius about that.


[00:40:15.260] – Jonathan Denwood

He’s an evil genius.


[00:40:17.740] – Spencer Forman

Listen, you have to be controversial in the space with your product or service. So some of these products and services, like I said, it would be better to be the one thing that everybody thinks is, holy cow, what’s all that about? Like the sponge daddy or something, than to be a room full of boring squares.

[00:40:33.490] – Jonathan Denwood

It must be good news for me because I’m slightly controversial in WordPress. So there we go.

[00:40:45.490] – Spencer Forman

I’ll drink tea to that.

[00:40:57.110] – Jonathan Denwood

Really, like, podium, actually. I’m committed to WordPress. But of these solutions, I think for what you’re getting value wise, for what they provide, I think they position themselves as a value alternative. Kajabi, Ankara with a little bit more also as a little bit better solution than what teachable or think, if it is. So they’re kind of offering something. Well, you get what Kajabi and maybe Carter. Plus we’re more focused on courses rather than the marketing optimization, but you still get this Swiss Army knife and they produce a lot of really good educational stuff, don’t they? What do you think of them?

[00:41:54.490] – Spencer Forman

This is the soda pop or the cereal aisle at the supermarket. Solid platform pricing, starts at free, moves up very reasonably. I mean, I appreciate the fact, okay, great. Zero to start. 33 is the next level, which by the way, even at that level, you’ve got unlimited courses, theoretically no transaction fees. That’s reasonable. And then it moves up to like, all of them. I mean, they have actually 12345. They have at least four, maybe more levels. So you end up paying like somewhere between free and $200 a month. Which, by the way, would be a nice point to bookmark in our conversation. If you’re running a business and you’re selling courses, let’s just be fair. You should plan on spending at least $200 a month. I would say you should plan on 300 or more a month just to run the business. So when you’re talking about what you’re going to sell, of course there’s going to be a moment of time when you’re in a less leader position, but then eventually you’re going to get something where the traffic and the recurring revenue, if you have that, or the volume of sales catches up.

[00:42:58.200] – Spencer Forman

So even at a $37 workshop price, okay, you need to sell like ten of those a month to basically get ahead of the game. If you don’t have that in your head, I just think you’re setting yourself up for failure. Like buying a car that’s a gas car and having zero left in your budget for gas, oil and maintenance. You’re just not going to get very far. So I like them for that. But it just reminds me of like in American supermarkets, like endless rows of soda pop or cereal boxes. Which one? I don’t know. They all basically have sugar and they have good cartoons on the front of the box. So try it out.

[00:43:36.670] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah, they don’t offer anything revolutionary, but I don’t think there’s anything revolutionary in this sector. But I like the leadership and I like how they run the business. And I think the pricing is more.

[00:43:54.400] – Spencer Forman

Reasonable, more transparent, very solid and fair. I like how their FAQs are very transparent about the fees changing plans. Like, no red flags here whatsoever. None. This is a nice, low sugar brand cereal. Fun for the kids. Just enough, healthy enough for me to eat on some days. So you can’t go wrong here. And they do offer refunds. Like they said, the free plan, try for a spin. You get 72 hours after a renewal to get like, oh, I didn’t remember I had this thing which I think is totally normal in today’s world. So. Yeah, I love that. For them, that would make me feel good about saying sure, give it a try.

[00:44:35.850] – Jonathan Denwood

And I’m aiming team Podia. And the one that I’ve been aiming with we’ll, we are ending with is Learn Worlds. I think of this list if you’re committed not to look at WordPress and you should give you another look if you’re committed not to. I would either look at Podra or Learnworlds. But Learnworlds is a very different animal to Podura because in some ways it’s focused at talent in a mess. It’s more of a professional tool, but it’s got a really good which talent NMS hasn’t. It’s got a really good web website builder. You can build a whole website using Learn Worlds and it’s got all the kind of professional course building tools in it. It doesn’t provide the email marketing optimization, it does provide integration, but you’re going to have to look at something like MailChimp or don’t use MailChimp or use campaign monitor. But for what you get for the price, it’s a strong player in my opinion. I don’t know if you’ve looked at.

[00:46:11.460] – Spencer Forman

Learnworld or you recognize I’ll admit this is another one that slips past my radar. I had no reason to see it. But now that I browse their site, I mean, I can tell you some things that pop up. Seems to me, first of all, their orientation, even though they’re starters and all the rest, they have fees on this low end. Right. So starter, if you go monthly $29 a month, $5 a fee per course sale, I don’t know that’s a good bet or otherwise, but most people do like a 20 something dollars course and then you get 2.9% by the time you’re done, they take $5. That’s more than the 2.9%.


[00:46:45.780] – Jonathan Denwood

Yeah. The reason why I put it is if you’re looking at the beginning, I would start with Podia.


[00:46:56.740] – Spencer Forman

All that stuff you said I agree with, but I’m just looking through the comparative and the features and one of the things that just strikes me, it seems that really they’re pushing folks up to if you look at the and this is interesting, you I believe have to go into annual mode yearly payment. When you do that, it seems that there’s a branded app option at the equivalent of $378.30 a month billed annually. So I have to do my quick calculator. But that seems like around 5000 ish dollars. But the point is that is something that has come up as a recent conversation point and I want to bring this out in fairness, not to stick a thumb in their eye. That would be one of the things that would be why should I deal with these folks kind of things. Because even though Buddy Boss is not really a coursework thing, I have clients in the WordPress space that if you’re using Buddy Boss and you use their app feature and you’ve got that kind of money laying around, then you get an app. But I also had a good conversation with the gentleman, Pietro, who runs a business that we might be doing some business with who their job is to take any WordPress type site or otherwise and turn it into an app.


[00:48:11.820] – Spencer Forman

Because for certain companies I don’t really understand why that still is compelling. But here’s the basic motivation. Even though the WordPress websites are all HTML Five compatible and mobile friendly and they can look like or whatever, some companies there’s a decision maker who says I just have to have a button that you click on an iPhone or an Android that comes from downloading at the iPhone store or the Android store. And for that they want to have basically a consolidation of what’s the WordPress stuff into an app. That’s kind of something interesting here. What they’re offering is if you have one of those companies that’s like well, I’m not going to be on WordPress, I can spend the dough and get an app. Now it’s like, that’s interesting because it is a different experience for some segment of users. I don’t agree with it, but it is true that it happens.


[00:49:05.210] – Jonathan Denwood

I think you might have got points. Yeah, I was going more about I think thanks for pointing out my focus was about the professional tools that provided the interface because I have worked with a couple of clients with it and it’s not bad. But I think if you’re committed not to look at WordPress and you’re looking for the next level up around a really major business, around Elearning, it kind of puts Podia up on the next level. But if I was starting out and I was committed not to utilize WordPress, everything we’ve looked at, I would look at Podia.


[00:49:50.640] – Spencer Forman

But that’s just my given that I haven’t used the interface. I can’t fairly say anything about the interface, but you made a point which made me a little cringey when you said it. But I don’t know your reference for automation like using constant contact or some oddball thing.


[00:50:07.270] – Jonathan Denwood

No, it was worse than that.


[00:50:11.060] – Spencer Forman

After MailChimp, your next step was like some other dinosaur from the plea stole era or something. But the point is, I don’t believe this has marketing automation. So if you compare it at the price point even to a Kajabi or Kartra or one of those things, you’re just out of your mind. If you’re paying for a platform, it’s.


[00:50:33.900] – Jonathan Denwood

Taking you full years to be on some time.


[00:50:37.390] – Spencer Forman

Seriously, you’re just out of your mind. If you’re doing a cost analysis, a benefit, a feature analysis and you’re looking at like, okay, we’re going to lay out $400 a month call it, right? I mean, it’s $4,800 a year plus somebody who has to be experienced in this interface. In WordPress, there’s about 100 million people, I think, that know how to use WordPress all over the world, right? You have to have somebody that’s like really good at this tool. Now, recently there was a sale of figma to Adobe and it caused such an outrage or uproar because it was like for over a billion dollars, I believe, because it was a beloved tool by so many interface designers. Now, if you’ve got a specialty thing like learn worlds, good luck going on fiverr or wherever saying, hey, I need to learn where specialists to help my company build this thing, because you’re going to find like zero people where they don’t charge five. But I’m saying compare that to I’m spending $500 a month and I’ve basically got a lunch kit or whatever put together of WordPress. I need somebody who’s good using gutenberg blocks and some page builder on WordPress, anybody there?


[00:51:50.980] – Spencer Forman

And it’s like your mailbox would be overflowing with people around the world. So I think you’ve got to think of what are you really buying and spending money on? And that’s where this compelling argument kind of dilutes of using inexpensive feature set, maybe for the starter, sure, but once you get into like, real money that’s a good point.


[00:52:12.150] – Jonathan Denwood

So just to finish off everything we’ve talked about, if you had somebody that’s committed not to look at WordPress, of everything we’ve looked at, which one or two would you choose?


[00:52:29.590] – Spencer Forman

Ask me a question of all these list of things, which were you?


[00:52:32.400] – Jonathan Denwood

All the ones we’ve discussed in this show, you had somebody that was committed not to look at WordPress. Is there one or two of these that you look at?


[00:52:44.140] – Spencer Forman

I mean, in all fairness, what we talked about, you can’t ignore Teachable and Podia because I think those provide your starting points, long term stability, like well known name. There might be people that already are talented enough to work with those interfaces. My overarching response, of course, as you know, and today, since we’re both more mellow, it won’t get a response, is that I don’t think it’s possible, even though we’re covering this topic in the show, for you to just simply ignore the consideration of what’s available in WordPress. Because I totally agree legitimately in all of these shows. When we break it down to WordPress is a platform with a limited set of features. I can always just stick in here’s, a TV dinner, a lunch kit or something made of WordPress that beats all of these on every level. The problem with WordPress is just knowing what that should be. But that’s a problem that I feel is easily solved for those who I have reached your contact with. So I would say if you’re going to the platform, remember you’re buying a tricycle, you’re going to be locked into that cage for a long time with your decision.


[00:53:53.770] – Spencer Forman

So if you think you’re not going to need more than that, it’s actually okay. Like, again, staying with the low end price plans. Hey, listen, whatever. I threw out a new course. I put it up to $39 a month it cost me and it made me $300 fine. Put one on each of these platforms and call it a day because you just only needed a tricycle for one course. But if you really think it’s part of a bigger business or something you need in the future, you want that audience to come through a central sales funnel and marketing. Think hard about buying the tricycle versus buying a bicycle with training wheels and getting somebody to do that on WordPress.


[00:54:27.210] – Jonathan Denwood

Thanks, Spencer. Great point. So Spencer going to wrap up the show. What’s the best way for people to find out more about you and your faults and your great knowledge?


[00:54:37.760] – Spencer Forman

My primary; you can find me on Twitter at @spencerforman. LinkedIn at Spencer Forman. I’ve really been working lately to consolidate my multiple. I have like four points of reference in consulting and software and training, and other solutions. But really, this year, I’m focused on the thing. I started what we talked about years ago and almost two years ago, 16 years total. But in the last two years, WordPress finally has the tools it needs. So what I’m doing is putting together WordPress as a platform solution for people who want to do something like this. And it means getting rid of all the pain points that are traditionally involved in a tinkering system. And I know you do the same thing, but we do it slightly differently because what I’m doing is more very limited feature sets for people who might be considering one of these low-end platform things, and they just want to jump into it. So check out, or it’s like a hub of all this stuff.

[00:55:34.320] – Jonathan Denwood

That’s great. We will be back next week with another great subject to make you successful with your membership website. Give us some feedback. Subscribe on iTunes. If you’re watching this on YouTube, please subscribe. Give us some feedback. We would be very appreciative of Spencer and me. As I say, we’ll be back at 830 Pacific Standard Time. You can join us live on YouTube or the Facebook group, and you can give us any questions, and we will answer them after the show. We’ll see you soon, folks.

[00:56:11.970] – Spencer Forman


[00:56:13.460] Outro

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