Searchie Review: The Easiest Platform for Course & Memberships $29/month & up
Description: Searchie is a Software as a Service website builder and video hosting platform to help build memberships, courses, and coaching platforms. It's easy to use and does not require any code to build websites for business owners.
Offer price: 29.00
Operating System: Web
Application Category: SaaS
Author: William Beem
Searchie is the easiest platform to use that allows you to build a website to host, share, or sell digital content. It's great for course creators, membership sites, or coaching services that rely upon video or audio content. You can import media from multiple sources and it gets automatically transcribed, which allows users to search for keywords in video or audio and go directly to the location where it's mentioned. Searchie allows you to repurpose your content in multiple ways to distribute in blog posts, video captions, or with audio downloads.
Ease of Use
- Easy to use
- Search within video or audio to find the content you want
- Video & Audio hosting
- Automatic transcription
- Unlimited video uploads using Searchie Chrome extension
- May allow users to download video, audio, or text transcript
- Works great on mobile devices
- No transaction fees
- Searchie Academy training to learn how to build your hub
- Use your own domain
- No community features
- Free trial, but no free plan
- Hubs must be Public or Private only
- SSL requires Cloudflare DNS
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A Searchie Review Based Upon Years of Use
I've been a customer of Searchie for about two years at the time of this article, so I felt it's time for a Searchie review based on my own experiences with the service and the team behind it. As I'm still using Searchie, that's a good clue that I'm satisfied operating my courses and membership plan on the platform.
Previously, I used WordPress and various plugins to host my courses and membership. I ultimately decided that wasn't the best way to go for my business and I'd advise others to use the best of breed tools, like Searchie, rather than trying to cram everything into one site.
Who is Behind Searchie?
From what I can tell, Stu McLaren is the founder and there are two co-founders who helped bring Searchie into existence.
Stu McLaren is a membership expert. He's helped countless entrepreneurs create and grow successful membership programs. He's also the co-founder of WishList Member, one of the most popular membership software platforms in the world.
I've encountered Stu a couple of times. He was a speaker at Amy Porterfield's 2019 Entrepreneur Experience conference. I think I was one of only six men who attended, but I digress. While I'd heard of Stu on some podcasts before, I never heard him as a speaker and didn't know what to expect.
The man has a perfect grasp of marketing and memberships and it was on full display during his talk. He answered questions from the audience on every topic that they threw at him. Basically, Stu impressed the hell out of me.
The next year, I attended TRIBE (now THE MEMBERSHIP EXPERIENCE) to learn how to run a membership business. Despite the difficulties created by the pandemic at the time, Stu and his team ditched all of their recorded lessons and he delivered everything live. The entire experience is still my impression of the Gold Standard of training and Stu Mclaren delivered his expertise.
Stu & his wife also support Village Impact, a charity that builds schools for vulnerable communities in Kenya.
Andrew Ferraccioli is a Searchie co-founder and he holds monthly Town Hall meetings for Searchie customers. Where Stu seems to be the face of Searchie, Andrew appears to be the hands-on leader of the team who builds and supports Searchie. Andrew has an outstanding knowledge of what Searchie customers need and he continues to drive new features and improvements to the platform.
Asim Galini is a Searchie co-founder. We haven't crossed paths before and I honestly don't know much about his role.
What is Searchie?
Searchie started off based upon a problem. During Stu's training, he received the same questions over and over again. The idea came up that it would be nice if people could go to a service to type in their questions and get a recorded answer to common issues.
When I bought Searchie, it was essentially a video hosting platform that allowed you to search within video (or audio) and then go directly to the moment in the recording where they mentioned your keyword. I thought Searchie was the best video hosting platform I'd ever seen and I started using it for my courses.
Searchie is always improving and they rolled out something called Hubs. What's a hub, I wondered?
A Searchie hub is a website that you can build inside of Searchie to host your video using specific playlists and audience tags to show the right content to the right people in your membership, course, or coaching service. Basically, a Searchie Hub simplifies the process of developing a video content-centric site using an easy web builder interface that doesn't require any code.
The combination of searchable video hosting and an easy-to-use website builder makes Searchie one of the most powerful and flexible tools for entrepreneurs that I've ever seen.
How can Searchie Benefit My Business?
Are you interested in any of these business models?
I've done everything on this list, except coaching, and I've used Searchie to help me with all of it.
Let's start with the basic function of Searchie. I use it to host both audio and video. When I upload a file, Searchie uses an integration with Rev.com to create a transript within minutes.
Those transcripts go on my podcast show notes pages. I also use them to provide captioning for my YouTube videos. That's because a video on YouTube with a custom transcript ranks 7% higher than videos without captions. Just getting that caption file in SRT format helps me reach more viewers on YouTube. I've also heard from people who read my podcast transcripts telling me how much it helps them due to their hearing problems.
Those transcripts also provide more text on your page to help search engines review and rank your results.
I built a hub with playlists of my podcasts that I can use as a lead magnet to build my email list. I offer searchable access to my library of hundreds of podcasts in exchange for an email address. It's another way to add value to my audience so they can find the information they desire.
Using Searchie Hubs, I created two different course platforms for my businesses. Here's a quick tour of my course hub that I use for my photography site.
By the way, I created this video by using the Searchie Chrome extension. Instead of paying for a service like Loom, you can quickly create videos showing your desktop and also your camera. When you use the Searchie Chrome extension, you get unlimited video uploads to your account. If I had any audio in this recording, it would also get automatically transcribed and you could search within the video for a keyword, as in this example below.
This example is from a lesson in the course that I clicked. I searched for the keyword “color harmony” and you can see the results as blue links in the caption. All you have to do is click on one of those links and Searchie takes you to that moment in the video.
Other course-building platforms don't offer this feature. Many of them don't even host video or audio, much less transcribe them for you and allow your customers to download the results (optional: your choice to enable or not).
What Do You Get with Searchie?
Let's take a list of some of the features included with Searchie.
I probably forgot a few things. Let me show you some of the page elements I mentioned on the last bullet.
These are the building blocks that you can use to build the pages of Searchie hubs without using any code. Many of them are customizable. For example, the Feature element shown in the first image can have a photo or video, text, and a call to action button. You can enable or disable these different parts of the Feature element. Perhaps you just want a Call to Action button with a little text. No problem, just disable the image part of the element to create the look you want.
You can use the colors defined in your hub settings, or customize the color for any part of these elements. Change the button or the background as you please.
Searchie Customer Support is Amazing!
The team at Searchie seems dedicated to helping you succeed. You'll find plenty of written documentation, a Searchie Academy filled with useful videos demonstrating how to use Searchie to build your ideal hub, and regular Zoom meetings featuring demonstrations, hacks, and upcoming new features to enhance the platform.
There's also an active Searchie Facebook group that's actively supported by Searchie team members and members of the community. If you have a question or get stuck wondering how to do something inside of Searchie, you'll find the support team usually has a link to their documentation and other customers offer their advice.
During the Zoom meetings, there are often opportunities to win some Searchie swag. Water bottles, hats, moleskin notebooks, and much more. I'm sitting next to my own Searchie moleskin and pen, along with a few stickers. I haven't earned that Searchie Yeti mug yet, but I remain hopeful.
You can follow along with the Searchie roadmap and submit your own requests for enhancements. Customers can vote on different ideas. If you vote, then you also get email updates to let you know if a request is going into development or just got completed.
In my experience, the Searchie customer support team is always friendly and quick to respond when you have a question or issue. This is the absolute best customer service team I've ever experienced with any of my vendors or suppliers. Other vendors could learn from how this team takes care of its customers, and I think the support team is one of the key benefits of using Searchie.
What Could Searchie Do Better?
No service is perfect. Part of that is because so many customers want or need different things. Also, design and operational philosophies don't always line up. The Searchie team does the best it can, but I do have a few cons to share about the service.
1: Searchie Hubs Don't Provide SSL Certificates
One of my first gripes about Searchie was because hubs don't have SSL certificates and there's no way to add one. That's a problem because almost every browser now warns users that a site isn't safe if it doesn't have a certificate.
The resolution to this problem is to use Cloudflare for your DNS. That's because the Cloudflare service provides SSL certificate support for the domains that it protects.
My early experience with Cloudflare was not good and I didn't want to use it. I added a request for SSL support on Searchie hubs and it was actually accepted for development, as I argued that any web hosting provider these days provides a free SSL certificate.
I received a reply that SSL would get added as of June 2021. Then it didn't happen and I haven't heard anything else about it. Now I'm using Cloudflare because there's really nothing else to do.
For some users, switching DNS nameservers is a frightening task. To its credit, the customer support team created a great video including all of the steps necessary to switch DNS to Cloudflare, but I still see people who are afraid to even try doing it on their own.
2: Most Integrations Go Through Zapier
There are a handful of integrations built into Searchie.
For most other integrations, you have to go through Zapier. There are no webhooks available to integrate directly with your WordPress plugins or other Software as a Service provider.
Zapier integration is both a blessing and a curse. It's good that you can integrate with so many other services through Zapier. It sucks that Zapier is so freakin' expensive to get usable service for a business.
The Searchie integration with Zapier works very well and is rather complete. I'm able to integrate with ThriveCart for my cart service. I also use Zapier with Wishlist Member and FluentCRM (my email service).
While Zapier has some limited services for free, the practical effect is that you pay an extra $600 annually to integrate Searchie with some other services. For example, the only way to integrate with FluentCRM is via webhook. That requires a Zapier plan costing at least $19.99/month to use webhooks.
Oddly enough, there's no integration with Wishlist Member. Stu McLaren was one of the co-founders of that product and Wishlist Member does an outstanding job of integrating with other WordPress plugins and SaaS products. I could save a decent amount of money if they created that one integration.
3: Searchie Doesn't Have a Certification Program
I reached out to Andrew Ferraccioli about this and he said it's something they've considered. As a web developer, a certification program would be a good opportunity to market my services to people who want to use Searchie, but don't want to build their hub.
I get it. Most business owners don't build their own stores. They get someone else to help them (check out my Searchie Bonus offer below).
A Searchie certification program doesn't just help those of us who want to market ourselves, but it also provides other Searchie customers with a list of validated developers who can help them get started or build their hub. After all, most businesses do what they love and outsource the rest.
There's an opportunity here for Searchie to reach customers who don't want to do it themselves.
4: Searchie Lacks Multiple User Accounts
Right now, each Searchie account has only one user ID and password. For individuals, that's not a problem. However, what happens when you add to your team or add a contractor? You have to give them full access to your only account.
As someone who built his career in IT Security, I find that issue disconcerting. I'd like to see an option for more than one account. Perhaps not on every plan, but the Business plan ought to have multiple logins with some role management to keep people away from some sections of your Searchie account.
How Much Does Searchie Cost?
Searchie currently has three different plans, starting at $29/month.
Let's go over these three plans to see which one may be best for your needs. Please note that two of these plans are available on a Monthly or Annual plan. You'll save money with annual plans.
You can get a FREE Trial of Searchie for seven days without a credit card. Click the button below, and then click the FREE Trial button in the upper-right corner of the next page.
Searchie Basic Plan
In my view, the Searchie Basic plan is for the tire kickers. It's the only plan that doesn't come with annual pricing to save money.
This plan has only 5 hours of uploads per month, not counting uploads from the Searchie Chrome extension. You still get automatically generated transcripts and a single hub. You can embed your Searchie media player or a Widget on another site. Those are the things that permit searching through media.
One hub is a detriment for a business. That means you can't test out ideas on another hub before you implement them on your production site. Every change you make on the hub is a trial and error process that may not look professional to your customers.
The Basic plan lacks analytics and comes with Searchie branding. You also don't get to download your transcripts, which doesn't help if you want to use them for show notes on podcasts or for YouTube captions.
Searchie Pro Plan
I think most people who get Searchie to create a hub will be fine with the Pro plan. You get 3 hubs, which means that you can have one for your business, one for development, and another perhaps for personal use.
You also get 3 times as much upload time. If you're creating a new course with a lot of media you may bump into the limits once in a while. For coaches who record video calls with their clients or upload a webinar, the 15-hour limit may depend upon how many client meetings you have during a month.
The good news is that you can use Tags on your videos and playlists to automatically control who in your audience gets to see them. Just upload the video, add the appropriate tag, and you're done with video management.
Let's say that you are a coach who has regular meetings with clients on Zoom. One of your clients is Carol Miller. Create a section in your Hub with permissions for anyone who has the Tag called “Carol Miller.” Then create a Playlist that's only viewable by someone with the tag “Carol Miller.” You can create a folder called “Carol Miller” and upload your media there. The folder can have a rule that automatically adds new videos to the “Carol Miller” playlist.
That's how the Media Automation available in the Searchie Pro plan can save you time and serve your clients.
Searchie Business Plan
This is the plan that I chose.
Limitations are annoying to me. While your uploading is “unmetered” instead of “unlimited”, the practical effect is that a valid business operation isn't impacted by uploading media to Searchie.
Likewise, I can have multiple hubs. Right now, I have one here for Suburbia Press and also for my Photography courses and members. However, there are plenty of other hubs that I use, and have the option to create more.
Here's one example of a personal hub. My wife took an online course that offered her downloadable videos. The course site won't remain up. So we downloaded her videos and added them to her own Searchie hub for reference.
Do you have a family that takes a lot of videos that you want to share with a limited audience? Searchie hubs fix that problem, too.
Perhaps the Premium Support with the Business plan is why I'm so happy with the customer support team. I have never had a disappointing experience with the folks on the customer support team and I use their services frequently.
If you classify yourself as a professional entrepreneur and Searchie is hosting your business, I think it's a good value to get the Business plan for the benefits of:
Any decent Searchie review ought to have some answers to frequently asked questions. Here are a few things that I've seen come up a few times.
Searchie Bonus Offer
If you're considering purchasing Searchie to create your platform online, I offer a bonus to people who buy a Searchie Pro or Business Plan using my affiliate link.
Click the button to the right to visit Searchie using my link. If you purchase an annual Pro or Business plan of Searchie using my link, I'll give you two hours of one-on-one training time to help you get up to speed quickly using Searchie!
Just send your invoice number to me using my Contact Page. I'll verify the purchase using my affiliate link and we'll get started with your training.
Searchie Review Summary
After using Searchie for my own business, I have no hesitation to recommend it to anyone who needs to host, sell, or share digital content online. I tried using services like Teachable or rolling my own solution in WordPress with various plugins
It turns out that Searchie is more cost-effective than either of those solutions. It's also much more robust and secure than using WordPress as a host for user logins.
Entrepreneurs who need an easy-to-use solution to sell their digital content can benefit from Searchie as a reliable platform that's constantly improving.