Circle.so is a popular solution for hosting communities, though it isn’t the best solution for everyone’s needs.
So whether you’re looking for a solution that’s more simplistic (or more robust), we put together a list of our favorite Circle.so alternatives to help you deliver the ideal experience in your budget.
We’ll first discuss our platform, upcoach, which is designed for coaches and course creators, and then we’ll discuss several other Circle.so alternatives for different use cases.
Plenty of course creators and coaches host their programs on course platforms like Kajabi or Thinkific and then integrate with Circle.so or another community platform to deliver a more interactive and engaging experience.
However, the course structure can quickly become messy if clients are learning in the course platform (like Kajabi or Thinkific), interacting in the community platform (like Circle.so), and completing tasks in a project management solution (like Trello or Basecamp).
We built upcoach to solve this problem and offer course creators and coaches a single consolidated platform.
From a single dashboard, upcoach enables you to:
- Create programs and host lesson modules
- Automatically assign tasks
- Create and assign worksheets
- Assign and track habits
- Facilitate cohort-wide conversations in the forum
- Create accountability pods and assign accountability meet-ups
- Chat with members one on one (and members can chat with each other)
- Track in the CRM which clients are most/least engaged
Benefit #1: An all-in-one platform that delivers a seamless experience
If you’re currently tying together a community platform like Circle, a course platform, and project management software, you’ve probably noticed that:
- It’s a pain to track multiple logins
- Clients get lost (“Wait, where was that worksheet?”)
- You’re paying for a lot of different tools
upcoach exists to solve these problems by combining the key functionalities of all of these tools (community, course platforms, and project management) into one single platform.
Using upcoach, you can do all of the following in one single dashboard:
- Teach the material through video lessons in upcoach’s module section.
- Create worksheets that live inside the platform and track completion/profess rates.
- Automatically assign tasks and habits (which you can track inside the platform)
- Create accountability groups that meet weekly and discuss habit and task progress
This way, clients have a more seamless user experience and you’re able to deliver a more valuable service as community is baked into your program.
Benefit #2 Group accountability ensures clients stick with your program
Most community platforms offer forums for group discussions and communication. However, you’ve probably found that only a fraction of the people in your course actively participate in large group forums. So a significant percentage of your clients aren’t benefiting from your community.
upcoach solves this problem by offering accountability groups.
So rather than throwing your clients into a forum and hoping some of them communicate, upcoach lets you divide members into accountability groups. You can assign a weekly meeting date/time, and the accountability groups can meet weekly to go over habits/tasks and hold each other accountable.
Accountability groups are a major value add to both you and your members for a few reasons:
- More clients will build deeper relationships. While some extroverts might form relationships in large forums, those relationships will likely be somewhat shallow (and introverts probably won’t build any relationships).
- Coaching calls with you (the coach) become more valuable as you can focus on higher-level questions rather than discussing habits/tasks.
- You can finally scale your program and deliver the same level of impact (or more) to each client as you don’t have to be on every single coaching call.
- Clients are more likely to stick with the material thanks to the accountability groups, meaning they’ll probably achieve their goal and therefore tell their friends about it, purchase from you again, and even pay more for your program.
Benefit #3: Features that support building habits and taking action – not just learning
You know that real transformation comes from taking action on information – not just passively consuming information.
upcoach offers plenty of features (in addition to accountability groups) to support action, including:
- Habit Tracker: To implement daily habits that will help them achieve their goals.
- Smart Docs: Build worksheets in the upcoach platform that automatically tracks client progress.
- Tasks: Assign tasks (typically one-off tasks) to be automatically added to the client’s assignments following a lesson.
- Client CRM: The client CRM shows a detailed view of each client’s habit, worksheet, and task progress.
In fact, with all of these features, it’s hard for clients not to achieve transformational results.
Benefit #4: Significantly Reduce Admin Work
upcoach was built by coaches, and we hate admin work! We use the platform for our own coaching programs, so we’re always optimizing it to be as efficient as possible.
Specifically, here are a few features we built into the platform that have significantly reduced the time we spend doing admin work:
- Customizable templates: Use our drag and drop editor to customize program templates.
- Clone your programs: Once you create a program, you can clone it for other programs.
- Meeting Scheduling: Schedule meetings (with Zoom links) and store recordings/notes inside the platform. You can even create pre-call questionnaires.
- Drive File: The drive file makes it easy for you and clients to upload miscellaneous documents.
- Custom Reports: Quickly draw key wins from the client’s CRM when sending (personalized) renewal invites.
Upcoach doesn’t offer a free trial. Plans start at $29 per team member (per month).
If you’re ready to take your coaching business to the next level, get started now.
Discord is another popular alternative to Circle.so that’s primarily used for gaming and NFT groups.
Discord is similar to Slack in that it allows moderators to create dedicated channels for discussion topics. It also has voice recording options and allows you to host live calls between you and your customers.
One interesting feature it offers are Discord Bots, which allow you to automate community moderation.
If you offer different types of membership, the role-based access feature allows you to control the access you give to each member based on the type of membership.
- Jump into a call with a single click
- Go live and share your screen
- You can now screen-share from any device
- You can host up to 250,000 community members
- You can have 1-1 chats with your clients
- Free and easy to use
- You can have voice and video conversations
- It is similar to Slack, so if you ever used the former, you will find yourself at home using Discord.
- Mainly designed and branded mainly for gamers (most non-gamers don’t love the UI)
- It can be difficult to navigate at first
- Even with moderation bots, it can be difficult to keep spam out
Discord’s pricing starts at $9.99.
Kajabi allows you to create two types of communities: feeds and topics.
The feed-type community is very similar to Facebook groups with a single feed that shows the latest comments. The topic view is very similar to a forum with tons of conversation feeds that are divided by Topics.
This makes it easier to archive valuable conversations, and clients can easily search it to find information on topics they’re most interested in.
Kajabi’s community feature also supports YouTube Live for coaches broadcasting their content.
The problem with Kajabi’s community feature is that it does not support group accountability. So shy people are unlikely to join the conversations, and you’ll have to work harder to stimulate this type of community.
The other disadvantage of such a community is that you have to put all clients in the same group, even if they do not share the same interests. As a result, people who do not relate to the community’s goals are less engaged and eventually lose interest.
- Create groups around specific topics.
- You can offer Community as a product and let members pay to join.
- You can host community live events.
- Can be customized and branded
- Lets you create discussion posts and comments
- It offers more advanced chat organization features than Facebook Groups.
- You have to use Kajabi to take advantage of their community feature
- Nearly twice as expensive as Circle
- No accountability or habit tracking features
- It’s still a forum style community, meaning you’ll have to work to stimulate it
Kajabi is probably the most expensive community platform in the list. It starts at $119.
Mighty Networks makes it easy to monetize a membership or community program and is often closely compared to Circle.so. Mighty Networks is a little older than Circle.so, and some reviewers say that it’s a little more robust.
Most course creators use it to host events, live streams, and other activities designed to improve community engagement.
To highlight a few key differences between the two platforms, Mighty Network communities are accessible online or via an iPhone or Android smartphone. However, Circle.so is only built for iOS devices.
Another difference is that Circle includes an unlimited number of members and hosts, whereas Circle charges you an additional monthly fee to add more members or administrators.
- Welcome and Discovery sections make it easy for new members to get oriented.
- Unlimited members, hosts, and moderators
- Native course builder
- Charge for courses or memberships as recurring subscriptions or one-time purchases
- Supports hundreds of local currencies
- More engagement features (live streaming, polls, Q&A, group chat) than Circle.so
- Easy to use
- Ability to build and sell courses
- Unlimited members, hosts, and moderators
- More monetization options
- Has more community features than Circle.so but no accountability/habit tracking features
- It might be too robust than someone that just wants a simple community forum
Mighty Networks’ lowest plan starts at $33.
Tribe is another alternative to Circle.so that many course creators use because it integrates well with many course platforms.
It offers robust features such as spaces which are essentially categories such as “announcements” and “presentations”. It also has discussion forums and even user-generated content sections.
Tribe lets you tag specific discussions and quickly track them down using the “keyword search” feature.
For coaches, it makes it easy to moderate group discussions with keyword blacklists and profanity blockers.
The downside of Tribe is that it is significantly more expensive than most community platforms, and the overall UI can be a little confusing.
- You can create spaces and categorize content and bring members with shared passion closer.
- Members can ask questions, post answers, upvote, and accept the right solution.
- Provides you with a keyword blocklist, powerful moderation panel, and post-hiding capability to ensure that the community is free from spam, abuse, and harmful language.
- Advanced customization features
- Supports forums, small groups, and direct chat
- Tag discussions to search them later
- Advanced moderation capabilities
- Terrible UI
- No mobile app.
Pricing for Tribe starts at $59.
Facebook groups are a free alternative to Circle.so.
It is ideal for beginner coaches who want to host their community in the easiest way possible.
However, as you grow, you will be confronted with many of the limitations of Facebook groups. For example, Facebook groups don’t allow you to neatly archive interesting discussions or label discussions by topic. The only feed is the main feed, which just displays recent posts.
In addition, Facebook is often used for personal communication. So depending on the nature of your group, members may find it annoying to receive messages from your group mixed in with their other friends and family.
- You can select formats you want members to use when they post in your group.
- You can create a unique welcome message that all new members will see when they join a group.
- Customize your groups with colors, post backgrounds, fonts, and emoji reactions.
- Easy to use
- Accessible from any device
- A global community
- It’s more difficult to moderate, other than manually searching and deleting posts
- It’s difficult to find previous conversations
- It’s hard to monetize Facebook groups
Facebook groups are free.
Choosing The Best Circle.so Alternative
While Circle.so is a great community platform, the fact remains that course creators who use standalone forums are at a disadvantage because their clients have to juggle several connections before making the most of their coaching program.
So if you want a truly all-in-one online coaching platform that offers an integrated community platform, consider upcoach.
With upcoach, you can:
- Help your clients build life-changing habits
- See how your clients are progressing and how they compare to other members of their cohort
- Create subgroups of clients sharing the same interest and pair them as accountability buddies
If this sounds like the coaching program you want to implement, sign up for a demo today.