Skool vs Circle: A Definitive Comparison (2024)

WRITER:
Mihael Cacic
EDITOR I:
Anja Jazbinsek
EDITOR II:
Matija Laznik
Updated date: February 12th, 2024

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When it comes to building communities and selling courses, Skool and Circle stand out for their ability to house communities, events, and courses in one place. However, each has unique strengths that make it ideal for different use cases.

Circle is best for building spam-free communities, hosting big events, and automating admin tasks. It offers an AI content co-pilot that helps admins generate post ideas in minutes and a segmentation tool to arrange members into groups, however, it lacks native features to gamify member experience and is pretty complex to set up.

Meanwhile, Skool doesn’t have as many segmentation tools and can barely automate workflows, but it’s big on engagement. It offers a gamified experience with levels, points, and gems that encourage members to engage with course content and each other, plus a drip scheduler to lock courses and control content consumption.

In this article, we compare Skool and Circle based on the following criteria:

  • Community building
  • Classroom and online courses
  • CRO tools & analytics
  • Engagement features
  • Pricing

We also touched on payments and integrations to help you find the best community platform for your situation. Here’s how they stack up!

Comparison Summary: Skool vs Circle

Skool Circle
Pricing

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

14-day free trial. One premium plan for $99/month. No annual plan. But there’s an auto-affiliate program that can cover its cost.


⭐⭐⭐⭐

14-day free trial. The Basic plan costs $49/month, Professional is $99/month, Business is $219/month and Enterprise is $399/month.

Community Building


⭐⭐⭐

A simple community builder similar to FaceBook’s. Helps you monetize content, track members’ engagement, and build searchable help documentation.

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Offers a more advanced block-based community builder. You also get profanity filters, an AI content co-pilot, and segmentation tools similar to a CRM.

Classroom & Online Courses


⭐⭐⭐⭐

Provides a rich content editor and drip scheduler.

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

More robust with its drag-and-drop builder for courses behind paywalls, drips scheduler, and SEO features.

CRO Tools & Analytics


⭐⭐⭐⭐

Email broadcast feature. A metric hub for member scoring and rich member profiles.

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Automated workflows. Analytic hub to track posts and messages and an AI-powered activity score feature to keep tabs on members.

Engagement Features

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Native gamification feature and leaderboards. Syncs with multiple calendars. Allows admins and members to toggle between event and calendar views.


⭐⭐⭐⭐

Supports native live-streaming and offers an AI for automated transcription. Only syncs with Google.

Payments

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Supports Stripe and an in-built merchant platform. The payment processing fee is a flat charge of 2.9%.


⭐⭐⭐⭐

Relies solely on Stripe. Payment processing fee ranges between 0.5% and 4%, depending on your plan.

Integrations


⭐⭐⭐

Integrates with Zapier.

🏆
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Supports embed widgets and integrates with Zapier.

Best For
Creators who want a ‘community first’ platform they can charge access for and provide courses as part of the subscription. Creators who want to segment their audience, charge different prices for different courses, and enjoy tier flexibility across groups.
14-day free trial
(Credit card required)
14-day free trial
(no card required)

What is Skool?
“A community platform for creators” 👨‍💻

Skool was created by Sam Ovens in 2019 as an alternative to traditional course platforms. It was built on the idea that creators are burned out of courses and no one really enjoys them. What they enjoy are masterminds — people love hanging out and interacting with like-minded individuals. Skool is more about the people and less about the content.

The platform is built around a gamer culture that’s evident in its central feature — the community. It offers a gamified experience with levels, points, and gems that encourage members to engage with course content and each other. It also offers a drip scheduling feature and community leaderboards to turn regular engagement into a friendly competition.

Skool is great for beginner creators and business owners who want to build a paid community where courses are provided as part of each member’s subscription.

What is Circle?
“All-in-one communities for creators and brands” 👨‍💻🅱

Circle was created by Sid Yadav, Andrew Guttormsen, and Rudy Santino in 2019 as an all-in-one community platform offering the tools people need to do more in a limited time.

It gives non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, business owners, and coaches, everything they need to not only create, but also monetize their content, convert visitors into paying members, and organize discussions into intuitive spaces. With Circle, you get all you need to build a home for your community, events, and courses. Some key features include its flexible community design tools, automation workflows, native live-streaming tools, and Content Co-Pilot — an AI tool that assists you in creating posts.

Circle is a powerful platform for content creators and businesses seeking to charge different prices for different courses within a single community.

Skool vs Circle: Building Communities

Skool and Circle have everything creators need to monetize their community and track payments but Circle has an edge with its profanity filters and embed blocks.

Skool Circle
⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skool’s community-building tools are great for creators in need of a nice upgrade to traditional social media platforms.

Skool allows subscribers to build groups and online communities where people can hang out, connect, and deepen relationships.

The community interface looks similar to regular Facebook groups. You’ll find basic elements like pinned posts, comments, likes, mentions, photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and more.

And on the settings tab, you can add discussion categories and specify posting permissions.

But unlike the regular Facebook community, which can easily lead to a mix of work and pleasure, Skool offers multiple community-building features that eliminate the overwhelm, distractions, and trolls.

Here are Skool’s core community features (note that they are all available on Circle):

  • A search box to help you find all group discussions and build searchable help documentation organically over time.
  • Members hub to onboard and manage new members.
  • A subscription model to monetize your community, set subscription paywalls, and track payments.
  • Community metrics to view growth summaries and spot trends.
  • And Zapier integration so you can connect to Zoom, host live events, and keep your community active.

Circle offers solid community-building tools for entrepreneurs looking to build paid, spam-free communities.

Circle’s community allows users to monetize groups and spaces for real-time chat and spontaneous conversations.

Like on Skool, creators can tailor the look and feel of their community to match their brand, set post permission, and post rich media attachments like videos, audio, files, and podcasts.

But unlike Skool, which is limited to regular media uploads, Circle grants access to hundreds of embed blocks so you can add content from third-party sites to your post.

Some other unique features available on Circle’s community but unavailable on Skool include:

When it comes to membership management, both tools support rich member profiles but Circle has an edge with tags and segments.

Members can onboard to your Skool community in minutes through a custom invite link.

However, it doesn’t support any stand-out list or tagging feature to manage members. Admins can only filter members through their “active” and “churned” status. On the positive side, you can bulk invite potential subscribers using a CSV upload or webhooks.

Circle also supports a custom invite link.

But unlike Skool, Circle gives you a host of tools to customize your message and organize your list with tags and segments like a CRM.

It’s also worth pointing out that, both platforms have a dedicated member directory where you can search for and filter community members.

The basic difference is that while Circle’s member directory focuses on the main details of each community member—so event participants can see each other’s profiles and get to interact better—Skool is focused on providing community managers with the heatmaps and calculable metrics they need to know the engagement level of each member.

Winner: Circle takes the lead in community building because of its wide range of growth and segmentation features. It’s the best option for brands and entrepreneurs looking to create paid, spam-free communities.
Skool, on the other hand, is a nice tool for creators who don’t like the community-building features on popular platforms like Facebook or Slack. It doesn’t offer as much flexibility as Circle but can help keep track of members in a gamified yet profitable way.

Skool vs Circle: Creating Online Courses & Classrooms

Skool and Circle’s content editor offer similar elements to structure courses but Circle wins the round with its course preview page builder and SEO features.

Skool Circle
⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skool offers a rich content editor and a drip scheduler to control content consumption.

The Classroom is the primary content hub for Skool’s online courses.

It supports videos, modules, files, searchable transcripts, and a rich text editor to create content with different text styles, inline images/GIFs, hyperlinks, code blocks, quote blocks, and clean line breaks.

Skool’s course builder is quite basic, you won’t find LMS-centric features like assessments, quizzes, course compliance, and such. The only feature that caught my attention was the drip scheduler, which Circle also supports, and allows you to regulate when members can access course content.

When you turn on Drip for a course module and set the number of days, it locks the course for the specified number of days after a member joins the group, allowing you to control the pipeline of content consumption as your group grows.

You can also segment your posts into categories and set permission on who has access to your classroom content.

Circle supports a drag-and-drop builder to design descriptive pages that can increase sign-ups for courses behind paywalls.

Like School, Circle enables creators to bring their content and community together so they don’t have to juggle multiple platforms. But instead of “Classrooms,” Circle prefers the term “Courses.”

The course hub is organized into three sections—self-paced, structured, and scheduled—each offering specific editing and formatting options.

And while Circle’s content editor is similar to Skool’s, its course hub stands out with the drag-and-drop builder admins can use to create descriptive, conversion-based lock screens for courses behind paywalls.

Plus, it also allows subscribers to host their communities under custom domains (Skool doesn’t support this), giving admins the flexibility to optimize their courses for search engines.

Winner: Circle because of the CRO tools attached to its course hub. Aside from that, Circle’s content editors offer similar elements as Skool’s.

Skool vs Circle: Engagement Features

Skool is superb for incentivizing people to participate in group discussions while Circle is perfect for broadcasting big events.

Skool Circle
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skool natively gamifies members’ progress with leaderboards and can sync with multiple calendars.

Skool’s calendar is where you schedule events for members to see in their local time zone.

Unlike Circle’s calendar which syncs only with Google, Skool’s calendar syncs with Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Outlook, guaranteeing a bird-eye view of all activities.

Plus, everyone on Skool (admins and members) can also toggle between the calendar and event view to see what’s cooking. The toggle feature is limited to admins on Circle.

And that’s not all. Skool also offers a native gamification feature to incentivize people to participate in group discussions and stay engaged.

This feature helps unlock points and courses that, over time, give members the jolt they need to level up across the leaderboard.

On the other hand, Circle doesn’t have a native gamification feature. While you can automate the gamification process on Circle using Airtable, it can’t compare with Skool in terms of flexibility and flair.

Circle offers built-in live streaming tools while Skool relies on third-party integration.

Circle also has an event hub dedicated to creating and hosting all sorts of events. Whether it’s a 5-person group coaching call, 50-member workshop, or 500-attendee summit with live Q&A, Circle has you covered.

The upside for Circle’s event hub compared to Skool’s calendar is that Circle supports built-in video hosting.

Admins can use Circle to broadcast big events to up to 1,000 people, while Skool users need to rely on third-party integrations. You have to integrate Zoom or Google Meet through Zapier to host video calls on Skool.

Plus Circle’s automated transcription feature allows users to turn event recording to video transcripts they can use as content for other spaces.

Winner: Skool takes the lead because it has more features to build an engaged community than Circle. However, its reliance on third-party integration to host live events can incur extra expenses. So if you’re not invested in gamifying members’ experience or you are big on broadcasting large events, Circle might be a better option.

Skool vs Circle: CRO Tools

Circle’s CRO features are made for solo professionals and big teams’ needs, while Skool’s toolset is focused on solo creators who want to track members’ progress.

Skool Circle
⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skool has everything you need to monitor the health of your community and keep track of member’s activities.

Skool isn’t a robust platform for conversion rate optimization, at least not compared to Circle or a more popular platform like ConvertKit. However, it does offer some basic CRO features.

The most common is Email Broadcasts. Admins can simply write a post, and at the click of a button, send it to all members via email.

Another noteworthy tool that can help in CRO is the Metrics hub. Skool provides several key metrics so you can monitor the health of your group from a single dashboard.

Some of the metrics Skool can help you track include:

  • Total members: number of members in your group over 30 days.
  • Active members: number of members who visit your group on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.
  • Daily activity: how active your group is daily over 365 days.

Aside from the metric, the rich member profile can come in handy when optimizing for conversion.

Skool tracks member profiles so admins can easily get an overview of key details like:

  • the date each member joined,
  • number of followers,
  • who they are following, and contributions.

But Circle is limited on this front. The member profile only shows info like name, designation, and tag.

Circle gives you enough CRO tools to personalize members’ experience and save money on outsourcing admin work to contractors.

Circle offers in-depth CRO tools like an analytics hub, activity score feature, and workflow automation hub, which you won’t find on Skool.

The analytics hub is comparable to Skool’s metric section, the only difference is that it’s not laser-focused on member scoring like Skool. Admins can also use Circle’s analytics hub to track posts, comments, and messages.

On the downside, only users on Circle’s professional plan and above can access the analytics hub.

Moving on to the workflow automation.

Circle’s automation feature comes with a stack of onboarding, engagement, administrative, and paywall templates you can customize with set rules and actions.

Admins can automate:

  • weekly email digests,
  • repetitive tasks like welcome messages,
  • and send bulk messages to every member of a space.

Circle’s automation feature can be compared to Skool’s email broadcast feature, except that Skool doesn’t support automated workflows.

And finally, there’s Circle’s activity score feature.

The activity score feature provides insights into the impact of your content and engagement activities. This feature is similar to Skool’s rich member profile — dedicated to analyzing members’ activities over the last 30 days based on factors like:

  • Presence: Number of visits per day and number of days visited in the last 30 days.
  • Contribution: Number of likes and event RSVPs in the last 30 days.
  • Participation: Number of posts and comments in the last 30 days.
  • Connection: Number of active DM conversations in the last 30 days.

Winner: Circle takes the lead here because it has more CRO tools than Skool. But note that features like analytics and activity scores are locked behind high-tier plans. Skool is a cost-effective alternative if you need a simple platform that can help you monitor key metrics from a single dashboard.

Skool vs Circle: Price and Payment Methods

Skool offers one premium plan for $99/month, while Circle offers four premium plans with the lowest starting at $49/month and all features unlocked at $399/month.

Skool Circle
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Skool’s one-size-fits-all plan comes with an auto-affiliate program and a cheaper transaction fee.

Skool’s pricing starts and ends at $99/month. No annual plan.

It supports the creation of a single group (community) where you can create and sell subscription memberships to an unlimited number of people. You can test out Skool’s paid plan with their 14-day free trial.

Now, there’s no doubt that Skool’s single plan is quite pricey if you’re a beginner.

But thankfully, there’s an upside to building a community with Skool. And that’s the auto-affiliate program. As a Skool admin, if one of your members creates a Skool group, you get paid 40% of their monthly subscription.

Moving on to Skool’s payment methods.

Most of Skool’s payment processing activities happen on its Marchant platform at a flat charge of 2.9%. Skool handles VAT/sales tax compliance so you don’t need to register for VAT or do anything.

However, Skool relies on Stripe for sending out auto-affiliate payouts.

Circle’s feature-centric packages enable interesting use cases for diverse needs.

Circle’s pricing plans, unlike Skool, have a package for everyone.

The Basic plan, which costs $49/month, isn’t as robust as Skool’s single plan, but it can help beginner creators build an active community.

Aside from the Basic plan, Circle offers a feature-rich Professional plan comparable to Skool’s all-in-one plan. You can test-run any of Circle’s plans with the 14-day free trial before committing to a subscription. No credit card is required.

Here’s a breakdown of what you get from Circle’s monthly plans:

Basic ($49) Professional ($99) Business ($219) Enterprise ($399)
Rich member profile

Searchable member directory

Discussions

Events

Paid membership

Custom domain

Weekly community digest

Courses

Live streams

Live rooms

Unlimited members

Custom branding

Reporting & analytics

Custom code snippet

Conversion tracking

Workflows

Custom profile field

API access

Email white-labeling

Content co-pilot

Automated transcriptions

Activity scores

Unlimited workflows

Custom single sign-on

Priority support

Lower transaction fees

Sandbox community

Up to 10 admins and 100 moderators

Note that there are multiple upsides to subscribing for Circle’s annual plan. For instance, if you’re on the Business plan, apart from the $20 discount, you also get a free course migration service.

Meanwhile, when it comes to payment processing, Circle relies solely on Stripe integration. You can charge members in USD, CAD, AUD, EUR, or GBP.

Circle also charges a transaction fee, ranging between 0.5% and 4%, depending on your plan.

Winner: Skool is more scalable since all features are contained in a single plan. However, its lack of an in-built video streaming platform makes it unsustainable for creators and enterprises big on hosting large live stream events.
Circle’s pricing, on the other hand, is perfect for beginner creators and enterprises with dynamic, ever-changing needs. But its feature-centric pricing means it can become expensive quickly.
Overall, both tools are fairly priced for what you get.

Skool vs Circle: Pros & Cons

Skool Pros Skool Cons
✅ Easy to set up ❌ No segmentation or tagging features
✅ Affordable subscription model ❌ No in-built video streaming platform
✅ Auto-affiliate program that makes it an income stream rather than a cost ❌ No embed blocks or widgets
✅ Cheaper transaction fees
✅ Rich member profiles highlighting calculable metrics
✅ A leadership board for gamification and rewards
Circle Pros Circle Cons
✅ Clutter-free user interface ❌ No in-built gamification features
✅ Offers beginner-friendly plans ❌ No visual heatmap on member’s activities
✅ Supports built-in video hosting and native live streaming ❌ Calender only integrates with Google
✅ Supports automated workflows
✅ Allows custom domain hosting and SEO optimization

Final Verdict: Skool vs Circle

Skool is a people-first platform for building Facebook-style communities and courses, while Circle is a feature-centric platform for your community, courses, and event hosting.

Skool Circle
Best for:

Creators who want a ‘community first’ platform they can charge access for and provide courses as part of the subscription.

Best for:

Creators who want to segment their audience, charge different prices for different courses, and enjoy tier flexibility across groups.

Overall, both tools have all the features you need to create unlimited courses, provide a mobile-friendly user experience, monetize your community, and build a tribe. But Skool is better suited for creators that don’t have time to learn complex tools while Circle is perfect for businesses that want to host big events and automate admin tasks.

Use Skool if:

  • You value a Facebook-style community.
  • You want gamification features to increase members’ engagement.
  • You want detailed information about how members engage and interact within your community.

Click here to get started with Skool!

Use Circle if:

  • You need to charge for one-time purchases.
  • You need a bunch of CRO and marketing tools to boost engagement.
  • You want to build a spam-free community.

Click here to get started with Circle!

 

Note: Still looking for a platform that will work best for you? We also compared Kajabi vs Circle, Kajabi vs Wix, Kajabi vs Passion.io, and many more. Check out our comparisons here!

Author:

Mihael Cacic
Miha is a writer and an expert in comparative content. After graduating from Physics, Mihael left his job as a software engineer developing SaaS products and began writing about them instead. He gets a kick from writing in-depth, objective, and though through software reviews, knowing his readers will find the best software for their needs.
Author:
Mihael Cacic
Miha is a writer and an expert in comparative content. After graduating from Physics, Mihael left his job as a software engineer developing SaaS products and began writing about them instead. He gets a kick from writing in-depth, objective, and though through software reviews, knowing his readers will find the best software for their needs.