Podcast Monetization Idea: Subscription PodcastJan 04, 2023
Monetization should be the goal of nearly every podcaster - even if your podcast serves a greater mission and isn't part of your business model, monetization allows you to cover the cost of producing and hosting your show. And even if your goal isn't to monetize to make a profit, the money your show earns can be reinvested back into the show - to upgrade your equipment, to learn better techniques, and to hire help on those day-to-day tasks that keep your show coming (*ahem* We know know just where to go to get help when you're ready to hire. ) .
This Fall we talked about options for monetization here and here. Today, let's dive deeper into subscription podcasting because subscribers-only content is one of the best ways to monetize your digital content as a podcaster. There are several different ways to offer podcasts by subscription, so we'll look at each of those, along with the pros and cons of each.
SoundsProfitable.com, which sends our favorite "state of podcasting" newsletter, recently published an insightful article that described many of the pitfalls to the lack of regulation in the podcasting industry and how those pitfalls make subscription podcasting more complex for both podcast producers and podcast listeners. Check that out if you're interested in learning more about the friction between podcast hosts & players and how that can potentially impact your listeners.
Currently, there are two types of subscription podcast - those which are gated by the podcast hosting platform and/or listening platform, like Spotify Premium, Stitcher Premium, and Wondery+, and those gated by the show's owner, which typically involves a separate RSS feed and/or a 3rd party to gatekeep the premium content.
For better or for worse, many of us will not qualify for big-name hosts to control our premium content. We don't have the listenership for Spotify to buy our show or for Wondery to want to partner with us. But you can choose a podcast hosting company with a listening app that automatically creates a premium or subscription-based option for your show.
Hosts that Offer Subscription Podcasts
Several hosting companies offer this as a solution, with some of our favorites being PodBean, Spotify (this is a different service than Spotify premium), and Apple Podcasters Program. Typically, these platforms work by giving you an option to add a subscribers-only podcast to your content library. The platform is responsible for collecting payment and giving access to your subscribers to the premium show.
Some, like PodBean, take a percentage of the subscription cost your subscribers pay as their payment for gating your content. Others, like Apple Podcasters Program, charge you as the podcast creator a flat fee for access to the subscription feature. Most allow you to set your own subscription price and will automatically bill your subscribers each month.
We at Podcast VA Association like this method because it's completely automated. You upload the premium content and your subscribers automatically see it in their player. You don't have any additional work to do.
The con to this method is that your subscribers can only listen to your paid content on the platform in which they pay for it. So, if they're avid Stitcher users and you run your subscription through PodBean, they'll have to switch to PodBean to listen to the premium content. For some listeners, this is enough of a hurdle that it will keep them from subscribing, even if your premium content is highly desirable.
Private RSS Feed
If you prefer to manually manage your subscription podcast, there are lots of options for you. You can set up a donation or payment option through a processor like PayPal Checkout or Buy Me A Coffee and manually send a private RSS feed to your subscribers. Your subscribers add your feed to their player and get your premium episodes delivered to their pod player automatically. Both options mentioned above allow for recurring payments to be set up and take a small percentage of each payment as their fees.
We like this option for its simplicity and for ease of use for your listeners. They can add the RSS feed for the private to show to any player and get your content delivered directly to them.
The con to this method is that it's a manual process to send the feed to each new subscriber. You'll need to be check in on your payment platform to get the email addresses of your new subscribers and send them the link individually. While not difficult, this is an extra layer of work for you each week/month.
Membership Site with Kajabi
Kajabi is a new player in the podcasting space and in the interest of full disclosure, we use them for our course & community, but we do not use them to host our podcast. However, they offer a unique option that combines a membership site AND a podcast host into one platform. From Kajabi, you can manage all your free & paid content, including courses, downloads, 1:1 meetings, and your podcast.
Plusses to this option include ease-of-use. If you have several items that you offer your subscribers, in addition to a premium podcast, this all-in-one option allows you to control everything from one dashboard. This truly streamlines and simplifies your workflow. Kajabi pushes free podcasts out to all podcast players, so your subscribers can access your premium show wherever they listen.
The con is that Kajabi is expensive! You'll pay a minimum of $200/month to host your content on their site, and they charge a fee for each transaction. But, if you have a large selection of paid offers, this might be the most convenient way to go.
What does this mean for me?
Podcasters: Consider whether it's time for you to offer premium content to your biggest fans. If so, start exploring these options to find the one that makes the most sense for you.
VAs: If your podcasting clients are ready to monetize, bring these options to their attention, and familiarize yourself with how to set up each option for your clients. We will be doing a training on setting up subscription podcasts later this Spring. Members, look for an announcement in March of '23. (If you're not a member of the Association, get on the waitlist right now to be notified of our next enrollment event.)
Is a subscribers-only podcast in your future? We'd love to know. DM us on IG to let us know.
*some links may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission from your purchase.
Don't miss a beat!
New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.