There’s nothing more exciting than realizing your show has fans. It requires time and dedication and great content to build a fan base willing to subscribe and help spread the word to their friends on social media. But you somehow managed to do just that, and every day you’re watching your fanbase grow.
Unfortunately, you might have noticed that this growth is not translating to your bank account. For some people, that’s fine! There are lots of ways to measure podcast success, and money isn’t the only one.
But if it is for you, and if you’re not courting podcast advertisers just yet, you’re going to need to find another revenue source. Podcasting is fun, and you don’t want to let your expanding list of subscribers down, but it can be time- and resource-consuming to produce.
At its core, Patreon is a platform for creators to rally support from their fans, allowing for continued growth and expansion through subscriptions and rewards. Subscriptions are typically divided into tiers, the cost of each set by the creators of the content. Each level offers a different reward to tempt fans to subscribe for a regularly recurring fee. These rewards are broken down into five general categories: Access/Insight, Engagement, Fan Recognition, Digital Bonuses, and Physical Goods.
Giving fans an extra level of access isn’t a new concept at all–remember backstage passes? Everyone likes to feel like they get to skip the line. The Yaron Brook Show offers paid subscribers priority during the shows Q&A section while DIS Unplugged posts behind the scenes content. This provides fans paying a monthly subscription fee access they wouldn’t otherwise have.
We’re not talking about rings and marriage! Typically, engagement in this sense refers to some form of direct communication between creator and subscribers. The podcast Cybergarage makes use of the Patreon live chat feature as a monthly hangout for those paying the cost to be the boss. If you think the lines between between access and engagement are a little blurred, well, that can be true. Again, these are general categories, not hard and fast rules. However, engagement is normally used as an even more intimate level of access lending itself to a higher monthly fee.
Additional content is cool. When it comes to making art, including podcasts, there is usually quite a bit left on the cutting room floor. This additional content can be packaged into bonus material to entice listeners not only to pay for a monthly subscription but possibly even jump up a tier or two based on perceived value. Swords and Scales, Easy Allies, and Second Captains all make use of digital bonus content to lure in would be subscribers.
Shout-outs can be effective and engaging on their own and require very little work on the part of the creator. The fine folks at Kinda Funny take advantage of this by shouting out listeners on Twitter or, sometimes, even during an episode of the podcast. Some creators will send printable certificates for long time listeners or those included in or associated with segments of the show.
Swag is a great way to get people to help spread the word, and free marketing is a good thing! However, there are some logistical concerns to consider before going down this road, especially taking into consideration how much it may cost to produce the merch of your dreams.
How these categories are used and tiered is completely up to the creator. So some may seem to lend themselves to a higher priced offering, however, it’s important to remember that one is not inherently more valuable than another.