The power of the community: How to make money with memberships as a podcaster




Memberships offer sustainable support from your community. In this guest article, Steady writes

about how you can best use the model for yourself – and how Podigee’s new feature can help you.


People from your community listen to your podcast because they like you and your work. That's the simple premise that makes memberships such an exceptional and sustainable model: Because many of these people are also willing to support you as a member and pay money for the work they appreciate so much.

We have often found that podcasters and other media makers don't believe that’s true. They think their community won’t be willing to give them money for their work. But once they start offering memberships, they almost always find the opposite is true. The willingness to pay and the desire to deepen relationships between audiences and media makers have been there all along!

Many publishers have already jumped on the membership bandwagon: media giants like The Guardian and de Correspondent, but above all many small projects and podcasts like Wochendämmerung, The Pod, Halbe Katoffl, Bin Weg Bouldern and Feuer & Brot. The model works particularly well for podcasts because it is such a direct medium. Listeners often feel a special connection with podcasters because they have their voices in their ears all the time – this is very personal and creates a sense of closeness.

How do memberships work exactly?

Members support you over the long-term with a regular amount of money; usually they pay monthly or annually. Although memberships do not only enable financial transactions. They also create the basis for a closer relationship between you and your community. 

Members are often interested in swapping notes with media makers and are happy to pitch in and get involved in the work. This is also what distinguishes memberships from subscriptions. If you want a subscription, you have to pay, but if you become a member, you want to pay.

The Pod

More than 3,000 listeners have already signed up for a membership on The Pod’s Steady page.


Why you should consider memberships

There are countless reasons to choose a membership model. Here are the most important ones:


1. You only need two things to get started

If you have a loyal community and publish content on the regular, then you can expect lasting support from your community.. Do you regularly publish episodes? Do you already have a community of listeners who appreciate your work and identify with the goals of your project? Yes to both of these questions? Then you're ready for memberships.

2. Your community is happy to support you

If you have a loyal community, they're willing to pay simply because they like you and your work, trust you and want to show appreciation – and keep your podcast running successfully.

At Steady, we’ve found that about 5% of your community will be happy to support you financially. And that is enough to start a successful membership program.

3. You generate sustainable income 

Once someone decides to become a member, they won’t be cancelling their membership anytime soon. So you can count on your income and plan ahead, instead of having to rely on fluctuating income from advertisers or donations.

At Steady we have observed that members pay an average of 5 EUR per month. So if you know the approximate size of your community, you can roughly calculate how much you will earn.

4. You maintain independence

Members support you not only financially, but also with knowledge, ideas and suggestions – over the long-term. This creates trust and enables you to work independently.

5. You do not need to do anything extra

Some podcasters offer some fantastic rewards for their members, but sometimes they take on too much. Rewards such as shout-outs, bonus episodes or members-only events can help you attract members, but they’re not a must-have. Your community will be happy to support you for what you are already doing. So just get started – and then consider offering little extras later on.

How to use memberships for your podcast

Building a membership program does not have to be a lot of work. Platforms like Steady take care of technology, accounting, payment processing and whatever else you need. This leaves you more time to do what you're really passionate about.

Here are a few tips and features to help you make a compelling offer to your community:


Offer plans at different prices in your own currency

Plans can be used to make different offers to your community. A prospective member purchases a plan and each plan has a certain price, which the member pays to you regularly (annually or monthly). 

In each plan you can offer your members a reward – for example, exclusive podcast episodes. By offering plans at different prices, you make sure that everyone can find something suitable for them. On Steady, you can also choose from more than 10 different currencies so your community can pay the way they're used to.


Screenshot 2020-08-18 at 16.00.18

The podcasters of Rice and Shine offer three different plans. All members receive an exclusive newsletter.


Offer exclusive episodes for your members

One popular reward that podcasters offer their members are exclusive episodes or pre-releases. With Steady's audio RSS feed, you can make individual episodes available to all members, or only to members of certain plans.

If you host your podcast on Podigee, you can easily use Podigee’s new feature instead of the Steady feature. 

>>> Here’s how to do that.


Other benefits to inspire your community

Some podcasters invite their members to have their say: They send out surveys or invite their members to events. This creates a dialogue within the community and members can, for example, take a look behind the scenes or make suggestions for future episodes. For many prospective members, this kind of exchange is already a convincing reward.

There are also many other possibilities, such as sending out handwritten postcards or giving your members a shout-out in your podcast. But it can work just as well if you don’t offer anything in return. 37% of the top 50 publishers on Steady do not offer anything in return – their members simply support them because they want the project to thrive.


Hundreds of publishers generate sustainable revenues

On Steady, there are more than 600 publishers who earn money with memberships on a long-term basis. Some of them – for example The Pod, Bin Weg Bouldern and Halbe Katoffl – have shared their experiences with us. Let their stories inspire you and maybe you will soon start your own successful membership program.


You’re already hosting your podcast on Podigee? Start your Steady-Project for free and you"be welcoming your first member before you know it!

Haven't started your podcast just yet, but got a lot to say? Test Podigee for free for the first two weeks and make the first step towards your own community-funded podcast!



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