Guide to Monetizing Your Podcast Fans
Your fans tune in to every episode of your podcast. By now, many of them know, like, and trust you. They enjoy the content you’re creating. You’ve become part of their routine. And when you eventually decide to sell them something, many of them will probably buy it.
This is called fan patronage…when fans want to support you and your podcast monetarily. Most fans understand your podcast takes work, and that you can’t do it for free indefinitely. They want to keep consuming your content, so they want to help keep your show alive and running.
In this guide, we’ll go over:
Types of Fan Patronage
Fans are motivated to give monetary support for 4 main reasons: altruism, more content, sense of belonging, and special attention. When you don’t offer a way to let fans support you monetarily, you’re losing out on an opportunity to engage your fans in a deeper, more meaningful way.
In this section, we’ll cover all 4 reasons why some fans could be looking for ways to give you monetary support.
Some fans are mainly motivated by altruism, and they just want to help keep your show up and running.
They don’t really care to receive anything in return. They’re just happy supporting you, cause they already get sufficient value from being a listener of your podcast.
These fans usually show their support in the form of a donation or tips. Satisfying these types of fans is pretty easy. Using a simple fan donation platform, like PodInbox, you can easily give a your fans a way to leave a suggested donation…or a custom amount of their choosing.
We always encourage podcasters to give some way for fans to leave tips…even if you don’t care too much about the extra income stream. In most cases, having something like an online tip jar is really just a way to let fans feel more invested and excited about being part of your tribe.
Some fans just want more of your content. They already enjoy all the free content in your podcast, and they’re happy to pay for more premium content.
This is where you can leverage things like paid newsletters, premium podcast feeds, courses, and books. Fans want to tap into any content beyond your main podcast. They’re willing to pay for it and get satisfaction knowing they’re supporting you and your work.
Just remember, more content doesn’t need to be educational. Sure, things like courses and books are very common for certain genres of podcasts. But for other podcast genres, you can do things like bonus episodes, a spinoff series, or AMAs…which can be relevant to almost any category of podcast.
These days, creating premium content with a paywall is pretty easy. With PodInbox, we teach podcasters to use our Perks feature to sell paid content. Using PodInbox, you can create Perks for your premium content, set a price, and let fans buy your Perk right on your PodInbox fan page.
Sense of Belonging
Some fans want to feel a deeper sense of belonging in your community. Just like having a favorite sports team or rock band…they want to brag about being a member of your tribe.
For some superfans, they want to meet, chat, and hangout with other fans of the show.
For this group of fans, you might consider starting a private community or group chat. You can always use PodInbox’s Chat Room feature to get fans engaged and meeting each other. PodInbox’s Chat Rooms are intentionally designed to be simple, with very little barrier to join. You can also set your PodInbox Chat Room to private, and charge fans a fee to join.
Alternatively, you can use more advanced chat rooms, like Discord. To setup a paywall for your Discord server, you can create a Perk on PodInbox, set a price, and give a link to your Discord URL when fans purchase your Perk. You can basically do this same thing with any community platform you choose.
Another thing fans love, to exhibit this sense of belonging to your community, is to wear your merch. Superfans love repping their love for you and your show. For them, it becomes this conversation piece, as they stroll around in public…donning your custom t-shirt.
To satisfy these fans, it’s pretty easy to design and sell some custom t-shirts. With platforms like Printful, you can easily setup an online store to sell custom merch…without ever having to touch a shirt. The great thing about merch is it’s a great word-of-mouth growth tool. If you can design something that’s share worthy, whether it’s funny or cool, it really does become like a walking billboard for your show.
Some fans just want a little attention, and they’re willing to pay for it.
For these fans, you can do something as involved as a personal Zoom call, or something more scalable like an AMA (ask me anything) episode. Either option, this is something you can set a fee for, and some fans will gladly pay for that extra attention.
If you’re using PodInbox, you can use the Message Tips feature, to help run your paid AMAs. Just tell fans to leave an audio message with their question, along with a tip on their message, and you’ll feature their question on an upcoming episode.
If you’re offering something a bit more involved, like a group Zoom call or even a 1-on-1 Zoom call, you can create a PodInbox Perk, and let fans purchase that Perk to schedule their Zoom call.
How to Encourage Fans to Give
To get fans to give…you need to ask.
It’s really that simple. But you’d be surprised how many podcasters are afraid to ask for fan support. We advise you make the ask in every single episode.
Many podcasters think they can just setup a tool to collect fan payments, and then it’ll just magically happen. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You need to put some effort marketing it.
Some podcasters might promote it in a few social posts or their link in bio. But for some reason, they leave out their most important and powerful marketing channel…their podcast episodes.
To get results, you need to request fans to “tip, donate, support, give, buy”…whatever it is you want them to do…in EVERY single episode. If you haven’t read our Guide to Call-to-Actions and Guide to Podcast Shoutouts, now is a good time to check those out.
Directness and repetition is what will get you positive results. Be direct. Tell them exactly what you want them to do in each episode. Want them to buy your course? Tell them in 1 sentence why they should sign up and where to buy it. Want them to leave you tip? Tell them that their tips and donations are greatly appreciated and help keep your show running. Then tell them where they can leave a donation.
Repetition is also very important. Make it a normal segment on your show. Studies show that fans need to hear something 10 times before they’ll take an action. This means you have to be consistent and direct in every episode, before you start seeing good results with fan monetization.
Lastly, remember to always include that link to give support on your episode show notes. This is the first place a listener will look after hearing the plug in your podcast. Make is super easy for them to show their support by providing them a link to the page to give.
Should You Monetize Fans?
In today’s creator economy, it’s become much more prevalent to monetize your fans directly. This same question just 5 years ago, would perhaps garner a different answer. Today, the answer is definitely yes.
These days, fans want to directly support the creators they enjoy. People now know, if they’re consuming something for free, then they’re the product. Now, people prefer paying creators for content, versus getting sponsored content thrown at them.
Even the major tech platforms are supporting creators leveraging direct fan engagement. Platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter all have ways for fans to leave tips and purchase subscriptions.
Podcast production is a labor and time intensive medium. Most of us would agree, it’d be nice to make some money from all our hard work, whether it’s a small or large income stream. Monetization helps pay the bills, while giving us much needed validation for the content we produce.
Unfortunately, over 95% of podcasts can’t make a fair living based on sponsorships and ad revenue. The only other monetization option is direct fan monetization. Also, it’s not an either/or situation. Plenty of podcasters leverage both sponsorships and direct fan monetization. One does not rule out the other.
Hopefully, you now want to try monetizing your fans directly.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 things you can sell to your podcast fans.
10 Things To Sell To Podcast Fans
Hopefully, you’re now considering the idea of selling something directly to your fans. That’s awesome, cause you’re giving an opportunity for your fans to support you monetarily, and dive deeper into your community!
If you’re still looking for ideas on what to sell, read this next section!
We’ve compiled a list of top 10 things you can sell to your podcast audience.
1. Books or Ebooks
There’s a good chance fans want more of your content. Especially if you’ve taken the time to compile your thoughts and stories into a book.
If you’ve never written a book before. Try writing a short ebook. Tools like Reedsy and Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), makes it very easy to create and sell an ebook. Or you can even use a tool like Canva to put together a simple PDF ebook.
Newsletters are great companions to podcasts. It’s the perfect opportunity to repurpose some of your content, in the form of newsletter summaries. If you have a newsletter with great content, it might be worth monetizing it.
Whether you monetize or distribute your newsletter for free, we do think this is a good practice for building your email list and delivering value to your active list.
3. Workshops & Courses
For many podcasts, a course or a workshop might be the highest priced product you can potentially sell to your fans. The average online course sells anywhere from $500 – $2000 per student.
Much of the price depends on if you’re running a self-paced course, where usually there’s very little student/teacher interaction. These courses are usually on the cheaper end of the spectrum.
The more expensive courses are usually cohort based courses, where a group of students goes through the course together, getting more personal instruction directly from the teachers. Generally, these courses has some pre-recorded learning materials, along with a set amount of Zoom calls or office hours with the instructor.
- Create a Workshop
- Real time workshops are simple, in that it’s usually just done live over Zoom.
- Create a PodInbox Perk to sell access to your workshop over Zoom.
- When fans buy your course, send them details on when the course will take place, and the Zoom link to join.
- Create a Course
4. Paid AMA
AMAs (ask me anything) and Q&A episodes are a great way to engage your listeners and monetize. You probably have an expertise and a point-of-view that fans are willing to pay for.
To do a paid AMA, you can leverage PodInbox and ask your audience to record their questions on your PodInbox fan page. To monetize, ask your fans to leave a monetary tip on their audio message. Tell your audience that for your AMA episodes, you’re more likely to feature fan questions with an attached tip.
- Ask fans to record their questions on your PodInbox fan page.
- Tell fans to leave a tip on their message.
- On your AMA episode, feature the questions from fans who left a message and a tip, and give them a shoutout.
Many of your listeners are proud fans of your show, and they want to showcase their fandom by wearing your merch. T-shirts are great for this!
Just like having a favorite sports team or rock band, fans also want to rep their favorite podcast shows. For them, it’s a conversation piece, and a chance to meet other fans who might see their shirt.
Give your fans the opportunity to buy a custom t-shirt. With resources like Fiverr and Printful, you can sell custom shirts online without ever having to touch a shirt yourself.
- Create a custom t-shirt design
- It can be anything that’s relevant to your show…a catchy slogan, common show quote, a community mantra, the name you normally call your audience, etc.
- If you’re not a designer, hire designers on Fiverr to create several designs.
- Setup an account on Printful for your custom t-shirts.
- Ask fans to tag you on social media, wearing your shirt, so you can give them shoutouts on your podcast episodes.
6. Group Zoom Call
Many of your fans want to hang out with you and meet other fans. Group Zoom calls are great for this.
Fans want access to these exclusive events, and they’re willing to pay for it. You can leverage a PodInbox Perk and Zoom to easily sell access to a group Zoom call. It’s a great way to build a community of highly engaged fans.
- Setup a date and time for your Zoom event.
- Setup a PodInbox Perk for your group Zoom call.
- When a fan buys this Perk, give them the details of the group Zoom call, along with the Zoom link.
- Give a shoutout to all the fans who bought this Perk.
7. 1-on-1 Zoom Call
Some fans want direct access to you. Maybe it’s to seek advice or try a coaching call. Selling a 1-on-1 Zoom chat can create a very happy fan and help you increase your tribe of superfans.
Like a group Zoom call, setting this up is easy. Just use a PodInbox Perk as a paywall to access your private Zoom session. Your time is valuable of course, so consider selling this perk at a premium price point.
- Use a tool like Calendly, where people can book time on your calendar. Make this calendar private.
- Setup a PodInbox Perk for your 1-on-1 Zoom call.
- When a fan buys this Perk, give them a link to book their Zoom call on your Calendly link.
- Give this fan a shoutout after your 1-on-1 call.
8. Fan Chat Room
A lot of your fans want to meet and chat with each other. Give them an opportunity to do so. This doesn’t have to be daunting…like starting a whole community. It’s just a place for fans to text back and forth, have discussions, comment, and meet each other.
At least setup a free chat room. But you can also monetize one by making it more exclusive. With PodInbox Chat Rooms, you can do both. Fans would just go to your PodInbox fan page and simply join your chat room.
- Setup a PodInbox Chat Room and set it to paid.
- Set the entrance price as a flat fee or monthly subscription.
- Give shoutouts to your newest members in every episode.
A great way to monetize your fans is to get them to help fund a specific project. For podcasters, it might be the next season of your podcast, some bonus episodes, a case study…it’s really up to your creativity.
You can leverage platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter to crowdfund your next project. This is a great way to get your fans engaged and invested into your show.
- Come up with a project idea you want funding for.
- Create a campaign on Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
- Get fans to go to your campaign page to support your project.
- Give shoutouts to your newest supporters in every episode.
10. Premium Podcast
Consider selling a paid podcast feed. But, full disclaimer, we actually do NOT recommend replacing your primary free podcast with a paid feed.
As a podcaster, your primary podcast feed is the biggest marketing channel you have. Putting a paywall on that will likely destroy your entire audience base…as most listeners won’t convert to paid. If you paywall your main podcast feed, you’ll lose any influence you have over your full, paid + free, audience.
Instead, if you’re thinking of selling a premium podcast, consider selling another podcast that’s an addendum to your primary free podcast. This can be something like bonus episodes, a limited series, an audio workshop, special AMA episodes, ad-free episodes, etc…you get the idea. This paid feed is in addition to your main feed. We don’t advise replacing it.
- Paid Podcast – Monthly Fee
- To sell a podcast subscription for a monthly recurring payment…
- Use a paid podcast platform host like Supercast or Castos.
- When fans purchase a subscription, they’ll get access to that private RSS feed in their podcast player.
- To sell a podcast subscription for a monthly recurring payment…
- Paid Podcast – Flat Fee
- To sell a podcast for a 1-time payment…
- Create a separate podcast, and keep that RSS feed hidden.
- Create a paywall with PodInbox Perk with a flat, 1-time fee.
- When fans purchase your Perk, give them your hidden RSS feed to add to their podcast player.
- To sell a podcast for a 1-time payment…
- Give shoutouts to your newest subscribers in every episode.
Some Final Thoughts & Takeaways…
We hope you find these 10 product ideas helpful. By offering some paid products that fans can buy, it’s both an opportunity for you to monetize, and an opportunity for your fans to feel good about supporting you.
As you start to develop your own products to sell for your podcast, here’s a short checklist of some important things to keep in mind…
- Give fans a way to donate or tip.
- Some fans want to give, with nothing in return. Give them a simple way to donate. It makes them more invested into you and your show.
- Make the ask in every episode.
- Fans won’t just magically find your items for sale. Use the most effective platform you have…your podcast. Remember to promote whatever you’re selling in every episode.
- Leverage your emails & newsletters.
- Hopefully, you’re already capturing fan emails & building an email list. Remember to also promote your products in your email blasts and newsletters.
- Set reasonable expectations.
- Don’t get discouraged if sales start slow. On average, about 5% to 8% of your fans will convert to paying customers. Just be consistent, and keep promoting boldly.
- Recognize your loyal supporters.
- Give new supporters episode shoutouts. This goes a long way in encouraging more potential supporters to participate.