Podcasting With Patreon
How to Monetize Your Podcast With a Small Audience
07.11.19 | Podcasting | By: Colby Schemm
Every week we have podcasters asking us how to monetize their podcast. And it’s a legitimate question. We’re living in the age of the online business. There are a plethora of ways to make money online and people are getting smarter and more creative about it all the time.
And while monetizing your podcast is something that anyone can do, there are a variety of strategies behind the scenes and the truth is that some podcasts are simply more “successful” with monetization than others. The predominant way that the top podcasts make money is through advertisements. While this is a wonderful way for many shows to run their podcast business, the barrier to entry is much higher, and so it leaves many new podcasters feeling disappointed that they can’t make any money despite the hard work they are pouring into their content week after week.
Why is this? Well think about it logistically. Advertisers want to buy airtime on podcasts that can get their name in front of a lot of people, and people who meet the general demographic for the product or service they sell. The challenge is that the variety and depth of listership advertisers want is something that many new podcasts have not established yet, so this strategy takes time to implement and many new podcasters become frustrated and discouraged. This model is known as the CPI (cost per impression) or CPM and is a strategy that requires a lot of downloads for advertisers to be interested in considering.
But there’s another way to make money through your podcast, regardless of how many or few followers you have!
Enter Patreon, a membership platform based on the very old concept of patronage. On their YouTube trailer video, Jack Conte, Patreon’s co-founder and CEO says, “Patreon exists because when creators are paid, they can create more amazing things. Things that inspire us, teach us, challenge us, things that make us laugh.”
The fundamental model for Patreon is that you exchange early release, exclusive, or ad-free content to your members in exchange for a small monthly payment from them. There are multiple tiers that you can set up, and there are a ton of ways to be creative about the kind of content you create and release exclusively on Patreon.
Why I believe in the Patreon model for podcasters
- It adds more value to your audience
- There is no minimum amount of podcast downloads or listeners to start earning money
- No need to seek out companies to sell ads on your site
- It gives your true fans opportunity to support you
Through Patreon, creators receive direct support from their audience when they subscribe. And in exchange the audience receives exclusive content that isn’t released anywhere else. One of my personal favorite content creators is Matt D’Avella, a minimalist filmmaker whose YouTube videos have accrued around 78,316,647 views. 🤯
Matt’s main creative outlet is his YouTube channel, where he makes mini-documentary style videos talking about lifestyle design, health, creativity, and much more.
But in addition to this channel, he hosts The Ground Up Show. “A podcast about the journey.” The podcast that he distributes publicly is just a shorter version of the full-length interview, which he releases exclusively on Patreon. This is the trade that Matt offers to add value to his audiences life while simultaneously supporting himself financially.
To demonstrate the power of podcasting with Patreon, I’m going to audit his Patreon page and show you his earning potential based on his number of subscribers and membership tiers.
Matt offers his patrons three different tiers:
- Support my work ($4/month)
- The Secret Podcast ($8/month)
- Exclusive Videos ($12/month)
So let’s break down the numbers.
We’ll use the membership tiers from Matt’s Patreon page and do some quick calculations.
As of July 8, 2019, Matt has 1,985 patrons. If each of his members was only subscribed to the lowest tier (“Support My Work”) at $4 a month, he would make $7,940 a month. That’s $95,280 a year.
I won’t even bother to put his maximum earning potential, because there are too many variables involved in gaining and losing patrons, monetization from other sources (which he has started to do very selectively), etc. But I think you’re catching my drift: there is real money to be made through podcasting on Patreon. So whether you are simply looking to have an option for covering the cost of your hobby, or your are looking to create an income stream to be enabled to do what you love on a full-time basis, the sky’s the limit.
So how do you get started? What are the logistics?
There are a couple of simple steps to setting up your Patron account.
- Create a new account
Not much to say about this step. To get the best results you should make sure to thoroughly fill out all of the information they request. But if you need to come back and fill in your information later that’s totally an option so no worries.
- Build your page
To optimize your profile, follow the specific aspect ratios that they recommend for uploading your profile photo and header image. They recommend the profile picture be 256×256 and the header image be
Link all of your social media accounts, or start by creating your social media accounts if you haven’t already!
Write your “About” section. This could be as simple as repurposing the podcast description that you wrote when you first created your show, or it could be a more customized overview of what kind of content you are providing to people through your Patreon.
- Set up membership tiers
Ok, now that we’ve gotten through the more tedious setup work, it’s time to set up your membership tiers. This is where the rubber hits the road. Patreon’s whole model revolves around these membership tiers. This is how you will make money – by providing exciting exclusive content for your listeners and organizing it into specific membership tiers.
Similarly to how businesses create multiple price points for different potential customers, Patreon encourages creators to offer multiple tiers of membership. Simply put, you ought to create a low, mid, and high-end tier. This gives your fans an opportunity to support you at three different tiers.
The invisible fourth tier that exists, of course, is the free content that you are creating for your audience where you mention and promote your Patreon. For podcasters, the free content is most likely your main podcast, your social media, and any blogs or any other online content you create. This the top of the funnel that leads your fans to explore your brand more, and ultimately should lead to supporting you on Patreon.
This is the coolest part about the patronage system: it is built on the value you are already bringing to your audience. You are incentivized to make the best content possible for your audience and they are incentivized to pay you by the added value you bring them through your exclusive Patreon content.
How to Drive Traffic to Your Patreon
So now that you’ve set up your account on Patreon, how do you drive traffic to your page?
So now that you’ve (1) created a new account, (2) built your page, and (3) set up your membership tiers it’s time to drive traffic to your Patreon page.
Here are a couple of simple ways to find Patrons for your show:
- Reference the URL to your Patreon in your podcast intro and outro
- Link Patreon on all your social media bios
- Make an Intro Video explaining what content you are offering to people exclusively on Patreon (here’s an amazing example from Matt D’Avella that he put on YouTube and his Patreon home page)
For more ways to boost membership to your Patreon channel, check out the resources on Patreon’s blog and YouTube channel. They seem to genuinely care about their creators. It’s clear in the business structure and mission of the company, and it’s even clearer watching their resources on YouTube like this video, “How to grow your membership on Patreon.”
I hope this post has convinced you of the benefits of podcasting with Patreon. This isn’t the only way to monetize your podcast, but it’s a powerful method. For some podcasters, the methodology of working with ad sales teams to find big name brands and advertisers who will buy airtime on your podcast is the better bet. If this is you, we’d love to give you some input on how to do that most effectively. But personally, I love the fact that Patreon allows creators of all levels to have the same opportunities to monetize their show. It’s not easy, but with the right strategy and hard work you can start creating some solid side-income from your podcast by directly asking your audience for support.
Resonate Recordings is a comprehensive podcast production company. Headquartered in Derby City–Louisville, Kentucky–we are committed to developing partnerships with our clients, not just performing transactions. Since 2014 it’s been our mission to make podcasting easy for businesses, brands, entrepreneurs, and individuals. We do this by providing support with podcast launch, podcast consulting, podcast editing, podcast production, and other creative podcasting services. If you have questions or are looking to start a podcast, our in-house team is available and ready to help! We would love to schedule a call with you and learn more about your podcast needs and answer any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
By: Colby Schemm
As a Content Specialist at Resonate Recordings, Colby creates & curates content on social media, & consults with clients to improve their podcast marketing strategies. Colby is from Roanoke, VA & now lives in Louisville, KY.