Advertising and sponsorships may be the most common ways to monetize your podcast, but 2021 has opened up an entirely new option for those looking to make money from their content.

By creating or joining a podcast subscription service for your devoted listeners, you can earn consistent money whilst selling the thing you are best at: your podcast!

So in this article, I’ll be explaining what podcast subscriptions are, comparing some of the biggest names on the market, and laying out the benefits (and downfalls) behind using these services versus the alternative.

What Are Podcast Subscriptions?

Podcast subscriptions give you (the podcaster) an opportunity to sell your content to listeners. You can choose to keep some of your content free and create exclusive content for paying listeners or opt for all your episodes to be paid moving forward.

How Would This Be Beneficial To Me And My Podcast?

Creating exclusive or paid content allows for a more consistent and trackable revenue stream. You will know ahead of time how much money you will receive for an episode and further, how much money you can spend on production. 

This may be obvious to some, but it is definitely worth investigating whether this is the right fit for you. If you are hoping to turn your podcast into a revenue-generating machine, a premium podcast subscription may be the perfect way to monetize a segment of your listenership.

It is worth noting that although this sounds great in theory, there is a possibility that creating exclusive or paid content might not be the best option for you. If you use your podcast as a lead generator or audience nurture tool to build trust and a connection with your audience, then you probably don’t want them to have to pay for your content. More likely, you would want your content to be as accessible and available as possible.

And be prepared—putting content behind a paywall will dramatically reduce listenership and may negate the primary purpose of your podcast if you are trying to drive community engagement and/or leads for your products or programs. So, only pursue premium subscriptions if you are purely trying to monetize the podcast and not trying to generate clients for other areas of your business.

What Types Of Podcast Subscriptions Are There?

There are many different kinds of premium podcast subscriptions you can offer to your listeners, and you can choose one or two that best suit your needs and the needs of your listeners.

For some, this may be early access to episodes. It’s a great option for those of you who don’t want to close out your audience from all of your content. Instead, you can release episodes to subscribers before you make it available to everyone else for free.

Another alternative is to create bonus episodes. This is one of the more popular ways to generate additional revenue for your podcast. With this setup, you would release extra episodes every week or month that are only available to paying customers. Meanwhile, the rest of your content remains free. 

Finally, we have the boldest and most audacious option of them all: you charge every subscriber for every single episode. This will only work if you already have a strong audience that knows you well enough to trust your content will be worth their while. 

And as I mentioned before, this can significantly impact your listenership, so put some real thought into whether it makes sense for you and your podcast goals.

What Are My Options For Creating A Podcast Subscription?

Podcast subscriptions can be a powerful way to increase revenue for your podcast, and there are multiple tools to choose from.

If you are a smaller podcast and you worry that you won’t have many subscribers, you could use Patreon or Podia to set up a subscription plan or membership where you can offer your listeners exclusive content.

With that being said, there have been two competitors that have disrupted the industry of podcasting this year, making big changes to subscription service options.

Let’s dive into those a little deeper.

APPLE

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions is a premium podcast subscription service that brings early access and ad-free listening to subscribers.

Rather than being a blanket subscription, the service allows listeners to subscribe to individual content creators who set the pricing for their offerings.

Apple is charging podcasters $20 per year for access, and they’re taking a 30% cut of subscription revenue for the first year of a subscription, then 15% of revenue moving forward.

This does make Apple one of the most expensive solutions for podcasters looking to collect subscription revenue. However, listeners will be able to subscribe to podcasts directly within the app with just a push of a button, making it one of the easier solutions too.

SPOTIFY

Just a week after Apple announced that they were launching a subscription podcast platform, Spotify announced their own long-awaited subscription service.

Unlike Apple, Spotify doesn’t plan to take a cut of the subscription fee for the next two years. After that, Spotify will collect 5%. This makes Spotify’s pricing closer to industry standards, with Patreon charging the same 5% take rate as Spotify for its base-level plan.

However, there is a catch: Spotify will only offer subscriptions to podcasts hosted on Anchor. So, unfortunately, if you use a different hosting platform, switching your entire show over to Anchor may not be worth the money you save in using Spotify’s services. 

Apple and Spotify seem to have different goals, but they are both playing into their strengths.

And keep in mind that plenty of successful podcasts never charge for a single episode. So, in the end, choose the podcast methods that are right for your audience, your business, and you.

Remember, it’s up to you how you run and monetize your show.

Subscription services are just another option out there that might help you along the way.

Ben Krueger
Written by Ben Krueger

Ben Krueger is the founder of Cashflow Podcasting and he specializes in helping thought leaders entrepreneurs amplify their impact through podcasting.  He’s a world traveller, outdoor sports junkie and future enthusiast!