There are many ways to monetize a podcast, from sponsorships to merchandise, but the easiest way to monetize your podcast is to offer a paid podcast subscription.
A paid podcast subscription allows you to offer premium content to your listeners on a weekly or monthly basis for a fee. You get to earn a predictable income from your podcast each month and your listeners get an ad-free podcast listening experience.
If you're wondering if listeners would be willing to pay for your podcast content, here's an interesting stat: Recent findings from Podnews and Variety show that 17% of people, which is equivalent to 19.7m, are “somewhat likely” to pay for podcasts in the next twelve months. Something to cheer about, right?
In this guide, we'll take a closer look at paid podcast subscriptions, the different kinds of paid podcast subscriptions you can offer, and how much you should charge for them, along with examples.
What is a paid podcast subscription?
Paid podcast subscriptions, also referred to as private podcasts, are podcasts that are made available to a select group of people who pay to listen to your podcast. Regular podcasts are generally available on platforms like Spotify or Apple Podcasts, but access to paid podcasts is limited.
Listeners of a paid podcast get access to a show via a unique, protected RSS feed linked to their email. Using this unique link, listeners can access premium content via their preferred podcast app, allowing them to listen to a show in the same way they listen to publicly available shows.
A platform like Kajabi can help you create your paid or private podcast, a website to host it, as well as create landing pages to collect emails.
What kind of paid podcast subscriptions can you offer?
There are several types of paid podcast subscriptions you can offer. Here are a few ideas you can tap into:
Early access to episodes
If you wish to sell premium subscriptions but still want everyone to have access to your content, you could consider charging listeners for early access. Releasing episodes to paid members one or two weeks before you make them available to everyone for free is a good way to earn extra income from your podcast.
Bonus episodes are extra episodes only available to paid subscribers. In these episodes, you may interview special guests, offer behind-the-scenes insights, or offer any other type of content that adds more value to your regular episodes.
Content only for subscribers
In this type of paid podcast subscription, you charge every listener. No one gets to listen for free. This bold way of monetizing a podcast usually works for established podcasters who already have a huge following of listeners.
Podcast episodes aren’t the only way for delivering premium content. Your audience might also be interested in having a little chat with you or your guests, and you can use their curiosity to monetize your podcast. Giving users access to a live chat or an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session with you or your guests is also a great way to make your audience feel engaged.
In this type of subscription, all your episodes are available for free in an audio format, but only paid members have access to premium video episodes.
This type of paid subscription works particularly well for informative and educational content like online courses, where the learning process is enhanced through diagrams, screen captures, and visual explanations.
Examples of paid podcasts
Thanks to growing audience interest in paid podcast subscriptions, more podcasters are choosing to ditch ads and opt for private podcasts instead. The price of subscriptions can range from $5 to $70, depending on the content and niche of the podcast.
Rude Tales of Magic, a fantasy podcast on Dungeons and Dragons, offers three tiers of membership levels ($5, $10, and $30 per month) generating over $18,000 per month.
Another example includes Rhonda Patrick’s FoundMyFitness podcast, with membership starting at $15 per month. Premium members receive early access to podcast episodes, access to live Q&As, and an exclusive twice-monthly Science Digest helping them stay up-to-date on the most interesting studies Rhonda and her team are exploring.
Hardcore History podcast by Dan Carlin earns money by charging $2.99 for general hardcore history episodes, and somewhere around $5.99 to $69.99 for “Hardcore History compilations.” However, his current hardcore history episodes are free for listeners, a well-planned strategy that allows him to earn money while also continuing to grow the already popular episodes.
Another good example is Now Playing, which offers free plus paid models. Pricing starts at $10 per month, where paid listeners get access to a bonus episode. This podcast offers in-depth movie reviews. It's been going strong for nine years.
By hosting your podcast on Kajabi, you can charge listeners directly, without investing in a specialized podcasting tool. Kajabi provides one place to host your entire business — your website, courses, blog, podcast, newsletter, and more — with all the tools you need to sell products, subscriptions, and memberships. As Kilian Ekamp, founder of Revenue Academy, says, “Podcasts are an essential part of my business and I brought my podcast to Kajabi for the simplicity of having everything in one place. I have my blog, products, and website on Kajabi, and now I have my podcast here too. That makes my life as an online entrepreneur so much easier.”
Heather McDonald’s Juicy Scoop podcast is another paid podcast worth looking at. Formerly a story producer on Chelsea Lately, an American late-night comedy talk show, McDonald wanted to start her own show. In 2015, she set out on her own to create a platform that would allow her to continue to create amazing content. This is when she came up with Juicy Scoop, a podcast where she tackles the juiciest and most controversial topics in pop culture.
Her pricing structure starts at $2 per month. Listeners paying $5 per month get about 30 minutes of bonus exclusive material each week. Listeners that pay $20 get one bonus personal juicy episode each month, while those paying $50 per month get access to all episodes for all levels, along with 2X VIP badges to hang out after the show.
Sleep Meditation Bedtime Stories For Grownups - The Golden Collection is a podcast that helps listeners reduce anxiety and stress, while also helping them sleep well. To listen to the podcast, listeners have to pay for each episode as nothing is available for free. The pricing starts at $4.99.
Thought Spiral podcast, produced by Alex Brizel (ShowBriz Studios), is hosted by comedians Andy Kindler (Bob’s Burgers, Maron) and J. Elvis Weinstein (MST3K, Freaks and Geeks). They try to solve the problems of the world, but usually end up talking about comedy and various forms of anxiety.
How can knowledge entrepreneurs benefit from paid podcasts?
Knowledge entrepreneurs are people who monetize their knowledge of a subject or field by teaching others about the topic. Course creators and anyone who teaches anything online or offline is a knowledge entrepreneur. Here are some ways paid podcast subscriptions benefit knowledge entrepreneurs:
Paid podcasts can be an additional source of income
If you already run an established online course, a paid podcast can be a way to repackage course content and present it to a new audience.
Not all your students may have the luxury to watch lengthy video lessons or read through PDFs. You can offer a special paid podcast subscription for listeners to access your course lessons in audio format. This way, students can listen to your course while driving or cooking too.
Paid podcasts can be a value-add for an online course
You can package additional course commentary as a paid podcast add-on to a video-based course. This might include your personal experience in a field or interviews with experts.
Paid podcasts allow you to market your course to an interested audience
Listeners who pay for a podcast are definitely interested in your podcast's topic and therefore more likely to purchase a related course. As a creator, you use a paid podcast to test the popularity of your planned course and promote your course to an audience of potential students.
Paid podcasts can boost your course completion rates
Since podcasts can be accessed on the go, paid podcast-based courses increase the chances of busy students completing your course. The more students that complete your course, the more student testimonials and referrals you can expect.
How much should you charge for a paid podcast?
One of the most difficult parts of launching a paid podcast membership is determining how much to charge for it. The price you charge for your podcast depends on your audience and how much they value your premium content.
So, how much should you be charging them? The price you charge for your podcast subscription should offset the cost of producing the podcast, while also giving you a profit.
To determine how much you charge for your podcast subscription, calculate the cost of producing the podcast plus the earning potential of your podcast.
Estimate the cost of producing each episode by factoring in costs like the time you spend creating each episode, the software you use, and any other devices you may have purchased.
To gauge the earning potential of your podcast, create a landing page for your paid podcast subscription and see how many of your listeners sign up. You can estimate how many listeners will sign up for your paid subscription by keeping a pulse on metrics like weekly episode downloads and plays of your episodes.
Let's say the cost of producing an episode is $250 and you release weekly episodes. That means the monthly cost of producing your podcast is $1000.
Let's assume 100 subscribers will be ready to pay for a monthly subscription of your podcast. To break even or earn a profit, you'll need to earn at least $1000 per month from your podcast. This means you'll need to charge at least $10 or more per month for your paid podcast.
For reference, most podcasts charge around $5 to $20 per month for their podcast subscription. For example, Peter Attia’s paid podcast is priced at $19 per month and offers exclusive benefits to his listeners.
That said, established creators have been known to charge more than $100 per month for their subscription. For example, Rhonda Patrick’s FoundMyFitness podcast (mentioned above) has an extremely engaged audience. She was able to offer an ultra-premium option for her audience at $250 per month, giving members live access to her. They join a live video call and group discussion with her every month.
If you wish to charge a lower price for your podcast, you'll need a larger number of subscribers to make a profit or to reduce the cost to produce the episodes. Conversely, if you know you can charge a higher price for your podcast, you'll need to spend less time acquiring podcast subscribers.
Tips for success
You’re ready to launch your paid podcast. What do you need to succeed? Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
A private podcast needs to be the best quality content you can create. Your podcast sound quality must be first rate, and your content needs to be unique, informative, and entertaining.
That’s it, really: high quality sound and content. But behind the scenes, there are a few more things you need to focus on.
To create a loyal following and scale your paid podcast, you’ll need to consistently measure your podcast performance. Data-driven marketing is the secret to any successful business venture — and it’s no different for knowledge entrepreneurs.
Watch your listener numbers, downloads, and reviews. These numbers will help you know the topics your audience are most likely to engage with.
Be sure to create a strong tie between your private podcast, your business, courses, and other products. Essentially, create a universe of learning and engagement that feeds your audience’s desire for knowledge.
If you run an online course or host online classes on any topic, paid podcasts offer a great way to earn extra income or supplement your course materials with an audio component. You can provide podcast episodes for each of your course lessons at an additional price. Alternatively, you can host special podcast episodes where you share in-depth knowledge with your students.
Paid podcasts can not only help you promote your course to an audience who may be likely to buy, they can become an income stream in and of themselves. So what’s holding you back? It’s time to pull out your mic and start recording!
After you've launched, you'll need to measure your podcast performance. Watch how: