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Paid podcast checklist: Launch your subscriber-only content

December 15, 2021
Ready to get started with Podcast Subscriptions? This checklist will set you up for successful podcast monetization.

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You probably started a podcast purely out of the urge to create and tell your story. But when you’ve built a dedicated following of listeners who want to support you, it’s only natural to start thinking about podcast monetization. Spotify for Podcasterspodcast subscriptions give the loyal fans you’ve earned a chance to support you while getting more of what they love—your content. Everybody wins.

Podcast Subscriptions are easy for the creator to use and unlock exclusive content for the listener. But before you can enjoy these benefits, you need to set your subscription offering up to flourish.

This podcast subscription launch checklist covers everything you need for a smooth and successful rollout.

🔲 Plan your subscription content

Your bonus content is what your subscription is all about for podcast listeners, so planning what that will be is a great place to start. There are several different types of subscription content to choose from that require varying levels of time and effort.

Some of the lower-lift options include ad-free listening and early-release episodes. These content types add perks to your regularly scheduled programming, so subscribers can enjoy a unique listening experience without creators having to record entirely new episodes.

For creators monetizing through Ambassador Ads, you can quickly launch a paid, ad-free version of your show with our uninterrupted subscriptions feature. It automatically removes all Spotify-inserted ads from your show (and future episodes, too) in just a few clicks.

Premium content that takes more work to produce includes exclusive subscriber-only episodes, behind-the-scenes episodes, and host Q&As. These are separate, standalone episodes you create in addition to your regular, non-subscription episodes. Although this is technically “bonus” content, it requires the same level of planning as any other episode.

Spotify for Podcasters' Q&A feature is a helpful tool to survey your audience about the types of bonus content they would want. For example, you could ask: “What bonus features or content would you like included in a pod sub?” If the majority of responses include early-release episodes and exclusive episodes, those would be two types of bonus content to focus on.

Build subscriber-only podcast content into your content calendar, including all the steps you need to complete along the way, like scheduling recording time, booking guests, sourcing questions for Q&As, or whatever it may be. We recommend producing a mix of high- and low-lift content to avoid overcommitting yourself and missing deadlines. Remember, delivering your bonus episodes on a consistent basis is important for retaining subscribers.

Once you’ve created your subscriber content, it’s easy to execute in the Anchor dashboard. You can select which past episodes are subscriber-only when you set up Podcast Subscriptions and switch the “subscription only” button when publishing future episodes.

🔲 Choose your subscription price for podcast monetization

The type of subscriber-only content you choose will influence your subscription price. One advantage of more elaborate bonus content is that it’s worthy of a higher price, so it will potentially produce more subscription revenue.

In addition to the content formats included in your subscription, the other factors that can help determine your monthly subscription price are the frequency and value of your bonus episodes and the effort required to create them. With Anchor’s Polls feature, you can efficiently gauge what your audience would most likely pay for a subscription and set your price based on their feedback.

For example, you could run a Poll that asks: “How much would you be willing to pay for monthly bonus content?” The multiple-choice answers could be “A: $1, B: $5, C: $8, D: $10,” for example. Just be sure to apply feedback about pricing before your launch because once the price is set, you can’t change it.

Since podcast monetization is a new frontier, researching what other creators are charging and what kind of bonus content they’re offering can be helpful in setting up your subscription. Here are a few examples of subscription amounts as of December 2021 to get you started:

  • Derek Hayes, creator of the “Monsters Among Us” podcast, prices his subscription at $2.99 a month for “ad-free episodes, 1-2 monthly bonus MAUB episodes (hour-long episodes like what you hear on the main feed), access to the MAUB back catalog, and occasional early-access to new episodes.”
  • The creators of the “Cultivating H.E.R. Space: Uplifting Conversations for the Black Woman” podcast, Dr. Dominique Broussard and Terri Lomax, price their podcast subscription at $4.99 a month for exclusive “aftershow” bonus episodes.
  • EC Synkowski, creator of “The Consistency Project,” prices her subscription at $7.99 a month. Her subscription content includes monthly bonus episodes and minisodes.

🔲 Build buzz for your launch

Start creating interest and excitement about your podcast subscription leading up to your launch. You can get the word out for the first time as you finalize all the details, so you have interested listeners ready to become subscribers on launch day. Then keep the momentum going by continuing to promote your subscription post-launch.

🔲 Hype the subscription in episodes

Discuss the launch of your subscription, starting with your free podcast episodes themselves, of course. If you have a co-host, riff with them about it. Tailor your announcement to your show’s tone. If your show is humorous and lighthearted, being playful and irreverent might be the move. But don’t be afraid of making an honest, heartfelt case for your subscription, explaining that it will help you keep producing the content your listeners love. Remember, you’re talking to an audience of people who chose to be there and want to support you.

Once your subscription is live, mention the launch at the beginning of non-subscription episodes to capture more subscribers who are already listening to your free episodes.

🔲 Post on social media

Share the launch with your followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social channels you have for your podcast. Repurpose soundbites from episode announcements in your social posts. Post pictures or audio clips from bonus episodes you’ve already created to entice subscribers. Add a link in your bio for your audience to subscribe. You can access a unique link in the subscriptions section of the money tab in your Anchor dashboard.

🔲 Announce it in emails

If you have an email newsletter for your podcast, make a campaign featuring your subscription launch with images and links to where your listeners can subscribe.

Give your audience a taste of what kind of bonus content they can look forward to. This is your opportunity to pitch what makes your subscription special, whether that’s access to your candid insights in Q&As or behind-the-scenes episodes or extended interviews that go more in-depth with exciting, anticipated guests.

Include how often subscribers can expect bonus content, whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.

🔲 Add links and calls to action on your podcast sites

If you have a podcast website, include a prominent call to action (CTA) on your homepage that links to your subscription sign-up or a dedicated page for your subscription. Likewise, feature a subscription link on your Anchor and Spotify show pages. Wherever you promote your subscription, make sure the link to subscribe is clearly displayed.

An example of an enticing CTA that leaves you wanting more comes from Rick Barker, host of "The Music Industry Blueprint Podcast": “This is a private podcast that allows me to be a bit more raw and real without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. This will also be a way for us to grow an even deeper connection with each other. Membership has its privileges 👊🏼” His clever approach to bonus content is an entirely separate podcast, called “MIB Secret Society,” that appeals to the draw of exclusivity.

Once you start releasing your subscriber-only content, include a link to subscribe in the description of each bonus episode, in addition to the main show page description.

🔲 Create a new show trailer mentioning your podcast subscription

Trailers are crucial for attracting new listeners and introducing your show to your current and prospective audience. When you’ve decided to offer a podcast subscription, record an updated trailer that pitches your subscription with a short and snappy value proposition you can have ready to roll out with your subscription launch. Spotify for Podcasters trailers make it easy to record and release a trailer for your show with built-in tools.

3-2-1: Launch

Once you’ve checked all these boxes, you’re ready to release your podcast subscription into the wild. And paid subscriptions aren’t the only option you have for podcast monetization. Ads and Listener Support enable more ways to earn money by doing what you love. You can choose one of these potential revenue streams or mix and match to find what works best for your podcast and your listeners.

Feeling inspired?