How to Successfully Launch a Podcast Membership

May 26, 2020
Aidan Hornsby

Launching a paid membership for your podcast is easy. Here’s how to make it successful.

Before you launch your paid membership, you need to:

  • Create (and test) your paid membership’s premium content.
  • Message your paid membership.
  • Promote your paid membership.

Your premium content is the biggest time variable here. You otherwise need about 1-3 hours to figure out your memberships messaging and at least a week of promotional activities.

How to pick the perfect date to launch a paid membership

There is no “perfect” time to launch a product. Unless you have an exceptional degree of insight into factors that will make or break your product’s success, trying to make your launch “too perfect” is just procrastination with more effort involved.

Don’t avoid releasing your paid product until the ideal circumstances line up or the product is absolutely perfect. Circumstances will never be ideal, and your product will never be perfect until you get feedback to improve it. Even if your launch is a failure, what you learn and the content you create is valuable.

The best way to set your paid membership’s launch up for success is to test it with a portion of your audience first. How you choose this audience is up to you, but we recommend leveraging your most engaged listeners.

We want to accomplish a few things with a test launch:

  • Identify any issues tied to your paid membership (i.e. make sure your content and payment systems work as intended).
  • Validate your premium content with your audience (i.e. make sure your audience finds it valuable).
  • Build anticipation for the formal launch (i.e. promote your paid membership by previewing it with a test launch).

Testing and validating the premium content supporting your paid membership is the most overlooked step.

How to test your premium content and find your first customers

Here are three ways to test your paid membership and find your first customers:

  1. Trials.
  2. Previews.
  3. Waitlists.

A preview of your premium content helps prove and build interest in your audience. 

Before you launch, you can preview potential premium content on your public feed to see if your audience likes it. After you launch, previews of your premium content in your public feed act as advertisements for your paid membership. 

A trial membership proves the value of your paid membership to both you and your potential customers.

Before you launch, a trial is a great way to test whether your paid membership is liked and it works as intended. After you launch, trial memberships are a great way for interested listeners to see your paid membership’s value before becoming paid subscribers.

Supercast lets you offer trial memberships. If you’re on another platform, it may not be possible to offer a trial without a custom implementation. 

A waitlist for your upcoming launch gives you a pool of interested customers. 

Before you launch, a waitlist is a list of people who are eager to test and pay for your product. Afterwards, lists like these include your most engaged listeners. They’re the people most likely to advocate for your show or pay you money each month. You should recognize and engage them as much as possible.

(All of these tactics for finding your first customers can be enhanced by some of our promotional advice later on in this section.)

You need to tell your audience what your paid membership is and why it’s valuable to them. That means you’ll be writing out a basic-but-effective description of your product. Then you’ll use that messaging to draft the content promoting your upcoming launch.

Here’s a basic messaging template to get you started

  • What is your paid membership?
  • Why is your paid membership valuable to your listeners?
  • What makes your paid membership special or timely?
  • What should interested listeners do if they want to become paid supporters?

For example, here’s how Peter Attia messages his paid membership to his listeners:

It’s a good idea to take this messaging foundation and personalize it for your other audiences. You’ll want to do the same with the promotional tactics too. For example, if you have a waitlist for your paid membership, they should be receiving messages that include:

  • Recognition for being first (i.e., what makes the membership timely).
  • Appreciation for supporting you (i.e., what makes the membership special).
  • Special discounts (i.e., what shows your recognition and appreciation).

Once you know what you’re selling and why it matters to your audience, you need to tell them about it. Here’s a basic promotional formula you can use:

  1. Give your audience a heads up on the upcoming launch (it could be a day, a week, or a month away).
  2. Tell your audience the day it goes on sale.
  3. Tell your audience the hour it goes live.

If you were promoting your paid membership launch over email, you would send at least three emails using this formula. Not all channels are as direct as email though. Remember: At most, a single percentile of your audience sees each of your social media posts. Customize your approach and repeat yourself as necessary.

Once you have your paid membership ready to launch and promote, it’s time to announce it.

Announcing your paid membership on your podcast

The day you launch your paid membership is a great time to give your public audience a preview of your content. Include a preamble about the paid membership and make it clear where listeners can go to learn more. The link you send people to needs to be easy to hear and spell when you promote it on your podcast.

Announcing your paid membership on your website

The day you launch your paid membership, there should be a clear link to your paid membership on your podcast’s website. Same goes for online bios or about pages your show has.

Announcing your paid membership to your email list

Your email list should be the first to find out about your upcoming paid membership. At a minimum, you should send three emails:

  1. Announce your paid membership.
  2. Remind your audience about it the day it launches.
  3. A final reminder within an hour of release. 

Each email should be crafted around your established message. End the email clarifying how the audience can learn more or purchase the paid membership. A special or timely incentive helps convince your audience to sign up (e.g. Sign up for the paid membership before a certain time to get 50% off!).

Announcing your paid membership to social

Announcing your paid membership to social follows all the same rules as email, except you’ll need more messages and those messages will be less personal (unless they’re a one-on-one engagement). A tweet or Facebook post is seen by 50% of its audience minutes after being posted. A degree of repetition is necessary.

Follow the promotional formula we outlined, but schedule more posts for each step on social. Don’t just copy and paste them either. Focus on different benefits or tweak messages so they’re interesting enough to read more than once. 

Finally, make sure your show’s social media bios and pinned posts include a link or announcement that leads to your paid membership.

Here's what will affect the success of your launch:

  • Your audience (and how engaged they are by your content).
  • Your premium content (and how valuable your audience thinks it is).
  • How you message and promote your paid membership.

The bigger and more engaged your audience, the more listeners that will opt to become paying supporters. Regularly releasing episodes and interacting with fans is how you grow and engage your audience. This grows your overall audience (and potential customers).

The better and more aligned your content is with your audience, the more listeners that will opt to become paying supporters (and the more they'll pay). Testing and validating your premium content with your biggest fans is how you ensure it's aligned with their interests. Like your public podcast feed, regularly releasing and engaging your fans with premium content is crucial. This ensures a larger portion of your audience becomes paying supporters. 

How you promote your paid membership determines how aware of it your audience is. How you message your paid membership influences how valuable your audience finds it. Give your audience everything they need to understand and find your paid membership. Regularly promote your paid membership and test its messaging. The combination builds audience awareness and understanding of your paid membership.