How to Price Your Podcast’s Paid Membership

May 26, 2020
Aidan Hornsby

The hardest part of launching a paid podcast membership is determining how much to charge for it.

The only rules for pricing your podcast’s paid membership is that:

  • Your audience needs to be willing to pay for it.
  • The revenue it generates needs to justify what you put into it (e.g. time, money, etc.).

Even these rules have exceptions. Ultimately, your audience and how much they value your premium content determines the ideal price for your podcast’s paid membership.

Most podcasters should charge at least a few bucks each month and start with a single membership tier. Read on to learn why this is the recommended tack.

What’s a reasonable price for your podcast’s paid membership? The answer depends a lot on your listeners, how you engage them, and how much they value your premium content.

  • Your listeners want to give you money to support your show.
  • The more engaged your listeners are, the more likely they are to become paid supporters.
  • The more your audience values your premium content, the more they’ll pay for it.

Heck, a lot of listeners would give you money each month simply for asking.

Your listeners want to give you money

Listener support has been a revenue model in podcasting for as long as advertising.

With your podcast, you create something—art, entertainment, a product—that audiences find value in. Because it’s free, it’s accessible and your audience grows. The more you work on it, the stronger the relationship and the more your audience values your show. If you give your audience the option to support your show by giving you $1 each month, about one in twenty (i.e. 2-7% of your audience) of your listeners will expect nothing in return.

According to Graphtreon, a Patreon analytics site, the average price of a Patreon podcast subscription is $1.90. This is because so many creators dip their toes into paid memberships by offering $1/month subscriptions without offering anything in return. A “dollar or more” membership has some value identifying your audience’s conversion rate and most valuable members, but it has some negatives:

  • You do not engage or reward the most valuable members of your audience.
  • It anchors the price (and perceived value) of your membership to a dollar.

Yes, you can ask your listeners for money each month and they’ll give it to you. But they’ll give you even more money if you give them something in return.

How much your listeners are willing to pay

Your audience and how much they value your paid membership’s content determines the ideal price for it. A few bucks a month is a fair price for additional content your audience values. The more valuable the content, the more you can charge.

  • $1 nothing.
  • $5+ something.
  • $15+ something special.

Here are two podcasts that did an excellent job pricing their paid membership: 

  • Chapo Trap House, a political podcast, offers a $5 paid membership to generate over $165,000/month, making it the highest-earning podcast on Patreon.
  • Rude Tales of Magic, a Dungeons and Dragons podcast, offers three main tiers of paid membership ($5, $10, and $30 each month) to average $10.98 per paid member each month. That makes their supporters the highest-paying-on-average of a podcast on Patreon with over 1,000 members.

Determining your price is finding a balance between charging as much as possible having as many listeners as possible become paid supporters. Charge too much and some listeners may not become paid supporters (i.e. a smaller portion of your audience gives you money each money). Charge too little and you’re not getting what your paid membership is worth (i.e. a big portion of your audience gives you money and would give you more money if that was how much it cost).

Whatever you charge, your audience should feel like they’re getting more value from their paid membership than whatever they’re paying.

To justify a premium price, offer a premium product

Around $5-15/month is the average for most podcast’s paid memberships, but we’ve seen established creators charge $15+ per month, and offer different donation tiers reaching $100+ per month.

Almost every aspect of your paid membership’s price is predicated on your understanding of your audience. At a minimum, you should pay attention to:

  • Your audience size (i.e. total unique listeners).
  • Your audience engagement (i.e. where listeners take action).
  • Your audience conversion rate (i.e. the % of listeners that give you money each month).

Increasing any and all of these metrics increases how much revenue your paid membership generates each month. But as much as you need to understand what your audience values in your podcast, you need to understand what you put into it too.

Your premium content may not immediately justify your initial investment, but continually producing it will have a cumulative effect on its value. That said, you should assess how much you’re putting into creating premium content and how much you are getting out of it.

Whatever price you set for subscriptions should cover the costs associated with producing premium content.

Determine your “break-even” cost

We typically see 2–7% of podcast listeners convert into paid subscribers. The more engaged an audience and the more value to them in a paid subscription, the higher the uptake.

To calculate your break-even cost, let’s conservatively assume that 3% of your audience is willing to pay you for premium content. Divide your monthly operating cost by 3% of your monthly listeners to calculate how much you need to charge listeners to break even.

When you finally do implement a pricing scheme, start simple and offer one subscription tier and price. You can always build on it by adding more value and tiers later, but removing subscription tiers later is a lot harder to do.