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After you’ve spent some time crafting the content that will promote your paid subscription, it’s time to share that message with the world.
If there’s one mistake we see a lot of new subscription podcasters make, it’s not taking advantage of all the opportunities they have for mentioning their program and including their signup link.
Your listeners won’t magically know how to subscribe when you launch your paid podcast. There are two things you need to tell them over and over:
1. You have a paid subscription option.
2. Here’s how to sign up.
In our work with thousands of podcasters, we’ve found the most successful subscription programs apply the seven promotional channels below to their maximum. Use this post as a checklist and tick as many of the boxes as you can for your own program.
1. Promote on your free show
The number one place, hands down, to promote your paid podcast subscription is on your free show. This is where your audience already hangs out and where you know you’ll reach the people who like your content.
There are multiple ways you can work your pitch into your show. You can add it as a standalone ad spot or weave into your intro or other conversations.
And just like with ads, there are multiple places you can include your pitch:
- At the beginning of your show (pre-roll)
- In the middle of your show (mid-roll)
- At the end of your show (post-roll)
The most effective combination tends to be both a pre-roll and post-roll mention in every episode. (Our blog post on crafting the perfect subscription pitch has examples of great pre-roll and post-roll subscription promos from Breaking Points, Hidden Forces, and The Drive with Peter Attia.)
Don’t forget your episode description! Include mention of your paid program and the link to your signup page as a standard blurb in every single description.
Get Sleepy goes for a detailed description of their paid program, including a bullet point list of benefits.
The Knowledge Project uses a brief paragraph.
Super tip! For efficiency, investigate whether your podcast host has a snippet feature. Snippets allow you to create a specific block of text once, then include that block in every description with a single click.
2. Promote with sample premium episodes in your free feed
Free samples work at Costco, and they work in podcasting too!
You can let free listeners know what they’re missing on the paid podcast by occasionally dropping a paid episode in your free feed. It’s great to tease with an entire premium episode but portions of an episode — like the first half of the show or a highlight reel of awesome clips — can also be effective.
Start the teaser with an intro that explains that the upcoming content is what paid subscribers get access to regularly, and remember to include the link to your signup page in both your read and the episode description.
Reality Cray Cray drops sample premium content into their free feed about once a week and host Kyle Cray says he sees a direct bump in paid subscribers almost every time he does it.
“I take our main show that’s only for our premium subscribers and I'll sift through it in GarageBand,” Kyle says. “I’ll try to find a good 8 to 12 minute chunk that I thought was really funny or entertaining. And I just cut that out, export it, and put that into our main free podcast feed. … It works really well.”
Here’s one of Reality Cray Cray’s premium teasers. (Warning: Some content and language NSFW.)
3. Promote in a podcast trailer
Your paid podcast can benefit from a podcast trailer, just like your main show.
Craft a brief overview of your program that hits on the four key elements of a perfect pitch:
- your show’s mission
- why you’re asking for support
- what paid subscribers will get
- how to sign up
Upload the audio version as a trailer episode to your free podcast feed, and put the video version (if you have one) on YouTube. You can then embed the trailer on your website and use it on social media where it makes sense.
4. Promote on your podcast website
When people hit your podcast website, make it as clear and easy as possible for them to know that you have a paid program and to sign up for it.
If visitors have to click through multiple pages or loads of other content on the screen to find your subscription signup, your chances of converting those people are low.
Kyle Cray, who was recently able to quit his job to work full-time on his podcast thanks to subscription income, paid a lot of attention to making the signup journey as easy as possible when he was building his website.
“If you go to our website, the first thing you see is Listen Now and then a link to sign up for Supercast. So you have links to two of our tiers or you can listen to the free show right there. It's very easy, very simple, not cluttered.”
Get Sleepy takes the same approach, with a sample free episode front and center and subscription links directly below, including a link to their premium feed. There’s also a clear link to Premium in the main navigation.
If you publish show notes or transcripts on your website, remember to include your pitch and the signup link in each of those as well. Here’s how we do it on our own Supercasters episodes.
5. Promote on social media
With every social media account you’re on, you have two ways to get the word out about your subscription program.
The first, and probably most important, is your bio. Again, the goal is to make it as clear and easy as possible for people to know you have a paid podcast and how to sign up for it.
On Canadaland’s Twitter bio, the default web link is to their subscription page not their podcast home page.
The second way to promote your subscription program on social media is of course through posts. Make it a regular habit to let people know about your paid podcast. There are just so many possibilities for content:
- Give a sneak peek into some of your paid content
- Create quote tiles, audiograms or brief video clips from premium content
- Post a behind-the-scenes look at producing your paid podcast
- Celebrate subscriber milestones or goals
- Give out a shout out or public thank you to paid subscribers
- Let people know what you’ve got planned for the next couple of months
Demetri Kofinas, host of Hidden Forces, does a great job of driving subscriptions to his show with tweets like this.
6. Promote by email
If you have an email list, you’ll definitely want to use it to let your audience know about your podcast subscription program.
A dedicated email or two all about your paid podcast and how people can sign up work really well at launch to generate awareness and momentum.
Here's the email that Politicology's Ron Steslow used to build a groundswell of support for his paid subscription program.
After the initial launch, we find small promos tucked into your regular newsletter or email cadence can reach new readers and continue to remind people of why they should join.
7. Promote in your public YouTube videos
Another great place to include your promo, and one that subscription podcasters often overlook, is YouTube.
At a minimum, make sure you include a mention of your paid program and the signup link in each of your video descriptions, just like you include them in your podcast episode descriptions.
Brendan Schaub of The Schaub Show does a great job here of calling out his subscription program with a mid-roll segment. He shows the landing page on screen, and of course, he’s got the link prominently displayed in the video description.
Not every one of these promotional opportunities may apply to you, but use as many of them as you can. Success comes from stacking multiple promo opportunities to spread the word about your paid podcast as far as it will go.