TubeTalk: How to Get Paid Subscribers on Your YouTube, Your Podcast, and Beyond - S2E07
Deep dive into the Breaking Points story, a podcast & YouTube show that landed 10,000+ paying subscribers in its first 48 hours.
Hey this is Jennifer Tribe, host of Supercasters. We’ve got a special episode for you today, on loan from the TubeTalk podcast.
TubeTalk is a podcast for YouTube creators and a couple of months ago, the hosts Dan & Rob had Saagar Enjeti and Jason Sew Hoy on as guests. If you’ve been a Supercasters follower or subscriber for a while, those names will be familiar to you.
Saagar Enjeti is the co-host of a hit podcast and YouTube show called Breaking Points. Breaking Points launched a subscription program with Supercast this past summer that landed 10,000 paying subscribers in the first 48 hours alone.
Jason Sew Hoy is the CEO of Supercast.
The reason we wanted to run this interview from TubeTalk is because in it, Saagar and Jason do a deep dive into Breaking Points and their success , including how they built and structured their subscription program.
There are a lot of great takeaways in this case study including how to figure out the perks your audience wants, experimenting with content, how to market your subscription program, the dangers of overpromising and a whole lot more.
Dan Carson: Welcome back to the TubeTalk podcast. I'm Dan, joined as always by Mr. Rob. We're talking all about if you're somebody who has a podcast or a show you do on YouTube, and you're looking to maybe turn it into more of a business, you've come to the right place. So, let's get started.
Rob Wilson: Big shout out to Chris Liddell. For that to make any sense, you will have to listen to the next 45 minutes of this podcast.
Dan: Joining us today for TubeTalk, Saagar and Jason, both of you, welcome. Thank you for being here.
Saagar Enjeti: Thanks for having us.
Jason Sew Hoy: Great to be here.
Dan: Let's go around the table a little bit for everybody who doesn't know. Saagar, we'll start with you. Tell everybody what it is you do on YouTube and as a creator online.
Saagar: Sure. Yeah. My co-host Krystal Ball and I, we just launched Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar on YouTube, previously hosted a YouTube show at The Hill. We built that channel, the Hill’s channel from 6,000 subs. I think when we left, it was 1.3 million. Then within the first 90 days, I guess we're officially just at the 90-day mark today, the day that we're taping this, I think we're around 560,000 on YouTube right now. It's both a podcast and a YouTube show on politics. It's predominantly for, I mean it's for everybody, but really, we see it really resonate among millennials who hate cable news. That's kind of been the niche that we fulfilled.
Dan: And Jason, you are the CEO of Supercast. You want to tell everybody a little bit about that?
Jason: Sure. Supercast is a platform that allows people with an established audience, allows creators to effectively monetize via premium subscriptions. Of course, there's lots of different places these days where creators can have audiences–they can be podcasters, they can be YouTubers, they can have big social followings on Twitter and Instagram. Saagar, as well as the YouTube, obviously has big followings on social as well.
Jason: What Supercast provides is a way for you to establish a deeper connection with fans that want to support you on a monthly basis. We essentially provide the end-to-end platform that allows you to set up a simple link to send your audience through to a landing page on Supercast and then to establish plans with perks that your members can sign up to in exchange for paying a monthly fee. So anywhere typically from five to fifteen dollars in exchange for this idea of getting deeper access to this person, the show, this host that you already know and love. The primary use case that we have set up with on Supercast is for podcasters. We initially build out subscription offerings to the likes of Sam Harris, Peter Attia, Rhonda Patrick. Now obviously helping YouTubers like Saagar as well reach new audiences through audio. We're excited to be able to lean into more and more content formats as creators evolve their craft.
YouTube is an amazing place to podcast
Dan: Well, we thank both of you for being here. We have quite a large creator audience and most of what we talk about is always based around YouTube. My first question for either of you really would be for anyone listening: Is YouTube a good place to podcast? Because we all know of our favorite podcasting apps on our mobile device. We don't really think about YouTube as the place to turn on a podcast. So is YouTube where you want to be as a podcaster?
Saagar: I unequivocally think that YouTube is one of the most powerful platforms in podcasting, and the reason why is, I almost kind of stumbled into this, so we started out YouTube first, podcast second. But would be remiss.. our podcast routinely is in the number one or number two category on Spotify or Apple for the entire news category. Sometimes we beat the New York Times. So how did that happen? And the way it happened, and this is why I believe so strongly in YouTube, is that we have distinct clips for our free version of our show, right? If you pay via Supercast, one of the premium benefits that we have is you get the full show completely uncut.
Saagar: But what happens is that each individual clip of your show becomes a piece of marketing for two things. Number one, your podcast, and number two, your premium subscription. For example, if I cover a news thing on Andrew Cuomo and then the other one is on Afghanistan, those are potentially two separate and distinct audiences. People are willing to put up with you for five minutes to hear what's going on on Cuomo, and they'll be like, hey, you know what? I like this guy, let me see what he has to say on this and then this. And then the day comes. You're like, hey, I want to hear what me and Krystal have to say every single day and I'm driving to work. So let me just go ahead and download that app on my podcast. Then after two of those times, you become a premium subscriber via Supercast, and you can both listen or you can watch the full thing.
Saagar: YouTube is all about marketing. Also, there's a real visual desktop element, and maybe this is just news in particular, but we spend a lot of money. One of the reasons that we have a high tier and we ask for premium subscriptions is we have a very, very high value studio that we operate out of with a large staff, with elements. I mean, we did our best to kind of create this premium experience. But the way that it works is that when people see and engage with you on YouTube, they are much more likely to carry you with you and also listen to you in the audio format. For me, it's all about omni-integration and for everything becoming a piece of marketing. Jason, I'd love to hear what you have to say, too.
Jason: Yeah. Some of our earliest content creators, they actually started out trying to monetize with premium videos behind a paywall. The overwhelming feedback that they got from some of their members were, I love your content. I could listen to it all day long. I just want it on my phone. I want to be able to play this while I'm washing the dishes, while I'm on the train to work, wherever it is and not face this constant interruption of my phone goes into lock mode and then everything stops playing, you know?
Jason: I think people just want to consume your content in the way that best fits them, their lives, and their situation. By being able to offer both the video for the people that have the time to watch or audio for when you're on the go, I think you're just able to basically meet people where they are. That's kind of the overwhelming thing. I think that it's important for creators to consider these days is just that if you're trying to reach the widest possible audience, and let's face it who is not, then I think it just makes sense to be thinking about multiple platforms, multiple mediums, and multiple sources of revenue. You just really want to diversify your business.
Rob: To put into context a little bit, the YouTube channel, would it be fair to say that the videos on your channel range between, say, 5 to 15 minutes?
Saagar: Yeah, yeah, that's about right.
Rob: Is there a particular reason why you've chosen that length of video as a sweet spot because I think sometimes certainly creators who are trying to maybe have podcasts on YouTube struggle with the concept of, “Is somebody going to watch a podcast for an hour and a half, or is it better to repurpose it into bite-sized pieces of content?” Which is clearly what you're doing here.
Saagar: Well, here's the thing. We've specifically made the choice to put that full video, the hour-long video, behind the paywall because people want it so much. To be fair, though, it's a little bit different in a news context because people don't want to be able to click different clips and especially in a premium context. But, what I would say is that there's no reason you shouldn't do both, necessarily. I think it made sense for us to put it behind the paywall. I mean, my friends like Tim Dillon or Andrew Schultz at Flagrant, they've found great success in just simply doing both. They have two channels, right? They have Tim Dillon Clips or Flagrant True Clips and the full thing. I would say that I would really think the way to get the most out of it, is to do both if you're just starting out. But also consider in terms of if you start with clips and then people, you can offer the ability to watch uncut as a premium benefit, too, because a lot of people not even just watch, but listen as well. There's a lot of benefit in that for people who really, really like your content.
Get efficient with editing
Rob: And how much editing, if there is any, is going into creating these five to 15-minute videos? Or are you able to literally do the entire show and then lift it directly from the full show? Or does it still require a bit of massaging in terms of B-roll or cutting out a little bit here and there in a minute or two?
Saagar: So at The Hill, it was frankly, in my opinion, very inefficient. What we were doing is we were starting up and starting down for every clip, so every clip was a distinct roll. You start, you go through, you shut down. What we did, and Krystal and I designed it this way, is because we knew now that people were going to be listening both as a podcast, it needs to have a little bit of a better flow. And so now we go continuously. No breaks, nothing. We have the ability if we need to, to do a stop down and we can edit that in. But the production is done so that you come on set, you go, you record all the way through.
Saagar: This has two benefits. Number one is that at the end of the day, our real customers are our premium subscribers, so they get the premium experience by watching a full uncut show, which is just more natural, more pleasurable to watch, all of that. But second, it's like you said for the editing, all I have going is I have a guy in the back in the control room who the moment that I go, “OK, now let's talk about something,” he just cuts it right there in Premiere. He's actually divvying up the clips while we're going. By the time that I wrap, all he has to do, he's got all my clips ready. They're already exported. He just has to export my full show. Then that goes to the premium people. And then part of the thing that we also offer is we offer the premium video an hour early to the people who pay, at 11 a.m. And then the rest of the clips, they all premiere on YouTube at noon.
Saagar: What we do is the editing process. It's actually easier to just record it full throughout, and it makes it very, very easy to post, especially because I think ours is a bit unique for most of the people in the creator space. We have timeliness, right? Like news gets stale very quickly. You could do a segment, and this actually happened, once a couple of days ago we did a whole segment on Afghanistan, and then a suicide bomb went off. And we're like, OK, we can't post it. You know, it's stale within an hour. That happens very rarely, but that's something that we have to consider more than I think other people.
How to convert free listeners to paid subscribers
Rob: I think that's a fascinating aspect in terms of timeliness because I subscribe to a couple of podcasts, and I might get the podcast three or four days early because I'm on a paid subscription. But for you in news you're talking literally about an hour or 30 minutes. I guess my final question before I’m done again. This may be more for you, Jason. How much are you trying to encourage the call-to-action in the clips on the YouTube channel for the premium services? Or are you more relying on the people enjoying your content so much that they're going to find out where they need to go to find the premium service? There is always a very fine balance between the two. How much do you offer the free content in terms of those who really want to find everything out about the show.
Jason: Yeah, I think I’ll talk to what you've done with Breaking Points, Saagar, and then feel free to jump in. But I think philosophically at a high level, you certainly want to make it as easy as possible for people to find where to subscribe. Like anything on the internet, the more seamless you can make that conversion path, the more seamless you can make it for people to discover that there is even such a thing as this premium, the higher percentage of people that will that will follow through with you. It's just we're all spread for attention, and therefore you really want to make it as easy as possible.
Jason: What does that mean? That means talk about it on your show, talk about what people will experience if they sign up to premium, the early access, all of the bits and pieces that you get in it, in addition to the free show that the fact that you get it unedited, uncut. You can listen to the whole thing without disruption. People don't know that unless you tell them. Once you've told them you have to be consistent about it. A lot of people at first, they find it uncomfortable or repetitious to be able to do that. But, at the end of the day, if you feel good about the value that you're providing these people, then you know it serves both of you, both you and your audience, to really deliver that message as consistently as possible. And then after that, there come the mechanics of it.
Jason: So obviously, you want to have throughout your show, ideally, the links are inserted into the visuals themselves, clickable. Your descriptions, you want to have those links repeated again, and the callout to be a premium subscriber. At its core, I'd say that kind of covers how often you should talk about it, the mechanics of it. But where people really do this well, Saagar included, is where you can organically find ways to demonstrate the value that you'll get as a subscriber. And so Saagar’s show Breaking Points, the unique spin as well as that kind of ‘screw mainstream media angle’ is the bipartisan nature of their show.
Saagar: It's like, right, left.
Jason: Yeah, it's kind of like the right-left thing, you know? And where they've come from, historically is Saagar is more right leaning. He brings the right viewpoint; Krystal brings the left viewpoint. Listeners come to be able to hear the debate, the contrasting of opinions when it comes to whatever's on the country's mind three times a week. And so that then from the point of view of the show, kind of the climax after an issue is presented, is Saagar turning to Krystal after delivering a monologue and saying, “So what do you think, Krystal?” And everybody's waiting for that, right? Because that's when you really get to kind of tease out an issue, and that's where they cut off to premium every day. It's finding those kind of moments of value that aren't necessarily mandatory, but are what people really get attached to that can give you a natural organic inflection point to be able to bring people through to the premium experience.
Saagar: Yeah, that's exactly right. And really, all it is, is just listen to people. Be like, “What do you like about the show?” You know, people will come up to me on the street. They're like, I love your show. Well, what do you like about it, you know? And they’re always kind of shocked like, Well, I really like how you guys talk about… how you guys are like really civil with each other. And I'm like, Okay, so what are they really saying? They really like whenever I present an issue. And then she has a point and I go, Oh, you know, that's a good point. I didn't think about that. Something like that. You're like, OK, well, that is what you should put behind a paywall, right? Because people have experienced it, and they're like, Wait, I want more of that and then that natural cut point. And then in terms of where we put it on each clip, really easy.
Saagar: And it's like, Jason said, if you do it every day, it actually will feel weird. The easy thing is you just automate it. We have a prerecorded end screen at the end of every clip where we have, I think it's like a picture in picture small thing like upper left, where we're like, Hey, if you guys want to support the show, link is right down there in the description like we are talking. And while we do that, we have an end screen period where a literal box link comes up, where you can click, which takes you to our premium subscription page. We have a link within the video, and you have me being like, Go ahead and check out the link. Right there. And like I said, you combine that with each individual clip becoming a piece of marketing for your show that the YouTube algorithm spits out to all these different audiences.
Saagar: You're reaching millions of people a day and it's like the law of the internet is only one to two percent have to subscribe, you start to reach millions and millions and millions. That's a lot of people, right? And you can really rack that up. Some people subscribe because, for example, I cover UFOs a lot. I have an entire audience that just knows me for UFOs. Fine. A lot of people who only know me about Jeffrey Epstein. OK, fine, right? You compile all these things together. Same with Krystal, progressive politics, like AOC stuff, or whenever she covers housing, she's like really big into housing. There's a whole bunch of people that just subscribe for that stuff. You can cobble this all together. You can create a real business that way.
Understanding what your listeners care about
Dan: I want to stay on this topic of monetization, but I think everything you're talking about is pretty high level, this is stuff that you're going to be doing as you've grown to a certain point. Let's take a step back, though, for anybody who's really interested in this conversation, they're hearing this. They're going, Wow, this gives me a lot of ideas and what I could do with my show that I have on the internet. What steps could they be taking to treat their current passion, whatever it is, more like a business, so they can get to this point that you're talking about?
Saagar: Number one is identify your value to people, not what you find valuable about your show. And I mean, God bless a lot of people. They're like, I'm really passionate about this, and I'm like, That's great, but do other people care? And it can sound harsh, but it's really important to find out the value that you are giving other people in their day-to-day life and start out from that very basic point. I know it's hard. These are the intangibles, but really what it is is, are you making people feel something? And then the second question is, is if you're really making people feel something, can you get people to support you while doing it? Those are two things where it can be hard to tell yourself the truth on those matters. Really, I think it requires a lot of organic reaching out. When we were really small, I'm talking like 10,000-12,000 subscribers or something on YouTube, and I would get like maybe three people who would email me. I would just email them back. I'd be like, Tell me what's going on? What do you like about it? I remember the first time somebody ever came up to me on the street, and I talked to them for like 30 minutes. I was like, Tell me what's going on? Like, why do you like the show? What is it about the show that really gets to you, right? I love the cat there.
Dan: Every show.
Saagar: It’s really one of those things where you should really take the time to really get to know your audience, really get to know like what you're offering people, and then start running some experiments. One of our organic experiments that Krystal and I had that showed us how much we were valuable because we wrote a book and then that book hit the bestseller list and we were like, Holy crap, why, like what? We only had 200,000 subs at the time. I thought it would sell, a couple thousand copies or something. We sold tens of thousands of copies. I was blown away. I was like, I was like, OK, we got something going on here, right? So that was an experiment.
Saagar: Another experiment was live shows. We did these two live shows right before the pandemic, of course, and they sold out like within a couple of hours. We're like, Whoa, we sold like 500 tickets. If people care enough to come and pay for a ticket to come and see you, that's something right? These are little things you can latch onto. It's these little micro experiments that I would run if I was just starting out. First, it's like, build the audience. Then, what are people really getting out of this? Then, you can run a couple of experiments like, OK, what are people going to pay? This, that. Maybe soft launch a couple of things, and then you have enough confidence. Jason and I had enough confidence after we left the Hill, we were like, We know we can build something here. The only question is, how big is it going to get. That's it. There were several steps there along the way.
When subscription makes sense
Dan: For Jason. You have this company that encourages people to sign up for these memberships for their shows. Is there a particular audience size you might recommend that your clients have before they approach you? Is there a point at which it's not really beneficial to either party, is what I'm asking.
Jason: Yes, certainly. The way I think about it is, what is the most valuable use of a creator's time if they're still in those early stages? There is just a point where if you're say, like 5000 subs, 10,000 subs or below, there's a question mark for you as to whether those people are actually repeat listeners. Just Sagaar’s earlier point whether they are deriving enough benefit from your show that they're highly engaged and you can establish a really strong connection with at least five percent or 10 percent of them. There's a core group of people that love you on a daily, weekly basis. I think anything smaller than that, and you're probably better off focused on just making sure that you really have that nut. That you’ve really kind of cracked that core proposition and that value that you can offer on a repeated basis to a segment of people.
Jason: The power of the internet these days is you can take a niche as focused and as small as you want. There are probably thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people that would get interested by that. I think that's for smaller creators, people who are just getting started, that's the most valuable use of your time. Once you've achieved that, there are a number of ways that you can monetize, like obviously, ads, sponsorships, premium subscriptions. We obviously would love to bring five to 10 percent of that audience through and get you paid directly, like via a model such as Saagar has rolled out with Breaking Points. But I think you ultimately just kind of have to ask the hard question first of am I delivering enough value here that I can start to devote some of my time to thinking about turning on some paid channels?
Dan: When people think about monetizing a podcast, I think their thought immediately goes to sponsorships. I mean, any podcasts you listen to is going to have some kind of ad on it usually. Our show is sponsored by the company who owns it, which is vidIQ, so by now they heard the ad for the day. Why–I guess I should ask it this way. Why not go the sponsorship route? Why the membership route?
Saagar: Well, they're not mutually exclusive at all. People watch ads on YouTube, right? And people, in terms of our podcasts, we definitely have the ability, our free version of our podcast, to roll out ads anytime we want. If anything it just makes our premium one even more valuable, because then you don't have to listen to it. But here's what I would say. The most efficient transaction on Earth is you pay me. Not let me bundle, I have all these people, and the podcast metrics are all over the place, and CPMs, and X amount of downloads. Look, that's fine for the free version. But the most efficient transaction that exists is just pay me and we'll pay some processing fees by Stripe and Supercast, right? You cannot beat that. Especially like I said, if you are providing value to people, why bundle up all of your people and sell them to an underwear company for a $30 CPM? When you can just go ask them and you're like, Hey, I really like the work that you do.
Saagar: This is the other thing, and this is a little bit more unique because, again, news is just very, very different. Krystal and I were previously working for a corporation that took money from a lot of people who we did not agree with. That's kind of the same thing. Yes, in podcasting ads, you decide who you're going to read sponsorships for or whatever. But I can tell you that these people, especially when you're talking about more touchy subjects, everybody's got opinions. And frankly, I don't care. Like the only people I want to be my boss are the people who listen to me. And so that is a much more pure form of when you listen to me, you know I'm not taking money from X Interest Group, Y Interest Group. I'm not controlled by anybody. The only person is you. If you want cancel, that's OK, whatever.
Saagar: But that is a much more, I think, pure form of both content delivery and supporting because I've seen this happen to people in the space. You start to cover some controversial subjects. Now all of a sudden, your channel’s demonetized or podcast ad company comes out and be like, Hey, I don't want to support you anymore. And from the very beginning, Krystal and I said, we don't ever want to be in that position. We always want you guys to know that no matter what happens, if YouTube wants to cut our RPMs by like 60 percent, fine, whatever, I'm not going to affect the way that I pay my bills. And so that is maybe a more purer form of it. I would really just encourage people to get over whatever hump there is and really think about the efficiency of the transaction. I don't know why it feels dirtier to ask people to support you, then to bundle up all these people and CPMs and be like, Oh, we're in this age range. All of that.
Dan: Go ahead, Jason.
Building your own castle
Jason: Look, the one overriding thing that we say to creators when we're talking about Supercast is, we want you to build your own castle. If there's anything to remember it's that, and that plays out in a number of different ways. One, if you're trying to build a business that can make it for the long term, then of course, you want to have as much under your own ownership and control as you can. So, we talked about demonetization, we've all seen what platforms have the power to do when and however they choose to do it. In one form, building your own castle means make sure you're building your business in a place that no one can ever take that away from you. So that is very much a philosophy we have embodied at Supercast. It's your Stripe account that you connect to Supercast. That's why you always owned the contact details of everybody that's a member. You can export that any time, you can use tools like Zapier to be able to stitch together your own membership. It's all under your control, all under your umbrella.
Jason: Platform. We love the platforms. They have their use, like YouTube is there for a reason. That's where you find your audience. Same thing as iTunes, podcasting, whatever, you've got to build your audience by using these platforms. But then the trick is just to make sure that you are then bringing them through to a property that you own. But, like more so building your own castle just means being able to evolve the membership in a way that fits your audience as well. We would love everyone to have ultimately, like multiple revenue streams, not just one. It's not advertising only, it's not subscription only.
Jason: Of course, there's a lot of creators on Supercast that have devoted primarily to subscription. So, for example, health podcasters like Peter Attia, like Rhonda Patrick, they don't want to have this idea that they are promoting a supplement because they're getting paid to do so. Because that then just erodes or potentially erodes, even the perception of there being some hidden incentives, and that just kind of starts to erode the trust that you’ve built with your audience. They've decided to go all in on subscription. They've been able to build just the sustaining sources of income based primarily on subscription. But there's a lot of other podcasters that have started out, of course, monetizing by sponsorship. It is, of course, the number one way that podcasters are making money these days. And then we see them two to 3x their entire revenue by being able to layer on memberships on top of that. We would love to see a world where ultimately you're in control, you have multiple sources of revenue and you can build your own castle.
Rob: Dan and I have just come off a live stream literally an hour ago, but we were talking about community. And again, just to provide context, the Breaking Points channel currently has just over half a million subscribers, and predominantly you're talking about all sorts of different news topics, be it Afghan war that's currently–
Saagar: Whatever's happening, yeah.
Rob: Whatever's happening, yeah. And so that can often lead to very spiky view counts if there isn't a commitment to the channel or the creator behind the channel or the community as a whole. I'm just curious how you've been able to build what seems to be a really loyal fan base because videos on your channel tend to average between 50 to 150,000 views, which is really strong for the current subscriber size.
Saagar: Yeah, you know, it's funny people say that, but if you do it long enough and this is actually the key, and you have the community, they'll stick with you in the low times and then, look, of course, is there going to be fluff? This is in the news, but the news business is built on this. It's like, When am I going to get the most views? Presidential election, a war, January 6th, BLM riots, like, of course, that's fine. And there's a lot of fluff within that that's just going to come in exactly for that. And then they tune out. Actually recently met someone and they're like, I used to watch your videos. I'm like, What do you mean used to? And they're like, Oh, well, I'm just tuning out the news. I'm like, That's better for your mental health. I was like, you do you.
Saagar: But as you were saying, if you do it for a longer period and there are people out there, people want to be informed. They want to be informed on a daily or weekly or multi-week basis, which is what we do. They will come along, and they'll give you enough trust in particular to sit there and to watch what you curate for them. And so that is a stage that we're in now. We are now in that state. I just did a piece, for example, I got 120,000 views yesterday on a Chinese semiconductor hostile takeover involving private equity. Nobody in the news business would ever tell you that is a way to get a lot of views. But people know me well enough to say I trust Saagar that if he picks a story, I should know about it. And it actually did almost frankly better than some of my other stuff.
Saagar: Same with Krystal. Krystal will do a news on a very obscure piece of law around evictions, which is like, this has the potential to impact millions of lives. And so that is again the same thing where we have a level of trust with the audience, they'll see something where like, I don’t really know anything about this, but I trust you in order to tell me about it. And then it just becomes a form of curation. In news in particular, all news is curation. You have a finite period of time. It's up to CNN, MSNBC, Fox, how they decide to serve their content in between their ad breaks. Our value add is that we are going to value your time and deliver you a particularly different type of story base based on that. We really don't see as much spiking and dropping as you might expect for a news channel, specifically because of the trust that we've established. That being said, been at this every day, every week for what, two and a half years? It doesn't come easy, and it's something that takes a long time and a real dedication to you got to keep putting it out there. You got to be consistent. You got to make sure that you really know your people. You got to make sure that you have that trust, and figuring out when you have that trust is hard. Like I said, it's all about experimentation. That's the real thing.
What subscription perks can you offer?
Dan: Before we get too away from perks, I did have one more question on that. And I said perks, I meant subscriptions. I want to get into perks. We did touch on having a premium podcast. There's no ads. You know, you're valuing people's times. I'm just thinking about people out there who are thinking, what could I offer if I were to put a paid subscription on my show? What types of perks do people generally kind of offer their audiences?
Jason: Yeah, there's a whole range, really, you can assemble benefits that best befit your audience. So, we've talked about some of the ones for Breaking Points, but across the spectrum of our creatives, the common ones that we see are an ad-free show, like that's kind of a baseline foundation for if you already have sponsorships and ads on your show. So it's an interesting juxtaposition, I guess, like when you do have ads because that actually allows you to monetize both sides of your audience. On the free side, obviously, the way you're funding your free show is with sponsorship money.
Jason: But then when you push that to a point that you've got so many ads that people would actually pay to not hear them, then that gives you an opportunity to obviously monetize at a far higher clip than you're able to with CPMs. If somebody's paying you $5 per month that's obviously a lot more money on a per subscriber basis than the cents on the dollar that you get for a $25 CPM per thousand people. That is kind of like a common thing that we see when you do have ads, but over and above that and I guess I’ll describe these in increasing levels of the creator's time, you're able to do things like uncut versions of the show. That's what Breaking Points does. Like how much work does it require? Actually less when actually producing it.
Jason: And it's crazy, it's that at first your instinct is great. It might be like, why would people pay for that? Why would people want the uncut version? It doesn't make any sense, they’re going to listen to my “um”s and “ah”s, but people go and pay tickets, for tickets to be part of a live studio audience, right? For Friends or whatever it's that same idea, even though there's interruptions because they're right there on that day listening to the live version, they feel a closer connection to the audience. They get to hear something that other people don't necessarily get to hear, even if it means a less polished version. So that has inherent value. Early access has an inherent value. Extended episodes. You're already probably recording more footage than you know what to do with. And then the polished version, maybe you could ask three more questions, five more questions, and reserve those for the premium version of the show.
Jason: Those are things that are commonly bundled together. And then as you start to layer on bonus content, that's when you can really drive up both the conversion rate to paid and also the dollar value of your subscription. There might be bonus episodes that you do once a month for your premium audience. You might do AMAs. Supercast actually has a platform that Saagar and Breaking Points uses to solicit questions from members only. Their first week of going live, they got a thousand questions, so there's just this. I mean, there's crazy pent-up demand for people to be able to ask whatever question they want about UFOs. Or whatever. And just the sheer act of being able to ask, and then to upvote other people's questions. And then kind of almost the anticipation of Saagar actually talking about that live on air and referencing you. I mean, it goes way back.
Saagar: Saying their name. They get a lot out of that. People really get a kick out of that. When I'm like this question from Christopher Liddell or something like, that's a big thing.
Dan: There’s a Christopher Liddell out there, just freaking.
Saag: Yeah, I pulled that out. I think that might actually have been a name.
Jason: And you can take that to like various different levels. So, they also as part of a lifetime membership on Breaking Points, they also put your name on a clock. So Christopher, maybe he's a lifetime member and he's behind your desk. Maybe. But that's a $1,500 membership for Breaking Points, that's enormous value that people are ascribing to being connected to the show. As well as other things like access to a newsletter or access to a private community group. Facebook. Slack. People are doing all sorts of different ways. Discord. But ultimately, you know your audience best as the creator. And it's also an area where you know if you have that direct connection to your audience, you can just ask, much to Saagar's point. It's all about experimenting with what creates value.
Rob: Are there any common pitfalls to subscription? And I mean, what you were just mentioning about you got a thousand people on this live stream and you feel as if you have a responsibility to answer all of their questions about UFOs because they paid $5 a month. I guess an element about scalability. Anything else that you need to be aware of?
Saagar: That's a good point, actually, is in terms of, whenever you do start to get thousands and thousands of people. What we do is, we don't do that live stream. We have it on the platform. We choose five a week for exactly that reason. We're like, Look, we don't get to you, I'm sorry. You got to understand, there's thousands and thousands of people here who are subscribing. I'm trying to think about any of the– I mean, honestly, once you're starting to get a big enough audience, some people are always going to be mad about something you say, and that's OK. You just have to accept it. You just have to accept it. It's one of those things where, look, if you got thousands and thousands of subscribers, and especially with our show right and left, some news is going to piss off somebody on the right and some news is going to piss off somebody on the left. That's what we tell you from the beginning before you pay us. We're like, Look, you're not always going to agree, but you'll at least know that we’re straight shooters. Some people still don't listen. That's OK. You know you want to cancel. It's all right. So that's another thing that you just have to get used to is that whenever you're going to have tens and tens of thousands of people, you cannot make everybody happy all the time. And that is OK. I think that's something that I would tell people too.
Jason: Yeah, and I think also overcommitting and just signing yourself up to things that have too high an additional commitment on your behalf as a content creator. Like ultimately, you kind of have two audiences to serve once you introduce this idea of premium membership. And we believe our job at Supercast is actually to build out the tools that allow you to provide value without having to double your workload. We don't want that for any content creator. Of course, we want most of their time to be able to produce content that serves both of those audiences in really smart ways. To the point about the AMA is that's we saw people wanting to provide this as a feature and doing it in haphazard ways.
Jason: That's why we built that platform to be able to solicit questions on their behalf for people to better interact with each other by upvoting each other's questions. But ultimately, it's not a democracy. Just because something goes up the most doesn't mean Saagar is going to take a stab at it? It's up to them as hosts, what they want to talk about and how fast they want to pick questions from that repository. But ultimately, the added value of the AMA as a creator is that the content kind of comes to you. You don't have to think about, Oh, what am I going to do for another five episodes this month? People are literally telling you, they're literally asking you, what they want your thoughts on. All you have to do is once every two weeks, get in front of the mic and then start talking about the things that you know you want to talk about as well.
Dan: In the final few minutes we have here, I just want to ask one more question. There's all kinds of perks we can offer listeners out there, but the trick is earning their trust and getting them to actually become paying members. What kind of tips do you guys have for people who again are just kind of starting out and they're looking to build to that point? How do you turn a free listener into a premium listener?
Saagar: I think it comes back to what I said earlier, which is find out what they value, see if you can make it exclusive. But that's another question, right? What if you're not able to make it exclusive? If you're able to make it exclusive, then you should put that behind a paywall, and I really encourage anybody out there who does think that they can do it. I think that you should, if you kind of do that checklist. Because it's like Jason says, you always want to be your own boss. If we had gone, and I can tell you this, when we were starting out, we explored all our options and these big companies, these ad radio companies and all that. They want everything under the sun before you start out, right?
Saagar: They're like, Oh, we want IP ownership, we want this and presale and all this. And we said, No, screw that. We went Supercast first. Now, if I want, I'm like, All right, now, I've got the top number one podcast. I can do whatever I want. Take it or leave it, right? It's all about control and trying to put yourself in that position. But like I said, you’ve really got to figure out what do people value? Jason and I had a lot of conversations about this before we launched. Helped me figure out I'm like, Oh, it's actually that daily thing about me talking to Krystal. That discussion, that period in that show and vice versa. That's very, very valuable. That's where we should put behind the paywall, figuring out that type of like hook thing. And again, that's so unique to my show. But you've got to figure out what that is for your show, for your content, and then see if you are able to make that exclusive without taking away too much. And make sure that the free version is always going to still be valuable to the people who consume it.
Jason: Yeah, I think the interesting thing to maybe think about hypothetically, is what would happen, what would be the reaction if you went away. Like if you just stopped publishing for a week, where would you see that come out from your audience? And I can tell you that certainly looking through the old videos at the Hill, if Saagar and Krystal just disappeared off... And in fact, they did just to some extent, their audience would be up in arms. They would freak out, they would be all over the previous video saying, where are they? What have you done? I think if you're a creator and you're thinking, do I have that, do I have what it takes to go premium and ask people to pay? Maybe just the way to start to lean into that is what would happen if I stopped publishing? Would people miss me? Do I already have that connection to them on Twitter, on Instagram, or whatever where I would start to see comments on my last post saying, Hey, where have you gone, I’m missing my daily dose? If the answer to that is yes, then yeah, I think you have some connection that you can build on.
Saagar: That's a great point.
Dan: So I thank you both for joining us. Saagar, where can everybody find you out there in the world?
Saagar: Breaking Points on YouTube, @eSaagar Twitter, Instagram, everywhere.
Dan: And Jason, where can folks learn more about Supercast?
Jason: You can go to Supercast.com, spelt the usual way, and feel free to reach out to me directly on Twitter @JSewHoy. That's J-S-E-W-H-O-Y.
Rob: I also want to know where we can find out more, Dan, about Chris Liddell as well.
Da: They'll have to reach out to us, though.
Rob: OK, yeah.
Saagar: I'm sure whoever it is is going to be very happy.
Dan: Guys, thank you so much. This is awesome.
- Podcasting on YouTube: 7 Tips to Get Subscribers on a Paid Membership
- TubeTalk (on Apple Podcasts)
- Breaking Points (YouTube)
- Breaking Points (on Apple Podcasts)
- Breaking Points subscription page
- Saagar Enjeti (Twitter)
- Saagar Enjeti (Instagram)
- Jason Sew Hoy (Twitter)