How to Sell Podcast Episodes: At-a-glance
- You might sell original podcast episodes as premium content, if you already have an existing audience.
- Or, you might choose to sell your back catalogue, whilst keeping your most recent episodes free on your main feed.
- Some even move their entire show behind a paywall – but this comes with a huge risk of dismantling your audience.
- There are plenty of ways to sell podcast episodes. Patreon is a popular platform, and many hosting providers have private podcast features these days.
- Directory giants like Apple and Spotify have recently jumped into the subscription option pool, too.
- Read on for the full range of options…
In the main, podcast episodes are available free of charge. They ‘live' on a podcast hosting platform, can be found everywhere podcasts are consumed (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and hundreds more listening platforms), and listeners can subscribe to them on their app of choice.
This is, overwhelmingly, a positive thing. From a listener point of view, it means that podcasts are accessible to almost anyone. From a podcaster point of view, it means that your content has the potential to reach the maximum amount of people. It's a win-win.
However, you might be thinking about how to sell podcast episodes as additional ‘premium' content alongside your main series. Or, you might just want to run a 100% ‘premium' podcast, as opposed to creating free content available to everyone. In this guide, we'll run you through some options. But first, a word of caution…
Who Can (or Should) Sell Podcast Episodes?
If you're going to sell anything, you need an audience. One thing most aspiring and new podcasters have in common is that they're starting out without one.
Podcasting is one of the best ways to build a loyal audience – but this takes time. To come right out the gate, without any existing fans, and announce that your new podcast is available for a fee (however low) is going to kill it before it begins.
Even if you're an established podcaster with a dedicated following, you should think carefully about going down the premium route. If you move your entire podcast over to a paid model, then you'll likely lose the majority of your audience. Or, you might continue to run the main podcast as-free but create additional premium episodes. If this is your plan, be certain that you can take on this extra work without the quality of your content (or your mental health) suffering.
A tried and tested approach for podcasters who've been in the game a while, is to sell their back catalogue. In this example, you might always have – say – your most recent 50 episodes available on your feed. This means you're still bringing in new listeners and turning them into dedicated fans. But then you can sell access to your full back catalogue, or blocks of episodes, which means listeners can pay to binge through the entirety of your content.
With that all said, you've come here to learn how to sell podcast episodes, so let's dive in and take a look at 7 good options…
How to Sell Podcast Episodes
There are a number of different options available if you're looking to sell your podcast episodes. A quick heads up that we use affiliate links for some of the services we recommend here. This means we'd earn a small commission should you choose to sign up through them, though at no extra cost to yourself!
1. Patreon (or Ongoing Crowdfund Platforms)
Patreon means “ongoing crowdfunding model” in the same way that Google means “internet search”. Patreon is, as far as I know, the original and biggest platform in this space. But, there are popular alternatives, such as Buy Me a Coffee and Ko-Fi.
The bottom line is, these platforms allow your listeners or fans to give you money on a regular (usually monthly), or “per piece of content” basis. If you go down this route to sell your podcast episodes, you'd likely have your main podcast, as well as the behind-a-paywall content you release to your backers.
Deeper Dive: Patreon for Podcasters
Memberful are a platform designed for folks who want to run a membership site. This is overkill for the average podcaster, but often an attractive option for people who run service-based businesses.
With Memberful, you can run a members-only podcast, as well as other premium content offerings such as blog posts and videos. Memberful integrates with compatible podcast hosting platforms, so you would still be hosting the audio on a separate platform. For some podcasters, Memberful would be an unnecessary middleman. But, others can build an entire business around their podcast, with Memberful's additional integrations.
Podbean are a veteran podcast hosting platform with a nice premium content feature. Their $9 a month (billed annually) tier allows you to sell audio or video as premium content. You can also use them to run a fully locked-down private podcast feed on their $99 a month tier. But, this will be out of the price range of many solo podcasters and hobbyists.
Deeper Dive: How to Do Premium Podcast Content on Podbean
4. Other Private Podcast Feed Options
An increasing number of established podcast hosting platforms now offer a private content option. The famous and long-standing example is Transistor, but Captivate and Castos are also doing great work on this front now, too. Creating a private feed is one thing, but if you want to sell it, you'll need to use a third-party platform like Patreon or Memberful.
Deeper Dive: How to Create a Private Podcast Feed
5. DIY Options
An effective (if a little clunky) route is to link to your premium episodes in the cloud, on a platform like Dropbox or Google Drives. You'd still need some sort of e-commerce platform like Gumroad or E-Junkie to take payments through. On top of that, your listeners aren't going to be able to get your “podcast” in their listening app because, by definition, it isn't really a podcast. However, this might be a simple way of testing the water when figuring out how to sell your podcast episodes. It's worth moving to one of the other options listed here though, if you want to keep going in the long run.
6. How to Sell a Podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts
After many years of “will they/won't they?” Apple finally announced and started to roll out paid subscriptions. Podcasters can now create ‘channels', grouping together multiple shows, and create freemium or fully paid tiers around their content.
With Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, “you receive 70% of the subscription price at each billing cycle, minus applicable taxes. After a subscriber accumulates one year of paid service, your net revenue increases to 85% of the subscription price, minus applicable taxes. Your other podcast revenue — including any ads — will stay 100% yours.”
As one of the biggest podcast listening platforms in the world, this will be a low hanging fruit and an appealing option for many. However, some podcasters have raised concerns that your paying audience will be locked into Apple's ecosystem and you'll have no way to reach them outside of the platform. A lot of podcasters value running an email list with their most engaged listeners, and this is something you'd have to run separately from your paid Apple subscriptions.
If you'd like to dive in and start selling podcast episodes on Apple/iTunes, you just need to fill out this Apple Podcasters Program Agreement.
7. How to Sell a Podcast on Spotify
Spotify have made a lot of big podcasting announcements recently. Amongst them is that Spotify-owned host Anchor plan to offer paid subscriptions via Spotify later this year. This looks like it'll give podcasters the opportunity to offer premium content to their listeners. There will be a ‘limited beta' in the US, and you can register your interest right here.
So… Should I Sell Podcast Episodes?
Surprise, surprise… it depends.
Are you just starting out in podcasting, and have no existing listenership? Then, probably not. Focus all your time and attention on creating quality content on a consistent basis that resonates with your target audience.
On the other hand, if you've been podcasting for a while and already have an engaged following, then it might be a tactic worth exploring. Be mindful that if you're creating extra content, then that's going to require extra time and mental bandwidth. Can you afford either?
Selling your back catalogue is a handy way of making premium content available without much extra work. This is a “best of both worlds” approach, as you're still running your show as-free and available to all. You can still pick up new listeners along the way, and maybe they'll end up going premium further down the line.
Remember too, that there are many other ways to monetise a podcast. Check out our ultimate guide for a list of different strategies and techniques. You're guaranteed to find something there that'll fit your own situation, your podcast, and your audience.
We can also work with you inside The Podcast Host Academy to help you with every aspect of podcasting, from launching and editing, to interview skills and promotion. In there you'll find all of our courses, resources, checklists, and templates. We run weekly live Q&A sessions too, so you'll always get the help, support, and guidance you need to keep on going.