In the episode we’re looking at the slightly tricky world of donations. Can you make money through donations in Podcasting? Yes, you definitely can, and I’ll talk you through all of the different methods within this episode. New platforms such as Patreon which are starting to make this even easier, and there are approaches to asking, too, that make you more likely to succeed. So, why wait, let’s get started!



  • This is one of the easiest, possibly the most attractive for many
  • It doesn’t take any more work than setting up a paypal or a patreon account
  • It doesn’t feel salesly, it’s just going on goodwill


  • Donations really do require an engaged, loyal and passionate audience
    • Possibly works best for those in a small niche
    • Serving a hobby market where everyone is fanatical about the subject
    • Or, serving brilliant, funny, entertaining content that people have grown to love you for
    • Teaching too, though, you’re giving value, you can ask for something in return


  • There are a few ways to play it
    1. Simple ask – talk about how you’re doing this for free, ask for a small thankyou in return
    2. The metaphor – ask for a ‘cup of coffee’ or ‘buy me a beer’
      1. Gets away from the money aspect, even less salesy
    3. The upgrade – set targets, for equipment, software or studio upgrades.
      1. “Once you all donate $100, I can buy a Shure microphone and improve my sound.”
    4. The incentive
      1. Read out their names
      2. Or add name to your donor page
  • There’s plenty of research around this of course, mainly for charitys
    • Celebrity endorsements have been seen to work
    • More realistically – matching donations works well – can you match it to buy the upgrades?
    • Raffles too – might work well for a show. Give something away each month to donators!

The Systems

  • There are a few ways to take your payments
  • Paypal – most well known, by far.
    • Everyone knows it, trusts it.
    • Very easy to set up a payment button which pays direct to your account
      • It can be one-off, or even a subscription
    • The fees aren’t exactly small, though…
    • And their dashboard is awful. Hard to track customers over time
  • If you want to put in the effort, Stripe is an amazing alternative
    • Great dashboard, simple, clean.
    • A fair bit cheaper
    • It does subscriptions too, and it can handle direct payments, but you need a bit of programming knowledge.
    • Harder to create that payment button.
    • Tonnes of WordPress plugins deal with it, though, ecommerce and the like.
  • Patreon
    • Very simple to use
    • Can set up levels and rewards, if you want, or keep it simple
      • works well with upgrades – that’s how many people play it
      • some treat it almost like crowdfunding – tangible rewards, like t-shirts!
      • community access for a monthly donation
      • The last is verging into selling a product or a service here
      • It’s interesting because people think, oh I’ll donate for the show, but that’s a bonus!
    • They’ll handle all of the technical elements
    • It’s becoming pretty well known and trusted
    • It makes it a little more official/professional!
    • Patreon works well with


  • There are a lot of small podcasters at least covering costs with donations
  • Paying for hosting, equipment, bills
  • Here are some examples from larger shows that demonstrates what can be acheived!
  • This American Life
    • A couple of years ago, they asked for donations to cover their bandwidth costs
    • A horrendous $170k!
    • They covered that pretty quickly.
    • I realise they’re on a whole other scale, but it proves people are willing to donate to keep great content going
  • Serial – donations
    • The haven’t talked about how much, but that show costs a lot to produce.
    • They’re making money through advertising too, but fans love it.
    • It was worth asking
  • Earwolf
    • A network that does it well.
    • You can donate to the network (100 gets you a shoutout)
    • Or donate to shows – all kept on-site, very neat and tidy.
  • Rob Cesternino
    • Patreon – $8.7k per month
    • Answers questions from his patreon supporters
    • Facebook group at $5
    • He sends out an autographed photo for $25
  • Tom Merritt – $16k per month – patreon
    • Daily tech news show
    • There’s humour in his pitch – can’t exchange an mp3 for food!
    • He talks about upgrades, all the things they could do with the money
    • Talks about the benefit of being ad-free
    • Talks about the exchange – he gives value, you might want to give value back

The Action

  • How do you get people off the show and to the donate page?
  • prettylink – again! Straight to the paypal or patreon page.
  • If they make the effort to follow the link you read out, then they’re pretty well sold
    • Call to action in very briefly at the start of the show, pave the way
    • Then a full call to action at the end
    • Ads/sponsors tend to run 30 to 60 seconds – feel free to do the same!
  • Put donate buttons throughout your site.
  • Could persuade someone who’s just browsing your shownotes
    • Sidebar
    • bottom of your posts
    • Hellobar at the top?
    • link to a landing page, rather than the payment page.
    • Sell them on the donation with a video, the benefits, etc.
  • As always, email list too.
    • Get them on, give value, keep updated, and make the sale(donation!).