If you’ve been thinking about monetizing your podcast then you’ve probably already come to the realization that donations are a pretty good option ‒ helping you earn money for your efforts whilst avoiding having to give a portion of your podcast to advertisers. You’ve probably also read all the “how-to’s” for adding a donate button to your podcast page, enabling your listeners to donate money to you simply and easily.
There are a lot more benefits to asking for donations from loyal fans than there are to any other kind of monetization method. As most donations are made by your podcast listeners who support your goals, their donations are a result of wanting your work to continue and wanting to see you succeed. In return, their donations help to further improve your podcast in order to provide your audience with the best quality possible.
When viewed like this, donations are more than just hand-outs; they are an investment into a worthwhile commodity. With this in mind, here are three basic steps to help get you set up to receive donations from your listeners.
1. Choose a Platform to Accept Donations
The first thing you need to do is to create an account on your chosen platform in order to accept donations from your listeners. There are two main platforms most podcasters use, simply because they are well-known and trusted.
PayPal is a worldwide online payment system that supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods. Setting up your PayPal account is a very easy process, just click on the link below and follow the setup instructions. From there, you will receive a unique link that you can share with your audience. You can also add a donate button to your podcast page to make donating even easier. Donations can be placed as many times as your audience members want. Paypal itself is free, and you’ll never be charged for a subscription. However, they do take a percentage of any donation you receive.
Patreon is a crowdfunding type platform, which is easy to use, especially if your audience, or patrons, like making recurring donations. Patreon is unique in that it allows you as the creator to provide your audience with exclusive content as incentives, based on the amount donated. Levels or tiers based on monetary value are created, and certain rewards or incentives are linked to each level. The more a person donates, the more exclusive content or rewards they will have access to. Patreon handles all of the technical parts and gives your podcast a more professional look and feel. Starting is free, but like PayPal, they do take a percentage of the donations you receive.
2. Motivate to Donate
Now that you have your platforms all set up, all that’s left for you to do is to give your audience a reason why they should donate money to you. This may sound easier said than done, but the bottom line is that you need to create an emotional connection to your cause, which then serves as the motivation to donate.
Here are some of the top ways podcasters are getting their audience to donate monthly.
Just Ask Nicely
It might seem simple, but sometimes just asking nicely is all that’s needed to motivate your listeners to support your show. This is especially true if you’ve already built a large and loyal podcast community that trusts you and values the content you are producing. This method, therefore, clearly works best if you already have those established relationships with your listeners.
Inspire with Your Goals and Dreams
On paper, it may not seem probable that you can inspire others to back you by simply talking about your goals and dreams. But in reality, hearing another person share their vision has a profound effect on us as humans. Something in us is ignited by that passion and can cause us to look beyond ourselves to help someone else. So share your goals and dreams with your audience ‒ your drive to achieve those milestones may not only inspire others to achieve theirs but often, it creates a desire to back you and play a part in you achieving success.
A Little Incentive Can Go a Long Way
This is where using a platform like Patreon comes in handy. We’ve already mentioned the levels or tiers for donations Patreon allows you to build and that rewards or incentives are received if a certain amount is donated. This can be a very productive method, as the incentive does not necessarily have to be something tangible or have an actual monetary value. It could be never-before-heard content, bloopers, or even a private Q&A session. This type of exclusive content can be a great motivator for listeners to give a donation to gain access to even more great value.
Related read: Top 8 Ways to Create Buzz Around Your Podcast
3. Donation Location: The Call to Action
The final step in the donation process is the “donation location,” referring to how your listeners get to the point of donating money. They have the motivation and desire, now they just have to convert that into actually giving a donation.
Related read: 6 Ways to Create Loyal Podcast Fans
The three common locations where a call to action can be included are:
If you’ve already put in the effort to build up your email list, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to put it to good use. Since you are already providing your listeners with extra value and free content through their newsletter subscription, then there is always room for the occasional ask. Send out an email to your mailing list with all of the necessary information about your podcast and the link to the relevant platform added throughout the email message. This makes it easy for them to just click on the link and donate the money. Remember, don’t be forceful in asking for the donation. Rather mention that if they are liking what they’re hearing, you gladly accept and encourage donations for the show.
There’s nothing quite as effective in getting your listeners to donate than a direct link to the donation location. Add a direct link on all of your podcasting platforms, including your website, social media channels, and your podcast hosting site. Remember to make the link easy to find ‒ this will increase the chances of a donation being made.
Both PayPal and Patreon enable you to embed a “donate button” in all of your websites and emails. This method is appealing not only visually since an official “donate” button creates a professional look, but also for how simple and easy it makes it for listeners to make their donation.
Remember, your audience has all the power when it comes to donating. It’s up to them whether they hit that donate button or not. It’s therefore important that you are not forceful or pushy when it comes to asking for donations. You should stay professional and courteous towards your audience, even when a call for donations goes unanswered. The key is to continuously put out valuable content that your listeners desire. Donations will most likely be made by loyal, dedicated fans who love your content and love what you do. Your focus, then, should be on building and strengthening these relationships by continuing to create high-quality content and growing your loyal fan base through engaging with your listeners.
Related read: Email Marketing Basics for Podcasters