There is a good reason why asking for donations is a popular option when it comes to monetizing your podcast. First up, 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.
They want to see you succeed as much as you do. In return, their donations help to further improve your podcast. You then have more opportunity to provide your audience with the best quality possible. There is also the added bonus of not having to share your earnings with advertisers or the like.
When viewed like this, donations are more than just hand-outs. They are an investment into a worthwhile commodity. With this in mind, today we’re sharing all the steps to help set you up to receive donations from your listeners.
But first, some disclosures…
Yes, it’s true that many podcast hosts out there meet with great success from asking for donations for their show. But just because it works for some, it doesn’t mean it will work for all. And what this boils down to is your audience. You need to know your audience and understand whether or not they are likely to a) respond positively to your request for donations, and b) act upon that request in a positive fashion.
For instance, if your podcast is aimed at helping teens conquer their High School Math homework, you may not meet with much success asking them for donations. But you may find an incentive program where they get access to more content could be a winner. Their parents would likely then be willing to pay for “members only” type content if it helps their teens succeed.
On the other hand, if you have a podcast aimed at making car rides bearable for little ones (and their parents!), simple requests for donations or sponsorships during your episodes may be all it takes, as the parents are all too grateful for the help you offer them.
Another point to consider is the quality of your podcast. Before you can hope to meet with any sort of positive listener response in terms of donation requests, you need to make sure that your podcast is up to snuff. This means making sure that your audio is clear and crisp and that you’re always hitting it out of the park in the content department. The bottom line is that if you’re asking your listeners to invest in your podcast, do everything in your power to make your podcast something worth investing in.
The third crucial point for consideration when it comes to monetizing your podcasts through donations is the size of your loyal audience. Now, you certainly don’t need to have a massive audience in order to monetize your podcast through donations. But you do need a group of loyal fans. The type who listen to every episode, engage with your other content, either on social media platforms, your blog, or even through your email newsletter. Without a healthy community around your show – remember, it’s okay if it’s small! – your appeal for donations will likely fall on deaf ears.
Related read: How to Build a Strong Podcast Community
Now that those sticking points are out of the way, let’s dive into all you need to know when you are looking to monetize your podcast through listener donations.
1. You Need to Pick A Platform
If you’re going to be asking for donations, then it figures that you need some way to acquire said donations. There are two popular platforms podcasters use. They are well-known and trusted, and both serve a specific purpose when it comes to donations.
PayPal is a worldwide online payment system that supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods. PayPal’s reputation in handling these types of transactions precedes it, as PayPal has been a go-to in this area for years.
If you’re looking at simply asking your listeners for donations, PayPal has you covered. And setting up your PayPal account is a very easy process. Once you’ve completed the setup instructions, you will receive a unique link that your audience will use.
You should then add this link to your website, making it easier for your listeners to find and follow. You can also add a donate button to your podcast page to make donating even easier.
NOTE: Paypal itself is free, and you’ll never be charged for a subscription. However, they do take a percentage of any donation you receive.
Looking to set up a PayPal account? Click here and follow the prompts.
Patreon is another really popular choice when it comes to asking for donations. Patreon is set up in the same vein as a crowdfunding-type platform, making it perfect for listeners who want to make recurring donations.
But the real drawcard of Patreon is that it allows you as the podcast host to provide your audience with exclusive offers as incentives. You can set up tiered, monthly subscriptions, and you’re able to customize the offers for the different levels of donations. And the more a listener donates, the more exclusive content or rewards they will have access to. (We’ll cover this in greater detail in just a little bit…)
Patreon expertly handles the technical side. And they make it easy for anyone to set up and start earning from their podcast. Starting is free, but like PayPal, they do take a percentage of the donations you receive.
Click here to create your Patreon account.
2. You Need to Create Incentive Options and Levels
Step 2 is important if you’ve chosen to focus on the Patreon route for your donations. As we mentioned above, the beauty of Patreon is the tiered donation levels. But in order for these to be effective, you’re going to have to come up with the appropriate incentive options for the different levels.
You know your audience best, so you should have some idea of what makes them tick. And consequently, what will appeal to them as incentives. The good news is that a little incentive goes a long way! Your basic levels of donations and incentives could simply be a shoutout in your next episode outro. The higher tiers could offer bonus episodes, downloadables, or access to exclusive Q&A sessions with you.
If you can create exciting incentives and find the right bracket for the donation levels, this monetization method will do the trick when it comes to finding financial support for your show.
Related read: 6 Effective Ways To Repurpose Your Podcast Content
3. You Need to Motivate to Donate
This catchy little heading is just a fun way to say that in order for you to get listener donations, you’re going to have to ask your listeners for donations. Now for some, this is no problem. They’re proud of the service they offer and have no qualms about asking for support in their endeavor. But for others, asking for donations makes them feel extremely vulnerable and anxious. And they often view any perceived lack of support as personal rejection.
But wherever you fall on the scale, the fact remains that if you want your listeners to donate, you’re going to have to ask, or motivate, them to do so.
…and you shall receive. Okay, so it’s not always quite that simple. But if you’ve built that trust between you and your loyal listeners, you can simply just ask at some point in your episodes if anyone would like to support the work you’re doing. This method, therefore, clearly works best if you already have those established relationships with your listeners. And if you have done this, you will likely have a great response from these requests as your listeners love what you do and would want to help you to keep on doing it.
4. Donation Location: Acting on the Call
The final step in the donation process is the “donation location.” This simply refers to how your listeners get to the point of donating money. You’ve given the call-to-action, you now need to provide an easy way to act upon the call.
Here are some common locations where you can provide the opportunity to follow your call-to-action:
Your Website and Podcast Page
We’ve already stated above that you should add your unique PayPal/Patreon link to your website. This just makes it easy for your listeners to find and follow. Put it in a prime location on your page, and you’re all set!
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. Add the link to your newsletter, with your appeal. Make it heartfelt, quirky, or motivational ‒ remember, your loyal audience has formed a bond with you and your content, so make sure your appeal is something true to you and you should see good results.
Social Media Platforms
The vast myriad of social media channels provide you with alternative opportunities to share your donation link. You can put this in your pinned tweet on Twitter, your bio on the Gram, or on your Facebook posts. Social media also provides you will fun, engaging ways to ask for these donations. You can make personal videos, fun infographics, or just a heartfelt appeal.
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.
Donations can be a really effective way to monetize your podcast. They require little to no financial output from your end, and they have the potential for some serious monetary input. But besides those gains, donations are very special to a podcast host as they are a sign that their audience is really invested in them and the content they are putting out.
However, donations will most likely be made by loyal, dedicated fans who love your content and love what you do. The key, therefore, is to continuously do your best to serve your audience effectively. Keep putting out valuable content that your listeners desire and keep providing opportunities to help you grow the connection between you and your audience.
Your focus should be on building and strengthening these relationships. And you can achieve this by continuing to create high-quality content and growing your loyal fan base through engaging with your listeners. Do this, and converting your loyal podcast listeners into loyal donors will be a highly profitable venture.
Related read: Email Marketing Basics for Podcasters