What should you charge for your podcast?

When thinking about how to price your content there are a few things to keep in mind. It is important to put yourself in your subscribers’ position to think about how the pricing comes across.

You have worked hard to create your show, but you have also worked hard to build up a bond with your subscribers which is why they are willing to pay for exclusive content.

The key is balance.

A little can go a long way

Your effort and passion are what is making a success of your podcast, and you want to turn that into a business, that’s why you are here. Of course, the plan is to make money from your creation, but it is important not to lose sight of the right way to do it.

The subscription model is about securing modest, regular payments that add up to a more significant sum as your committed subscriber community grows. You only want to ask each individual for a small amount so that together their combined small amounts adequately pay for all the content being produced.

The comedian Stewart Lee summed up the idea perfectly on the Hubwave podcast How to Change the World with Alan Johnson. He explained that, at a time when he was becoming disillusioned with the struggle to find the right audience for his stand-up:

"Bizarrely, in that period after about 2000 MySpace was invented. I got a MySpace page, and I remember realising you could sort of find the people that liked you, and really you only needed… you know, if 5,000 people gave you £10 a year then you were alright weren’t you?"

So don’t go diving off the deep end and slapping your podcast with a premium price tag. The maximum limit for any transaction should be £10, and that should be paying for a fairly significant lot of extras.

Too high a price risk insulting your subscribers. Even if it doesn’t do that, it could waste the engagement that has got them to the point of considering paid-for content, and have them settle back into the main group who are happy to just consume your free content.

Your free content should remain your best stuff. Then you should be giving your subscribers the option of building on the connection they have developed by paying an amount they can afford. The relationship between creator and subscriber shouldn’t be exploitative, it should be symbiotic – everybody wins.

Your subscribers’ perspective

The medium of podcasting fosters a feeling of inclusion and community, rather than the old-fashioned performer/audience dynamic. So while this is a business you are building, you have to take into account how your community feels.

As long as you are pricing yourself fairly, subscribers can see the system for what it is – a way for talented podcasters to cater to their most engaged listeners while being suitably remunerated for the effort they put into their work – rather than being irked by the appearance of their favourite content creator having sold out.

Consider also how your prices translate into costs within your subscribers’ lives. As long as you are being fair, you can highlight this when you deliver the message that the option to access more content is there.

  • For younger subscribers the monthly subscription might represent the price of a pint or a couple of coffees, something that does not represent a prohibitive expense in that form so also shouldn’t in the form of content that brings them enjoyment.
  • For older subscribers they will remember the way things were before we got accustomed to being able to access everything free online. “Back in my day” they might have been buying a newspaper daily, or a magazine every week which more than likely would worked out over your monthly subscription price. They might have bought CDs, DVDs, or live tickets once a twice a year that would also translate to a similar annual cost as your content.

Hubwave founder Sam Delaney says: "Whereas I used to go into a record shop and spend £20 on a CD by my favourite artist, or if it was a comedian I might spend £50 on going to see them at a big venue, now you can get content from whoever you are passionate about every day, and it feels much more intimate and authentic because they are really being themselves. They are not putting on a showbiz face because they don’t need to care about answering to anyone or pandering to advertisers."

Example strategy

Your prices will depend on the amount you are offering. As you grow it makes sense to form a basic paid subscription tier, then look to add a second and third as and when it works for you.

Keep in mind how your monthly cost would break down into weekly costs or multiply into annual ones, and what expenses they would correspond to, as explained above.

The example below is not a strict blueprint but should give you an idea of how your charging structure might break down, and some of the possibilities further down the line.

Tier One - £3 per month

(1,000 subs = £3,000 p/m, £36,000 p/a)

  • Access to your free podcast episodes completely ad free
  • A weekly exclusive episode

Tier Two - £5 per month

(1,000 subs = £5,000 p/m, £60,000 p/a)

All tier one benefits plus:

  • Additional exclusive episodes
  • Discounts on merchandise
  • Early bird access to tickets

Tier Three - £7 per month

(1,000 subs = £7,000 p/m, £84,000 p/a)

All tier one and two benefits plus:

  • Exclusive access to newsletters or video content
  • Personalised messages
  • Online Q&As

Just remember to make it an attractive proposition for the subscriber who is already engaged in the brand of content you put out in your free podcast. Pitch at a price that is not a steep outlay per person, but one that will add up to a considerable amount from an attainable number of subscribers.