Patreon for Podcasters:  A Good Idea to Generate Revenue or a Slap in the Face to Advertisers?

You may have seen some of your favorite podcasters set up support pages on sites like Patreon. But is this just a good idea, or is it an insult to their advertisers?
patreon for podcasters good or slap in the face to advertisers
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We listen to a lot of podcasts…

I mean a lot of podcasts. It’s become a go-to source of entertainment and information. It’s become a go-to source of entertainment and information while commuting, working out, and cooking dinner.

One popular option is Patreon – a site that allows podcasters to offer rewards to their patrons (such as exclusive content or shout-outs) in exchange for financial contributions.

But some people believe Patreon is a slap in the face to advertisers, who are the primary source of income for most podcasters.

While podcasters get most of their revenue from their advertisers, they seem willing to bypass those ads entirely if their listeners are willing to pay them directly through Patreon.

So which is it? An excellent way to generate revenue, or a bad look for podcasters?  Let’s explore both sides of the argument.

Is Patreon a Good Idea to Generate Revenue?

On the one hand, podcasters who use Patreon can generate a lot of revenue – especially if they have a large and engaged audience.

And it’s not just the big-name podcasters doing well on Patreon. Plenty of small-time podcasters are generating a healthy income from their patrons.

This steady revenue stream can be a lifesaver for podcasters trying to make a living from their show. It allows them to invest in better equipment, hire additional help, and even quit their day job to podcast full-time.

Plus, Patreon gives listeners a way to support the shows they love directly. And as we all know, people are more likely to pay for something they value than to sit through a bunch of ads.

So if you’re a podcaster looking for ways to generate revenue, Patreon is definitely worth considering.

greedy podcaster
greedy podcaster

Is Patreon a Bad Look for Podcasters?

On the other hand, some people believe that using Patreon is a bad look for podcasters.

Spoiler Alert:  I’m one of them.

The reason is simple: it’s essentially telling advertisers that the hosts want to help push their business unless the listener pays them directly.

This doesn’t sit well with me for a few reasons:

It’s unfair to listeners.

First, it’s unfair to listeners. Why should they have to pay extra to support a show they already enjoy? Especially when the podcaster is already making money from advertisers.

It’s a bad look for the industry.

Second, it sends the wrong message to advertisers – who are, let’s face it, the ones footing the bill for most podcasts. Asking listeners to pay directly makes it look like podcasters are less concerned with their advertisers’ well-being and more concerned with padding their pockets.

It makes a podcaster look like a money-hungry Jezebel.

While advertisers are investing in a podcaster’s show, the podcaster is essentially saying, “Screw you, I don’t need your money. My listeners will pay me directly.” This makes the host look greedy and ungrateful.

“Join our exclusive (insert witty club name here) on Patreon for only $5/month!”

You hear it all the time.

Honestly, though, I don’t know what is worse.  Being invited to some “exclusive” club on Patreon (there are so many tiers to choose from!), or getting the same level of content from the podcaster and just having to listen to them read a bunch of ads.

It’s pretty clear which one we prefer.

Podcasting is challenging enough without making things more complicated (and expensive) for listeners. So, in my opinion, Patreon is a bad idea for both podcasters and the industry as a whole.

Here’s a true story:

Recently a self-proclaimed duo of true crime experts decided to start a podcast.  They begged, groveled, and cold-emailed hundreds of people asking for sponsors.  And when they finally got a few takers, they rolled out some mediocre content.

Bear in mind that their listeners had to listen to an ad every five minutes, with no segway, no notice, just an advertisement slap dab in the middle of a sentence.

podcast too many ads review cluster
podcast too many ads review cluster

When listeners started complaining and requesting “more content, fewer commercials,” the hosts decided to start a Patreon.

For $5/month, listeners could get an “ad-free” experience.

Seriously? Are you kidding me?

So not only are they already making money from advertisers, but now they want their listeners to pay them directly too? And on top of that, they’re offering less content for more money.

That doesn’t sound like someone genuinely concerned about providing a quality product and experience for their listeners!

I call shenanigans.

Podcasters should focus on providing quality content and excellent value to their listeners. If they want to generate revenue, they should look for ways to do so that don’t involve asking their listeners for more money.

Especially when it involves saying “eff you” to their advertisers.

The Internet Has Spoken

We’re not alone in our opinion.  There are entire threads on Reddit and Quora discussing this very topic. 

Here are a few choice quotes:

It seems that the consensus is that Patreon is a bad idea, and podcasters should avoid it if they want to maintain a good relationship with their listeners.

So, There You Have It

Podcasting is a tricky business, and there are many ways to generate revenue. However, in my opinion, Patreon is not one of them. Asking your listeners to pay you directly sends the wrong message and ultimately reflects poorly on the podcaster and the industry as a whole.

What do you think? Is Patreon a good or bad idea for podcasters? Let me know in the comments!

Picture of Jessica Ridge

Jessica Ridge

Jessica is a skilled narrative architect, adept at transforming client experiences into captivating success stories. Her proficiency lies in shaping each journey into a compelling narrative of collaboration and achievement. With an unwavering dedication, Jessica ensures that every client's engagement becomes a memorable and distinct chapter, reflective of her commitment to excellence.
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