In 2023, global listenership of podcasts soared to 464.7 million, showcasing its broad appeal and establishing podcasts as a creative medium that is here to stay. In this article, we explore membership site podcasting benefits.

As a unique blend of storytelling and entertainment, podcasts have the power to create a one-on-one conversation with each user. Could a podcast be the key to growing your membership business in 2024? Let’s find out.

Banner image for How Podcasting Can Grow Your Membership Site

The Rising Popularity of Podcasting

In a world where digital content is king, podcasting has emerged as a powerful medium. With its roots in audio blogging, podcasting has evolved into a platform for all kinds of conversations: news, storytelling, education, and even entertainment.

This section explores the remarkable growth of podcasting and shifts in content consumption preferences.

Explosive Growth in Listenership

As of 2023, podcast listenership has reached new heights with 464.7 million listeners globally. This number is expected to continue its upward trajectory, surpassing half a billion in 2024​​.

Shift in Content Consumption

The world is seeing a decline in traditional radio (terrestrial radio) listeners, alongside an increase in digital formats. Globally, traditional radio has seen a subtle decline, dropping to 82% in 2023 (from 92% in 2009​​) of US people tuning in once per week.

The increase in podcast listenership reflects a broader shift towards on-demand audio content. In 2023, 42% of Americans aged 12 and older tune in to a podcast at least once per month—with 31% listening weekly. This reflects a significant rise from just 12% (monthly) in 2013​​.

Ease of Access: Platforms and On-Demand Listening Services

One of the greatest strengths of podcasts is their convenience and accessibility, which have significantly contributed to their rising popularity.

Podcasts are available on nearly any platform or device, from smartphones to desktop computers, and even smart speakers.

According to a recent survey, 73% of Americans use smartphones to listen to podcasts, underscoring the importance of mobile-friendly podcast formats​​.

Your listeners can access podcasts through various apps and services, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many more. Listeners tend to have a favorite service, so most podcasts cross-post on all of them (there are tools that handle all of this syndication for you).

  • Listener Control: Unlike traditional radio, podcasts allow listeners to control when and what they listen to. This on-demand nature aligns perfectly with contemporary media consumption habits.
  • Flexibility for Busy Lifestyles: The ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward episodes means that podcasts fit seamlessly into busy schedules, whether it’s during a commute, workout, or while doing household chores.

In 2021, over half (59%) of podcast fans preferred to listen from the comfort of their homes, suggesting that ease of access is not just about mobility but also about integrating into daily home life routines​​.

The surge in podcasting’s popularity, combined with the shift in how audiences consume content, presents a compelling case for adding a podcast to your digital strategy, especially to benefit a membership site looking to expand their reach and engagement.

Understanding the Power of Podcasting for Membership Sites

Podcasting is not just another content format; it’s a unique tool that levels up your membership site. In some cases, opening you up to a totally new audience that loves the audio format.

Here are the specific benefits of integrating podcasts into your membership:

Intimacy and Personal Connection

Podcasts allow you to humanize interactions with your members. Your voice creates a sense of familiarity and intimacy.

  • Engaging Through Storytelling: The art of storytelling, so natural in the podcast format, can captivate audiences, making complex topics more accessible and engaging.
  • Personalization for Listener Engagement: Podcasts can address listener questions or feature member stories, making each episode feel like a personalized experience.

Complementing and Enhancing Membership Content

If you’re already producing other media, like blogs, courses, or videos, a podcast adds a new, highly valuable layer to your mix. It’s a new way for people to consume information.

  • Bridging Gaps in Content: Where written content leaves gaps, podcasts can fill in with deeper explanations, personal anecdotes, and expert interviews.
  • Extending Reach and Accessibility: Podcasts can be consumed on the go, making them a perfect fit for busy members who might not have the time to read articles or watch videos.

Podcasting offers an unparalleled opportunity to deepen member engagement through its intimate and versatile format. By integrating podcasts into your membership site, you foster a stronger connection with your audience.

Podcasting as a Community Building Tool

Community building is at the heart of every successful membership site. Here’s how podcasts support your community-building goals:

Fostering a Sense of Belonging

Podcasts make listeners feel part of a larger community, through shared experiences and interests.

  • Member Involvement and Feedback: Encourage member participation in podcasts through Q&A sessions, listener-supplied topics, inviting community guest hosts, and more. All of these methods strengthen the community bond.
  • Consistent Engagement: Once you have your systems down, podcast publishing can be pretty quick. A regular, anticipated episode release schedule keeps members engaged and connected to the community.

Examples of Successful Membership Site Podcasts

Baseball Prospectus is a PMPro-powered membership site with free and paid tiers. They publish in-depth insights about baseball, including transaction analysis, fantasy baseball, prospects, and statistics.

The team operates five separate podcasts, each with a specific theme and purpose. With over 2,000 episodes and 4.3+ star rating, it’s clear the team at Baseball Prospectus is all-in on podcasting.

Borja Girón operates the Triunfa con tu membership community. The content covers a variety of topics on digital marketing, through blogs, elearning courses, masterclasses, and a podcast. Girón has published 250 episodes to date and doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping any time soon.

Role in Engagement and Churn Reduction

Membership site owners know that engaging content keeps members returning, reducing the likelihood of churn. The best podcasts bridge the gap between creator and listener. Their intimate nature allows listeners to get a closer taste of who you are as a creator.

The way you speak, your tone, and inflections convey much more than just information. They express emotions, enthusiasm, and personality, making listeners feel like they are part of a one-on-one conversation.

  • Building Loyalty through Regular Engagement: A major Podcast benefit is the routine touchpoint with members, building loyalty over time.
  • More Than a Conversation: Podcasts offer insights, entertainment, and a sense of belonging, all important benefits that keeps your members subscribed.

Podcasts are more than just a medium for content delivery; they are a powerful community-building tool. By effectively leveraging podcasts, membership sites can enhance member engagement, reduce churn, and increase loyalty.

Leveraging Podcasts for Brand Authority and Trust

Establishing authority and trust is crucial for membership sites, and podcasting offers a unique avenue to achieve this.

Establishing Authority in Your Niche

Use your podcast to host experts and thought leaders in your field, showcasing your connections and knowledge.

As a form of educational content, podcasts allow you to share deep insights and valuable information that highlights your expertise in your niche. All through a friendly, accessible, portable format.

Trust-Building with Regular, Informative Episodes

When your podcast is released on a super consistent schedule, you’ve built not only a routine for yourself as the creator, you’re helped your audience build a routine, too. A high-quality, well-researched podcast episode demonstrates your personal commitment to this business, while reinforcing trust with your members.

As trust grows, members are more likely to stay engaged and continue their subscriptions.

A natural evolution of this loyalty is word-of-mouth referrals. 

  • Podcasts have a unique way of weaving into the everyday conversations of listeners, often becoming points of discussion among real-life friends.
  • Engaged listeners will naturally want to share the facts and stories they hear on your podcasts.

When listeners talk about a podcast episode, they are inadvertently promoting your content, potentially attracting new members to your site. Word of mouth referrals is one benefit of podcasting that few other mediums include.

Podcasts are a powerful tool for establishing authority and trust, which are essential for building a loyal membership base. Through engaging and informative content, you can position your membership site as a credible source in your niche.

The Benefits of Exclusive Content and Podcasting

Exclusive content is a key driver of a membership site’s value proposition. Podcasts offer a unique format to provide this exclusivity.

Why Offer Exclusive Podcast Content

  • Enhanced Member Experience: Exclusive content makes members feel like they are part of an elite group.
  • Unique Insights and Information: Offer content that can’t be found elsewhere, adding to the allure of your membership.
  • Perceived Value: Exclusive podcasts are one more piece of content that helps members validate the cost of your membership.
  • Engagement and Renewal: Exclusive content can be a deciding factor in member renewal and engagement.
Infographic on why you should offer exclusive podcast content

Types of Exclusive Content

  • Interviews with Industry Experts: Share insights from industry leaders accessible only to members.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Glimpses: Offer a peek into the inner workings of your field or your process.
  • Member Stories and Testimonials: Feature stories from members themselves, adding a personal touch.

Monetization and Revenue Streams Through Podcasting

Podcasting isn’t just about content; it’s also a potential revenue source for membership sites. With a podcast, you get the added benefit of a new revenue stream, outside your regular membership dues.

Ad Revenue and Affiliates: New Revenue Streams

Just like ads for traditional radio, podcast advertisers are also on the rise in response to the recent growth of listenership.

A report of Audible listeners concluded that as many 69% of listeners report that they were introduced to a new product through a podcast ad.

This isn’t a post about how to find podcast sponsorships, but if you are curious to explore, check out this episode of Podcast Liftoff by Joe Casabona.

However you approach ads and affiliates, remember to keep your listener’s interests and preferences in mind. The best partnerships ensure that your promotional content is relevant and complementary to the listening experience.

Driving Sales for Membership Site Products

Most membership sites start with a free podcast as a lead-gen to promote their premium products or services.

You can use your free podcast to cross-promote other products or services offered by your membership site.

How to Subtly Promote Your Paid Products on Your Podcast

  • Weaving Community Stories: Share anecdotes or highlights from anonymized community discussions within your membership. This approach gives listeners a glimpse of the vibrant community interaction they could be a part of.
  • Discussing Exclusive Content: Mention specific posts, newsletters, or topics covered exclusively in your membership area. For instance, reference a particularly insightful newsletter piece or a discussion topic that sparked interest among members.
  • Incorporating Educational Elements: Integrate facts or key points from your courses. For example, share a compelling statistic from a lesson or discuss a method you teach in a private video, hinting at the depth of content available in your membership area.

How to Overtly Promote Your Paid Content

  • Ad-Style Promotion: While some listeners might overlook direct promotions considering them typical podcast ads, others may pay closer attention, especially if the promotion is well-integrated into the content. Remember, 69% of people have discovered new products through podcast ads, indicating the effectiveness of podcast advertising. Use this to your advantage by crafting your promotional messages in a way that feels natural and engaging.
  • Creating Interest: The key is to pique interest without making the podcast feel like a continuous sales pitch. Strike a balance between providing valuable content and promoting your membership offerings.

Make any promotion a part of the podcast narrative. Instead of abrupt ad breaks, weave your promotional messages into the fabric of your content.

By integrating subtle and overt promotions into your podcast, you can effectively drive sales and interest in your membership site’s products or services. The key lies in maintaining a balance, ensuring that your podcast remains an engaging and informative resource, while also serving as an effective promotional tool.

FAQs on Podcasting for Membership Sites

Starting Your Podcast

How much time, money, and resources does it take to get started?

Starting a podcast requires an initial effort in planning and setup. You’ll need to plan your content, make time for recording, and finally, editing and publishing.

If you plan to publish episodes on a schedule, you’ll need to block a few hours per week. As for costs, initially you’ll need to purchase a decent microphone and figure out your recording software. Ongoing costs involve hosting fees and potential editing services.

What if I don’t like the sound of my voice?

Practice. Many people feel uncomfortable initially but improve with practice.

If you don’t begin to get more comfortable over time, consider voice coaching or training to enhance your speaking skills. Or, consider co-hosting with someone or inviting guest speakers.

What if I don’t have anything to talk about?

Draw content ideas from your expertise, member questions, industry news, or interviews with experts. You could even put your bio or resume into a tool like ChatGPT and ask AI to help you generate ideas.

Consider using a content calendar to plan episodes ahead of time. This tool alleviates the pressure of coming up with topics spontaneously.

Validating a Podcast Idea

How do I know if it’s worth trying?

Conduct market research by looking at the popularity of podcasts in your niche. See if competitors or related industries have success with podcasts.

You can also gauge member interest in a potential podcast through a survey of your current members or audience.

Finally, consider whether podcasting is (or could be) personally fulfilling. Your enthusiasm for the topic can be a significant determinant in whether a podcast is worth pursuing.

How do I know if it’s paying off—is my podcast “working”?

Listen to download numbers, member feedback, and engagement levels (like comments or shares).

For your membership site itself, analyze any changes in membership signups, renewal rate, or refund rate. Also consider the gains from sponsorships or ad revenue.

Don’t forget about actual listener feedback. Asking for feedback from your members can be invaluable in gauging the success of your podcast.

Could I do it as an experiment?

Absolutely! Start with a limited series to gauge interest and gather feedback. Release a few episodes as a pilot project to test the waters before fully committing.

Technical Considerations With Podcasting

Where should I publish my podcast?

There are many podcast hosting and streaming platforms. The most popular platforms are Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

If you are planning a private podcast (members-only), you need use platforms that support private RSS feeds, like Castos. You can host episodes on your site using a WordPress plugin like Castos’ Seriously Simple Podcasting that integrates with the Paid Memberships Pro membership platform.

Do I need professional editing skills?

Basic audio editing skills are sufficient for most podcasts, and there are many online tutorials available. Tools like Descript make audio editing as easy as editing a text document and include automatic sound enhancement settings. If editing isn’t your forte, consider hiring a freelance editor.

How do I handle technical issues?

You can prevent some issues by investing in reliable equipment and doing a test recording before each session.

When you invite guests into the recording, things can get a bit more tricky. Tools like RiversideFM and StreamYard support multiple guests and can record each track separately. This will give you an insurance policy should a single person’s audio fail, or have weird background noise you need to isolate and edit out.

Podcast Growth and Monetization

Which content should be free and which paid?

For your free podcast, use broad topics that attract new listeners and potential members.

Then, for the members-only content, offer in-depth analyses, expert interviews, more personal stories, and highly specialized topics.

How can I promote my podcast?

Cross-promote your podcast on your existing channels: your website, email newsletters, and social media.

When you have guests, ask that they also promote the episode through their own channels.

Just like blogging, you can engage in basic SEO for your podcast and episodes. Optimize each episode’s title and description and create companion website content with a summary, links, bios, and a text transcript.

How can I ensure my content is consistent and high quality?

Create a content calendar for all of the episodes you have planned. This will make sure the content has a cohesive message. The best podcasts deliver content with meaning, actionable advice, and impact, whether the listener consumes every episode or just one.

Make sure your feedback loop is tight by asking listeners what they think—be open to adjusting based on their preferences.

Can I monetize my podcast outside of membership fees?

Membership fees aren’t the only path to a money-making podcast. Explore courses, sponsorships, affiliate marketing, or merchandise related to your podcast.

Conclusion: The Strategic Impact of Podcasting on Membership Sites

Podcasting has an amazing power to create personality in your membership community in what feels like a one-on-one conversation with each member.

There are no hard set rules in podcasting, you can blend education, storytelling, and entertainment, you can release episodes weekly or as a complete “album”.

Here are the top takeaways for membership sites considering the benefits of a podcast:

  • Podcasts deliver personalized engagement through intimate, one-on-one conversations with members.
  • The worldwide podcast listener audience appreciates how flexible and accessible podcasts are to consume. The format perfectly aligns with a modern on-the-go lifestyle.
  • Exclusive podcast content increases your membership’s total value.
  • You can use a podcast to increase brand authority and trust, leading to stronger member loyalty.
  • Membership revenue isn’t the only way to profit from a podcast. Consider other ways to monetize, like ad revenue, affiliates, and cross-promoted services.
Infographic on the top takeaways for membership sites considering the benefits of a podcast

In conclusion, podcasting is not just an addition to a membership site’s content strategy; it is a transformative element that drives growth, member retention, and community building.

By effectively leveraging this medium, membership sites can realize substantial benefits, enhancing both member experience and business outcomes.

Ready to level up your podcasting business?

Whether you’re adding a podcast as a feature of your existing membership site or have a free podcast you want to monetize, PMPro has all the tools to help you level up your podcasting business.

We know that a WordPress site has tons of moving parts. Choosing the right plugins, themes, hosting, third party services, design assets, and more can feel overwhelming.

Paid Memberships Pro is the most robust membership plugin to create a free or paid podcast on WordPress. Learn exactly what you’ll get — the plugins, the support, and the training — when you create a private podcast with Paid Memberships Pro.

Cover image from ebook 29 Nuggets of Wisdom Volume 1 - Sample Collection

Download the free ebook: Get 29 insights and ‘aha moments’ for new or veteran membership site business owners. Use these nuggets of wisdom to inspire or challenge you.

Was this article helpful?