Getting Paid to Podcast! An Interview With Supercast CEO Jason Sew Hoy

Jason Sew Hoy thinks many podcasters are sitting on a goldmine. As CEO of Supercast, Jason and his team are helping to transform the way podcasters think about monetization, through their membership platform that’s tailormade for podcasters. 

Supercast’s latest initiative, the Paid to Podcast competition, is getting the podcasting world excited about the potential of listener-supported and paid subscription models for podcasts. 

As well as a massive grand prize totalling $100,000 in cash and prizes, there are 3 runner-up packages worth $5000 up for grabs. Every participant will also receive free education and mentorship courses from 12 industry experts to help them start introducing membership options and paid content to their audience.

Prizes include $40,000 cash, return flights and lunch in San Diego with Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn, $44,000 in podcast marketing, hosting and coaching support from DoubleUp, Jam Street Media, Limina House, Headliner, our own Captivate podcast hosting platform, Descript and SO much more.

An image promoting Supercast's Paid to Podcast Competition including details of the $100,000 cash and prizes.
The winner of Supercast’s Paid to Podcast competition stands to win $100,000 in cash and prizes, including a one-on-one lunch with Pat Flynn.

So what was the inspiration behind this incredibly generous prize package? 

“As a podcaster, there’s a vast collection of tools that you need to be able to grow your business”, says Jason. “You might have Captivate as a podcast host, but it doesn’t end there: How do you produce your show? How do you edit it? What we wanted to do is create this fun, industry supported initiative, where the best of breed tools, companies and mentors come together to support independent creators.”

The competition is totally free to enter, and the first 200 entrants will receive $50 of credit to cover their first paying members. The winner will be the podcast who achieves the highest Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), but the real prize is learning how to build a sustainable and independent podcast business. 

“What we’re seeing with subscription podcasts is that there’s a certain percentage of your audience that just wants more of you and more of the value that you’re bringing to their lives”, says Jason. “They’re your true fans and are willing to pay $5-15 per month for more content.”

Launched in September 2019, Supercast provides creators with the tools to build sustainable recurring revenue from their podcasts through listener supported subscription models. 

An image depicting 3 iPhones. Each is navigated to the Apple Podcasts subscribe page for Canadaland, The Peter Attia Drive, and FoundMyFitness podcasts.
Peter Attia’s The Drive and Rhonda Patrick’s FoundMyFitness podcasts have each found success with paid membership subscriptions. Canadaland’s Jesse Brown founded the network through listener supported donations.

After early successes helping the likes of Rhonda Patrick (FoundMyFitness) and Peter Attia (The Drive) deliver premium content offerings to their audiences, Jason and his team decided to build a platform and service that the whole podcasting world could enjoy: “We were blown away by how valuable a business you can build around an engaged podcast audience”, says Jason.

“People are familiar with Patreon but we want people to know that Supercast is a way to build a podcast-centric membership solution.” 

Serving your true fans is what Supercast was built for. Not only does it better serve listeners, allowing them to access premium content in their favorite podcast player (and not through exclusive apps), but it’s a lot fairer for podcasters, too. Compared to other services whose cut gets larger the more money you make, Supercast creators pay $0.59 per member, per month, generating consistent and predictable income from podcasting at scale. 

Supercast’s listener-supported features give creators room to experiment, build their offering and start seeing results quickly. “A lot of people start by charging for an ad-free feed, which is very easy to do. As you start to introduce AMAs, exclusive episodes, and Q&As, that’s when you can start to drive up that price and conversion rate from something you were charging $5 for to something closer to $15.”

But how do creators get to the point where they can rely on the income generated from their podcasts? The Paid to Podcast mentorship series is packed full of inspiring stories from actual podcasters who have leveraged paid memberships to build profitable businesses around their brand and content. One such story, Jason says, comes from Jesse Brown, founder of the Canadaland podcast network

“Jesse decided to go out on his own after being a big media podcaster, and he has fueled the growth of his network purely from ambition. He set a funding goal on Patreon – $10k per month to create a podcast network – and quicker than he ever imagined, people helped him reach that goal.” 

“Now Supercast is helping Canadaland convert listeners that they were unable to convert with Patreon and to grow their paid supporters even faster.”

Jason hopes that success stories like Jesse’s will encourage podcasters to adopt listener-supported models to create viable, scalable businesses using the one thing all podcasters have: their audience, their voice and their content.

“The [Paid to Podcast] competition is perfect for podcasters who built an audience, found their niche and are looking to build a new revenue stream. We talk about this as a freemium model – where the existing podcast that you have is the content that you’re using to get people through the door and develop that initial connection.”

But what about podcasters who are struggling to find, grow and engage their audiences? How do they create content that resonates with listeners and gets them to come back? Don’t let it hold you back, Jason says: it’s an opportunity to sharpen your focus. 

“Focus on building your audience first”, he advises. “If you’re still building or have just launched I think it’s too early to start thinking about monetization because you need to find your niche, your voice and the audience that naturally gets value from the free content you’re providing.”

“Getting a touchpoint or an insight into your customer base is actually really important. So if you’ve got a 1000 listeners and you’re not quite sure how to attract more of those kinds of people, I’d start with tracking down those listeners and engaging them in direct conversation. Asking for feedback, putting out a simple survey, or sending out a newsletter is a good way to start to have that two-way dialogue.”

Building a community with listeners is something all podcasters work hard to achieve. Supercast offers an alternative monetization option that is both flexible, consistent and complements existing ad-supported revenue podcasters might have. “It doesn’t have to be one or the other” Jason is keen to stress. “It can work together. If you have ad revenue already you can double it just by building membership on top of that.”

“At the end of the day, monetization is a business – it’s turning your podcast into a business”, says Jason. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t serve listeners first and foremost. Supercast, through the Paid to Podcast competition, is giving podcasters a way to build sustainable and predictable income whilst protecting the creativity, community and integrity this medium was built on.

“I think podcasts are very much an individual thing where you forge individual connections in niches that you care about. People create direct connections with shows and hosts and that’s what you’re ultimately attracted to and what you want more of. At the same time, podcasters have a lot of choice around how they want to run their show. It sets up this organically growing ecosystem that no one person or company is in control of and we’re all about helping creators on their own journey to independence.”

The Paid to Podcast competition runs from July 1 – December 31st 2020 and is open to new Supercast podcasters. It’s completely free to enter, and you have until October 31st 2020 to register to take part.

You’ll receive Supercast’s Paid Membership Guide, access to 12 industry mentors and perks from leading companies in podcasting just for entering. Plus, the first 200 entrants will receive $50 credit to cover their first paying members, so what’s there to lose? Check out the full prize breakdown, entry criteria and join the competition over on Supercast’s website now. 

And, from us here at Captivate – good luck! It’s a pleasure to be involved in the competition!

Rachel

Rachel is Captivate's Marketing Coordinator and works closely with podcasters to ensure that the content that Captivate creates is genuinely helpful and easy to understand.