TLDR: A year into my podcast membership experiment I've gained 24 subsribers and £100 MRR. Today I'm evolving the membership to bring more value and improve its viability. Here's what I'm changing:
- Switching from monthly to yearly subscriptions
- Scaling back extended Indie Bites episodes
- Incorporating benefits from more of my projects
- Making it more fun (for both of us)
What is Indie Feast?
Just over a year ago I started the Indie Feast Membership, which was/is a paid subscription to get exclusive extended and ad-free episodes of the Indie Bites podcast. This was inspired by my friend and podcast co-host, Dan Rowden, who was always intrigued to hear longer conversations with my guests.
I resisted at first. I thought, and still do think, the value from the show is in the short-format. The heavily edited production intended to distil the full essence of the conversation into 15 minute episodes, removing the unhelpful “filler” or “fluff” content that you so often find in long podcasts.
After enough persuasion from Dan and a few other listeners, I reluctantly spun up a membership where people could pay for access to longer conversations with my guests.
Despite my reluctance, it made sense. I had the recordings to share when I recorded for longer, it wouldn’t take me too much extra work and if people were willing to pay to listen to them, sure. I was also attracted to the idea of MRR. I’d never had it before and this was a nice simple route to get my first taste of that sweet, sweet recurring income.
Launching the membership
I priced it low to try and make it a “no-brainer” purchase (and partly because I didn’t believe in it myself) at £4 p/m or £40 yearly. I was hoping people would sign up to just support me too. More on that later.
A few sign ups trickled in and with just a small number of members I began to see the compounding effect of MRR. When writing my yearly review in 2020, I was surprised to see that it made up 30% of the podcast’s revenue. I was keen in 2021 to put more effort into making the membership more valuable, increase prices and drink some more MRR cool-aid.
When I was researching podcast memberships, I went back to my favourite I’d signed up to before - The Yo! Podcast by Rob Hope. I was surprised to find that Rob had discontinued his Yo! Podcast Supporters Club, but after reading through his article, the reasoning was sound. I should have taken this as a warning sign because I’m now resonating with many of the things Rob outlined. I even DM’d Rob to chat about why he’d stopped it, being quite adamant that I wanted to continue mine.
Why I’m changing the membership
After spending months thinking about this, I’m relieved that I’m bringing the membership to a close in it’s current form and relaunching with a different angle.
Here’s why I’m closing it down in it’s current format:
- I didn’t believe in the value from the start
Dan and I will likely discuss this on the No More Mondays Podcast, because he very much does see the value of the longer episodes. I still strongly feel the best content is in the shorter episodes and it’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in. Which leads me to my second points.
- I feel guilty every time I get a new subscriber
That’s not the feeling you’re meant to get, is it? I think where people could be spending their £4 a month, the level of content you get on Netflix, Disney, Amazon etc. I feel a little imposter syndrome. I feel less guilty when someone buys the yearly subscription, because that seems like more of a “I want to support you as an indie hacker” rather than subscribing to monthly content.
- Pressure of releasing new “subscription” content
Similarly to Rob’s Subscriptions vs Freedom section of his article, and even though I didn’t promise that every episode would have a longer version, I felt like I needed to deliver weekly/monthly content as people are “subscribed”. I’d rather release the extra content when I feel it’s bringing additional value to people.
- Private podcasts are awkward
Transistor have been fantastic in offering the ability to add a private podcast in the lowest plan, so I took advantage. The trouble lies in the fragmentation of consumption. Some people listen on Spotify, others Overcast etc. There are different ways to access the private podcast in each. Oh, and you can just sign up for £4, get access to the feed, cancel and there is nothing I can do. I don’t think anyone would do that, but people that have churned still have access.
Rob said this in his article and I couldn’t agree more. It makes sense to continue to subscription membership… but:
Most of the takeaways above are based on feel and not metrics. I’m starting to learn after a decade of side-projects online, my gut is where and how I making most of best decisions.
So what next?
I’m continuing the membership, but in a new and improved format. It’s going to me more focused on my projects as a collective and with a wider range of benefits, billed yearly. I’m already really excited by this.
- Switching from monthly subscriptions to a single yearly payment
- More focus on a supporting me as an indie hacker, rather than just more content
- Release bonus Indie Bites content (extended episodes) when I feel there is value there
Add extra benefits:
- 25% discounts across all my products and services
- Free pictures of my cat
- A swag pack of stickers
- A free beer with me in London
- Members only email list
Nothing will change for existing yearly members, you’ll still have access to the extended episodes and you can get the new benefits. You’ll receive an email shortly with this info.
For existing monthly subscribers, you have the option to upgrade to the yearly membership. If you choose not to, your membership will come to a close this month. You’ll still have access to the Indie Feast feed.
If you’re seeing this for the first time or now find the membership more compelling, I’d love to have you on board!
How do I subscribe?
I'll still be running the membership through Buy Me A Coffee and you can grab a membership here.