Even though premium podcast content has been there in the space for a while, the recent support of paid subscriptions by Spotify and Apple Podcasts has really pushed the paid content, especially in the form of private podcasting.
You might be wondering why anyone would put their content behind a paywall where it’ll only reach a limited number of ears. That there are more ways to monetize your podcast. Well, private podcasting is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.
However, that doesn’t mean private podcasting doesn’t have its perks. There’s more to it than just making content private and paid. In this guide, we’ll explore what really are private podcasts, how you can benefit from them, and most importantly, how you can create one.
What are Private Podcasts?
As you might have already guessed, private podcasts are well – private. It’s basically premium content placed behind a paywall that is not accessible to the general public. Only listeners who subscribe to the private podcast can access its content.
But that’s not the only thing that makes private podcasts so different from general podcasts. It’s also the way they actually work.
While traditional podcasts work on a single RSS feed, private podcasts create a unique protected RSS feed for each subscriber. These unique RSS feeds are not listed online or on any podcast directories. Instead, the podcaster shares these unique RSS feeds to each subscriber directly, usually via email.
How to listen to private podcasts?
Just like you listen to any other normal podcast, you can also tune into a private podcast the same way. The only difference is that you can’t find private podcasts in a podcast app or a player.
Instead, you’ll receive your unique private RSS feed by the podcaster linked to your email address. This unique URL will give you access to all the private content.
All you have to do is take that unique RSS feed and add it to your favorite podcast app. Once subscribed, you will automatically receive new episodes and can even download them to listen offline.
Some of the popular streaming platforms that support private podcasting are Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Castbox, and Pocket Casts.
Are private podcasts better than normal podcasts?
This entirely depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you want to increase your podcast reach and grow your audience, private podcasts might not suit you as your content will be restricted to selected listeners.
It’d be wise to take your current audience size into consideration. If you have just started out and your audience is not that big, then you might want to wait until you have a bigger audience.
Also, consider your audience’s background and whether they’d be willing to pay for premium content. In such cases, taking their feedback through surveys or Q&As can help make a better decision.
However, if you are creating a podcast for private use or for a specific group of people, then private podcasting will be very effective. You can use it as a way to provide content to the audience in a convenient and safe manner. Private podcasts can be used in many more settings, which we’ll discuss in detail below.
When to create a private podcast
Private podcasts work exceptionally well when catering to a small audience and need a private setting to share your content. Here are some situations where private podcasts can come in handy:
Many companies are adopting private podcasting as a medium to share training material, weekly updates/announcements & company-wide communications. Not only does it help them in making corporate leadership more accessible but also in sharing information among a large and dispersed workforce.
As many companies are adapting to remote working culture, private podcasts are also great for connecting remote teams and keeping everyone on the same page.
2. Membership sites
If you have a private site where you already have subscribers, then exclusive audio content is something you can offer to your members. You can throw in special content that will motivate your members to stay subscribed to your website.
3. Premium Subscriptions
If you already have a podcast and want to monetize it, converting it into a private podcast is your easiest route. You can share related bloopers, bonus episodes, behind the scenes, and all the unseen content that your loyal listeners won’t mind paying for.
As podcasting is being taught in media schools and universities, it’s a good time for them to adopt the medium for e-learning as well. Teachers can upload their lectures or create audio study material and distribute them among the students via a private RSS feed. This could come in handy for not only the current batch but for future ones as well.
How to create a private podcast
Now that you know what a private podcast is and how it can benefit you, the important question is how to make one!
The good news is that creating a normal podcast and a private podcast are more or less the same.
When working on a private podcast, you don’t have to make any changes to your planning, recording, and editing process. Just follow your usual steps, and you’d be good to go.
However, there’s one difference, and it’s the way they are distributed and tuned into by the listeners. Read on to find out more about unique RSS feeds and how private podcasts are distributed.
What’s a private RSS feed & how to create one?
All the magic behind a private podcast lies in the private RSS feeds. To understand it, you must know how a normal RSS feed works. Usually, you’d host your podcast on a hosting platform, get an RSS feed from the service provider & submit it to streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more.
Your podcast will then be available on all the listening platforms for your listeners to tune into. Anytime you upload a new episode, your RSS feed will reflect the updates across all platforms to which your podcast is distributed to.
A private RSS feed works the same way. The only difference is that it’s not distributed publicly. You’ll have to share these private links with each paying listener so that they can manually subscribe to your podcast.
The good news is that you won’t have to do any heavy lifting. Your hosting platform will create those private RSS feeds for you. When it comes to accessing a private podcast, there are three ways you can go about it:
- Podcasts that are password-protected and can only be accessed through your member website
- A single Global RSS feed for all the subscribers
- Unique RSS feeds for each subscriber
Different hosting platforms use different approaches when it comes to creating a private podcast RSS feed, so you might want to pick a hosting platform that provides you with a private RSS feed structure that you like.
Where can I create a private podcast?
There are several methods you can use to create your private podcast. Which of the following options is the best might depend on your preferences:
Hosting platforms are the most cost-effective options when it comes to creating a private podcast. It is the best option for corporations, professors, and e-course creators. Here are some of the top hosting platforms that support private RSS links:
- Captivate – you can access the private podcasting feature on all their subscription tiers (starting at $19/month). Beginning with 150 subscribers, members can join through the unique RSS that opens up in their default listening app.
- Transistor – Subscribers can join the feed through a private link or invite. Each time a new episode is published, listeners will receive a notification in-app or through email. You can access the private podcasting feature on all their plans (starting at $19/month)
- Podbean – You can get paid subscribers within Podbean’s podcast app. You can make individual episodes private and put old content behind a paywall. With no upfront fees, the platform takes 15% of the profit. Plans start at $9/month.
You can also check out Apple Podcasts’ Apple Podcasters Program, which lets you create a channel and add premium content where it takes 30% of the subscription price for the first year (25% every year post that).
If you are an organization looking for maximum content security, then a third-party app is the best option for you. Apps like Storyboard lets you create podcast episodes & share them directly with your team. The feature limitations might be there depending on what plan you are using.
If you have premium content to offer besides your podcast, then a membership site is your best option. You can use your web page to distribute content and take payments. It also works especially well for creators hosted on a platform with no private podcasting feature.
If you have a WordPress website, you can try the Buzzsprout plugin. The plugin will allow you to pull content from your feed and show it on your site. You can then paywall that content by using a third-party plugin like MemberPress.
Donations work best for established podcasters with a loyal audience willing to pay for their bonus content. Popular platforms like Patreon can help you set up a membership where your paying patrons will be able to listen to your exclusive episodes on their favorite podcasting apps.
All you have to do is sign up on Patreon, add your membership page link in your show notes and ask your listeners to become patrons. Patreon takes a 2.9% cut of every subscriber payment over $3.00.
Supporting premium content through private podcasts
We are in an era where the podcasting space is evolving into a community that supports more and more freemium as well as premium content. If your audience supports it, then you should definitely take advantage of private podcasts.
Whether you are looking at company-wide communication, e-courses, or simply catering to an audience with premium content, private podcasts will provide you with a secure and easily accessible medium. Also, from a monetization point of view, you won’t have to completely rely on sponsorships anymore.