It has never been a better time to be an online creator. Technology has made it possible for absolutely anyone to share their ideas with a wider audience and get paid for their expertise by making things like podcasting easy. But, as simple as it is to get started, there are still some challenges that exist.
Finding the perfect platform, for example, can be a huge, time-consuming endeavor that takes you away from creating the content that makes you money as a content creator. A big part of the challenge is finding something that works for your level of technical ability. Some platforms are very much geared towards those with a high level of technical expertise, where beginners can lose a lot of time getting started.
When you add to that the need to be visible on all the major podcasting apps, like Apple Podcasts and Breaker (which means uploading your podcast to each service) you end up spending more time managing the details of each episode than you do creating them..
All of that takes away from your ability to make money with your podcast. For years, Patreon was the best option for monetizing your creative efforts, like podcasting. Not anymore…
The problem with Patreon and why it’s not the best option for podcasters
Patreon started out strong in 2013 as one of the first crowdfunding platforms that was designed to support your favorite online content creators for their work. It isn’t a platform dedicated to any one type of creation, so Patreon quickly became the go-to solution for everyone from visual artists to gamers to podcasters.
On Patreon, fans can make recurring donations that help them gain access to your digital content through a membership platform. Whether you’re trying to sell digital downloads, access to online courses, or sharing what you are good at, you basically raise funds in exchange for content, instead of selling them at a fixed price.
You have to have a huge following that is incredibly loyal to just break even on Patreon.
Eight years in, however, Patreon has lost some of its luster. The sheer volume and variety of content available through the platform makes it hard to stand out in the crowd and there isn’t a ton of protection for both users and creators when it comes to issues like piracy of digital downloads and, as a result, content creators have started looking for alternatives to Patreon.
The biggest issue, though, is that Patreon takes up to 15% of everything you raise through their platform. Rather than charge a monthly fee to use their services, they get a share of everything. This might not be a problem if you’re using Patreon for a small side project, but if you’re making good money from your podcast, you’ll end up giving a lot of it to Patreon.
All of these reasons, and more, are why people are increasingly looking for Patreon alternatives, when it comes to monetizing a podcast or related creative projects (like online courses).
To help you get a sense of what options are available these days, and who those options are best suited for, we’ve put together this post. We are leveraging our deep knowledge of the infopreneur space from working with 10,373 students and publishing 2,090 hours of audio. Our goal is to do the homework for you so you can make more informed decisions when getting started.
We evaluated each product based on the following criteria:
- Does it offer private feeds? Private feeds are restricted access podcasts. Instead of finding your podcast on places like Spotify, people pay or are manually added by you, to listen to your content.
- Pricing details. Monthly subscription? Charge per download, per podcast, per listener?
- Monetization options. How do you make money out of your content?
- Lowest plan. How much do you pay to get started?
- Highest plan. What’s your cost to upgrade from basic features to premium tiers?
- Power feature. What makes this tool unique?
Ready to get started finding the best Patreon alternatives? Let’s go.
8 Patreon alternatives that’ll help you make more money from your audio content
Finding the right alternative to monetize your content is key to being a successful infopreneur. These eight options help you avoid the less-than-ideal scenario that is Patreon. And, unlike Patreon, you’ll find most of them to be specific for podcasters and audio creators.
Table of Contents
1. Hiro – A private podcasting platform for info-businesses of all sizes
Hiro was designed specifically with info-businesses in mind to help increase completion rates, avoid piracy, and make audio distribution easier. It gives you a way to step away from using a crowdfunding platform by offering ways to create exclusive online content for your listeners.
Hiro gives established niche creators like you complete control over everything related to monetizing your efforts. There are no ads dropped into your content, which means that users only hear what you want them to hear.
Unlike Patreon, there are secure piracy controls to help limit piracy and account sharing. And, you can even create content for your membership that expires after a certain period of time, which fosters a sense of urgency for your listeners that creates a “use-it or lose-it” mentality.
Hiro also doesn’t take a slice of the action. All the money you raise through membership subscriptions, exclusive content, or sales from other digital products is yours. You pay a monthly fee based on our various monthly subscription plans, and that’s it.
Hiro also reduces the amount of time you spend on tasks like converting or importing audio from different sources, including videos. And, you get analytics that don’t just show you how each episode does, it gives you granular information that tells you the listening preferences of each person in your audience. This allows you to create highly unique and exclusive content that you know your audience will love.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes
- Pricing details: Monthly subscription plans based on number of private feeds and downloads. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Private feeds, available through the most popular podcast apps.
- Lowest plan: $17/month for one private feed and 10K downloads.
- Highest plan: $87/month for unlimited private feeds and 100K downloads.
- Power features: SMS opt-in. Drip release and expiring episodes to control podcast releases and create limited-time events. Trigger events based on listener activity
2. Transistor – Perfect for people with multiple podcasts
If you’re running multiple podcasts, Transistor is the membership platform for you. Transistor offers content creators a Patreon alternative with an all-in-one solution for hosting and distributing podcasts. It has a fairly easy-to-use interface that lets users get started quickly.
Everything about Transistor seems optimized for people or companies who produce a lot of content across different shows, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great because you can host as many podcasts as you need for one low price each month without having to build multiple membership sites. But, you pay that same price regardless if you’re hosting 1 podcast or 12. Not only that, but you’re given a limited number of downloads each month, so if you’re running two very successful podcasts on the starter plan, you run the risk of needing to upgrade.
Transistor does offer private feeds as a way to monetize your exclusive content, but it’s locked behind higher plans that have the same limitations as the public feed plans do. So it’s best to take advantage of their 14-day free trial to make sure you’re in love with the platform before you commit.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes.
- Pricing details: Monthly plans based on downloads. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Private feeds, advertising.
- Lowest plan: $19/month public podcasting, $49/month private podcasting.
- Highest plan: $99/month public podcasting, $999/month private podcasting.
- Power feature: Perfect for people who produce or host multiple podcasts.
3. Storyboard – Made for internal team communication
Storyboard was designed as a way to help large organizations share ideas and internal podcasts with teams around the world. What’s interesting is that this isn’t just one of a few possible use cases, it’s the only one.
There’s no option for a public feed, like you can get with other platforms, so it’s not one of the best Patreon alternatives out there. Listeners can’t discover your content or listen to it anywhere else but the Storyboard app. They have to be invited. The security is enterprise-grade, offering things like single sign-on authentication and the ability to automatically remove listeners who’ve left your organization. All of this means if you’re not an organization, Storyboard won’t really be ideal.
Since Storyboard is really just an internal distribution tool for exclusive content. It’s not really a way to build an audience so to speak. Without the ability to distribute your content to podcast listening platforms, people would need to download Storyboard to listen to your stuff. You’ll have to work pretty hard to get potential listeners to download a new app just to listen to your content. This adds extra steps to accessing your podcast and increases the likelihood that people aren’t going to actually listen.
What’s cool about Storyboard is that they provide built-in engagement tools, like the ability for listeners to respond to your content with comments and a call-in feature that’s similar to what you can do with live radio.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes.
- Pricing details: Listener-based pricing for the pro plan, but you have to contact them for specifics. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Private feeds
- Lowest plan: Free plan with up to 50 listeners.
- Highest plan: Their Pro plan is $350/mo for up to 350 listeners. They have an Enterprise plan, but you have to contact them for details.
- Power feature: Two-way engagement that lets you get “listening call-ins” in response to your content.
4. Buzzsprout – Helps you get started quickly
Buzzsprout is a great little platform for online content creators when you’re just getting started. For one thing, it’s got one of the most generous trial periods of the alternatives to Patreon out there at 90 days. That’s plenty of time to explore Buzzsprout and everything that it has to offer.
Buzzsprout is also full of features for creating your own website for your podcast, so you can give your podcast a proper home on the web. You can make social media graphics to help with promotion. And, you get a very robust set of resources for getting started with podcasting on the platform.
But once that 90-day trial is up, the cost jumps quite a bit. You’re also limited to three upload hours a month on their lowest plan, with additional content costing $4 per hour to upload. This means that if you’re looking to get serious about producing exclusive content, Buzzsprout likely isn’t for you.
Their monetization options are limited to a donation button (to help you collect recurring donations), affiliate marketing, and an outside partner for adding advertisements to your podcast.
- Does it offer private feeds? Not private, but you can hide it from search engines.
- Pricing details: Monthly pricing based on upload hours. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Payment button, affiliate marketing, ads.
- Lowest plan: $0/month for 2 upload hours per month and podcasts are only hosted for 90 days.
- Highest plan: $24/month for 12 upload hours per month.
- Power feature: Magic mastering that makes your content sound professionally mastered. Kind of like Instagram filters for your audio.
5. bCast – The business podcast platform
Just as Storyboard positioned itself as the enterprise podcasting platform, bCast is designed with growth businesses in mind. It’s a great option if you are looking for a branded platform, including custom domains.
bCast comes with everything you need to easily grow your audience, capture information for leads, and gain exposure on channels like YouTube (which is great if you’re a member of the YouTube partner program). These built-in marketing features can help you grow your business directly through your podcast by offering exclusive content to your membership program (so it’s ideal if you sell online courses).
The pricing scheme does limit the number of podcasts you can produce at once. You’re limited to one podcast on the lowest plan and if you want to grow out your content offerings, you have to jump up to the next, which still limits you. If you’re looking to reach multiple customer types with a variety of specific content offerings, it’s going to cost you, but it’s still strong as far as Patreon alternatives go, especially for businesses who don’t want to be involved with a crowdfunding platform.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes.
- Pricing details: Monthly based on the number of podcasts you produce. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Affiliate network, private feeds.
- Lowest plan: $15/month for one podcast.
- Highest plan: $75/month for unlimited podcasts.
- Power feature: Simplified publishing to YouTube.
6. Podbean – An all-in-one setup for beginners
Podbean is another platform designed with beginners in mind. It’s one of the few Patreon alternatives that gives you everything you need to get started creating podcasts, including a built-in podcast recorder. Getting started is as easy as recording a podcast and uploading it.
The very limited free plan makes it possible for you to get going and play around with the various features as an online content creator, but you can only upload 5 hours of content a month and there are bandwidth limitations.
Your options are limited, though, in terms of themes and customization. The themes are all fairly generic, so if you’re looking for something that reflects the content you’re producing you’re out of luck, even if you’re producing for a market with a lot of listeners.
One odd thing is that listeners can only enjoy your content if they’re connected. You can’t download podcasts to listen offline, like you can with platforms that do offer digital downloads. You end up losing a lot of those folks who like to download content to listen to when they’re off the grid and people who don’t have great data plans on their phones and only listen over wifi. That’s a market most infopreneurs need to be able to capture.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes.
- Pricing details: Monthly plans. They charge payment processing fees if you use their patron system.
- Monetization options: Ad network, premium content, patron system.
- Lowest plan: $0/month for 5 hours a month.
- Highest plan: $99/month for unlimited hours.
- Power feature: Podcast recorder.
7. SoundCloud – A little something for everyone
SoundCloud is one of those platforms that’s been around for a long time, but it’s not one that’s closely associated with podcasting. It’s been the darling of the music industry since 2007, roughly around the time MySpace stopped being useful.
While SoundCloud has a lot to offer, it’s not a super-focused platform when you’re trying to sell digital products. It’s used by musicians and podcasters alike to distribute and monetize their content but it lacks a lot of the specific features that other platforms have. And, anyone listening on a free plan has ads inserted into their content by SoundCloud, which distract users and cut into any money that creators make from podcasting.
Content creators have to work pretty hard not to get lost in the noise on SoundCloud, meaning it’s not one of the best Patreon alternatives. Rather, it feels more like a good place to host one time projects or for media companies and creators focused on distributing their music on an independent platform.
- Does it offer private feeds? Not private feeds, but you can set certain tracks to private so they can’t be searched.
- Pricing details: Monthly plans. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Royalty-based monetization and a reposting service that helps you grow beyond SoundCloud.
- Lowest plan: $0/month for up to 3 hours uploaded and access to basic analytics.
- Highest plan: $12/month for unlimited uploads and access to advanced analytics.
- Power feature: A decent free platform for getting started.
8. Spreaker – Good for getting started with multiple podcasts
Spreaker, like Transistor, is made for people who produce or create multiple podcasts. It’s a great way to test the waters of being a professional podcaster. It’s the only platform we’ve looked at that gives you the option to host more than one podcast on the free tier.
There are some limitations around audio storage and if you cross the threshold of how many episodes you have available at once, the most recent podcast pumps the oldest one off the list. So if you want to host a long-running podcast, you’ve gotta jump up to the next plan.
Creators can monetize their content using features like programmatic advertising and dynamic ad insertion, but according to users, it takes a lot of work to make a little bit of money. When you add complaints of how hard it can be to migrate off Spreaker, you’ll want to make sure that you’re all-in on the platform before you use it for hosting a podcast with a huge back catalog.
- Does it offer private feeds? Yes.
- Pricing details: Monthly plans based on audio storage and features. No payment processing fees.
- Monetization options: Dynamic ad insertion, programmatic advertising.
- Lowest plan: $0/month for 5-hours of audio storage and up to 10 episodes.
- Highest plan: $50/month for 1,500 hours of audio storage and unlimited episodes.
- Power feature: The ability to offer live feeds, as opposed to only recorded podcasts.
How are you going to use audio to monetize your audience?
Now that you’ve had a chance to look at some of the stronger Patreon alternatives for monetizing your audience, let’s take a look at some of the ways audio can help you do that.
It’s not enough to produce content and hope people pay you — that’s what Buy Me A Coffee is for. You’ve got to be strategic about the content that you produce, the value that you add, and how easy it is for people to find your work.
First, you need to use a platform that doesn’t just let you host content, but makes it easy to capture all the content you create, whether it’s a talk you gave on Clubhouse or a Facebook live. Because it’s easy to exist and produce content in so many different spaces these days, you need to be able to create a central repository of everything and you have to make it easy to access that content by offering it to your users where they already spend their time.
Ad networks can be a successful way to earn money, as well. But you have to be careful that you’re working with a platform that allows you some level of control over the ads that are played. There’s nothing worse than hearing ads that are totally inappropriate for the online courses or content you’re enjoying.
The big challenge when it comes to making money as an infopreneur is that often, podcasts aren’t enough. Unless you’re getting lots of monthly recurring donations or leaning heavily on advertising, your podcast is going to end up being just a portion of the money you bring in.
Where podcasts really shine is helping you generate awareness about and tease out ideas that are included in digital products you sell, online courses you offer, or membership groups you run. Podcasts help you capture the attention of your audience and provide them with enough value that they feel confident that anything you’re selling as your backend offer is going to blow their minds. Once they lend an ear to your stuff, their wallets will be ready to pay for premium content.
You break the cycle that comes with donation and ad revenue-based monetization where you need thousands of listeners to make money. That’s the downside to a donations platform that makes you rely on patrons. You’re not maximizing the lifetime value of your listeners because it feels like you’re always scrambling for pennies.
Who is Hiro a better fit for?
Hiro is a private podcasting platform designed by infopreneurs to promote education. Coaches, course creators, authors, instructors, and consultants use Hiro to explore new avenues for generating revenue from their audiences, grow their SMS list and get more repeat purchases.
We designed the platform to remove a lot of barriers to entry from a technical perspective. It’s easy for anyone, regardless of their ability to get started. You don’t need a team or a lot of experience to start using Hiro. You can easily get started creating private content for your audience that can’t be pirated. And because users are given unique links to access your content, they can’t even share details with their friends.
If this sounds like you, let’s talk.
Start your free 14-day trial with Hiro. No credit card required.