Getting Sponsorship from Listeners: A Podcast Success Story

"My goal is very simple: To have a certain amount of recurring income each month, so that I can outsource the editing process."

A few months after Firstory’s subscription function was released in Taiwan, a podcast creator, “Unlock the Earth” podcast beat the odds and stood out among the sea of podcasters. Podcast hosts Shang and Ting lived to the name of their podcast and unlocked the earth with their listeners.

Back in 2019, Taiwan had very little Chinese podcasts in directories. Without figuring anything out and relying solely on their love for traveling, the 2 simply decided to dive right into podcast production.

Before Covid-19 hit the country, Unlock the Earth was merely a minuscule show that updated every 2 weeks. During the pandemic, the podcast underwent some major changes due to certain events. This includes Shang’s trip to Germany to pursue further education and being forced into quarantine & isolation after being suspected of coming in contact with a positive case.

For the past 2 years, the duo has gathered a significant group of supportive listeners, partly thanks to their distinct podcast characteristics, theme, and content. Through Instagram, Unlock the Earth was also able to collect more feedback and submissions from listeners. Some even went on to become guests

"A single $3 donation may be by fate. A monthly recurring subscription, when accumulated, can bring substantial growth."

From the 2 years of podcasting, Unlock the Earth podcast has created new possibilities by accumulating die hard fans.

The podcast celebrated its 2nd year anniversary through “Behind the Scenes #12” 《幕後 #12》episode. In this episode, podcast host Shang talks about how he would stay up late just to edit episodes while he was studying in Germany.

The team knew that if they wanted to free up more time in thinking up and producing quality content, they had to outsource their editing process. The market price, however, for an hour of episode editing starts at about $70 USD. If they were to put up an episode every week, that would cost them about $280 every month. 

“The main goal in launching a monthly subscription plan is to save our livers,” the hosts say. They further compare podcasting to street performance wherein listeners are encouraged to support a longer-term endeavor.

“Unlock the Earth” gathered a group of listeners who are eager to communicate with the world. It is difficult for a single person to fully discover the world, but they believe that sharing with one another can help piece together the world that we are so eager to explore. By doing so, they believe in unlocking a world that’s full of surprises. 

This empirical data shows that listeners who were willing to subscribe and support the show every month believe in “running the podcast together.” After looking into their books, the duo found that the actual amount raised is far more than the original target. 

Success Factors of Unlock the Earth:

1. A rare voice during the Covid-19 pandemic

In a world where it becomes difficult for everybody to travel around the world, it can be difficult for travelling enthusiasts to continue their explorations. That’s when Unlock the Earth steps in to patch up and connect these listeners together.

2. From a 1-way street to a 2-way exchange

By taking everybody’s stories and sharing it with the public, traveling becomes a shared and collective experience. This creation process evolves from a one-way street to a two-way exchange.

3. A pricing strategy that matches the audience

Before launching their subscription plans, the hosts conducted a market survey by asking active Instagram listeners about their acceptable subscription ranges. Eventually, they were able to finalize the prices for the subscription tiers into: $3 USD, $7 USD, and $14 USD. 

4. Community Interaction

A common factor among well-run podcasts are the communities they create for their listeners. You don’t have to necessarily interact everyday, but brushing your presence every now and then can definitely strengthen audience connection.

Strengthening your audience connection and relationship

Collecting feedback through reviews, comments, social media, and even voice messages can be a fun and helpful way to connect with your audience and build a relationship with them. Unfortunately, numerous, diversified social media platforms and privacy concerns can make audience connection become a very tiring and time-consuming task.

Firstory developed two audience connection tools to solve this bottleneck:

  1. Cross-Platform Comment Link
  2. Voice Messages

Through the Cross-Platform Comment Link (aka “Comment Link”), listeners are able to leave their thoughts, feedback, and reviews on your free podcast website, no matter which platform they’re listening from. This can boost your SEO and searchability.

The voicemail function lets listeners send their audio messages. You can listen to them or download them right from Firstory Studio. After downloading them, you can insert them into your episodes using the Dynamic Insertion Tool.

Read on 6 tips to get feedback for your podcast.