Podcast Basics

Create a Patreon-Like Membership Site with Castos & Paid Memberships Pro

7 min read

There is no denying that membership site Patreon has done amazing things for the content creator economy. Independent creators across the globe are able to work at their own pace making what they love largely thanks to Patreon. There’s a reason you can’t get through a single YouTube video without the creator asking you to support them through the site.

The only drawback? Patreon is not perfect. At least, not for everyone.

While Patreon does exactly what it claims to do – host your content and manage your members –  it operates on a one-size-fits-all model. The moment you want to customize your tech stack, you’ll quickly find Patreon simply can’t be customized. 

What’s more, there are a lot of fees that quickly start to pile up on the creator’s end of Patreon. The platform itself has an income-based percentage fee attached to a subscription plan, plus processing fees that vary by how you withdraw funds from your creator balance. 

Ultimately, as your content creation and consumer base grows, you’ll need to rework and customize how your audience views – and more importantly, pays – for your content. For that kind of flexibility, Patreon sadly won’t cut it. 

That’s where Paid Memberships Pro comes in.

Using an open-source platform like Paid Memberships Pro on WordPress allows you to build a site that’s more powerful, customizable, and cheaper to run than Patreon. Add in Castos to distribute your private podcast feeds and you can create the exact same paid levels of access that Patreon provides, without all of the restrictions and feeds.

So which is the better option for you and your content? If you’re already using Patreon, would you be better off switching to PMPro with Castos? In this article, we hope to help you figure that out!

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How Do Podcasts Use Membership Sites to Make Money?

To illustrate how paid membership sites work for content creators, let’s focus on podcasting as an example of independently created content. 

Podcasts can make money off of memberships sites by:

  • Creating premium content such as bonus episodes, behind the scenes details, and early access to content
  • Creating a fan community, often through access to private Discord channels
  • Extra add-on benefits, such as named or personalized shout-outs in the content or merch

With these money-making goals in mind, let’s see how well both Patreon and PMPro can help content creators meet those goals.

What You Get With Patreon

Now we’re not here to tear down Patreon. As we said, it’s largely responsible for making the content creator field what it is today. 

With Patreon, you can easily create membership levels, maintain private audio feeds, connect to Discord, and release premium content for members based on their membership level. All of these features are baked in with your subscription membership to the site. 

Going back to our podcasting example, Patreon does tick all the boxes. Premium content can be locked into those membership levels, fan communities get their connections on Discord, and those membership levels can have add-ons as they get more expensive. Of course, the more add-ons you want to provide, the higher tier subscription you’ll have to purchase from Patreon.

Each tier of Patreon’s subscription plans provides increased benefits, as do all membership sites and plugins. However, unlike PMPro, Patreon bases the fees of these subscriptions on an increasing cut of your income, topping out at 12% for their Premium subscription, in addition to their payment processing fees.

If that all that works for you, great! But what if you want to really customize your platform and make it your own? What if that income-based cut Patreon takes is getting to be too much?

What PMPro Does Better

Membership Levels

First, let’s talk about membership levels.

With PMPro, you can create as many levels as you like, whenever you like. As your customer base grows, you can change these levels to match your fan base and the content you design for them. 

PMPro provides all the tools necessary to make these levels, and helps walk you through the how-to with step by step guides and helpful customer support if you need it.

PMPro also integrates directly with content hosting sites for the sake of easily creating premium content for your paying members. For instance, our integration with Castos makes it easy for podcast creators to create private audio feeds.

Community Building

PMPro offers a free plugin that enables your members to join your Discord community. With the plugin, you can easily allow members to connect with a pre-existing Discord account, assign and automatically apply roles based on membership levels, and much much more!

Picture showing how to setup the PaidMembershipsPro Discord Plugin.

Restrict and Release Content Based on Membership Level

Paid Memberships Pro also lets you restrict content on an individual, customizable level. You can do this as specifically as page by page on your site, or more generalized by type of content. 

As with all of the features on PMPro, we have a helpful walkthrough of the step-by-step process of how to do this through WordPress so you can make these restriction changes at any time.

Fees

Both PMPro and Castos have consumer-friendly pricing. PMPro is freemium which means you can use it for free as long as you want and you can upgrade to the Plus membership for advanced functionality. Castos has monthly or annual pricing based on how large your audience is. 

This means that as your business grows your fees stay about the same.

Whenever you charge a credit card online someone is taking a fee. Patreon takes up to 12% (depending on your plan). With Paid Memberships Pro you can choose your own payment gateway. And the gateways we recommend charge around 3% (technically it’s 2.9% + $0.30).

Put another way: you’ll be 9% richer by using Paid Memberships Pro, Castos, and a payment gateway of your choice.
We personally recommend using Stripe or PayPal, but to help you choose, we’ve made it easy to check what kind of fees each gateway charges when you browse them on our website

Additional Benefits of PMPro

With the flexibility and adaptability PMPro has, there are a variety of additional benefits PMPro can provide for you and your members that don’t have a direct comparison to Patreon because, well, Patreon doesn’t do it!

Visual Customization

There really isn’t anything wrong with the layouts and theming of Patreon. You just can’t customize it! If it doesn’t fit the style you want for your content, you’re just stuck with it. 

With PMPro, you can easily:

  • Create large image headers
  • Create multiple columns of text
  • Embed videos and tweets
  • Embed full image galleries

You have the freedom to make your site look like, well, you! It can be entirely your style, your way, without any restrictions.

Customized Checkout

You may not think customized checkout is a big deal, but we certainly do! And here’s why. 

Checkout is the perfect time to collect a bit more data from your members. Maybe you want their t-shirt size for a future merch drop or promotional giveaway. Maybe you want to know what topics they would like discussed in upcoming episodes of your podcast. Maybe you just want a survey of favorite sports teams so you have more content to talk about! 

In any case, these questions can easily be added to checkout, where anyone signing up as a member will need to respond before they pay for your content. All this data is collected by the new PMPro Pods Integration, which requires no coding whatsoever!

Add Courses

Courses in or regarding your content are a fantastic premium content option! If you want to create and provide a curriculum for your members to enjoy, we’ve got you covered. 

At PMPro we offer a free add-on called Courses for Membership, which allows you to create full courses with itemized lessons and chapters. 

Courses for Membership allows you to easily organize your course content, restrict access based on membership levels, and track course completion by individual users. Full control and monitoring of your courses stays entirely in your hands!

Conclusion

The creator economy will always be indebted to Patreon, there’s no doubt about that. It gives freedoms that creators of all kinds never could have imagined prior to its founding in 2013.

But since then, new developments in the resources for creators have grown. Content creators like you have more tools than ever to make their own membership sites that can be tailored to your needs and content type.

And frankly, we can think of no better tools than Paid Memberships Pro and our partner Castos!

With PMPro, you can have all the benefits of Patreon plus fewer and more streamlined fees, enhanced customization of your theme and checkout, and more bonuses and add-ons for your members. 

Castos can help you feature premium audio content the way you want it, when you want it. Setup is incredibly easy and support is always readily available!

Ultimately, your content is just that – yours. Take control of it, and present it the way you want to your fans and consumers. We’ll be there to support you every step of the way!

Ready to get started?

Creating a subscription podcast for your members has never been easier or more affordable thanks to Castos’ integration with Paid Memberships Pro. Enter your email to learn more.

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Patrick Rauland
Patrick is the Brand Manager at Paid Memberships Pro. He loves helping small businesses, membership, and eCommerce sites. When not being a WordPress nerd he's designing board games like a regular nerd.

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