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Since I got a new 2018 12.9" iPad Pro I thought now would be a good time to share my home screen for the iPad. Without burying the lede here is my home screen.

For those wondering, I made the home screen image myself using Pixelmator.

As you can see there is nothing on the home screen itself, everything lives in the Dock. My reasoning for this is that because the iPad is something that I fluidly move in between apps I rarely actually move to the home screen. There are a handful of apps on the Dock and everything that isn't readily accessible goes into a folder that I have organized where each page of the folder goes from most important apps to least important apps. So for my first page I have things like Google Sheets and Google Docs where a lot of the things I do for both my personal life and podcasts live. I also have apps like 1Password, Tweetbot, WordPress, and Ferrite which are apps I regularly use but aren't something I need immediately accessible.

The apps that did make it on my Dock are ones that I use every day and oftentimes within Split View. I have them in order of left to right from most used to least used. The reasoning for this is that because of the fluidity of the Recent Apps section of the Dock if I were to have the apps I use most frequently in the middle of the dock it can shift several icons left or right from when I last used it. Which is problematic for when I have a blog post idea or a task I need to throw in Drafts 5 before I forget it.

Here's a quick synopsis of each of those apps.

Drafts

Drafts has quickly become my main text editor for pretty much everything in my life. From tasks, lists, blog post ideas, full fledged posts I am working on, and even just something I need to keepsake for a few minutes before I can toss it in the trash. Drafts has always had the tag line of "where text starts" and that is what Drafts has become for me.

Fiery Feeds

This has been my RSS reader of choice for some time now and continues to be the app I use most when reading stuff. With FeedWrangler as my RSS service of choice I look at the dozens of blogs, sites, news organizations new items all in one place. the sharing features it offers also satisfies my needs with Instapaper integration as well as Pinboard.

GoodTask

I have been battling finding a task manager that checks every box I want. So instead I decided to pick something that I haven't given a fair shake, which is GoodTask. I will probably be talking a lot more about this later, but for now it is getting the job done. It is also very Shortcuts friendly and has some decent Drafts 5 support thanks to Reminders being the foundation of this app.

Instapaper

I have been using Instapaper for a while now and it continues to be my favorite read-later service. It has great keyboard shortcuts and allows for folders to organize the various kinds of things I save to read later. Also, the Share Sheet is a treat to use anywhere I want to save an article or even just a link to the article.

Fantastical

Hands down the best calendar app for iOS, and arguable macOS. The natural language support makes adding tasks and reminders a breeze. I also have always been a fan of its look.

AirMail

This is the most recent addition to my Dock, thanks to its sharing actions I can send my actionable emails to Reminders which syncs with GoodTask for future me to deal with.

Messages

This is simply the way I communicate with nearly everyone in my life. There is a reason Messages is the most use app in iOS globally.

Safari

Safari is the browser I use 90% of the time. The other 10% is for iCab Mobile, which allows me to download files, view websites in desktops mode, and do things that Safari for iOS limits me on. For me iCab is a safety net for web browsing while Safari is my go-to app for anything involving a hyperlink.

Shortcuts

I almost left this one in the folder, but I have been making more and more Shortcuts lately and having it available in the Dock makes things a lot smoother for when I have an idea for something I need to automate.

Files

Simply put, I need access to my files and I don't want to spend time looking for the Files app in a folder or bringing it up in Spotlight every time I need it. It isn't perfect but it works for me when I need to save something or grab an item in my Dropbox and/or iCloud Drive.

Final Thoughts

My home screen may not be anything to write home about, but it is something that sets precedent of what is important for me when I am using the iPad. Hopefully my home screen inspires you to think about how you organize your apps and make any changes you deem necessary to make you happier.

If you want to share your home screen with me feel free to email me or send me a photo of your home screen on Twitter.

I recently took a course by Shawn Blanc about Ulysses and learned a ton about the premium writing application, but one thing that I loved just as much were the extra emails Shawn sent out after I purchased the course.

My main takeaways from the emails he sent were these:

  • Don’t overthink things
  • Make the time to write
  • Give yourself permission to be crappy

All of these things are useful for someone like me who writes for fun and as a hobby on Rocket Panda. Honestly its just plain good advice for anyone doing something creative whether it is for a job or a hobby. I frequently look at these pieces of advice Shawn expressed and it makes me think about the one thing that I want to do more of as a blogger: consistency.

These four pieces of advice are perfectly in sync with my main issues in posting more frequently and making writing a daily habit for myself.

Don’t Overthink Things

One of the biggest reasons I’m not writing and posting consistently is because when I begin writing a post I make sure it is absolutely perfect and I overthink the point of why I am writing on Rocket Panda in the first place.

I created Rocket Panda because I wanted to share ideas, thoughts, and interesting things with like-minded people. People who love technology, automation, Apple, and other geeky things. I never got into this “blogging scene” to become rich and famous, I did it because I wanted a way to eexpress my love and interests with others.

There is a great video by Sean McCabe that is all about overthinking things and how creative people should stop doing it.

At first I thought this is something that’s easier said than done. After all, Sean has a successful business and podcast and I feel like I have hit a wall when it comes to growth in readers for Rocket Panda. After some time feeling sorry for myself, I realized that this goes in tandem with posting frequently and showing up every day to make those consistent posts happen. I know that the idea of “if you build it they will come” isn’t something that is always true, but it doesn't hurt to hit deadlines and make posting something you have in a calendar. If I say I will have a post live on a specific day I am more likely to post it rather than hitting publish after weeks of spending meticulous time making sure everything is absolutely perfect.

So instead of making things “perfect” I plan to make frequency and deadlines be my determining factor of when to publish. If the clock is racing and I don’t feel good about something I’m writing I am more likely to improve it and still hit my deadline in the process.

Make the Time to Write

When it comes to any craft you want to get better at, you have to make it something you do regularly. If you don’t then you’ll never improve in any significant way. This isn’t anything new for me but it is something I am reminding myself when it comes to writing. Which is why my goal every day is to write 500 crappy words at a minimum.

If I want to hit that goal of 500 words a day, I need to show up every day to write, and right now it just isn’t happening.

The thing that helped me with this valley of nothing was Merlin Mann’s talk at MacWorld in 2009 about the patterns for creativity. I have this video starting at 18:15 because this is where the nut of what got me started. The only thing you really need to know is that there is a book called Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and when she is asked to do a project she uses these boxes where she does this thing called “scratching” which is her putting literally anything and everything that brings her inspiration. I recommend watching the whole thing to fully understand things but that is the very brief version of what led to this 5 minute section of the talk.

There’s a lot to unpack in this talk, and maybe I will write more about it someday, but this got me thinking about why I haven’t been making the time to write. It was because I didn't want it enough.

This isn’t me saying you have to go all-in and work 18 hour days to make your dreams come true, but it is me saying that I spent more time trying to find inspiration from writers and bloggers who were at the level I wanted to be at. I was gawking at their work online wishing I was where they were instead of making the stuff I wanted to make. That isn't their fault though, it’s mine. I cared more about the idea of blogging and writing than actually putting in the work and making a commitment to myself to keep working on the things I want to be better at.

Give Yourself Permission to be Crappy

I am not as strong a writer as I would like to be, but if I allow that distance between where I am and where I want to be affect me then I would never write again. The only way that you can get better at a craft is to keep doing it over and over again and learn from your mistakes.

I think it’s been made painfully clear that I am a perfectionist and I never allowed myself to just be okay with mediocrity, let alone being crappy. Still, I think if I allow myself to write 500 crappy words a day I will get better faster than if I wrote 1000 good words every few weeks.

Being perfect is overrated in my opinion. I say that knowing full well that has been what I’ve been striving for the last year writing on my blog. Honestly it’s just exhausting reading over your work a dozen times and making small and unnecessary edits. That said, there is a difference between being perfect and having something presentable.

This isn’t me saying that I will be drafting something up without proofreading and multiple edits. I still plan to do the work of combing through for errors and mispellings. The part I won’t be doing is going through what I have written actively looking for something to change just to change it. I want to keep things simple.

Changes for Rocket Panda

All of this has come to a head for me and there are some changes effective today that will be taking place at Rocket Panda.

1. I Will Write at Least 30 Minutes Every Day

Now, 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but with that low bar of entry I have no excuse for myself to make the time to write every single day for 30 minutes. I have found if I spend that amount of time writing I am able to shake the cobwebs off and really start diving into more focused writing.

2. I Will Post at Least Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

I will make a total of 3 posts a week on Rocket Panda. I may post more, but I am committing to 3. They might just be links to things I find interesting or longer articles that I spend lots of time writing. Either way I have set the precedent that I am posting on specific days and that this is my new posting schedule.

If I’m being honest, this is a safe space after all, I wanted to commit to more than 3 posts a week. I wanted to go daily but I know that the one day I miss posting I will kick myself for it and lose all sense of control. I have been there before and I stopped writing for weeks because I was too busy beating myself up for not meeting the exceedingly high bar I set myself. I want to avoid that this time so I have lowered the bar for myself and will start out with 3 posts a week and see where things take me afterwards.

The first post of the week starts today with this one. The next scheduled post will be Wednesday.

One More Thing

One of the biggest things that I want to stress and put out there for both you and me is that it is okay to not think that what you are putting out there is perfect. Perfection is what stifles my creativity and my writing process every single time I let it take precedent. I can’t move on to the next post until I make it published, and I won’t publish unless it is perfect. Screw being perfect, if I look back on my work and think I could have said it better that only means that I am improving on my craft.

So with these new promises I hope to achieve the goal I have wanted for a while and post consistently and create without overthinking things. If I can do that this year I would consider it a success.

This week for me has been all too familiar, meaning I moved my site from micro.blog to WordPress again.

The reasoning for this doesn’t really even matter anymore because I have done nothing for the past several months but screw around with where my site is hosted instead of doing what matters writing. After hours of editing my new WordPress website, talking with support, and waiting for DNS changes to propagate I have finally managed to have Rocket Panda back up and running.

I have mentioned it in the past, but I think one of the reasons I do this is because I treat my blog like a Lego collection instead of a platform. I try to make sure every block is perfectly put together instead of making sure that what I’m building is even worthwhile.

I also feel like it is a form of procrastination. I would ask myself questions like, “How can I make time for writing on my site? I have so much I need to do to make Rocket Panda look better.”

Today that changes.

As of today I have made a promise to myself to stick it out on WordPress and use a seriously simple theme called Tiny Framework. It is a simple yet effective theme that meets my simple blogging needs. It also allows for fast loading and processing. You add that to EasyWP, my hosting platform, and you have yourself a cheap and fast website that doesn’t need anything else.

I have made the commitment to myself, and now with you all publicly, to not make any more changes to the hosting platform, theme, or aesthetics for the rest of 2019. The only exemption from this is if something is catastrophic to the website and requires me to make changes to it in order for it to be fully functional. Outside of that what you see is what you get. What you see may not be deserving of any design awards, but you can at least read what I have to say easily and not have any issues loading the site.

My reasoning for this commitment, and really a lot of things I get hung up about, is to stop worrying about the granular details and just keep things simple. I also needed to take stock in what was important for me on Rocket Panda, and for me it is the content. I would rather have a website that looks like it was built with a default template on Blogger in 2004 with tons of posts than have the most beautiful website with no content to show for it. So I am choosing to keep this less-then-beautiful website as-is and focus on what I want to say on it instead.

With this off my chest and the burden of making my website “look perfect” gone I can finally get back to what I made Rocket Panda for in the first place: to share my thoughts, opinions, and anecdotes about the things I care about.

While I have mentioned it here and there on Twitter, I have been dealing with a lot of things regarding my mental health. Things that I think are common, like Imposter Syndrome, depression, anxiety about money, and stress from my job and from planning a wedding.

These things aren’t new ideas people face, in fact it seems to be about as common as a cold. Plenty of people have had issues with money, careers, and some have planned a wedding too. After thinking about this and writing this post, I have seen some trends regarding “burnout.”

My generation has been told time and time again to go to college, do what makes you happy, and to follow your dreams. That is precisely what I did and I am working in the field I went to school for and I love my job. Yet, I still wake up anxious and afraid of what will come next. This isn't me blaming anyone for the path I took in my life, I am happy I went to school and I am happy with the career path I took. In fact, I haven't met someone in the millennial generation that seems to be an outlier from this mental health and cultural issue. This could possibly be just the people I associate with, but even those I talk to have mentioned something like this to me.

In a recent article from The Atlantic Sophie Gilbert mentions Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and how people define success and the burnout many millennials are feeling right now. It also goes into some other things like the Fyre Festival and how these two events are synonymous with the culture that the millennial generation brings. What got me the most, though, was how “burnout” was seemingly connected with success, but what is “burnout” anyway?

The majority of the video content that I consume is on YouTube and a recent trend I have seen by people like Casey Neistat is this open dialog about "burnout."

Said Video of Casey on Burnout

In this video he comments on this article from The Insider about big YouTubers feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. Most of this video is about how when people attain this level of success they realize that to continue that growth they have to ultimately push themselves to their absolute breaking point and, frankly, bust their ass to make that effort equal or exceed their expectations.

But what if you haven't reached that level of success and you already feel burnt out? Does that mean you should just quit while you're behind? Or does it mean that you need to push yourself even harder to get over that dip?

I ask not just because I want to bring about a different angle on this, but because that is where I am right now. To be completely transparent here, I haven't seen any real growth from Rocket Panda (formerly Tablet Habit) in several months. It just has this plateau of about 2000 visits a month. Which in blogging terms means next to nothing.

There have been several times where I decide that the best way for me to use my time is to work on a new design, or maybe even move my site to a new blogging platform, or even just change the domain to something else again. Which I know is about has useful as cutting off my foot just before I get ready to run a marathon.

Most of the time I have these thoughts it’s because I am afraid of just sitting down and writing. I am afraid because I worry that once I do I will see I have nothing to say, or what I do have to say isn't good enough. But as literally every great writer has said in one way or another, the best way to get better at writing is to actually write.

What I am saying here isn’t new and revolutionary. The problems I face aren’t unique by any stretch of the imagination. With that said, I can’t help but feel like this is something that is not being talked about enough, hopefully that will change.

I also find these common problems for my generation to be indicative that millennials are more superficial than ever. For example, I would rather waste time on materialistic things instead of working to get better at my craft. ”If I can't be the best," I would say to myself, "why would I want to put any of my time an energy into it? I should just go and try something else that I can be better at instead."

I don't know the definitive answer to this problem but I think it starts somewhere with changing the mindsets of myself and others in this era of what success actually is. I am still trying to figure that out for myself, but it shouldn't be the number in our bank account or whether we have the more organized and optimized apartment.

How I am Changing My Mindset

Before I go into this, I absolutely know that this is something better said than done, but you can’t start somewhere without taking that first step.

1. Throw Envy Out the Window

One thing I am slowly starting to make a mantra is that your work should be like golf, the only real opponent you should measure yourself to is you.

I have seen people I follow and consider my peers gain success in their own ways and I can’t help be get a little jealous and envious of them for growing while I am not growing fast enough to my liking. This kind of thinking is how you get discouraged and throw in the towel. It isn’t healthy to always be looking how well others are doing and comparing yourself to them. If anything it will drive you insane.

What I plan to do instead is to look at how I am doing month-to-month. The things I want to look at are:

  • RSS subscribers
  • Email Newsletter Subscribers
  • Page Views

With these numbers I record them in a Google Sheet and see how they are trending and see what I need to do to either continue growing, or what I need to do in order to start growing these numbers.

2. Quality of Quantity

While I do want to keep an eye on the numbers, they aren’t everything. One thing that I want to remember as I write and post on Rocket Panda, or really anywhere, is that there are people reading this. My readers are not numbers on a chart, they are human beings that I want to engage with and share things with.

A trick I learned seem Chris Wilson was to act like I am writing for a blog or person I admire as if they were to read it. For me it is Federico Viticci, Serenity Caldwell, Myke Hurley, Stephen Hackett, David Sparks, Rose Orchard, Rene Ritchie, Merlin Mann, Alex Cox, Matthew Cassinelli, and John Gruber. All of them are people I admire and hope to connect with one day. Some of whom I already have (listen to the episodes of A Slab of Glass with Rose Orchard, Matthew Cassinelli, Alex Cox, and David Sparks).

If I write something that is for the people I admire I feel like I am more considerate of their time, attention, and I write enough to make my point but I edit down as much as I can to not have too much “fluff.”

3. Focus on the Rocks First

There is an old metaphor about a professor who came into class with an empty jar, he filled it with a few large rocks, then several small pebbles, then sand. The adage goes that you should focus on the big priorities in your life, the big rocks, more and then the other important things, the pebbles, and then the “small stuff” and material things in life, the sand. If you were to focus on the “small stuff” first you wouldn’t be able to fit the rocks and the pebbles in there.

There’s this great video that explains this better than I can.

The point of this, for me at least, is that priorities matter and in order to focus on these big things we first need to acknowledge what those things are. What do we care about the most? Family, friends, passions, careers. These are all good examples. But if we focused more on the small things like the latest tech gadget, whether we have the best phone or iPad, or other material and frivolous things we won’t have the time and energy needed for the big rocks.

Focus on the big rocks first, then the pebbles, and if there is time the sand.

4. Get Organized

In order to find those big rocks, we need to get organized. For me, I have been bouncing around task managers so many times the last week I cared more about what app to write down the things I need to do rather than just doing them.

We all get swept up in the productivity porn of task managers and it can be fun to start using a new app or system; but if we spend all of our time on the app or system we aren’t going to actually get anything done.

So I have decided on an app, which one is honestly not important for this article, and I plan to use this for 90 days without waver. I will write more about it soon but for now I am less interested in writing about the app and actually using it to get things done instead.

I decided to use Things 3, the reason for this is because I have been going back and forth between this and Omnifocus and I decided to use Things 3 after flipping a coin to see which one would win.

Once I take the choice of the app out of the picture I can start focusing on the things that matter, which are the things I want to get done.

5. Replace Social Media Apps on my Home Screen

I am not removing myself from social media, but I am making social media a lower priority for me. When ever I get free time in the bank or at work or even at a stop light I immediately go on my phone and check Twitter.

I have since replaced this with the app Tally to count how many times I open it in a given week.

This prevents me from sinking time into Twitter when I can be doing something better like reading articles on my Pinboard or an actual book. I also deleted Twitter from my phone and instead made it only available as a web app in Safari, which is blocked with 1Blocker. This makes it very much intentional for me to actually open Twitter for something and if I do so I have to jump through a number of hoops to get on it.

Like I said, I am not going away from social media, but I am reducing my intake of it and making it very intentional in my life.

6. Make Time to Get Centered

When I am going through a very anxious or stressful period in my day I spend at least two minutes meditating to get myself back to the center. I know that I am stressed and I know something needs my attention, but if I don’t make the time to decompress this will hit a boiling point that won’t be good for anyone involved.

Meditation is a new thing for me, so I have been using the app Calm to get started on it and learn more about meditation. So far, it seems to be helping me learn and use these meditation techniques at home, work, and even when I write. As of now, I meditate every morning and throughout the day when I feel that things need to be brought back to ground level.

As someone that has a history of depression and anxiety I am blown away with what meditation can do for me. I was a skeptic for a long time but as I get more and more into this space I am finding it to level things out and help subside my depression and anxiety at times.

7. Never Quit Before Reaching the Starting Block

When you are in a creative field, it can be common to have a feedback loop, a recurring thought that you aren't good enough or that you aren't doing enough, or something to that affect. I know because this is a very common thing in my writing process.

In fact, it has killed a lot of ideas before they had time to incubate long enough to grow into something. Sometimes it can be good to not spend time on something that you aren't passionate about. But when your reasoning is because you feel you aren't good enough that just stops you from even trying out something that could be great.

I have been making a change to my line of thinking with my writing, namely to not kill them off before writing at least 500 words. That way I spend time writing out my thoughts and figuring out what it is I want to say. It has helped me write this very article, and it has allowed me to leave ideas in my writing folder to keep them in the forefront of my brain.

The feedback loops I have are still very much there but I have been working on not letting them make decisions for me.

What's Next?

With all of these ways I have of dealing with burnout, it is still early on for me. I plan to keep at this and follow up next month. Until then, I would love to know what kinds of things you do to deal with things like burnout, Imposter Syndrome, and feedback loops. You can let me know on Twitter or via email.

If you have ever heard of Casper, Blue Apron, Squarespace, or Hover you’ve probably listened to a podcast or two, and you’re not alone. In a recent survey by Edison Research it is estimated 48 million people in the US listen to podcasts on a weekly basis, which is the highest it’s ever been in the 12 years the survey has been going on.

Makemoneypodcasting1

Of those people who listen to podcasts, 44% of them listen to “most of the podcast” and 43% of them listen to the “entire podcast episode.” Which results in a whopping 87% of listeners that are consuming most, if not all, of every podcast they listen to.

Makemoneypodcasting2

These numbers aren’t just showing the rise of podcast listening, it is also indicative that podcasting is a growing market for business as well.

A staple in revenue for podcasting has almost always been advertising in podcast episodes. For years many brands have seen podcasts as a way to get new customers to buy their products or services, and it seems to be working. According to a survey from AdWeek 65% of listeners said podcast ads increase “purchase intent.”

The one caveat that comes with podcast ads is you need a lot of listeners in order to consider making podcasting your main source of income. The number I have heard over the years to garner any attention from the premium advertising brands is around 5,000 regular listeners per episode per month. I then had this figure corroborated by Libsyn, the largest podcast hosting service.

Now, this isn’t something that is undeniably true, if you have a podcast about subscription boxes, for example, you could get someone like Loot Crate to sponsor your show. Or if you have a podcast about Top Level Domains companies like Hover could sponsor you as those listeners are much more catered to their product. It is all relative to what your podcast is about, but in general 5,000 listeners is where big brands start to look at your show as an avenue for advertising.

To put this into perspective, Libsyn posts their monthly statistics across all of their shows, here is what they found for the month of January 2019:

  • The median downloads per episode is 124 downloads per episode in 30 days.
  • The adjusted mean (meaning they threw out the top 0.5% of shows and any podcasts getting 3 or less downloads per episode) is 1491 downloads per episode.
  • The total podcasts that get 5,000 downloads or more, which is the sweet spot for advertisers, is only 7.1% of all podcasts on Libsyn.

In a nutshell if you want ads you have to beat 93% of all podcasts in order to make that a real possibility.

These numbers shouldn’t be discouraging though, because advertising isn’t the end-all-be-all way of making money in podcasting, in fact there are many ways you can gain revenue from your podcast directly from your audience.

Patreon

Patreon has become a Goliath over the years for creatives seeking support from their fans. Artists, writers, Internet personalities, and podcasts have all flocked to this platform because it has become one of the most popular ways for supporters to directly pay their favorite creators.

Shows like Do By Friday and Chapo Trap House are among the most successful shows on Patreon racking in thousands of dollars a month from their supporters. So, Patreon is the perfect place, right? The answer is much more complicated than you may think.

While Patreon has garnered a lot of attention and recognition over the years it hasn’t been without controversy. Back in 2017 Patreon made a public acknowledgement that they are lowering the amount of money they will be taking from their creators after criticism they received. In part, this is what Patreon said in late 2017 about the changes they were making:

”Aside from Patreon’s existing 5% fee, a creator’s income on Patreon often varied from month to month because of third-party processing fees. And, patrons may not have been aware that creators actually take home a lower percentage of their intended pledges because of those fees. Our goal is to make these paychecks as predictable as possible, so we’re restructuring how these fees are paid.

Starting on December 18th, a new service fee of 2.9% + $0.35 will be paid by patrons for each individual pledge. (To get into the details, existing per-creation pledges for posts made on/after Dec. 18th will be charged the new service fee; existing per-month pledges will first be charged a service fee on January 1.) Streamlining these fees for creators and patrons ensures that creators take home as much of their earnings as possible.

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We want you to know that we approach every change with a creator-first mindset, aiming to help creators grow their businesses. In preparation for this change, we ran experiments and months and months of research to understand patrons’ potential reactions and we found that many patrons were happy knowing that this change will send more money to creators. While some patrons may leave in the short-term, we know this will help creators earn more money in the long term.”

Aside from money, it can also be difficult hosting a podcast on Patreon. Stephen Hackett, founder of Relay FM told me in his decision to use Memberful, another option to offer paid memberships for fans,

“We had friend already using Memberful, and now Memberful is owned by Patreon. But I liked how you can make Memberful a separate system. We have dozens of plans, and Patreon isn’t really meant for that kind of scale, and Memberful allows for that. It would have required a lot of hacking in the system to get it to work the way we needed it.”

Even now, Patreon still receives criticism for how much they take off the top from the creators on the platform, as well as the difficulty it can be having a podcast on their platform compared to other art forms. When I asked Patreon about their thoughts on the criticism they failed to respond to my attempts for comment.

Among those who feel Patreon is charging too much is Jamie Perkins. In part of this he decided to make his own platform for podcasters looking to monetize. He calls it PodFan.

PodFan

PodFan is a “podcast first” platform where podcast listeners can pay their favorite podcasters for extra perks. These perks could be things like merchandise, shout outs, access to exclusive content, a subscription to a newsletter, or all of the above. It also has the ability of offering a member-only feed for exclusive episodes and such. Jamie says,

“It is all about memberships for podcasts, so what that means is that it allows people to subscribe not just to your podcast, but actually with a payment. So they pay you monthly for any kind of reward you want to set up.”

On the surface this seems very similar to Patreon but what sets itself apart is the pricing. Instead of taking a percentage of all money donated to the podcast Jamie has decided that PodFan will take a flat rate of $0.30 per subscriber. Which means you can offer members to pay $10 a month, and after that $0.30 is taken from PodFan you get $9.70 per subscriber, which is a 97% return. If you were to use Patreon, for example, you would be making slightly less. On the other hand, if you were to offer a $2 tier you would only net $1.70 after fees which is an 85% return.

Jamie does express his feelings that users on PodFan will make more money then they would on Patreon saying,

“I think you'll make more money on Podfan but also when you get a Podfan page it is podcast first."

[...]

“With Patreon it is kind of open ended, and you have to kind of hack it a little bit to use it for how you want with podcasts, and the idea with PodFan is it is all podcast first and designed for people with podcasts specifically. So hopefully that makes it a little bit of a better option than Patreon. And I know that a lot of podcasters have had issues with Patreon with how they're skimming the payments and I know that a lot of people got frustrated with that payments model and I knew that I wanted to do a different payment model that is still sustainable but offers people a little bit more straightforward less chance for shady business operations, it is just more straight up transparent, clear, easy to understand.”

After seeing a preview of what PodFan will look like once they launch in the Summer of 2019, I have to say it is very well designed and something many will be happy to use. It offers many of the same things Patreon offers, but it also allows for a much easier experience navigating the pages of creators.

Both Patreon and PodFan are great options for single podcasts, but what if you have an entire network of podcasts you want to offer memberships for? The answer for co-fonder of Relay FM was Memberful.

Memberful

Memberful is a service that offers a way to have memberships for independent creators with a lot of flexibility. Relay FM offers several options for each of their 26 shows, including one to support all of the podcasters on Relay FM.

Stephen explained that sites like Patreon doesn’t offer this kind of scale and Memberful was an easy decision for them as they already knew people using the service in similar ways.

Memberships like this aren’t the main way Relay FM makes their money though, they have advertisements on a majority of their shows. That said, Stephen does say that memberships like this is important for both the business and the listener.

“Relay makes money in advertising, the membership is good money but it is a relatively a small part of the pie still but its more about having a place and having a way to have a greater connection with listeners and and we get to support our hosts directly in a different way which is nice.”

\[...]

“We do not offer ad-free episodes to our listeners. The overhead for that would be too great, the membership is more about extra stuff on top of what the public shows. So the big thing is in august and September every year every show publishes bonus member only content.”

The one thing that may be worrisome for Stephen and Relay FM is that recently Patreon acquired Memberful. As of now, Memberful is still operating the same it did before the acquisition but Hackett has thought about what could happen if things change at Memberful saying,

“I know the team at Memberful, I’ve spoken with their CEO in the past and they say that they’re excited about their future and I believe them when they say that but at some point they may get absorbed, right now you would never know they were owned by Patreon, it is the same product it has always been. I guess we will see where that goes, for now we are really happy with he service and I’m glad we’ve chosen it and if we need to evaluate it in the future we will I guess. I do know that people use Memberful for specific reasons and unless Patreon mirrors all those features it isn’t going to work for us.”

Thankfully, according to Patreon after the acquisition, they don’t plan on making any changes to the platform saying,

“The Memberful platform and brand will remain independent, the current product roadmap will continue at a faster pace, and existing creators using Memberful will not experience any immediate changes to the service. The Memberful team will continue supporting independent creators and building the Memberful service as part of Patreon. As it will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Patreon, Memberful currently has a different pricing model than Patreon that is built around three tiers which will remain unchanged for existing customers.”

The one thing of worry here, at least to me, is that who’s to say Patreon doesn’t pull the rug out from under Memberful and make them adhere to new guidelines and rules that can make things like the Relay FM memberships no longer be allowed? There isn’t any kind of evidence supporting this is what Patreon is wanting to do but I also feel it isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Honorable Mentions

While Patreon, Memberful, and PodFan seem like great places to start there are other avenues you may want to look into that I felt are worth sharing, but not necessarily where you would be. one-stop shop.

Overcast

Overcast is not only a tremendous app for listening to podcasts, it is also one of the most popular. Creator of the app, Marco Arment, has also added support for having a special highlighted link in Overcast with some simple HTML code.

RadioPublic

RadioPublic is a relatively new venture from PRX that offers in-app tipping up to $100.

I put this here as an honorable mention because I haven’t used this app enough to really know if it is indeed something podcasters should start promoting.
I will say, in my own experience with PRX, they know what makes good radio and have yet to show any signs of wanting to change podcasting for the worse.

Jake Shapiro has taken the reins of RadioPublic stepping down as CEO of PRX and becoming CEO of RadioPublic. Shapiro is a radio legend and has done tremendous work for public radio and podcasting; which is why I feel RadioPublic is in good hands.

Ko-fi

Ko-fi is a way for people to support creators with a simple URL and payment options, both one-time and recurring. Once you sign up you can share the URL to their Ko-fi page and people can tip you any amount of money they desire. This is also something I have seen creators use in the past, but it isn’t something I am familiar with enough to go into great detail.

Ko-fi does offer a beautiful interface and website that explains what they offer any their story, which I think is worth checking out. They are also a “PayPal Partner” so you can use PayPal as a means for donating and receiving money with this platform.

When Should You Start Monetizing?

Now that you know all the different avenues you can look into to start getting support from your audience outside of advertising, there’s just one question you need to answer: when should I start doing this? The answers I got when I asked them were very different depending on who I asked.

Jamie Perkins of PodFan says,

“I would say right away, because it is designed to be easy to set up. Once you've added your feed to Podfan and created your URL you have already created a PodFan page it;'s just a matter of setting up rewards after that. and then it’s just there and its doing the work for you. But I think as with all podcasts you should always focus on your content creation as much as possible and let these services to offload all the other things you have to do with your podcasts and just be able to focus on your content creation as much as possible.”

On the other side of the coin Stephen Hackett of Relay FM says,

“I think if you're looking at implementing something like this spend a lot of time thinking about what you're willing to do and for how many people and I think the answer is always to start small and work your way up.”

[…]

“If you're planning to do this just spend time really outlining the perks you want to do and if you have a bunch of ideas you don't have to roll them out in the beginning. You can use that as a way to promote the membership. You can only roll out with 2 or 3 perks. Especially if you are unsure of how many people you bring in.”

The Case Against Monetizing

Making money from a podcast sounds great on paper, but in reality it amounts to a lot of hard work and dedication. It should also be stressed that the money you can make in podcasting will most likely not be enough to quit your day job. Very rarely do we see podcasters make podcasting their main source of income, and its because it isn’t easy. There is a reason only 7% of all podcasts average over 5,000 download per episode per month. I plan to go more in depth about this later, but for now I want to make it well known that it can be difficult to make money podcasting; and you don’t have to try and make podcasting a form of income.

I personally have had podcasts that sold ads and it wasn’t fun for me. I hated the idea of abiding by some set of rules for my show in order to sell ads for it. I was never happy with the money I was making from it, and I eventually decided I would never do advertising again for my shows. My reason for it was simply because I felt this unrelenting pressure from myself to overwork on my podcast and this previously fun thing I was doing quickly became a chore I was dreading. For me, podcasting isn’t a career I am actively pursuing as a means of income. This is a hobby for me, it is something I enjoy doing for fun, and who wants to make something they do for fun into a job? For me that is a good way to never do it again.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to monetizing anything creative it can be hard to get your foot in the door. Gaining some money for making what you love is something all creatives are excited to make happen, but those who do are sparse.

I don’t mean to make this sound discouraging but in my opinion you shouldn’t be actively seeking to make money on your podcast until you have honed in on your craft and your audience. If you try to make money without having both of these lined up you will likely not see anything positive coming from you search to make money with a hobby.

If you have honed in on your show and you know what you want to do, I highly recommend you look around before you load up that pitch deck of yours. You may find yourself surprised by what happens.
 

UPDATE: After publishing Jamie Perkins has informed me the pricing of PodFan is no longer $0.25 per subscriber, it is now $0.30 per subscriber. I have updated the percentages in the article. Jamie has expressed the price change will not happen again.