Hello, I’m Caleb with The Mixed Six. We do a boardgame/ nerd culture podcast structured around beer reviews. Recently, we’ve been having some problems attracting and retaining new listeners.
We’ve enjoyed modest growth for most of the podcast’s lifespan, and we are grateful for it. However, we’ve been experiencing a slow decline in backers since peaking in June of 2018. This decline is in spite of a number of continuing marketing efforts on our part. Thus far, we’ve tried.
- Paired YouTube channel with animatics of popular segments
- Live events, locally and at major conventions
- Guesting on other podcasts
- Targeted facebook ads
- Ad buys on other websites
- Related products (we designed and kickstarted our own boardgame this year)
Nothing appears to be working, yet we feel like we’re producing some of the best content of our careers. After a lot of fan surveys, meet-ups, and late night planning sessions, we suspect the problem is related to how we’ve set up the Patreon page. Here are the problems we think we’ve identified.
Our pricing isn’t rational: Currently our tiers spread audience participation rewards (suggesting topics and the like), additional mini-episodes, and extra hour-long episodes in the bizarre structure we built on the fly as the thing was taking off. Right now, the greatest volume of content by minute exists at our $2 tier rather than our highest $6, and yet over 50% of our backers are bought in at the $6 level.
Our pricing is confusing: Six separate tiers is a lot to offer for a podcast, especially when the rewards aren’t priced consistently.
We have too much free content: We think this is the biggest issue. Currently, we do 2 full, free episodes a month. We have one full-length and two mini-episodes behind the paywall. Our podcast is long. It’s a variety show divided into segments, but an average episode is an hour and a half long. At 51 free episodes currently, that’s a lot of free content new listeners can get without having to peak at the Patreon. The longer we go on this model, the worse things will get.
As such, we’ve communicated with our backers, both in the podcast itself and with page posts, that we are pausing the Patreon for January: we’re not charging anyone or producing new content. The time is going to be used to revamp the page, and all the backers know that change is coming. We’re talking about trying the following changes.
- Putting all the mini-episodes and two full episodes behind the paywall, providing only one full-length free episode a month
- Reducing and rationalizing the tiers: $2 gets segment suggestion privileges, $4 gets all the mini-episodes, $6 gets all the full-length extra episodes. That combines rewards from the $1, $3, and $5 levels, which we plan on phasing out.
- Producing audiograms for social media posts, and merchandise through TeePublic: I know this isn’t really related to the problem with the page itself, but we’re keeping up the traditional marketing work as well.
But does it seem like this soft reboot could work? It’s a gamble. If not, we will be pissing off and losing more backers for no gain in the long run. If the problem isn’t the page or the marketing, it must be the product itself, and I don’t know how to fix that. Though we are very lucky to have the support we have, splitting it three ways isn’t enough to support any of us full-time. Two of us have extremely demanding day jobs as it is, and I don’t think more content is possible, much less the answer if the problem is with how the page is set-up. Special offers have had success for others, but I don’t know what we could offer and I’ve seen a ton of them end up losing money for the creators. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s sustainable to keep squeezing higher pledges from people that have already been loyal supporters in the past.
In short, we’re trying this soft-reboot thing because we don’t know what else to do. If someone else has other ideas or critiques of the page, I’d be thrilled to hear them.