The Power of Membership: How TWiT.tv Grew Their Podcast Community with Memberful
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Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the last decade, allowing creators to build intimate connections with engaged audiences. But with this growth comes a need to diversify revenue streams beyond traditional advertising. Membership programs are an appealing option, allowing creators to provide exclusive benefits while generating recurring revenue.
At Podcast Movement 2023, our CEO, Lisa Laporte, joined Memberful's Jen Matichuk to share how membership transformed the long-running tech podcast network. Launched in 2005, TWiT relied solely on advertising for over 15 years. But when the pandemic caused ad revenue to plummet, Lisa knew it was time for a change. After researching options, she chose Memberful for its robust features and white-label approach.
Starting Small for Success
Lisa explained that her initial skepticism about adding memberships stemmed from concerns about disrupting TWiT's community. By starting with just one affordable plan focused on a clear value-add (ad-free content), TWiT avoided overwhelming existing listeners. According to Lisa, the key is identifying what current fans love and using that insight to shape membership perks. Discord access emerged as a huge draw, reducing isolation and strengthening connections.
Lisa also emphasized the importance of growing membership offerings slowly based on audience feedback. Starting small ensures you can deliver on promises before expanding your packages. TWiT gradually added exclusive shows, annual plans, family packages, and corporate options once the initial tiers succeeded.
Turning Listeners into Community
Perhaps most importantly, Lisa views membership as a way to cultivate true community and enrich relationships beyond social platforms like Twitter. With Memberful's integrated Discord, TWiT's members can interact directly with hosts and each other. Fans even get invited on-air occasionally, deepening their sense of belonging.
By valuing intimacy over scale, TWiT leverages membership to foster the human connections at the heart of podcasting. As Matichuk noted, several clients have specifically launched memberships to avoid the negativity of public Facebook groups. In Memberful Discords, strict codes of conduct help keep conversations constructive.
The membership program also provides a direct feedback loop to strengthen TWiT's content. Hosts workshop new show ideas with members before deciding which concepts to greenlight. According to Lisa, being a content creator, there are many creative things you can do with having a club.
Key Takeaways for Podcasters
- Start small with membership packages focused on delivering clear value to avoid alienating current fans
- Lean into intimate community-building tools like private Discord servers
- Gradually expand membership benefits based on listener feedback
- View membership as a way to deepen engagement beyond surface-level social platforms
With a revenue mix and strong membership program, TWiT enters its second decade better-positioned to weather industry shifts. Lisa's advice for podcasters? "Be viable in any climate."