How this true crime podcast generated 1,600 paying subscribers

Aaron Habel and Justin Evans came up with the idea for the Generation Whypodcast after Evans had served on jury duty for a murder trial. “Justin said, ‘You know how these things work, maybe we can do a quick episode we can share with people,’” Habel recalled. “And I said, ‘Wait, you’re asking if we want to start a podcast together, that’s what you’re really asking.’”

The two launched the Generation Why podcast in 2012, and each week they pick a new crime, murderer, or conspiracy theory to cover extensively over an hour-long episode. There were very few other true crime podcasts on the market at the time, and they quickly began to amass an audience, a trend that accelerated after the explosive popularity of Serial.

Though the hosts didn’t have much trouble finding advertisers for the podcast, they decided to turn to their audience for financial support earlier this year, and since then they’ve grown to over 1,600 paying subscribers.

I sat down and interviewed Habel about how they did this.

Some of the key takeaways from our interview

  1. They created their Patreon account after their listeners demanded it.
  2. Habel compares Patreon to the fan clubs he used to sign up for for his favorite bands; it leverages hardcore fans who want the kinds of extra goodies that casual fans don’t care about.
  3. They set the membership tiers at $2 a month and $5 a month. At $2, members get an extra podcast each month. For $5, in addition to the extra episodes, you get access to several other recorded goodies like interviews, outtakes, and other stuff that didn’t make it into the main podcast.
  4. They would plug the memberships at the beginning of the podcast. “We’d keep it short,” he said. “We’re known for getting to the content quickly.”

Watch the full interview below.