What are we going to use?

— 6 minute read

This was originally sent to the Castaways.club email newsletter. Sign up here to join the rest of us.

When it comes to deciding on the tech to use for something, whether it's on the web or gear for a podcast, I either rush in without putting much thought OR spend way too long trying to decide that I never get anywhere.

So, like almost everything else about building Castaways, I'm going to ask for your advice. Apologies - this one got a little long!

But first... Show Me Your Mic! permalink

On the most recent episode of my own podcast about podcasting, Show Me Your Mic, I talked with my Goodstuff.fm partner Kyle Roderick about some of the options available to use for taking payment and managing memberships.

You can skip ahead to around the 35 minute mark if you want to jump right to the Castaways discussion.

What We've Got Here Is... permalink

Can you finish the line? From the movie or the Guns 'n Roses song?

For chatting with each other, I've decided that we'll be using a combination of two apps. On the surface they may feel like they both do the same thing, but I'll explain why I feel the need to have both:

Slow Jamming the Conversation on Discourse:

Discourse is a bit like an old school forum, with threads and discussions happening very much not in real time. The last thing I want is to add more noise to people's already noisy digital lives. I'm hoping that by using a forum everyone can take a bit more time in responding, there's no rush to give feedback or urgency to post a comment.

(Sidebar: I've been using Discourse to help run a Gang of Youths fan site with a friend, and it's been great!)

You can choose daily, weekly, or no email notifications at all. And conversations can continue beyond the initial day or hour that they were started - which I find real time chat apps often hinder.

Live is Where the Action Is on Discord:

All that being said - sometimes it's nice to be able to chat now. If someone is trying out Facebook Live for the first time and wants feedback from the group, that's where Discord comes in handy.

If you've used Slack at all, you'll be right at home in Discord. It has it's positives/negatives compared to Slack, but overall the benefit of having a permanent archive for our discussions + much more powerful (and cheaper!) user controls is why I like using Discord. (It's emoji are ugly though. My apologies.)

My goal is to not load it up with a ton of different channels for discussion. Nuanced conversations are for the Discourse forum.

So to sum up: Discourse forum for conversations. Discord for instant messaging.

Ok. But what about the $$$? permalink

My biggest struggle is how to manage memberships and I've narrowed it down to 2 services - Patreon or Memberful.

Patreon is a service you're likely familiar with that allows people to donate to you on an ongoing basis and in return get rewards or just the general feeling of satisfaction of supporting a creator. It's fairly popular among podcasters and YouTube folks. It has it's own benefits management system built in, but can also plug into other services like Discourse, Discord, and more. It also has a social network quality to it where you sit alongside other Patreon campaigns, which can help expose you to people new to your work.

Cost: Patreon takes a 5% of successfully-processed payments + a payment processing fee.

I use it both personally and for Goodstuff and have no complaints.

Memberful is a membership backend service that hooks into other services but doesn't offer any user facing services other than managing payment/membership. It's more powerful and nuanced than Patreon at managing memberships, but you have to run your own WordPress blog, for example, if you want to have posts go out just to members. It's also popular among podcasters and writers as a way of taking payment for support/membership.

Cost: Memberful starts at $0/month with a 10% transaction fee + a Stripe fee of 2.9%+$0.30. That can be lowered by paying $25/month for a 4.9% transaction fee + the Stripe fees.

I was an initial beta tester way back when it first launched but have never used it on an active project. Incidentally, Memberful was bought by Patreon in 2018 but runs as a separate business.

So? permalink

Someone math inclined can help with the math, but if we use a $5/month membership fee that amounts to Patreon taking $0.25 + payment processing, Memberful would be taking $0.50 + payment processing. Not a huge difference in ongoing fees. But every little bit helps.

As you heard if you listened to Show Me Your Mic #124 that I'm kind of leaning towards running it as a Patreon campaign for a few reasons:

  • It keeps things simple and transparent.
  • No servers to run or maintain.
  • Asking folks to send their credit card to "Castaways Club" is slightly sketchier than Patreon, Inc.?
  • Keeps costs down.

➡️ Do you have any objections to Castaways using Patreon? ⬅️

Any thoughts or comments on how you think I should be managing membership? I'd love to hear it!

Let me know your thoughts - feel free to send me a tweet.


I'm going to keep the rest of the email more or less the same each time so that everyone can see and be reminded of what I'm hoping this podcasting community can become:

  • A virtual coffee shop to talk with other podcasters at various stages of their hobby/career in podcasting.
  • A safe place to throw out ideas, rough drafts, weird experiments, or be vulnerable about frustrations and hurts along the road and receive encouragement, feedback, and possibly partners to try things with.
  • Where you'll get the push and motivation to not only start a podcast, but also to keep it going when you feel like nobody else is paying attention.
  • It won't be free to join. There needs to be some cost to signing up to prevent leeches from abusing the community.

In the next email, I'll talk about the actual fee we'll be charging for membership to cover the costs of running this thing successfully.

Sign Up for the Mailing List permalink

While the site gets built and we figure the rest of this stuff out, you can sign up here to be notified via email when new stuff has happened with Castaways.club.

Got a question? Email me or tweet at me.

Thanks again for reading and following along! Chris Enns