How do I create a preview of a paid podcast episode for free listeners?

If your podcast episode is intended for paid subscribers, you can add a customized audio version to your post so that free listeners can listen to a preview.

Walkthrough of adding a paywall to a paid audio episode

On your Home or Posts page, select "Audio".

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Click "Record" or "Select file" on the draft audio post, and a new dashboard will appear on the right. Check the box next to "Add free version" and upload a customized version of your audio file or record your audio. You can let your free listeners know that this is a paid episode, and to hear more, they can upgrade to a paid subscription. Paid subscribers will only be presented with the original audio that you first uploaded to the post.

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Once you're ready to make your post live, select "Continue" and ensure on your Publish page that the audience for the post is set to "Paid subscribers only".

If you've selected to send the post via email and the Substack app inbox, check the box next to "Free subscribers".

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What does my podcast episode look like to listeners?

On podcast players:

Since only paid subscribers can listen to paid episodes via their private RSS feed (except for Spotify, which doesn't allow private RSS feeds), free listeners can click on an episode with a free preview and listen to the customized version you've uploaded. If a paid listener cancels their paid subscription, their subscription status will change to a free subscriber and their feed will go back to being the same as a free feed.

In the show notes, we'll let them know they're listening to a free preview of a paid episode and link to your Substack publication.


Note: The podcast episode title is what you've entered as the title of your post.

In an email newsletter:

When free listeners receive your email newsletter, they can click on the player and be sent to the web version of your post on a new browser. They'll also see part of your episode details and then be prompted to become a paying subscriber to listen to the complete episode.

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On the Substack app:

Free listeners can tap on a post and listen to a free preview of the podcast episode directly on the Substack app. If they'd like to upgrade their subscription to become a paying subscriber, they can do so on the web version of Substack.

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