“Halbe Katoffl” — who would pay money for a free podcast?

Vanessa Ellingham
Published in
4 min readAug 7, 2019


In his podcast “Halbe Katoffl” Frank Joung talks to Germans who, like himself, have non-German roots.

At first, Frank Joung had doubts about whether anyone would support his project. Nevertheless, he started a membership program with Steady for his podcast “Halbe Katoffl”. Now more than 100 members support him — not least because he makes lots of noise about his membership program.

For the Grimme Online Award 2019, Frank wrote an article which we have republished.

By Frank Joung

When I started thinking about my own podcast, financing was important to me. I didn’t want to podcast myself into the red with “Halbe Katoffl”. Developing a business model was not my primary goal, but a necessary part of keeping the project alive in the long-run.

Although crowdfunding seemed to me to be a good way to go, I was plagued by doubt: Who would voluntarily pay for my podcast? Who would pay money for something you can get for free? And who would give me money, anyway?

“Five percent of your community is willing to finance you.”

This was explained by Sebastian Esser, the founder of Steady. Steady is a platform on which digital publishers present their projects, helping to recruit paying supporters from a publication’s audience.

Steady is about consistency

Unlike on crowdfunding platforms, you don’t need to reach a certain amount in order to fund the project, and members donate monthly. This has the advantage that you receive the money either way. As long as the member does not quit, that means earning 10 EUR not just once, but every month.

The fascinating thing is: It works.

Frank Joung was nominated for the Grimme Online Award 2018 for his podcast.

With “Halbe Katoffl” the earnings developed slowly in the beginning — which was also due to me being afraid to point out the possibility of paying.

Many people, perhaps journalists especially, find it annoying, embarrassing or even humiliating to ask for money for their own work.

The truth is: You will only earn money if you repeatedly draw attention to the possibility of making a donation.

You need to remind people that they wanted to donate. Once I understood that, I began to receive donations on a regular basis.

A win-win situation

I currently have more than a hundred supporters, from whom I receive between 2.50 and 19.50 euros a month. As soon as someone donates, I get an email. Then I write to the person and thank them. I ask where they heard about “Halbe Katoffl”. This usually leads to an exchange about what the person thinks is great about the podcast and why they donate.

It always surprises me how grateful many donors are for my work and how much encouragement I get from them.

For a long time I thought I had to create additional incentives so that people would support me. I learned from the dialogue with my supporters that they donate primarily out of gratitude.

In the meantime, people transfer money directly to my bank account or via Paypal. They write: “Thank you for doing this.” “Keep it up!” Or: “Thank you for the podcast.” For me, hearing from listeners is one of the best things about podcasting.

Surprisingly, it is the simple act of transferring money that opens them up for dialogue — and provides a sense of satisfaction on both sides. The publisher is happy that he receives financial support and sees his work recognized, while the donor can contribute in a small but effective way to ensure the continuation of the project. Community funding is a win-win situation.

This text is taken from the Grimme Online Award 2019 brochure. It was translated into English by Vanessa Ellingham.

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New Zealand writer and editor based in Berlin. vanessaellingham.com