9 Realistic Ways To Monetize Your Podcast
After having two podcasts under my belt, I get a lot of question about "how I make money." If you listen to my latest podcast show, Words and Money, you'll notice that I don't have any ads (or what we call "sponsorships" in the podcasting world) on my show, but I'm sure you won't be shocked to learn that sponsorships are not the only way to make money podcasting.
Yes, sponsors are a great way to monetize your podcast, and we'll dive into that here, but what I really want this piece to be about is how many different ways you can make money from having your own podcast, and how to go about it without feeling like a slimy weasel.
Don't have a podcast but considering starting your own? This step-by-step guide shows you how to start a podcast on the cheap.
1. Grow Your Email List
Having a podcast is a fantastic lead generation tool, and if you don't have a product or service to sell and you're not quite sure how you want to monetize your podcast yet, then capturing email addresses should be your number one priority.
Through podcasting, you're giving your audience more than just high-quality, consistent content. You're giving your audience the chance to get to know you on another level–through the opportunity to hear your voice and feel as if you're speaking directly to them.
Use your podcast to grow your audience's trust and build up your credibility, ask for an email and continue to deliver value. Eventually, you'll use one of the below methods to monetize like crazy.
Sponsorships are widely used in the podcasting world. From a 15-second bit at the beginning (called a "pre-roll") to a full 60-second clip in the middle or end ("pre-roll" and "post-roll"), the number of episodes you release and the number of sponsorships you accept can determine how much you make through podcast sponsorship. There are many "standards" out there for getting great sponsors, but I just want to say one thing.
Forget the standards.
CPM (cost per thousand listeners) is what I'm talking about. Many top podcasters who know the ropes say that you have to have thousands of listeners in order to earn a significant income from podcasting, but honestly, this world of podcasting is still very new and sponsorship is still very subjective.
My best advice: Find a company that you love, you use, and you would be happy to sponsor them on your show. Reach out and pitch to them the value you provide, the type of audience you attract, and the level of loyalty and trust you have with this audience.
It doesn't matter so much how many episode downloads you have if you have a highly engaged audience that will buy anything you advertise on the show. Because... let's be real, your audience trusts you and they want to buy and use what you're using.
3. Affiliate Relationships
There are two types of affiliate relationships you can enter when looking to monetize your podcast.
One is affiliate sponsorships. Meaning, you promote the affiliate as if they were a sponsor of the podcast, just like above, but instead of the company paying you outright for a sound-bit on your show, they pay you based on how many people you get to purchase the product or service.
This is tracked through something called an "affiliate link."
Example: Say you want Audible to "sponsor" your show. You can become an audible affiliate and get a personalized link, then you will announce Audible and all its glory (side note: I really do love Audible) on your show and provide the audience with the personalized link. For every one of your audience members that sign up for Audible using your link, you will receive a payout from Audible. (I think it's between $10-30 for each referral, but I really have no idea.)
The second type of affiliate relationship is actually developing a relationship with the guests that you bring on your show (if that's the kind of boat you're running). If the guest has a product or service they sell online, they can offer you with an affiliate link where you will make a percentage of the sale of their product or service if it's coming from your audience.
This might sound odd at first. Why would someone want to give you a cut? Well, if they weren't on your show reaching your audience, then they wouldn't have their cut of the money either. This is a win-win for everyone.
Example of people who do this: The Tim Ferriss Show by Tim Ferriss (I can't be sure if this is a sponsorship or affiliate sponsorship, but pretty sure with the links Tim gives, it's affiliates. Which, with his following he can probably make much more money using the affiliate method instead of the one-time per show sponsorship method since affiliate sponsors are evergreen, meaning: they continue to produce income even after the show has aired.)
4. Sell Your Book (or other product)
Some people may just use a podcast as a medium to promote their product, like a book launch. Using your podcast episodes to release snippets of your latest books, interview the experts featured in your recent work, and always always pitching the Call To Action to buy the book at the end of the show can be a highly effective way to increase book sales.
Have another awesome product that's not a book? Get creative. See how you can start a podcast show that will promote the results of your product, rave about the features, and educate the audience on why they need what you're selling.
Example of people who do this: Steal The Show (book) from Steal The Show Podcast by Michael Port
5. Promote Your Course
Like a product, your course can be promoted and marketed through the podcasting platform. Podcasting, as mentioned above, is a great way to educate your audience, and if you have a course you can deliver those informational chunks in an entertaining way.
Use your podcast as a platform to build up trust from your audience so that they can see the value in why they should take your course.
On your podcast you can do shows that give behind-the-scenes looks, interview experts, interview graduates of your courses to provide testimonials, or just give away valuable information that will help your audience solve a problem. Make sure to pitch your course at the end of every show and give your audience a place to sign up or buy.
6. Subscription Community Model
Through podcasting, you're essentially building a community of listeners that are all interested in the topic you have chosen. These people want to get better at whatever your teaching, or may just be hungry for people like you in your life.
Monetize your platform by building a community group that listeners can join on a paid-for monthly subscription basis. In the group you can provide premium content, bonus episodes, and access to you and other members for one-on-one coaching, entertainment, or advice.
Example of people who do this: Growth Bomb Elite Community from the Growth Bomb Podcast by Jenna Atkinson
7. Events and Masterminds
I'll say this again... When you build your podcast, you are also building a community platform. Your listeners trust you and want to hear what you have to say, but they may also benefit from the company of other listeners.
Use this opportunity to put on an event like a conference or put together a weekly or monthly mastermind. Give your audience the ability to meet each other and you, in-person.
In throwing this event or organizing the mastermind, you can charge the perceived value that your audience will get out of it. Because... although you probably care for your listeners and would be happy to do this for free, the logistics and costs of events are not easy or free, you need to make an income from the effort that you will put into this.
Example of people who do this: Boss Vacations from the Being Boss Podcast by Emily and Kathleen.
8. Marketing Yourself (speaker, coach, other services)
Sometimes, you just want to have a platform that will amplify and market your personal brand. Whether you're a coach, a public speaker, or an educator, a podcast can help you get business through paid speaking gigs, a roster of clients, or classes to teach.
Indirectly, you can monetize your podcast, and it can work wonders for your business.
This is one of the methods that I'm using right now to monetize my podcast. I've been able to market myself as an expert in the industry who loves to educate and speak casually about money.
Example of someone else who uses this: The Smart Passive Income Podcast by Pat Flynn (although he uses several methods listed above, he has gained recognition, credibility and trust, and thus, has been asked to speak for some pretty high-dollar gigs... not too shabby.)
9. The Donation Method
There are platforms out there like Patreon, that people have used to monetize their podcast through donations. After all, creating a podcast does take time (which is money) and does cost some amount (although, you can do it relatively cheap). But when you put so much effort into creating amazing content and an engaged following, you have every right to ask your audience for their charitable gift to keep your show running.
Just know, you need a really engaged audience who wouldn't know what to do with themselves if your show stopped. And as a side not, if you can figure it out... try to set up a donation collection on your own, because Patreon, although a pretty and easy interface, will take a cut... which seems counterintuitive to me.
+. Podcast Money Making Don't Do's:
- Accept a guest who wants to pay to get in front of your audience. This is weird, but maybe you're a super popular and hard-to-reach podcaster. If so, you probably know what you want and don't want and you'll quickly realize you don't want this. If you're not wildly successful already and people are knocking on your doors with dollar bills to get on the show, think long and hard about this. These guests most likely want to pitch their product or service and you have to decide if your audience members are going to be excited to listen to what will most likely turn into a podcast-length infomercial.
- Pay to have a guest on your show. Again, this is odd. Your podcast is a community and place of collaboration. Guests are most likely thrilled to be on your show as it's great media coverage for them and fantastic PR. If they request you to pay for their time, well then, you probably can't afford them... yet.
- Throw up a sponsorship because it will make you money and has nothing to do with your audience. Please please think about what is really fit for your audience. What would truly benefit them? Don't advertise erectile dysfunction pills because they pay your $1,000 a pop (and by "a pop" I mean per episode, not like popping pills...) Of course, this is an extreme case, but again, think about the things you use in your daily life, could those products or services be a great sponsor for your show? Does it relate to your message? Because this is most likely what your audience wants. If you're accepting a sponsorship on your show, you better love it so much it hurts.
- Keep a sponsor around even though it's not working out. This is a hard one, especially if they are paying you well, but when money comes into question, it's only going to be comfortable if you can have open and honest conversations with the person representing the sponsoring company, and if it's not working out... it's not working out! Chalk it up to a loss, pack it up and move on. Find a sponsor that your audience WILL love and use and thank you for.
Alright, your turn. What are some other ways you have or you know others have monetized their podcasts? What are some finger-waging faux pas you've seen people do with their shows when it comes to making money? Spill in the comments below!