Monetize Your Podcast

How to Make Your First $100 Podcasting

7 min read

As a podcaster, it’s no secret that you want to use your show to make money. You love the medium, you love the work, and you love your audience, but at some point you want the show to compensate you for all of your effort.

Earning Joe Rogan levels of cash takes time, but that doesn’t mean you need a million listeners to start earning something. It’s entirely possible to earn a few dollars from a small audience. In this article, we explain how to make your first $100 podcasting.

Why Ads Aren’t the Best Choice

Before we offer some monetization strategies to earn your first $100 podcasting, let’s talk about why advertisements are not the best choice. 

Sponsorships are the proverbial tool that podcasters use to monetize their shows. Selling ads is a straightforward and effective way to generate revenue. Podcasters love sponsorships because their income grows as their audience grows, but the work to create an ad stays basically the same (especially if you can use the same pre-recorded segment in multiple episodes).

But advertisements won’t get you to your first $100. For most podcasters, ads are a poor way to monetize your show in the beginning. There are two reasons why ads aren’t the right tools to start monetizing your show:

  1. When your show is young, sponsors won’t pay much for your ad slots. They know you don’t have a lot of listeners, so they won’t pay much. If your show is very new, they won’t pay anything at all (and probably won’t even respond to your emails). 
  2. Some listeners don’t like ads to the point where they will abandon a show. These losses are acceptable when you have thousands of listeners, but not when you’re only getting 20 or 30 listens per episode. You can’t risk diluting your audience this early. 

So while ads have potential to generate a ton of revenue for established shows, they aren’t right for early monetization. But that doesn’t mean you can’t monetize an early show. You just need to find the right income-generating strategy.

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How to Make Your First $100 Podcasting

There are lots of ways to monetize your podcast, but few of them are right for early shows with small audiences. There are four ways to make your first $100 podcasting. 

1. Accept donations from listeners

The simplest way to start earning money with your podcast is to ask your listeners for donations. Lots of fans are happy to send you a few bucks to ensure that you continue producing content they like. It also makes them feel like they are a part of something special, especially if you acknowledge their donation in a later episode or in your podcast community

Make your first $100 podcasting with donations
Pulpit Fiction, a religious podcast, supports itself with donations.

Accepting donations is easy to set up and promote, as well. Many podcasters create a Patreon account (or their own Patreon-like membership site) to accept donations. Or you could keep things super simple and add a PayPal or Stripe button to a page on your site. 

When you ask for donations in each episode, make sure to be as honest and transparent as possible. Why do you need donations? Does your content have expenses that need to be covered? Will income allow you to work less and produce more content? Don’t be afraid to tell your life story and be open about the mechanics of producing your show. If people understand where the money is going, they’ll be more apt to donate.

As a Castos user and with the help of Stripe, you can add a payment link to your website to accept donations. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Create a Stripe account for free.
  • Create multiple Products in your Stripe dashboard for different donation amounts (such as $5, $10, $20, etc.). If you want to give them the option to customize their donation amount, you’ll need to use a third-party app like Custom Donations
  • Grab the payment link for each Product and add them to your website.

Add the Stripe+Castos integration to take advantage of six different trigger options from Stripe to trigger actions in Castos’ Automations Engine.

2. Sell merchandise, services, or access

Another easy way to make your first $100 podcasting is to sell products and services directly to your audience. If they love your show and believe you will add value to their lives, they’ll happily buy from someone they already support.

What should you sell? It depends on your brand and your show’s topic. If you host an education show, you might sell a piece of premium content, like an ebook or video series. 

You can also sell services. If your show is about weight loss, you might sell custom diet plans. If you are a parenting coach, you could sell consultation hours with struggling parents. Finance experts could design budgets or offer personalized investing tips. 

Additionally, you could sell access to something that your listeners find valuable, like your private Facebook group, Slack workspace, or membership course. If this asset is really valuable, you may be able to get your listeners to pay a recurring fee for access.

You can also opt to sell physical merchandise – hats, T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, and anything else that can be personalized. You don’t have to order big quantities or produce these products yourself. You can use a merchandise service to handle the logistics for you. All you have to do is send people to your store. 

Make your first $100 podcasting with merchandise
Murder Mile, a true crime podcsat, sells a wide selection of merchandise.

3. Become an affiliate of another brand

Developing an affiliate arrangement with another brand is like taking on a sponsor, but in this case, the sponsor is far more willing to work with new podcasts that don’t have big audiences. 

How it works: You join an affiliate program. The sponsor gives you a code or URL to give out to your listeners. When someone makes a purchase from the sponsor using that code or URL, you get a commission. There’s no downside for the sponsor because they only pay when they get a sale.  

Make your first $100 podcasting with affiliate programs
Audible offers a popular affiliate program for podcasters

Some affiliate programs are invitation-only. You will need to speak with someone at the brand directly in order to join their program. This person will evaluate whether your audience and their customers overlap. Depending on the product, they might have other requirements as well.

But some affiliate programs are pretty wide open. Anyone can join and promote the product. Audible’s affiliate program accepts just about anyone, for instance. So does Nord VPN and Simplisafe. Their commission payouts aren’t bad either, which means you should be able to make your first $100 podcasting fairly quickly.

4. Start a paid podcast subscription

If your podcast has a slightly more established audience, a great way to monetize your show without finding sponsors is to start a paid subscription podcast. This is exactly what it sounds like: a show that listeners pay to gain access to.

Subscription podcasts offer several great benefits. They can be reliable revenue streams because you know exactly how much you’ll earn for each episode you produce. Fans like subscription shows because they’re usually ad-free. Plus, it’s not hard to sell a subscription podcast to the listeners of your free show because they already love your content. 

A subscription podcast must be especially valuable. You need to give your listeners a good reason to pay for your content. After all, there are a lot of free podcasts available. Your paid show needs to be head-and-shoulders better than all of those.

If you’re a Castos user, starting a subscription podcast is super easy. We’ve partnered with Stripe to allow all of our customers to accept payments directly from your listeners. The payment will trigger Castos’ Automations Engine to add those new paying customers as Private Podcast Subscribers.

Starting a subscription podcast only takes a few minutes. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Create a Stripe account for free.
  • Create a Product in Stripe. Fill out the product details and set the price that you’d like customers to pay for access to your private podcast content.
  • Add the payment link into your website and in the Funding tag of your RSS feed. If you use a Castos’ customizable podcast website, you can add the link to your navigation directly in your Castos account settings. 

In your Castos account, set up the Castos’ Automations Engine to automatically add new customers from Stripe to your private podcast. Listeners can enjoy this show on their favorite podcast listening app or the Castos app.

Action

Want to learn more about podcast monetization? Check out our full guide: How Do Podcasts Make Money? Try These 20 Strategies To Monetize Your Show

Your First $100 Podcasting Can Come Quickly

If you take advantage of one or several of the strategies we outlined above, your first $100 podcasting shouldn’t take long. You won’t develop a reliable, lucrative revenue stream until you have a larger audience, but you’ll earn something to make producing new podcast episodes a little easier.

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Dennis is a content marketer and web developer with years of experience helping startups and small businesses build their online platforms. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter.

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