Podcasting is a lot of work. If you want to do it seriously, you have to find ways to make money from it. Whether you’re a new podcaster or a veteran, it’s important to know how to monetize a podcast.
Before we get starting talking about how to monetize a podcast, it’s important for us to point out one thing:
While you should consider monetization techniques early (even before you publish your first episode), don’t aggressive monetize until you’ve put out at least ten or twelve episodes. Build a small community and get your downloads up to 400-500 per episode before you monetize.
In this post, we’ll go over the 15 different strategies to monetize a podcast. They fall into two groups: Direct and indirect methods.
How to Monetize a Podcast Directly
Direct monetization is when the podcast is the thing you sell. Here are some strategies to explore.
1. Ask for Donations
The simplest way to monetize a podcast is to ask people for money. Plenty of fans are happy to throw a few dollars to their favorite podcasters to ensure they continue to get great content. When people ask us how to monetize a podcast, this is always the first solution we recommend because it’s easy to set up and promote.
The best way to take donations is to create a Patreon account. It’s well-respected and simple to use. You can use their default settings or create your own system of levels and rewards for donors.
If you go with Patreon, make sure you play around with the level options. You can reward fans for their contributions with swag, content, or other perks. This makes some people feel more comfortable about buying. Some would rather overpay for a T-shirt than donate money.
Furthermore, Patreon makes people feel more comfortable about donating because they know the platform can help them if there’s a problem. For instance, if they never receive the T-shirt you promised, they can complain to Patreon to try and get their money back.
2. Sell Sponsorships/Ads
Sponsorship is the most common way to monetize a podcast. Aside from accepting donations it’s also the easiest because you don’t have to create or sell anything. You just have to set up a deal with a sponsor.
You’ve probably heard podcasters start their show or break in with something like “This episode is brought to you by [some company]. If you’re looking for a…” You get the idea. That’s a sponsorship.
Sponsorships pay more depending on how many people listen to your show. As the number of people who listen to your show increase, so will your revenue. But that also means this is a tough way to make money if you don’t have many listeners.
Generally, you can charge for “pre-roll” and “mid-roll” mentions. Mid-row (during your episode) pay more. Promote the sponsor at both points if you’re comfortable.
Here are a few places to find sponsorship deals:
Brokers take a cut, but they do provide good value. If you want to keep all the sponsorship money to yourself, your other option is to reach out to companies directly to set up your own sponsorship deals.
Some companies have open affiliate programs you can take advantage of. You don’t have to arrange a deal or get approved. You just sign up and tell them where to send your payments. You get aid whenever someone signs up with your link.
Audible is the best example of this. You’ve probably seen lots of podcasts and YouTube channels with Audible links. If you promoted your Audible link, you would get $15 every time someone signs up for their service.
3. Sell Premium Episodes
Since you know your audience likes to listen to your podcast, there’s a good chance some of them will pay for premium versions of your content. All you have to do is create some special recordings that are only available for purchase.
You might sell…
- Q&As with special guests
- Early access to episodes that will be free one day
- Ad-free episodes
- Live-streamed episodes
The Daily Wire takes a unique approach to premium content. For $10/month, subscribers can access video versions of their podcast episodes.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is another great example. His recent episodes are free to download, but his older stuff costs $1.99 on his website.
An easy way to create premium content is to record it while you record your free stuff. Let’s say you invite a guest on your show. Record a 30 minute discussion, then an additional 10 minutes to sell as a bonus. Make sure that extra 10 minutes includes something juicy people will want to buy.
A word of warning here: Make sure your free stuff still has plenty of value. You don’t want your listeners to assume you’re hiding all the good stuff in the paid content or they won’t bother.
4. Sell Repurposed Content
A great way to create sellable content is by repurposing things you’ve already created. This reduces the time you would spend making something similar.
Take a few of your best podcast episodes that relate to similar topics. Transcribe them yourself or pay someone $5 on Fiverr to do it. Then edit the transcriptions into something readable (add more value where you can, but don’t invest too much time into research) and package them together into a book.
If this strategy to monetize a podcast appeals to your listeners, invest a little money into a professional design from a service like 99Designs. Then you can put it in a format that’s suitable for Amazon. Selling books on Amazon is far more effective than trying to sell it through your own website (and it exposes you to more potential listeners).
Next, market your new book on your podcast. Point out that it’s a comprehensive way to learn everything you’ve taught.
5. Syndicate Your Show to YouTube
An easy way to squeeze some cash out of what you’ve already created is to publish your podcasts to YouTube as videos.
This is a quick process you can do yourself or delegate to someone on your team. All you have to do is enable monetization in your account settings and Google will handle the ads and distributing your money.
You don’t have to do a lot of video editing. Just add a single image to your episode recording. Learn a little about YouTube SEO, too, so you can set you make your videos visible to searchers.
How much can you make on YouTube? It depends on a number of factors, like video views, how long people watch, whether they skip your ads, whether they click on your ads, etc. Generally speaking, you can make between $0.50 and $2.00 per view.
If you really want to monetize your podcast on YouTube, here’s a pro tip:
Instead of simply uploading your entire recording, break it into consumable chunks that last three to five minutes. For instance, you might slice out one question from your interview.
This way you can create more video content (even though it all comes from the same recording) and give it a compelling headline that makes people want to click. “Mark Roberts Says Blockchain will Take Over Travel Industry in 2020” is a better title than “Episode 019 | Blockchain Technology with Guest Mark Roberts.”
How to Monetize a Podcast Indirectly
Indirect monetization is when you use your podcast as a tool to sell other things. Check out some of these money-making techniques.
6. Sell Physical Products
These days, you don’t need to actually handle any products in order to have your own ecommerce store. You can set up a store on your site that sells products you never see or touch. You could sell T-shirts, mugs, or anything else. Joe Rogan, host of the popular Joe Rogan Experience, has its own store stocked with many of the products Joe wears.
With Teespring, you can design and showcase products that are only printed/created when someone buys. This way you don’t have to put any money down.
We strongly advise that you use a print-on-demand service for merchandise at first. This way you won’t have to buy a pallet of inventory. If you buy a bunch of inventory, there’s a chance you won’t be able to sell it.
7. Public Speaking
Public speaking is actually a simple transition for a lot of podcast hosts. If you’re comfortable speaking on your show, you’ll probably do well in front of a crowd. Admittedly, standing in front of a bunch of people is a unique challenge, but it’s less of a problem if you already know how to speak.
How much you can make on speaking fees varies widely. Some speakers get a small stipend and travel expenses. Other speakers make six figures or more.
Once you record a few dozen podcast episodes, you’ll have a pretty good idea about how to tell a story and create a narrative. So creating a 20 or 30 minute presentation won’t be far outside your wheelhouse.
How do you get into public speaking?
- Find local groups (or however far you’re willing to travel) that meet to discuss your niche or industry.
- Contact them and offer to present a topic, but be open to their ideas for topics. Let them know that you intend to plug your podcast.
- Prepare a presentation with visuals.
You’ll have to start small in the beginning. Don’t expect to fill stadiums – or even auditoriums. Your first speaking gigs will have 5-8 people in attendance, but that’s okay. Use those gigs to hone your presentation skills and build relationships.
8. Sell Mastermind Slots
A mastermind group is a unique way to monetize a podcast because you get more value from it than just money.
A mastermind is a small group of people dedicated to supporting one another toward a common goal. They offer education, brainstorming, and accountability to help you stay on track with whatever you’re trying to learn or accomplish.
In a mastermind group, you’re a member too, which means you have to limit it to a small group of people who can add value to your business as well. You should not be a teacher, but you can still charge for slots because you’re the organizer.
The challenge with masterminds, however, is that members expect value. They put a lot of work in too, so they won’t be satisfied if you (or anyone else who’s part of the mastermind) disappears for a week or two. If you choose this avenue to promote your podcast, you need to commit to it.
9. Sell Access to a Membership Site
Membership sites are just information products with a clever spin. They’re organized into course people can take that mimic classroom learning. This is good method if you want to teach something that easy for your listeners to learn on their own and they achieve something specific once they complete it.
You can also package a community experience into your membership site by fostering a place a forum or Facebook group where members can discuss and work together (with your input, of course).
If you think courses are the right way for your to monetize a podcast, we recommend creating your first course on one of those third-party platforms. Yes, you’ll pay some fees for each person who takes the course, but you’ll skip having to build a functional system on your own website. If courses turn out to be your money-maker, then bring it all in-house.
10. Sell Content Upgrades
A clever way to monetize a podcast is to include a downloadable resource with each podcast episode that relates to that episode. This is called a content upgrade because it upgrades the episode content.
For instance, let’s say you host a fishing podcast. In one episode, you talk about fishing for trout. At the end of the episode, you tell your fans to go to your website and buy your 99¢ map of the best trout fishing spots in the U.S.
To sell a content upgrade, you’ll have to place a payment form on your site somewhere for listeners to pay and download the form. The best place for this is the page where you publish your podcast download links and/or audio player.
And if you’re selling content upgrades to monetize a podcast, you may as well add an ecommerce shopping cart to your site so you can list your content upgrades individually. This way people can browse your previous upgrades in one place, rather than sorting through every post.
11. Sell Information Products
An information product is a type of content people buy to learn new things. It could be anything: A template, a resource, a guide, an ebook, a worksheet, etc. Unlike content upgrades, a general information product doesn’t have to relate to a specific episode, but would solve a broader issue or problem your listeners face.
The biggest benefit of selling information products through your podcast is that you can plug them as often as you like in your podcast script to prevent sales from falling flat. You can also source questions or comments from your listeners and answer them on your show, which adds more value to their purchase.
12. Sell an App
If you’re acutely aware of your listeners’ challenges and problems, you can monetize a podcast by designing an app that suits their needs. If you host a parenting podcast, you might sell a calendar app designed specifically for parents. If you host an astronomy podcast, you might sell a star-finder app.
Alternatively, you might sell a simple branded app that helps people interact with you and your content better. It could have your podcast episodes, blog content, updates, your schedule, and maybe a way to talk with you directly.
A word of warning: App development can be expensive if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Make sure you get plenty of information from a developer before you get started so you don’t burn too much cash or wind up with a half-finished product you can’t afford.
13. Host an Event
If you have a local following (or a devout audience who wouldn’t mind traveling to see you), sell tickets to a live event where your fans will get to meet you in person.
The type of event you host will depend on your audience and your podcast’s topic. You might give a lecture, run a workshop, teach a skill, or simply host a group discussion. Eventbrite is a great tool to sell your own tickets for a live event.
To be fair, this is a challenging way to monetize a podcast. It’s not impossible, but event planning costs can be high, so you may have to charge a lot to turn a profit. That said, it can be lucrative if you have a large following.
Whatever you do, make sure to charge during registration. This ensures people will show up (because they’ve already spent the money). If try to collect at the door, you’ll be disappointed in the turn out.
14. Sell Consulting/Coaching Services
The biggest benefit of hosting a podcast is that you establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Your audience comes to respect you as an informed expert. So a great way to monetize a podcast is to offer services that tie in with your topic.
For instance, a productivity and wellness podcast might offer personal life coaching. A marketing podcast might sell personalized marketing strategies.
Getting started here is quite easy. You just need a landing page on your website with a form or widget for people to sign up for a coaching session with you.
What’s a coaching session? It can be anything you like. It might as simple as a phone call or Skype chat, or as complex as an in person visit at the client’s location. Put together whichever type of service is right for your customer.
15. Sell Affiliate Products
Instead of creating your own products to sell, you could sell other people’s products for a cut of their sales. There are two methods to do this.
The first method is to promote their products yourself. For example, Audible’s partner program is common among podcasters. They give you a free link to promote. You get $15 anytime someone signs up for a free trial using your link.
The second method is to have the product owner come on your show to push their own products. The benefit here is that the product owner knows how to sell his own product better than you, so he can say the right things to drive more sales.
You’ll still need a special URL to track sales. We recommend something like yourdomain.com/product-name. Set up the URL with a redirect so you can see exactly how many people followed it. Make sure to establish a reasonable commission beforehand.
(Pro tip: Make sure to disclose any affiliate relationships. If you don’t, your listeners might feel deceived.)
Experiment with Multiple Techniques
As you can see, there are plenty of methods to monetize a podcast. There’s no right way to do it.
The trick, however, is to monetize your podcast in a way that doesn’t disappoint your listeners. This means finding the monetization technique they don’t find intrusive. In many cases, that means using a little bit of several techniques, rather than pushing one method hard.
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