By Jon Clark, managing partner at Moving Traffic Media, a New York digital agency offering PPC and SEO services.
When creating a podcast, don’t expect to start making money from it immediately (unless you’re already famous). For regular folks like you and me, you’ll first need to build a community of listeners by:
• Making your podcast available on distribution platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
• Releasing podcast episodes consistently.
• Telling people about it and sharing it on social media.
Once you have a podcast audience, you can start earning with the following podcast monetization strategies:
1. Sponsorship Deals
Podcast sponsorship is one of the most common ways to monetize a podcast. It’s also the easiest since there isn’t a specific amount of listens/downloads you need to reach out to a sponsor.
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Sponsorship involves contacting relevant sponsors/brands within your niche to advertise their product/service. You might have heard podcast hosts start (pre-roll ad) or end (post-roll ad) their show with, “This episode has been brought to you by [brand name].” It’s also sometimes said during the episode (mid-roll ad). This indicates a sponsorship.
Of course, it’s easier to land a sponsorship if you’re a good podcast host with an established audience.
2. Affiliate Partnerships
Affiliate marketing or partnerships involves selling other products or services under a special link. When podcast listeners click on this affiliate link and buy the product/service, the podcast host earns a commission from the sale.
Companies such as Skillshare and Amazon have affiliate programs where you can sign up as an affiliate and start earning. How much money you’ll earn from affiliate marketing typically depends on the size of your audience.
Note that you should only promote a product or service you truly believe in. This way, you build credibility and trust with your audience.
3. Offering Premium Content
Selling premium content is an excellent monetization technique to take your podcast business to the next level. It involves charging a subscription fee for special or exclusive content that isn’t available on your regular podcast feed.
For example, you could release two episodes per week where one is free and the other is paid. The paid content, however, has to be unique. It could be a:
• Long-form Q&A podcast episode with a guest
• Live recorded show
• Video version of the show
• Ad-free show
Just remember that both the paid and free content must have value for the audience so they’re encouraged to stick around. To start providing premium content, consider signing up for membership platforms that can help distribute premium episodes.
4. Asking For Donations
Another simple way to make money podcasting is by asking for donations. You’d be surprised how many fans are willing to donate a few dollars to support their favorite podcast show. It’s also a great way for new podcast creators to start earning immediately since it’s easy to promote.
There are many services you can use to collect donations, including Paypal, Stripe and GoFundMe. Once you have an account, add the link to your description and ask listeners to chip in what they can.
If you’re averse to asking for donations, keep your reasons authentic. Do you need donations to buy better podcasting tools? Will the donations help create more episodes or more quality content? Be transparent with your audience, and they’ll be more willing to donate since they know where the money is going.
5. Joining A Podcast Advertising Network
Podcast ad networks are third-party platforms that act as a middleman between podcast hosts and sponsors. For example, there’s AdvertiseCast, Midroll, PodGrid and Podcorn.
These services put ads in your show and pay per 1,000 impressions (CPM) of the ad. Additionally, they take a cut from your earnings, so ensure you read the platform’s fine print to see how much they take.
Depending on the size of your audience, you could make anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands by joining an ad network.
6. Selling Merchandise
Do you have a loyal audience who loves your show? Then it may be time to produce and sell your products. This can include anything from T-shirts and hoodies to stickers and keyholders. Brand the products with the podcast name, logo or a catchphrase your listeners love.
When it comes to customers ordering the product, the best way to sell merchandise is through your website. Another way is to use a third-party platform that handles the printing and selling of podcast merchandise.
Selling merch isn’t only a wonderful way to connect with your audience, it’s also great to expand your show’s reach.
7. Selling Access To A Course
Is your podcast educational? Does it aim to teach a skill or an art? Creating an e-course is a wonderful way to make money from the show.
Currently, many platforms allow content creators to create their own online courses. Two of the most popular are Udemy and Skillshare. These platforms are ideal when starting out because they’re very easy to join and set up. However, once the courses prove to be a hit, consider bringing them in-house to your website to maximize earnings.
8. Live Events
The final way you can monetize a podcast is by hosting an “IRL” podcast event. This strategy works best when you have a devout or local audience who would travel to see you. It also requires a huge listenership so you can make a profit even if only a small percentage of listeners show up for the event.
Hosting events also brings in decent revenue. Think about it like this. If each ticket goes for $100 and you have 30,000 regular listeners where only 1% (300) show up, you’ll make $30,000 in revenue.
There’s no one right way to monetize a podcast. The trick to maximizing revenue is to implement monetization methods that aren’t intrusive to your audience and to use a bit of every technique instead of going hard on a single monetization strategy.