9 Ways to Monetize a Podcast

9 Ways to Monetize a Podcast
41% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly (Source: convinceandconvert.com) and 16 million people in the US are “avid podcast fans” (Source: PodcastHosting).

The popularity of podcasts is growing rapidly and many businesses have already started to leverage this form of content to grow their businesses. Today we’re going to discuss nine ways to monetize a podcast so we can use it as a viable option for growing our business. 

Key Takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Creating a podcast helps us find our ideal customers and develop a relationship with them so they want to buy from us without being convinced to.
  2. We can create a membership site that has exclusive content for our customers that pay a monthly fee.
  3. We can sell information products or use them as lead magnets for our other products and services. 
  4. We should only do affiliate programs with businesses we actually like.
  5. Generally, once your subscribers grow to at least 5,000 per episode, then you can start charging for advertising space.
  6. We can put our logo or key phrases on merchandise like shirts, mugs, socks, hats, etc. 
  7. We can charge guests to come on our show. 
  8. We can repurpose content to generate revenue from other mediums. 
  9. Through Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee we can get crowdfunding and donations from our listeners. 

The Growing Popularity of Podcasts 

Not only are thousands of people consuming podcasts, they are also launching their own podcasts to grow their businesses. And, there are people who have been very successful at monetizing their podcasts. For example, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire generated $217,000 in December of 2021 from his podcast. 

Podcast magazine (2018) surveyed a thousand podcasts hosts and found that 54% earned income by selling sponsorships on the air and 42% made money through premium content. We can do this as well. We can monetize our podcasts. In fact, it’s getting easier and easier to make money off of podcasts as more and more opportunities for monetization present themselves. 

Here are nine ways we can monetize our podcasts:

   1. Products and Services 

The first way we can monetize our podcast is to sell our own products and services. Often, when I have a product or service and I want to sell it to someone, I do a cold outreach. I contact that person and try to make a sale as a salesperson. However, nobody likes salespeople. Consumers don’t like to be sold to. 

A podcast presents a much better opportunity and a much more effective way to sell. With a podcast, we can invite our potential customers as guests on the show and build relationships with them so they begin to know, like, and trust us. When we do this, we make them much more receptive to the messages we have to share. We’re also providing value to them first. 

It can be very effective to sell our products and services to the audience on the show who are coming to know, like, and trust us. And there’s many different ways we can do this. If we sold pergolas, we could create a show about creating beautiful backyards. We could sell our pergolas to the listeners of the show. If I had a business that sold camping and hiking gear, I might create a podcast about the best hikes in the United States. 

Creating a podcast helps us find our ideal customers, develop a relationship with them, and provide free value so that they want to buy from us without being convinced to. 

   2. Memberships and Subscriptions 

The second strategy for monetizing our show is memberships and subscriptions. We can create a membership site that has exclusive content for people that pay monthly. Here are a few ideas of what you could include in your membership site:

  • 30 minutes of extra free content
  • Behind the scenes content
  • Early access to episodes 
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • An ad free version
  • Other bonus content 

The Crime Junkie podcast is one of the top podcasts on Patreon. For $5, they give their listeners a monthly bonus episode, early access, and audio extras. At $10, patrons get all that, plus discounts, stickers, and a mini episode. And for $20, patrons get everything from the first two tiers plus a special monthly “Headlines” episode, the ability to vote on episodes, and more. (Source: Patreon) 

Another example of a membership done really well by a show is Podcasters Paradise, operated by John Lee Dumas. Podcasters Paradise is a membership site that he offers to podcasters where he teaches them how to more effectively run, grow, and monetize their show. I believe John Lee Dumas has earned more than $7 million operating Podcasters Paradise, charging subscribers $97 a month to participate. 

   3. Information Products

The third strategy for monetizing our podcast is through information products. This can include ebooks, online courses, guides, worksheets, etc. An information product is simply  any way we can take information and productize them and sell them digitally to our customers. According to ImprovePodcast, e-courses surpassed $200 billion in revenue and are on the path to reach $325 billion by 2025. 

   4. Affiliate Marketing 

A fourth strategy for monetizing our podcast is through affiliate marketing. This isn’t my favorite strategy because it is hard to make a ton of money from affiliates, but it is still used by many podcasters.  

With affiliate marketing, you’re given a link from another business that takes your customers to their page. You don’t get paid for running any advertising on a flat rate from that business. Instead, you get paid a percentage of each sale made through that affiliate link. Or at least you should. 

The problem is a lot of these affiliate links use cookies. And there’s a lot of ways that sales cannot be tracked. For example, if the customer clears their cookies, or if they go from one device to another device, they won’t be counted as a sale made through the affiliate program. There’s a lot of ways where the affiliates may not get all of the income from the sales they introduced to accompany. 

However, that being said, you can still make a good amount of money. In the last two months, I’ve received $2,000 payments each month from an affiliate that I wasn’t expecting. This can be used to reinvest in my podcast or put into my emergency savings. As an estimate, if your podcast has about 10,000 downloads per episode, you can expect to make between $500-$900 per episode in affiliate sales (Source: thebestmedia.com). 

One of the most effective affiliate programs to include are the affiliate programs of your guests. For example, if you had Russell Brunson, the founder of ClickFunnels, on your show, and you included an affiliate link for ClickFunnels, that would likely be very effective. 

With affiliate marketing, it’s important to make sure you do not promote anything that you don’t actually like. You want to find products or services you and your ideal customers like. This will increase your chances of getting more sales. You should also make sure you include the proper disclosures so you don’t get in trouble. 

I would also recommend that you find affiliate programs that give you a bigger percentage of the sales made. Don’t go with affiliate programs that pay you 10%.  It’s a lot harder for that to become profitable. ClickFunnels, for example, pays a 40% commission. You want to find something like this. 

   5. Sponsorships and Advertising 

The fifth strategy for monetizing a podcast is sponsorships and advertising. This is a strategy that doesn’t really work at the beginning when you’re small and have very few listeners. It’s very hard to sell sponsorships and advertising when you don’t have a lot of reach. This is a strategy that works much better once you’ve grown and achieved a sizable amount of reach and traffic. 

Once you’re large enough to pursue sponsorships and advertising the amount of money you generate depends on the CPM or cost per thousand. For example, if your podcast 100,000 downloads every episode and an advertiser pays $30 CPM for an ad, you will make $3,000 per episode. 

According to The Best Media, “As a general reference, once your subscriber numbers grow to at least 5,000 per episode, you can start charging for advertising space on your show.” 

For some of the largest podcasters, this is one of their largest streams of income. It can do very well once you have a lot of traffic. There are also podcast advertising networks you can join such as PodCorn, PodGrid, MidRoll, and AdvertiseCast.

If you’re too small now to go down the path of advertising and sponsorships, there is something you can do now. This is an insider’s secret. Instead of selling an ad on an episode that sticks on that episode for the next 10 years, there’s a different way to do it. You can dynamically insert an ad. So, when you sell an ad this month, it can show across all of your back episodes, and all of your downloads this month. That’s dynamic ad insertion. If you start inserting those codes now, then when you are large enough, and you sell an ad, it can go across all of your back issues and not just the current episode you’re publishing. 

   6. Merchandise 

The sixth way to monetize your podcast is by selling merchandise. We can put up an e-commerce store or a marketplace. With a marketplace, you can allow other vendors in your industry to sell products in your store that you don’t have to inventory and then generate revenue by taking a percentage of their sales. 

A lot of podcasters also put their logo or their key phrases that resonate with their audience on merchandise like shirts, mugs, socks, hats, etc. There’s companies like PodSwag that can help you do this. 

   7. Charge Guests 

The seventh strategy for monetizing your podcast is to charge guests. Again, this is a strategy that doesn’t work well unless you have generated a lot of listeners. However, once you have, it can be a huge opportunity. 

There are a few podcasters that have done this very effectively and made a lot of money with this strategy. For example, the podcast Screw the 9-5 does this. You can currently pay  $997 to get on their show. 

   8. Repurpose Content

The eighth strategy for monetizing your podcast is repurposing your content. This may not seem like a direct monetization strategy, but it can be relatively effective. 

With Monetization Nation, we don’t just publish a podcast episode; we also repurpose our content in many different formats such as YouTube videos, blog posts, social media posts, etc. where we can monetize through those other channels. When you publish those other mediums, you open yourself up to generating revenue from those other mediums. 

For example, we can put ads on our YouTube videos and graphical text ads on our blog. We should look for diversified monetization opportunities from our repurposed content. 

   9. Crowdfunding and Donations 

The ninth and final opportunity that we’re going to talk about today is crowdfunding and donations.

Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee are two platforms you can use for crowdfunding and donations as a podcaster. Chapo Trap House covers American politics and uses Patreon to get donations from their viewers. In addition to just donating, their donors also get access to premium content. They offer two tiers, both of which offer access to weekly premium episodes and the entire back catalogue (Source: blog.patreon.com). 

Again, this is a strategy that requires you to have a loyal following first. 

And those are my nine ways to monetize a podcast! I hope it helped and I wish you success on your journey with monetizing your digital show.

Next Steps

 

  1. Get a free ebook about passion marketing, and learn how to become a top priority of your ideal customers at PassionMarketing.com
  2. Subscribe to Monetization Nation on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, our Facebook Group, and on your favorite podcast platform.
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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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