Podcasting has been growing steadily over the last few years, becoming one of the most popular forms of audio entertainment. A podcast can be anything from a fun hobby, a place to discuss a niche interest, or a useful tool used to market a business. But a podcast can also be a good way to generate income. Especially when you consider that 41% of Americans listen to podcasts each month.
Earning income from a podcast isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Don’t expect to start earning money from your podcast immediately. Especially if you are a beginner. (If you are just starting out you should look into the best podcast host for beginners). Before you think about monetizing your podcast, you need to first build a decent-sized audience and community of listeners.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to market a podcast and we’ll demonstrate five practical strategies that you can use to monetize your podcast.
You might have heard podcasts that start or end with “This episode has been brought to you by (brand name)”. This is a sponsorship. Sponsorships are one of the most common and easiest ways to make money from a podcast.
Earning money from sponsorship isn’t directly dependent on a certain amount of listeners/downloads. However, your sponsorship deal will pay more depending on how many people you have listening to your show. This can make it a trickier way to earn money if you only have a small following.
However, if your show covers a niche interest, then it can be easier to find a sponsor that’s relevant to your audience. For example, a business podcast for startups in Canada could seek sponsorship from a company promoting conference calling from Canada. This would be of specific interest to your listener base.
If you’re looking for a sponsor, you can either approach potential businesses and brands directly or use a media ad agency to help you set up a sponsorship agreement for your show.
Sponsorship can also take many forms. You could mention a brands’ products or services during your podcast. For example, the host of the podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience Review promotes food company HelloFresh by giving it a personal endorsement and offering listeners a discount code.
Another option is to include ads to your sponsors at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of each episode. Food podcast Gastropod takes this approach for their partnership with American Express.
You could also look at product placement deals, brand awareness, or inviting your sponsor to be a guest on your podcast. Take some time to think about which sponsorship type will work for your podcast before you reach out to businesses.
The simplest way to monetize your podcast is to ask your audience to donate. Audience donation can be a valuable strategy if you’re just getting started with your podcast.
If you’ve begun to build a loyal listener base, you can simply ask for donations to support the work you’re doing. If your listeners like what you have to offer, they’ll want to support you in being able to create future episodes.
PayPal and Patreon are commonly used to accept donations.
For example, van life podcast producers Jits into the Sunset ask their listeners to support them on Patreon. They take a completely transparent approach to their alternative lifestyle, sharing exactly what they earn and why they need support.
If you already have an established audience of listeners, you might want to consider offering premium content as a good way to start monetizing your podcast. Engaged and loyal listeners will want to hear more from you. So you can offer them bonus content that they pay for on top of your free content.
A few examples of bonus content you could offer are:
You can also create content tiers or a tiered membership. With paid membership tiers, your listeners pay more depending on the level of exclusive content and perks they want to access.
For example, a lower membership tier could give listeners early access to episodes of your podcast, plus bonus episodes each week. A higher tier might get them access to all the content you produce, exclusive Q&A sessions, and merchandise.
Setting up premium content is easier than ever these days with Spotify and Apple’s subscription options. You can also use a third-party company, such as Patreon, to manage your premium content.
One podcast network that thrives on producing premium content is Luminary. They offer a broad selection of original podcasts and you need a subscription to listen.
Affiliate marketing is similar to sponsorship in that you promote another affiliate brand on your show. But instead of just including an advert in your show for a straight fee, you promote products or services on your show in exchange for commission.
This could be an affiliate link or discount code that can be tracked, and you receive an end payout depending on how many unique customers come from your show. Affiliate marketing works best when you can offer a promotion on a product or service that’s relevant to your audience.
For example, a regional podcast that advises businesses in Canada could offer interested listeners 10% off a Calgary-based phone system, by using a code that’s unique to their show.
Make sure you work with brands that are a good fit for your subject and target audience. There’s no point partnering with a life insurance company if the majority of your listeners are under 20.
One podcast that has got this right is Beyond the Streams. They discuss streaming services so their agreement with IPVanish is in line with their podcast’s aims.
Creating an e-learning course is the perfect way to earn some money from your podcast if your show is educational or focuses on teaching and sharing a skill. If you’re already hosting a podcast, chances are you’re an expert on your subject matter.
To further engage your audience, you can provide paid one-to-one coaching sessions or create online courses to give your listeners the opportunity to benefit more from your knowledge and expertise.
Selling courses and coaching works best when you cover a specific topic that your listeners are interested in. For example, if your podcast covers the latest marketing trends and strategies, you could provide a spin-off course in social media lead generation for your listeners to further build their skills.
You could even put all your knowledge into a book. This is exactly what the host of business management podcast The Ask Gary Vee Show has done. He wrote a book which he sells on Amazon and on his website, helping him to earn extra money.
Can your podcasts start to make money? The simple answer is “yes!”
There are many options to explore when it comes to monetizing your podcast. All the methods in this list will help you to earn money with your podcast, but the most successful podcasts often don’t use just one source of income. They may have several monetization strategies that are generating money from different places to fund the podcast and make a profit.
The best place to start? Pick the strategies that will work for you and your audience. Spend time growing your listeners and focus on creating valuable, high-quality content that they love to listen to.
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.