Making Money With A Podcast
Uploading a podcast episode is easy, but how do podcasts make money?
With our attention spans constantly decreasing, podcasting has been an outlet for many people looking for a way to consume content on the go.
According to a recent study done by Podcast Insights, listening to podcasts has become so popular that over 51% of Americans have listened to a podcast in their lifetime. This number is only set to increase in the coming years.
Podcast hosts are clearly making the most out of this exponential growth. They have made a combined $479 million in ad revenue in 2018. Given that this number only includes ad revenue, we can only imagine how much money podcasters are making using nontraditional methods of monetization.
Sponsored Ads For Podcast Monetization
Using sponsored ads alone, podcasters can make a full-time living.
Here is a simple breakdown of how podcast ad revenue is calculated:
Podcast ad revenue is measured by something called “Cost Per Mile” or CRM for short. It’s the dollar amount a podcaster will make per 1000 listeners.
According to Advertisecast, podcasters can make anywhere between $18-$25 for every 1,000 listeners based on these 3 factors:
- Length of the ad (15 seconds, 30 seconds etc…)
- Timing of the Ad
- Beginning (Pre-Roll)
- Middle (Mid-Roll)
- End (Outro)
- Amount of total listeners
Podcast Monetization Using Affiliate Links
Podcasters who use an affiliate link in their podcast can make 5-15% of any product or service they promote. Affiliate marketing is very common among new and experienced podcasters. This is because of its ease of use and potential to make a few hundred or even thousands of dollars each month.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
The first part of affiliate marketing involves choosing the product(s) that you want to promote. As a podcaster myself, I tend to promote the equipment that I use to run my show (microphone, headphones, webcam etc…) but there are endless opportunities that you can take advantage of. For example, if you use Amazon Associates as your affiliate service, you can have access to millions of products to promote at no cost to you whatsoever.
After you’ve chosen a product, a personalized link is created for you to share with your audience. Once someone makes a purchase using your link, you will see your commissions from the sale directly on your dashboard. It is important to note that for some affiliate websites, there is a minimum dollar amount that you need to reach before you are allowed to pull the commissions but they are usually not very difficult to reach. Here is an example of what an affiliate dashboard looks like:
Using Affiliate Links To Monetize Your Podcast
Applying these concepts into your podcast is extremely simple and can be done in a matter of minutes. The best place to put your personalized links is in your podcast description. It is what people read when they listen to each episode making it an attention hotspot. Your affiliate links should be placed directly under the section discussing the particular episode, making people more inclined to read it. Here is an example of my affiliate links that I put in every episode description:
Charging Your Guests
While this method is usually used by experienced podcasters with a large audience, it can definitely be an extra chunk of monthly income. In exchange for a guest appearance on your show, the person must pay an upfront fee. Fees can range anywhere from a few hundred to even thousands for a top-rated show.
Why Would Guests Pay To Be On My Podcast?
With some podcasters charging thousands of dollars to have a guest on their show, you might be wondering why in the world a guest would pay that kind of money to be on a podcast. The two main reasons are exposure and credibility. Guesting on a podcast is similar to being published in the news; it’s an opportunity to share their story in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
While other forms of PR might be less expensive at times, having 60+ minutes of a listener’s attention is extremely valuable and is not taken lightly. This has helped podcast guesting become increasingly popular over the last few years.
Selling Your Own Merchandise
Podcast listeners typically listen to only 3-5 different podcasts so they tend to be very loyal to who they listen to. With this in mind, creating shirts, mugs, bags, and hoodies with your podcast brand on it has huge potential for extra monthly income.
How To Get Started Selling Merchandise?
Before promoting the items to your podcast listeners, you need to create designs that you know your audience will love. Websites like Merch.ly allow you to import images, add text and choose colors directly on the site, avoiding the hassle of switching from site to site. Once the design is created, it is suggested that you order the merchandise in bulk in order to get a lower price, maximizing your profit per item.
Similarly to affiliate links, your merch website should be placed in the episode descriptions, allowing your loyal listeners to show their love and support.
Creating Exclusive Content
Releasing episodes week after week can be extremely demanding, but what if you could get paid just for releasing the episode itself. Websites like Patreon allow you to create exclusive content for listeners that pay for a monthly membership. You even have the option of creating a private RSS feed that features bonus or exclusive episodes. A lot of long-time listeners don’t mind paying a small amount each month to get access to more of your content so if you haven’t already done so, you should take the time to come up with a strategy of both public and bonus episodes.
Patreon also has member-only features that go beyond just bonus episodes. Members of your podcast can receive benefits such as early access, a personal shoutout and even opportunities to hop on a live stream. It also acts as a community, allowing you to message your Patrons directly and gain feedback for your show.
Monetizing Through Donations
Just ask! Similarly to merch, many people are more than willing to support your show through donations. Listeners understand how much time, effort and resources go into production and distribution and some want to express their gratitude for all of the knowledge or entertainment they have gained from your show.
Donating doesn’t have to be a one-way street however; you can also provide incentives to donate such as a shoutout or a free call for whoever donates the most money in a week. This allows the audience to show their support for you while also potentially working towards something in return.
How To Set Up Podcast Donations
The two most popular websites that podcasters use to accept donations is Paypal and Patreon. Although Patreon is mostly used as a membership for exclusive content, it also doubles as a donation service, giving you a custom link to share with your listeners.
Paypal even allows you to place a “donate” button on a website or blog but also gives you the option to create a direct link for podcast donations that can be placed in your podcast description. You can also send out these links to your email list although it is recommended that you try to build a more personal connection when asking for a donation.
Uploading Video To YouTube
Not everyone is an audio learner which is why I recommend you record video to go along with the audio. If you’re not sure what video recording software to use, my personal favorite is ZOOM as it is completely free and allows for high-quality audio and video recording with separate tracks if needed.
YouTube is a great way to appeal to the listener that wants to put a face to the voice. And if you can make some extra cash doing so, why not? In order to monetize your content on YouTube, you need 1000 subscribers as well as at least 4000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months. While those numbers won’t be achievable right away, YouTube ad revenue can be very rewarding in the long run.
Just like ad revenue directly in the audio, YouTube ad revenue is calculated in a very similar way using the CPM (Cost Per Mile) measurement to make approximate calculations. It is important to note that some content on YouTube will make more than others simply because there are more advertisers who find the content relevant to what they are promoting.
Creating An Agency
Don’t like ruining the listener’s experience with long ads? Creating an agency can help you monetize on the back end of your podcast through the guest side of things. If you have a skill such as digital marketing or public relations, you can offer the service to your guest after the show recording is over. You won’t get the face to face opportunity with industry leaders elsewhere so it’s important to take advantage of it while you still have them on a call or in person.
This method is one of the least utilized ways to monetize a podcast but can make the most money if done correctly. Agencies can charge thousands for a press article or helping with online advertising and these high ticket services are very in-demand. Using your podcast as a way to scope out potential clients can be a game-changer if you decide to create an agency.
Selling Your Own Product/Service
If you have an existing product or service that aligns with topics covered in your show, you can easily sell them on your podcast. For example, if you have a podcast about gardening, you can sell custom gardening tools and planting accessories to your listeners. These items can help them apply what they learned on the show in their own garden. Selling these types of products is much more effective than sponsored ads. This is because they are hyper related to your niche and don’t ruin the listener’s experience.
Once you feel like you have enough expertise on your topic to advise others, coaching is definitely a podcast monetization option to explore. The rates depend on the topic discussed as well as the skill level of the clients. Typical coaching lasts between 30-60 minutes and is typically done over a video call.
The way to start coaching with your podcast is simple. Mentioning that you offer coaching in your intro or outro can be very effective. You can also create a mini landing page that you can link to in your podcast description. This allows your podcast listeners to book a time with you and learn more about the services you offer. For booking purposes, I use Calendly because it’s easy to use and syncs with my calendar. If you want to accept payments, however, you’re gonna need to upgrade to their pro plan that costs $12 a month.
Rom is a podcasting specialist, ranking his show in the top 100 for all business podcasts in only his first 6 months since launching. He is also the co-founder of Podblade, creating an affordable yet professional editing solution for podcasters. When he isn’t working, you can find him watching his favorite soccer team (Tottenham Hotspur) in action.