So you’ve got your own podcast.
You’ve invested in the right equipment, spent hours planning/recording/editing episodes, and even mastered the art of interviewing guests. Finally, you’ve captured the hearts (and ears!) of loyal listeners, who are completely and utterly hooked.
So give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve already given your listeners so much, whether it’s entertainment, knowledge, or simply a voice they can count on. Now it’s time to pay yourself.
If you want to make money from podcasting, there’s good news: Long gone are the days when podcasters relied solely on ads for money. Today, anyone with a podcast and a vision has the ability to transform their craft into a sustainable revenue stream. Here are six ways to make money from podcasting:
Popular podcasts can make thousands of dollars—every month—through sponsorships.
It’s no surprise why brands big enough to run Super Bowl ads have also started sponsoring podcasts (e.g. Squarespace and Ford). The payoff is huge: As of 2016, 21% of Americans age 12 or older say they have listened to a podcast in the past month. Additionally, 22% of podcast listeners have an annual household income of $100,000 or more, and 63% of podcast listeners have purchased something a host promoted on a show.
Before you approach a potential sponsor, make sure you
- Have a high-quality, engaging podcast. This includes content, production, and branding.
- Know your actual numbers. Blubrry and Libsyn are great resources for this.
- Know your audience. What products would get them excited?
However, Omar Zenhom, creator of the The $100 MBA, a podcast offering 10-minute business lessons (with 50,000 daily listeners!), urges podcasters to realize that sponsorship is truly optional:
Not all podcasts are meant to have sponsors. If your intention for creating a podcast was to further develop your communication skills or to spend an hour a week with your best bud gabbing about the NBA playoffs, that’s cool… I totally get doing something for personal development or enjoyment. I am not a believer that every podcast out there should have sponsors. It’s your show. Do what’s best for you.
When serial entrepreneur Navid Moazzez started his own podcast, he was ecstatic to land interviews with bestselling authors like Robert Green and Chris Brogan. However, Moazzez quickly realized that had no idea how to make money from his podcast. That’s when he came across virtual summits.
In simplest terms, virtual summits are video interviews of 20+ experts on a certain subject, which viewers can join. These summits are usually free for a specific period of time, like 24 or 48 hours. However, after the allotted time, audience members have to purchase an “all-access pass” if they want to continue watching (or rewatch the content at a later date).
The result? With his Branding Summit alone, Moazzez made $20,000 in sales and increased his email list by 3,000 subscribers. Shocked by his own success and determined to help other podcasters, Moazzez decided to create a free virtual summit “cheat sheet.”
Affiliate programs allow podcasters to make money by promoting and selling a company’s products or services. Typically, the company will give you a special link or code to promote X (i.e. whatever product the company wants to push) to your listeners. Whenever a listener purchases something using that affiliate link or code, you’ll earn a commission.
For example, in Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, your commission rate can range from 4% to 15%, depending on the total number of items shipped (or downloaded) in a given month.
It’s up to you how transparent you want to be with your listeners. For instance, Sam Harris, creator of The Waking Up Podcast, informs his listeners about his participation in the Amazon Affiliates program.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand that affiliate programs are very different from sponsorships. Almost anyone can join an affiliate program, but sponsorships are much harder to land. If you’re considering joining an affiliate program, remember this: Only promote what you believe in. When you endorse a product, you’re attaching your reputation to it, so really think about whether or not your listeners will benefit from what you’re promoting. Your listeners come first when it comes to monetizing your podcast. If what you endorse isn’t relevant to your listeners, it’s not worth the commission that you may or may not earn.
Featured in Entrepreneur, Inc., and The Huffington Post, podcaster Yann Ilunga explains why networking might very well be the most profitable element of podcasting:
Regardless of whether you’re hosting an interview–based podcast or not, relationships are a very powerful element in podcast, just like in business.
After interviewing several top podcasters I can say that networking is the number-one reason why many entrepreneurs, marketers, authors and coaches decide to start a podcast.
Want to get high profile guest interviews for your podcast? Don’t be afraid to tap into your existing network, attend meetups related to the subject of your podcast, cold email potential guests, directly message potential guests on social media, or add an interview application form to your contact page.
Also, when looking for guests to interview, don’t only focus on their status. Think about your business, try to interview like-minded people who’d be interested in collaborating.
Before chasing after sponsors and affiliate marketing programs, take inventory of what you already have/can easily produce: your own products and services. For instance, if you sell artwork or merchandise, why not leverage your podcast to increase sales? If you’re an expert on public speaking, include an exclusive discount for a consulting package!
You don’t need to have a fashion podcast in order to create one-of-a-kind apparel. For example, The Sword and Scale Podcast, one of the top best true-crime podcasts, successfully launched its own line of merchandise.
In short, start seeing your podcast as a marketing tool that can help transform loyal listeners into paying customers. After all, being in their earbuds is one of the most powerful ways to build authority, likability, and trust.
Unlike unpredictable and irregular revenue streams, Patreon lets podcasters receive support on a regular basis. As a podcaster on Patreon, it’s up to you if your patrons pay you per month or per podcast.
Whether you’re new to podcasting or a tried-and-true veteran, making ends meet can be stressful. On top of that, revenue from sponsorships, ads, and sales can oftentimes fluctuate. As a creator on Patreon, your patrons can help give you reliable income that lets you focus on what you do best: creating and improving your craft. Another perk? You’ll have meaningful interactions with your most devoted listeners, knowing that your work is cutting the fluff and going directly to the ones who want it most.
So, keep creating awesome podcasts. Keep giving your listeners a reason to tune in. Here at Patreon, we’ve got your back.