Find Out – Can You Quit Your Day Job?
I share seven actionable strategies to monetize your content.
Learn how advertising, donations, memberships, affiliate marketing, selling products or services, and promoting relevant brands can transform your podcast into a lucrative venture. While achieving success in the podcast industry requires passion, dedication & the right mindset, I navigate you through the challenges involved and how quality content with laser-focused promotion ultimately leads to triumph.
- The most successful monetization strategy that led to significant revenue growth
- Discover what types of products and services resonate well with podcast audiences
- Tips on how to approach and partner with brands for affiliate marketing relationships
How to monetize a podcast is one of the most common questions asked by podcast hosts, even before starting a podcast, how do I make money podcasting? Is it just podcast sponsorship? Or offering paid content?
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.
No matter how big or small your podcast audience is, whether you are an independent podcaster or working for a professional company, in this blog post I share some of the podcast monetization strategies that I’ve used and some that I’ve not, that can work for you.
There are many more ways than just podcast sponsorship to monetize a podcast.
How many downloads do I need to start monetizing my podcast?
There’s no hard rule here. Generally, gathering 400-500 downloads per episode is a great time to start monetizing a podcast but this is a guideline. If you’re considering joining a podcast advertising network, they may have minimum download requirements before you can apply.
In this post, I’ll provide 7 examples of how to monetize a podcast and why they’re so important to make money podcasting.
Learning how to monetize a podcast could help take your podcast to the next level, allow you to hire a podcast editor freeing up more of your time to focus on your creativity, or quit your job and become a full-time podcast host.
7 Examples of How To Monetize A Podcast
1. Monetize With Ads
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.
According to Influencer Marketing, “nearly 20% of people are much more likely to consider supporting a brand if it’s advertised on their favorite podcast. What’s more, 60% of listeners revealed that they actually searched for a product after it was mentioned on a podcast”.
Ad revenue is usually the first thing that podcast hosts think of when it comes to generating revenue. Ads are generally sold on a CPM, or cost-per-thousand basis. The cost is based on the number of listens it will get, and where it is placed in the podcast episode.
The most valuable is the pre-roll, right at the start of the podcast episode, followed by the mid-roll and then the post. I think you can guess where those last two are placed in podcast episodes. So how many listeners you have has a huge bearing on finding sponsorship deals.
On average a 30-second Ad costs $18 per thousand listens (or CPM) and a 60-second Ad $25.
Depending on where it is placed…
- For a 30-second pre-roll ad spot at the beginning of the show, you would get about $18 CPM.
- For a 60-second mid-roll ad spot will be $30
- And for a 25-second post-roll ad will work out the cheapest at about $10 CPM on average.
A weekly show with 1000 listeners could generate around $43 an episode, or $172 per month. While that is a good amount of money and would cover all your costs than some, it’s not something you would quit your full-time job over. And if the goal is to quit your job make sure that podcasting is your number one strategy to do so.
And this is a big one, 1,000 listeners per week would easily put you in the top 5% of podcasts in the world. I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but it isn’t easy.
One of the things that annoy me the most is when I read a blog or see a YouTube video about starting a side hustle that will EASILY make you money, and devotes just a sentence or two around the advice of just “start a blog/podcast/youtube channel” when all of these take an inordinate amount of time and energy with no guarantee of success. They are certainly not easy.
The key to podcast revenue is volume, no matter which of these strategies you use. And how do you get volume? Number 1 quality podcast content, number 2 promote your show in the right way.
The more listeners you will have a more successful podcast and be able to make money podcasting. Focus on this, and follow these podcast monetization strategies for success. If you do want to find sponsorship deals focus on brands that are in your niche. If you sell hammers, approach a hammer brand. Not McDonalds!
You can also join a podcast advertising network. AdvertiseCast is the premier podcast network for buying and selling podcast advertising. Podcast advertising 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 integrated ad-reads, paid sponsorships, merchandise, or product promotions throughout their show.
Lastly, you can also sell advertising space to other podcasts. This might seem counter-intuitive. But podcasters should advertise their show in front of people who already listen to podcasts. So it makes perfect sense to sell advertising space on your show to other podcasts.
If you do offer this, I would recommend only selling advertising space to podcasts in the same niche. It might confuse and alienate listeners if they hear ads from a completely unrelated podcast.
Podcasters tend to combine various methods for multiple revenue streams. Let’s look at six more ways how to make money doing a podcast and offer some examples.
Monetize With Memberships & Gifts
2. Offer Memberships
You’ve probably already heard of Patreon or any other similar membership platforms, where paying listeners voluntarily give a monthly amount of money to a podcast creator whose content they enjoy.
This can be anywhere from $1 a month up to a few hundred dollars, even thousands depending on the benefits. Many successful podcasters use this strategy as their number 1 podcast monetization strategy.
As a podcast host, you may be shy to use this as a podcast marketing tool but it can help you make money no matter the size of your podcast audience. Using third-party platforms like Patreon and ko-fi.com make it easy to set up and promote.
The key here is to create tiers of giving that give value to your podcast listeners, but also to you. Don’t create a tier where it will lead to you spending hours creating and sending merchandise for just a few dollars a month.
One of the biggest surprises I learned when I started my Patreon with various benefits was the month of people who chose the option with no benefits. They just wanted the free content given by my RSS feed.
You could do any number of things for your loyal audience from offering premium content, exclusive content, hosting events, bonus free content, exclusive episodes, video versions of your episode, selling access to you or your services, or even coaching services.
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. This is a great way to make money.
For example, you could release two episodes per week where one is free and the other is paid.
The paid premium content, however, has to be unique. Premium Content could be a:
- Long-form Q&A podcast episode with a guest
- Live recorded show
- A video version of the show
Another way many popular podcasts monetize a podcast is through membership platforms by hosting events. This strategy works best when you have a devout or local audience who would travel to see you.
When podcast creators do this it sets you apart from other popular podcast in your niche or local area. Make sure that live events are something exciting that engages your audience and might attract another podcast listener or two.
One of my favorite content creators, Julie Nolke, has a great example of this podcast monetization strategy. She offers 5 tiers on her Patreon to her loyal audience from $2 a month which gives you early access to videos, up to $100 a month gives you ALL the benefits from every tier, and a little bit more to support her work.
This paid content includes blooper reels, credits, merch, and signed postcards. She has 726 Patrons!
Even if the average amount given was $5, that would mean she is getting $3,630 per month! That is incredible. But always remember how much hard work it took her to get there, and all the years of not making anything while putting in the same hours.
My personal Patreon follows a similar strategy to generate revenue. I have a low starting point with few benefits that most people enjoy because they just want to support you!
I’ve been told by my members several times, they don’t want benefits, they just want to support what I do because they enjoy it so much. Nothing feels better than hearing that. This is a great sign you have an engaged audience.
I advise creating at least 5 tiers, make the first one really low in cost with almost zero work for you, the 5th up to a few hundred dollars, and three in between something that gives a value that matches the amount given and the amount of work it will take you to deliver.
And Apple Podcasts now offers a subscription method too to help your podcast make money! I would also recommend setting this up immediately, I waited far too long to do it. You have nothing to lose. Then give people a gentle reminder at the beginning and end of each episode and post on your social media platforms the value the listener will get, not what you will get!
3. One-off Gifts
There are several platforms that all do more or less the same when it comes to accepting donations. I chose Ko-Fi.com because of its ease of use and because they don’t take a percentage of what you receive but there is almost nothing between them.
You’ll get paid into a PayPal account which will take a fee when you withdraw from there. Or you can use your PayPal for payment with merchants that accept it without fees.
These platforms are very similar to Patreon, when I first used ko-fi.com it was literally to just buy someone a coffee, meaning they could send you a few dollars, not an actual coffee. (If you upgraded you could change the wording to anything you wanted like buy me a beer!)
Since then they’ve now developed to have tiers similar to Patreon so you can accept both one-off gifts and have members. Whereas Patreon there is no option to accept one-off gifts.
We started using Descript as a podcasting tool in October 2021 and we cannot rave enough about its time-saving features, but most of all the Studio Sound feature which does exactly that makes your audio content sound like you’re sitting in a studio while recording at home.
Descript is an all-in-one audio and video editor that makes editing as easy as a word doc. Instantly transcribe your file into text, then directly edit your media clips from the text. Edit out-filler words and silent gaps with a single click. Many succesful podcasters use Descript.
4. Affiliate Marketing
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 makes money from the sale.
The Ads you see on this page are all for my Affiliate partners – NordVPN, Descript, Canva & Fiverr.
There are many different Affiliate platforms and products to apply to that if approved will give you access to many, many different affiliate products. You can also apply directly to individual brands.
Approval usually depends on your reach, like how many website visitors you get, or how you will promote the brand.
If you do get approval for an affiliate brand make sure you read the rules carefully. They are very specific about what you can and can’t do with the link and how you promote it.
Try to find brands that match your podcast! 49% of people believe that podcast hosts use the products and services they recommend! So don’t be false or fake, promote the products you use. Best of all, 60% of podcast listeners have bought something from a podcast ad!
Affiliate marketing can also be a much more lucrative form of advertising than paid sponsorship Ads, especially if you aren’t yet getting thousands of listeners. As I said a 30-second Ad would give you just $18 for a thousand listens.
If you promote an affiliate link 1,000 times, it is reasonable to expect at least one person would click and sign up. If the commission is more than $18, then you can see how it is more lucrative than regular sponsored Ads.
And if the commission is a monthly payment for a subscription service then you will be getting a passive income for months in the future.
The partners I currently work with are all brands I believe in and can personally vouch for. And as I have done at the bottom of this page, and in this post, make sure you let people know these are affiliate links.
5. Selling Merchandise
This is not something I have done, and I would rank this low on the podcast monetization strategies. Although many other podcasters do use it.
I say this primarily because the markup on merchandise isn’t very high, especially compared to a $40 affiliate commission that you spent no time creating and will take no time to fulfill.
It is not the most efficient way to make money or monetize a podcast. If you want to sell podcast merchandise like t-shirts it will take time and money to create it, then time and money to distribute it. Leaving you with precious little time and money. I want to help you monetize your podcast to make money, not make more work!
6. Sell Your Product
If you already sell items in your online store and you are using your podcast as a tool to sell them so you already have the systems in place for this then a podcast is a great vehicle to do that. But make sure it fits your niche audience or is generic enough that it would apply to everyone.
I promote NordVPN on A Vietnam Podcast as a VPN is something that everyone can use no matter where they are or what their interests are.
Whereas I don’t promote Descript on A Vietnam Podcast as it is completely unrelated to the niche audience of my show and as the vast majority of people don’t need a program like this it wouldn’t be a good use of that Ad space.
But if you sell hammers and make a podcast about hammers then 100% use your podcast to sell more hammers!!
7. Create an Online Podcast Course
Since long before the pandemic, but accelerated greatly since then, online courses have been booming. More than ever people are used to learning new skills online and paying to do so. If you have any skill of any standard you can create a course and sell it online.
This is not a quick and easy process. It’s taken me nine months to finish my podcast course; Get Your Voice Out. Share Your Story, but it is now ready to launch.
I’ve taken everything I’ve learned in my years of podcasting and distilled it down into a step-by-step process to create your own podcast.
If done right, this can be one of the best ways to monetize your podcast so you can make more money. You can also
Check out my new podcast course and let me know what you think! This covers everything you need to know from start to finish to create your own podcast.
These are just some of the monetization strategies you can use for your podcast, and the ones I think will help you make money from your show. But if you want to try something else there are many other strategies out there and I’d love to hear from you if you do.
Other strategies include selling premium episodes, selling access to your back catalog, and offering content upgrades, but basically all revolve around selling something.
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.
My top tips to finish would be to set up a subscription website like Patreon and a gift website first like ko-fi.com, then gently promote these on your socials and on the show. Don’t worry about running Ads until you get big, then they’ll come to you, and get associated with some affiliate brands in your niche and promote them.
If you can earn enough in the beginning to cover your costs, you’ll already be doing great. Most of all focus on making great quality content. Don’t make making money your goal! It can and will come if you follow these strategies.
Get Your Voice Out and Share Your Story
From planning your content to monetizing your podcast, Niall covers everything you need to know to create and grow your own successful podcast. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the technical side of things, don’t worry – Niall’s got you covered with his comprehensive course, Get Your Voice Out and Share Your Story.
But it’s not just about creating a podcast for Niall – it’s about making a difference. He’s helped businesses like Delta MV reach high-value customers and individuals like Dee share important stories through their own successful podcasts.
So if you’re ready to take the leap into the world of podcasting, follow Niall’s advice and listen to Smarter Podcasting. Have a look at our past projects for more inspiration and resources.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Niall’s shows for future episodes.
In the words of Niall Mackay himself, “My mission is to help you on your podcasting journey, whether you’re at the beginning, the middle, or the end. So I hope these episodes can provide lots of interesting information for you.”
Thanks for listening to this brand new show, Smarter Podcasting. I’m Niall Mackay, the podcast guy and founder of Seven Million Bikes Podcasts.
I’m a podcast fanatic, stand-up comedian, and teacher. My mission is to help you on this podcast journey with me!
Don’t let fear, lack of knowledge, or technical barriers hold you back any longer. Take the first step towards creating a successful podcast that reaches and resonates with your audience.
With my comprehensive course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about starting, recording, editing, and publishing your podcast. Plus, you’ll gain access to exclusive tips, tricks, and strategies that will help you stand out from the crowd and grow your audience.