Want to know one form of media that isn’t going away anytime soon?
They’ve filled a social void so many of us were missing, especially giving us access to conversation during the pandemic.
Faster phones, cheaper data plans, and high quality headphones have all encouraged the humble podcast’s prominence. With our busy schedules, we don’t necessarily have the time to binge watch our favorite show, but podcasts fit into our daily routines no matter where we are. And there’s something so rich and intimate about having a podcast in your ear, speaking right to you.
Whether we’re walking our dog, taking the subway to work, or simply heading to our favorite coffee shop, podcasts are convenient, accessible, and the perfect way to keep us occupied.
Creators have benefited tremendously from podcast monetization too — just look at Alexandra Cooper, who signed a $60 million deal with Spotify for her podcast “Call Her Daddy.”
The good news is that anyone can start a podcast and monetize it. That doesn’t mean it will be easy though — if you can combine your motivation with consistency and follow-through, you’re on the right track. We’ll equip you with practical advice that will help you answer, “how do you monetize a podcast?”
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In this article…
Tips for creating a successful podcast
If you have no clue where to start when it comes to making money from your podcast, you’re in the right place.
Let’s take a look at a few factors you should consider before you quit your day job. These will help you make your podcast a success.
Of course, the more downloads you have, the better. This is especially true if a brand is paying for ads on your podcast and affiliate sales, because more listeners means a brand is likely to pay more for their ad spot.
But most new podcasts don’t have 10,000 downloads per episode off the bat. Even as you’re getting started with building your community who love your work, you can still earn money off a podcast.
Find your niche
You don’t need to be an expert on a subject in order to have a successful podcast. You do, however, need to keep your podcast focused. Your podcast could be about pop culture, self-help, sports, traveling, careers, etc.
Find a topic (and even a person, if you’re considering a co-host) that you’re passionate about and enjoy discussing. Your audience will quickly pick up on your boredom or lack of interest in your episodes if you’re not excited about what you’re talking about.
Passion is a word that gets thrown around a lot. But it’s worth using one more time here.
When you pick something you’re passionate about, production — thinking of new episode content, recording, and editing — becomes easier. Your audience will pick up on your genuine interest.
Remember, your podcast is not your product: you are. By being authentic, you’ll attract like-minded people and build a community that is more likely to want to support you financially.
Planning and consistency are key
Podcasts that make money are a business. And just like any successful business, you need a solid plan in order to make a profit. You will want to map out a few things like when you’ll release new episodes, how you will drive engagement, your promotional budget, etc.
In order to keep your audience engaged, it’s crucial that you’re consistent with releasing episodes. Pick a day (say every Friday) and actually STICK to it. If you’re just starting out, you could even have a backlog of episodes so you’re always ahead.
Be consistent about recording episodes and editing them (there are countless tools out there that can make it really easy for you). People will know your podcast is dropping and will ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD TO that day.
Remember growing your fanbase takes time. Be patient with this because so many podcasters quit after releasing a handful of episodes — when they haven’t suddenly built up a huge following. You have to start somewhere! Building up a fanbase may take months and even years (just like for any other content, including blogs).
Promote your podcast
With such a low barrier to entry, anyone can get their message out there (regardless of their background or experience) but that means you’re competing with thousands of other podcasts. Simply starting a podcast and releasing it will not guarantee listenership.
Just as you are committed to releasing new episodes, you need to be equally committed to tracking down your target audience (knowing who your people are).
You can’t just expect people to find you without putting in any marketing effort (e.g. social media, podcast directories, email marketing, cross promoting).
5 Options for monetizing your podcast
Now that we’ve gone through some tips to consider to make a podcast successful, let’s get down to the nitty gritty — how to monetize a podcast!
One way podcasters can earn money is by creating paid communities. Listeners can pay access to premium content (since they already enjoy listening to your podcast and they just want more of it). These can be exclusive videos, Q&As with special guests, early access to episodes, ad-free episodes, live streams, and private groups. Or, they might just choose to join a community to hang out with you and others who are like them!
Monetizing with community is something that Brian Clark did with his podcast: The Unemployable Initiative/ 7 Figure Small. The Unemployable community is a Mighty Network that’s made up of “unemployables,” solopreneurs and freelancers who “can get a job, they just don’t want one.”
Some podcasters also choose to monetize with a community that has tiered membership options. For example:
- $10/month (where you get early access to episodes).
- $20/month (early access, ad-free episodes, and exclusive video versions of the podcast episodes).
- $30/month (everything you get in the first two tiers plus Q&As with special guests).
Private groups can also be included in a membership — where a select few individuals pay a premium subscription to have access to a mastermind group. This can be where members get together to support one another and work towards a common goal (insights, solutions, and accountability). As the host, you would be leading this group and helping your members.
If your podcast is educational or teaches listeners a new skill, creating a course is a great way to earn money from your podcast. You could even create a course on how to start a podcast. After all, you’ll be proficient in this area.
Creating courses for your community doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s a great way to launch a new revenue stream.
Not sure where to start with building your online course? Keep it easy with the One Concept Week:
- Introduce a concept at the beginning of each week.
- Offer a real life example that supports the concept.
- Outline an action for members to take.
- By the end of the week, have your members report on their results.
If you take these four steps (concept, case study, action, and result) you’ll have a solid course that will only take four to six weeks for your members to complete.
Companies are seeing the value in advertising on podcasts. They know they can reach a wider, and targeted audience through this form of marketing. That’s why affiliate marketing is popular for podcasts. With affiliate marketing, podcasters receive a commission every time one of their members purchases a service or product mentioned in an episode. This is tracked using a discount code (members are usually offered 10-15% off the service or product, which gives them more of an incentive to buy).
Be mindful that you don’t want to say yes to every brand that wants to work with you. Be selective about who you choose to promote on your podcast and make sure they’re in line with your values and those of your audience (e.g. it wouldn’t make sense to sell candy when you’re a wellness podcast but it might make sense to promote yoga mats).
Besides making money off of commissions, affiliate marketing allows you to build relationships with other brands. Also, as long as you ensure you’re promoting high quality products and services, you’ll build trust with your members.
Another popular way to monetize your podcast is through sponsorships. These differ from affiliate marketing because you get paid just to mention the brand (e.g. a flat fee to talk about them for six episodes), even if your listeners never spend a cent on them.
When you listen to a podcast and hear a commercial break, that’s a sponsorship. Ads can be introduced at the beginning or somewhere during the middle of an episode.
Rates are usually based on the amount of listeners you have, so this isn’t necessarily the most profitable model if your listenership is low. However, as your audience grows, you can pair this model with an ad-free membership tier, as previously discussed, allowing you to maximize your podcast’s earning potential.
Ask your audience to pay
Your fans are excited for your content, so why not ask them to help pay for it through a platform like Patreon? Your listeners are grateful that you’re producing interesting, amusing, and knowledgeable episodes, so they’d likely be more than happy to donate to you so that you continue producing such great content.
Asking for donations is easy to set up and advertise to your audience. But be transparent about what you’ll be using the donations for. Need new podcast equipment (microphone, computer, apps)? Want to be compensated for your time creating new episodes? The more “real” you are with your listeners, the more likely it is that they’ll help you out, after all they’re your number one fans!
The best way to monetize your podcast? A Mighty Network
When you build on Mighty, you're getting the most powerful cultural software in the biz to monetize your podcast. You can bring courses, content, community, and commerce together in one place! Not only that, but people will pay a premium for results and transformation, giving you more streams of income.
Mighty gives you flexible Spaces that can hold features like live events, live streaming, courses, long and short form content, and discussion forums! With Mighty, you can offer your members a valuable experience with rewarding results all in one place, under your unique brand, and accessible on any device (perfect for when your listeners are on the go). Mighty Networks allows you to charge for different membership tiers, courses (or both) and sell in 135 currencies OR with token-gating.
On top of that, Mighty Networks is easy to use. Even if it’s your first time running a membership site or online course, you will feel excited instead of overwhelmed. Your Mighty Network will be an excellent space for your members to get together and “nerd” out about your content.