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How to Make Money Podcasting: 5 Quick and Effective Tips

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How to Make Money Podcasting: 5 Quick and Effective Tips

The joy of podcasting is that your podcast can be anything you want it to be: a hobby, a side-hustle, or a lucrative business. You may be surprised to find that if you do it right, podcasting can make you some serious dollar. The good news? It’s not even that hard to start pivoting your podcast into a business. You’ve already got the product, so all you’ve got to do is make it work for you. In this article, we walk you through exactly how to make money from podcasting - quickly and effectively. Let’s jump right in.

Can you really make money podcasting?

Absolutely. But let’s be clear, we’re not suggesting your podcast will be instantly profitable. As with anything, you’ll have to put in the work to see the results. 

Monetizing your podcast often goes hand in hand with leveraging your personal or podcasting brand, which will definitely benefit you in the long run anyway. As long as you’ve got a captive audience of some sort, you’ll be able to make money from podcasting in one way or another. 

How Do Podcasts Make Money? 

The most exciting thing about monetization is just how many different ways there are to make money from your podcast. 

Bear in mind, different money-making methods are more viable or effective at different stages of growth: what works for a popular, more established podcast may not be as accessible for a show that is just starting out, and that’s okay! 

Expand Your Audience to Attract Advertisers 

For podcasts with a well-established audience, including adverts in your podcast should be a no-brainer. Brands and companies will pay a premium for your listeners.

Podcasters with a smaller listenership need to grow their audience first to attract advertisers. If you put in the work, this will happen organically through effective marketing, branding and word of mouth. 

Making Money With Advertisements and Sponsorships During the Show

Sponsorships and advertising deals are extremely lucrative and require very little input from you (beyond securing the deal, of course). Since these brands and companies are paying you for exposure, the bigger your audience, the more they’ll be willing to pay. 

Anyone who listens to podcasts will be familiar with the classic tagline ‘brought to you by x,y and z.’ That’s all sponsorship. 

There are a number of podcasting ad agencies that help podcasters connect with advertisers. They handle all the logistics and administration, for a fee. 

If you’re a smaller podcast within a specific space, you could reach out to niche companies that target your kind of audience. You may just find a great partnership waiting for you. 

When should I start thinking about monetizing my podcast?

This is down to you. You may start out casually with no immediate aspiration to make money out of your podcast. Or you may begin podcasting with monetization as a major priority. It also depends on what you mean by ‘making money from your podcast’ - are you simply aiming for a few extra dollars on the side or do you want to make up a substantial portion of your income? This question will determine when and how you think about making money from your podcast. 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter when you start. Although, as we mentioned, depending on where your podcast is in terms of growth, different opportunities will be open to you. 

5 quick and super-effective tips to monetize your podcast

TIP #1 Record a high production value podcast 

If you want to make money from your podcast, attract lucrative partnerships, and capitalize on your brand, you need to be recording a professional standard podcast. Your listeners and potential sponsors are more likely to commit to and support your podcast if it lives up to expectations. There’s nothing worse than subpar audio or lacklustre editing cramping your style. 

Use Riverside.fm to record a professional studio standard podcast from anywhere in the world - you won’t be disappointed. 

TIP #2 Build a community

Before you even begin to think about monetizing your podcast, you need to think about your audience and community. They’re a podcaster’s most valuable asset. 

But it’s not just a numbers game. Obviously, it’s important to build out a big audience base, but what’s even more important is cultivating a sense of community and personal relationship.

If you can nurture a listener’s community that supports you and your podcast, the likelihood is your audience will respond positively to the adverts, affiliate links, and sponsorships that you include in your show. Plus, if you’ve got a super captivated audience, you’ll be able to charge more to advertise with you. 

TIP #3 Think about what kind of monetization will work for you and your audience 

What works for one podcast, may not work at all for another. You’ve got to know your audience and your podcast to know how to make money effectively. 

Depending on how you pitch yourself, what kind of listeners you attract, and what purpose your podcast is serving, different methods of monetization will be more appropriate. For example, if you’re a comedy podcast, chances are designing an online course will be a waste of your time, whereas a sponsorship deal will be better. If you’re a teacher or coach of some sort, the inverse might be true.                    

TIP #4 Be open to diversifying your brand

In an ideal world you would be able to generate direct income from your podcast through sponsorships and ads, and that would be the end of it. However, unfortunately this is not always possible - especially if you have a smaller audience base. 

If you’re determined to make money from podcasting, it’s essential to open your mind to other potential revenue streams that may involve diversifying your brand and your content offerings. This could be anything from online courses,  coaching or simply recording additional episodes exclusive to your subscribers. Think outside the box. 

TIP #5  Strike a balance and don’t be afraid to say no 

If you’re on a tight budget or need to make ends meet, any chance to make money from your podcast will be a Iife-saver. But at the end of the day, you know your podcast and audience best. Try as far as possible to strike a balance between your financial ambitions and your podcast’s integrity. If your gut is telling you a certain deal or partnership just isn’t right for your podcast, don’t be afraid to say no. Chances are, a better deal is just around the corner. 

How To Monetize A Podcast Directly

Monetizing your podcast directly means capitalizing on your content itself. Whether that’s original material exclusive to paying subscribers or including paid content within your episodes. 

Ask for donations 

As the saying goes, if you don’t ask… you won’t get. Asking for donations from your listeners is perhaps the easiest and simplest way to make money from your podcast. Dedicated and supportive listeners can donate to support your podcast through platforms such as Patreon or PayPal. 

Create paid membership tiers

If you’ve got a captive and keen fan base, creating paid membership tiers is a sure-fire way to make money from your podcast. This is a great option for monetization because your listeners feel they’re getting exclusive and intimate access to special content, so it’s of mutual benefit. 

Plus, for podcasters who like their independence from brand partnerships, a membership scheme is a good way of conserving this while still earning money from your show. 

Or alternatively, if you’ve already got that lucrative ad deal under your belt, you could offer an ad-free option to your paying members. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 

What are Podcast Memberships

A podcast membership is essentially a more personal subscription. Your listeners make regular payments of a certain fee that you set in exchange for exclusive content and features. 

Podcast memberships are an effective way of securing a regular income stream as well as bolstering a sense of community amongst your listeners. A win-win if you ask us. 

A membership model will work best for podcasts that have a loyal and dedicated fan base that regularly follows and engages with your content. 

How to Use Memberships to Monetize a Podcast

Ensure your membership is worthwhile 

You may find that a lot of your listeners will support you out of goodwill and because they believe in the future of your podcast, but you can't necessarily rely on that. 

Since you’re asking your listeners to commit to a regular payment, make sure they feel like they’re getting a good deal. 

Create Bonus or Premium Content for Subscribers

You can get creative and have fun with the exclusive content you offer to your members. This aspect of creating a membership scheme can be as labour intensive (or not) as you want it to be. 

You could record additional episodes, invite your members to watch your recording session live, or ask them to weigh in on future content. It’s really up to you and what you think your audience would be willing to pay for. 

Create tiered memberships 

You can offer different levels with progressively better features and exclusive perks. This caters to different price points and means even those with a smaller budget may be tempted into joining. 

A basic subscription can be a minimal fee for a simple shout-out during your show. Whereas a premium membership might give access to live events where your listeners can meet you face-to-face (or online). 

Think about joining the Apple’s Podcasters Program to sell subscriptions through Apple Podcasts. Or create membership plans through Patreon. 

Read all about Apple Podcasts in our guide to uploading your podcast to the platform here.

Sell sponsorships or ads

As we mentioned, if you’ve got a large audience or cater to a niche listenership, it shouldn’t be hard to secure a sponsorship or advertising deal. 

When you sell a sponsorship or ad, you’re essentially selling air time before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after your episode (post-roll). The most desirable ad placement, and thus the most expensive,  is mid-roll because your listeners are less likely to skip through. In the same vein, post-roll is the least effective placement, and therefore the cheapest, because most listeners will stop listening or skip to the next episode. 

There are two typical types of podcast ads: 

The host promotes the product. You, the host, share and talk about the product or service in question. This option can be less intrusive or disturbing to the flow of your episode. 

Pre-recorded ads. The brand or company that buys the ad slot provides you with a pre-recorded advert. All you have to do is include the recording in the agreed number of episodes. 

Join an advertising network

Podcast Advertising Networks such as Midroll exist to make your life easier. They connect podcast hosts with potential brands and sponsors, which saves you the work of finding them in the first place.

Sell repurposed content

You’ve put time and energy into creating a valuable and insightful podcast, make sure you get your money’s worth out of it. Try transcribing your podcast (super easy with Riverside.fm’s automated transcription function), to repurpose your episodes. 

Once you’ve got your podcast transcription, you can edit it into article form and try pitching it to popular publications that focus on your particular niche. 

Syndicate your show to YouTube

Syndicating your podcast to YouTube means repurposing your show by publishing it as a video to YouTube. Although with Riverside.fm recording a video podcast is easy, if you’re not able to record a video, don’t worry. You can simply publish your podcast audio with your podcast cover art as the image for the video. 

What is the YouTube Partner Program?

The YouTube Partner Program is a means of monetizing your YouTube content. The program also gives you access to other YouTube resources and features. 

How to use the YouTube Partner Program to Monetize a Podcast

With the YouTube Partner Program it’s easy to make money from podcasting. Although bear in mind you have to satisfy certain eligibility requirements plus a minimum  subscriber and viewer count to join the program. Publishing your podcast to YouTube is an effective way of reaching a wider audience, some of whom may not listen to podcasts on conventional listening platforms. 

This is how you can make money from podcasting through YouTube:

Advertising Revenue. You’ll get a portion of the revenue for any ads that are displayed alongside, overlayed, or played before or during your content. 

Channel Membership. Similar to creating membership tiers for your podcast, subscribers can pay a monthly fee for extra perks and exclusive content. 

Sell your merch. YouTube allows you to sell your branded merchandise through your channel, giving you an additional income stream. 

YouTube Premium Revenue. When a YouTube Premium subscriber watches your content, you’ll get a portion of their subscription fee. 

How To Monetize A Podcast Indirectly

Monetizing your podcast indirectly means using your podcast as a stepping stone to sell other products. This could include selling branded merchandise or offering your time as a public speaker. 

Sell physical products

Everybody loves a bit of branded merch. If you’ve got a recognizable logo or podcast artwork, you can instantly produce everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs. The best thing about branded podcast merch is that it works twice. First off, the sale of the physical product is an additional income stream, and second it’s an extremely effective way to market your podcast for free! Every time one of your listeners wears their branded t-shirt, they’re passively promoting your podcast. 

Examples of Podcast Products and Merchandise

Joe Rogan’s merchandise ranges from t-shirts and socks through to duffel bags and beach towels. 

Public speaking

Once you’ve been podcasting for a while and have established yourself as a prominent figure within your area of interest, you’ll be able to start charging for public speaking appearances. 

Sell access to an e-course

If your podcast is informative or educational in some way, an e-course is the perfect way for you to monetize your content. Creating an e-course doesn’t need to require too much investment. Your e-course can simply synthesize the content you share on your podcast with a couple of additional tips, tricks, and practical advice. 

E-courses are attractive to potential buyers because they are concretely results based. They know exactly what they’re buying into and what they’ll get out of it. 

Plus, because you’ve got a captive audience already, likelihood is you’ll have loads of takers as soon as you release your course. 

Sell content upgrades

Content upgrades such as a downloadable crib sheet or exclusive resource are a quick and easy way to make some money from your podcast. The content upgrade should relate to the content of your episode and compliment your listener’s experience. 

For example, if your podcast episode were about ‘how to stop procrastinating’, you could offer an actionable plan of action or checklist to help your listener implement your advice. 

Events and conferences

Events and conferences are a great way to connect with your audience, monetize your podcast, and bring your community together. 

For obvious reasons, this is a more ambitious and large-scale way of making money from your podcast. This is most suitable for established podcasts with the capacity to organize a big event. 

How to Use Conferences and Events to Monetize a Podcast

Once you’ve got a dedicated audience and have established your podcasting name, you can start to think a little bigger and host a whole ticketed event. 

The main attraction for the majority of your fan base will be meeting you and any co-hosts in person. The nature of your event will depend on what kind of podcast you host and the type of audience you appeal to. 

If your podcast is educational, you may consider hosting lectures, workshops, or panel discussions. Or if you’re a comedy host, you might do a standup show. 

In the current COVID climate, whilst an in-person podcast event or conference is probably not viable, you could consider hosting an online event or livestream instead. 

Sell consulting or coaching services

Once you’ve made your name in podcasting and you’ve shown you know what it takes, you can start offering your services to other podcasters as a podcasting consultant or coach. 

This will involve advising other podcasters on how to effectively grow, market, and monetize their own podcast. 

What is Affiliate Marketing for Podcasts

Sell affiliate products and make money with affiliate sales

Selling affiliate products to your listeners involves promoting products as normal, but instead of being paid for including the advert, you get paid depending on how many people actually purchase the product in question. 

For obvious reasons, affiliate sales are a much less reliable stream of income because there is no guarantee of how many people will actually buy the product you’re promoting. 

How to Find Affiliate Sponsors 

You don’t always need to secure a partnership deal to start advertising affiliate products on your podcast. 

There are lots of different affiliate schemes out there that are easily accessible. A quick google will reap a lot of results, but some of the most popular ones are Amazon Associates and Skillshare. Another alternative is to reach out to brands that you feel your audience would respond to and try setting up an exclusive affiliate partnership. 

How to Use Affiliate Sponsors to Monetize a Podcast

When you promote and advertise an affiliate product on your podcast, you’re essentially gambling and hoping that the product will resonate with your audience. All things being well, you’ll have plenty of listeners buying the product and you’ll get a good commission from their purchase. 

How to Promote Your Affiliate Links

You can either mention the affiliate product during the flow of the episode - especially if it fits in with your particular theme or subject, or carve out a dedicated segment to promote it. Crucially, make sure you share the affiliate link with your listeners. You can reel it off during your podcast as well as including it in your show notes and podcast transcript. 

Top tip: make sure to let your audience know that you get a kickback from their purchase. 

Who Are The Highest Earning Podcasters?

According to Forbes the highest earning podcasters are:

Joe Rogan of The Joe Rogan Experience with 190 million downloads per month, and earning $30 million annually.

Karen Kilgariff and Georgie Hardstark of My Favourite Murder with 35 million downloads per month, and earning $15 million annually. 

Dave Ramsey from The Dave Ramsey Show who has 13 million weekly listeners and earns $10 million a year. 

Frequently Asked Questions About making money through podcasting

How do you monetize a podcast?

As we’ve seen, monetizing a podcast is not as hard as it sounds. There’s multiple ways to make money podcasting, you’ve just got to invest the time and energy to make it happen. 

Always remember, what works for one podcast may not necessarily work for you. 

How many downloads do I need to start monetizing my podcast?

In terms of monetizing your podcast, for obvious reasons it always helps to have a bigger audience, or at the very least a smaller but very dedicated listenership. 

That being said however, there are ways for smaller, lesser known podcasts to start making money. 

How much does it cost to start a podcast?

It costs as much as you want it to. If you’ve got a big budget and want to invest in a professional-grade setup, your bill will rack up. On the other hand, if you simply want to try your hand at podcasting, you can start with next to nothing. 

Do podcasts on Spotify make money?

Long story short, yes podcasts on Spotify can and do make money. Currently podcasters on the platform make money through all the methods we’ve mentioned - sponsorship, ads, and affiliate marketing. However, Spotify has just launched a podcast monetization scheme (currently U.S. only) that will enable podcasters to make money directly through the platform. 

With this scheme, which is only available through Anchor - their podcast hosting service - you can maximize your podcast revenue through paid subscriptions.

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