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The Lowdown on How to Start a Podcast and Make Money from It

The Lowdown on How to Start a Podcast and Make Money from It

It’s official: the era of the podcast has begun! The new boom in podcast popularity means new opportunities for enterprising creators to figure out how to start a podcast and make money from it. Anyone can turn their podcasting hobby into a lucrative source of income with the right strategies. We'll explain everything you need to know to start a podcast and walk you through tried and true methods for how to make money from podcasting.

What Is A Podcast?

Podcast is a type of program that uses audio episodes focused on a particular topic or theme. Podcasts can cover anything you can think of from TV shows like Game of Thrones to digital animation or camping. Podcasts generally come in a variety of formats - you can find interview-based shows, podcasts that tell stories, or monologue-style shows in which an expert shares their knowledge in a particular field. 

How Do Podcasts Make Money?

The most successful podcasts make money through a combination of monetization strategies - only using one can work, but isn’t as effective. 

Direct monetization opportunities include sponsorships, affiliate marketing, paid membership programs, and premium content creation. 

Indirect monetization involves selling physical products, selling online courses, providing content upgrades, and getting paid to speak at events. 

You’ll probably want to start by focusing on direct monetization to build your brand. Then experiment with different types of monetization to determine the best way for how to make money off podcasting. 

How To Start A Podcast

It doesn't take much to start a podcast. You could get started with as little as a good idea and a reliable internet connection. We recommend investing in a couple of pieces of recording equipment and some solid recording and editing software so you can create high-quality content from the jump. Read on to see the five things we recommend researching and purchasing to get your podcast off the ground.

Recording Software 

The recording software makes a huge impact on the quality of your content. When researching recording software, pay attention to: 

  • High-definition recording capabilities
  • Remote recording features
  • Automated editing abilities
  • Transcription capabilities

Riverside.fm

Riverside.fm remote video recording software comes with HD capabilities. This software works especially well for interview-based shows. The platform locally records audio and video directly from your browser. Your content is ready for export and upload in seconds. Riverside.fm also has automated editing capabilities that save you valuable time in production. 

Editing Software

The right editing can make a good podcast great. Look for easy-to-use editing software with features that remove background noise, reverb, and equipment interference. Editing software with automated editing features to save time if you’re new to the game. 

Microphone 

Quality audio is essential - if listeners can’t hear your content, they’re not going to stay listeners for long! Choosing a podcast microphone can be tricky. Understand your recording environment and research microphone polar patterns and mic techniques to figure out the type of mic that’ll best meet your needs. 

Headphones

A good pair of headphones will cut down your editing time. Get a pair of comfortable headphones with noise-cancellation so you can hear yourself and your guests clearly while recording. Most headphones will plug directly into your computer via a USB, so you don’t need any additional equipment to use them. 

Podcast Cameras

You already know how important a quality podcast camera is if you’ve been learning how to start a podcast on YouTube. You can use your computer’s internal camera or even your phone to record video for a podcast. But if you want to make money podcasting, you need to invest in a higher quality camera. 

How Do I Record a Podcast Remotely? 

Many top-earning podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience feature an interview-style format. You don’t need to have the budget or resources to transport guests to your studio to record them for your podcast. 

Remote recording software makes it easy for you to interview guests anywhere they are around the world with a couple of clicks. This technology produces quality video and audio that makes it seem like you, your guests, and your co-hosts are all in the same room, even if you’re not! 

Riverside.fm

Riverside.fm remote recording platform uses localized recording to capture guest interviews directly from your browser. The software makes it easy to interview guests without advanced technical knowledge. Simply send a link to your guests and start recording with only a couple of clicks! 

How to Launch Your First Podcast Episode

Plenty of free beginners’ manuals will help you learn how to start a podcast that you can eventually monetize. Here is an easy-to-use checklist for launching your first podcast episode: 

  • Determine why you’re starting a podcast and what you hope to achieve.
  • Choose your niche and research your target audience.  
  • Decide the format of your show, the length of your episodes, and your post frequency.
  • Take time to create a name for your podcast that will help it stand out. 
  • Research and invest in quality recording equipment and podcast software. 
  • Start recording! 

How to Find Your Podcast's RSS Feed

Your podcast’s RSS feed ensures that your show gets picked up by directories for distribution. An RSS feed will automatically update all of your podcast platforms every time you release new content. 

Where you’ll find your RSS feed will depend on your podcast host. Look for your RSS feed URL in your host dashboard in either the “Settings” or “Directories” section to start distributing your show online. 

Submitting Your Podcast to Directories

Once you have your RSS feed, you can submit your podcast to directories. Usually, getting your podcast listed in a directory is a simple matter of copying and pasting your RSS feed code. Here are the requirements for getting listed in some of the top directories for podcasts: 

Apple Podcasts

  • A valid Apple ID
  • RSS feed link
  • Podcast artwork must be in JPG or PNG format

Spotify

  • File size must be under 200MB per episode 
  • Podcast artwork must be in JPG or PNG format with a 1:1 aspect ratio
  • Audio files must be MP3s with a bitrate between 96 and 320 kbps

Stitcher

  • Podcast artwork must be in JPG or PNG format that’s at least 1400 x 1400
  • Must have a unique title that isn’t copied from another podcast 
  • At least one blog post with an embedded podcast episode 

How to Grow Your Podcast

You have to promote and grow your podcast before you can consider making money with your show. The larger the audience, the more opportunities you’ll have to make money. If interested in sponsorships, you can land bigger deals with more listeners. You’ll have an easier time selling products with a larger listener base. Here are our top tips for building your brand and growing your audience:  

Ask Listeners For Positive Reviews

Your reputation is everything when you’re learning how to make money podcasting and build your personal brand! Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to get new listeners and build your audience. Insert a call to action in your show that asks listeners to rate and review your podcast on listening platforms. 

Use Incentives

Engaging with your audience through contests and incentive programs is a great way to grow your podcast and personal brand. Offer rewards and incentives to your listeners for subscribing to and sharing your podcast on social media. 

Use Various Platforms to Reach Your Target Audience

People have preferences for where they listen to podcasts so make sure you’re listed in all of the top podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Google Podcasts. So make sure your podcast is distributed across as many listening platforms as possible.

When Should I Start Thinking About Monetizing My Podcast?

There’s no cut and dry answer for when it’s best to start thinking about monetization for your podcast. Have an open mind when it comes to monetization opportunities, especially when just starting out. 

The best time to start monetizing your show will depend on your niche and the time and resources you have available for growing your brand. There’s no industry standard, but with 1,000 downloads per episode you can begin pulling in decent sponsorships and making money with paid subscriptions

How To Monetize A Podcast Directly

Direct monetization involves optimizing your podcast to make money right from the content you create. This is achieved by partnering with other brands through sponsorships, or by selling premium content to your listeners with memberships or a premium content program. We’ll explain how to make money with a podcast using each direct monetization method. 

Create Paid Membership Tiers

Create demand for your content and make money podcasting using a monthly subscription service. Subscription services like Patreon charge listeners a monthly fee to access certain podcast content. You can control what kind of content or how much content your listeners gain access to based on the amount they pay to support your show. 

What are Podcast Memberships?

Podcast memberships give your listeners a way to support your show by subscribing to your content for a monthly fee, just like subscribing to a streaming service like Netflix or Spotify. 

Bonus or Premium Content for Subscribers 

Tiered membership programs present the opportunity to make money by offering premium or bonus content that listeners can only access if they have a subscription. Be careful not to alienate listeners by only offering premium content - you’ll still need plenty of quality free content to get listeners hooked before they’ll pay for bonus content.

Sell Sponsorships or Ads

Sponsorships and paid ads provide an ideal way to generate passive income with a podcast. Companies will pay to place a brief ad in your show, either at the beginning or somewhere in the middle. You can make all of your income from sponsorships if your show is popular enough and you land the right deals. 

Use Affiliate Marketing

Sites like Amazon have affiliate marketing programs that provide creators with income every time a purchase is made using a custom link. Sign up for one of these programs and place your link in the description for your podcast episodes. 

Sell Repurposed Content

Sometimes you don’t even have to create new content to make money. Repurposing content you already have is an effective way to make money podcasting without spending a lot of time on producing new material.  A great example of this is taking a blog post and turning it into a video you can post on your YouTube channel.

What is the YouTube Partner Program

The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) provides creators access to additional YouTube resources that include direct access to the Creator Support team and the ability to generate revenue from ad sharing.

If interested in this program, your podcast needs to meet the following criteria: 

  • You must live in a country/region where the program is available 
  • No strikes on your channel from violating YouTube community guidelines
  • More than 1,000 subscribers 
  • More than 4,000 public watch hours in the last 12 months
  • Have a linked AdSense account
  • Follow all YouTube monetization policies 

How to Use the YouTube Partner Program to Monetize a Podcast

The YPP enables you to make money based on video views through sponsorships. Basically, the more views of an ad, the more money you can make. YouTube creators typically charge brands $10 to $50 per 1,000 video views. 

How To Monetize A Podcast Indirectly

After you’ve built your podcast up, many indirect monetization opportunities will open up for you. Indirect monetization tactics involve making money from a podcast based on its popularity and your personal expertise as the host. 

Sell Physical Products

Promotional merchandise and other types of physical products can generate a decent amount of income every month - it all depends on your industry and the type of products you’re selling. 

Examples of Podcast Products and Merchandise

Once you’ve gained a following, your listeners will no doubt begin asking about merchandise. Many podcasters have an online store where listeners can purchase t-shirts, mugs, stickers, and other promotional merchandise. When ready for this type of monetization, invest in a solid website and reliable graphic designer.  

Public Speaking

You’ll know you’ve achieved at least a moderate level of success with your podcast if you’re asked to appear at a public speaking event. These events offer a great opportunity to see the world and meet your listeners! Speaking events can pay anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. 

Sell Access to an E-course

If you’re an expert or leading thought pioneer in your niche, listeners will pay to learn from you. Research how to put together an online course and you could generate hundreds of dollars a month in sales. Selling E-courses is profitable because startup costs are very low with little to no overhead. 

Use Content Upgrades

You can provide free content upgrades (additional interview content, a lesson from a course, etc.) in exchange for your listeners’ email addresses. Take your contacts and set up email marketing campaigns, a powerful tool you can use once you’ve built a list of subscribers. In addition to promoting your podcast, email marketing provides additional opportunities for sponsorships. 

Can You Really Make Money Podcasting?

Podcasting can provide an additional source of income after you’ve built your brand, gained a following, and figured out how to make money from podcast monetization methods. Top-earning podcasters currently generate millions in annual income with their shows. 

Here’s an example of how you can make around $500 a month using a combination of monetization tactics. This is assuming your show has 1,000 downloads per episode and you post one episode a week: 

If 1% of your listeners purchase through your link a month with an average sale amount of $15, you can make about $150/month through affiliate marketing

Plan to make around $100/month from subscriptions with 2% of your listeners subscribing to your show for $5/month. 

Merchandise sales can net about $150/month if 0.5% of your audience makes a purchase with an average sale amount of $30.    

Your sponsorships will generate $80/month with a sponsor paying you $10 per ad to run two ads per podcast episode.

What Are The Highest Earning Podcasts?

You’re not going to start out making millions from your podcast right away, but many shows pull in millions a year through sponsorships, merchandising, and other direct and indirect monetization. 

Here are some of the highest-earning podcasts and the amount they make annually after the hosts figured out how to make money with podcasting: 

Podcast: The Joe Rogan Experience
Host:
Joe Rogan
Annual Revenue:
$30 million 

Podcast: My Favorite Murder
Hosts
: Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
Annual Revenue:
$15 million

Podcast: The Dave Ramsey Show
Host:
Dave Ramsey
Annual Revenue:
$10 million

Podcast: Armchair Expert 
Host:
Dax Shepard
Annual Revenue:
$9 million

Podcast: The Bill Simmons Podcast
Host:
Bill Simmons
Annual Revenue:
$7 million

Conclusion: Make Money Podcasting 

The sky's the limit when creating a plan for how to start and make money by running a podcast! It's not difficult to get a quality podcast off the ground with only a small investment upfront if you choose the right recording equipment and software. 

Have a grown mindset: Always think ahead about future monetization opportunities - pay attention to features for monetization offered by podcast hosting companies. Combine direct and indirect monetization strategies to find the best way for you to make money podcasting. 

How to Start a Podcast and Make Money FAQ:

Want to know more about how to start a podcast and make money? Our FAQ has more information on how to make money from a podcast and when you should start considering monetization for your content. 

How Do You Monetize a Podcast?

There are many ways you can monetize a podcast: affiliate marketing, offering premium content, sponsorships, selling physical products, and selling physical products. Some other nontraditional ways to make money with podcasting include providing coaching and consulting services, selling informational courses, and public speaking events. Try different methods and different combinations of methods to see what works best for your show. 

Can You Make Money Starting a Podcast?

Yes, you can make money podcasting using a combination of direct and indirect monetization strategies. Direct monetization methods include sponsorships and paid subscriptions. Indirect monetization is done through selling things like physical products or online courses. 

How Many Downloads Do I Need To Start Monetizing My Podcast?

Once you hit around 1,000 downloads per episode, start exploring how to make money podcasting and building your personal brand. At 5,000 downloads per episode, larger sponsors will consider working with you for ad placement opportunities. 

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Podcast?

You can easily figure out how to start a podcast for free, but investing in some decent recording equipment and software will pay off in the long run. There are many affordable options for beginner microphones, headphones, cameras, and recording software. 

Do Podcasts on Spotify Make Money?

Yes, Spotify has a podcast subscription program creators can use to make money. Learning how to start a podcast on Spotify and make money is easier than ever with their new subscription program. Spotify’s paid subscription service through Anchor lets creators offer exclusive paid content to monetize their podcasts.

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