PodSchool Podcast | How to make money from your podcast


Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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Looking to quit your job?  Cool your jets.

The question on everyone’s lips is “How do you make money from a podcast?”  And while there are some podcasters making a living from their show the majority of people don’t make a dime.

That doesn’t mean you can’t generate revenue from your podcast but you need to think more creatively than just “How can I sell ads on my show?”

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Why aren’t ads the answer?

Most podcast ads are sold on a ‘cost per mille’ basis.  That means advertisers pay a certain price per thousand listeners.

That’s great if your show is bringing in half a million listeners per episode but if you’re broadcasting to an audience more around the 200 mark that’s not going to generate much revenue.

How do your download numbers compare to other podcasts?


How much is “not much”?

Midroll is a podcast advertising agency in the US and according to their ad revenue calculator, if you…

  • Release an episode every week for 52 weeks
  • Sell one 30 second ad at the start of each episode and one 60 second ad in the middle of each episode
  • Have 200 listeners

You’ll stand to make, a whopping…

US$179 – $335 / YEAR

Hardly seems worth it when you consider most listeners don’t want to hear ads.

So how can you make money from a podcast if you don’t have a big audience?

How do you grow your podcast audience?


How to make money from a podcast

The direct approach

If you’ve got a small audience of really engaged listeners you might be better off approaching an advertiser directly and setting your own sponsorship price.  Especially if your show is focused on a niche area of interest.

When you’re coming up with a number you should take into consideration the fact that your listeners don’t like ads.  So the amount you set needs to justify the impact the ads will have on your content.

For example, if you’re doing a podcast for people who love knitting and your audience is interested in the newest types of wool you could approach an online wool store to sponsor a few episodes.

If they offer a subscription service where new wool is sent to your home each month wouldn’t that be something your 200, super keen, knitting loving listeners would jump at the chance to sign up for?

Putting that offer in front of your audience might be something a store would be willing to pay a few hundred dollars an episode for, depending on their return on investment.

Alternatively, you could bite the bullet and start your own yarn subscription service.  If you’ve got a really keen audience this might turn out to be more lucrative than selling ads.

Whatever your situation, once you’ve got an audience, if you want to make money off your podcast you need to think of ways to monetise that aren’t just advertising other people’s products or services because you’re better off selling your own.

Does your podcast have to be niche?


Sell products or services you’ve created

Think of your podcast as a chance for people to try before they buy.

Turning up in people’s ears every week builds trust, so if you’ve got a product or service that ties into the content of your podcast you can introduce people to it via your show.

Then if they like what they hear they can upgrade to the paid content if they want to dive deeper.

That’s what I do with my podcast, PodSchool.

People who listen to the show can get a sense of my teaching style and expertise.

Then, if they want further assistance putting their podcast together, they can sign up to my online podcasting course secure in the knowledge that a) I know what I’m talking about and b) I’m not a dick (at least, I hope that’s what they think!).

Learn how to start your own podcast


Affiliate marketing

This is when you sell a product or service on behalf of another creator and get a cut of the purchase price.

I would only advise doing this with products or services you’ve tried yourself because if you endorse something that’s not high-quality, it will erode the trust your audience has in your recommendations.  And that trust is what you rely on when it comes to generating revenue from your show.

It’s never worth recommending something just for money because the cut you get won’t be enough to cover the resulting damage to your brand if your audience loses faith in you.

Some companies will offer affiliate programs as standard, while others will only allow their products to be sold via people they trust so it might take some time to build relationships.

If you’ve got a really keen audience of people a seller might not be able to get in front of without you, it could be a great opportunity for both of you.

But again, it’s important the product aligns well with the content of your show.

Podcast Equipment: The four things you need to start a podcast


Selling subscription services

A couple of examples of this could be a membership site where people get additional content each month or a closed Facebook group where listeners get advice or coaching from yourself or other experts.

Something to remember if you’re thinking about this option is it’s A LOT of work.

When you’re asking people to cough up a recurring amount of money you have to make sure the service you’re offering is worth it.  That means you have to constantly offer up new stuff which can be a huge undertaking.

For some people, this model works really well, for others you might be better off offering a course for a one-off fee.

Ultimately, you have to ensure that if you go down this path you’re giving your audience enough added value every month to make sure their investment is worth it.

How long does it take to put together a podcast episode?


The donation model

This is usually only possible when you’ve built up a loyal fan base of people who love your show and would rather pay a small amount per month to keep it alive than live without it.

If you want people to donate money to your show (Patreon is a website a lot of podcasters use) you’ll need to develop additional content as a reward for their investment.

Examples might include free show merchandise, access to behind-the-scenes videos and recordings, first access to live show tickets, or an ad-free version of the podcast to listen to each week.

The possibilities are endless so get creative.

Podcast apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify are also offering subscription models so you can monetise your show and provide additional bonus content but remember this is only available to listeners who listen on those specific apps so that can limit your audience.

People who are willing to pay for your content are often your biggest fans so if you go down this road you want to make sure you’re rewarding them with something they find truly valuable.

How to promote your podcast


Live events

If you’ve got an audience that loves listening to you they’ll probably want to turn up to a live show and experience your podcast in person.

Getting in front of your fans is an amazing experience for both you and them because it allows you to really see how people react to your show.  It also builds on the relationship your audience has with you and makes them feel like they’re part of something.

And it can be a great way to generate additional revenue (provided you keep your costs low…so don’t go renting the Opera House for your first gig).

How to connect with your podcast audience


Establish yourself as an expert

Doing a weekly podcast can get you in front of people who might not have been able to find you previously.

I’ve seen people get job offers from their podcast, sign up coaching clients and get contract work.

If you know your stuff and you’re sharing tips and information you’ll be surprised at how many opportunities will come through your door because people like your approach and can get a sense of you before they’ve even met you.

Why you should create a podcast for your business


Get booked for speaking gigs

This is another benefit of establishing yourself as an expert in your field and can be a great way to generate revenue because speaking gigs usually pay really well.

Having said that, when you’re starting out, you might be asked to do them for free and you should always say yes.

The benefit of getting in front of a room full of people who might be interested in your product or services can be invaluable.  And if you’re starting out, you usually need a few speaking gigs under your belt before you can start asking people to pay you.

Having a podcast is a great way to show people your style behind the mic.

Instead of contacting event organisers and trying to get your personality across in an email, you can send audio of your show so they can get an immediate sense of you as a host.

How to get multiple pieces of content out of one podcast episode


But what if you really want to sell ads?

If you’ve decided selling ads is the right way to go for you, make sure you give the content in the commercial bits of your show as much thought as the rest of it.

If you want businesses to invest in your podcast you want to make sure they get value out of it but you also want your listeners to get something valuable too.

So think about how you can make the ads a seamless part of your content so they feel more like a recommendation from a trusted host than 30 seconds of a hard sell.

How to make great podcast ads


Be creative and put your listeners first

No matter how you’re planning on monetising your show you never want it to be at the expense of your listeners.

The trust you’ve built up with your audience is the thing you’re monetising, especially when you’re selling ads, so you have to do everything you can to protect it.

You also need to think creatively about how to monetise your podcast, especially when your audience numbers are low.

And while making money from something you’re creatively passionate about is great it can’t be the only reason you’re doing a podcast.

If it is, you won’t be able to make it through the long weeks, months or years when you’re trying to grow your audience and you won’t truly be dedicated to the people turning up to hear your show.

And that’s the most important thing to focus on if you want to build a successful podcast that you can one day turn into a business.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the show. Now the one thing a lot of people are interested in when it comes to podcasting is how it can make you some sweet sweet moolah. It seems to be the first question on everybody's lips when you tell them you have a podcast...How do you make money and monetise it?

[00:00:17] There are plenty of ways to make money out of your podcast that don't involve traditional advertising. In fact I would suggest selling ads in your podcast is probably the least lucrative way to make money unless you are pulling in half a million listeners. If you've only got two or three hundred listeners you're not going to make very much money.

[00:01:13] But if you have got a really keen audience that love what you do, trust you and turn up every single week there's no reason you can't monetise a small audience. If you offer a podcast that is really targeted towards a specific advertiser you could probably contact them and say "I think this episode is worth five hundred bucks" and potentially get them across the line if they think even half of your 200 people might purchase the product they're advertising.

[00:02:42] So here are some of the ways that you can monetise you show outside of selling ads because until you grow your audience to a significant number that's not going to be the best way to do things. The other reason you want to avoid ads if you can is that your listeners hate them. They don't want to hear them they just want to hear your content. So any way that you can keep ads out of your podcast is always going to be a benefit.

[00:03:13] As I was saying before you can directly approach advertisers that perfectly align with your podcast. Maybe you are doing a podcast for people who love knitting hats and there is a local knitting shop or a wool shop and you know you've got 200 people that turn up to consume your content every week and they'd be really interested in the newest types of wool or getting a subscription service to get wool sent to their home. That could be something a store might be willing to pay 200 bucks per episode for. Depending on what their return would be, so doing that direct approach if you have a niche podcast that would appeal to a specific advertiser can be a really good option.

[00:03:55] You can also use your podcast to sell products and services that you have. For example, if you're an architect you could give tips about home renovation in your podcast so people can get a taste of your advice and approach and then sell your renovation course to your audience when they're looking to take the next step. You could do the same if you were an author and wanted to sell books of yours or you had a physical product that you could create content around and then sell on your podcast.

[00:04:52] There are a lot of different ways to actually sell the thing it is that you make and bring in revenue that way rather than impact the content that you give to your audience via ads instead. Why not ship the content out pristine and delightful and make money a different way?

[00:05:08] Affiliate marketing is another way to do things. Basically that's when you will sell a product or service on behalf of another creator. So for example if you are a marketing coach and there is somebody in your network or somebody you look up to or somebody that you've made a relationship with who sells a really great marketing course you can get in contact with them and ask them if they would consider you selling that course and then you'll get a cut. sSome people offer affiliate marketing as a general rule others will only do it with trusted people that they know. But really if you've got an audience of people that they might not have been able to get in front of before then it can be a really great opportunity for them as well. I would always advise that you make sure that it's a product or a service that you would use yourself so you're only recommending to your audience things that you would genuinely use.

[00:06:44] You can also sell a subscription service so if you've got a really engaged audience who really like what you do and want a level above what you're offering or want to pay a monthly subscription fee to be a part of an online community.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!