How to make money from your podcast



by in Podcasting
How to make money from your podcast | PodSchool Podcast

Show me the money!

The one thing people seem most interested in when it comes to podcasting is how to bring in the sweet sweet moolah.

But before you start cashing cheques you don’t have, let me give you the bad news first…the majority of podcasts don’t make a dime.

Making money from your podcast is the exception rather than the rule but if you think the only way to bring in revenue is by selling ads, think again.

In fact, if you have a small audience, ads are the least lucrative way to monetise your podcast.

Since most ads are sold on a ‘cost per mille’ basis (a certain price per thousand listeners), unless you’re pulling in big audience numbers, selling ads can yield a pretty piddy amount of coin.

A quick calculation, care of Midroll’s ad calculator, suggests 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…

$179 – $335 / YEAR

Hardly seems worth it considering your audience don’t want ads

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

The direct approach

Since selling ads in the traditional cost per mille way won’t work if your audience is small, sometimes you can approach an advertiser directly and determine the price you’re willing to charge.

This works especially well if you have a niche show and an audience of engaged listeners who would go out and buy a product if it’s really well aligned with 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 maybe you could approach an online wool shop?  If they offer a subscription service where new wool is sent directly 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 to?

Putting that offer in front of your audience might be something a store would be willing to pay $500 per episode for, depending on the return on investment.

Alternatively, you could bite the bullet and start your own yarn subscription service….once you’ve got an audience you have to think of ways to monetise that is outside the box of traditional advertising.

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 show you can introduce people to it via your free show content and then get people to upgrade to the paid content if they want to dive deeper.

My friend, Amelia Lee, is an architect and her podcast Get It Right is designed to help people with their home renovations.

In this podcast, Amelia offers useful free content that proves she knows what she’s talking about and gives listeners an opportunity to engage with her in a way that doesn’t cost any money.

If, after listening to her show they want a bit more help, they can enrol in her renovation course or hire her to design their home.

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 advise only ever doing this with products or services you’ve tried yourself because if you endorse something and it’s not high-quality, your audience will lose their trust in your recommendations.

And that will spell the end of your ability to generate revenue from your show.

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

Some companies will offer affiliate programs as standard, others will only allow their products to be sold via people they trust so this might take some relationship building.  But if you’ve got a really keen audience of people that a seller might not be able to get in front of without you, it could be a great opportunity for both of you.

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

Selling subscription services

A couple of examples of this could be a membership site where people get additional content each month or 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 that 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.

The donation model

This is usually only possible when you’ve built up a loyal fan base who love the 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 usually need to develop some additional content e.g. you might offer people who donate 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.

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 listen to you in person.

Leigh Sales And Annabel Crabb’s podcast Chat 10 Looks 3 is a great example of a podcast that’s moved from being in your ears to being on stage.

They’ve got a really passionate audience and a great Facebook community where listeners and the hosts chat with each other so it was a no-brainer to run live events where their audience could meet them and other people in the community.

If you’ve got a really engaged audience doing a live show can be a great way to bring in revenue (just don’t hire an expensive venue) and give your listeners a memorable experience.

Create opportunities by establishing yourself as an expert

Doing a weekly podcast can establish you as an expert in your field and put 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.

Get booked for speaking gigs

This is another benefit of establishing yourself as an expert in your field and it 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 also a great way to show people what your style is 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 get an immediate sense of what you’re like as a performer.

See!  It’s not all about selling ads!

Making money off your podcast isn’t just about pumping your show full of 30-second bits of crap your audience doesn’t want to hear.

You can be much smarter about how you generate revenue so you keep the content of each episode as enjoyable for your audience as it possibly can be.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Need some help getting started or setting up your home studio?  Download my free podcasting guide.

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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