Want to build a podcast empire? Or do you simply want to support yourself doing what you love? Monetizing a podcast is hard work, but thousands of podcasters do it every day, building their own income streams and making a career out of their interests and passions. Here are ways to monetize your podcast.
What Do You Need to Monetize a Podcast?
In order to monetize a podcast, you need to already have a few key factors in place. Here’s what you need to monetize a podcast:
It may go without saying, but you need great content. Having a great podcast motivates your listeners to want to support you, builds an audience that advertisers are interested in, and generates good ratings and reviews that grows the podcast even more. Start with creating great content, and the rest will follow.
A Companion Blog or Website
When people love your podcast, you need to give them a way to connect with you and support you.
Having a companion blog or website gives you a single destination, where you can help your audience connect with you on social media, support you on patronage websites, buy merch, join a club, click affiliate links … having a website is not only crucial for search engines and archiving, but it makes it much easier for listeners and sponsors to support your podcast.
A Plan Toward Monetization
Before trying to monetize your channel, think about it and make a plan. If someone listens to your podcast and loves it, what do you want them to do, and how do you make it as easy as possible to do that thing?
Using your episode description to make links and information easily accessible is the best way to do it, but many people won’t click through a ton of different links (which is why simply directing them to your website is efficient).
If you want them to donate money, choose a widely-adopted platform that many people already use, like PayPal, and make the link very accessible.
If you want them to visit your site, become a member, make a donation, buy merch, visit a sponsor, etc., think about how you will incorporate those actions and links into the podcast content, the keywords and descriptors, or your website or social media, so that listeners who love you have a fast, easy, simple way to support you and your sponsors.
9 Ways to Monetize Your Podcast
Once you have great content and have developed your plan, here are the most effective ways to monetize your podcast.
Requesting donations is fast and easy, and often the first step toward monetization. Create a link that makes donations fast and easy, and then request donations in the audio of the podcast, in the episode description, and on your blog or website.
Remind listeners that if they like the podcast, they can support your work with a donation.
A lot of people would rather buy something than just give away money. Merchandise is a great way to make some money off your podcast, allow your listeners to support you, and also generate more publicity or word of mouth as your audience shows off their new items. Here’s how to make merch earn for you.
Make it Topical
The best merchandise is something that is naturally connected to the topic of your podcast; if the topic is, for example, beer or coffee, sell beer or coffee mugs, steins, pitchers, etc.
Make it Cool
If your podcast has a cool logo or slogan, people will be more likely to want to buy and use a t-shirt, a tote bag, etc. You may want to invest in a professional designer to develop your visual brand, and don’t be afraid to ask listeners what they want.
A great strategy for selling more merch is to make limited quantities or seasonal items. People are more motivated to buy things if they think they are in short supply, and it motivates listeners to visit your merch store repeatedly over time.
Memberships are the perfect way of making your podcast income more predictable. Sell monthly or annual memberships, and, if you want, create membership tiers. For example, monthly members might get early access to episodes, or longer episodes with outtakes and behind-the-scenes content.
Premium members get premium-only episodes, or free merch, or are given ways to participate in the podcast itself (in the popular Ologies podcast, Alie Ward allows subscribers to submit questions for the interview subjects).
Think about what you might offer to subscribers, or how you might create different levels of sponsorship with different rewards.
Join an Affiliate Network
If your podcast is about products, then joining an affiliate network is a no-brainer. If you become an affiliate, and then you recommend a product or service and your listeners use your link to purchase it, you get a percentage of the sale.
The tricky thing about affiliates and podcasts is that listeners have to use your individual affiliate links when making the purchase in order for you to get credit, so you have to direct them not just to the product, but to your specific link.
Selling ad space on your podcast is a great way to monetize, but usually requires a fairly large audience: the more people companies think they will reach, the more interested they will be in advertising on your podcast.
In fact, if you have a large audience, many advertisers will start reaching out to you. Advertising works best when the product is a good fit for your podcast topic and your audience’s interests.
Join an Advertising Network
An advertising network takes the work out of finding ad sponsors off your hands. These networks match advertisers to podcasts, and set up the terms for you, so you get ad revenue more easily and with less time involved.
You typically have to apply to join these networks, and many of them have rules about the podcasts they’ll accept (certain # of subscribers, limitations on NSFW content, etc.). There are lots of podcast advertising networks, so you can look for one that is right for you.
Develop Premium Content
While premium content is a great offering for members or subscribers, you can also develop independent premium content. For example, if your podcast shows that you have deep knowledge or expertise on a subject, you can develop a course on that subject, and sell it as a stand-alone educational experience.
Events are a great way to connect more deeply with your audience and monetize a podcast at the same time. You could have in-person events, webinars, Q&As, live streaming events, staged performances, and more.
Events can be free to attend but you can sell merchandise, or ticketed events where people pay to join, or only available to premium subscribers.
Syndicate Your Show
Syndication publishes your podcast and show notes far beyond your own distribution channel or podcast network. Syndication networks place your podcast on websites, directories, and other places where new audiences can more easily find and subscribe to your podcast.
Many of these distribution and syndication channels have relationships with podcast hosting sites, so you can easily host, distribute, syndicate, and monetize your podcast in one place.
Over 42 million people listen to podcasts weekly, and they listen for an average of five or more hours a week. With that kind of demand for new audio content, it’s no wonder that both podcasters and advertisers are finding new and innovative ways to monetize podcasts. This means that the opportunities and channels toward monetization are changing and growing all the time.
Not every one of these strategies will work for every podcast and every podcaster. The most effective podcast monetization strategies depend on what your podcast is about, what your audience is interested in, and also in your own personal style. You may need to mix-and-match strategies until you find the one that fits.
Don’t be afraid to ask your audience for input, or read comments and reviews and find out what they like and connect with. As you try new things, be patient don’t pass judgement right away; it may take 6-12 months to determine how something is working, and whether it generates enough money to justify the effort.
With so many options, monetizing a podcast isn’t difficult, provided you take the time to make great content and build an audience. Podcasting can be the perfect way to support yourself and live a life you love.