By Kelsey Johnson September 14, 2021
Creating a podcast takes a lot of time — you deserve to make some money from it. Check out these quick & easy strategies to monetize your podcast via sponsorships, listener donations, and more!
Podcasting is an incredibly rewarding way to share your expertise. When you hit milestones like surpassing your record for most downloads of a single episode and receive positive reviews from listeners, you realize that all your hard work paid off.
But even the most passionate podcasters need to pay the bills. And you deserve to be paid for your time and hard work. Monetizing your podcast should be a priority.
With the right tactics and systems in place, anyone can make money from their podcast. We’ll cover 7 actionable ideas on how to get started.
How to monetize a podcast
Although making money is the goal, it’s often hard to imagine where to start. Here are 7 quick and easy ways to monetize your podcast — starting today.
- Advertise with sponsorships
- Ask listeners for donations
- Earn commissions through a referral program
- Create a paid membership with premium content
- Sell your own products or services
- Sell access to a course using older podcasts
- Host a virtual event
When considering how to monetize your podcast, your first thought is likely sponsorships. After all, in 2021 advertisers are expected to spend 1.33 billion U.S. dollars on podcasts. Why couldn’t your podcast be one of them?
Your podcast can make money with sponsorships! You don’t need to be as big as Joe Rogan to get a chunk of the pie, but you will need to learn how to pitch yourself. It’s more difficult to get sponsorships when you have a smaller audience.
But fear not, we’ve got some tips on how to sell sponsorships to businesses.
Find your niche
Most podcasts naturally have a niche audience based on the topic. Think about what yours is (or poll your audience). The first key to getting advertisers is knowing products your listeners will actually buy. Relevant advertisements will keep your audience happier too.
Run the numbers
Be realistic about how much you should be paid per ad spot.
The industry standard for sponsorships is a 15-second pre-roll, a 60-second mid-roll, or a 30-second post-roll. Translation: You or your sponsor talk about their product or service for 15 seconds at the beginning of your podcast (typically after your intro music), for 60 seconds at approximately the middle, or 30 seconds at the end of your show.
According to John Lee Dumas of the successful EOFire podcast, industry standards for charging are:
- $18 per 1,000 CPMs (CPMS = listens) for a 15-second pre-roll (at the beginning of your podcast)
- $25 per 1,000 CPMs for a 60 second mid-roll (in the middle of your podcast)
- $10 per 1,000 CPMs for a 30-second post-roll (at the end of your podcast)
Create some flat fee estimates for your podcast based on your audience so you can easily pitch companies and other advertisers.
Besides being paid per CPMs or listens, you can earn sponsorship money per customer acquisition (for each podcast listener that purchases from the sponsor).
Make your pitch
Find smaller companies that could really benefit from advertising to your niche audience. You could simply search on Google, or find business owners on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Even look on Instagram if your target business has a presence there.
Make a very simple pitch that lays out what you’re offering, how much it’ll cost them, and what the benefit will be to them. Don’t forget, this kind of access to your audience is a great deal for them. Understand your value, set your prices, and stick to them — your time is worth it.
Here’s an unfortunate truth: It’s unlikely that the first, second, or even 10th business you reach out to will say yes to sponsoring you.
You have to play the numbers game. Don’t spend too much time pitching any company, but find and reach out to literally as many as you can. Eventually, you’ll find sponsors and they may even recommend you to others. You’ll just have to put the time in.
2. Ask listeners for donations
While you’re waiting for your sponsors to call you back — or even when you have them — you can be asking your listeners to pitch in.
Many podcasters are nervous to ask for donations, but you shouldn’t be! Here’s why:
- You offer information or entertainment for free, it’s okay to ask for donations
- Some listeners may want to contribute to you, but don’t know how
- Public radio and TV have been running fundraisers forever, people are used to donating to content providers they love
- You deserve to make money from your work
Your audience will donate because you give them something they can’t get anywhere else: Your knowledge, your sense of humor, your experience, and beyond.
And you, my podcasting friend, are priceless. Build a fanatic-like following, and your listeners will donate willingly.
3. Earn commissions through a referral program
Has someone ever recommended a company’s product or services to you on their blog, podcast, website, etc? Well, more often than not, they are earning referral (or affiliate) commissions if you purchase.
Feeling cheated? Scammed? Tricked?
You shouldn’t. This is called an affiliate referral. And when affiliate referrals are done right, you are recommending a product or service to your audience that is relevant to them and beneficial for them.
It’s not a trick because
- your audience has a choice to act on your recommendation or to ignore it and
- you have done research or testing on the product/service beforehand, which means you’re recommending something proven and useful.
Note: If you don’t know the quality of a product/service, you shouldn’t recommend it. You don’t want to lose your audience’s trust by recommending a bogus product. Additionally, be transparent with your listeners about the affiliate commissions you’re receiving.
As an example, let’s say you have a weekly digital marketing podcast. You use AWeber for email marketing and you’re an affiliate, which means you earn a 30 percent recurring commission for each podcast listener who purchases an AWeber account. Because you’re promoting a service you already use, you know it’ll be a great product for your listeners, too.
Interested? Sign up to earn AWeber affiliate commission.
To get started:
- Find companies that have an affiliate program and that you’d be proud to promote their products or services
- Sign up for their affiliate program
- Start promoting them on your podcast, your blog or in the emails you send to listeners. Make sure you’re sending them with a tracking URL so you get credit for the sale.
4. Create a paid membership
Once you have a loyal following, you may want to consider a paid membership podcast that offers premium content. In addition to your regular free podcast, allow listeners to pay to become a member, and offer bonus content and access for their money.
Need some ideas for premium content? You could offer:
- A secondary podcast with bonus episodes, exclusive interviews, or a behind the scenes look
- A newsletter with premium content or promotions
- T-shirts, pins, or other fun products sent by mail
- Videos, guides, workbooks, or other premium educational content
- Access to a closed Facebook group
These are formats that create value for those listeners that just can’t get enough of your awesome content.
Note: Did you know you can set up subscription payments to charge for a membership in AWeber? It’s easy and free to get your page setup to charge, and the fees are significantly lower than Patreon.
5. Sell your own products or services
Your podcast is the perfect platform for product promotion. Because you’ve already established your value and expertise through your podcast, your audience trusts you and is much more likely to purchase from you.
For example, if you run a weekly podcast about cat obedience training (I wish you luck), you could promote your $15 ebook “Transforming Your Evil Cat into the Perfect Pet in 8 Weeks.”
Because your ebook is relevant to your podcast topic and your audience trusts your expertise (that’s why they listen to you), they won’t have qualms about buying.
Don’t have something to sell? Try adding your logo to a few products and then selling them as branded merchandise. Using a company like Printful you can create some really great branded products to sell, without doing the legwork. It could be fun, and bring more attention to your podcast, too.
6. Sell access to a course using older podcasts
Repurposing older podcasts is a great way to make money from your podcast. You may find that several of your podcasts have an underlying theme, that when bundled together, could create immense value.
A marketing agency, for example, may have recorded podcasts about starting an email list, growing your email list, and optimizing your email list. They could bundle past podcasts into a course called “Grow your email list from 0 to 10,000.”
The agency could sell the course for, say $100, and allow people who can’t afford their services to learn about email marketing for themselves.
Think about how to apply this scenario to your expertise. What are your most popular podcast topics? Is there an opportunity to bundle those together to create a course? This could be an easy opportunity to monetize your older podcasts and provide value to your listeners and customers.
7. Host a virtual event
Hosting an event will take, by far, the most work. But it will also likely be the most rewarding. Therefore, I only recommend hosing a virtual event to people who get excited at the idea.
As a podcaster, the easiest way to create a virtual event is by streaming a live recording of your podcast — which is something your audience will be excited to see. If you include those who attend live in the conversation and let people chat amongst themselves, you’ve got yourself an event.
Setting up the event can be easy. Use a tool like GoTo Webinar or Zoom to create a webinar and require payment in order for people to attend. They can chat with each other and you while you host the event. Run fun polls and interact with the audience while recording for an extra engaging event.
Luckily, promoting a virtual event is easy for you podcasters. Mention the event on your podcast in the weeks leading up to it, promote it on social media, and send out an email to your list. You’ll have people signing up in no time!
How do you collect payment for your podcast?
Now that you have a few ideas about how to make money with your podcast, it’s time to get paid.
Whether you’re charging advertisers for a 6 week contract, accepting donations, selling courses, or creating a membership model, you can do it all with a landing page.
A landing page will serve as your sales page. You only need one, but you may want to make separate pages for each payment type (sponsorships, memberships, etc.) so you don’t distract the person making payments with too many options.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on going from zero to having a fully-functioning sales page.
1. Choose a landing page template
No need to start from scratch with the landing pages — you can use a pre-built template and make it your own. Here are a few popular templates for podcasters:
2. Connect to a payment processing platform
In order to get paid, you’ll need to connect to a payment processing platform. AWeber, for example, requires a Stripe account. This is a secure online payment processing platform that you can use directly on your landing page to collect payments — one-time or recurring.
3. Add or update the payment button on your page
Now that you have payment processing connected, you can create “products” and connect a payment button to them. Products can be donations, memberships, or anything else.
Choose the name and price of your product, whether it’s a recurring charge, your currency, and some text for the payment page. Review all settings to make sure you’re charging the right amount and the numbers match up.
4. Finish your page and publish
Look over the rest of your landing page and update it with your own headlines, text, images, and social media links. Double check everything and send it to a friend to proofread it for you.
Once you have everything as you like it, your sales page is ready to be published. Now it’s time to start promoting it!
Bonus: Buy or connect a custom domain to make your page seem more official and professional.
Start monetizing with email!
Want to learn the ins and outs of building meaningful relationships with your podcast audience through email marketing?
Check out our free Email Marketing for Podcasters Guide. You’ll learn even more about how email marketing can grow your podcast fan club.
Have you already started making money with your podcast? Share your podcast monetization advice in the comments below!
Contributions by Liz Willits and Sean Tinney