Once the podcasting bug bites, many podcasters want to work on their podcast full time. This might be easier said than done, but with the right strategy and a whole lot of hustle, making money off your podcast is entirely possible. Here are a few ways to monetize your way into being a boss!
THE CLASSIC ROUTE – ADS/COMMERCIALS
Ads are still how most podcasts make money. Whether it’s selling 15-second spots, or one-minute slots, you can make a deal with a company to insert their ad into your podcast. There are various guides to figuring out what to charge based on your listenership and download stats (which are easily accessible to Blubrry customers), but how you structure your deal is entirely up to you.
Another popular way for companies to get ads on your show is for the host to read the ad directly (host-read advertising). These ads are generally placed “pre-roll” or “mid-roll” and the cost for each varies, but the “mid-roll” ad usually fetches a higher fee. Sponsors also tend to like a host-read ad as it feels more organic to the show and that the host is more connected to the product or service.
You’ve likely heard a podcast that begins with, “This program is brought to you by…” with a company sponsor named after that. If you have an industry specific show, let’s say you examine the wide world of golden retrievers, you could reach out to a dog food company or anything in the pet space, and they may love the show enough to be your sole sponsor. Having consistent downloads (even if they’re lower number) is a key element to partnering with a corporate sponsor.
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND DONATIONS (AKA YOUR FAN CLUB)
Why not come right out and ask your listeners to support your show directly? If you have a loyal fan base, they definitely want to support what you do. Crowdfunding services such as Patreon or GoFundMe have a variety of options for you to set up your revenue streams.
Many successful podcasts offer all sorts of bonus content, members-only events and/or members-only swag via these services and even grow their listener base from having successful crowdfunding campaigns.
BROADCAST ON YOUTUBE
This is a natural transition for the savvy podcaster. You’re already setting aside time to record your show. If you don’t want to, or don’t have a camera to video record your shows, you can simply put a static graphic on the screen as your podcast plays underneath.
Consider editing your videos before posting them as opposed to live streaming. Both will garner you views, but editing your videos into shorter buzz-worthy or “best of” segments can make them easier to share on social media.
Taking the next step of publishing videos of your recordings on YouTube will not only make you money from the views, but it can also get your podcast greater exposure.
At some point, you’re going to find a catch phrase, a show byline or a fun image that is uniquely identifiable to your show. You can have that fun tidbit put on a T-shirt, mug, blanket, sticker or nearly anything else you can dream up. If there’s ink, there’s a way.
You don’t even have to shell out the cash up front to have these items made. There are websites such as Shopify that will put your image you want on an item, create it, send it to the customer and then send you a check. As your show grows, it may be more cost effective to dedicate a portion of your garage to storing your merch, but you don’t have to wait until then to have a rad merch table.
SELL YOUR SERVICES OR CREATE A CLASS
Many podcasters offer services or are on a mission to spread their insights. Even if you don’t start out thinking you have something to teach, you may find that people start asking you how you do the things you do, or how to get better at the things you excel at.
You can craft a single course on, say, the best ways to train your cat to stop waking you up at 5 a.m. (this author is currently seeking out this course), or how to bake the perfect cookie. Even if you offer this course for $5, you’re engaging with your fans and once you create an online course, you never have to record it again.
If your service is a multi-class or multi-hour service, consider adding bundles for larger amounts or special discount codes for your subscription based audiences.
START A PODCAST NETWORK
If you’ve really cornered the market on your expertise, you may find that one podcast just isn’t enough to cover everything you want to cover. Or, maybe you are in contact with another like-minded podcast and you might already be doing cross promotions. Creating a podcast network of cultivated shows can not only be great for the individual shows to boost their audiences, but listeners love not having to think too hard about what they’re going to listen to next if they trust that what you partner with will be something they like.
No matter what option you choose, the sooner you start making a plan, the better you can craft your content to reach your goals. Even if you haven’t hit record yet, making a game plan on how to monetize your show will pay dividends well into the future.
Written by: Tara Jean O’Brien
Tara Jean O’Brien has been a writer, actor, improviser, podcaster, and stand-up for nearly 800 years. When not producing, editing, and hosting her podcast, Single Vs. Married, or co-hosting, Cinema Craptaculus Presents: B-sides, she also writers on Medium and recently found a floor safe hidden in her coat closet.