For some people, podcasting is a cathartic outlet, meant to serve as both a hobby and a means of self-expression. For others, it’s something fun to play around with in their spare time, serving a broader interest or hobby. For still others, podcasting is a kind of business, meant to earn them revenue, fame, or some mix of the two.
No matter what your original podcasting goals are, or what you hope to get out of it, you can make more money and sustain your efforts with the right monetization strategies.
Monetization is the process of taking an existing podcast and modifying it, expanding it, or complementing it in some way that allows you to create a stream of revenue from the core podcast. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry—there are actually several different monetization strategies you can use:
1. Sponsorships. The most popular monetization method in podcasting is sponsorships. Here’s the basic idea: a company will give you a predefined sum of money, and in exchange, you’ll mention the company on-air or endorse one of their core products. In some deals, you’ll send your listeners to a landing page, and you’ll get a share of any money that company makes from the traffic. It’s hard to get a sponsorship unless you have a sizable audience, but you can shop around for the right sponsor.
2. Side gig promotion. Next, you can use your podcast to promote one of your side gigs or other money-making hobbies. For example, if you’re a landlord in the same area you operate your podcast and you’re trying to attract tenants, you can use your podcast as a soft advertising method for your property. You can do the same thing if you have an Etsy store or a craft you’re trying to promote.
3. Advertising. If you have a website for your podcast, you can use it to attract actual advertisements, rather than sponsorships. This might detract from the other content on your side, so make sure to keep your core content and advertising in balance—or else you might lose some of your regular listeners.
4. Mailing lists and memberships. You can also generate a steady income by offering “membership” deals to some of your core listeners. With a membership, you might offer perks, like bonus content, or content earlier than the general public. You can also keep a mailing list of the people most interested in your podcast, and regularly market membership deals to them to drive up sales.
5. Donations. If you don’t like the idea of advertising or selling something to your audience, consider setting up a donation channel. Sites like Patreon allow creators to collect small donations from their readers and listeners. Even if you don’t heavily promote yourself, you should still be able to make a few hundred dollars for your efforts.
6. Related products and services. You can turn your podcast into a business by selling products and services related to your podcast’s main topic. For example, if you have a podcast about how to start a business, you could sell consulting services, or sell a startup package that helps people get their ideas on paper.
7. Premium content. You’ll be distributing your podcast for free, but that doesn’t mean you can’t charge extra for your premium content. For example, you might collect some of your best material and offer it as a remastered package, or write an eBook, and sell it for a few dollars per download.
8. Speaking and coaching. If you’ve developed a reputation for yourself in a specific niche, you can also make money by speaking at various events, and coaching individuals in your area of expertise. The hardest part here is getting started; look for speaking events in your city, or gatherings aligned with your central expertise. Then, use your podcast and existing subscriber base as a kind of resume that proves your effectiveness as a speaker. Even if you aren’t paid for your first event, you’ll gain more listeners to your podcast, and put your name out there for other, paying gigs to find you.
You can use one, some, or all of these monetization strategies, depending on how popular your podcast is, how much money you want to make, and of course, the nature of your audience. Make sure to research each method in depth before you attempt it on your own.
A Note on Quality
It’s also important to note that applying these monetization strategies to just any podcast won’t be enough to make money. All of these strategies are meant to convert regular, active listeners to actual income—which means you need regular, active listeners first.
Make sure your first priority, before, during, and after you start monetizing, is always on serving your listeners; without them, no monetization strategy will be able to help you.