Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Are the streets of podcasting paved with gold? Well, they might not be far off with over $1 billion dollars of advertising revenue spent on podcasts in 2021. It seems like there’s no better time to start monetising your podcast.
But before we begin, I think we need to set some expectations. You see, podcasts very rarely make a sizable amount of money from the start unless…
- You, or your podcast, have some famous talent attached with an already built-in audience
- You are making a podcast specifically for a brand and they have paid you to do so, in which case why are you reading this? You’ve made it!
For the average podcaster, the road to success can take a bit longer. But don’t be disheartened. Currently, podcasts are the fastest growing medium in the world – people just can’t get enough of them! And that means the opportunity to monetise is more accessible than ever.
So, where do we start?
Before you can even think about monetising your podcast, you have to have an audience. Otherwise, who are you selling to?
Growing an audience does take time but here are some tips to help you get started:
- Coverage – is your podcast available everywhere? Apple and Spotify are the big ones, but have you made sure your podcast is available on Google, Amazon, Youtube, Castbox and as many other platforms as you can.
- Clarity – can I tell what your podcast is about before I listen? Is the artwork eye-catching? Do the episode titles and descriptions pull me in and make sense?
- Consistency – are you releasing regularly? There is no point asking your listeners to subscribe if there isn’t anything for them to subscribe to. Making sure your episodes drop regularly into their feed, on the same day of the week, helps your listeners form a habit (AKA listening to your podcast!).
- Social Media – let people know your podcast is out there. From Facebook to TikTok (and between you and me, TikTok is fast becoming a big podcast discovery tool) there are plenty to choose from.
- Cross promotion – can you identify other podcasts who might want to talk about your podcast, in exchange for you telling your listeners about theirs?
So, you’ve got a growing audience. Congrats! Now it’s time to think about monetising your podcast. Here are 4 ways to achieve this…
Ask for it
It might sound simple, but asking your listeners to ‘buy you a coffee’ in the way of a small donation can be the easiest way to start monetising. Most dedicated podcast listeners understand that your show takes time and money to make, and if you are regularly delivering them a show that they love then many won’t shy away from making a donation.
TOP TIP: People are more likely to give a donation if you spend some time building up a relationship with your listeners first. If you’d like some advice on how to do this, have a read of our blog post ‘Community is Key: How to Grow Your Podcast on Social Media’.
Give them exclusive content
If you have a dedicated and engaged audience then the next step could be to create your own podcast subscription plan through the likes of Patreon. For a small fee, every month you could offer your listeners access to exclusive content, such as bonus episodes, merch or even things like show shout-outs. The latter is a great way to ‘give back’ to your listeners who are willing to pay for your show, and many podcasts make a very lucrative living off their subs.
Sell sponsorship or ads
One of the most popular ways to monetise is to sell your ‘airtime’ to advertisers. This can be in the form of ads inserted into the podcast, usually at the beginning, middle or end (also known as pre mid or post roll) or a whole show/series sponsorship.
You could approach an ad network to do this for you. Or if you already have the contacts and feel like you have a strong pitch, you could approach brands directly.
TOP TIP: Really think about the audience you have and the kind of brands/products/services you think they would be interested in. Being able to think outside the box slightly and pitch to newer, more flexible brands will usually get you further when you first start. Yes, (insert massive global brand) would be an amazing ad partner for your podcast, but when the chain of approval needs to go through 100 different people and numerous ad buying agencies, the process can be slower than your Grandma on a skateboard. If you want to move fast, then work with fast moving companies.
Join an ad network
Once you have an audience in the thousands every week, ad networks can be your next best friend. They will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you – finding brands, doing deals and helping you grow your audience further by cross-promoting your podcast throughout their network.
Deals can either be done on a fixed fee (as a sponsorship, for example) or a CPM (Cost Per Thousand) basis, meaning the more listeners you have the more you get paid. However, remember ad agencies do take a cut/commission on any deal they do for you, so factor this in while you’re working out who will be the best partner for your show.