How to Monetize Your Podcast: 5 Strategies for Success

By Liz Willits


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. That means monetizing your podcast should be a priority.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not! With a bit of forethought, excellent podcast content and hard work, you can live your dream and make money while podcasting. Here are five strategies to monetize your podcast.

1. Advertise on your podcast with sponsorships

When you consider monetizing your podcast, your first thought is probably sponsorships. Who doesn’t want to be paid to speak about a company for 30 seconds?

And after all, the big-time podcasts have sponsors. Why shouldn’t you?

But hold on a second.

Before you drop everything and jump hurdles trying to tie down a sponsor, know that sponsorships can be difficult to obtain. Only three percent of podcasts have sponsors, and typically, sponsored podcasts have huge followings (think The Nerdist Podcast).

But, if you have enough engaged listeners, sponsorships are an amazing gig.

The industry standard for sponsorships is a 15-second pre-roll and a 60-second mid-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) and again for 60 seconds at approximately the middle.

And what exactly can you earn for a sponsorship like this? It depends.

According to John Lee Dumas of the successful EOFire podcast, industry standards are $18 per 1,000 CPMs (CPMS = listens) for a 15-second pre-roll, and $25 per 1,000 CPMs for a 60-second mid-roll.

Besides being paid per CPMs or listens, you can earn sponsorship money per customer acquisition (for each podcast listener that purchases from the sponsor). Or, you can propose a flat fee to your sponsor and they decline or accept.

As you can tell, unless you have thousands of listeners, sponsorships aren’t going to make you a millionaire.

Before going after a sponsorship, focus on growing your audience. Then, when you have enough raving followers, chase your sponsorship dreams.

If you want to learn more about podcast sponsorships, check out master podcaster John Lee Dumas’ guide to podcast sponsorships.

2. Earn commissions for product/service recommendations

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 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 1) your audience has a choice to act on your recommendation or to ignore it and 2) 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. AWeber is your email marketing provider, and you’re an affiliate, which means you earn a 30 percent recurring commission for each podcast listener who purchases an AWeber account. Nice! And because you’re promoting a service you use, you’ve already conducted quality control.

And the best part? This isn’t a fake example. AWeber offers an affiliate commission.

Affiliate opportunities aren’t hard to come by. Numerous companies offer commissions for referrals, like Amazon, iTunes and Bluehost (just to name a few).

3. Receive donations from listeners

You may be wondering, why would anyone donate money to support my podcast? Who hands over money for nothing?

If your podcast delivers education or entertainment, your audience gains tons of value from you. They 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.

Onto the important stuff: how to gather your donations from your listeners.

One strategy is to build your own site. But constructing a site from the ground up will consume time (or money if you’re outsourcing), which is why I’d recommend using a site like Patreon.

Let me just say, I’m geeking out over Patreon (like, a lot).

Patreon funds artists through an online site/community where anyone can build a page to receive donations and anyone can donate. It’s like Kickstarter, but designed exclusively for artists and creators.

To create your own Patreon site, check out Patreon’s guide to building your page. If you want to know how it all works, watch this video.

The basics: you add an account, import photos, write a description, choose when your patrons will donate to you and what they will receive for different donation tiers.

For a $3 donation per month, The Drunken Peasants Podcast offers behind-the-scenes access to exclusive content.

Successful podcasts see awesome results on Patreon. The podcast Daily Tech News Show manages to earn over $15,000 in donations per month. Wow.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 7.52.27 AM

4. Promote 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.

But remember to use moderation. Your audience listens to your podcast because they love your valuable, free content. If you dedicate too much time to advertising, you’ll annoy listeners, which could mean losing them.

To avoid that, I suggest limiting product promotion to a minute or less and mentioning products at non-obtrusive times – like the beginning or end of your podcast.

5. Build a fan club with email marketing

So far, I’ve given you four tips for monetizing your podcast. But sadly, I need to mention one caveat. Using any of the aforementioned monetization strategies won’t work unless you have a loyal audience that listens and engages regularly.

There’s a downside to podcasting. Once your audience listens to your monthly or weekly podcast episode, you lose connection with them until next episode (unless something even worse happens, and they don’t remember to download your next episode).

However, there’s a simple solution for podcasting alienation: email marketing.

How to grow your email list

Email is the champion of digital relationship building and a powerful tool for podcast monetization. In fact, email marketing assists with every monetization strategy I outlined above: sponsorships, affiliate commissions, donations and product promotion.

By building relationships with your audience through great email content, you create trust and a loyal fan club. And a loyal fan club is 100 times more willing to support you and purchase from you. Plus, who doesn’t like having fangirls and fanboys??

That’s very nice, you say, but I don’t have my listeners’ email addresses.

No problem. During your podcast, offer listeners an incentive for subscribing, and they’ll be glad to join your email list. If you need incentive ideas, check out these 5 Irresistible Incentives for Your Sign Up Form that Aren’t eBooks.

On the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast (a podcast about online business strategy), Steve Chou effectively uses an incentive to convince his listeners to subscribe to his email list.

At the end of his podcast, Steve briefly describes a free 6-day mini-course and asks listeners to visit his homepage and complete a sign up form to get it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 8.29.05 AM His 6-day free email course instructs readers on the basics of starting an online store. And throughout the email course, Steve promotes his paid course on starting your own online store. Notice the theme?

Beyond promoting his own services in his email course, Steve also recommends relevant and valuable products and services from third-party companies. When a subscriber purchases one of these products or services, Steve receives an affiliate commission.

To recap, Steve employs three of our strategies to monetize his podcast. 1) He sells his own services, 2) he earns affiliates commissions by recommending partner companies and 3) he promotes both his own products and his affiliate products with email marketing.

What to write in your emails

Once you have a subscriber list, it’s time to start building a fan club with awesome, contextual emails. What should you send your subscribers? Here are just a few ideas for your email content:

  • Give away valuable content like show notes, podcast outtakes and exclusive content.
  • Ask for donations.
  • Promote affiliate companies.
  • Offer discounts on your products/services.
  • Ask for podcast reviews.
  • Send surveys to get valuable feedback.
  • Hold a contest and announce your winner via email.
  • And so much more!

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!

The post How to Monetize Your Podcast: 5 Strategies for Success appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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