Starting your own podcast is one of the most enjoyable ways to make money online. Not only are you in complete control of how you work, but you’ll also get to bring in revenue from creating content that you’re actually interested in.
This is particularly useful due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more people than ever working from home.
But, not everyone understands the best way to monetize their audio content.
Not quite sure how to begin? We’ve got all the info you need. Let’s explore everything you should keep in mind about how to monetize podcasts.
1. Dynamic Audio Ad Insertion
Historically, it has been very difficult, if not impossible to monetize your podcast if you had less than 20,000 streams a month. Today, with technology like Sounder’s dynamic ad insertion, you can simply select a check box to begin monetizing your podcast even if you have 10 streams a month or 10 million.
Dynamic ad insertion is the process of dynamically and automatically inserting audio ads within your podcast, regardless of what podcast platform the listener is listening on.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Another way to make money from your podcast is through affiliate marketing.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it involves providing links to certain products on online stores with the goal of having users make a purchase. The Amazon Affiliate Program is one of the most popular forms of affiliate marketing and is likely something you’ve seen in the past.
It’s important to know, though, that you can still make money through affiliate marketing even if your audience doesn’t purchase the products that you link to.
For example, let’s say you host a podcast centered around becoming a freelance photographer. You could link to the equipment that you use on Amazon, such as your lights, camera, etc.
Although users would click your affiliate link and be taken directly to one of these products, you still make a commission if they end up buying something else. So, a user may check out the camera link that you’ve provided but end up buying a completely different product instead.
Since they made their way to the online store through your link, you still get a commission payment.
As your audience grows, the amount of money that you make from affiliate marketing will increase exponentially. In some scenarios, it’s not uncommon to make thousands of dollars each month simply from affiliate marketing commission.
With all that said, you would have to add the affiliate links to your show notes or episode descriptions in order for listeners to click on your links. As your audience grows, it is better to drive traffic to your owned and operated podcast website or blog than it is to depend on listeners clicking on links when listening on Apple Podcasts for example.
3. Host-Read Audio Ads
After your audience has reached a notable size, (usually over 25,000 streams a month) you will begin to attract the attention of certain brands related to your niche.
These companies may then want to capitalize on the amount of reach that your podcast has and approach you with a sponsorship offer. This is one of the most straightforward ways to make extra money through your podcast, as a sponsorship agreement often involves you simply reading a short script about the company.
For example, someone who creates sports podcast content may have one of their episodes sponsored by a local athletic clothing brand. The host would typically say something like:
“Today’s podcast is sponsored by Ridge Athletics, your premier solution for staying fit and comfortable. Ridge Athletics uses high-quality…”
As with affiliate marketing, host-read audio advertising become far more lucrative as your audience grows. Where you place your sponsorship is also something that you need to take into consideration, as some placements pay more than others.
In general, pre-roll ads pay the second-highest, mid-roll ads pay the most, and post-roll ads pay the least. This is directly related to how likely it is your audience will continue to watch or listen to your episode after they experience the ad.
If your podcast has over 25,000 streams a month, reach out to us at Sounder and we can help provide host-read monetization opportunities with some of the top brands in the world.
4. Product Reviews
Reviews are far more in-depth than typical host-read ads. They involve you thoroughly explaining what a particular product or service has to offer, your experience with it, and whether or not you would recommend using it.
As you may expect, it’s not in your best interest to convey only negative information. As opposed to saying something like “I wouldn’t recommend this” you should instead say “this product is best for people who…”
Depending on the size of your audience and the brand that you work with, you can make a sizable amount of passive income through product or service reviews. Additionally, you don’t have to devote an entire episode to reviewing something.
More often than not, you can dedicate a small portion of your podcast to a review. This comes with another important responsibility, however.
In order to maintain the trust of your audience and not make them feel like you’re simply pushing products onto them because you’re getting paid to do so, you should only review products that you actually use.
This allows you to give objective feedback and also offer insight into what it can and cannot do. Additionally, you need to be transparent about whether or not you receive something for free or if you’re getting paid to review a product or service.
No matter what your niche, there’s a high chance that you can benefit from creating and selling merch.
When people buy clothing or other merchandise, they often aren’t buying it for its utility. To elaborate, somebody who simply needs a shirt would most likely buy the cheapest one that they can.
Instead, people are buying the brand behind the product. those with particularly large podcast audiences have only gotten to that point due to strong branding and quality content. As a result, merchandise they create becomes something that their listeners are proud to show off.
Take Nike versus an independent athletic brand, for example. Assuming that the quality and price between two different products are identical, it’s highly likely that more people would buy Nike simply because of the branding. Common merch ideas include:
- Coffee mugs
There’s a crucial aspect of selling merchandise that many entrepreneurs seem to overlook— you don’t want to have an online store that looks extremely ‘salesy’ or corporate if your podcast does not also convey this atmosphere.
For example, someone who posts a podcast about skating or rock music wouldn’t want to send their audience to a website that looks like it follows a cookie-cutter template for an online store. Additionally, you want to stay away from generic sales language like “buy now!” or “order yours today!”
This will only serve to create a disconnect between your brand and your store and make your audience feel as if it’s some sort of cash grab as opposed to you offering a product that has value.
6. User Donations
If there’s a particular financial goal that you need to reach, there’s always a possibility to ask your audience for one-time donations. In some cases, you may find that you meet your goal within hours.
This is a bit of a gray area when it comes to ethics, though, as some content creators ask for donations that they don’t necessarily need. Others ask for donations to help pay for something that will have nothing to do with creating future content.
In order for you to retain your brand’s integrity while asking for donations, you’ll need to satisfy two criteria:
- There’s a legitimate need for the money
- The purchase will be used to create better content in the future (such as equipment)
Additionally, you need to show your audience that their money went toward what you said it would. So, if you’re raising money for a new audio setup, you need to showcase how this purchase improves the quality of your podcast.
A common scenario involves a new podcast raising money to buy a new microphone. As soon as they begin using that microphone, their audience will immediately hear the difference in quality, therefore justifying the purchase.
Asking for money to pay for expenses that don’t benefit your audience will only serve to erode the trust they have in your brand.
7. Premium Access
Creating different tiers of listening for your audience is a great way to establish an additional revenue stream. This only works, though, if the free content that you provide is already of high-value.
When someone enjoys listening to a podcast for free, they will more than likely assume that the premium content is even better. Of course, paid content should always be far more entertaining or useful to your audience in order to justify the cost.
One of the most common types of premium access is establishing some sort of membership between your audience and your brand. When they are subscribed, it’s commonplace for them to be able to view episodes early, view exclusive content, and receive other benefits as time goes on.
For instance, someone who has paid for six months’ total of premium access could get a box full of exclusive merch as a sort of thank-you for their contribution to your brand. As long as premium access provides notably increased value to your audience, you shouldn’t have any issue acquiring subscriptions.
8. Online Guide/Course
Those who create podcasts are often experts in their particular niche. After all, it’s relatively difficult to speak extensively on a topic without having a strong understanding of it.
Due to having this knowledge, podcast creators are often able to provide information to their audience that can help them in their own endeavors. As such, it’s commonplace for those with successful podcasts to offer online guides or courses that their listeners can take advantage of.
These typically range anywhere from a brief introduction to getting involved in an industry or niche to a comprehensive guide on excelling in the space.
Let’s take a podcast on entrepreneurship and use it as an example.
The content creator could offer a short guide about different ways you can make money on your own as opposed to working a traditional job. They might also provide a more in-depth course that details all of the nuances associated with starting and running a successful business.
The price of your content should directly reflect how much value it has. Simply packaging a handful of tips and presenting them in a consumable format isn’t something that you should be charging thousands of dollars for.
But, under the right circumstances, even a few course sales per month could prove to be a significant revenue stream that you generate directly through your podcast.
This is relatively similar to offering a course or guide, but it involves performing a service for your audience after they pay for it.
One of the most valuable services that you can offer is coaching. Regardless of your niche, It’s highly likely that your audience can benefit from one-on-one interaction with an expert. This is especially true for processes that are notably difficult to perform with zero knowledge, such as creating your first online store.
As with offering a course or guide, your coaching results need to be stellar in order to justify the cost that your audience pays. This is also a great opportunity to convey your personality and connect with your listeners on a more intimate level.
If all goes well, there’s a strong chance that your past clients will tell people they know about your services. Not only will this facilitate increased revenue in the future, but it will also expand your podcast overall audience.
It Can Seem Complicated to Monetize Podcasts Optimally
But the above information will make the process far smoother. From here, you’ll be able to make the decisions that are best for the growth of your brand and allow you to monetize podcasts you create to the fullest extent.
Have questions or comments? Feel free to submit them down below and let us know what you think!