Whether you’ve been podcasting for a while, or are just thinking about starting, the idea of generating revenue from your hard work has likely crossed your mind.
There a number of reasons why you may or may not want to try to monetize your podcast, and a variety of strategies are possible.
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it should be that getting into podcasting simply for money is the wrong choice. The simple fact is that many podcasters do not “make money” from their podcast in the traditional sense. If your goal is to start a podcast and start earning money within a few weeks, that’s highly unlikely! Not to mention, measuring or quantifying results is challenging or even impossible.
While there are some cases where people with existing followings start a podcast and have a pretty substantial audience right away, for most of us it will be an uphill battle to grow your audience. Like anything worth doing, growing an audience for your podcast takes time, dedication, and hard work.
When considering monetizing your podcast, one of the first things to think about could be what you’d actually do with some extra money. Would you re-invest it into the podcast to purchase new equipment and generate a better product? How about paying for ads or giving away prizes to try and earn new listeners? Keep the money to pay yourself for the hard work? There are many options!
How To Monetize
There are many routes to take when it comes to monetizing your podcast. There are simple ad-insertion platforms which insert an audio ad during or before/after your podcast. You could sell sponsorships directly, link to affiliates on your site, use a crowdfunding platform such as Patreon, etc. You may not even directly attempt to monetize the podcast at all, but simply use it as a channel to bring you more followers / business / leads.
In our experience, the ad-insertion methods are the least favorable. Why? Because for these to supply you with any sort of significant income, you’d need to have a massive audience, likely in the hundreds of thousands. The payout for ad plays is simply so low that you’d be “tainting” your podcast with ads, and barely receiving anything for it. We know that ads can lead to distrust or tuneouts, so is it really worth lowering the quality of your podcast simply for pocket change each month?
The seemingly most common way to monetize, at least among our clients, is perhaps the most difficult to quantify, and that’s no direct monetization at all. Essentially, just having the podcast and trying to share content and build an audience leads to people who may then want to learn more or avail of your services. For example, an astrologist does a free weekly astrology podcast, but listeners may want to have a private paid session to learn more about themselves. Self-promotion may in fact be the very best way to monetize your podcast! You can run a 30 or 60 second commercial right in your podcast, or even just do a live read talking about your services.
If you have a larger following, the other mentioned options may help as well. You may offer affiliate links and earn a commission for clicks, these are available on various specialty websites or even from Amazon. You may suggest a book to listeners, and leave an Amazon link in your show notes where they can click to buy the book and you’ll earn a commission. Crowdfunding is a direct ask for donations either on a one-time or monthly basis. Contributors may either do this simply because they enjoy your work, or you may offer incentives to encourage them. There are other types of affiliate programs where a listener may use your link or enter a unique code to sign up for a new product or service.
Pros and Cons of Monetizing Your Podcast
We know that podcasting costs money, so some help with those bills certainly sounds great. You may invest to upgrade equipment or help yourself spend more time creating more valuable content.
On the other hand, bringing money into the mix may complicate things. Have you thought about taxes? Will advertising detract from your message? Maybe you’re just podcasting as a hobby, nobody says that you must earn money!
There’s lots to consider when thinking about monetizing your podcast, and there’s really no single correct answer. It all depends on your situation, your audience, and your goals.
We hope that this has given you some food for thought when it comes to deciding whether or not to monetize your podcast. Please contact us if you have questions or would like to discuss further.