Written by StreamYard
How To Make Money Podcasting — 7 Beginner-Friendly Methods
Many of us have dreamt about starting a podcast. For some, this desire has turned into a reality. After all, modern tools (like StreamYard) have made it easy to record podcasts and distribute them. However, monetizing them can be tricky!
If someone tells you they have a get-rich-today scheme, you should be suspicious. But our advice won’t be focused on making you a millionaire. Instead, we'll discuss fundamental methods to help you create lasting revenue streams for your podcast.
Plenty of our users have found ways to supplement or even replace their incomes via podcasting. And you can too. But first, we'll explain why most podcasters find monetization tricky.
The Problem With Podcast Monetization
Podcast monetization has come a long way over the years, but creators (and, let's be honest, the industry as a whole) still face many challenges.
One of the main problems is that, unlike other media platforms like YouTube, podcast monetization is fragmented. There isn't a single platform or method that dominates over the others, so if you're wondering how to make your podcast profitable, you will probably have little idea where to focus your efforts.
On top of that, the metrics for podcasting are not particularly standardized or reliable. This means that it can be hard to measure how successful your podcast is or how many people it's reaching (even how engaged the podcast audience actually is!). And, in turn, affect your ability to attract advertisers.
Because of the varied platforms, some podcasts also struggle to gain a significant audience. And an audience is essential because monetization relies on podcast listeners who are more likely to support creators through means like donations or purchasing merchandise.
Now, it makes little sense to focus only on the challenges! All industries have them. Fortunately, monetizing your passion IS possible. Many people do it already, and few have even turned their podcasts into a huge success. So, worry not. We got you covered!
How Much Money Does the Average Podcast Make?
This is a common question among podcasters. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here because the amount will vary hugely depending on things like the niche, audience size, engagement, monetization strategies, and the overall podcasting landscape.
One thing is certain, though: The most common way podcasts monetize is through advertising. CPM (cost per thousand impressions) rates can vary greatly, but generally, podcasts can earn anywhere from $15 to $50 or more per 1,000 downloads. Smaller podcasts might earn less, while popular podcasts with millions of downloads per episode could earn substantially more.
As we will see in the next section, however, some podcasts rely on listener support through platforms like Patreon or direct donations. This, in turn, can range from a few dollars per month from a handful of listeners to significant amounts if the podcast has a dedicated and generous fanbase. Add to that podcast sponsorships, merchandise sales, and subscriptions, and you can, in fact, make a good living off your content.
What Makes a Successful Podcast?
A successful podcast will always be the result of a combination of factors. For instance:
- Your podcast offers compelling content: The foundation of a successful podcast is high-quality and engaging content. In other words, the topics discussed, the storytelling style, and the depth of information provided!
- Your podcast has a clear niche and target audience: The best podcasts often have a clearly defined niche and target audience. So, knowing who your content is for will help you tailor your content and marketing efforts effectively.
- Your podcast is consistent: We’re talking, specifically, about releasing episodes consistently. Whether it's a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule, sticking to it will help you build trust with your audience and keep your listeners engaged.
- Your podcast has an engaging host: The personality, voice, and rapport of the host or hosts all play a significant role in holding your audience's attention, too. Ideally, the host should be relatable and personable.
- Your podcast has high production quality: Good audio quality is essential. There’s no overstating this. Listeners are more likely to stick around if the audio is clear and pleasant to listen to, and is professionally edited.
- Your podcast has a unique perspective or angle: Finding a unique approach to your chosen topic can be tricky, but it helps your podcast stand out in a crowded market. So, always offer something different from what's already available — and you might attract a dedicated audience!
7 Best Ways To Monetize Your Podcast Episodes
Before we delve into the best ways to monetize your content, we should reiterate: Building a successful podcast takes time and dedication.
Overnight success is rare, so the most important thing to remember is that the best thing you can do is focus on creating value for your audience and consistently improving your content and presentation.
Now, having said that... let’s make some money, shall we?
#1: Embrace The Power of Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be an incredibly lucrative monetization strategy, so we’ve chosen to headline our list.
Now, what are we talking about when we say affiliate marketing? Well, this technique involves promoting physical products, digital products, or services of other companies and earning a commission for every sale or action generated through your unique affiliate link.
Tip #1: Choose Relevant Partners
First and foremost, always select affiliates that match your podcast's niche and audience interests. When your affiliates align with your podcast's niche and cater to your audience's interests, you can enhance the chances of engagement, conversions, and maintaining trust with your listeners.
Remember, the audience comes to your podcast for specific content and insights. Recommending products or services that directly relate to their interests increases the likelihood that they'll be more interested and remain engaged. Plus, when you promote products that genuinely fit your podcast's theme, you're seen as a credible source of recommendations.
To do this, you can identify the common interests and needs of your audience within your niche. Then, look for companies, brands, or products/services that align with it and explore their offerings, reputation, and values to ensure they match your podcast's ethos. Most importantly: Put yourself in your listeners' shoes. Will the products or services you're considering genuinely add value to their lives?
Tip #2: Integrate Naturally
When we talk about integrating affiliate promotions seamlessly and naturally into your podcast content, what we mean is that you should make sure your recommendations become an organic part of it. The goal is, after all, to enhance the overall listener experience.
Sudden and jarring promotional interruptions can disrupt the flow of your podcast and cause your listeners to leave. On the other hand, natural integration ensures that your audience feels like they're getting valuable content rather than being bombarded by advertisements.
So, it’s always best to weave your promotions into your content naturally, so they come across as genuine recommendations rather than forced endorsements. For example, you can share your personal experiences and opinions on the products or services you’re talking about.
An easy way to record these promotions (and the rest of your episodes) is by using StreamYard — a browser-based recording studio built for podcasters.
We have plenty of users who monetize their podcasts through affiliate marketing. In fact, we even have an affiliate program ourselves!
Tip #3: Educate and Inform
You should always provide additional value by explaining how the products/services benefit your listeners. The goal of any podcast should be to provide value through educational and informative content. Contrary to what many creators believe, affiliate promotions are indeed a powerful way to engage your audience and foster trust, too. And it works for both seasoned and new podcasters.
When you go beyond surface-level endorsements and delve into the practical benefits of the products or services you're promoting, you can help your listeners to make better-informed choices. So, as they learn how a product or service addresses their needs, they can feel more confident in their purchasing decisions.
For instance, clearly explain the features of the product or service, and then go on to discuss how these features translate into real-world benefits for your audience. A good way to do this is by presenting the affiliate offering as a solution to a common problem your listeners might face within your niche.
Tip #4: Be Transparent and Build Trust
Transparency and honesty are cornerstones of successful affiliate marketing. So, you should always disclose affiliate relationships and be honest about your experiences.
Being upfront about your affiliate relationships and providing sincere and unbiased information about your experiences with the products or services you promote is a great way to build and maintain trust. For one, transparency demonstrates your integrity and shows that you prioritize your audience's interests over making sales. But also, openly disclosing your affiliate relationships enhances your credibility, reinforcing the authenticity of your recommendations.
Many jurisdictions also require affiliates to disclose their relationships, so make sure you also comply with relevant regulations and ethical guidelines for your region.
Tip #5: Find Balance and Value
Successful affiliate marketing is all about striking the right balance between promotional and non-promotional content for your podcast. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your audience should perceive your content as a valuable resource, not just a platform for promotions. So, by focusing on providing genuine value and keeping promotions in check, you ensure that your podcast remains engaging, trustworthy, and beneficial to your listeners.
Keep in mind that constant promotional content can lead to listener fatigue and decreased engagement. A better strategy is to balance your affiliate programs with value-driven content to keep your audience interested. Valuable content can, in fact, even attract new listeners and encourage existing ones to stay!
Here's a tip to do this more effectively: Set a limit on the frequency of promotional episodes and aim to maintain a ratio where the majority of your content focuses on providing value.
#2: Sell Premium Content And/Or Subscriptions
Let's now delve into our second podcast monetization tip: Selling premium content and/or subscriptions. What we mean by this is offering exclusive content or access to a select group of listeners in exchange for a fee.
This approach leverages the loyalty of your dedicated audience by providing them with extra value beyond your regular podcast episodes.
Let's quickly look at the benefits of selling premium content and subscriptions:
- You add a direct revenue stream: Selling premium content and adding subscription options to your podcast can provide you with a consistent and predictable source of revenue. In other words, you can anticipate how much you will make in any given month.
- You can build a loyal community: Subscribers usually become part of a more engaged and dedicated community, fostering a sense of belonging.
- You enhance engagement: Premium content can deepen the attention of your most dedicated listeners, making them more likely to support you financially.
- You monetize your existing audience: When you add subscriptions or premium content that is only accessible to paid listeners, your existing audience's loyalty can also help you generate revenue without relying solely on advertising, merch, or affiliates. In fact, you can keep your podcast ad-free!
- You gain more creative control: Premium content gives you the freedom to explore unique content ideas and formats that might not fit within your regular episodes. You are a little more free as you won’t risk not performing as well.
Now, when you offer subscriptions, your audience should feel that their investment is justified by the exclusive content and experiences you offer through them. So, let’s take a look at some common strategies used by many podcasters for selling premium content.
Create Valuable Exclusive Content
Aim to develop premium content that offers extra value beyond regular episodes, such as bonus episodes, in-depth discussions, exclusive interviews, or behind-the-scenes insights.
First, you should understand what your audience seeks from your podcast and identify the gaps that your premium content could potentially fill. The value proposition should be clear and compelling, showing subscribers why they should invest in premium content.
Make sure that the exclusive content maintains the same level of quality as your regular episodes, if not higher. Premium subscribers should feel that their investment is justified by the caliber of the content they receive.
Identify Your Audience Interests
If you have a clear grasp of what resonates with your listeners, you can then create exclusive content that speaks directly to their interests. This, in turn, can help you provide a more personalized and valuable experience.
A good tip to do this is to pay attention to comments, reviews, emails, and messages from your audience. What topics or aspects of your podcast do they express enthusiasm for? What questions do they ask? Another option is to interact with your listeners through social media, surveys, polls, and live sessions. You can also examine your podcast's analytics to identify which episodes have been particularly popular. This will give you clues about the themes or subjects that resonate most with your audience.
Set Clear Pricing and Tiers
A critical step in offering premium content is to determine the pricing. Firstly and more importantly, you should always try to offer various subscription tiers.
Setting the right price and providing options that cater to different audience segments ensure that your premium content is accessible and offers fair value. A good way to start this task is by evaluating the unique value your premium content offers compared to your regular episodes. You can consider factors such as exclusivity, in-depth insights, expert interviews, and other benefits subscribers receive. Research other podcasts or content providers that are offering similar premium content, too. What are they charging? This can help you position your pricing competitively within the market.
Don’t Forget to Adapt
Interact with subscribers, consistently deliver quality content, and adapt based on their feedback to build a loyal and supportive community.
Interacting with subscribers, consistently delivering quality content, and adapting based on their feedback are also essential practices for building a loyal and supportive community around your premium content.
For example, you can host live Q&A sessions where subscribers can interact directly with you, asking questions and sharing their thoughts. Or you can create a dedicated online community, such as a private Facebook group or a Discord server, where subscribers can connect with each other and with you. These actions not only foster a sense of belonging but also demonstrate your commitment to providing value and meeting your subscribers' needs.
#3: Accept Donations
The strategy of accepting donations is a popular podcast monetization choice that involves allowing your listeners to contribute financial support voluntarily. This approach relies on building a strong connection with your audience and offering them the opportunity to show their appreciation for your content by making specific donations.
Here’s how you can do this:
Step 1: Build Engagement
The first requirement for any request such as this is to be able to deliver high-quality content that resonates with your audience. Or, in other words, creating a strong bond that encourages them to support you. It’s also important to keep your audience informed about the financial aspects of your podcast. For example, you can share how donations will be used to improve your content or support your podcast's growth.
Step 2: Choose a Donation Platform
Platforms like Patreon allow you to set up different tiers of support with corresponding rewards for donors. Another option is Ko-fi, a platform that allows supporters to buy you a "coffee" (donation) to show their appreciation. And, of course, you can always set up a PayPal donation link on your website or in your podcast description.
Step 3: Offer Value and/or Rewards
When possible, try to provide supporters with access to exclusive content, such as bonus episodes, behind-the-scenes insights, or early access to episodes. Another thing you can do is offer your supporters merchandise like stickers, mugs, or T-shirts as a way to thank them for their donations. And don’t forget to give donors public shoutouts or thank-you messages in your podcast episodes or on social media!
#4: Work Your Way Towards Sponsorships
When we mention working your way towards sponsorships, what we mean is gradually build your podcast's reputation, audience, and content quality to attract valuable sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships can provide a consistent revenue stream while allowing you to maintain a free podcast for your listeners.
The first step when beginning to plan sponsorship is to focus on content quality and building a dedicated audience. We have talked about both of these points already, so we’ll just reiterate that you should prioritize organic growth, engagement, and facilitating a feedback loop that allows you to get feedback for your content.
The next step is to establish credibility. Try to position yourself as an authority in your podcast's niche by delivering well-researched and insightful content. You can, for example, invite experts or influencers in your niche as guests to lend credibility and expand your reach.
The most important consideration for this strategy is to show your value to potential sponsors. So, it’s a good idea to gather data on your podcast's download numbers, listener demographics, and engagement rates to present to potential sponsors. Additionally, you can share success stories of past collaborations or partnerships that resulted in tangible benefits for sponsors.
Lastly, consider creating sponsorship packages and a media kit. For instance:
- Tailor your sponsorship packages to align with the needs of potential sponsors. Offer different levels of exposure and promotional opportunities.
- Clearly outline the benefits sponsors will receive, such as mentions in episodes, ad placements, social media promotion, and others.
- Attend industry events, webinars, and conferences to connect with potential sponsors and other podcasters.
- Create a professional media kit that includes information about your podcast, audience demographics, download numbers, and sponsorship packages.
- Craft well-written and personalized pitch emails to introduce your podcast and the sponsorship opportunities you're offering
You don’t need to start big. In fact, many content creators begin by reaching out to local businesses or smaller brands that might be more open to sponsoring their projects. Or you can collaborate with independent creators, authors, or artists who share your podcast's values and audience.
Just ensure that the sponsors and products you promote align with your podcast's niche and audience interests and remember to clearly disclose sponsored content to your audience, maintaining their trust and authenticity.
#5: Sell Ads
Our next idea for monetizing your podcast is selling ads. This strategy involves a combination of careful planning, networking, and effective communication to attract advertisers and create mutually beneficial partnerships. So, it might not be as beginner-friendly as the other topics we've covered so far. However, you should definitely consider it if you are looking for ways to increase your profit.
It all starts, yet again, with building a strong foundation that relies on quality content and audience growth. A larger and more engaged audience makes your podcast more appealing to advertisers, so these two pillars should never be underestimated.
Once you’ve established yourself as a good podcaster, you can then start thinking about identifying and reaching out to potential advertisers. Look for brands and products that align with your podcast's niche and audience interests, as advertisers are more likely to be interested if your podcast's content relates to their offerings. You can also research other podcasts in your niche and see who their advertisers are. This can give you insights into potential advertisers for your podcast.
Here are some other ideas you can try to sell ads.
Idea #1: Develop Ad Packages
Decide on the types of ad formats you'll offer, such as pre-roll (before the episode), mid-roll (during the episode), or post-roll (after the episode). Then, create different packages with varying ad placement, frequency, and promotion options to cater to different budgets. You can determine your pricing based on factors like your podcast's reach, engagement, and the value you offer to advertisers.
Idea #2: Create a Podcast Media Kit
We’ve already mentioned a media kit, so we won't go into too much detail. However, we will highlight that your kit should provide a brief description of your podcast, its niche, target audience, and listener demographics and include data on your podcast's download numbers, listener demographics, engagement rates, and social media following. Don’t forget to also outline the different ad packages you offer, including ad formats, placement options, and pricing.
Idea #3: Attend Industry Events and Network
It’s also a good idea to participate in podcasting conferences, webinars, and networking events to connect with advertisers and fellow podcasters. Networking will also help you establish relationships with potential advertisers and industry professionals.
#6: Join an Established Podcast Advertising Network
For many podcasters, joining an established podcast network (or partnering with a network that already has a significant audience and a track record of successful podcast production) can be a great way to boost growth.
By becoming a part of such a network, you can easily gain access to resources, support, and advertising opportunities that can help you monetize your podcast more effectively. So, let’s look at some of the benefits of joining one in a little more detail, shall we?
- You can reach a bigger audience: Established networks often have a larger and more engaged audience than individual podcasts. This exposure can help you attract new listeners and potential sponsors.
- You can get new advertising opportunities: Networks usually have more clout when it comes to attracting advertisers and negotiating better rates. This can actually lead to higher ad revenue potential!
- You can get support and resources: Networks provide production, marketing, and technical support, allowing you to focus more on content creation.
- You can do cross-promotion: Being part of a network enables cross-promotion between podcasts within the network, further expanding your podcast's reach.
- You can gain credibility: Being associated with a respected network can enhance your podcast's credibility and attract more high-profile guests.
It’s important, however, to understand the terms of the partnership agreement, including revenue sharing, creative control, and exclusivity requirements. Different networks also have varying monetization models, such as ad revenue sharing, subscription models, or a combination of methods.
If you think joining a network is a good idea for your podcast, just follow the submission guidelines provided by the network. This often involves sharing information about your podcast, its content, and your audience demographics. Don’t forget to also showcase the best episodes of your podcast to demonstrate your content's quality and appeal. Oh! And don’t hesitate to take advantage of the network's production resources, which can include editing, marketing assistance, and access to professional equipment.
#7: Upload to YouTube (And Join the Partner Program)
Let's now check the last strategy we would like to cover in this article, and that's uploading your podcast episodes to YouTube and joining the YouTube Partner Program. This option leverages the massive audience and monetization opportunities available on the platform. And, by creating a visual version of your podcast and monetizing through ads, memberships, and other features, you can tap into a new audience and generate revenue.
If you don't have a YouTube channel, the first thing you should do is create one specifically for your podcast. Use a clear and descriptive channel name and branding and try to design a visually appealing banner and profile picture that reflects your podcast's branding. You should also use relevant tags and keywords in your video settings to improve discoverability and craft attractive thumbnails, too.
The only thing left now is to meet the program's requirements, which usually include having at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the past 12 months. Once approved, you can enable ads on your videos and start earning ad revenue (and increase your passive income as well).
The best way to monetize your podcast and boost its earning potential is actually to combine multiple strategies to diversify your revenue streams. No single monetization method fits all podcasts or audiences perfectly, so a combination of strategies can provide a well-rounded and sustainable income.
Only a small percentage of podcasts will become highly profitable or generate substantial income. However, how many content creators are actually putting in the effort to continuously build their audience and reach out to new opportunities? Not many.
One thing that will help you cultivate an audience for your podcast is having consistently good audio and video quality. And for that, we recommend recording your episodes with StreamYard. It’s easy to use, super stable, and the recording quality is top-notch. Try it out today for free.