How to Monetize a Podcast?

Laura Kloot • April 30, 2020
how to monetize a podcast

When investing time and energy in developing and producing a podcast, you are naturally going to wonder how much money you could make.

How much Money Can You Make from a Podcast?

It is tempting to imagine that podcasters earn a lot of money, however, that’s mostly not the case. Competition for audience attention is fierce in the podcast world. After all, there are more than a million podcasts and 30 million podcast episodes out there, on every subject under the sun. For the majority of these, earnings will be small or even non-existent. 

That’s totally okay. Often, people choose to produce a podcast out of a passion for the subject matter, as a hobby, or as a marketing strategy to gain brand awareness or customers. Earning money outright might not be the goal.

However, once a podcast has gained in popularity and attracted a large following, there are ways to monetize and earn dollars. Podcast advertising is a fast-growing industry, with podcast ad revenue reported to be at $220 million in 2017. For big-name podcasts, this translates to big earnings. For example, Lime Link put their heads together and calculated some estimate earnings for three popular podcasts: NY Times, Wondery and Serial, which are purported to be earning $4.4M, $7.78M and $2.6M respectively. 

For the average podcaster, however, the picture is rather different. Castos, the podcast hosting service, did an interesting study on how much money podcasters can make, based on the number of downloads per episode. According to Castos estimates, a podcast with 1,000 downloads per episode could make around $745 a month; for 5,000 downloads, that number rises to $4925 per month; and for 10,000 downloads per episode, you’d be looking at earnings of around $13,450 per month. Check out the full background here

6 Ways to Earn Money from your Podcast

A few things are clear: In order to make money from a podcast, you’ll need to have a large following of listeners. If you are one of the committed and lucky podcasters to achieve this goal, here are several ways that you can generate income from your podcast:

1. Find sponsors

Sponsorships are a great way to earn money from a podcast. The sponsor will have a product or service they want to sell, and by sponsoring your podcast, they expose their ads to your audience. It makes sense to look for sponsors whose offering has some connection to the topic of your podcast and whose target market is similar to your listener audience.

Sponsors typically pay in two different ways: CPM and CPA. CPM (cost per mille) is when the sponsor pays per 1000 downloads or listens of your podcast episode, and CPA (cost per acquisition) is payment received for every conversion that comes from your podcast. You can locate suitable sponsors via podcast networks, podcast hosting sites, third-party ad networks, and by researching and contacting potential sponsors on your own.

2. Use affiliate ads

You can also partner with affiliate marketers who promote their offerings on podcasts. By using affiliates, you will be monetizing your podcasts via a third party, rather than directly with the seller or sponsor. The best way to find an affiliate partner for your podcasts is via an affiliate network.

You can also use affiliate marketing techniques in your podcast to help the cash roll in, such as reviewing a product or interviewing a product owner. Check here for a great list of ideas about how to use affiliate marketing in your podcast.

3. Sell products or services

A podcast is a great way to increase earnings from your own products and services. You can create podcasts around various products you are already selling to generate interest and boost sales. Make sure the podcast gives added value to your customers and is not just a sales pitch. Work out what are the needs and pain points of the audience, and focus your podcast on those. Then, you create an opportunity to mention your product or service as a solution, perhaps even with a special discount or incentive for listeners.

4. Charge subscription fees

Another way to make money from a podcast is to charge listeners a subscription fee. This can be a tricky move, as there are so many great podcasts available for free. You may want to charge only for premium content or perhaps for a special episode, rather than charging for the whole podcast. This is a good technique once you have built a niche audience and have proven the high value of the podcast.

5. Ask for donations

Like many online content providers, you can appeal for donations via a crowd-funding platform like Patreon or payment service such as PayPal. Of course, you can only expect to receive donations if you have managed to acquire a committed listener base and you have succeeded in inspiring them about the value of your podcast and cause. 

First, Put in the Work

Podcasts are not instant money-making machines. For most of the techniques above, podcasters will only start to see income once they have already achieved a loyal following and certain levels of success. You will need a consistent download rate and audience growth in order to be able to attract sponsors, ask for donations, or get good CPM and CPA rates from podcast ads. That’s why it’s critical to first do the work of building an awesome podcast with great content, added value, and fascinating guests. Then, once the momentum of your podcast success is achieved, you can focus on the next stage of earning income.