Podcasts are a great way to get exposure to new audiences, but they can also be big money-makers, if you have the right strategy. They offer a unique content creator-audience relationship because they allow your listeners to get to know you consistently over a long period of time, while you’re providing them with FREE value.
“Free value?” you say. “How can I sustain my podcast by making money with it if I’m providing it for free?”
One mistake so many entrepreneurs make is thinking that the “free” content they offer can’t make them money in the long run. Many businesses drive sales by offering incentives such as freebies, and podcasts are no exception.
I’m sharing my top five ways to monetize your podcast so you can not only produce amazing content, but make money doing it. After all, your business isn’t just a hobby, it’s your livelihood. If your content is worth monetizing, it’s worth giving it a go.
This method is one of the most popular when you’re trying to monetize your podcast. Sometimes it can be hard to find sponsors when your podcast is newer and smaller, but as you grow, they can be a great source of income. Sponsors pay you to mention them on your podcast, gaining exposure for their brand. Some sponsorships are ongoing, while others are a one-time deal. I don’t recommend one-off sponsorships, because they don’t typically perform well for either party. Long-term partnerships with large, well-known sponsors can pay off sometimes, but I actually think the best sponsorships are with smaller, up-and-coming brands.
You can find sponsorships through reaching out to brands directly and providing a way for them to get in contact with you (via your website, or media kit), and explaining the value of the partnership. It’s important not to accept every sponsorship offer that comes along – listener trust is everything! Don’t accept a sponsorship unless you truly love the company / brand and use the products yourself. You want to make sure that with all sponsors, you are looking at what aligns with your content, your message, and yourself. Your audience trusts you – only make recommendations you fully stand behind!
2. Affiliate Marketing
There are TONS of ways to make money with affiliate marketing, and it’s not just for blogs! You can market as an affiliate and make money when people purchase a product or service at your recommendation as long as you have a way to communicate with a wide audience – and podcasts fit the bill. There are so many options for partnerships, from programs / courses to products from small and large companies. Just as with sponsorships, it’s best to advertise products you actually use and love that relate to your niche. If you’re a makeup guru, you *probably* shouldn’t be advertising pet supplies. (This doesn’t mean you can’t get creative! You don’t have to only advertise products directly inside your niche – if it fits into your podcast naturally, it’s fair game! But, the keyword here is naturally.) Many companies will also give you your own coupon code to offer your listeners, giving them exclusive access to discounts that not only benefit the brand getting the exposure, but your listeners, too.
3. Offer your Services
If you’re not promoting your own services on your podcast, WYD?! Your podcast listeners are listening to you because they trust your advice and expertise, and because they are interested in your industry. For these reasons, they are the PERFECT people to market your services to! While your podcast shouldn’t be overwhelmed by constant self-promotion, mentioning your services when they come up naturally in your dialogue can go a long way. For example, if you’re talking about how to level up your business and happen to offer a course on that very topic, mention it! (In fact, I have a course just like that here. See what I did there?) This is a great way to monetize your podcast because you’re just promoting services that you already offer.
4. Offer Monthly Access for a Price
Who says your podcast has to be free? If you’re consistently providing high-quality information to your listeners and feel it’s worth a certain dollar amount, you can offer podcast access for a monthly rate instead of giving it away for free. While you will have to work harder to market a podcast that people have to pay for when there are so many free ones, there are benefits to doing so. First, requiring payment immediately tells your listeners that your content is premium, and that they should expect quality higher than other free podcasts in the same niche. Second, charging a monthly rate eliminates the need to find sponsors and constantly seek out other ways to monetize your podcast. Making a membership creates a stronger community within your audience! You can also do a hybrid with this, where only certain episodes are paid-for, which can do well with really loyal audiences!
Before you write off this idea, hear me out. Many podcasts offer merchandise for their brands, and find a lot of success doing it. It doesn’t have to be clothes, either – you can sell anything you can brand. Think hats, stationary, pens, keychains – you name it! If your brand has a dedicated following, offering merchandise is a great way to make money while also getting free exposure for your podcast when customers wear or use it! You can easily set up a store on your website where your audience can check out and purchase merchandise. Advertising it regularly on your podcast will help drive sales, too! Though it’s not for everyone, consider offering merchandise for sale once your podcast has grown and gained recognition!
These are my top ways for monetizing a podcast WITHOUT huge upfront costs. (Offering merchandise is certainly the most expensive up front, but it can pay off if you have the right audience for it.)
It’s important to remember that while your podcast is meant to provide value to your audience, its purpose is also to contribute to your business! If you can monetize it effectively while staying authentic to your listeners, do it! It can be an excellent stream of income and allow you to more regularly spend time creating amazing podcast content for your listeners, while supporting your business at the same time.
Are you ready to start a podcast or grow one you already have but don’t know how to go about it? I’ve teamed up with Kelli and Conner from SoulFire Productions to create The Pod Course for people who are ready to launch a kickass podcast. We teach you everything you need to know to start, build, and maintain the podcast of your dreams – taking out all the guesswork and walking you through every step. Head here to sign up!