Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own.
So, you want to monetize your podcast? Of course you do! Everyone wants to turn their passion into income. Why wouldn't they?
How exactly can a podcast make money? This is a question I am asked all the time. Buckle up and let's figure that out together.
The truth is most shows don’t make any money at all. I personally believe this is because they either don't try or they use a horrible approach. I aim to fix that.
I’ve tried a bunch of different monetization strategies. I’ll share my experience with those below.
Now in fairness, I’ve heard from other podcasters that they don’t care about monetization at all. They do their shows for other benefits, such as:
- Building relationships.
- Building authority.
- A creative outlet.
And it’s true — a podcast can certainly do all that and more.
But let’s talk dollars and cents. Here are some real ways podcast hosts can make money from their work.
I have experimented on and off with affiliate advertising.
This is an awesome way for
You may have heard me speak of The Rotator and I would have sent you to a URL that would forward you to their site. If you buy within a certain period of time, I earn a commission.
How Does a Referral Sponsorship Work?
Using this strategy has generated a bit of money for the network. It is nothing amazing, but it is not too bad either. The companies I tested with are listed below.
- Ting – New customers get a $25 credit and so do I.
- Airbnb – New customers get a $25 account credit and so do I.
- Website Magazine – New customers get a free subscription to the magazine and I earn $2 per sign-up.
- Aubible.com – New customers get a free audiobook and I earn $10-25 per sign-up
These are some very lucrative affiliate programs. By advertising these on my shows, I get commissions. It is quite simple and effective.
What Makes a Referral Sponsorship Worth It?
One very cool thing is that these links are still live and active, they continue to have the potential for earning me commissions months down the road as more people listen to older episodes.
With a traditional sponsorship, you earn a flat fee without the upside potential.
This type of referral sponsorship strategy has been used by many podcasters. I suggest doing this from the very beginning because it takes time to build momentum.
Referral sponsorships generally don't require you to qualify through a rigorous application process. By having some major companies mentioned in your show, you build credibility and authority. Listeners assume you must be legit if you already have a sponsor.
Are There Risks to the Referral Sponsorship Idea?
The single biggest risk to a referral sponsorship is the company discontinuing its referral program.
This is what happened with Website Magazine. I now have commercial spots that promote them, but I no longer earn a commission. That is extremely frustrating!
Traditional sponsorships help monetize your podcast via a CPM, or cost-per-thousand basis, and are generally priced in a fashion similar to what I list below.
- $18 per 1000 downloads for a 15-second “pre-roll” mention at the beginning of your show.
- $25 per 1000 downloads for a 60-second “mid-roll” mention during the middle of your show
A weekly show with 1000 listeners could generate $43 an episode, which is $172 per month.
As your listener base grows or the frequency of episodes increases, you can see these number become quite significant in no time at all. You need to become comfortable including multiple ad spots before this is going to work well.
If you manage to grow your weekly show to 5000 listeners, you earn $860 per month, which is just over $10,000 a year from just one sponsorship at the start of your show and another in the middle of your show.
If this is handled well it can result in a substantial income from your podcast.
The same 5000 listener audience for a daily show would yield over $50k a year. Who would pass that up?
How to Find Sponsors
In addition to the companies that reach out directly, I have several different sources feeding me advertising deals.
- AdvertiseCast – A really cool podcast advertising marketplace where you can create your own listings.
- True Native Media – A podcast advertising broker.
- Adopter Media – A podcast advertising broker.
- Ad Results Media – Kind of a pain to work with and super slow to pay, but can bring in bigger advertisers
You will wind up paying these companies a commission from every ad they book for you and that will range from 20 to 50%.
Companies like Midroll can act as a liaison between you and advertising partners. It may be possible to negotiate a better deal by reaching out to more relevant sponsors directly.
If you hear a company sponsoring another podcast, you know they are willing to discuss the possibility of sponsoring a show. Get in touch with them and see what they say. The worst that can happen is they say no.
Sell Your Own Products
Selling my own products is a podcast monetization approach I feel works quite well.
I've invited listeners who want to start a podcast to check out my podcast launch course or to buy my books.
If you want to sell a product, get a product-specific domain name that is easy for people to remember. I use GoDaddy for all my domain registrations and I create redirects with Pretty Links to redirect people where they need to go for the product.
As an example, with the podcast launch course, anyone who joins before the release gets a 50% discount on the course. This will be a savings of approximately $350.
If you write a book, buy a domain name that can be used to find your book. You will then redirect that domain to Amazon.
This way, if you're a guest on other shows, you have an easy-to-say URL when mentioning your product.
Sell Your Own Services
At Yogi's Podcast Network, we do editing of shows and we help launch shows. These services get promoted on our shows. We have had several people tell us that is how they found us.
This approach works because people can see how many podcasts I've launched and what they sound like. This enables them to trust that I will do a good job launching their show or editing their episodes.
An Affiliate for Guest's Products
Sometimes your guests will have a product or course they are selling. You will want to invite your listeners to check that out.
If the guest does not have an affiliate link to give you, have them create a special offer for listeners of your show.
You will get an awesome episode out of it and potential affiliate revenue.
An Affiliate for Guest's Services
You may find that your guest doesn't have a product, but they do offer a service. Encourage your listeners to check that out.
As with products, encourage your guest to create a special offer for listeners of your show.
Donations from Listeners
This method is often overlooked.
You can solicit donations from your listeners. If they love your show they are going to donate to keep it alive.
You could set up a Patreon and use that to collect donations. Patreon takes 5% off the top for processing the payments.
You can save money by hosting the donation process yourself.
When you ask for donations, you create a pay-what-you-want pricing model. The content remains free, but if you find value in it, there is a way to collect on that goodwill.
I have not tried this approach yet. I think it might be interesting to incorporate this along with seeking Amazon gift cards from listeners to help pay for equipment.
All of these strategies have relied on some listeners tuning in.
By repurposing content, you can earn money even if nobody ever listens to your show.
You take the information from your episodes and turn them into products like books or courses.
When you have a book or course, it creates authority. You become the expert in the field. People will buy more products you put out because of this.
Syndicate Your Show on YouTube
Yogi's Podcast Network syndicates its episodes to YouTube.
We often joke that we have a terrible YouTube channel because it contains
I use Headliner to create the videos very quickly. Even if just a handful of incremental listeners are gained it would be worth the effort. It is another search engine and another location for people to discover our shows.
You never know where you’ll find your next biggest fan!
Paywall Old Episodes
Many podcasts keep the current episodes free, but put the archived episodes behind a paywall. This strategy can work quite nicely and earn you some extra cash.
Remember who you do your shows for–the listener. We all need support, but we must still show respect for the listener.
The audience is what keeps your show alive. It isn't about you or your guest, its about the listener.
Every podcaster needs a way to support their show, but the most successful ones have found ways to do so that still respect the listener. They want to get value from your content. Make sure you don't ever forget that.