Over the past decade, the world has seen ever-increasing popularity in podcasts, and that popularity is only continuing to rise. There are podcasts for almost every topic you can think of – aside from the most common ones on politics, news, and entertainment, a podcast listener can also find niche subcategories for a topic you’re personally passionate about. They cater to anyone and everyone and at any time.
Unlike videos, you can casually listen to a podcast while driving, exercising, or making a meal, which contributes to how often people tune into one. Just as the number of listeners is rising, so are the creators.
Most of the content can be listened to for free, while a lot of time and money goes into producing one, so how do podcasts make money? Much like any business, they start small but eventually grow a following and can be monetized. Here are 11 ways you can monetize a podcast:
Advertisements and Podcast Sponsorship
With more and more people listening to podcasts, the scope for podcast advertising also goes up. A report found that brands spent close to $500 million on podcast ads in 2018, which was a 50% increase from 2017.
If you have a substantial number of regular listeners, there are many brands out there who would pay to run their ads on the segment. You can gain a podcast sponshorship by contacting relevant brands directly or through a podcast ad agency.
A very popular way to earn some money and monetization is affiliate marketing. You see these on all online platforms when a Youtuber or Instagram influencer talks about a product and offers a discount code for the purchase.
Affiliate Sales Income
Affiliate sales are like ad income, but instead of a fixed rate, you get paid a certain percentage of each sale you make for another brand. You would promote a product on your podcast, and the brand provides you with a link or code. If listeners make a purchase using your link or code, you get a cut of the sale.
Subscriptions on podcast channels are usually free, but there are some that charge. Once the subscriber pays for the content, they upgrade from free content with ads to an ad-free version with some additional perks. YouTube Premium and Spotify Premium are some examples of paid subscription services.
Exclusive Paid Content
Another method of how podcasts make money is paid content. Loyal listeners always want to see exclusive content like behind-the-scenes, bloopers, additional information, and extra footage.
Platforms like Patreon allow the creator to upload all these bonus pieces onto their account to which listeners can gain access and engage by paying a monthly membership fee. Creators keep the majority of the earnings while Patreon receives 5-12%, depending on the plan they opt for.
Nowadays, everything can be taught online. A lot of podcasters have online courses where they teach you more about the topic of their podcast and also provide training to learn what they do.
Avid listeners would be likely to take up interest and pay for the course. For example, a music-related podcast could have a course where the audience learns to play a certain song, or a horticulture podcast could have a course that teaches how to best grow certain plants.
Similar to courses, the listener gets to learn from the podcaster. But unlike a virtual class, they get to receive personalized feedback and coaching on their work. Business, fitness, and weight loss are popular in consultations.
Once you build a steady following, your listeners would be more than happy to pay for custom consultations regarding their topic of interest. You could also offer a free session to garner an audience before establishing a fixed price to make money off the podcast.
Live Shows and Public Speaking
Once your podcast is popular enough, you could be invited to speak on your area of expertise and get paid for it. You could also sell tickets to live shows where people get not just to hear your voice through a device but in person and possibly interact with you. For example, the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, which focuses on conspiracy theories in a small town, sold out two shows in Seattle before going on to perform 20 shows, some in international locations like London and Berlin.
Popular YouTubers and Podcasters create customized merchandize that their fans can purchase to support these creators. Merchandise could be anything ranging from T-shirts, hats, journals, and keychains. If you upload your podcast on YouTube, you can sell your products directly under each video through online websites like Shopify.
Books and Audiobooks
You could transfer some of your content into a book or audiobook version to make some more money through podcasts. You don’t necessarily have to create brand new content; you could use the highlights of a couple of episodes or a detailed version of certain topics. Your fan base would help you get started on initial sales, and if it’s a success, more could follow.
Events and Conferences
Much like live shows, hosting events can also garner a well-paying audience. You could collaborate with other podcasters who produce similar content and also have a conference based on that topic. While hosting a physical event requires you to invest a lot, you could also consider a webinar or virtual collaboration on one of your platforms.
Crowdfunding is a great way to gain some income for your podcast, especially if it is not large-scale. You could also apply for grants if your podcast has enough content and listeners to back its growth.
So, what’s the best answer to ‘how do podcasts make money’? Simply put, podcasts make money by a combination of the above methods. Thinking of starting a podcast? No time like the present.