We’ve all heard claims about podcasters earning a sustainable income while growing their listener base, but is there any truth to these statements? Judging by the increased net worth and popularity of successful podcasters (Joe Rogan, anyone?), the answer seems to be yes. Podcasting has some major money-making potential waiting to be tapped.
Podcasters rely on different monetization methods to bring in the cash. Podcast sponsorships are one way, but for new podcasts, the chances of finding a high-paying sponsor are slim unless you’re already a well-recognized host. The good news is there are plenty of other ways to generate revenue from podcasting—and they don’t require you to reach the dizzying heights of Joe Rogan’s popularity.
So how do you make money podcasting? Let’s take a look at six monetization ideas for new podcasters.
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1. Become an affiliate
Affiliate marketing is when a business advertises its product or service through your podcast. You act as the middleman to bring your listeners to them, and in return, the business pays you for that traffic. This is generally achieved by your listeners making a purchase or joining a service, with each new sale attributed to your podcast.
This form of marketing is ideal for both budding podcasters and businesses, as it relies on successful conversions to bring in money on both ends. The more successful the partnership, the more both sides earn from it, making it an excellent choice.
How does podcast affiliate marketing work?
Once you become an affiliate of a business, you will receive a unique code or URL (called an affiliate link) to share with your audience. Make sure this link is easy to remember and re-type, since your audience will hear it in audio form. A good approach is to have the URL simply be your affiliate partner’s website, plus your podcast name (e.g., affiliate.com/yourpodcastname).
Once your listeners receive your link, they can use it to take advantage of your affiliate partner’s offer. When they complete the intended subscription or purchase, your partner will attribute it to your podcast and pay you a specific sum for the number of customers you generate for their business.
How do I find an affiliate program for my podcast?
Affiliate marketing is only effective when the right podcasts and companies team-up. When looking for an affiliate program for your podcast, choose the ones that most fit your audience. If your podcast is focused on the latest book releases, your audience likely will not be interested in a company that sells kitchenware. They will be much more interested in companies such as Audible that often team up with podcasters for marketing.
Fortunately, many resources exist to help bring businesses and podcasters together. All you need to do is sign up for any of the following affiliate programs and you can begin promoting a company’s product or service through your podcast.
- Shopify Affiliate Program
- Amazon Associates
- Skillshare affiliate program
- Rakuten Advertising
- CJ Affiliate
Each program has its own benefits and limitations, so the best approach is to diversify and use different affiliates.
2. Offer tiered subscriptions through Patreon
Patreon is a membership platform that allows fans (called “patrons”) to support their favorite creators with regular monthly payments. With Patreon, you can sort podcast subscriptions into different “tiers,” with each tier receiving different benefits. Keep in mind that you’ll need to create enough exclusive content for each tier to be worth a monthly payment.
Here are a few more tips on attracting and encouraging listeners to offer support to your Patreon:
- Set a low entry price. Charge a low amount of money for subscriptions and focus on improving your content. Getting 10 listeners to subscribe for $5 a month is much easier than getting one individual to subscribe for $50.
- Make higher tiers worth it. Higher tiers should provide additional benefits to make your fans feel they are worth the investment. These can be anything from early access to new content to discounts on branded merch.
- Follow a consistent schedule. Whether you plan on releasing an episode daily, weekly, or monthly, make sure to stick to a routine. Podcast listeners expect a steady stream of content, so try your best to be punctual and publish podcasts on time.
- Keep your audience in the loop. Give fans an insight into your production process and keep them updated with information about upcoming episodes. People are more likely to continue paying monthly if they feel a deeper, more personal connection with the host.
Another way to collect funds from fans is to use a crowdfunding website. However, crowdfunding sites are known to support one-time projects with financing options that are difficult to integrate with a podcast. With Patreon, it’s easy to set up subscription-based payments that generate recurring revenue for your podcast.
3. Sell custom merchandise to fans
Growing up, we all had posters, t-shirts, and other merch showing off our favorite bands, films, or sports teams. Thanks to print on demand, you can now create and sell the same items (and then some) to your own podcast fans.
If you are a creative type or know someone, you can easily design custom products to offer to your audience. With print-on-demand services, all you need to do is make an account on a print provider’s website, provide images and logos, and choose the products you want to sell.
Some popular print-on-demand services include:
Each service offers a variety of products and can be linked to your own website or other marketplace platforms. They will require initial setup costs and time, but the on-demand nature of this production method means that you won’t be spending a fortune on the stock. You also don’t have to worry about running out, as they only make what is ordered. A setup like this is perfect for podcasters because it allows you to have a 24/7 merch store that runs in the background while you focus your efforts solely on your podcast.
4. Write and self-publish a book for your audience
It's safe to assume that your fans enjoy listening to your thoughts and opinions on different subjects. After all, why else would they be tuning into your podcasts? By extension, you can also assume that your fans would be happy to get more content from you in other forms. Cue book self-publishing.
Self-publishing a book can be a great way to provide additional content and make money from your audience. Perhaps that's why so many popular podcasters have packaged their thoughts into books that their fans can buy at a certain price.
For instance, comedian Deborah Frances-White wrote a book titled The Guilty Feminist, a spin-off of her unscripted panel podcast bearing the same name. Other notable examples include rewriting the events of the Alice Isn't Dead podcast by creator Joseph Fink and Adnan's Story by Serial host Rabia Chaudry.
A book based on your podcast offers you many benefits that can potentially boost your popularity and income:
- Widen your fanbase. While your fans will go to your book from your podcast, some people may find the book first. If they enjoy the book, they’re likely to seek out the source, increasing your fanbase.
- Increase your subject authority. No matter what topic your podcast covers, having an accompanying book will boost your credibility on that subject and give more weight to your content.
- Grow sales of your merch. Fans of your book and podcast may find themselves further in love with your brand, resulting in more sales of your other merch, such as bags, posters, and t-shirts.
5. Host live podcasts and collect tips
Not every podcaster will reach the heights of popularity needed to secure a gig at a live venue. However, this does not mean hosting live shows or making money from them is out of the question.
Sites such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook all allow users to set up live broadcasts that can be viewed by anyone around the world with an internet connection. These are great alternatives to live venues, as the initial costs are low, and you can use the same place where you normally record your podcasts.
While you record your live podcast, you can use services such as Venmo, Cash App, or Ko-fi so that viewers can give you tips. Set up an account and leave a link visible either on screen or in the stream’s description box or chat log. These are instant, one-off payments—much like you would give to a barista or waiter—that can be paid at any time during your performance.
The cool aspect of these tipping services is that they don’t need to be exclusively connected to your livestreams. Add a tip to your web pages, show notes, or social media pages to make it easy for your podcast audience to show their support by tipping.
6. Join a podcast advertising network
One downside of using this method for monetization is that you won’t be able to keep the content of your podcast ad-free, since you will need to include an ad. Although, if you wanted these podcast ads to be as unobtrusive as possible, you could include them as post-roll ads, which play at the end of your podcast.
Podcast advertising networks exist to pair podcasts and brands with a shared target audience. They can be a great way to monetize your streams but usually require podcasters to have a certain number of regular listeners to join (usually beginning at 1,000).
One downside to joining a network is that your podcast will be required to host ads for products, services, and other podcasters presented by the network. While you can choose when these ads play, you will not be able to release your podcast without them. So keeping your podcast ad free is no longer a choice after you’ve joined an advertising network. You can, however, make these podcast ads unobtrusive by using them as post-roll ads, which play at the end of a podcast.
If you’re looking to join a podcast advertising network, here are some of the more popular options:
Remember that when you partner with a brand from a podcast advertising network, testing and measuring the success of your campaigns becomes important to ensure the partnership is working in both parties’ favor.
Turn your audio content into cash
There you have it—six ways to make a consistent income from podcasting.
Remember, the most profitable podcasts use multiple monetization methods to create a steady cash flow as they focus their attention on increasing their listenership.
Since most of these tactics use automation to accrue passive income, they’re ideal for podcasters who want to invest the majority of their time in building and growing their podcast brand.
Make money podcasting FAQ
How do people make money from podcasts?
Most podcasters make money through a variety of different income streams, including affiliate marketing, hosting live podcasts, selling merchandise, and advertising to their listeners. The total amount of money you earn from a podcast will depend on the size of your audience, the effectiveness of your marketing, and the cost of producing your episodes.
What equipment do you need to make money podcasting?
A high-quality microphone and audio-editing software are two essentials to producing a podcast. For podcasters who intend to host guests remotely, investing in a video-conferencing service like Zoom may improve your podcast content. For more info on starting your own podcast, be sure to read What Is a Podcast? Learn How to Start a Podcast Today.
How much money do you need to start a podcast?
A good podcast microphone will cost you around $100, whereas basic audio editing software like Audacity is available to use for free. If you’re planning on doing more advanced sound mixing, you might consider a more powerful audio editing tool, like Adobe Audition, which starts at $20.99 per month.
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