Podcasting is a lot of work. It doesn’t matter if you produce a show consisting of a single individual reading from a script or a round table discussion with half a dozen guests.
Brainstorming topics, conducting research, writing scripts, practicing, recording, editing, publishing, and promoting all take time. And that doesn’t even take into account the costs that come from investing in equipment and software.
It can be discouraging to put all of that time, effort, and resources into a project and see little-to-no financial results. Money isn’t everything, but it sure can make it easier to continue pouring your passions and energy into a podcast.
If you’re getting the downloads and building your audience, but the balance sheet isn’t lining up, here are a few suggestions for ways to make your podcast pay off.
1. Start With a Quality Audit
Before you start monetizing, it’s important to consider what you’re monetizing. The team at the podcast collaboration SaaS platform SquadCast emphasizes how important this is. Brands with advertising money to spend (more on that further down) are looking for podcasts that align with their mission, image …and quality.
If you aren’t producing high-quality content, you probably aren’t going to be able to take advantage of as many monetization opportunities as you’d like. So, begin the process by conducting a quality audit. Is your audio crystal clear? Are your volume levels even? Do you release podcasts on a predictable schedule (or at least one that is acceptable for your audience)?
Make sure you have a product worth monetizing before you ask others to support it with their hard-earned cash.
2. Set Up a Support Page
One of the simplest ways to make your podcast start to pay off is by creating a support page. These are quick to set up and, in most cases, free to run.
You could do something as simple as a PayPal donation button. There are also entire sites, like Buy Me a Coffee, that are set up for accepting donations. You can create a unique landing page just for your show, along with donation tiers.
If you’re wondering what the cost of these services is, well, nothing in life is free. Fortunately, with most options, they are no costs to set them up, but you do pay a small fee per transaction.
3. Try Affiliate Marketing
If you have a targeted audience (and let’s be real, most podcasts are extremely niche), there’s a good chance that your audience is interested in the same things. This can open up the doors for you to promote certain products that go along with your shared interests — and if you’re going to do that, you should get a cut of the proceedings.
That’s where affiliate marketing can make a difference. As the people behind the e-commerce giant Shopify explain, affiliate marketing consists of publishers promoting a product or service made by another brand. They typically use an affiliate link, which connects any traffic they send to the partner’s site to their podcast. When visitors make a purchase, the affiliate earns a percentage of the proceeds.
Working with affiliate partners is a sweet-and-simple way to create a win-win-win scenario that generates value for yourself, your affiliate partners, and your audience.
4. Try Sponsors and Ads
Sponsors are another classic way to monetize your podcast. We’ve all heard the Audible.com ads that are repeated ad nauseam on every podcast in existence, but you can go much further than that.
Look for companies who aren’t competitors but who align with your show and its audience’s interests. You can approach these and see if they’re willing to pay for a sponsored ad on your show (you can create the ad, or they can create it, whatever works better).
If you’re wondering how much money you can generate through ads, Influencer Marketing Hub has a nifty calculator to help. All you have to do is plug in your download, ad, episode, and fill rate numbers to get an idea of what you can generate.
5. Create Exclusive Content
Last but not least, there’s the option of creating exclusive content. This one can be work-intensive, but it can also really pay off if you do it right.
The basic idea is that you split your content creation into two categories. There is your primary content, which goes up on your regular feed and is available for your entire audience to download.
Along with this, you also create batches of secondary content that are only available for monetary supporters. For example, the fan support platform Patreon offers an exclusive Lens access option. You can use this to create content (audio or visual) that only certain tiers of supporters can see.
Making fresh audio content (which can be exhausting) isn’t the only way to use this monetization tip. You can also retire old episodes and make them only available for a fee. Merch also falls under this category. If you have a popular show, you can make merch to sell. This physical content can be either sold perpetually or in one-off “get them while they’re available” batches.
Helping Your Podcast Support Itself
Podcasting can be a very rewarding activity. However, if you don’t make an effort to monetize it, a pod can remain an expensive and time-intensive part of your life.
The good news is that, as the audio medium continues to grow in popularity, there are a growing number of ways to make a podcast profitable. From support pages and exclusive content to affiliate marketing and sponsored ads, consider how you can turn your show from a liability into an asset — and, of course, start by ensuring that you’re creating top-notch quality content.
It’s okay to make money on something as fun as a podcast. The important thing to remember as you do so is that you’re not just trying to make a quick buck. You’re creating a profitable structure that can enable you to continue creating awesome content far into the future.