Jul 20, 2021
In the last episode with podcasting expert Dave Jackson, we discussed podcasting hacks we can use to create and grow a successful podcast. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss five ways we can monetize our podcast from Dave’s book, Profit From Your Podcast.
One of the easiest ways to make the most money from our podcast is to sell our own products. Chances are, our listeners are listening to us because they like what we have to say. According to research done by PodcastInsights, podcast listeners are “loyal, affluent, and educated” and 80% of podcast listeners listen to all or the majority of each episode (Source: CreativeFixAudio.com).
If we have listeners, we have an audience who likely feels connected and loyal to us, especially if they are downloading our content each time we release an episode. And if we have a loyal audience, we have buyers. We already deliver value through the episodes our audience likes, why not add additional value through products?
If we can make a product our audience can’t get anywhere else, they will love it. For example, Dave knew a podcaster who was a chameleon breeder, and that’s what he talked about on his podcast. He had an incredibly hyper-niche so he could target his products to his audience in a very specific way. He sold chameleon cages and his listeners wanted to buy from him because they trusted him and had already developed loyalty.
The bonus of already having an audience is we can figure out what they want before we create a product. We can ask for their feedback and advice, and then create a project targeted directly to them, something we know they will like. Here are just a few examples of products we can sell:
Of these options, Dave said membership sites are the best. Instead of relying on a one-time purchase, recurring revenue allows us to make money each month. With School of Podcasting, Dave makes a lot of money on recurring fees from his membership site, and it provides great value to his audience.
“I still have a guy who’s been [a member] for probably 10 years,” Dave said. “He [said], ‘When I send you an email and I have a question about podcasting, I know I'm probably going to get an answer.’ . . . They come for the content but they stay for the community if you're doing it right.”
While we can produce valuable content on our membership sites, our customers also stay because they build a community. They build a relationship with us. This is the same reason they will listen to our podcast episode after episode. They feel connected to us and build a community.
The second best way to make money from podcasting is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when we promote another company’s product or service and make a profit based on a percentage of each sale we generate. While many people can find ads to be annoying, 40% of people find podcast ads to be less intrusive than other types of ads (Source: SemRush). This can be a very effective way to make money.
The best way to find success with affiliate marketing is to find something we love. We should only promote a product we have used and liked. This will help us sound genuine and retain trust with our customers. If we promote a product our listeners buy and don’t like, it can damage the trust we have developed with them.
“I switched to using affiliate marketing, and I'm blowing it out of the water because I found something that fits my audience. It really does come down to [choosing] the right product for the right audience,” Dave said.
Dave explained that, whatever market we are in, we should find a product we’d love to talk about that our audience will also love. We can reach out to the companies and brands we like and ask if they have an affiliate program for us. Even if we don’t have thousands of listeners, brands will want to work with us if we have a specific niche audience.
As part of finding something we love, we also need to find a product we think our audience will love. What product or service will resonate with our audience? With affiliate marketing, we don’t get paid until we’ve made a sale. Even if our listeners are loyal to us, they aren’t going to buy something they don’t want or need. If we can find a product we love and a product our audience will love, our sales and profit will increase.
While affiliate marketing can be slow at the beginning, it often grows in the long run. One of the best parts of affiliate marketing with podcasts is that it creates permanent ads. Podcasts are not radio. People often don’t listen to podcasts live, or even when they first become available for download. Sometimes a listener may listen to our podcast a week after it became available, or even years after. When we talk about a company’s product on our podcast, it is there forever and can be watched forever. This increases our chances of making more sales and more money.
A sponsorship is similar to affiliate marketing, except we don’t make money based on the sales we make. We make money for simply promoting the other business. We get paid for the ads or promotions we run and based on the number of listeners we have on each episode, regardless if we make a sale or not. On average, a 30-second ad will bring in $18 CPM (cost per 1000 listeners) and $25 CPM for a 60-second ad (Source: PodcastArticles).
As with affiliate marketing, for sponsorships, we want to make sure we only talk about a product we’d use ourselves. We want to keep our trust with our audience, and they aren’t going to trust us if we promote a product that doesn’t work just because they know we are getting paid.
Dave believes that sponsorships aren’t as effective as people may think and prefers affiliate marketing. Dave explained that at Libsyn, an official podcast launch partner, they get an average of about 1200 downloads per episode, but their median number is about 300 downloads. This means 50% of their episodes get below 300 downloads and 50% get more than 300 downloads. Potentially, we may only make $10 or less off an episode we put a lot of work into, and sometimes it doesn’t pay off.
Dave also mentioned that sponsorships can be extra work as we have to send in reports of how many downloads we get with each episode. However, if we have a lot of listeners, sponsorship can make us a lot of money. We can even charge more than the average price of a 30- or 60-second ad based on how popular our show is.
Another great way to monetize our podcasts is through crowdfunding. We can ask for donations to help support our podcast content.
Dave has seen a lot of podcasters use Patreon, a membership platform that allows creators to run a subscription service. We can charge a monthly membership fee for exclusive content on our podcast, access to a community, and additional behind-the-scenes content.
If we have a very loyal listener base, our audience will pay us just because they want more content and want to support us. Chapo Trap House, an American political podcast, has generated more than $170,000 in a month from their subscribers with nearly 40,000 patrons, and as of 2020, the podcast was the highest-grossing user on Patreon (Source: SFGATE). For every two free episodes they release, they also offer two additional podcasts for a fee and people are willing to pay for that because they love their content.
We can also start charging people who want to pitch ideas for us to talk about on our show. We can charge even more for people who want to be interviewed on our show.
“It's a matter of figuring out what my audience wants,” Dave said. “In some cases, . . . the podcast is the product.”
We can also host events and charge our audience for tickets. These events could be hosted in person, or through an online platform such as Zoom. Not only can we earn a profit off our events, but we also build relationships with our customers and bring in the value of a community. Events can be great ways to grow our email lists.
We can also use our events to build our membership sites. A virtual summit is a great way to create content. We can take the recordings and split them into different video segments. These videos can stand on their own or be turned into a series of videos for an online course.
Above all else, if we want to monetize our podcasts, we have to be focused on the needs and wants of our listeners.
Thank you so much Dave for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
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