The #1 Podcast Monetization Plan (+11 More Strategies)

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You decided to start a podcast for your business to reach a larger audience. Or, maybe it was because you were so marvelously bored during the pandemic and you’d already re-watched Breaking Bad twice.

Either way, you’re ready to make some money off of your podcast. But what kind of podcast monetization plan is actually worth your time?

Get ready to find out.

Today, we’re exploring these questions:

Can You Make Money With a Podcast?

You certainly can make money with a podcast.

There are ways to make a quick buck off your podcast (if you’ve already built a sizeable audience). Then, there are ways to generate some serious revenue with your show. We explore both approaches in this post.

How Do Podcasts Make Money?

The best way to make money with your podcast is to ask your ideal customers to be guests on your show. Then, calculate your ROI by tracking the revenue made from guests who turned into customers.

All of the ways to monetize your podcast include…

  1. Invite your ideal customers to be guests on your show.
  2. Sell subscriptions.
  3. Make a Patreon.
  4. Sell sponsorships or ads.
  5. Join an ad network.
  6. Ask for donations.
  7. Syndicate to YouTube.
  8. Sell content upgrades.
  9. Create a mastermind course.
  10. Use affiliate marketing.
  11. Sell merch.
  12. Speak at ticketed events.

Now for the deets. 👇

1. Invite Your Ideal Customers to Be Guests on Your Show

When you invite your ideal customer to be a guest on your podcast, a few things happen:

  • You build rapport with them.
  • You create a valuable piece of content together.
  • You frame them as an industry expert.
  • You initiate a trusting relationship.

The whole process is known as content-based networking — creating helpful content with people you want to do business with.

Monetize Your Podcast w/ Content-Based Networking

This podcast monetization plan is by far the most effective (even with a small audience) and the most rewarding. Here’s how it works:

  1. Define your ideal customer: Who is your product or service most suited for? Sweet Fish, for example, sells podcasting services to VPs of Marketing at B2B SaaS companies.
  2. Name your podcast: Your show should be centered around your guests (ideal customers). Name it something that they can speak to.
  3. Find guests: Use your LinkedIn network, current customers, guests of similar podcasts, etc.
  4. Record: Interview your guest over an online video conferencing platform, like Riverside.fm. Make sure to get video too — it makes for great content.
  5. Edit and upload: Use a podcast hosting site, like Sounder.fm.
  6. Promote your podcast: Repurpose the audio and video for blog posts, social media posts, and more.
  7. Nurture the relationship: Stay in touch with your guests. Use their interview and other content as excuses to continue the conversation.
  8. Close the deal: You’ve fostered a mutually-beneficial relationship founded in valuable content. It’s a lot easier to close that deal than one based on cold outreach.

That’s the process in a nutshell. For a more thorough breakdown, check out the B2B Podcasting Ultimate Guide.

Finding ROI

You see far more ROI with content-based networking than you see with any other podcast monetization plan. Depending on how much you charge for your product or service, one episode can yield thousands of dollars.

Plus, it’s super easy to calculate.

[READ/WATCH: Here are the top 4 ways to measure your podcast’s success and ROI.]

First, add up the revenue you’ve generated from guests converting to customers. Then, subtract the cost of producing the podcast.

There you have it: your ROI.

A marketing technique with direct attribution to revenue? I’ll take two.

Build Relationships, Grow Revenue

Even if you’re new to podcasting, you should know it’s not all about the money. It’s about the relationships.

If you’re only focused on monetizing your podcast, you miss out on the other benefits of podcasting:

  • Long-lasting relationships
  • Making people’s lives better through content
  • Thought leadership

Put your energy towards making helpful content with people you want to know. The revenue will follow.

2. Sell Subscriptions

Another way to make money podcasting is to sell subscriptions. Luckily, major podcast directories like Apple Podcasts and Spotify have made it relatively easy.

Basically, creators are able to put select episodes behind a paywall. Listeners pay a monthly fee for access to the exclusive, ad-free content.

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Depending on which directory you use, it will take a percentage of your revenue.

How to Sell Subscriptions on Apple Podcasts

Selling subscriptions on Apple Podcasts means paying Apple $19.99/yr and 30% of your revenue in the first year. For every year after that, it drops down to 15%.

Creators can start charging subscribers as low as $0.49/month.

To monetize your podcast with Apple Podcasts subscriptions, start by…

  1. Signing in or creating an account on Apple Podcasts Connect.
  2. Joining the Apple Podcasters Program on your Account page.
  3. Filling out the agreement.
  4. Adding subscriber audio to your show or creating a new show in Apple Podcasts Connect with subscriber audio.
  5. Creating a channel by going to the Podcasts page, clicking the Add (+) button, and selecting New Channel.

How to Sell Subscriptions on Spotify

Spotify is in its preliminary stages of offering subscription options to podcasters.

Right now, only a select few podcasts are able to sell exclusive episodes via Anchor, Spotify’s creator hub. We lowly peasants will need to wait until the subscription model is fully launched.

Similar to Apple, Spotify podcasters can set their subscription prices. However, you can only choose between three pricing tiers: $2.99, $4.99, or $7.99 per month.

Spotify won’t be taking any cuts from creators until 2023. At that time, the streaming platform will begin taking 5% of subscription revenue — far less than what Apple takes.

Making Money Off Podcast Subscriptions

If you choose to go the subscription route, know that it’ll take time to see any returns.

A sizeable listenership is necessary to justify creating exclusive episodes. Also, make sure your audience is dedicated enough to pay for your content before you put it behind a subscription fee.

3. Make a Patreon

Creating a Patreon is the alternative to selling subscriptions via a podcast directory.

With Patreon, people pay for access to exclusive, ad-free content. Most podcasters will direct listeners to their Patreon by plugging it in each episode and in their show notes.

The drawback is that the user can’t access the content in the same app as the free stuff. They have to go off-site to Patreon.

The benefit is that Patreon only takes 12% of your revenue. A small price compared to Apple’s 30% and 15% cuts.

4. Sell Sponsorships or Ads

Podcast sponsors — otherwise known as advertisers — pay to promote their products and services on podcasts.

Sponsorship Pay

Most sponsors pay based on number of downloads. Some pay based on number of sales generated from an ad (it’s known as affiliate marketing — more on that later).

Being that most sponsors pay based on increments of 1,000 downloads, your show needs a significant amount of downloads to justify ads. Normally, sponsors pay between $18/1,000 downloads and $30/1,000 downloads.

How to Find a Podcast Sponsor

To find a podcast sponsor (advertiser), it helps to create a media kit for outreach. The media kit should be a collection of information, like…

  • Your show’s name and description.
  • The host’s bio.
  • Who your target audience is.
  • Who your guests usually are.
  • The number of downloads you get per month.
  • Your ratings/reviews.
  • How often you release episodes.
  • Social media metrics.
  • Advertising specs (price).

Once you develop a media kit, send it out to companies that align with your show’s subject matter and values.

5. Join an Ad Network

AKA, partner with a podcast advertising agency.

Podcast ad agencies match shows with advertisers so you don’t have to. It’s the convenience and — eventually — the revenue growth that you pay them for.

There are large generalist ad networks, like Midroll and Authentic. Then, there are smaller niche ad networks, such as Headgum.

It’s important to note that you can join more than one podcast ad network… if you have the cash.

6. Ask for Donations

It usually works better to offer something in return for money, but sometimes you just need a donation.

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Some podcasters who operate ad-free offer a link at the end of their episodes for listeners to give. If you ask for donations, it’s a good idea to keep your content ad-free. Otherwise, listeners will be less likely to give.

7. Syndicate to YouTube

Syndicating or distributing your podcast to YouTube can lead to monetization. In order to sell ad space on YouTube, though, you need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last year.

How to Syndicate to YouTube

Some podcast hosting services automatically syndicate to YouTube. However, to get the best results, we recommend doing it manually.

To be a successful podcast on YouTube, you need to get video of your interviews. Some YouTube podcasters publish a static image or audio wave in place of video. But, this isn’t an approach that best serves the majority of people watching YouTube.

Optimizing for YouTube

So, film your episodes whether they’re over a video conference or in person. Edit the video and include some compelling graphics and/or B-roll. Create an eye-catching thumbnail with four words or less.

Give your episodes captivating titles under 70 characters long. Write an optimized description for your videos including relevant hashtags and important timestamps.

Then, publish the videos under the name of your podcast.

Syndicate No Matter What

Even if your goal isn’t to monetize through YouTube, it’s still a good idea to distribute your podcast there. You’re able to reach an audience that may not have heard you had you only stuck to audio.

Plus, you don’t have to publish full-length podcast episodes. You can cut them up to create engaging 3-10 minute videos that highlight the best parts. That means more content with better watch-thru rates.

8. Sell Content Upgrades

You know you can sell access to exclusive episodes. Did you also know you can sell access to other premium content?

All you have to do is repurpose your interviews for other mediums.

Maybe you combine relevant insights from a few different interviews into one comprehensive guide. Or, you could make a video series explaining behind-the-scenes stuff.

There are tons of ways to repurpose your podcast material — just watch the video, mmkay? ☝

Selling content upgrades would mean that you embed a form on your website for people to pay. Otherwise, you could use a site like Patreon.

9. Create a Mastermind Course

That brings us to the ninth podcast monetization strategy: Make a mastermind course.

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A mastermind course could either focus on the subject matter of your show or it could be on podcasting itself. That’s up to you.

For example, our team created The B2B Podcasting Course. In this case, we left the content ungated, but we certainly could’ve monetized it.

We chose to build out web pages for every segment of the course. Each page has its own video that we published through YouTube. You could take the same route or, again, use something like Patreon to host it.

Another example of monetizing your podcast with a mastermind course is John Bonini’s Some Good Content. This is an ongoing Patreon in which John continuously posts new podcast recordings and written content. Patrons pay a monthly fee to access the content and engage in conversations.

10. Use Affiliate Marketing

Lots of podcasters use affiliate marketing to earn money with their show. Affiliate marketing works similarly to sponsorships.

Simply put, companies pay promoters a certain percentage of what they earn when customers buy through their unique link.

For example, the podcast Write-minded advertises thegreatcourses.com on their show. The hosts give a special link that listeners can use to receive discounted courses. Then, the Write-minded hosts get a percentage of what thegreatcourses.com makes off the unique link.

You might try out affiliate marketing if you have a small but committed listenership.

11. Sell Merch

Think your audience would be into wearing your face on their bodies? You could monetize your podcast by selling t-shirts and other merchandise.

It definitely helps to have a strong social media following in addition to your podcast if you aim to sell merchandise. Ya know, so people can see what it looks like.

12. Speak at Ticketed Events

(Sell your merch at ’em too.)

Go the old-fashioned route and speak at an event. Heck, make your own event. Go on tour.

If you’ve got the time and the clout, might as well make that live event money.

How Much Money Do Podcasters Make?

Podcasters who use content-based networking can make thousands of dollars off of one episode. It involves a few extra steps but absolutely pays off even with a small audience.

Using the other types of podcast monetization can bring in money. However, you need to build up a substantial audience in order to start seeing a profit.

Start Monetizing Your Podcast

If you want to make real revenue with your podcast, invite your ideal customers to be guests on your show. Your relationships will be rooted in making valuable content together for people who need it.

What could be better than that?

For more tips on monetizing your podcast, subscribe to B2B Growth on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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