For many podcasters we talk to, generating income is at the top of their goals list. And that’s not surprising, given that most podcast hosts are passionate about their show and want to find a way to make it sustainable.
The great news is that there are a number of ways to make money from podcasts, and we’re here to help you explore your options.
How do podcasts make money?
Podcasts can make money through a variety of methods, such as advertising, sponsorships, donations and product sales. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
One of the most common ways to make money from a podcast is through advertising. This can take a few different forms, such as pre-roll ads (ads that play before the content), mid-roll ads (ads that play in the middle of the content), or post-roll ads (ads that play after the content).
Host-read ads are also becoming increasingly popular, where the host of the show reads out a short ad at the beginning, middle, or end of the episode.
With any of these options, it all comes down to the fact that you’re selling “air time,” similar to television or radio ad placements. The key to making money from advertising is to build up a sizeable audience so that you can charge advertisers a premium rate. The larger your audience, the more you can charge. After all, if your podcast doesn’t have a large following, then the air time won’t be considered as valuable.
Dynamic vs “Baked In” Ads
There are basically two different kinds of ads you can have in your podcast: dynamic ad insertion and static ad placements.
Dynamic ad insertion is the more common option, and it’s where ads are served up based on the demographics of your listeners. This means that you don’t have to worry about manually placing the ads yourself, and it also gives you the opportunity to change up the ads that are being played (which can be valuable if you have a product or service that you want to promote).
Static ad placements are just what they sound like: the ad is pre-recorded and placed in a specific spot in the episode, or “baked in,” and it doesn’t change. The benefit of this option is that you can charge a bit more for the ad since the listener knows exactly when it’s coming up.
Benefits of using ads to monetize your podcast
The great thing about using ads to monetize your podcast is that it’s a relatively easy way to get started and it doesn’t require a lot of upfront work. You can simply sign up with an ad network and start running ads in your episodes. It’s like making money while you sleep.
But keep in mind that in order to see some real cash flow, you’ll want to have a minimum of 1,000 listeners per episode – and truthfully, most advertising platforms and networks are now requiring even more than 1,000 listeners due to the popularity and increasing amount of podcasts out there.
Another way to make money from a podcast is through affiliate sponsorships. This is where a company will pay you to mention their product or service on your show, or where you are paid a portion of the revenue that results from leads due to those mentions.
The key to making money from sponsorships is to find companies that are relevant to your audience and that you genuinely believe in. If you’re not passionate about the product or service, it will come across in your delivery and won’t be effective. How to get started with a sponsor for your podcast
There are basically two routes you can take: 1) go to a company or brand directly, and 2) use a middleman service, such as an affiliate network, that can connect you with potential sponsors.
Obviously, option one is the easiest way to get started with affiliate sponsor if you already have in mind some products or services you use and love. You can reach out to those companies and inquire about sponsorship opportunities.
On the other hand, if nothing is coming to mind and you’re open to recommending essentially any service or brand to your listeners, then the second option may be more up your alley. Some potential affiliate programs may include Amazon Associates, Buzzsprout Affiliates or Squarespace.
Crowdfunding & Donations
Another way to make money from a podcast is through crowdfunding or donations. Crowdfunding is where listeners can contribute money to help support the show, and donations are simply when listeners give money without expecting anything in return.
Patreon is a popular platform for crowdfunding because it’s dedicated to helping creators monetize their podcases and there are no stipulations on how popular your podcast needs to be for entry. Whatever the size of your audience, from 10 listeners to 10,000, you can sign up and it’s globally available.
Paypal is another popular donation platform because it’s so widely used, but the downside is the fees that come along with it. For example, if someone donates $5 to your podcast through PayPal, you would actually only receive $4.75.
There are also some platforms that focus specifically on listener donations, such as Buy me a Coffee and Podbean. Whatever the platform you decide, the key to making money through crowdfunding or donations is to offer value to your listeners and build up a loyal and engaged audience who believe in what you’re doing and are willing to support you financially.
Finally, you can also make money from a podcast by selling products and brand merchandise. This could be anything from physical goods to digital products, such as e-books or online courses.
Some common brand merchandise items include t-shirts, stickers, mugs and tote bags. But the sky’s the limit here, so get creative and come up with something that your audience would love and that represents your brand well.
So, those are some of the most common ways that podcasts make money. Obviously, there’s a lot of overlap between these methods and you can use more than one to monetize your podcast.
We recommend experimenting and figuring out what works best for you and your audience. And, of course, to keep delivering great content that your listeners will love. If you need a little help getting started, reach out to our podcast production team with any questions!
Recommended Read: 8 Tips for Starting Your Own Podcast