Are you looking for ways to monetize your podcast? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Podcast statistics and data show that 62% of people 12 years and above have listened to a podcast with over 79% of the population being familiar with the medium. With such a huge audience, it means that there are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners in this space.
Contrary to what many people believe, it’s possible to make real money with a podcast – and that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss in this guide.
Can You Really Make Money With a Podcast?
It’s certainly possible to make money with a podcast. Of course, the amount you earn will range vastly depending on various factors, such as your audience size, engagement levels, etc.
Although it’s hard to put a hard number on things like these due to the sheer number of variables in podcasting, you can still get a good idea of what you stand to make by looking at listener engagement.
Some people are happy to earn enough to cover their podcast hosting costs while they talk about their favorite things, others bring in enough income to live on comfortably.
Regardless of what your monetary goals are, we’ll cover all the options available to you so you can monetize your podcast in the best way possible.
Just keep in mind that, as with virtually every other way you can make a living online, this is a long game.
The people making a lot of money have been at this for a long time. Others came to podcasting with established audiences already.
That’s not to say you can’t make money if you’re new to this – you absolutely can. You just need the right strategy, a lot of hard work, and determination, and monetizing your podcast will certainly be possible.
With that said, here are tried and tested methods for making money with a podcast.
Best Ways to Make Money With a Podcast
1) Start a Blog
Whether you’re a teacher, coach, thought leader, performer, or creator, there is no better way to make money online than starting your own blog.
Not only will you be able to learn new skills, such as writing, marketing, and SEO skills, but you will also be able to build a source of consistent income now, and in the future. Much of this income can be passive, which means you put in the work now, and you continue to reap the benefits for a long time to come.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out my free Ignition course which outlines everything you need to know on how to build a successful blog, from start to finish.
Once your blog is online, you can transcribe podcast episodes and post them to your blog to open up even more income generation opportunities.
2) Use Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising involves the automatic buying and selling of podcast ads on marketplaces like Libsyn, RedCircle, Rss.com, Spreaker, Transistor, etc.
On such marketplaces, you’ll find a lot of advertisers ready and willing to pay you to deliver relevant ads on your podcast.
Although many people believe that ads are disruptive and often obnoxious, this doesn’t have to be the case.
If you are providing value to your listeners, and working with advertisers who deliver ads in a tone of voice that creates an engaging and pleasant listening experience, then you will likely find a lot of success with this monetization option.
The best part about using ads is that as your audience of listeners grows, so does the revenue you generate from ads. This means you can potentially scale your income with no limitations.
Important Note: Podcast ads are typically sold on a CPM (cost per mille) basis, which means advertisers pay a certain amount per thousand listeners.
This is great if your podcast brings in half a million listeners per episode, but if you are just starting out and broadcasting to just a few hundred people, this method is not going to generate a lot of money for you. You may be better served by focusing on the other tactics outlined here while you build your audience.
3) Create an Online Course
If one of your strengths lies in teaching others your subject matter, then this could be the best podcast monetization strategy for you.
All you have to do is break things down and explain them in simple ways in the form of a full online course. This can be in written, video, or audio format, and you can use one of many online course platforms to create, promote, and sell your course.
Two great examples are Thinkific and Teachable, both of which will help you build a course in a simple and effective way.
Online courses can be high-value products that can bring in anywhere from three to six-figure sums. Just keep in mind that putting together a high-quality course can take time, and this can eat into your podcast creation time.
Also, depending on your topic, your online course might need to be updated regularly. But, once you’ve created it, you can sell it again and again, which is a great way to create a source of passive income.
4) Write an Ebook
Similar to creating an online course, you can also write an eBook which you can then promote on your podcast.
These days, writing a book is easy and you can self-publish an eBook on any subject you want. Simply find a topic that’s hot in your niche and write about it.
Make sure the benefit for your readers is really clear. Identify a problem and solve it. Provide your readers with enough information to achieve that one big goal, and whenever necessary, link to additional resources that will help them get positive solutions.
You don’t have to go into too much depth. In fact, some podcast hosts make money this way by simply summarizing the best bits from all their recent podcasts.
5) Offer One-On-One Coaching
Any podcast can be monetized on some level as long as you have an engaged audience. Whether it’s five people or five thousand, you can offer coaching or consulting services to your audience and start earning right away.
You’ll be able to get on calls, talk clients through processes, and teach them live as opposed to online.
This monetization method is great for anyone who loves to interact with other people one on one and is a lot easier than building a full course. You can start earning right away by simply advertising your services on your show and other platforms online, including your blog, social media, email, etc.
All you need is to set up a booking form on your website or social media that will allow you to take payments and schedule consultation times.
You can use a tool like Book like a Boss that lets you set up types of appointments and times in your calendar so you can easily manage the entire process.
This podcast monetization strategy can help you develop meaningful relationships with a lot of high-value clients over time, and these relationships can often lead to other lucrative opportunities.
Just keep in mind that while it can be extremely profitable, one-on-one coaching is reliant on you being available. This means you’ll be trading your time for money, which often means less flexibility and freedom with regard to things like taking time off, going on vacations, etc.
6) Secure Brand Sponsorships
This is the go-to approach for most people looking to monetize their podcast. However, one big problem with this strategy is that a lot of big brands out there are fixated on numbers as opposed to interaction and engagement.
This means that you first have to build up your audience to significant numbers before the brands will even consider working with you. However, the fact is that 100 engaged listeners are a lot more valuable than 1,000 casual listeners.
If you want to get sponsorship for your podcast but have a relatively small audience, all isn’t lost. You simply need to choose brands that fit with your topic and your audience. Approach them with real proof of the level of audience engagement you generate and explain how well you can help them turn that into conversions for their sponsorship.
Start with smaller, local brands and work your way up to bigger companies that stand to benefit by supporting your podcast. If you can find a sponsor that is extremely relevant to your topic and listeners, then you have the potential to develop a lucrative long-term partnership for both parties.
7) Sell a Physical or Digital Product
Think about the problems and challenges faced by your listeners. Is there any product you can create that will make their life easier or help them achieve their goals faster?
Better yet, create an online survey and ask some of your audience members these questions so you get a real sense of what they need.
For example, my audience faced problems with regard to making money online, and I created an online course designed to help beginners build and monetize a blog – even with no prior experience.
This product solves the problem for them by providing them with a detailed, easy-to-follow step-by-step guide that takes them from start to finish, covering all the important aspects of digital marketing.
Because I solve that problem directly for readers of my site and viewers on my YouTube channel, many people sign up for my online courses each month.
The biggest advantage of this type of monetization method is that you have 100% control of everything. You can do it on your own terms and scale your income generation as much as you want to.
8) Sell a Service
Earlier, we talked about one-on-one coaching. Selling services is quite similar to that, except that it goes a step further. Instead of teaching people how to do something, you can actually do it for them.
For example, instead of teaching my audience how to build profitable blogs online, I could offer a service whereby I create the blogs for them.
There are a lot of people out there who may hear my advice but realize they don’t have the time or bandwidth to do it themselves. Instead, they want someone who can take care of all the technical aspects of website building so they can focus more on creating content, growing their audience, and so on.
Once people have gotten to know you through your podcast, it will be easier for them to trust you and purchase the services you position as the perfect solution to their problems.
So what services can you sell as a podcaster? Well, there are plenty of options. For instance, if there are any businesses in your niche that don’t already have a podcast, you might offer your expertise to create one for them.
You’ll still get paid to talk about your passion. Just make sure you leave enough time to work on and run your own podcast.
One benefit of offering a service over one-on-one coaching is that you can hire a team to work alongside you, allowing you to continue scaling your business.
Just keep in mind that scaling and growth aren’t without their challenges. You may end up having to spend so much time working on the business that you don’t have much time to enjoy creating content on the topics you love.
9) Become an Affiliate Marketer
Another way to monetize your podcast is through affiliate income. This is a perfect monetization method to choose if you don’t have the time or inclination to create your own products or run services.
As long as you’re talking about stuff you love, there are a lot of products and services you can recommend to your listeners.
These can be things that you’ve used yourself or have researched and feel strongly about. Either way, you can sign up as an affiliate on networks like ClickBank, ShareASale, Amazon Associates, etc.
Use your affiliate link within your content to start getting paid a commission for any sales that result from your recommendation.
Keeping to the online course example I used above, I might recommend the following products to my audience:
- Hosting services
- Email providers
- Online course platforms
- Video editing software
- Social media management tools
- Graphic design software
… and more.
You can take this monetization method further by creating a free or paid online course or eBook and putting affiliate links within the content.
Although not quite work-free, this is a low-maintenance way to earn income with your podcast. However, be aware that you don’t own (or even fully control) these streams, which means that if you rely on affiliate marketing as your main source of income, it could all be cut off without notice.
10) Premium Content
A very simple way to monetize your podcast is to sell the show itself. Of course, you can’t sell the entire thing since you need people to be able to listen for free. But once they like your show enough, they will be willing to pay for premium content.
So, for instance, you might sell your back catalog. Keep your most recent 50 episodes free but charge a fee to access any of the older ones.
You could also consider creating extra episodes, or longer and more in-depth shows that are for sale in addition to the free content you publish.
Whether you create a private podcast or sell extra podcast episodes, it’s important that you focus on producing high-quality content, otherwise, your audience won’t be willing to pay for premium content.
You can set up an account on a platform like Patreon and charge subscriptions for different tier memberships ranging from $1 to $499 – whatever makes sense for your type of audience.
Here’s an example for Podcasters Assemble, a movie review podcast that charges between $1 and $25 for a subscription. In return, fans get early access, ad-free episodes, blooper reels, outtakes, and more.
11) Solicit Donations
Speaking of Patreon, once you build an engaged and loyal audience for your podcast, simply ask them to follow you on the crowdfunding platform and support your show by sending donations.
This podcast monetization method is well-suited to hobbyists and content creators and can bring in a tidy sum each month from loyal fans that pledge small amounts to support your show each month.
The example above involves offering fans premium content in return for their monthly subscription. However, with crowdfunding and donations, you don’t have to offer your podcast listeners anything (except your gratitude, of course). Also, instead of committing to a set monthly plan, listeners can donate any amount, at any time.
This is often the go-to method for those looking for simple ways to monetize their audiences. It’s simple to implement and extremely effective. After all, the work required to solicit donations is the work you are already doing – and that is to create a brilliant show.
Having said that, it’s still a good idea to go a little further and offer incentives and rewards to encourage listeners to support your podcast.
Again, although soliciting donations can be extremely lucrative, you must keep in mind that there’s no solid foundation since you are relying on third-party platforms like Patreon that you actually don’t control.
12) Build an Email List
Although it’s the last tactic on our list, this may actually be one of the most important things you can do to monetize your podcast. Any seasoned podcaster knows that the money lies in the list. Community platforms come and go, but email remains one of the most effective channels out there.
Regardless of which strategy you choose to monetize your show, you must make sure that you have an email list. Not only will this help you strengthen your connection and interaction with the audience, but it also helps to supplement each and every one of the monetization methods mentioned above.
When you build a list, you can keep in touch with your audience and build relationships with them in order to grow a loyal, action-taking list. You can use tools like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or any other email marketing tools that come with features to set up automatic sequences and engage with your subscribers easily.
Just remember that building a list takes time and a lot of work. For this to work, you’ll need to create written content on a regular basis which can potentially hinder your efforts to run your podcast.
What Are the Highest Earning Podcasts?
As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of ways to start earning money with your podcast, including affiliate marketing, coaching/consulting, sponsorships, ads, selling products/merch, etc.
Those in entertainment or news podcasting often have other methods for earning, including premium content, Patreon, etc. Regardless of which method is used, the bottom line is that there are many people who are making a ton of money with their shows.
For a bit of inspiration, here’s a list of some of the showrunners making a good living with their podcasts.
1) The Joe Rogan Experience
Hosted by: Joe Rogan
Number of Listeners: 9 million
Number of Downloads: 190 million
Income: $30 million
Main Source of Income: Sponsorships
Joe Rogan is a well-known personality with a world-famous podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. He has over 9 million regular listeners to his show and boasts 190 million downloads. It’s easy to see why he is a household name.
In each episode, Joe brings in inspirational figures to talk about their life stories, projects, goals, etc. In his highly anticipated show, he has interviewed everyone from famous politicians like Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders to industry leaders like Elon Musk and entertainers like Mike Tyson.
He makes over $30 million per year in income. He has dozens of sponsors that pump money into his show, including 23andMe, Calm, and Athletic Greens. Joe also signed a $100 million deal with Spotify recently.
2) My Favorite Murder
Hosted by: Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff
Number of Listeners: 5,5 million
Number of Downloads: 35 million
Income: $15 million
Main Source of Income: Premium Content Sales
Known for their crime-comedy show, My Favorite Murder (MFM), these two hosts make over $15 million each year sharing darkly humorous murder stories on their podcasts. Currently, the podcast has over 35 million downloads per month.
It was ranked #2 on the Forbes ranking of top-earning podcasters, closely following Joe Rogan and beating out Dave Ramsey by a cool five million dollars.
Their enthusiastic legion of listeners can seem to get enough of the show, and if you love murder mysteries, then you’ll love this show too.
3) The David Ramsey Show
Hosted by: Dave Ramsey
Number of Listeners: 18 million
Number of Downloads: 15 million
Income: $10 million
Main Source of Income: Episode Syndication
Dave Ramsey is a finance guru and author with one of the highest-earning podcasts in the world. The Dave Ramsey Show focuses on helping listeners become debt-free and get control over their finances.
If you want to learn how to make sustainable financial decisions, then this show is for you. The show, which debuted in 1992, relies only on listeners who call in and makes the majority of its income from syndication of the episodes which are broadcast on 600 radio stations in the US alone.
4) The Bill Simmons Podcast
Hosted by: Bill Simmons
Number of Listeners: Unspecified
Number of Downloads: 100 million
Income: $7 million
Main Source of Income: Sponsorships
Ranked as one of Apple’s top 25 in the last couple of years running, The Bill Simmons Podcast rakes in over $7 million a year.
Hosted by Bill Simmons, an ex-commentator on ESPN, this show was initially created to complement the website, The Ringer, which is now ranked at number 5,638 on the Alexa website ranking.
5) Smart Passive Income Podcast
Hosted by: Pat Flynn
Number of Listeners: Unspecified
Number of Downloads: +100 million
Income: $1.2 million
Main Source of Income: Affiliate Marketing and Online Courses
Pat Flynn is the host of Smart Passive Income, a podcast that focuses on sharing the host’s first-hand experiences with finances to help other entrepreneurs build successful streams of passive income online.
Pat is among the highest-paid podcasters, earning around $1.2 million per year from his show. This figure may not even properly represent his true earnings since this successful entrepreneur has multiple sources of passive income, ranging from affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and ads to online courses, merchandise, and more.
4 Tips to Earn the Most Money From Your Podcast
While everyone can earn money from their podcast, only a few people earn a full-time income doing this. They achieve this level of success by following best practices. Here are a few tips to help you follow in their footsteps.
1) Create Great Content
Before you can monetize your podcast, you must have certain things in place, and one of those is high-quality content.
First of all, you must ensure that your content and podcast are sustainable. Make sure you are being “the best you”.
Podcast on topics that resonate with you and, in turn, resonate with your listeners. If you get this right, not only will you have fun making a podcast, but you also increase your chances of profiting both financially and from building relationships that make a difference in people’s lives.
2) Improve Your Presentation and Delivery
As a podcaster, it’s important to know exactly how you come across whenever you’re behind the microphone.
It won’t matter that you have the best topic or message in the world if your listeners are bored. They just won’t care and they won’t listen.
This means you should focus on improving your presentation, delivery, and performance. Keep in mind that in audio, your voice and vocal inflections channel your body language so strive to improve these aspects of your delivery. If passion and enthusiasm come across in your presentation, audiences will be drawn to you.
3) Build Relationships and Community
If you want to become a successful podcaster, then you’ll have to devote a huge chunk of your time to building a community around your podcast.
Galvanize your audience with interactions and conversations – not only with you as the podcast host, but also with the like-minded listeners you gather around your topic.
No community means no interactions, and if there isn’t a conversation, then you’ll just be talking at the audience, and not with them. Make people feel involved and they’ll love you all the more for it. They’ll also trust you more and strive to support you.
4) Put Your Listeners First
It’s important to always put your listeners first. No matter how you plan to monetize your content, it should never be at the expense of your listeners.
For example, don’t place endless ads at the beginning, middle, and end of your show just to make more money. This will take away from the listening experience and erode the trust you’ve built up with your audience over time.
Also, you must think creatively about the types of monetization methods you use. Just because there are a host of options available to you doesn’t mean you must use all of them. Focus on your type of audience and the content you produce before making a choice on which would be the best monetization method(s) for your podcast.
With the right approach, making money with a podcast is possible and you’ll start to see results in just a few short months.
If you can create a show with a captive audience, then you’ll be able to use any of the podcast monetization methods mentioned in this article.
You can choose to be a hobbyist who barely covers your monthly podcast hosting bills, or you can use the tips outlined in this article to work toward becoming one of the many podcasters who are taking home a healthy full-time income from their shows.