Podcast Monetization is Real, and it’s Profitable
The idea of monetizing a podcast typically sparks one of two reactions:
The first reaction is skepticism… and I mean extreme skepticism. Let’s face it – making a living as an independent content creator is still a very new concept, and some people still can’t understand how you could make money “talking into a mic all day”. Lots of people still see podcasting as either a hobby or a branding/PR effort, not a valuable business strategy.
The second reaction is much, MUCH more enthusiastic. These are the folks who believe that podcast monetization will be “easy money” and that as soon as they start producing content, the sponsorship money will just start rolling in.
Unfortunately, both of these reactions have significant downsides. Extreme skepticism means you might never truly see the value of podcasting, and therefore may never get started. While extreme enthusiasm and a focus on chasing the almighty dollar means that if you do not find success and “easy money” quickly, you might burn out quickly too.
Luckily, there is a way to monetize your podcast that just makes sense. It is possible to earn real revenue with a podcast, and even make it your full-time job. Simply put, you need to think of your podcast as a business.
The Business of Podcasting
First of all, if you’re still skeptical about podcast monetization, stop right here: According to the IAB, podcast ad revenues reached $1.4 billion in 2021 and are forecasted to triple by 2024. There’s a lot of money to be made in the world of podcasting.
But that doesn’t mean that podcasting is a get-rich-quick scheme. So what does it mean to think of podcasting as a business?
First and foremost, you need to identify who your customers are. You may think your customers are your advertisers and sponsors, but not so fast! The biggest and most important customer you will ever have is your audience. If you play your cards right, your audience will be the ones growing your show, buying your merch, and yes – attracting advertisers. Because if nobody’s listening, nobody will be advertising either.
So you need to figure out what your audience wants. Spend as much time as possible interacting with them, and find ways to involve them in your show. Listen to their feedback, and make sure you really understand what it is they like about your podcast, and what they don’t. And if you haven’t started your podcast yet, talk to people who you think would be part of your audience and ask them what they like and don’t like in a show! For more information on understanding your audience, be sure to check this episode of The Humble Podcaster.
Consistency is Key
When you buy a subscription for anything, whether it be razors or meal prep kits or the wine of the month club, you’re really looking for two things as a customer: quality and consistency. The same is true of your podcast audience!
You could have the greatest podcast in the world, but if you only put out episodes when you feel like it, you’ll soon find your audience dwindling. Listening to podcasts is typically part of a daily or weekly routine, and if you miss your slot, there’s plenty of other podcasts out there ready to take it.
Likewise, you could have the world’s most consistent production schedule, but if your show doesn’t attract an audience, it won’t matter. I’ve found amazing podcasts with consistent release dates that I still don’t listen to – why? Because their audio quality was terrible, and it hurt my ears to try and listen!
If podcasting is a business, you have to really put yourself in your customers’ shoes. And not just that of your audience, either. Think of the potential sponsors you’d like to land – do you really think they’re going to associate their brand with a podcast that has amateur production value, or a show that can’t commit to a regular release date for their spot? There’s tons of competition out there, so make sure you’re getting the basics right.
Strategize Your Success
Like any good business, you’ll need a business plan. Podcast monetization comes in many different forms, so you’ll need to sit down and figure out which revenue streams you’re going to focus on. You’ll also need to decide which channels you’re going to use to grow and promote your show.
As for potential revenue streams, here are a few of the most popular options:
- Selling ads and sponsorships
- Creating premium content for paid subscribers
- Selling branded merch
- Monetizing video content on YouTube and TikTok
- Host live events
As you can imagine, there’s tons more options out there. Figure out what works for you, and try to focus on a combination of two or three revenue streams to start.
Of course, revenue isn’t the only thing that matters in podcasting. Podcasts can also help your business generate leads, sell e-courses, and land consulting or public speaking opportunities. Most importantly, a strong podcast allows you the opportunity to sit down and speak with interesting and important people in your industry. Everyone loves getting their 15 minutes of fame – including your top prospects!
When it comes to growing and promoting your show, video is quickly becoming king. Podcasters are seeing huge success sharing clips on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube. For this reason alone, you should strongly consider filming your recording sessions. Even if you don’t release the full episodes with video, having clips to share on social media is invaluable to promoting show growth.
Last but not least, there is an art and a science to growing your audience that goes way beyond your social media calendar. It’s called The Listener Lifecycle, and you can learn more about it here.
Putting it All Together
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into successfully monetizing a podcast. But the value it can bring to you and your business is a huge win/win, because a great podcast also brings immense value to your listeners and advertisers. So remember to take it step by step, and really plan for your success from the start.
And of course if you need help putting it all together, there’s always HumblePod.