As a consultant, I get asked a lot of questions that involve monetization strategies for podcasts. In other words, how do you actually make money with a podcast?
In Episode # 3 of the Grow Your Digital Business Podcast, I get into the details and share some examples of how I monetize my podcasts, as well as offer a few strategies that I hope will help give you some creative, money-making ideas for monetizing your own podcasting efforts.
So, let’s begin with the basics.
Podcasting is a form of content marketing. But what is content marketing, exactly?
Content marketing is defined as:
a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.
Basically, content marketing is a way to promote your products and services in a more valuable and entertaining way, without coming off as too “sell-y.”
You may be surprised to learn that podcasting is also one of the MOST effective forms of content marketing available and is growing in popularity, globally.
If you checked out a previous blog post called: How to Start A Podcast, I shared some statistics about podcast advertising and listenership.
3 Important Podcasting Statistics:
- Podcast listeners tend to be an affluent demographic, which means they have money.
- Podcast listeners have an average of 70% awareness of new products and services after listening to a podcast.
- As much as 4 out of 5 listeners will make some sort of call to action after hearing a podcast ad.
These numbers are crazy and I cant think of any other marketing medium that can generate these types of results!
Example: My Podcasts
I use podcasting to share my advice as a consultant. This helps me to grow my personal brand, position myself as a thought leader, promote my consulting services, promote my network and promote the Grow Your Digital Business Brand with its upcoming products and services.
A majority of my consulting business also feeds into our parent agency Kemweb, which focuses on hybrid media production, audio and video production, live streaming, and content creation for all of our client’s various social and marketing channels.
We have a podcast network called RobotSpaceship, which is basically a record label for podcasts and we focus on promoting primarily business, technology, and cultural related topics, primarily in the European market.
Once your podcast starts to grow in subscribers, you can start to offer podcast advertising. Depending on your industry or niche, you can set your own ad rated, or follow industry-standard pricing, which is based on CPM (cost per Mil or cost per thousand.)
The standard is currently $18 per CPM, but depending on the niche value of your podcast topics, rates can be as high as $2000 per CPM. Some advertisers also like to base rates on cost per download, which has a similar pricing level as CPM.
Don’t assume, however, that you need 1000 subscribers to begin advertising. I have started running paid ads with as little as 50 subscribers, so you can start as soon and you feel you are ready. Just be aware that advertisers will want to know various metrics and demographics about your podcast, so be prepared to answer these questions.
Podcast ads can be run in the pre-roll, mid-roll or outro of the podcast, are usually 10 to 30 seconds in length and are either pre-recorded by the client, or read by the podcast host. There are some statistics that indicate that ads that are read by the podcast host, have much better engagement, so this is definitely a service you should consider offering.
A sponsored podcast is when a brand will pay you to either talk about the company or product yourself or to interview someone from the company. This often includes advertising and social media promotion. Sponsored podcast rates are usually higher than advertising because they include the podcast, advertising, social media promotion as well as planning, direction, and editing.
Based the workload, sponsored podcasts, even for newer podcasts with low followers, typically start at around $1500.
A sponsored podcast could be from an external sponsore or an internal sponser. For example, with this particular podcast, we also refer to them as sponsored podcasts.
The title is “How to Make Money with a Podcast” and we monetize by advertising RobotSpaceship Studios, which is the brand name for our podcast production services that we offer in partnership with Kemweb.
Another monetization strategy is affiliate marketing, which is basically when a company offers you a share of the revenue for referring sales to them. This is typically done by providing you with a unique link that you promote on your podcast liner notes, websites and social media.
If you look at the resources page of my website, as well as links in many of my blog posts, you will notice that I include affiliate links to various products and services that I recommend.
If someone clicks on these links and makes a purchase, then I can potentially make a percentage of those sales. Sometimes this is a fixed amount, and other times it is a recurring payment that I earn for as long as that referred sale continues to pay subscription fees for whatever service they purchased.
Affiliate Example: Dreamhost
If you have read some of my previous blog posts or listened to some of my podcasts, you will hear me mention that I am an affiliate for the web hosting company Dreamhost. I have been a member of Dreamhost for over 20 years and use them to host all of my blogs and websites.
Since Dreamhost is a critical piece of my online business, I often bring them up in discussions about blogging, SEO (search engine optimization,) WordPress, email marketing, podcasting, etc, so there are all kinds of opportunities to both provide value by discussing different aspects of their service and to monetize the discussions by referring clients to them.
If I discuss Dreamhost in a podcast, the most effective way to monetize the discussion is to typically mention that I will include a link to them in the podcast liner notes or I send people to a specific link, such as my resources page, which includes links to Dreamhost as well as other affiliate services that I use.
Often in my blog posts, you will also notice that I include prominent buttons, such as this one below.
Dreamhost has a fairly high payout rate (up to $200 per referral!) so as a result, I earn a regular monthly side income from recurring affiliate sales. Since Dreamhost also allows you to apply your earnings to your monthly hosting bill, I have not had to pay for hosting or domain name registration for over 10 years. Pretty sweet deal, right!
I also do a lot of media partnerships with conferences, trade fairs and events. This is typically done on the basis of mutual trade in exchange for cross promotion.
How this works: I get approached by an event and we will agree that I will promote the event in my blog’s media calendar along with an ad or a sponsored podcast and sponsored blog post.
In exchange, I get a return promotion from the event, sometimes as a logo and a backlink from their website, in their banners or a full-page ad in their printed promotional material. I also request free event press passes, which gives me the opportunity to create more industry focussed content.
Media partnerships are a great win-win for influencers and event PR because not only do you get backlinks and exposure but aligning to large events and reputable industry influencers builds valuable credibility for both parties!
Advertising Media Kit
Once your podcast is established and you start growing some subscribers, it is important to set up a yearly advertising media kit. This is usually in the form of a downloadable PDF with all the info about your podcast, your audience numbers, info about what types of advertising services you offer, pricing, a podcast host bio, as well as contact info.
Advertisers and PR companies also sometimes request a “media calendar” (which you can include in the media kit) which offers a calendar or timeline for what types of posts and topics you plan on discussing over the year based on your industry. This helps advertisers know when to schedule better-targeted ad placement.
Click Here to download an example of an Advertising Media Kit for AR/VR Magazine.
Two Podcast Monetization Strategies
When I think of podcast monetization I like to consider two approaches:
The Direct Method – talking specifically about your product and trying to promote it.
The Shovel Salesperson Method – Say what?? Ok, bare with me a minute.
There is an old marketing saying that goes:
During a gold rush, the people who make the most money and not the ones digging for gold, but instead, are the people selling the shovels.
I would encourage you all to start thinking like a shovel salesperson!
To think of it another way, I also like to think of this as what I call the “Hip Hop Method.”
A typical hip-hop song is not just a song with an artist rapping along to a beat. It is also a huge cross-promotional marketing work of art. A hip hop song is not only a product in itself, but also a marketing statement for the entire univers of the artist or the record lable.
Think of it like a mixture of the gold AND the shovel AND the shovel salesperson!
It is not uncommon for a hip hop song to begin with a producer tag for the person who made the beat, then the rapper starts at the intro by calling themselves and maybe other artists on the song, then any number of products and services, record labels, fashion items, jewelry brands, cars, trucks, you name it are mentioned.
Sometimes this is purely based on the creative expression of the artist, sometimes it is intentional paid advertising and product placement.
A good podcaster is a lot like a hip hop artist, weaving endless cross-promotional opportunities for brands and networks.
Since we are talking about hip hop… let’s go a bit deeper and use music producer as an example.
Monetized Podcast Example: Hip Hop Producer & Beatmaker
Let’s say you are a music producer and your primary focus is selling hip-hop beats online. For this example, we will use the fictional name: DJ Fizzle.
You could of course start a podcast that specifically discusses your beats and try to use it to get artists to go to your online beat store and buy your beats. This is the direct method I mentioned before.
Unfortunately, by using this approach, you will most likely have a difficult time gaining followers or converting them to sales. The problem is that this approach is too direct, too micro and does not provide enough value for a wide demographic of listeners.
You will also run out of original topics to discuss, because basically every episode is focussed on you selling a particular beat.
Now, lets apply the shovel salesperson approach.
Instead of a podcast about your beats, let’s start a magazine-style podcast instead, including a magazine-style wordpress blog.
Let’s call it something like “This Week in Hip Hop” with your host DJ Fizzle. (I know, this name probably exists already, but if not, you should definitely snag it!)
As a topic, you will instead be discussing all the latest news in the hip hop world, including artists, music, the industry, culture, art, fashion, jewelry, etc. The goal would be to attract as many listeners (ideally hip hop artists who could potentially buy your beats) and grow a large hip hop industry following.
The way you monetize this for your beats is to make sure that each episode is a sponsored podcast, where you include advertisements to your beat store, as well as include your music in the podcast intro, outro etc.
This would also put you in a much better position to reach out to artists to interview them, which would give you and your products and services much more networking exposure without being too “up front” with your sales tactics.
Example of the Magazine Method: AR/VR Magazine
I have personally applied this Magazine style approach to several industries with great success. Yes, it is definitely more work, but the benefit is that instead of hyper-focusing on your primary product or service (in this case your beats) you suddenly open yourself up to being able to sell all sorts of things via the magazine.
You develop much more credibility for your personal brand and you create multiple revenue streams!
To summarize, you should now have a better understanding of the basic ways to monetize your podcast. This includes advertising, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, media partnerships, shelling shovels, and applying the magazine approach.
I hope you gained some valuable insights and as always, if you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch!
Need Help? Hire Me!
I offer professional podcast consulting and production services via our podcast network RobotSpaceship Studios. If you need someone to handle the production, graphics, marketing or just have a strategy session to help guide you through the process, contact me and let me know what you need. I would be happy to help!
Need help producing your podcast? RobotSpaceship Studios offers Podcast Consulting, Production Packages, Audio Editing, Graphic Design, and Marketing for all of your business Podcast Needs.
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Sean Earley is a marketing consultant, music producer, author, entrepreneur, artist, and host of the “Grow Your Digital Business Podcast.” He loves guitars, smoothies & helping entrepreneurs to become more successful.