9 Podcast Monetization Techniques for Podcasters to Boost Revenue

9 podcast monetization techniques for podcasters to boost revenue
March 28, 2023 By / In Monetization

So, you’ve built up a sizable listening audience for your podcast. The next logical consideration is podcast monetization. You might have started your podcast because you are passionate about a unique topic or really enjoy sharing stories. Once you have a devoted fanbase, however, why wouldn’t you try and turn your passion into a paying job?

There are lots of different ways you can make money through your podcast, from simple donations to signing up to advertising networks. This blog will take you through some of the most common methods of podcast monetization.

1. What Does It Mean to Monetize Your Podcast?

Podcast monetization is about turning your content into a source of revenue. To do this, you will usually need a substantial listening audience per episode of several thousand people. Having said that, if you can identify a niche, specialized area that will attract a dedicated paying audience, it’s still possible to make a reasonable income with downloads of around 1,000 listeners or so per episode.

How do podcasts make money? There are two broad categories of podcast monetization to consider: direct podcast monetization, such as paid memberships, and indirect podcast monetization, such as affiliate marketing.

2. How Many Views Do You Need To Monetize A Podcast?

That depends on your podcast monetization strategy and the channel you’re using. On YouTube, for example, you need 4,000 valid public watch hours in the previous year as well as a minimum of 1,000 subscribers to qualify for their partner program. The Spotify podcast monetization requirements, meanwhile, are simple things like having a title, description, cover art and a minimum quality of sound.

3. How Many Downloads Does It Take To Monetize A Podcast?

Again, this depends on several factors, but a general rule of thumb is that you should aim for around 1,000 listeners per episode for niche, in-demand content that attracts paid subscribers. If your audience is more mainstream and you’re relying on advertising networks, you will probably need at least 5,000 listeners per episode. You can use podcast monetization calculators like this one to give you a rough estimate of how much money you can make based on the number of downloads.

4. How to Monetize Your Podcast

How to Monetize Your Podcast

4.1 Cultivate Sponsorship Deals

Sponsorship can be one of the most lucrative ways to generate income from your podcast. Usually, the deal will involve plugging a particular brand or product in exchange for a fee. This can take place pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll. If you’re a frequent listener of podcasts, you’ve probably heard these spiels quite a lot. They tend to follow a similar format: “This episode is brought to you by XXX, the leading brand for XXX”, etc. 

Sponsorship deals don’t necessarily require you to have a large audience, though some may be predicated upon a certain number of regular listeners. Instead, a company may choose to sponsor your podcast if they think you are able to reach some of its core consumers. For example, if you have a podcast about cycling that has a dedicated base of enthusiastic cyclists, a bike brand might choose to sponsor your podcast in order to reach potential buyers of their products.

4.2 Create Paid Memberships Tiers

Create Paid Memberships Tiers

Paid memberships allow you to make money from people who love your show directly. Payments are usually taken monthly or annually, and the price can vary widely. Most memberships start at around $5 a month and top out at around $20. However, if you think you’ve got highly desirable, must-have content, you can certainly charge more. When setting the price, take into account how often you are releasing episodes and the effort that goes into researching and recording each one. You want to make sure you’re being compensated accordingly.

One of the benefits of membership tiers is you can stagger the levels of payment. Really dedicated listeners might be willing to fork over a higher fee for access to exclusive content, private chat groups and merchandise, while more casual listeners will probably only go for the basic podcast subscription. Additionally, if you predominantly derive income from membership, you can better predict your regular income. If you’re looking for a simple example of how paid membership can function, take a look at the Spotify podcast monetization program. Originally launched in 2021, it allows podcasters to mark episodes as subscribers only, adding a layer of exclusivity for those who have a paid membership.

4.3 Sell Your Podcast Merchandise

Everyone loves a bit of merch, particularly if it’s for something that’s trendy or that they especially like. Some people even buy products for podcasts they’ve never listened to to be part of the zeitgeist. Not only does selling merchandise make you money, but it also builds a relationship with your audience. Plus, it’s a useful bit of passive marketing for your show.

The most popular podcast merchandise is usually apparel, particularly T-shirts and hoodies. You can also sell simple but generally useful things like tote bags, mugs, and water bottles. Consider tailoring the merch to your podcast topic if possible. For example, if you have a podcast about gaming, mouse pads, and other computer-related items are a natural fit.

Of course, selling merchandise can complicate your offering, as you’ll have to create a web shop, find a reliable manufacturer, and ensure reasonable delivery times. If you have enough interest in your podcast, however, it can be a handy additional revenue stream.

4.4 Offer Premium Episodes

Similar to membership tiers, premium episodes allow you to monetize your listeners directly. There are a couple of different ways to approach this. First, you could charge a fee for episodes that have particularly desirable content, such as a high-profile interview or a live recorded show. Alternatively, you could offer two versions of the same episode but release the premium episode earlier or without ads.

Some podcasters offer the pure audio version of their podcast for free but charge for the video version or for a live stream of the recording. These kinds of extras give a more intimate insight into the making of the podcast and encourage your dedicated listeners to splurge a little more for more exclusive access.

Another example of how to sell premium episodes is Dan Carlin’s Hardcore Histories. Each episode of the podcast is usually priced at $2.99, but there are also compilations on different topics sold for a bundle price. Additionally, some episodes are discounted to free to entice new listeners and give them a flavor of the style.

4.5 Join an Advertising Network

Join an Advertising Network

Advertising networks are essentially bridges between podcasters and advertisers. These agencies alleviate the need for you to seek out your own sponsors at the cost of a percentage of your profits.

How much money can you make from a podcast? Well, that depends on how many listeners you have per episode. Most networks follow a cost-per-mille (CPM) model, where a certain fee is agreed upon per 1,000 impressions. The industry average is around $18 per thousand listeners for 30-second ads and $25 per thousand listeners for 60-second ads. Depending on the company, these fees may be bracketed. For instance, AdvertiseCast charges customers $26 per thousand listeners up to 9,999 listeners, plus an additional $24 per thousand listeners once the ad reaches 10,000 and above people.

4.6 Use Affiliate Marketing for Promotions

Affiliate marketing is a common form of revenue across digital platforms. In general, this model involves content producers being paid by the number of leads they generate for a company, which is tracked using an analysis of clickthroughs. Obviously, that doesn’t work for audible content like podcasts, where people aren’t able to click on links as they listen. Instead, podcasters tell their audience to visit a certain web address that is specific to them. For example, if XYZ has an affiliate marketing agreement with Podcast ABC, the host of the podcast might tell their listeners to visit Xyz.org/podcastabc.

Just as with advertising networks, there are also affiliate marketing agencies that can act as middlemen between podcasters and brands. Depending on the type of affiliate marketing arrangement, you might get paid per click, paid per lead, or paid per sale.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of affiliate marketing: unattached (you have no connection to the product being sold), related (there is some connection between your brand and the product), and involved (implying you have used the product yourself and are recommending it on that basis). Particularly in podcasts, however, because you are often sharing the link in your own voice, any affiliate marketing can come across as a kind of personal recommendation. Bear in mind that, as a result, your audience may hold you to account for the type and quality of the product you are directing them towards.

4.7 Share Audio/Video Content on YouTube

While podcasting began as an audio format, it has evolved in recent years to incorporate video content as well. Joe Rogan, for example, shares videos of all his podcast recordings. It should come as no surprise that the most popular place for podcasters to post video content is YouTube. (Incidentally, this is also why there is currently no direct Google podcast monetization policy for Google Podcasts.) Alternatively, you can just share your pure audio content on YouTube and use a static image.

There are several benefits to broadcasting your podcasts on YouTube. Firstly, it builds a more personal rapport with your audience. Secondly, YouTube has a huge number of users (more than 2 billion active globally), allowing you to reach a wider audience. Thirdly, video is the most shared form of content, yet again helping you to reach a broader listenership. 

Podcasts on YouTube are monetized the same way as other content on the site. You can earn ad revenue from display, overlay, and video ads, garner a portion of a YouTube Premium subscriber’s fee, or prompt people to sign up for a membership to your channel, which provides them exclusive perks.

4.8 Host Live Podcasting Events

Host Live Podcasting Events

Another way to nurture your relationship with your audience while also adding a further revenue stream is to host a live podcast event. This is exactly what it sounds like to take your show from an audio experience to an in-person experience. Your live event could be as simple as a normal recording of the show with a few questions from the audience at the end. Alternatively, you could make it a discussion, a workshop, or a lecture on a particular topic, depending on the subject of your podcast.

If you are recording, one of the most important things is to make sure you have the right equipment. For people at home, part of the attraction of listening to a live podcast event can be that it has a different feeling to regular episodes. However, you don’t want your voice to be drowned out by the crowd or other ambient noise. It’s usually best to opt for a cardioid dynamic microphone to ensure the recording largely picks up your speaking, with a little audience sound for texture.

People attend podcasting events because they are already fans of the show. As such, you’ll need to have a devoted following before your branch out into live recordings.

4.9 Ask for Donations from Listeners

The easiest way to monetize your podcast is to ask for donations. While not everyone will give money, if you have a substantial listening base, you’re bound to make some dough. To encourage people to donate, ensure you slip in a quick mention in each of your episodes about the time and effort it takes to make the show. This doesn’t have to be pushy but just a friendly remark reminding people that if they want to kick a few bucks your way, they can.

Setting up donations is very easy, regardless of how you go about it. The simplest thing is to add a PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay button to your website that people can click on to donate. Alternatively, you can set up a page on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, and let listeners know they can donate there.

Donations mean you don’t have to worry about selling ads or finding sponsors. On the other hand, it can be a very unreliable source of income. Plus, unlike paid membership tiers, people are less likely to pay repeatedly.

5. FAQs

  • How do you monetize a podcast?

Either through direct podcast monetization or indirect podcast monetization. Direct monetization includes things like donations, sponsorship deals, and membership tiers. Indirect monetization refers to things like merchandise, affiliate marketing, and live events.

  • What is the best podcast platform for monetization?

Anchor and Podbean are two of the most popular podcast-hosting platforms. They both offer promotion tools to build your audience as well as monetization options centering on paid ads and premium content.

  • How many followers do you need to make money on a podcast?

This is a tricky question because followers don’t necessarily equate to listening hours or downloads, which are what most attract advertisers and sponsors. It also depends on what monetization strategy you choose. Aiming for 5,000 listeners is a good place to start, though if you have particularly avid fans, you might be able to earn a decent monthly amount with fewer people.

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