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People love podcasts; they’re consuming more of them each year, and the popularity of podcasts is expected to keep growing. The meteoric growth of podcast audiences over the past five years is attracting advertisers in droves, and podcast advertising revenue is predicted to hit $500 million in 2020.
Between devoted listeners and businesses looking for promotion, podcasting opens up a world of opportunity for those looking for a potentially lucrative side hustle.
If you’re ready to claim your slice of the podcasting ad spend or take advantage of the unusually intimate relationship that (literally) speaking to your audience can build, then take a look at the following ways to monetize a podcast:
Sponsorship (advertising) is a relatively straightforward means of generating an income from a podcast: receive payment to promote someone else’s business.
There are several ways to find sponsors for your podcast including referrals through your podcast host, selling ad spots yourself, or waiting for sponsors to come to you.
However you find sponsors, you should be ready to show them what they will get for their money. Sponsorship is often calculated based on Cost Per Mile (CPM), which means you receive a fee for every thousand downloads, so keeping track of your download stats per episode is important. Even more persuasive to sponsors is the ability to demonstrate to sponsors that your audience is engaged and likely to take action on your recommendations, which can be done by recommending a resource (free or premium) with a trackable link.
For sponsorship to be an effective money-spinner, you’ll need a large, engaged audience. However, even if you don’t have that (which is going to be the case for most podcasts at the beginning), sponsorship can be combined with other monetization methods to generate a healthy podcasting income.
Your own products or services
Instead of promoting other businesses, you can use a podcast to sell your own products or services. This approach works well if you can build trust with a niche audience and then offer them something they want or need.
The product or service you sell can be anything your audience might find appealing, including eBooks, video tutorials, online courses or consultancy services; you’re limited only by your imagination. For example, Elsie Escobar sells an app that goes with her podcast, Elsie’s Yoga Class; while Michael Hyatt uses his podcast to promote his own premium WordPress theme.
If you don’t have anything of your own to sell, you can always take advantage of affiliate marketing programs to bring in money through a podcast.
The key to earning good affiliate income is to find products you believe in that are relevant to your audience. For example, Daniel J. Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast (a podcast about podcasting) made $1,200 in Amazon affiliate income in one month through recommending podcast-related products such as microphones and mixers.
If you find a product you love (and think your audience would love too), but the company behind it doesn’t have an affiliate program, you can negotiate a coupon code deal with them instead. With a coupon code, the company can track sales that come from your recommendation and, in return, you get a portion of those sales.
If you make exceptional content, there will be people willing to pay for it, and many successful podcasters ask their audiences for direct financial support.
Fans can contribute money to a podcast in many different ways, with varying levels of incentives. They can give money through a donation button on your podcast website, provide ongoing support through sites like Patreon (often in return for rewards), pay for a subscription to your content or pay for premium content.
The best option for you to receive money directly from your audience will depend on the type of content you’re producing, as well as your audience. But as a general rule, providing some incentives for support is more likely to get results. Even something as simple as a mention on the podcast or being given the title of producer can be used as an incentive, which is what Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak do for donors of certain amounts on the No Agenda Show podcast.
Turn your podcast into gold
Whether you’re into storytelling like Aaron Mahnke of the Lore Podcast or picking the brains of switched-on entrepreneurs like Sophia Amoruso of Girlboss Radio, a podcast is an ideal way to turn content into cash. So if you’re in need of a side hustle, why not grab a mic and try out one or more of the above monetization methods to turn your podcast into gold?