6 Techniques on How to Monetize Your Podcasts

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Having a podcast can have many business benefits, but making money may not be a crucial focus for podcasters yet. In light of National Podcast Day Co-founder and CEO of Quill Fatima Zaidi shares the importance podcasting can have for your brand and how you can monetize your efforts. She explores how podcasters can make use of a variety of techniques to monetize on this emerging trend, from sponsorships and product endorsements to affiliate marketing and crowdfunding.

With International Podcast Day just around the corner on September 30th, it’s important to highlight the benefits of not only starting a podcast—whether it’s for your business or as an individual—but also taking the time to grow and monetize your efforts. Popular podcasts reportedly bring in up to $1 million USD per year in revenue, but how exactly can you ensure a return on the considerable investment needed to launch and maintain a successful podcast?

Statistics show that podcasting is here to stay, with a 15% increase in the number of listeners of monthly podcast between 2008 and 2018 and an 86% year over year increase in U.S. podcastOpens a new window ad revenue in 2017Opens a new window . With time, more and more brands are waking up to the idea that podcasts are a worthwhile medium to reach potential consumers. And podcasters can make use of a variety of techniques to monetize this emerging trend, from sponsorships and product endorsements to affiliate marketing and crowdfunding.

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1. Sponsorship

One of the most important methods of monetizing a podcast is by securing external sponsorship. In order to do this though, you first need to reach out to companies—but which ones? Start by identifying the brands that you yourself use and admire. If you listen to other podcasts, check out who sponsors them. Don’t worry if the brands you identify don’t follow a set pattern or aren’t immediately related to the topics you cover in your own podcast. You’d be surprised to learn that some brands aren’t picky when it comes to marketing opportunities!

You also don’t have to rely solely on big household names in your sponsorship efforts. Consider local companies, individual business owners and smaller brands. You can also make use of your personal network—ask a few of your fellow entrepreneurs if they’re interested in appearing in or being promoted on your showOpens a new window . You lose nothing by reaching out to them with a proposal; in fact, you might even get to strengthen some of your existing relationships.

2. Product Recommendations

By its nature, the relationship between listener and podcaster is intimate and based on trust. You literally have their ear! Hopefully, with time, your listeners will start to feel close to you as their host and once this happens, you can begin monetizing your podcast through product endorsementsOpens a new window . However, it is vital to retain the trust placed in you by your listeners. Do your research on a product before recommending it, seek feedback from your audience, address any customer service-related issues and, most importantly, keep their best interest at the forefront of your mind before making any recommendation.

3. Crowdfunding

Thanks to the phenomenon of crowdfunding you can also be sponsored by your own listeners. Consumers paying for online content is nothing new—just check out Patreon, an online crowdfunding membership platform that provides a subscription content service where avid fans can sponsor creators on a one-time or ongoing basis. Other crowdfunding platforms include GoFundMe or Kickstarter. Alternatively, some podcasters choose to solicit donations directly by other means.

In either case, the crowdfunding model encourages your listeners to contribute directly to your show. You can do this by providing exclusive content, such as additional information, content and interviews. You can even build your own fan community by connecting listeners more closely with you and with each other. Leslie Krongold, the creator and voice behind the chronic health condition-oriented podcast Glass Half Full, has a GoFundMe page where she collects donations. Crowdfunding is an effective way of offsetting the costs associated with setting up and running a successful podcast.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Another method of making money as a podcaster is by developing an affiliate partnership with other companies or brands. This way, you earn a cut of any income generated by consumers who discover your partner’s products or services as a direct result of your podcast. A good example is the partnership between The Undisclosed, a true-crime podcast, and Squarespace. Listeners of the podcast receive a 10% savings code when using Squarespace services and for every code used, the The Undisclosed team receives a portion of the earnings. You can also include affiliate links to particular products or services mentioned during the episode in any show notes you give your listeners access to.

Alternatively, you can earn a percentage of ad-driven sales by taking part in a pre-existing affiliate marketing program such as the Amazon Affiliate Program or Blubrry Affiliate Program. Third-party companies like CJ Affiliate and Ratuken Marketing can also help by connecting podcasters or other content publishers with specific advertisers.

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5. Repurposing or Beta-Testing Content

The creation of good, original content is both time-consuming and resource-heavy. But you can make your content work harder for you by repurposing it for a different medium. Why not recycle that podcast episode as a social media or blog post? Or record and transcribe the episode and turn it into an online newsletter or e-book. On the other hand, if you have plans for an upcoming TV segment or to write a best-selling book or novel, you can use your podcast as a way of beta-testing your content beforehand. You already have a captive audience—make use of your podcast as a way of soundboarding new ideas or generating content for your future projects.

6. Live Shows and Branded Merchandise

For a lucky few podcasters, the popularity of their shows explodes to a point where they are able to monetize by selling tickets to live shows. Consumers of podcasts that have gone viral are often willing to pay to watch live podcast shows such as those presented by Pod Save America, which sells tickets to shows recorded in venues all across the United States. Another popular podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, which details the strange goings-on in a fictional desert town, twice sold out shows at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle. They also sold 800 seats at $30 each at that year’s PodCon, netting the podcast team USD $50,000. Other popular podcasts make money by creating and selling branded merchandise, such as clothing items, mugs, stickers and accessories. The creators of two of the most popular podcasts worldwide, This American Life and Serial, offer a wide variety of branded merchandise available for fans to purchase from their online store.