There’s a lot of buzz these days about how to make money podcasting, and different ways to monetize a podcast.
And I don’t blame them… if you’re a podcaster, you want to monetize what you do.
But there are over 550,000 active podcasts streaming across the world.
- You can be one of them.
- You can monetize your podcast.
- You can build authority and develop your brand.
Just know that it’s a slow process to make money from podcasting.
Podcasting is no magic pill to gaining exposure and launching your online business, although once you’re well-established, it can be a great way to add additional value to your audience and promote your products.
John Lee Dumas makes $50k a month through podcast sponsorships and $200k-$300k a month selling his online courses and various affiliate offers.
John’s success didn’t happen overnight.
You can struggle for years and “fail” to get any real results.
It’s challenging to stand out among the hundreds of thousands of podcasters, but if you manage to overcome the obstacles, you can become part of a thriving industry.
Why the Podcasting Industry is Thriving
Podcasts get a high level of engagement.
Most podcast listeners listen to about 80% of a podcast episode once they hit play, according to a 2018 Infinite Dial Report.
Sponsors and advertisers love this!
It means that when they pay of ad-rolls, their ad will play while people are actually listening.
Note: This in-depth guide to making money from podcasting is over 5,000 words long, so you can check the table of contents below to jump to the section you’d like to dive in to more.
My favorite way to monetize a podcast is the first monetization strategy (which will also help you grow your email list faster than anything else you’ve ever tried before as proven by my Virtual Summit Mastery students).
How To Make Money From Podcasting In 2022 (And Beyond)
Part of John’s success with his podcast Entrepreneurs on Fire is that he publishes episodes like a maniac seven days a week.
He interviews top entrepreneurs and addresses pain points that speak directly to his audience.
Solving important problems for your listeners is a must.
It’s what keeps them coming back for more.
For your podcast to have any chance of being profitable, you’ll need to…
- Build genuine relationships with industry leaders and your audience.
- Build authority by associating yourself with knowledgeable people, quality products, and delivering helpful advice.
- Address the pain points that affect the happiness and wellbeing of your audience.
- Provide a ton of free value.
By the time you offer an upsell, recommend an affiliate product, or reach out to sponsors, your listeners will be so grateful that they’ll be begging to buy.
Your podcast can literally be about anything as long as it strongly resonates with enough people.
Ben Grundy and Aaron Wright have a wildly successful podcast called Mysterious Universe, where they cover topics like UFOs, paranormal events and conspiracy theories.
Mysterious Universe has been going strong for over a decade.
It currently gets 1 million downloads a month.
How to Get Started with Your Podcast
What will your podcast be about?
Before you get too excited about your ideas, check the iTunes Top 40 chart to see what’s already working.
Take note of:
- Subject matter
- How the shows are composed
- What types of products they promote
- The number of subscribers
Don’t expect for the listeners to start flooding in overnight…
…although there is a trick to making this happen, but more on this later..
Make a detailed audience persona of your ideal listeners:
- How do they make money?
- What do they do for fun?
- Do they have kids?
- Are they married?
- What are their passions?
- What stresses them out?
- How old are they?
Pay close attention to the comments your early listeners leave and take note of which show topics perform the best.
The faster you learn what appeals to your audience, the sooner you can address their pain points and develop a loyal following of 1,000 true fans.
The more you know about your listeners, the easier it will be to pick winning products and services.
There’s a lot of options out there for funding your podcast.
Here’s a few of the best ones (starting with the top list building and monetization strategy I personally love)…
1. Virtual Summits
Building an early fanbase for your podcast can be a slow and arduous process, but it doesn’t have to be.
Remember how I promised to share with you a little known secret that could your podcast with subscribers, that will help you make money podcasting a lot faster?
Well, here it is: VIRTUAL SUMMITS.
A virtual summit is a collection of webinar interviews that you conduct over several days.
As the host, you curate a couple dozen or so industry leaders and sell all-access passes to the event.
Anyone who opts in to your email list gets to watch the interviews on the scheduled air date for free.
Here are some of the benefits of virtual summits:
- Grow an email list
- Generate revenue
- Build authority
- Network with industry leaders
Use Virtual Summits to Grow Your Podcast
I struggled to get my Lifestyle Architects podcast off the ground for 18 months from 2013-2014.
I was also blogging to promote my personal brand, but traction was slow.
After a year-and-a-half of hard work I only had a few hundred email subscribers to show for it.
Then I discover the transformative power of virtual summits as, not only a marketing strategy, but as a full business model.
The month after I launched The Branding Summit, I generated roughly $40k in revenue and grew my email list to 3,600 subscribers.
Podcast-to-Summit Success Stories
Marie Grace Berg had been podcasting for two years without seeing much traction, then she launched her first virtual summit and things really took off.
She made more money from her first summit than she did with over 500 podcast episodes!
Marie has made well over 6 figures from the two summits she’s hosted, and she’s not the only one to see these types of results.
Chandler Bolt has a successful blog and podcast called the Self-Publishing School, where he teaches writers and entrepreneurs how to make money publishing and selling books.
Just look at what his first two virtual summits did for his online business:
- Brought in 60K email subscribers.
- $700K in revenue.
- Exploded his blog and podcast into a multi-million dollar online business.
Just think of what an email list that big could do for your podcast.
2. Influencer Relationships / Joint Venture Partnerships
Build meaningful relationships and partner with influencers in your industry.
Just like any business, relationships are a powerful element of any podcast.
In fact, networking is the number one reason why most online entrepreneurs decide to start a podcast.
Reach out to other podcasters and bloggers in your niche and provide value.
One of the most effective ways to do this on a large scale is by hosting a virtual summit.
You get to rapidly make connections with dozens of major players,
you provide significant value to them in the process.
People love participating in virtual summits because it’s free publicity and content promotion.
Each guest gets exposure to the viewers that other participants pull in.
All for doing just one interview!
It’s a difficult deal to pass up on.
Just make sure to reach out to guests that will be most relevant to your audience.
Your audience couldn’t care less about “A-listers” if their content doesn’t provide value and solve their pain points.
And after your virtual summit you can continue to create rewarding partnerships with influencers.
3. Online Courses
Most podcasts generate revenue through sponsors or by selling their own products.
Online courses are one of the many information products you can sell.
There are two main benefits to creating and selling your own course:
- Unlike physical products, you don’t have to worry about shipping.
- Unlike affiliate sales, you keep all the revenue (unless it’s a partner promoting your course).
- Unlike sponsorships, you don’t have to continually hunt down opportunities.
By creating your own course, you guarantee that the content will be highly relevant to your audience.
You’ll never run out of stock.
Creating Your Online Course
Are you scratching your head trying to come up with ideas for your first course?
Look no further than the content you already have.
Your podcast episodes are full of useful content that can be packaged into your course material.
Ask your listeners what topics they want to learn more about.
Create information products specifically for them.
This is part of the beauty of having a loyal audience ̶ you already know that your products are going to sell before you release them.
John Lee Dumas created his premium course Podcast Guest Mastery after surveying his audience about what type of course they’d be interested in buying.
He’s now sold over a million dollars of that product.
An online course pairs best with podcasts that are already geared towards educating listeners:
- Making music
Packaging the information in an easy-to-follow online course makes the knowledge itself more accessible.
People are willing to pay extra for that.
You can easily enhance your course by recording actionable expert interviews and saving the bonus content for the course.
Andrew Warner does this with his Mixergy podcast.
The extra content is used as in-depth techniques for Mixergy Premium.
Don’t try to hit a gigantic home run with you first info-product.
Keep the project small and make sure it provides incredible value.
Think of your first info-product as warming up your audience so that you can upsell them on your first really big premium course.
You may even want to consider giving your first info-product away for free.
Your audience will feel almost guilty if they don’t buy your premium product when it comes out.
Some of the most profitable podcasters sell their own products:
- Michael Hyatt: Platform University, Best Year Ever, and various of other training programs
- Cliff Ravenscraft: Podcasting A to Z
- Lou Mongello: unofficial Disney products
- John Lee Dumas: Podcasters’ Paradise and other training programs
5. Premium Content
Give the bulk of your content away for free.
Your biggest fans will always want more, and they can have it for a small monthly fee.
Premium content can include any bonuses and extras you want.
Common premium content includes things like:
- Behind-the-scenes extras
- Early-access to episodes
- Ad-free episodes
- Live Q&A sessions
- Back-catalogue of episodes
- Bonus interviews
- Exclusive community
Ben and Aaron, the co-hosts of Mysterious Universe, make a substantial profit form their premium content program called Mysterious Universe Plus.
They charge $9/month for extra content with no ads.
The Daily Wire offers video version of their podcast, a tumbler, live episodes and other bonuses for listeners who purchase and annual subscription.
The annual subscription model isn’t as common as it once was, but podcasts like NPR and Keith and the Girl still find it profitable.
The Infusioncast podcast with Joshua Millage teaches people how to optimize Infusionsoft so that the application and their website run well together.
Their free content puts listeners right on the verge of being able to master Infusionsoft.
Once they’re hooked on the free podcast episodes, they’re more than willing to pay to join their subscriber community and Infusioncast Confidential Facebook group.
The podcast content answers the what and why of Infusionsoft.
The premium content answers the how.
5. Promote a Membership Site
A membership site is an entire website of premium content.
Membership groups allow listeners to become more deeply engaged in your community.
Nick Quah of the Hot Pod podcast runs a membership group called the Hot Pod Members Only Forum.
Membership costs $3 to $7 per month.
Not a bad price to get access to actionable, expert-level advice.
The Podcast Host started the Podcast Launch Mastermind in June 2018.
Members of there Podcast Launch Academy get 50% off (discounted from $395).
The Podcast Host ran the mastermind once a week for six weeks.
Each 1.5-hour session combined group discussions with Q&As.
They ended up getting great feedback from their members!
Don McAllister of ScreenCastsOnline.com has been running his podcast and membership site since 2005.
He offers detailed advice and tutorials about Mac and iOS applications.
He was one of the first ever podcasters to offer a premium podcast service built around the membership site model.
The vast majority of traffic to ScreenCastsOnline’s membership site comes from his podcast.
Don charges $8/month if you pay monthly, or $72 for a yearly subscription.
Both membership packages get you:
- Unlimited Access to ScreenCastsOnline Video Library
- Two new tutorials per week
- SCO Members Apps for Apple TV, iPad & iPhone
- SCO Monthly Magazine for iPad & iPhone
- Downloadable Tutorials
They have an extensive library of video tutorials on a wide range of topics, including…
- and many more
Prior to launching the subscriptions site, ScreenCastsOnline operated on the crowdfunding model.
More on crowdfunding later…
6. Coaching & Consulting
Hardcore podcast fans may want a more personal touch, and they’re often willing to pay for it.
Michelle Evans hosts the Breaking Free podcast.
After less than a year of podcasting, she was getting between 4 to 15 emails a week from people who wanted to hire her for 1-on-1 coaching.
70% of the people who inquired become clients.
Coaching and consulting can be an upgrade to a paid subscription or a stand-alone service.
If you already have a consulting business, a podcast can be a great way to promote your services and get more people signed up for free consultation calls.
7. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can be an entire source of revenue on its own, or it can be a great way to supplement the income coming from your own products.
Pat Flynn sells courses of his own, like Smart from Scratch and Power Up Podcasting, but a substantial part of his income comes from being an affiliate for the website hosting company Bluehost.
They pay their affiliates $65 per new customer sign-up, and their entry-level service is only a $2.95 buy-in with a 30-day money-back guarantee (From what I’ve heard Pat gets even higher commission from them since he sends them a lot of sign ups each month).
It’s an easy sell!
When I hosted my first virtual summit after struggling with my podcast, a significant portion of my $40K in revenue came from affiliate sales.
In fact, to this day I generate 6 figures in affiliate commissions each and every year on auto pilot pretty much.
The best part is, most podcast content is evergreen, so you can continue to promote the same affiliate deals on old episodes for months or even years.
As your show grow in popularity, the passive income from affiliate sales can grow exponentially.
Other potential affiliate programs include:
- Audible: $15 per sign-up
- Amazon: 3%-8% commission
- Airbnb: $25 account credit per sign-up
- Ting: $25 account credit
- Website Magazine: $2 per sign-up
As you can see, some affiliate deals are better than others.
Services like Lasso can turn long, obscure-sounding URLs into short, memorable affiliate links that you can recite to your listeners.
How to Find Affiliate Deals
Reach out directly to the influencers in your industry who have courses and other information products that can provide value to your audience.
Most podcasters and bloggers are excited to have people who are willing to work as their affiliate.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved ̶ more sales for them and extra income for you.
You can also promote software and other resources you’re using in your business that would be of value to your audience.
Although I personally don’t go out and search for affiliate offers there, if you have no clue where to go you can find affiliate opportunities on sites like ShareASale and ClickBank.
8. High End Masterminds
Masterminds have several benefits:
- They encourage a sense of community amongst your listeners.
- Members feel intimately engaged with the content and will be more likely to buy future products.
- Members are able to receive individual support and get all of their questions answered quickly.
- Masterminds can generate significant revenue.
Premium masterminds can fetch a high price, often between $10k-$50k for annual memberships.
You need to build up a solid audience and email list first before you can hope to make a high-end mastermind successful.
It takes a lot of trust to invest that much money.
James Wedmore charges $25k/year for membership to his high-level mastermind called The Inner Circle, but it didn’t just happen overnight.
James has been an ambitious online entrepreneur for over 9 years.
He’s launched several profitable courses, including Video Traffic Academy and the 48hr Film School, which teach businesses how to leverage the power of online video.
James currently hosts the Mind Your Business Podcast and sells his most recent signature program, Business by Design, off the back end.
His personal brand is now a multiple seven-figure business.
Do you sell a service that’s relevant to your podcast.
For example, you may have a business podcast and are also a web developer.
If you have a marketable skill that solves the pain points of your podcast listeners, by all means promote it on your podcast.
Denise Griffitts gets between 4k to 6k listens a week on her podcast, Your Partner In Success.
She doesn’t monetize it directly, but many of her listeners reach out to hire her for her web development and virtual assistant skills.
While Denise generates business passively, you can always take a more aggressive route with monetization, like John Jantsch from the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.
John also has a book and consultancy by the same name.
He promotes both of them through his podcast.
When he was first getting started, he got early traction by interviewing big names like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki.
Rubbing elbows with big names allowed him to be seen as an authority in the eyes (and ears) of his audience.
His consulting business has grown by 500% since starting the podcast, expanding his network and building multiple six-figure sponsorships.
Try offering exclusive discounts that are only available to your subscribers.
Get a solid feel for your audience so that your self promotion doesn’t come across too tacky.
10. Podcast Sponsorships
Having companies sponsor your podcast is one of the lowest hassle ways to monetize your podcast.
Popular podcasts like the $100 MBA Show, Entrepreneur on Fire, and The Art of Charm make thousands of dollars a month through sponsorships.
Some podcasters stick to just one company.
Onnit is an natural supplement company that sponsors many podcasters in the health, fitness, and self-improvement niches.
Onnit compensates their podcasters well, and the products themselves are high-quality and easy to stand behind.
How Do Sponsors Determine Pay?
Every company sponsor scales their rates differently, and there’s usually room for negotiation.
Many companies use a CPM (cost per impression) model that goes something like this:
- $18 per 1k downloads for a 15-second pre-roll
- $25 per 1k downloads for a 60-second mid-roll
A podcast that gets 3,000 downloads per episode can earn $54 for a 15-second pre-roll and $75 for a mid-roll slot.
As your listenership grows and you produce episodes more frequently, you’ll have a lot more available slots to sell to sponsors.
You can see you your income can grow in a hurry.
Lewis Howes of the School of Greatness podcast is constantly approached by companies with sponsorship offers.
His podcast gets over 800k downloads a month!
When you’re putting up numbers that large, you get to work with the companies that resonate with your audience and pay you the most money.
How to Find Sponsors for Your Show
I recommend you wait until you have at least 3,000 downloads per episode before you start reaching out to sponsors.
Before you start approaching sponsors,
- Know your numbers: use tools like Blubrry Stats.
- Know your audience: the products and services you promote have to speak to them.
- Have an incredible podcast that oozes professionalism.
You have several options for finding new advertising opportunities:
- Libsyn: Choose them as your podcast host and they’ll occasionally send you deals.
- Adopter Media: Podcast advertising broker.
- Ad Results Media: Podcast advertising broker that can bring in bigger advertisers.
- AdvertiseCast: Advertising marketplace where you can create your own listing.
- True Native Media: Podcast advertising broker.
- Midroll: Podcast advertising broker.
Ad networks take care of a lot of the work for you:
- Negotiating rates
- Finding advertisers
- Getting the script
Most ad networks require you to have a minimum audience of 5k to 10k listeners per month before they’ll work with you.
I’d suggest reaching out directly to companies and only promoting the products and services that you truly love.
These will be the best fit for your audience and will generate the most revenue. These ad companies take a 20%-50% commission, so it’s always best to reach out directly to advertisers when you can.
Book sales can be yet another way to monetize your podcast, but most podcasters struggle to make them a substantial source of revenue.
For most podcasters, books are just another way to offer free value.
Giving away ebooks can nurture relationships with your listeners and help you develop a loyal following.
Self-publishing Through Your Podcast
Kindle publishing is getting more difficult to succeed at every day.
The market is continually flooded with new books in every niche (most of them garbage), but you can leverage your podcast and give yourself an edge.
Use your podcast audience to boost initial sales and get positive reviews.
According to a recent study by Edison Research, podcast listeners tend to share what they’ve learned on social media:
- 94% of podcast listeners are active on social media (compared to the national average of 81%).
- 52% of podcast listeners follow brands on social media (compared to the national average of 31%).
These people will help spread the word about your upcoming book, just make sure to hype them up about your book release.
Amazon’s algorithms heavily weight your book’s sales performance during the first few days of its release.
If your sales are low in the first week, it will hurt your rankings in future search results.
On the other hand, if you sell a lot of copies in the firsts few days, your book will continue to rank at the top of Amazon’s search results.
Let your podcast audience know that they can get a discounted copy if they buy within the first few days of your book launch.
Record an Audiobook
Not every podcaster is a writer, but every podcaster is a talker.
If writing isn’t your thing, you can always record an audiobook instead.
It’s a no-brainer, really.
You already have the equipment sitting right in front of you.
Audiobooks are thriving in today’s publishing industry, growing faster than any other format.
In 2016 alone, they accounted for $2.1 billion in sales.
Even Print Books Benefit from Podcasts
Pat Flynn wrote the Washington Street Journal best-seller, Will It Fly?, and Chris Ducker recently published the Rise of the Youpreneur.