podcasts continue to explode in popularity, more and more brand, businesses and entrepreneurs are jumping at the opportunity to create a podcast. It’s more important than ever for all entities to think of themselves more like a media company, instead of a business, and to put out interesting content around their expertise.
We are just beginning to understand the value of building influence online but from a branding perspective, it’s vital that brands leverage themselves as the experts in their industry, build valuable audiences, connect with influencers in their space and build exposure for their brand.
One thing people haven’t quite wrapped their mind around is how to monetize your podcast. Now I do want to start with this disclaimer: If you don’t need to monetize your podcast, then don’t do it. Why not? The longer you can wait to leverage your audience for sponsorships, the more engaged your audience will be. If you have decided to begin monetizing your podcast, here are some effective ways to do it.
- Sponsorships– This is the most common and popular way to monetize a podcast. Find a brand or company to sponsor it! You hear this all the time when a podcast host will do a read and say something along the lines of “The best podcast ever (title) sponsored by Oberto Beef Jerky.” Live reads are becoming more and more popular because the podcast hosts are speaking directly to the audience that is already engaged in what they have to say. Some models may pay based off branding, but unless you have a big name that sells itself, most advertisers will want to pay based on impressions aka downloads.
- Sales– Yes! Most people don’t think about this but there is nothing more powerful than relationship building. While you want to interview relevant guests that will be consistent with your show content, consider interviewing guests that you may want to do business with. There is no better way to engage a prospect than to offer them free exposure while allowing them to share about their business and profession.
- Listener Offer– If you have started a brand around your business, you likely have something to sell. Whether it’s client marketing services or construction equipment, if you have an audience, they have taken some interest in the topics you are discussing. The last thing you want to do is bombard your audience with offers and sales pitches. That is the quickest way to lose the attention and trust of your audience. However, it’s only a bad time to sell if you are selling a bad product. Feel free to offer clients a discount code or free consultation which could certainly lead to business.
4.Build a mailing list– Your audience was already comfortable enough to subscribe to your channel. If your content is good enough, they won’t have a problem joining your email list. This doesn’t mean you should bombard their inbox with offers. If nothing else, just use it to alert them when new podcasts come out. For me, this is number one on my list as I have been able to build an email list that can sustain enough subscribers to rank a podcast in the top 100 for up to a year without having to market other products.
- Free + Upsell– In today’s noisy market, you better learn to provide value or you will never be able to break through. Long gone are the days of withholding your best information because there are no “secrets.” Give all of your good secrets away and your audience will love you! This doesn’t necessarily mean they will do business with you, but if you provide enough value, listeners will feel the urge to reciprocate. The nice thing about people, is that most won’t be willing to execute even if you give them the golden ticket. Most people don’t have the fortitude to put in the hard work and deal with the bumps and bruises. If you are giving them great ideas, they will feel compelled to enlist your help.
- Brand Building– This is probably my favorite option and to be honest, I would be lying if I said I was writing these articles and building a name in podcasting for any reason other than branding. I personally have a tough time asking for money, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I feel if you do great work that brings people value while also building a brand so that people can actually find you, you will always be able to monetize eventually based on brand. This option takes a lot longer than the others on this list, but if you want to win long term, this is by far the best option.
Other ways to monetize a podcast
The above ways are the most common, and in my opinion, the best ways to monetize a podcast. However, let’s get a little creative with some other ideas. My goal here is to provide as many options as I can. What you do with them is up to you:
Selling Products– Do you have a book or an ebook? A software that will help your industry? Whether is is a tangible product like a book or an online product like an ebook, selling a product is and always has been one of the most effective ways to make money (duh). If you don’t have a physical product of your own, consider reaching out to others to partner and sell products you believe in.
Mastermind Slots– I’m a big believer in giving away your best secrets, like I mentioned previously, but if you have decided you want to withold some information for paying clients, a podcast is a great way to do so. Think of the podcast as your 15-minute sales pitch! If the content is good enough and people believe you, you will certainly be able to convert a few people into paying customers.
Donations– I’m also not one for handouts, but if times are tough or you just need some sort of income to keep the show going, avid listeners are likely to do what they can to help. It may only be $5-10 but if you have thousands of subscribers, it could certainly pay the cable bill. If you are going to ask for donations though, you better not let your audience see you driving a Mercedes a week later.
Re-purpose content– Are you a fan of a celebrity or influencer? Consider repackaging content that is already successful and putting your own spin on it. I’m not suggesting stealing their content and putting your name on it, but a podcast discussing the yesterdays episode of Ask Gary Vee and running ads against fans of Gary Vee, could be pretty successful.
Sell an App– Have a podcast around fitness? Maybe consider building a simple app and selling your daily workouts for $2.99 per day. Cooking podcast? Sell .99 cent daily recipes! These don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Remember, if you have decided to monetize, you likely have a large audience or at least some engaged listeners. Not only would you make some extra money, but you are also expanding your content reach.
These are just a few ways you can monetize a podcast. Remember, you have to consider your goals when deciding if you even want to monetize your podcast. Up to this point, your audience has subscribed and listened because they love your content. If you are quick to overload them with commercials or live reads that take away from the authenticity of the show, you risk losing your influence and in some cases, your audience. The longer you can go without monetizing your audience, the more valuable your audience is.
The minute you decide to go the monetization route, your listeners will notice. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be strategic in the way you integrate your ads into your content.