Most podcasters aren't earning as much as they could from their show. In fact, I imagine many smaller podcasts aren't making any money at all, which is one of the reasons so many podcasters quit. Making money from podcasting goes beyond just getting sponsors to put ads on the show (although that’s often the first thing people think of, right?). While sponsorships can bring in revenue, especially for larger podcasts, relying solely on this can lead to a continuous hunt for new sponsors who may not pay as much as hoped. For smaller podcasts with less than a thousand downloads per episode, expecting more than a hundred dollars per ad spot is often unrealistic (and I might be being generous here). Today, I want to share three real ways to ACTUALLY make money from your podcast.
Before we dive in, let me just say this: I believe sponsors are a legitimate and great way to monetize your podcast. While I also include sponsors in my own podcast, I want you, as a podcaster or someone considering starting a podcast, to know that there are alternative ways to generate income.
In today's episode, we will explore three different methods, including sponsorships, to make money from your podcast. I will share my thoughts on sponsorships, but I want to emphasize that you can make money from your podcast without having a huge audience. As we go through these methods, I believe at least one will be new to you, and you likely have not tried at least two of them on your own show.
Once you finish reading (or listening), I also want to encourage you to take action on one of these methods that resonates with you. Or if you are a new podcaster, consider implementing all three right from the start!
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
Are you on the waitlist for my new podcast course yet?
Next week, I'll be launching my new course on podcasting. It's a beta launch, so I'm still finalizing the details, but I’m opening the doors on October 23rd and it will be open for a few days before closing. After that, the price will increase and the special bonuses for first-timers will disappear. I'll share more information in an upcoming episode where I'll also reveal the course name and talk about the process of naming it.
In the course, I'll be covering various ways to make money from your podcast, with a focus on creating a big impact, generating more sales, and expanding your platform. While podcasting is enjoyable, it does require financial and time investment, so it's important to not just focus on downloads and chart rankings, but also on how your podcast connects with your business and makes a meaningful impact. In this episode, I’m sharing THREE ways to make money through your podcast but there are actually TEN ways I make money through my show that I’ll discuss in detail in the course.
Is that something you’re interested in? Get on the waitlist here and fill out the survey with what YOU want to learn about when starting and growing your podcast!
Why podcasting? Podcasting is a great way to make money in your business as a form of content marketing
Podcasting is a great way to directly generate income for your business. It's a form of content marketing that offers a more intimate connection with your audience compared to traditional methods like email marketing (people are listening to you as a part of their day!). By creating your own podcast, you not only have your own stage but also open doors to other opportunities such as speaking engagements and collaborations with other podcasts and people. It's a powerful tool for audience growth and expanding your reach on platforms like Instagram and through your email list (podcasting is a big part of how I grew my Instagram and email list!). The impact of podcasting goes beyond one avenue - it's a multifaceted approach that yields a ton of benefits. Whether you have a show or not, I’d love to see you inside the course here!
Now, let’s talk about three ways to make money from your podcast!
1. Traditional Ads Through Sponsorships
This is the one most people think of, but it's not necessarily the easiest to do or the most financially smart thing if you're a brand new podcaster or a smaller show.
For me, I love getting sponsorships, but it's actually not my personal favorite way to monetize my show. Here's the thing: if you have products or services to sell, which I understand not all podcasters do, but many of you listening are small business owners like me with something to offer. So, if given the choice, wouldn't you prefer to promote your own stuff rather than someone else's? And let's not forget, most of the time, your own offers provide higher value and generate more revenue per customer compared to what a sponsor would pay for each episode. It’s likely a better ROI for you to sell your OWN products or services instead.
With that said, I do want to share some things to consider if you are going to pursue paid sponsors for your show. As someone who has had sponsors on my show, there are a few different ways they can come about. Sometimes, you pursue the sponsor, and you're in the driver's seat, making the contract and setting the terms. Other times, sponsors come to you with their own contract and terms. I've experienced both scenarios, each with its own merits. Regardless of how it comes about, think about your goals and what packages you want to offer.
If there's one takeaway from this episode, it's highly recommended to avoid selling one-off episode ads. Instead, consider offering packages where sponsors can purchase a set number of episodes or opt for 90 days of dynamic ads across all episodes.
Dynamic ads are especially beneficial for podcasts with a larger catalog. When ads are dynamic, they are temporarily baked into the episodes within a specified timeframe, automatically including all episodes in the catalog.
On the other hand, you can opt for permanently baked-in ads where you record an ad and bake it into five episodes in a row, for example, and those stay in the episode forever.
Going through a network for your ads
When considering monetizing your podcast, you have two options to consider. Will you rely on a network to connect you with sponsors, or will you take charge by pitching and negotiating your own contracts? Joining a podcast network means they may place ads for you, but you might not have control over the content. There are pros and cons to either option.
Choosing ad placements for your podcast
You also need to consider the available slots for your podcast ads and which parts you want to sell. Don’t forget - you can also advertise your own products, which we'll do next.
In my opinion, it's important to find a balance between placing sponsors in the best spot and promoting your own stuff. Consider how many ads you can realistically include per episode too. This may vary based on episode length, but you need to be cautious not to overwhelm listeners with excessive ads. You need to avoid becoming one of those podcasts that receive negative reviews due to ads taking up a significant portion of the episode. Yes, podcasting is a free thing we're putting out there, but there's still an expectation that we're not going to advertise to someone the entire time they're listening. People do get mad!
Final Thoughts on Working with Advertisers
I also recommend having a media kit that you can send as a PDF or as a page on your website, both ways work. This will help when you pitch your show to sponsors. On this page, include reviews that highlight why sponsors should pick you. My media kit personally has strong reviews where people say they never miss an episode and listen all the way through, which is what sponsors want to hear. You can also include your audience demographics, downloads, and listener data. That's crucial because sponsors won't support you without it.
Next consider the other platforms where you have an audience and will potentially promote this sponsor. That’s one of the great aspects of podcasting - it's not just about your podcast downloads or audience; it's about your entire network and business. In my case, the sponsor will be featured in a dedicated section of my blog post as well as mentioned in the episode. For each sponsored episode, there will be a designated area on the blog. In your packages, you can also include mentioning your sponsor on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and others. A package can be created to include a 90-day baked-in promotion, sponsor mention in the show notes and on the blog in the five most recent episodes, as well as Instagram stories and TikTok videos talking about their product. You really do have the flexibility to design a package that offers high value to your sponsor.
Lastly, you’ll want to include your package options in the media kit and clearly outline what's included. Avoid doing one-off deals as they aren't worthwhile for either of you. For the advertiser, multiple episodes and more opportunities for people to hear about them (and build trust). It also benefits you by reducing the workload with the same ad each time. In my course, I dive deep into this topic, as it's one I'm passionate about. I'll also cover how to create effective ad reads that are seamless and engaging, ensuring that listeners actually pay attention to the ads so that your advertisers see an ROI. This is important for ongoing relationships!
2. Ads for Your Own Products
Here's what I'll say: If you're not currently doing ads for sponsors on your podcast, that's totally okay. I don't do it much myself. However, at the very least, you should consider doing ads for your own stuff, or even better, do both, which is what I personally prefer.
You don't have to include an ad in every single episode. In fact, it may not make sense in every episode of your podcast. There are some episodes where you talk enough about your products that an additional ad slot may not be necessary. Nevertheless, using an ad slot to talk about your own relevant products and services can be a great opportunity to make money from your podcast. Making ads listenable for people is important, and a big part of that is making sure that it feels relevant.
Especially if you have a multifaceted business with different products and services for different target audiences or stages of your business, it's important for the ads to align with the episode content. For instance, if I'm talking about website tips for non-designers in an episode, I might do an ad for my templates. You’ll also find that I like to get specific with my ads. If you want examples, just listen to some episodes and hear how the ads are integrated.
One approach I've enjoyed this year is being intentional about taking an interesting angle on my own product ads instead of just talking about the product itself. For example, instead of saying "I sell shop website templates, here's what they are," I relate a specific template to the episode content.
While you don’t need to record a custom ad for every episode, I'm actually personally a big fan of custom ads if you have time for it. I think they convert better when you're able to say, “Hey, I know we were just listening to so-and-so talk about this, and that relates to this product.” It's so powerful that way and makes people less likely to skip it.
Don’t forget to advertise your freebies too!
You also promote your freebies on your podcast instead of directly advertising products, which is something I love. I didn’t talk about it in this episode, but in my podcast course I’m going to be sharing how to “sell” a freebie and create a funnel so that the selling happens there.
Ultimately, don't be afraid to make the ask. We often forget to do that and instead just focus on providing amazing free content. But then we forget to tell people how they can work with us. Just remember, people who listen to your podcast are at different stages of finding you.
Your episode 55 might be the first one they've ever listened to. They liked the title and found your voice engaging, but they don't really know what you sell or who you are. So, it's important to remind them and let them know what it looks like to take the next step with you.
You can include ads for your own products, especially in post-roll. It may seem like most people don't listen to it, but it's worth a try. Remember, there are people on the other side of the mic who want to know more about you (whether that’s 50 people or 1000 people right now).
3. Promoting Companies That You Are An Affiliate For
Now, the third method I want to share to earn real money from your podcast is by promoting affiliate companies. Unlike traditional ads, you can directly share affiliate links and codes with your podcast audience without needing official sponsorship or permission. Personally, I did the math and I have generated over $270,000 in affiliate marketing revenue in the past three years alone. This figure doesn't even include revenue from my podcast's first year in 2019 so it might be more like $300-$350K since I started my show. The podcast has been a major contributor to these earnings, not to mention the additional benefits of accessing free things as an affiliate (ie. not paying for Instacart when people use my link). That number only includes actual cash that came into my bank account!
Affiliate links can be great because you aren’t saying, “this podcast is sponsored by ___”, you’re saying, “here are three ways I'm making my life easier as a busy mom”. And then in some of those ways, you're mentioning an affiliate link.
And if you're not already, keep an organized bank of affiliates. It could be a spreadsheet, or it could be in your project manager like ClickUp (that's where mine is). But keep track of all the companies you affiliate with, what the deals you have with them, what the code and link are, and what the deal is for you and what the deal is for the customer.
Create Pretty Links for Your Affiliate Links
Then you want to create a short link for each affiliate using your domain name. For example, elizabethmccravy.com/instacart redirects to my affiliate link for Instacart. I have this set up for many companies like Flodesk and Showit. Having it at my domain name gives me control and ensures that even if someone types something in wrong, they will still end up on my website. This is particularly useful when you have a large catalog of podcast episodes like I do (over 230 episodes). If I mention Showit in episode 5, 6, 30, 40, or any other episode, the link will still work even if they have changed their affiliate link program because you just need to update ONE pretty link instead of all the links where it was mentioned.
I also want to add to this, when you use affiliates to make money from your podcast, it's not just limited to the episodes themselves. You can expand your earnings through your blog, social media, email list, and more. For example, if I promote an affiliate product in an episode, I'll also mention it in the corresponding blog post to increase visibility through search engine optimization. Additionally, I can leverage platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, as well as engage with my email list. The possibilities are endless!
Which one of these ways to make money from your podcast are you going to try next?
Let’s recap the three ways you can make money from your podcast (and remember, I’m covering at least ten ways to make money from your podcast in my course, so jump on the waitlist here).
- Traditional Ads Through Sponsorship
- Creating Ads For Your Own Products
- Promoting Companies You Are An Affiliate For
Again, I will officially announce the name of the course later this week on the podcast and social media. For now, I'm referring to it as my podcast course. Whether you're a new podcaster or have more experience, this course is packed with in-depth content that you won't find on Google or in other podcast courses I've researched. We dive deep into various topics, such as solo episodes (which I've already recorded!), interviews, time-saving processes for your show, templates to improve execution, hiring podcast help, podcast name selection, show distribution, artwork, SEO techniques for both episode titles and overall show visibility, and the importance of monetization and marketing.
My goal is for you to leave the course feeling confident in your show, supported by our community as you grow and scale, and ultimately are able to make money from your podcast. While it's great to have a chart-topping podcast, what's even better is consistently generating sales from people who discovered you through your show. It doesn't matter how many downloads you have; this is absolutely achievable. Sign up for the waitlist here!
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October 17, 2023