Making the decision to monetize your podcast can have a dozen different factors and conditions that influence what methods you choose to use and how effective they are. One method might be best for a specific sort of podcast, while the same method might not draw the same results for another. It’s essential that your first step is looking at the available monetization methods and picking the one that’s best for you, your audience, and your podcast content.

This post will break down the methods available through Podbean’s platform (as well as a few that reside outside of Podbean) as well as different considerations for each method.  Whether you choose one method or multiple methods to work in tandem with one another, here is where you will find the ideal way to monetize your podcast.

Monetization Categories

When we talk about podcast monetization, the methods can be broken down into two key categories: being paid by your audience and being paid by a sponsor.

Being paid by your audience will include monetization methods like patron programs, creating premium podcast content placed behind paywalls, and donations and merchandising. These methods place the responsibility on your audience to help fund your show, and work well for podcasts with strong audience engagement.  

Being paid by a sponsor will include monetization methods like advertisements and ad campaigns, and being paid by a general sponsor of your podcast. This places the responsibility of paying you for your podcast on someone other than your audience, though audience interaction and participation in your content can be a factor in how effective these methods are.

You can use multiple monetization methods for your podcast. You can easily utilize ads and have a site for merchandise, or have a patron program and a sponsor at the same time. With such a wide variety of methods available to monetize your podcast, combining methods is a surefire way to ensure that you are targeting your audience as specifically as possible.

Being paid by your audience

Premium content

Premium content is placed behind a paywall, and your audience will have to pay in order to access the content.  In doing so, you’re ensuring that you’re getting some level of return on this content.  This monetization method is best for podcast content you’ve put extra work and resources into and want to see a somewhat immediate return on. Some premium programs allow you to sell your content as a subscription or on an episode-by-episode basis, with Podbean’s premium program focusing on selling your content episode by episode. 

Our premium program allows you to set your own pricing. This, in turn, allows you to ensure that you’re pricing your content correctly for your audience. And with the Podbean app being the portal through which your listeners can purchase your premium content, you can ensure that it’s available to your audience no matter where they’re located.

Patron programs

On the surface level, a patron program might be similar to a premium program in that a listener opts to pay a certain amount in return for content.  However, where the premium program allows you to put specific episodes behind a paywall, your patron program allows you to offer things beyond just your podcast episode. Through your patron page, you can gift anything from behind-the-scenes content and early looks at new episodes to physical merchandise and one-on-one time with your most devoted listeners, all in exchange for a monthly donation.

The main draw from a patron program is the ability to give your listeners more content and more chances to engage with you.  The listeners who donate to your patron program are looking for more content, and are driven by the exclusivity of your patron program.

Much like the premium program, you can set your own prices. But beyond that, you can also set specific tiers for listeners to donate at, decide what’s offered at each tier, and how to limit each tier. This allows you to function within your own personal bandwidth, while also offering a wide variety of tiers and backer gifts for your audience to choose from.

An great example of a successful patron campaign would be the Now Playing Podcast – they utilize things like early access episodes and offering seats for guests who donate at higher tiers.

How To Monetize Your Podcast with Podbean: this image displays a screencap of the Patron page for the podcast Now Playing, which receives $13,592.01 a month.

Merchandising

Whether it’s a sticker or a shirt, a keychain or a poster, various podcast merch will appeal to your fans who are looking for physical, tangible proof of their admiration for your podcast.

When it comes to creating and selling merchandise for your podcast, the two main methods are to either buy in bulk and create an online store to sell through, or to utilize a print-on-demand service that handles the printing and distribution of your merchandise.  

Buying in bulk may require a higher investment cost initially, but over the course of selling your merchandise there is the opportunity to make more money in the long run. This method will also require a bit more bandwidth from you, in that you’re the one in control of maintaining stock, mailing things out, and taking care of any issues in regards to customer satisfaction. But with packaging and sending things out yourself, you can cultivate a closer bond with your listeners who return to your store over and over.

On the other side of the merchandising coin, print-on-demand services (such as those found with Teepublic and Redbubble) allow you to create multiple designs that can then be printed on a wide variety of items, from leggings to sweatshirts to scarves to phone cases. Print-on-demand services will handle fabrication, distribution, and customer service issues, but in return for these services you do not get the largest cut of the profit. This method is a great way to introduce your audience to your merchandise, and to see what items your audience likes the best.

Donations

No matter what sort of podcast you run, you should always be open for donations. Donations from your audience are no-strings-attached money that someone chose to donate to you for the sake of helping you develop your podcast.

For ease of use, sites like Paypal and Ko-fi have HTML buttons you can always have on your website, or links to have in your social media headers. By having these sites listed on social media and your personal sites, you remind your listeners that they can contribute to the show in whatever denomination they choose, and it goes directly to you.

Sites like Ko-Fi can even act as a stepping stone to a patron page. You can set the denomination you’d want donatings in (being anywhere from one to three dollars) and people donate in that denomination as many times as they like. In doing that, you can then offer certain things in return for a specific amount of denominations hit. So for example if you set the Ko-Fi denomination at two dollars and someone sends you five of “coffees,” they’re sending you ten dollars. In return, you can offer shout-outs, voice-acted bits, or whatever else you can think of!

Being paid by a sponsor

As mentioned above, being this method of monetizing your podcast places the onus of monetizing more on advertisers and sponsors than on your audience. However, your audience does not play a negligible role. Things like download count, follower counts across social media, and any shoutouts from your audience you may have received play a role in how many and what kind of sponsorships your receive. This is why it’s important to utilize a document like a media kit to keep all of that information in one place to share with potential sponsors.

Podbean’s Ad Marketplace

Podean’s Ad Marketplace is a service that allows sponsors to review your podcast and offer to run an ad campaign with you. This method is a great way to dip your toes into running ads on your podcast and get the experience cultivating relationships with the advertisers.

When a sponsor checks out your podcast, they can see:

  • How long you’ve been podcasting
  • The categories under which you’re producing your podcast
  • Where your audience is located
  • Your monthly download rate
  • Other podcasts in your categories

Once a sponsor offers to run an ad campaign with you, you have the option to accept or decline the offer; nothing is inserted into your podcast without your knowledge. You can also alter your settings to allow any ad campaign offer that is extended to you, but it is highly recommended to check out the offers extended to you . 

The ads themselves will be inserted dynamically, meaning that at a specific timestamp that you select a cut will be made in your audio and the ad inserted. While this means that you don’t have to leave 30 seconds of audio open and silent for the ad to play over, it does mean that you should plan accordingly to ensure that the ad doesn’t cut you off at any point. When the ad campaign is over, the ad is removed and the audio will play as if it had never been cut in the first place. 

Podbean’s PodAds system

Much like the Ad Marketplace, the PodAds system revolves around dynamic ad insertion at the  specific timestamps you dictate. However, the PodAds system differs by allowing you to run the ad campaign yourself, from uploading the ad to choosing what episodes it plays in to even how long the ad campaign goes over.

The PodAds system is built to increase ease of control over your ad campaign, and make monetizing your podcast a more streamline experience. Within the PodAds dashboard, you can set the campaign parameters to ensure you’re reaching the correct audience. PodAds even allows you to run multiple ad campaigns at the same time in the same time slots of all of your podcast episodes, ensuring that your ad time slots are being used to their full potential even in your back episodes.

This method of monetizing your podcast is perfect for sponsors found outside of the Ad Marketplace, or for even running ads for your own content in past episodes. The system itself charges $1 per CPM for the cost of inserting the ad, but beyond that you control every parameter of the ad campaign from what geographic location it’s played in, to precisely what episodes you’d like the ad to play in and for how long. 

There are many things to take into consideration when beginning the journey to monetizing your podcast. What monetization method (or methods) work best for one podcast may not work as effectively for another podcast. It’s important to take each method into account and figure out which ones work best for you, your podcasting style, and your audience. By doing so, you’re not only  ensuring a higher  chance for success, you’re creating a new path for podcast growth.

For a walkthrough of Podbean’s monetization methods, check out our webinar available for free.

By day, a marketing writer for Podbean. By night, surrounded by eclectic projects like stop-motion puppets, half-knit sweaters, and a violin that won't learn to play itself. Certified Fresh(c) by a master's in English.

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