Livestream Recording: Yann Ilunga, Podcast Consultant and Founder of Podcast Growth Mastermind, and Shannon Martin, Director of Communications at Podbean, discuss ways to monetize your podcast, tips, resources and more. Listen here:
Some of the topics Yann and Shannon discussed in this monetization live stream include:
Why monetize your podcast?
You might look at podcast monetization to cover your expenses, from hosting fees to software costs and equipment. Most podcasters also put a lot of time into their podcast. At some point, many would like to see a return on their investments. As Shannon mentioned, some podcasters start their podcast with a strategy to monetize it and may have monetary goals in mind. Meanwhile, hobby podcasters have to consider the effort it will take to monetize. While we would all love for our expenses to be covered, think about why you’re doing your podcast and how monetization efforts fit that.
Who is ready for podcast monetization?
Yann and Shannon both mentioned that there is no specific barometer or magic number (thanks to the member who asked this question!) for monetizing a podcast. “There’s no hard and fast rule.”
Shannon advised, however, that podcasters should not jump ahead. They should analyze whether they are ready or not, which means considering if they’re able to consistently put out content and have put efforts into quality content and building an audience. For example, an advertiser would expect consistent episodes with their ads in at as per your agreement. Listeners who might support you via Patreon, Podbean Patron or other donation or membership programs will expect to get any content you promise.
Podcast Monetization Methods
The first method Yann and Shannon discussed was podcast advertising. This often works well for larger shows, particularly because it has traditionally been paid via CPM.
CPM Model of Podcast Advertising
CPM is cost per mille, in other words a fee that is paid per 1000 impressions. Shannon gave the example of a fairly common podcast advertising rate of a $20 CPM. This means if your podcast gets 1000 downloads per episode, you would be paid $20. CPM rates vary by placement as well as what the podcast can negotiate based on demand, audience fit, etc.
This model is mostly “a numbers game” as Yann mentioned, so don’t get so focused on it that you miss out on other “low-hanging fruit” (options that are discussed below) that may have higher ROI for you.
Yann and Shannon mentioned that many podcasters, especially those who do not have huge download statistics, would benefit from selling ads as a package and looking at different things they can offer. For example, most podcasts are part of a large digital footprint. A podcaster can share their total reach and base ad/sponsorship packages on that. They might offer exposure beyond the in-podcast ad, such as mentions on social media or in newsletters.
As Shannon noted, most podcasts are not stand-alone entities (and there are a lot of reasons they shouldn’t be). A value-based model benefits you as the podcaster, but also the advertiser since consumers typically have to hear/see a message multiple times.
Matching Platforms/Marketplaces for Smaller Podcasts to Find Advertisers
Advertising agencies and traditional platforms often require 10,000-50,000 downloads/episode to join. However, there are now marketplaces and platforms for smaller podcasts. Many use a programmatic model so that advertisers can reach their audience using multiple podcasts, or provide a simple matching service. The Podbean Ads Marketplace is one example that Shannon gave details about. Other include Podcorn (not tied to hosting), Anchor and Dynamo (by Voxnest/Spreaker).
Most of these are not exclusive, so you can participate in more than one to get the most potential opportunities. As Yann mentioned, this is also true for using multiple monetization strategies. You can pull from all the ideas mentioned to see what works best for your podcast.
“Don’t just think about your podcast in terms of numbers. Think about the big picture.”–Yann
From advertising, Yann and Shannon furthered the discussion to the different ways a podcaster might look at sponsorships. The podcaster might have other activities they’d like a sponsor to support, such as events. There are many creative ways to approach attracting a sponsor and structuring sponsorship packages.
Who is this strategy for? Shannon suggested it can be good for everyone, but you need to be prepared to manage the relationship. You need to be organized and it works especially well if you have a strong community, even if it is a smaller one. Yann suggested thinking of ourselves as microinfluencers and how we can leverage that influence for sponsors.
Affiliate marketing is another form of advertising, where you can sign up for affiliate programs to get paid a fee/% for anyone who purchases the service or product through your link or code. Some examples include Amazon Associates, Audible, and Podbean. Many web hosting and other services offer affiliate programs and you may want to check with the services and products you use or those that you know your listeners enjoy. Check with the companies/tools you use to find out if they have an affiliate program and what they offer.
Shannon warned, however, to understand the value of your time, creative product and audience so you don’t “undersell” yourself. If a company wants a true advertising relationship, they should pay for the ad spots versus only paying when there are sales. Yann also cautioned that you must be explicit when sharing affiliate links and follow all the guidelines and relevant laws.
Community Support and Premium Content
Examples of platforms for this strategy include Patreon, Glow and Substack (which allows you to create a paid publication/newsletter that can also include audio). With these models, listeners can support you with monthly donations or memberships. Many hosting platforms also allow podcasters to create content for sale (whether via a subscription or for selling individual episodes).
Podbean offers a premium sales model, which enables podcasters to sell bonus episodes or subscriptions. Last year, it grew by about 60% and the top earner made around $100,000. Podbean also has a built-in Patron platform for listener support. Podbean’s is a monthly, recurring donation and podcasters can tie in whatever rewards they want, including bonus content published just like other episodes. As Shannon discussed, this strategy can work for a smaller podcast that has a very supportive community or works well for people providing learning-oriented or value-added content.
A listener asked about Patreon integration. Shannon agreed they should be integrated, because your supporters start as your podcast listeners so you should be mentioning it in your podcast regularly, having links on your site, etc. She also reminded people that bonus content is only one offering you can give for Patreon/Patron. Many listeners will support you just because they like the work you do and you can offer all types of rewards at different levels.
The listener also wanted to know about fees and what cuts these platforms take. Since there are many different platforms, Shannon suggested referring to the Support Center for the particular platform or tool. Many don’t charge an upfront fee, but a % of earnings. Also, be sure to check if your hosting company requires you to monetize through them or give them a cut of any monetization or if you are free to monetize outside of their platform. (Podbean does not require you to use their tools and only charges you if you are using their specific tools, all the fees are outlined in the Podbean Support Center).
Repurposing Content for Sale (Books/Audiobooks)
Selling books or audiobooks can be a natural fit for many podcasters. You may be able to repurpose podcast content or use your skillset for narrating an audiobook.
One of the listeners brought up that many podcasters will be more likely to make money in other ways related to their podcast, but not directly from their podcast. Shannon discussed getting speaking engagements, bringing in clients to your business, selling coaching, masterminds or other services and/or getting into podcast consulting, editing, and other services. Using your podcast as a branding tool may be one of the most successful methods many podcasters are using. A podcast can be a valuable part of the sales funnel for your business.
Miscellaneous (Livestreamng, Live Shows, Merchandise)
There are many other creative methods of podcast monetization that you may want to put into the mix. These include live streaming (some platforms offer gifting, ticket sales and other ways you can get paid for live streaming), live shows (big podcasts have been making significant money on this!), selling merchandise and more.
To continue the conversation and get more resources: