The purpose of the GSMC Podcast Network's Blog Page is to inform and educate podcasters about GSMC and the changing world of the podcast industry
Podcasting is a growing and fun medium that continues to expand in reach and popularity. Whether you podcast only for fun or you podcast as part of a larger suite of social media accounts promoting your content, this is a great way of repurposing content, reaching new audiences, and strengthening your ongoing relationship with your existing audience. Statistics show that the number of podcast listeners is on the rise, and this year the number of Americans who listened to a podcast in the previous month exceeded 50% for the first time.
What does this mean for you and your podcast? First, it means that your audience is growing. Second, the ability to make money from your podcast is becoming easier for the average podcaster.
Unfortunately, as great as podcasting is, the fact is that even a small podcast requires money. First, there is the expense of setting up your studio space with audio and editing gear. There is the time spent recording and editing your podcast, which is uncompensated time on your part. Often there are the expenses of paying for editing and marketing services, promotional costs, and more. In fact, for too many podcasters doing something they love is actually costing them money, sometimes quite a lot.
The answer? Learn how to monetize your podcast so it is making you money instead of costing you money.
In reality, if you’re serious about podcasting you can make it work for you and produce income. In this article we will share ten of the top ways to monetize your podcast.
1. Join a Podcast Monetization Platform Like GSMC Podcast Network
Most Podcast Hosting sites charge a fee, and at first that fee might seem completely reasonable. As time goes on, though, you could find your podcast hosting site either charging you more money for storage or only allowing you to have a certain number of episodes up at a time. If you want all of your episodes available for new and old listeners alike, you are going to have to keep increasing the amount of storage, often at great expense.
Podcast Hosting sites such as GSMC Podcast Network charge a small monthly fee, but also allow you to monetize your podcast. By utilizing their vast network of podcast advertisers, GSMC Podcast Network has the ability to include your podcast in their advertising campaigns, enabling you to make money from your podcast from the first day you upload it to the site. Even better, that small monthly fee is often covered by the ad revenue you earn, so you could have no out-of-pocket expenses.
2. Premium Content and Paywalls
Most podcast hosting sites will allow you to create premium (paid) content. Many podcasters produce a combination of free and premium episodes, meaning the casual listener can listen for free while more hardcore fans can pay for the premium service and have access to content not offered with the free service. Premium content might include live content as well as pre-recorded content, longer episodes, or more notable guests than the free options.
This can be frustrating for some listeners who do not want to pay to listen to premium content. Those followers might stop listening all-together rather than only getting part of the content. Paid content tends to be most effective when it adds value to the free episodes, rather than detracting from it.
Alternatively, you can monetize your podcast in its entirety by putting past episodes behind a paywall. According to Jeff CobbLast, “the trick with paywalls is to offer enough good content to incentivize listeners to pay to hear the rest.” CobbLast also recommends “not paywalling episodes until they’re a couple of months old, to ensure regular listeners don’t miss out because they went on vacation or got sick.”
3. Become a Social Media Influencer
Is podcasting part of your larger social media platform? Many users of social media have relationships with brands or products who are looking to increase awareness of their business. As a social media influencer the ability to monetize your podcast comes from the number of followers you have. Think of your favorite creators on YouTube on Tiktok. How many thousands of followers do they have? Having a large group of followers on social media enables you to make money from your podcast because you can cross-promote all of your media on every site you utilize. The more followers you have on each site affects all of your social media platforms, allowing you to earn more income.
4. Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs can easily piggyback on the number of followers you have across social media platforms. An affiliate link is a personalized link to an online store or product that traces back to you via your podcast and social media and pays out a percentage of the total from any purchases made. This percentage might start off small, from 5 – 20 percent, but as time goes on and relationships evolve that percentage can be quite substantial – from 30 to 50 percent. With higher priced products or subscriptions (which will continue to generate commission on an ongoing basis) the revenue can add up quite significantly over time.
In general, affiliate links are a great option if there are specific products or brands that your listeners are likely to use. As someone your listeners have come to trust for your counsel on the topics you feature on your podcast and social media, you are in a perfect position to highlight products you know your listeners will need or want. The more followers you have on each site will influence how you make money on your podcast as listeners are likely to follow you on more than one social media site and not just on your podcast hosting site.
The options for affiliate programs are vast. You will need to research those options to find the ones that best fit your audience and their interests while still being a beneficial partnership to you as a means of monetizing your podcast.
More traditional podcast advertising works differently from affiliate marketing in that you make money on your podcast based on the number of downloads your podcast generates, regardless of whether a sale is made. (You don’t usually make money from affiliate marketing unless sales are actually made.)
Advertisements will typically take the form of a 15 – 60 second audio commercial played before the podcast episode starts (pre-roll), in the middle of the episode (mid-roll), or at the end (post-roll), and most podcast hosting sites make it fairly simple for users to insert these ads into their podcast. The audio might be prerecorded and sent to the podcaster to be inserted into the podcast, or it might take the form of a host-read ad where you as the podcast host either read a script prepared by the advertiser or speak more conversationally from a list of talking points.
Mid-roll ads typically pay better than pre-roll and post-roll ads because they are less likely to be skipped by the listener. The downside to mid-roll ads is that they tend to be longer and can feel more intrusive. All three types of ads are usually sold on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, earning different CPMs for each type of ad and its length. In terms of monetizing your podcast, the number of listeners your podcast has will result in higher earnings from this type of advertising.
Most podcast hosting sites require your podcast to have achieved a relatively high level of monthly downloads before they will make advertising available to you as an option. There are some sites, like GSMC Podcast Network, that allow you to make money from your podcast from day one. The network inserts the number of ads that you predetermine for each episode, and you have the advantage of being part of their vast advertiser network without having to seek out advertisers on your own.
Sponsorships, like all of these options for making money from your podcast, have their pros and cons.
For instance, you have the ability to negotiate terms on how much and when you will get paid. You can set up sponsorships on a monthly, quarterly, annual, or even per-episode basis. In return for whatever fee you charge your sponsors, you will then insert promotional audio in one or more episodes in the same way you would for advertisements (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, or some combination of the three). You might also include sponsor logos, links, and/or banner ads in your show notes or episode pages, or on your website or social media.
The main downside to sponsorships is that it can be challenging to find sponsors who are prepared to make an investment large enough to make it worth the effort you put in to monetize your podcast.
Another way being a social media influencer can help you monetize your podcast is through endorsements. Many companies will send you samples of their product in exchange for your talking about your experience of that product on your podcast and social media platforms. For instance, there might be a new clothing service that sends outfits to subscribers. This company will want to differentiate itself from similar services. If you are a podcaster who speaks about fashion and who has a large number of listeners, you might set up an arrangement with the company wherein they set you up with a trial of the service in exchange for you endorsing that service on your podcast and social media.
8. Podcast Listeners Donations and Merchandizing
You have probably heard podcast hosts talking about services like Patreon, which is another possibility to help monetize your podcast. With this type of monetization listeners are asked to contribute to the podcast in order to defer some of the cost of the podcast and ensure that the episodes they love will continue to be produced.
Fans often enjoy giving back to content creators in this manner because they can control how much or little they give and can also pay when they are inspired to pay rather than having to commit to a subscription or contract. Listeners are often incentivized to make payments by rewards, giveaways, etc., and there are frequently tiers to these incentives, so the more the donation, the bigger the reward or giveaway.
If Patreon doesn’t feel like the right option for you, another optionis to set up a cash app associated with your podcast or social media. PayPal, Zelle, Venmo and other payment networks all enable creators to accept donations on a one-off or regular basis. Think of this option as a virtual tip jar, or the ability for listeners to show their appreciation for your content without you having to do a big push for funds with each episode. Again, think of your favorite YouTube or Tiktok creators: how often do they mention that a fan sent them money through their cash app in order to fund some aspect of their content? Cash apps are simply another tool to add to your tool kit of ways to make money from your podcast.
If your podcast becomes very popular, you can monetize it by creating merchandise with the podcast branding. Followers often like to have something that makes them feel even more connected to their favorite podcast or social media influencers. If you have a particular catch-phrase or a recognizable logo you might consider putting those on stickers, mugs, t-shirts, pop-sockets, and more for your listeners to buy.
Merchandizing might seem like a lot of effort, but there are print-on-demand retailers who only print your product when you actually have an order. The retailer takes a cut to cover the cost of manufacturing and you split the profits. Creating merchandise is a cost-effective use of your existing branding, and yet another way to monetize your podcast.
9. Join a Podcast Hosting Platform That Does Not Eat Up Your Budget
We have already talked about how many podcast hosting sites have fees that can grow exponentially as your podcast grows. There are some, though, like the GSMC Podcast Network that charge a small, monthly fee with no hidden costs, and which doesn’t continue to grow as your podcast grows.
This type of podcast hosting site has two advantages: first, your podcast budget isn’t eaten up by exorbitant fees. Second, if you also sign up for the plan that allows you to monetize your podcast as well as hosting your podcast you will often make enough to cover the monthly cost of hosting your podcast rather than paying those fees out-of-pocket.
10. Loss leader
Finally, according to Jeff CobbLast, you don’t have to make money from your podcast directly for your podcast “to be a valuable part of your overall strategy. You might decide that the value a podcast brings to your brand by reaching new audiences and boosting your reputation is enough.” If your podcast is just one part of your overall business strategy you can treat it as a loss leader, or way to attract a wider audience of followers who can be converted to people who will buy your products, pay for online classes, or boost your brand and profitability in other ways.
In order to treat your podcast as a loss leader you are going to need to track your analytics and listeners very closely so you can determine if this is a viable option for you and your podcast. This means using tools such as tracked links associated with your podcast to see how many of your listeners view your other products. You should also look for correlations between sales of your products and your podcast’s performance.
In order to do this tracking you are going to need reliable and accurate tracking tools to give you the statistics you are looking for. Most podcast hosting sites are going to provide tools for tracking the number of listens and downloads your show receives and then tracking growth of both over time. Keep in mind, though, that tracking statistics and analytics such as these might increase your monthly cost on many podcast hosting sites.
In order for you to monetize your podcast indirectly in this way requires you to pay a lot of attention and find ways of tracking when your product is purchased as a result of someone listening to the podcast. There are means of tracking that range from the simple to the complex, and all have pros and cons that will affect the accuracy of your tracking data. Before utilizing this method make sure to do thorough research into the types of tracking options to find the one(s) that will serve you and your podcast the best.
Podcasting might be your passion project, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also make money from your podcast. Depending on the number and frequency of your episodes and what your ultimate hope to achieve through your podcast, any or all of the above ways to monetize your podcast might be right for you. These options can also be stepping stones for you to think outside of the box and come up with variations on monetization so that making money from your podcast feels like the right fit for the message and brand portrayed in your podcast. How you decide to monetize your podcast is only limited by your imagination and the amount of effort you want to put into making it happen.
To learn more about earning money from your podcast or to speak with some about Podcast Monetization