Learn the monetization strategies that other podcasters are using as I'm joined by Brian from ProfitCast in this special crossover episode.
This is the way most podcasters are interested in using to monetize their podcast. Yes, it is the easiest, because you can simply promote it, promote impressions, and get paid.
The most important number to sponsors isn't actually the size of your audience, but it's how engaged your audience is and how likely they are to take action on the sponsors.
Most podcast sponsorships will pay based on how many thousand impressions you get (CPM), how many actions are taken (CPA), or a flat rate.
John Lee Dumas's income for Entrepreneur on Fire looks great, but you have to have a very popular show with lots of downloads per episodes. But only a relatively small portion of John's income comes from podcast sponsorships.
The most important thing to do with any style of sponsorship is making it relevant to your audience. This is how Audible.com and Audiobooks.com have great success in this space, because they have audiobooks that appeal to almost anyone.
I've had sponsors for The Audacity to Podcast before. Now, I regret it because it would have been better to promote my own products and services than someone else's. This perspective is shared by Cliff Ravenscraft and Gary Leland.
Potential sponsors do want to see large numbers, but the likelihood of your audience taking action is even more important to them.
Before you try working toward getting sponsors, make sure your podcast has great content, presentation, and production.
Look at the success of Serial. That team was highly skilled in creating, presenting, and producing great content. Serial took almost a year to produce, so they had great momentum and leverage before the show even started.
You'll see similar stories with other great podcasters. They invested heavily into making a great “product” in their podcast.
But having great content isn't the only part, you also need great marketing or else no one will know about your show.
Steps before you approach a sponsor
- Have a great podcast: content, presentation, and production.
- Know your actual numbers! I recommend Blubrry Stats or LibSyn.
- Know your audience. How engaged are they? What products and services would be a good fit?
Who isn’t using affiliates? Pat Flynn is a great example. He chooses products that he knows and can truly recommend, and he knows his listeners will appreciate them, too. Just look at his BlueHost income! He gets that because he made a video that communicates great information targeted for his audience, and it happens to promote his affiliate link. Michael Hyatt is also having great success with this.
Affiliate income builds over time. The more content you put out, the more you could build your reputation and build a large archive of relevant affiliate links. December, 2014 was my own best month for Amazon.com affiliate income—$1,200! That big spike (double my previous record) resulted primarily from Christmas shopping plus the podcasting deals I was emailing.
If you live in Colorado, you can't join the Amazon.com affiliate program. You need to look at your local regulations to see whether you can join a different affiliate program. Communicate why you made that choice and your audience will probably be understand and continue to support you as they can.
Even if a company doesn't offer an affiliate program, you could negotiate a coupon code with them and then you get a portion of all orders placed with that coupon code. This is how my LibSyn affiliate programs works, how Cliff Ravenscraft's previous sponsorship for Family from the Heart worked. This is also extremely trackable for that retailer.
A promo code is great because it can often give great incentive to people to use that code.
When you try to apply for more exclusive affiliate programs (or try to have one created for you), make sure you explain to the retailer why it would be a good fit. This is great practice for approaching a sponsor someday!
Offering affiliate links can often be an easy way for your audience to reciprocate after receiving your free content.
When you have separate content ventures, make sure you're tracking them separately within your affiliate accounts.
Instead of trying to earn the 4%–8% from Amazon.com, consider becoming a reseller yourself! This could allow you to make up to 50% on the same items! This is commonly called “drop shipping.”
Gary Leland has great success with drop shipping. Cliff Ravenscraft
When you can't beat the price, try to beat the value. That value could simply be in packaging everything for someone to buy—they don't have to shop around and pick all the right gear (Cliff Ravenscraft does this well with his gear packages). But when I plan to launch my own podcasting gear store, some of these products and packages will have extra video training included with them.
You could make extra value by recording a “how to setup” video, a list of secrets, or anything else that someone couldn't get somewhere else.
Just remember that this kind of thing could get complicate. If you want to accept credit card payments, your website will need:
- a security certificate (SSL),
- a payment gateway (Stripe works great for this),
- ecommerce software (I like Woocommerce or Easy Digital Downloads),
- a reseller license and tax ID, and
- an agreement with distributors (contact the manufacturer to find how what wholesale distributors might work with you).
This is the best way to make money! Invest the time and resources to make a product, then you can make up to 100% of the profits!
The most profitable podcasters are making their income because of their products/courses. For examples:
- Cliff Ravenscraft—Podcasting A to Z and digital products
- John Lee Dumas—Podcasters' Paradise, other training programs
- Michael Hyatt—Best Year Ever, Get Noticed WordPress theme, Platform community
- Lou Mongello—unofficial Disney products
- Jason and Jeremy—$7 ebook, Internet Business Mastery coaching program
Don't start with your biggest product and idea. It's better to under-promise and over-deliver. For your first product, make it something small. The few dollars you may make from that will feel amazing and be the first small step toward big momentum.
Starting small also helps with your long-term success by exposing people to the value you can create, without forcing them to take a leap of faith. Consider an ebook, PDF guide, or short video tutorial.
80% of your audience will spend very little or nothing, but 20% of your audience may account for 80% of your income.
You may have a fantastic product, but you won't have any success if you're not driving them to that product and marketing its value to your audience.
Look at how successful podcasters are often giving away great content for free, but that content is so valuable and enticing that attendees are almost desperate to get the premium product or course.
Your expertise may be best on a one-on-one basis through coaching and consulting. Many people will benefit far more from the personalized one-on-one instead of a group setting.
Your value will be small when you start, but it will grow with your reputation and experience.
If you're not a good teacher, it may be better for you to offer your expertise as a service. For example, you can hire me for several hours and thousands of dollars to teach you everything you may need to know in order to fix your podcast RSS feed. Or, you can hire me to use my expertise to fix it for you and save you the time and effort for only a flat rate fee in most cases.
People are more interested in paying for solutions than paying for time.
You need to have a passionate and loyal fanbase in order to make any money through “donations” to your podcast. (Technically, “donations” are for nonprofits. But we'll use this in consider when people give you money for your show.)
Look at the thousands of dollars that Rob Cesternino through Patreon contributions every month (I think Rob is the most humble successful podcaster).
This gives your audience the chance to feel part of your show. Give them the shoutouts and thank them for their support.
I'm amazed and humbled by the support I receive for my free Once Upon a Time podcast. Some of our supporters are automatically donating $50 per month (hundreds of dollars per year), just because they love what we do!
Tom Merrit is probably the most amazing with this—more than $13,000 per month from his audience!
To have a successful campaign, make sure that you're making your supports feel exclusive. Thank them in your episodes, send them fun swag, or do something fun for them.
Look at other successful creators on Patreon to learn what's working well.
This was more popular in the early days of podcasting, but many (like Keith and the Girl, NPR, and other popular shows) are still having great success with this.
Paying for a subscription could grant your audience:
- exclusive episodes,
- exclusive community,
- back-catalog of episodes,
- and more.
This model doesn't work for everyone. (I wouldn't want to sell my old episodes, because each episode is marketing me and my expertise.)
Ask yourself this question, “Is my content truly worth paying for?”
Don't alienate your free audience! Give your paying audience more.
- Check out Brian's side, “Monetization Strategies Successful Podcasters Use,” on ProfitCast.
- SEO for Podcasters is now available!
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.