If you are just getting started, or are about to get started in podcasting, you have probably asked the question “how do I make money podcasting?” The truth is, everyone wants to become the next Joe Rogan, and why wouldn’t you? Joe Rogan has an audience that reaches over 100 Million listeners and he generates over $50 Million per year on his podcast alone. Joe Rogan’s success story is unusual, similar to the tech daydreamers that believe they can become the next Mark Zuckerberg. The truth is, Joe Rogan had already established a lot of brand equity, and it has still taken him over 10 years of podcasting to build the audio-mothership that is “The Joe Rogan Experience.” Joe Rogan’s podcast is the 1% of the 1%, but that doesn’t mean his success is isolated and it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to have millions of listeners to create value in podcasting.
If the goal of starting your podcast is to land a sponsor to begin monetizing your podcast, you will likely be disappointed. Even if you have a large following on other platforms, many people have trouble converting those followers to podcast subscribers. Building your listener base can be a slow process and it may take years to build your audience to the point where sponsors begin to take notice. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money podcasting. In fact, podcasting may be your most profitable content strategy and it only takes 1 person hearing your podcast, to change the entire landscape of your business.
For new podcasters, sponsorship deals may not be an immediate revenue opportunity, but it’s important to understand the industry standards so as you grow, you will know the CPM (Cost per thousand listeners) of your audience. Ad revenue can vary based on audience size, niche and your ability to sell. The industry standards are:
- $18 for a 30-second ad (CPM)
- $25 for a 60-second ad (CPM)
Live reads are becoming more and more popular to advertisers because hosts are able to weave the ads into their podcast. They become more like personal testimonials and less like “ads.” The value to advertisers is a different conversation entirely, but these are the industry standards for podcasters. If you do that math, a profitable podcast may look like this:
- 10,000 listeners
- 2: 60 ads
- 10 (1000 CPM) X $25 = $250
- $250 X 2 live reads = $500 per episode
While this is the industry standard, some advertisers will pay up to $32-$35 for a 60 live read, depending on the talent and your ability to sell. If you have already launched your podcast, you may be asking if it’s worth it to continue for a $500/episode return. Let’s dive into some ways that your podcast could produce a much larger ROI.
Leverage your podcast to sell products/services
If you are concerned that it won’t be worth the time and effort to generate ad revenue, then this option might sound more enticing. What if I told you that it only takes 1 listener, the right listener, to generate a lot more money than $500 per episode? If you are starting a podcast around a business or brand, you likely have a product or service that is far more valuable than any ad revenue. The podcast Onward Nation, hosted by Stephen Woessner, is a popular business podcast where business owners share insights and daily habits, amongst other success contributors. Woessner credits his podcast for generating over $2 Million in revenue for his business, Predictive ROI.
Again, Woessner is a unique case, but his success is hardly isolated. 39% of small business owners listen to podcasts and if your podcast is value-driven, interesting and serves a need in your customers’ life, it becomes the top of the funnel awareness that starts conversations. Many isolated thinkers only consider the direct ROI of a podcast (ad revenue) whereas opportunists view their podcast as a conversation starter, an introduction to potential customers and a gateway to growing their business.
Your podcast can become your platform to create brand awareness, engage with your audience on a deeper level, create a sense of community and showcase your expertise. All of these levels of connection help develop a relationship that could eventually lead to book sales, consulting deals, product purchases, mastermind members or whatever your end goal is. The best part? It only takes one high paying client to make it all worth it.
Use your podcast to the network
10 years ago, if you wanted to do business with someone, you had to start your sales process with a cold email or an awkward phone call. As soon as the relationship began, the person knew your goal was to sell them something, creating a lot of tension from the start. Selling has changed now. In our social media society, people want more context and they want to know who you are before they do business with you. The easiest way to start a relationship with a potential client? Invite them to be a guest on your podcast.
Our social society has placed a lot of emphasis on branding and expanding an audience online. If you invite someone to be a guest on your podcast, it creates a comfortable environment where you are starting a conversation with someone, not directly selling to them. The guest receives value from the platform you are giving them, and you can organically start the conversation about who you are and what you do. If your podcast studio is in your office, there is no better way to get someone in the door and show them your operation. The podcast episode gives you an opportunity to ask questions, learn their story and figure out what they value the most.
This doesn’t mean that you pitch them your product as soon as you stop recording, instead, thank them for their time and focus on building a genuine relationship. The relationship and selling process may take time, but if you can resist the urge to sell them something, they will leave your studio feeling great about the experience. If your goal is to eventually sell, you know the fortune is in the follow up anyways.
A podcast episode also gives you a natural approach to follow up with your guest. When they leave your office, simply remind them that the episode will air soon. Make sure that you can deliver in the timeframe you tell them. Your professionalism throughout this process will be a precursor to what they could expect if they work with you.
When your podcast goes live, it gives you an opportunity to email them and text them links to the episode, opening up a brand-new conversation. They will be excited to listen and share the episode with their followers. Additionally, if you really want to add value, consider writing an associated blog post with your podcast episode and linking their business within the blog post. The blog post will serve your podcast well in search and will add further value to your guest via a contextual backlink (for the SEO junkies). This STILL doesn’t mean you should ask for their business at that point, but the more value you provide and the better relationship you develop, the more difficult it will be for them to say no if you eventually do ask for their business. Focus on driving value through content, and start a genuine relationship with your guests, and your business will grow.
Use your podcast to leverage your time/brand your expertise
Time is money, right? If you are running a business, you already know the questions that your potential customers will ask you. Your podcast can serve as a resource to answer all of those questions before they ever speak to you. On the Giant Voices podcast, my initial episodes were about how we market podcasts and how our services work. Now, instead of spending 10-15 minutes at the beginning of every conversation explaining our podcast marketing services, we discuss the real questions that clients have like costs, timelines, expected results, and the true “buying” questions.
Your podcast can also serve as a gateway to credibility. If you put out enough episodes, discussing your strategies, practices and success stories, many potential customers will go into the conversation with trust and brand awareness. This is a huge step in the selling process that will save you time and help you close more deals. If you pre-emptively answer your client’s concerns ahead of time and prove your expertise, you are setting yourself up for success.
Affiliate income, donations, and products
The most successful podcasts understand that they are creating a culture and community with their podcast. Your listeners want to feel like they have a say in the show and that their voice is heard. If you do create that sense of community, listeners will want to help continue growing that community. This could be via donations on Patreon, purchasing products on your Shopify store or creating affiliate income through Amazon, video courses or one of the thousands of affiliate options. My recommendation is one of the options in the sections above, as they will help you grow your brand along with your podcast, and create a lot more brand equity than a few affiliate dollars or asking for donations. If you want to go the affiliate route, find a product or service that you know and trust, before recommending it to your listeners.
The truth is, there are a lot of ways to monetize your podcast. if you are wondering which option is right for you, always go back to your WHY and your goals. If your goal for starting the podcast was to bring more awareness to your consulting business, then you should put every ounce of energy into bringing on authoritative guests and branding yourself as an industry expert. If the goal is to have fun with your friends while discussing your favorite Marvel movies, then you may want to drive listeners through your Amazon affiliate links where they can purchase Marvel memorabilia in your niched store. If in doubt, always go back to your why.
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