How Podcasts Make Money

It seems like everyone who has a podcast at some point begins to wonder what the possibilities are for making money from their podcast.

Clearly once you have a solid podcast audience, then you can begin the process of figuring out how to monetize a podcast.

There are many different ways to make money from your podcast and ideally, you will find multiple ways to generate revenue from your show.

Even if your podcast is for a very small niche, you can actually make more money from a niche audience than you can from a general audience.

The Natural Progression for Earning Money From Your Podcast

The first way many podcasters earn money from their show is by selling their own products and services.

There is a simple 3 step process you can follow for this type of monetization:

1) Gather an audience of listeners.

2) Ask them what they need.

3) Create what they are asking for and sell it to them.

Even within this category, you can earn podcast revenue from a variety of sources:

  • ebooks
  • digital courses
  • group coaching
  • physical books
  • memberships
  • masterminds
  • paid FB groups
  • paid book clubs
  • selling branded merchandise
  • live events
  • virtual events
  • providing a service
  • consulting
  • selling premium content
  • speaking gigs
  • paid content
  • early access to exclusive content

Alternative and Non-Traditional Monetization Strategies

If you don’t have a larger audience because your show is more nuanced, you may be a good candidate to do what many podcasts already do and monetize through some more creative ways that not everyone thinks about.

Some examples of this type of monetization include:

  • Having your ideal customer on as a guest and then making them an offer they can’t refuse.
  • Use your guest interviews to bring on people that are in influential roles in companies that you want to hire you and nurture those relationships.
  • Asking listeners to donate money and financially support you through Patreon or other donation websites.
  • Creating sponsored podcasts that you sell to companies that would want to be in front of your audience.
  • If you have a small audience, you could get podcast sponsors and create a sponsorship package that do not follow the traditional CPM advertising method to calculate ad revenue.

Make Money With Affiliate Sales Regardless of the Size of Your Podcast Audience

It’s easiest for podcasters to make money as a affiliate if you are an affiliate for tools and products that you and your audience would naturally use in your niche.

Many podcasters fall into the trap of trying to be an affiliate for Audible or Amazon, and while you can earn a few dollars here and there from these partnerships, the reality is that it is often way more work than it is worth to truly generate any meaningful revenue from these channels.

To make the most of affiliate sales, create partnerships with products that meet the following criteria:

  • they offer recurring monthly commissions for the life of the account
  • they offer a discount, bonus or incentive if someone uses your link
  • they are products or services that it would make sense for your audience to use
  • they are products or services that you use and can show your audience how they help your business

Monetizing a podcast through affiliate income is a play for long term revenue because each time you put out content with affiliate links, you are building an archive of revenue potential. So, over time I consider affiliate income almost passive income.

Earn Revenue From Traditional Sponsorships

Getting traditional sponsors for your podcast is one of the hardest ways that podcasts make money. This type of monetization requires a large audience to get started. The good news is that if you do it right, the more listeners you have, the more money you can make from your podcast.

Traditional sponsorships are based on a calculation called CPM, or Cost Per Mille. This means the amount of money an advertiser is willing to pay per 1000 downloads.

Typical CPM rates are between $25-$30. So that means that an advertiser will pay you $25 for every 1000 downloads of your show.

And an advertiser counts relevant downloads as ones that occur on an episode within about 30 days of releasing the show. Most of the time, a sponsor will only consider shows that get at least 5000 downloads within 30 days of release.

Let’s do the math.

Let’s say your podcast has finally reached the level of success and you get 10,000 downloads in a month. If you have an advertiser paying you a $30 CPM, it means that:

$30 x 10 = $300

So, that advertiser would pay you $300 for an ad on your show.

You may decide that you will allow up to 3 advertisers per show and that means your earning potential for your podcast is now $900, provided that your ad inventory is fully sold out.

Doing the calculations allows you to see why small podcasts that get 1,000 downloads per episode would not interest traditional sponsors. An ad for that show would only bring you $30 – a paltry sum that is hardly worth the effort you would have to put in to create the ad.

What About Platforms That Allow You to Turn on Monetization and They Place Ads On Your Show?

Yes, it’s possible to earn a few dollars each month, depending on how many downloads you get. However, you only get paid a few cents per download, so after all is said and done, you may only make enough money to cover your podcast hosting costs.

This type of monetization is offered by a few hosting platforms, like Spreaker, or even a few podcast distribution networks who are trying to entice you to promote your show on their network.

Additionally, you have to remember that these ads are not very targeted, so many times they can compromise the listening experience of your podcast for very little monetary value.

Huge Efforts For Only Pennies

Most podcasters are disappointed to find out how little they earn from these platforms that sell you on the fact that they will monetize your show and you don’t have to do a thing.

Selling ads is a legitimate form of earning money from your podcast, but you have to make sure you do it in a way that brings the most value to you and your audience.

Is Having a Paid Subscription Podcast a Legitimate Monetization Method?

Subscriptions podcasts are a feature that Apple recently rolled out on their platform, but there are also other platforms that offer the ability to have a subscription only podcast. and are two app based services that allow memberships for your podcast.

Membership and Subscription Apps for Android or iOS

Hiro and Glow are not Apple or Android specific, so anyone can join your podcast membership through these apps. However, if you chose to pursue the Apple Podcasts subscription, it would only be available to Apple users. Statistically, anywhere between 40-60% of podcast listeners are iPhone users, so you could be leaving a good bit of your audience behind if you put your subscription membership on Apple.

Revenue Possibilities From Continuity Programs

How much money can you make from subscriptions? Well, it depends on the size of your audience and the prices of your membership tiers. Audience size isn’t everything, as you can make money with a relatively small audience if they are engaged and used to taking you up on your offers.

One thing that is ideal about the subscription model is that it is a continuity program, so it can really become your most stable and valuable revenue stream because it is monthly recurring revenue. It can even out the highs and lows of your other revenue streams. Ideally, when you monetize a podcast it be through multiple revenue streams.

When Should You Start Monetizing Your Podcast?

Please don’t fall for the common misinformation that you just need to start creating free content and then sometime about 3 years into your podcast, you will be able to earn money from it.

You should engineer your podcast to earn revenue from the start of your podcast, otherwise you will never know when the right time is to try to begin earning money from it.

When you start your podcast, don’t focus so much on how many downloads you have. Instead, focus on how many email opt ins you can get.

Monetize a Podcast by Starting With a Lead Magnet

Not sure how to make a juicy lead magnet?

Here are the most basic steps:

1) Research the top 3 problems your ideal avatar is facing.

2) Find out what resources are currently available to address those top 3 problems.

3) Determine which of those 3 problems is the most underserved online.

4) Now, create a resource to address that underserved problem.

5) Set up an opt in on your website and pitch that lead magnet in every episode, every social media post, etc.

Once you begin collecting email addresses, you are now on the way to having the most valuable asset a business can have and it opens the door for you to market directly to your email list (organic marketing) and the more emails you have, the less you have to spend on ads.

Engineer Your Podcast to Produce Revenue

The monetization methods you choose from the moment you set up your podcast will inform every decision you make about your podcast.

How you are going to monetize will change how you conduct interviews for your podcast.

It will change how you choose guests for your podcast.

It will change what calls to action you put in your podcast.

It will change how you market your podcast.

So if you don’t know how you are going to monetize your podcast from the beginning, then you will waste valuable time and opportunities at the start that could lead to revenue down the road.

The vast majority of podcasters will never monetize. The reason is that they don’t plan it from the beginning.

What are the Levers of Podcast Monetization?

Having a successful podcast isn’t just about the money, as you can see success in other ways. However, most podcasters will tell you that they would love to earn money from their shows, even if it isn’t your main purpose.

Why? Because it’s hard enough to monetize when you hit the ground running and fire on all of the monetization cylinders, and if it’s not your main purpose, you won’t take the steps needed to make money from your podcast.

The Levers of Podcast Monetization are:

1) Turn listeners into leads by getting them to opt in to your email list.

2) Let your listeners know who you serve and how you serve them in every show.

3) Begin to make offers on your show. You should be your first podcast sponsor.

4) Nurture your email list and provide value to them.

5) Make offers to your email list. Your goal is to ascend them up the value ladder.

6) Rinse and repeat.

Don’t be surprised as you find success on this journey that other podcasts may have it in for you. I mean how dare new podcasts come on the scene and make money quicker than the 3 year slog that all the gurus who tell you to “just start producing content” and “just get it out there”!

How Much Money Can You Expect to Make From Your Podcast?

Podcasting can be lucrative if you are intentional about it.

Podcasting can also become your most expensive hobby if you don’t plan to make money podcasting right from the start.

Don’t buy into the belief that podcast advertising is the only way to make money in podcasting. Sure, you can make money from sponsor ads, but not every shows is going to get anywhere near a million listeners, which is what it takes to make great money from advertising revenue.

When you think about the highest earning podcasters, the Joe Rogan experience or Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday are a great example. Those podcasts make millions of dollars in ad revenue each month, and they have big networks and huge production teams behind those shows. Joe Rogan Experience

New podcasters can never compete with that. A new podcaster would be lucky to cover their production costs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a win when you can cover costs and even make a small bit of cash flow from your show.

The Research Doesn’t Lie

Edison research tells us that podcast listeners are some of the most highly prized to advertise to because the are used to accepting offers and they have a higher than average response rate to ads.

The best news for you is that if you get your audience used to having you make offers to them, they will begin to respond.

Start With Your Own Offers

If you have your own products and services to offer your audience, you can begin to monetize your podcast. One of my podcasts has a monthly audience of less than 1000 people, and yet each month, I can track thousands of dollars of revenue in my business back to my podcast.

And none of that comes from sponsors.

If people tell you there is no money in podcasting, it’s a sure sign that they aren’t making any money from theirs.

When you know what you are doing, there is no limit to the money you can make from podcasting.

In fact, with every podcast you put out, you just increase the amount of money that you make.

Podcasting Leads to Being a Thought Leader

When you get enough listeners tuning into your show each week to learn from you, you become a leader in your niche.

Create consistently and produce podcast episodes long enough, especially podcasts where you teach your frameworks, and podcasters will naturally have a following.

Podcasters that have a following should be utilizing multiple monetization methods in order to reach the highest earning potential from their show.

When you become a leader in your niche through your own podcast, people begin to pay you more money for your ideas. You don’t even have to have a globally popular podcast to make a great living from podcasting.

Podcasting Tools to Help Monetize a Podcast

If you want to get something out of your podcast, you have to put something into it.

Invest in what will produce a return.

Yes, I realize other podcasters may want everything for free, but not you because you know podcasts won’t make bank if all you ever use if free tools.

There are zero of the most popular podcasts where the podcaster does everything themselves and uses only free tools. It just doesn’t happen.

Hosting Platfom

The most basic requirement to have a podcast is to have a hosting platform. This hosting platform will cost you an average of $20 a month and it is well worth it because it hosts your files and creates your RSS feed. The RSS feed is the technical piece that makes a podcast a podcast.

We recommend Captivate for podcast hosting because we use them and love them. They are easy to use, constantly innovating and the best part is that even though I have four podcasts, I still only pay one monthly podcast hosting fee! Talk about ROI! Captivate has it.

Email Marketing Service

Don’t make the biggest newbie mistake and get your Gmail account shut down by sending out emails that way. It’s just not worth it.

You’ll need a bonafide email service provider that the Google approves of to keep your emails coming to the inbox of everyone that opt in to your email list.

Many podcasters want to cheap out and start with Mailchimp because it is free. That’s a mistake for a lot of reasons, one of which is their deliverability rates aren’t great. But you’ll also miss out on a ton of functionality that makes for effective email marketing, by trying to use a free plan.

I use, love and recommend Active Campaign . Because they have their email servers inside the US, Google considers them really trustworthy and gives them really high deliverability. So, more of your emails will land in your lists’ inbox, rather than their spam folders.

Opt Ins, Landing Pages and Sales Funnels

How much money you make is directly proportional to how good your landing pages and sales funnels are.

I use, love and recommend Clickfunnels for all of our landing pages and sales funnels. They are constantly innovating and no software company offers better training than they do.

If you want to give them a try, you can get a 14 day free trial here.

One of the best training programs for understanding funnelology is the One Funnel Away Challenge that Clickfunnels offers. It is literally $10,000 worth of training for $100.

It’s the best investment I have ever made in myself.

If you want to take the One Funnel Away Challenge, you can learn more about that here.

Calendar Scheduling Tools

I’ve spent a lot of money on calendar scheduling tools over the course of my podcasting life.

This is one tool that is a huge timesaver when you do podcast interviews.

Being able to invite someone on your podcast and send them your link to schedule cuts down on the back and forth of trying to nail down and interview time.

Plus, you can automate follow up and reminders and even set up multiple appointment types, so if you charge for consultations, the right calendar service will charge for that appointment at the time it is scheduled.

A few months ago, I saw TidyCal on App Sumo and when I realized it was a lifetime subscription, I was sold. The lifetime subscription was $19 and I was used to paying $19 per month with my previous subscription.

Plus, I had a coupon for $10 off, so it was a no brainer.

If you want to do yourself a favor and stay out of a monthly subscription for this service, but still get lifetime access to an awesome calendar, go to App Sumo and get it today.

On and if you want $10 off your purchase too, you can access that coupon here.