So many times when you start your podcast, you really have no idea what to expect. And the only way you can gauge your success is by what you’ve seen on Facebook groups, or what you’re hearing from other podcasters.
And you think, “Wow, that’s a huge amount of success. If I only have a fraction of that, I’ll be doing awesome.”
What I see very often is that people have a skewed view of reality of being a podcaster.
Today, I want to give you a little bit of a reality check. It’s tough love, but you’re going to need it because it will help you not feel quite so bad about yourself whenever you think things might be going wrong.
Podcast Launched, Now What?
One of the things that I find a big letdown whenever podcasters, you know, they go through all the hype of starting a podcast, and they launched the podcast, and not many people listen, and they don’t really know what to expect.
And they’re like, was this good? Or is this bad?
And I’ve literally had people launch three episodes and never come back to podcasting. And it’s like, what were they expecting? Did they think like, automatically, they were gonna get 10,000 people downloading their show overnight for no apparent reason?
Downloads Aren’t The Only Thing
Many podcasters don’t realize it is a long slog for a lot of people. What I want to tell you today is just a reality check to make sure that you don’t give up on something too soon.
But at the same time, this has no bearing on whether you can earn money or not with your podcast.
Hack Podcast Success
You need to know these things, so if anything, you can then shortcut success, right? So it’s a way to tell you what averages are and what I’m seeing with clients. And over the years, I’ve worked with almost close to 300 podcasts, and there is a lot of commonalities.
One of the things that people always struggle with is how many downloads is normal? Like, is 100 good? Is 100 bad? I have this many downloads, Christy. Is it good?
Podcast Download Thresholds
So for most people, most podcasters, the first barrier is getting to that 1000 download/month mark. When you get to 1000 downloads a month, then from 1000 to 5000 will come much quicker often, then the from zero to 1000 a month.
The median number of podcast downloads in a month is something like 127. Think about that, when you see people talking about getting 20, 30,40, 100,000 or 150,000 downloads in a month, they are truly in the upper 1% of podcasters.
So to be realistic, understand that that zero to 1000 downloads will be your first milestone. So the quicker you can hit 1000 downloads in a single month. Then the quicker you can keep pushing on to that 5000 And then that 10,000 download mark a month. That’s what you want to be focused on.
Downloads alone don’t mean anything. I’ve told you stories of podcasters that I’ve worked with, and they had 700 downloads in a month, and then they kept working, they eventually had 7000. Then they had more than 10,000 downloads, and they still weren’t making any money. So it’s not downloads alone. They don’t mean anything alone in a vacuum, other than it’s a vanity metric that people are listening.
Opt Ins to Your Email List Don’t Come Easy
I had a podcast launch one time, and this podcaster wanted me to put an opt in on their homepage on their website. I told them that we just need a lead magnet. We were going put this opt in on their homepage. They didn’t get us the lead magnet in time, and there were some technical issues behind the scenes.
So their podcast launched and it was literally like three days after their podcast launched, that their opt in was up and ready to go. I can remember getting sort of a hostile email from this client saying they wonder how many opt ins they missed out on from the launch of their podcast, because the opt in wasn’t ready until three days after they launched. And granted, if they had gotten us everything on time, and there weren’t problems on their back end, we could have had it all set up.
Opt In Reality Check
I had to chuckle to myself, because the idea that you as a podcaster will come out with a podcast episode and number one will have a juicy enough anything lead magnet to get someone listening to your podcast and right away to go to your website, to download something that you have or just opt in for something is just really unheard of.
It can literally take months for the average listener to begin going to your website to opt in to something. So you could literally have an opt in up for an entire year, and unless you are doing some special offers, and you are really selling it hard, I would say an average podcaster may get 100 opt ins a year. Does that surprise you?
Think about it, podcasts are one of the things that you can do while you’re multitasking. You can be cooking dinner, you can be mowing grass, you can be at the gym, you can be babysitting, you can do all kinds of things, while you’re listening to a podcast. You can be in the car, and it’s not always convenient for somebody to go to your website.
By that same token, people many times are on their smartphone while they’re listening to a podcast, and many of them are not going to go from their podcast app, toggle over to their web browser, and remember a URL that you gave them to go and put in an opt in to your lead magnet.
Email Opt Ins, The True Measure of Success
But what you have to realize is in true measure of statistics, and what your success really is as a podcaster is more to do with how many opt ins you have for your email list versus how many downloads you have.
Both tell you something, but downloads are definitely a vanity metric, but opt ins are for real.
Opt ins are people wanting your content. What you have to realize is if you want listeners to go to your website and do something, opt in to something, download something, whatever it is, you have got to give them a very, very juicy reason to go to your website.
It’s All About Your Bait
You’ve got to give your podcast listeners something that is highly, highly desired and it’s highly valued. Otherwise, they’re not going to be motivated enough to act. It’s not worth it to them.
What happens many times is podcasters will create one lead magnet, and it’s like the 10 ways to do something. And they use the same lead magnet constantly, and they never get anyone to opt in to it, but they never change the opt in.
Don’t Ignore Reality
Having only one lead magnet that you promote for every podcast episode would be the equivalent of me going out fishing and having one rod and one type of bait, and only going to one spot.
If you ever come fishing with me, there’s going to be 18 rods on the boat. There’s going to be six different types of bait. There’s going to be artificial jigs, there’s there’s going to be skirted lures, there’s going to be all kinds of bait – rigged ballyhoo -I mean it’s just gonna be crazy.
The Goal is to Fill Up the Fish Box
We have a smorgasbord out there. You know why? Because my goal when I go fishing is to come back with the fish box full and if I go out with one type of rod or one rod and one type of bait, I might not run into anything that’s interested in that that day.
But if I take all my equipment, and I have 18 rods and some of them are trolling rods and some of them are jigging rods and some of them are reef fishing rods, those are also each going to have a special kind of bait that I’m going to use.
If I’m going out fishing, and if you’re going out on your podcast, and you want to get results, you want to come back with your fish box full, you’ve got to be prepared.
Test, Test, and Then Test Again
If one type of bait isn’t working, I will switch to another type. And if the spot where I am, isn’t working, I’ll move to another spot. It just makes sense. It’s logical, right?
So if you put out a lead magnet, and you make a legitimate effort to test it, and see if it’s highly desired, and it doesn’t get any opt ins, then think about it, you probably need to change what you’re doing.
Put Your Money Where Your Lead Magnet Is
I’m gonna give you a quick shortcut here, if you have a lead magnet, and it’s highly desirable, why not take $20 – a nice crispy $20 Bill – and head on over to your Facebook business manager and set up an ad sequence where you’re running ads targeted to your ideal person for the niche you’re in with that lead magnet as a free download.
So there’s nothing they have to pay for, you’re just going to spend $20, to go out there on Facebook and see if people are interested in this. If you spend $20, $30, $40, whatever it is, and you get people that click through and don’t download your free thing, then your free thing isn’t right.
If your ideal audience don’t even want it for free, then you’ve learned a lesson, so go try something different. And keep doing that until you get one that people are opting into.
This why people say give away more value than you feel like you should for free. It takes that in this day and age to get people to move to get people to get to your website to get people to opt in to what you’re doing.
Realistic Expectations for Affiliate Income
I see this happen very often with many podcast hosts – when they start out, they go out and they sign up as an affiliate for Audible or Amazon. They think the main goal for monetization to start out with is to monetize through affiliates.
It Takes A Lot of Work to Get Results
It’s very likely that most podcasters will never get any conversions from these affiliate partnerships. You have to be very careful, or choosy with what affiliates you choose.
You Should Be An Amazon Affiliate
I recommend my clients become Amazon affiliates, because Amazon is a little bit different, it’s not going to make you a lot of money immediately. With Amazon, you’re building out links over time. It’s sort of like SEO, where you’re building a web of affiliate links, page by page and post by post on your website.
If you don’t do it, two years from now, you’re going to have 350 posts on your website that have zero affiliate links and have the ability to bring you in $0 a month because they’re not affiliated with Amazon.
Truly Passive Income
But if you start now and you become an Amazon affiliate, you know, you might get 86 cents this month of Amazon commission, and 86 cents isn’t that much but you’re just starting out. So maybe you know six months from now you get $1.87 affiliate commission, and then you keep building and you keep doing it you keep doing it and you keep linking up books and things that are on Amazon that are talked about in your podcast, and eventually, you might get to a point where you’re making $10 or $15, or $20.
If you do a post about your morning ritual or what you do during the day and you link up all the products that you use and your Amazon account, then you’re putting out blog posts that promote Amazon affiliate links, you might have a big month, especially around Christmas, where you earn $70 or $80.
It’s Not Beans and ‘Tater Money
Now, no one is going to live full time off their Amazon affiliate commission, especially after Amazon cut affiliate commission on during pandemic. It’s a small amount that can build over time. But what it can be is truly passive income.
I’m not doing anything every week to get Amazon affiliate commission. But I have 1000s of links out there on my website that I have put out there with each podcast, we link up our you know, books and anything else that we do, I’ve got them on post all around on different websites that I have, where the links are there.
Consistently Cover Your Podcast Hosting Fees
The reason I take the time to use Amazon affiliate links is because at some point in time, those pages are probably going to get traffic. And if I’m sending traffic to Amazon, I want to get credit for it. It’s not going to be something you can live off of, you may in a couple of years, get to the point where you can kind of count on your podcast hosting fees to be paid for. Realistically, but it’ll take you a while earn any significant commissions from Amazon.
Make Better Money With Better Affiliates
So, understand what you’re looking at if you really want affiliate income. You really want to find affiliates that are going to work for your audience. Figure out the products that you and your audience use, and then make it a point to pitch them and sell them on every podcast episode.
In my regular business, my Team Podcast business, every single month, I’m setting up new podcasts, I’m launching new podcasts for clients. So it makes sense for me to be an affiliate of the podcast hosting companies that my clients depend on me to recommend to them.
Use and Love Your Affiliates
Now, I don’t recommend clients to a podcast hosting service because I’m and affiliate – I recommend them to the podcast hosting service that I use, and the hosts that I love and the hosts that I love working with. And because of my relationship with them, I went ahead and became an affiliate. But even then, I had two podcast hosting companies that I recommended based on, what the client needed. And with one of them, I get paid 50% of the first month’s billing one time. So I might make $10 for an affiliate referral. And they pay out quarterly, and I would get $40, $50, $60 in affiliate commission.
MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) Is My Jam
At the same time, I began using a new hosting company for my podcast for this podcast that you’re listening to, and I love it. I love what they’re doing. I love the innovation that they’re doing. They keep adding new features all the time, they let you have multiple podcasts without charging you a separate fee, which I had, four accounts set up with my other podcast host because I was having to pay a monthly fee for each one.
So again, using them, and I love them. And when I found out that their affiliate program pays 25% recurring commission for the life of my referrals, obviously, it makes sense for me to refer someone to one podcast host over another. So I want you to look for affiliates that give you recurring commission. Everything that I am an affiliate for all fall into what a podcaster would need – things like Squadcast, or Riverside or using Amazon affiliates for the microphones that I recommend and the audio interfaces and the headphones and things like that, that people are always asking me about. Why would I not link those up with my Amazon link? If people are asking me what mic do you recommend, I’m selling that mic and tell him to go to Amazon and get it. Why should I not get commission for that?
If I’m having to tell people where to go to record their podcast, and sharing my tools that we use for Click Funnels and Surfer SEO these are products that I use, I love and they helped my business; they helped me grow. Why would I not want other people to use them as well? And if I’m recommending them, why would I not be an affiliate for them?
Recurring Income Builds Your Foundation
When I build an affiliate relationship, I’m going to be looking for companies that have a monthly recurring commission. I don’t want just a one time payout.
Practicing What I Preach
I wanted to make my company, Team Podcast’s affiliate program the same type of recurring model that I want you to have – monthly recurring commission. If you refer someone to me, I’m going to give you 10% of the lifetime billing of every single month of service of that customer that you sent me.
I want to be the good affiliate that you could recommend. But you have to be realistic about the amount of money you can make and it’s never wrong to try to set yourself up to have multiple streams of income from your podcast.
Multiple Streams of Income
You want to have multiple streams of income, but understand putting all your faith in affiliate marketing, unless you are really good and have a system for affiliate marketing, which you could but the average podcaster doesn’t – you don’t have an email list, you don’t have, a built in audience base to sell affiliate products to, so you’re trying to sell them to strangers that are listening to your podcast episodes for the content, and not really looking for the tools or other things that you’re recommending.
Just One Piece of the Podcast Pie
You want things like affiliate marketing and affiliate products to be part of your revenue portfolio. I’m like 10 years into this game of being in business for myself, and I would say, five to six years into affiliate marketing. And every year, I can probably track back, maybe around $10,000 of total revenue from affiliates.
Just Part of My Workflow
Now, here’s the thing, I’m not doing a lot. It’s all stuff that I’m doing incidentally; I’m not building marketing campaigns. I could do a lot more for affiliate marketing, but I am not pushing it as my main source of income, because it’s not going to be that for me. But at the same time, I don’t want to leave $10,000 on the table every year? It doesn’t make sense to do that.
Look for Opportunities to Affiliate and Partner
You should take advantage of every single opportunity if there is something that you can be an affiliate for – whether it’s a joint venture that you can partner with somebody and pitch it to your podcast or whatever – I’m all for doing that.
Pat Flynn Used to Be Mainly an Affiliate Marketer
Pat Flynn was great at affiliate marketing when he first started. Whenever John Lee Dumas started his podcast, and that was back in the time whenever Pat Flynn hadn’t really taken on podcasting to the fullest extent. So Pat might put out one podcast a month. But he was the original one that started publishing income reports, you would see his income reports and he was making, $30,000 a month, and $40,000 a month. It was literally all from affiliate income.
Even Pat Flynn Wanted More
Pat Flynn made a ton of money from affiliate marketing . He was thrilled with that until he saw John Lee Dumas come along. John started doing sponsorships for his podcast, and then he started doing Podcasters Paradise. And he started creating courses and all these different things. And Pat realized his affiliate income is only scratching the surface of what he could be making, so he changed his model and began creating courses and other programs and communities and things like that.
Begin Building Today for Future Payouts
it might take you six months or a year to get your first commission from an affiliate, and you might even find that your affiliates have what do you call it payout thresholds. If an affiliate has a payout threshold of $250, unless your earning total $250, that commission doesn’t get paid out to you. So it’s gonna sit there until you push it over the $250 threshold and then they pay out.
So understand that it’s part of it. It needs to be something about you know, something to do with your niche that you’re being an affiliate for. And you need to build it into your systems, build it into what you’re doing and just make it a part of it. But again, it’s not as my dad would say, going to be your beans and taters, right it’s not going to be what puts food on the table and what pays your mortgage it is going to be passive income mostly that you get as an aside and it’s really nice to get it because you could take all of that and you could put it in a special fund. It could be your vacation fund. It could be whatever else you want if you want some big piece of equipment or you want something crazy, you know make it your put your affiliate income toward that that’s kind of passive income anyway. And you don’t want to walk away from that
Consistent, Predictable Revenue
What we want you to do is begin to create revenue streams that become predictable in your life. Whenever your business (your podcast) begins to have predictable revenue streams, then you can begin taking your podcast to the next level. And then you have money to turn around and invest and getting the help you need to truly make this business work.
Monetization Challenge Coming Soon
You don’t have to podcast for three years before you can make a podcast monetized. And you don’t have to wait a year or two before you can begin getting email opt ins. There are specific levers that we pull when we have the knowledge to do that. I’m going to be doing a challenge very soon. It’s going to start December 6, and it runs for 5 days.
We are going to create your perfect podcast offer. And once you have your perfect podcast offer, then you’ll be able to go from there and begin pitching it to your podcast and begin getting your first podcast clients and begin making your first podcast money. So I’ll be announcing that very soon. I’m excited about it. I’m in the final stages of getting everything prepped for it and getting you know that whole thing built out so that you’ll have everything you need to create your perfect podcast offer in just five days.
Podcast Tuneups Are Still Going On
If you are serious about getting started monetizing your podcast, then a podcast tuneup is the perfect place to start. I’ll dig into the technical and strategic aspects of your podcast so that you can know the next steps to take to get more listeners, get more email opt ins and begin earning your first podcast money. Sign up today at the link below!
Want to learn more? Join our private Facebook group here!
You can also find Christy and her team at www.teampodcast.com!
Need help getting your podcast optimized and ready for monetization? Learn more about the Podcast Tune Up here.