February 8, 2021

Can you turn your podcast into a cash machine? Absolutely. Comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan made US$30 million in 2019 and his podcast is downloaded nearly 200 million times per month. Brands like Sephora and McDonald’s have also integrated podcasting into their brand messaging and saw an uptick in customer captivation. For instance #LIPSTORIES, a podcast created by Girlboss Radio in partnership with Sephora featured influential women who shared their inspirational stories, which in turn sparked conversations between other female leaders and activists.

But first, there needs to be a demand for your content. No monetisation strategy will work if you lack a loyal and growing listener base. Traci Long DeForge, a podcast expert observes, “The most successful podcasts consistently release an episode with great content and audio production at least once weekly.” Increasingly, businesses are starting to allocate more budget for podcasts since they can be a powerful business development tool. A few days ago, Paris Hilton announced that she is joining the podcast game, with iHeartRadio. Even if you do not have a massive following (like her), there are still ways to cash in on your own podcast. Here’s how. 

Get sponsors and advertisers

Utilise different podcast ad networks like Midroll and Authentic to connect you with advertisers. These networks can assist you in finding advertisers, negotiating rates and getting the script. Some podcast hosting companies also have their own networks for you to tap on as well. However, do your research before reaching out to advertisers—bearing in mind your audience’s interests, demographics and location. 

Sponsored shows created as a partnership with a brand are a double-edged sword as they may have limitations or not attract as many listeners as the regular show. Food Director and podcast host Janine Ratcliffe of the olive magazine podcast thinks it’s all about finding natural partners where both parties can benefit. For example, they have done both sponsored mini-series and standalone sponsored episodes that have been positively received. Another alternative is to join platforms like Acast Open that allows you to sponsor your podcasts through their marketplace, saving all the unnecessary back-and-forth with multiple companies. 

Premium content and subscriptions

The best way to generate recurring revenue is through monthly subscriptions where you offer premium content in the form of additional interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes content, ad-free RSS feed and even a question and answer segment with the hosts. There are many unique ways to create additional value for your community, for just a few extra dollars per month. The Daily Wire offers the video version of podcasts, live episodes and other bonuses (like merchandise) when you purchase an annual subscription. The Economist also uses podcasts as a subscription driver and as a retention tool. Tom Standage, Head of Digital Strategy at The Economist, says, “Podcasting is an ideal way to reach out to potential new subscribers. Podcasts also cover their own cost of production. So it’s a good deal all around.”

Create online courses 

Savvy podcasters do offer online courses that complement their podcasts too. Consider having your regulars on an email list to keep them updated. Or get your podcast listed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts so listeners can easily locate your podcast and subscribe. Alternatively, you can use a free webinar platform to promote and showcase your content, then offer a course at the end. These approaches are good for engaging your audience and getting them to interact with you. 

Hosting live events 

Generating income from ticket sales is another viable option for podcasters who have already amassed a sizable audience base. Hosting an event can bring your followers together and help you to develop a deeper connection with them, especially if you cover television shows and movies on your podcast. Moreover, having a celebrity or actor at the event will generate greater ticket sales. 

If a live event gets cancelled, hosting ticketed livestreams from home can be another option. Slate has created a live events business around some of its most profitable podcasts and hosted sold-out shows all over the U.S.

Repurpose old content 

As you push out new material to sell, you can still monetise your older content too. One way to do that is to repackage it and sell it as a book. After accumulating enough podcasts focused on a particular topic, you could transcribe them (either parts of it or everything), supplement it with additional content where relevant and compile everything into a guide. You can look for a publisher, consign your book to bookshops or even sell it online on Amazon. What’s more, you can concurrently promote your book on your podcasts to drive sales.