If you’re starting an independent podcast and want to be in it for the long haul, one of the things you might be thinking about already is how you can make money doing it. Don’t feel bad about it. Making money doing something you love is a great motivation to keep working at it and bringing in money makes it easier to continue making your podcast. Unfortunately, small podcasts are often going to have a hard time getting full sponsorships and ad spots that payout because the listenership just isn’t there. But this doesn’t mean you should give up, because there are plenty of other ways you can make money from your podcast.
Offer Premium Content
You can offer content to your audience that goes beyond your weekly or monthly podcast. Give your listeners something else to look forward to like a live stream event, a Q&A session, or premium access to building your podcast episodes. Depending on the topic of your podcast, the possibilities for premium content are endless and you’ll have more people who are willing to pay for it as you grow your audience who are willing to become premium members.
Run a Blog
Repurposing your podcast content is an easy way to build it out into something more than a single episode. Most podcasters will say that a single episode could lead to three or four blog posts. You can buy a domain relatively inexpensively, start your blog, then repurpose your content to the site. This is a great place where you can encourage listeners to learn more about the topics you talk about as well as another place you can drive listeners to your podcast.
There are companies everywhere that have affiliate marketing programs that will pay you a commission anytime you refer someone to buy their product. It’s not often more than 15%, but it’s a great way to bring in some money on the side. How it works is that a company will give you a discount code or a URL that’s tracked and as people use the discount code or enter websites through the link, you’ll get a commission from the sale. Your blog or website is a great place to consolidate your affiliate links so listeners can access them easily.
If you watch creators on many of the most successful YouTube channels about their monetization and marketing strategies, affiliate marketing is near the top of the list. Many of them have found that this drives more revenue than any ads they can run on their channels or shows. The same will work for podcasters who build trust with a loyal audience.
It’s important to let your listeners know that you’re getting a piece of the pie when they do buy from companies you doing affiliate marketing for. Your listeners might actually be more likely to buy using your link or discount code as they know it’s going to support your podcast.
Join Advertising Networks
There are websites available that work as a directory for advertisers who want to spend money on podcast advertisements. Look into websites like Popcorn and Midroll to find advertising opportunities that fit your podcast and the interests of your audience. For example, if you have a podcast about building startups, an ad for a comedy venue in your area would probably be skipped over. It would be more appropriate to run the ad for the venue on a comedy podcast instead.
People love t-shirts. Not only are you providing your listeners with an easy way to support your podcast, but they’re also paying you to advertise your show. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to warehouse an inventory. Instead, work with websites like Printful and CustomCat to drop ship your shirts for you. This can minimize your costs and maximize your revenue while you’re in the beginning stages of growth.
Ask for Donations
It’s not uncommon to not want to ask for donations for something. Whether it’s a fundraiser for a school or a project you’re working on, it can be difficult to ask people for their money so you can fulfill your dream of podcasting. However, you’re going to have more and more people who are willing to contribute to your podcast as you grow because they want you to succeed. A loyal listenership will want to make sure that you’re able to continue producing content so they’ll help by donating to your production. Be sure to thank those who contribute and it’s nice if you can find some way to reward them.
Conclusion: Keep Your Eye on the Prize
While monetizing early is great, it’s an easy way to have the wind let out of your sales early. You might feel like your podcast is growing quickly and substantially in a short period of time. Then you try to pitch that dream sponsorship and get shot down because they don’t think you have the listenership to warrant their time or money. Don’t get discouraged. Ultimately, the name of the game in podcasting is getting listeners. As your audience grows, so will your monetization opportunities. Most independent podcasts don’t blow up overnight so you’ll need to stick with the process to get the success you’re looking for.