Within the last 10 years, podcasting has evolved into a wildly popular platform for audio content and storytelling that gives listeners the ability to listen to a variety of topics on demand. In fact, 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast in 2017, while 67 million listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. There are also thousands of podcasts to choose from, whether you’re interested in sports, foreign affairs, celebrity gossip, or cats.
In addition to growing in popularity, podcasting has also developed into a lucrative industry that is projected to earn $220 million in 2017. That’s an 85% increase compared to last year. However, monetizing a personal podcast is not always easy. On one hand, some podcasters have successfully mastered the art of monetization, like reality TV podcaster Rob Cesternino, whose podcast rakes in almost $7,000 per month. On the other hand, many podcasters produce consistent, high-quality episodes while paying for recording equipment or studio fees without earning enough money to cover their out-of-pocket expenses.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to monetize an individual podcast. It just takes a lot of hustle.
Once you gain a loyal fan base, you can solicit donations from your listeners, which gives podcasters the opportunity to release their product for free while generating an income from listeners who find value in your podcast. Kickstarter and GoFundMe are great crowdfunding websites that will allow you to launch a campaign aimed at raising a certain amount of money. Patreon, however, is a website that allows fans to make a pledge to contribute to your podcast on an ongoing basis. In return, Patreon takes a 5% cut from your earnings.
Hosting an event or a series of events is a great way to earn money and connect with your listeners face-to-face. Consider hosting a meet-and-greet, live taping, or panel discussion that requires a cover charge.
Another way to make money from your podcast is by selling customized T-shirts, mugs, or other merchandise with your podcast logo.
Another popular form of earning money from a podcast is through traditional sponsorship. Even if you don’t generate an average of 100,000 downloads per episode, you can still negotiate to promote local businesses in your area in exchange for a fee. It’s also a good idea to reach out to companies that are advertising with other podcasters since you know that they are open to the idea of doing business with a podcast.
You can also opt for “affiliate sponsorships” or “referral sponsorships,” which don’t require a certain number of subscribers or downloads. Rather, you just need to recommend a business that will reward you for the number of referrals they receive. For example, you can encourage your listeners to sign up for Ting, a mobile virtual network operator and internet service provider that offers new customers a $25 credit and $25 to the person that referred them. Likewise, Airbnb offers new customers a $25 account credit and sends the person that referred them $25 following their first stay. In addition, aubible.com sends new customers a free audiobook and the person who referred them $10 to $25 for each new customer.
Launch an App
Creating an iPhone app provides your base with a direct channel to hear and learn more about your podcast. You can create an app with a program like Wizzard Media that will build the app, manage the payments, and submit it to iTunes. Each time the app is purchased, you’ll receive a cut of the sales.
Kevin Y. Brown says he’s generated over $5,000 since he launched his podcast, The Create Your Life Series, in May 2016 through live events, advertising, and crowdsourcing. He says his preferred method of monetization, however, is crowdfunding.
“Crowdfunding offers the opportunity to engage your community and raise funds at the same time,” he told Black Enterprise in an email. He also summed up the process of monetizing a podcast in a nutshell: “Understand your audience, research ways to make money in podcasting overall, find advertising leads by listening to established, well-funded podcasters to find out who is advertising with them.”