When can I start monetizing my podcast?
I remember asking myself that same question on the day that I launched the first episode of the Lucky Titan Podcast. The excitement is so high because you’ve finally gotten the courage to share your content with the world, but your heart is in your stomach because you’ve now committed to being a thought leader without a way to make money.
That can be daunting. Trust me, I understand.
Over the past 7 years, I’ve worked with and helped over 2,000 podcasters to share their messages with the world and every single one of them asked the same question: When do I start making money from my podcast?
I decided to take a deep dive into 200 of the world’s top podcasts to find out how each of them monetizes their own podcasts, and I have tested them on my own podcast to discover the 7 best ways to monetize a podcast.
Gate Your Content
This first method for monetization is one of my absolute favorites and statistics show that the majority of people only scan the first few points in a document so I’ve put my favorites first. 😊
It might seem counter-intuitive to put a gate between your customers and your content as the goal of content is to attract your ideal clients, but the number one goal of every piece of content should be to bring people from the major platforms like iTunes and Spotify to a platform that you control.
If you can bring them to a platform you control, (my personal favorite is email) then you can continually advertise to them without fear of being removed from the major platforms.
So how do you gate your content without turning away your ideal listener?
So, here’s how it works:
- Record your interview – Make sure to interview people who have an active following. Their following doesn’t have to be in the millions of followers, but they do need to be actively following them. I would recommend using software like Zoom.us to record both an audio track and a video track to make editing simpler.
- Make it exclusive – Only make the full-length video available in a monthly recurring summit (details below). People pay for packaging. In a world with unlimited information, people really appreciate you packaging your information simply and in a way they can quickly consume it.
- FREE Promotion – We all know how difficult it can be to push traffic to your offers, but you now have an arsenal of promoters you’ve just interviewed. Put them to work promoting the summit so you can grow without spending a dime in advertising. At The Lucky Titan Podcast, we grow our email list by between 300-1000 people per month using the audiences of our customers.
So, how do you monetize it then?
The beautiful part of this method is that you already have the attention of your ideal customer and they have given you their email as a vote of confidence that they are actively trying to solve the problem you address in your summit.
Once someone has opted in for your free summit you will present them with a simple offer. We use a one-time-only $97 challenge as an upsell which converts at between 6%-15%.
That’s between $1,746 and $14,550 per month without any cost, and we have 300-1000 new potential customers on our email list each month.
Check out our free training on how to use this method for your own podcast HERE.
So, what does the funnel look like?
The first page of the funnel simply sells people on registering for the free summit as you see in the image below.
The second page is where the magic happens. This page is where we take the attention we have earned through the summit and we show them a sales message for our $97 offer.
Once their order is complete, they will see this page below.
Finally, we give them what they asked for by presenting the summit on this final page. There are many ways to do this, but it could be as simple a fourth page as shown below.
Selling High-Ticket Services To Your Guests
When I first started podcasting, I simply wanted to attract an audience of entrepreneurs, so I began interviewing successful entrepreneurs from around the world.
As you might imagine, the quality of our guests improved as our network grew, and something unexpected happened; after our interviews, I was continuing conversations with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and they were genuinely curious about what I did for a living.
During these post-interview conversations, I realized that even though these entrepreneurs had attained a much higher level of success than I had, they still had very real problems that could be solved by new entrepreneurs like myself.
So how do you confidently sell to A-list entrepreneurs?
We have an entire article dedicated to the topic of getting A-list entrepreneurs on your podcasts, but we will sum it up here.
Selling to your guests can be done in 3 simple steps: Invite, Interview, and invite again. I like to call this process the “Invite Sandwich.”
- Invite – The first invite is all about prepping your show to attract the A-list guests – making it appear like your podcast is an excellent platform for them to stand on and share their message with the world. We simply invite them to come to share their message with our audience, and they promote us in return. It’s just the natural order of podcast guesting.
- Interview – This is where we get to know the guest and give them a chance to brag about themselves and their business. The interview is also where they will reveal their biggest problems and share their wins with our audiences.
- Invite Again – After the interview, we have a chance to become friends with them and invite them to use our services as a solution to their biggest problem. If you are a podcaster, just try it a few times and watch what happens!
With the rise of Facebook groups, we have seen the desire for community grow stronger with each passing year, with over 40 million active Facebook groups and tens of thousands of paid membership groups.
Consumers want to have a community of people backing them in their interests. Having a group of people interested in and consuming the same content as they consume helps validate the effectiveness of the content they are paying for and increases their loyalty to the influencer.
Some of the best podcasts are backed by a strong free community with a paid option for premium content.
At the Lucky Titan podcast we decided to test the membership program to support our show and to help keep our listeners engaged with the content.
I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook groups because they have many limitations and Facebook can and will frequently cancel these groups for a cornucopia of reasons. Luckily, a few weeks before making the decision to build a membership program, one of my guests mentioned a place to build a custom-branded membership community called mighty networks.
So, what does it look like?
We decided to call our community “The Tribe of Titans” playing on the name of our podcast. Building our community as a free platform for both podcasters and entrepreneurs to connect with one another and allowing us, as the hosts, to promote our weekly episodes to them.
Having the emails of our clients drastically boosted the number of listeners, reviews, and overall engagement from our listeners boosting our podcast from unknown to iTunes Top 50 Podcast in marketing in under 30 days from the inception of our group.
So how do I make money with a membership program?
The beautiful thing about this model is could simply charge a monthly fee to view your premium content. I’ve seen some people charge as little as $1.99/mo just to see the videos and transcripts of each of their interviews, to upwards of $297/mo for premium behind-the-scenes content, Q&A calls, courses, masterminds, etc.
With the Tribe of Titans we decided to stick to the premium model and simply sell our high ticket services to the members of our free program.
Selling our ticket services within the group allows us to keep it simple and clean and we actually yield an average of $100 per user, per month without having to manage a bloated membership program.
There are many other ways to leverage a membership program to monetize your podcast (as you will see in monetization method #4), and I would recommend a membership program to anyone serious about turning their podcast into a client-producing machine.
Repurpose Your Content
The beautiful thing about podcasting is that you are producing long-form, rich content from the first day you launch your show. The sad truth is that 99% of podcasters will only ever post the audio to their hosting platform, which will distribute the audio to the big directories like iTunes, Spotify, and Google. These same podcasters won’t ever have their content seen in any other format EVER!
Audio is still one of the greatest ways to consume content as it is the ONLY form of content you can consume while doing other mundane tasks like working out, driving, etc.
So here’s where the waste happens, you’ve produced an amazing piece of content, but it could be consumed on over 30 platforms by a minimum of 5,000 people with very minimal effort. We cover this method more fully here.
So how do you repurpose your content AND make money?
I get it, just posting your content everywhere isn’t going to magically make money float into your wallet, but you don’t have to stop at simply posting your content to social media platforms.
20 years ago before amazon was popular, there were pretty much only 2 ways to consume a book; by reading a printed copy, or by listening to an audio on tape or CD.
But here’s the kicker, the average book in the year 2000, retailed for $13.50, but the average book on CD retailed for over $49.50.
But it’s the same book right?!
Nothing about the book was changed except the OFFER.
Monetizing your content doesn’t require extra time or work on your part, you simply need to package it differently and provide an offer to your existing listeners, and many of them will buy.
So how should I package my content?
Simple! Your first offer should be a bundle of your “all-time greats.” Let’s face it, not every interview, or episode you produce is A-list content. Your listeners understand that, and it doesn’t upset them. One of the simplest offers you can make to your audience is to help them cut to the chase by giving them your top 30 episodes on “X” Topic.
One of our first offers like this was the top 30 episodes on marketing (as we cover multiple entrepreneurial topics) After 150 episodes, some of our newer listeners simply wanted to get right to the meat of marketing and we gave it to them for just $13.
We could have just as easily done a bundle on mindset, investing, or sales, and I bet you could too.
Going back to the book on CD example, many people will pay to be able to consume your content in another format.
One of my absolute favorites is to sell the videos at a premium and combine them into a $97 mini-course. We will launch one of these offers every 6 months or so and it always yields great returns and also reactivates our listenership.
You could also compile your best interview transcripts into a book. Many people will do this by self-publishing and keeping all of the profits.
Joint Ventures – Selling Through Your Guests
Joint Ventures are probably the easiest forms of monetizing a podcast because the door is already open with other audience owners. You own your own soapbox, let people stand on it and share their message with the world.
Returning to monetization method number 2, as an interview style podcast, you already have the attention of an A-list guest. DON’T WASTE IT!
Your guests are more than happy to promote you, but you have to lay out for them exactly HOW you would like them to promote you, as if they were a 3rd grader.
You have just provided them with a chance to promote themselves and 95% of people will feel obliged to help you in return. It’s just human nature.
Your window is now open.
You simply have to ask to do a joint venture with them. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Cross-Sell – They promote you to their audience directly, and you do the same. This can be done through a podcast, email list, facebook group, or via directly contacting their clients.
- The Giveaway – You could combine efforts and do a simple giveaway to both of your audiences in exchange for their emails
- The Co-Brand – This is for the person you want a long-term partnership with. You could both make a course, product, or service together and promote it to both of your audiences. One of my favorite co-brands I’ve seen was done by Tony Robbins and Dean Graciosi with Mastermind.com.
Selling Other Peoples Products (Affiliating)
This is a form of monetization that every podcaster should have in place. Period.
If you are interviewing entrepreneurs, a majority of them will have affiliate programs. Those who do will likely give you a trackable link to their products. On your episode with this guest, you can promote that link and the guest will likely give you a commission.
You shouldn’t expect this from your guests, but from my experience over 70% are willing to give you an affiliate link.
Adding a question to your calendar booking link for them to add an affiliate link will speed up the process for you and will make it less uncomfortable to ask your guest for a link.
One final tip for this section is to pay attention to which guests make you the most money. If you are consistently making affiliate commissions from any single link, you might consider a more long-term promotion of that offer.
This is my least favorite form of podcast monetization, but I’d be remiss in not at least covering the pros and cons of using sponsors for your podcast.
- Recurring revenue source – some sponsors will stick with you for the long-term.
- You don’t have to make any of your own products if you don’t want to.
- Scalable revenue – You can use the initial sponsorship revenue to increase your listenership which will allow you to continually charge more for sponsorship slots.
- You lose the attention of many of your listeners – Some people are completely turned off by advertisements.
- Not very profitable – There are better ways to make money quicker (see the previous 6 methods)
- Time pits – seeking sponsorship can be a full-time job. Your efforts will be much better spent in generating great content and packaging it correctly.
Now, I should probably explain that I don’t believe you shouldn’t ever have sponsorship, but I do believe that sponsorship shouldn’t be your FIRST monetization method. The reason for this is that everyone tries to get sponsors before they have a strong following of people who will consume their content through thick and thin.
Introducing sponsors too early in the life of your podcast might prevent you from growing a large audience. I stick to the rule of tens. Until you have at least 10,000 downloads per episode consistently, I don’t recommend seeking sponsorship. That isn’t a concrete rule of law, just an opinion.
So how do I make money through sponsorship?
First you have to find someone to sponsor you. This is typically someone with a business that wants to attract people like your ideal listener. There are brokers and networks who will find these people for you and keep a percentage of the ad revenue. Just remember that these people will save you a lot of time, but they will also take a large piece of the pie.
Now here are the average rates for sponsorship:
- A 15-second Preroll commands $18 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
- A 60-second Midroll commands $25 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
- A 30-second Postroll commands $10 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
Another way to monetize a sponsorship is to brand your podcast for a specific brand. Many large companies will pay you a salary to brand your podcast specifically for their business. Just know that they will control every aspect of your show moving forward.
There you have it! You now have 7 ways to monetize your podcast that hopefully you never knew before reading this article.
Your first step is to choose one single method and apply it until it works. Period. Don’t try to use all 7 methods in one fell swoop, or you will give up. You knew before you started your podcast that you were in it for the long run. Monetizing a podcast is no different. With dedication and focus you can begin to create a compounding income source that will eventually be a livable income and maybe much more!
So, when should I start to combine these methods?
I always recommend that podcasters start by selling a high-ticket service to their guests. This takes no up-front work and will likely yield high ticket sales within your first weeks of podcasting. Once you have the money and the time you can then implement each of the 6 other monetization methods one by one until you have an arsenal of income sources for your podcast.
So, what if I want to make money from my podcast today?
Most people ask this same question. You might already have many of these pieces in place, you just need further direction on how to close 5-6 figure deals quickly.
I can’t wait to see you there!