Updated June 27, 2022
During COVID, we hit a podcasting tipping point when Apple announced it had two million podcasts. If you are one of those intrepid pioneers, you have encountered your share of stress.
When it comes to making money on your podcast, the value is much more than downloads. For a large company, a podcast is an opportunity to increase reach and improve brand awareness. Connecting to a target audience will dwarf any income from a large group of listeners who does not need the products of that company.
If you have an average performing podcast, here are six ways you can get value from your podcast:
- Corporate podcast for branding
- Do-it-yourself corporate podcasting
- Affiliate income
- Sponsor income
- Charge guests to be on show
- Have listeners pay for the podcast
Having a podcast puts you in a difficult position. For example, when you tell your friends you have a podcast, they immediately want to know how many millions of downloads you have. It seems like everybody has heard of the millions of downloads for people like Joe Rogan.
That must mean you have millions of downloads, right?
Well, let’s use data from a well-known podcast hosting company, Libsyn, to put your humble downloads into perspective. According to Libsyn’s Rob Walch, after 30 days, if your episodes are getting . .
more than 144 downloads you are more popular than 50% of the shows
more than 1,200 you are more popular than 80% of the shows
more than 3,300 you are more popular than 90% of the shows
more than 7,600 you are more popular than 95% of the shows
more than 20,000 you are more popular than 98 % of the shows
more than 36,000 you are more popular than 99% of the shows
For example, if you only get two hundred downloads during the first 30 days of an episode, you are more popular than about half of the podcasts in the Libsyn sample. Not too shabby but embarrassing when you try to compare it to Joe Rogan’s audience of around eleven million.
Even if you plateau at two hundred episodes, this does not mean you are a dismal failure.
Let us use the example of Rob. Poor Rob, the most exciting thing in his life is his goldfish, so he launches a podcast about his underwater friend. If Rob gets enjoyment talking about the little treasure chest that opens at the bottom of his fish tank, more power to him. However, even people who have hobbyist podcasts would like to make a little treasure.
1. Corporate podcast for branding
There are many ways to make money with corporate podcasting. For example, Fred Diamond has an interesting variation on using a podcast to seek new clients. Fred Diamond offers sales training. If he were to contact a company, they may not take his phone call. However, he is creative in how he positions himself.
Old Fred contacts a company and offers to come over to the office to record a podcast that will promote the company. In this case, he does not care how many downloads he gets, he cares about contacting decision-makers at the company.
After the podcast is recorded, he gets a face-to-face meeting to talk about his services in training salespeople, an opportunity he would not have without the podcast.
Companies may want to take advantage of the promotional capabilities of a podcast; however, they may not have any talent in-house that can pull it off. This is your opportunity to highlight the skills you developed on your goldfish podcast.
When you contact a company and ask them to start a podcast with you as the moderator, talk about how the podcast can inexpensively reach new audiences.
Please emphasize the fact that the typical podcast listener has a higher income than most. According to a recent survey the more affluent, the more likely people are to listen to podcasts. With a high-ticket item, a podcast can reinforce the value proposition for the company.
2. Do-it-yourself corporate podcasting
Companies all over the world have specific business problems that can be solved with the exposure a podcast gives. This is your opportunity to understand a business problem and develop a podcast that provides a solution that is so attractive a company will support you.
70% of the world’s Internet traffic runs through Ashburn, Virginia. This has caused concern in the community about its impact on energy consumption and real estate value. Why not produce a podcast that interviews data center managers to talk about tax benefits and employment opportunities that a data center provides?
Local citizens get a broader understanding of the impact of a data center on the community. Because of this, a data center podcast can be skillfully used as a public relations tool.
Today, a problem that most companies have is recruitment. Why not start a podcast where graduate students sit across from startup companies and set up a podcast interview? Everyone benefits from this structure. The students get to learn strategies from startups and the entrepreneurs get feedback from a target audience. The sponsor gets to meet prospective employees in an extremely challenging hiring market.
3. Affiliate income
If you own your podcast, you have a variety of opportunities to sell products from other companies. For example, you can mention a product and then get a commission when it is sold.
Let us take an obvious example. You can work a deal with a microphone manufacturer. Something like, “We are recording this goldfish podcast on a Ronco #101 microphone. Click on the affiliate link in the show notes to improve the sound of your voice wit this fantastic microphone.” If you help sell a $99 microphone, you may get a small amount of affiliate income.
Why not look for other affiliate opportunities that may be a little more rewarding? For example, Amy Porterfield has a successful business where she offers training for entrepreneurs. She charges $2000 for her course and offers 50% commission on anyone who refers Amy for the training.
This is a win-win proposition. From her perspective, she offers a digital course and one more student is a negligible increased expense. From a podcaster’s perspective, they do not have to worry about the expense of developing a valuable course and advertising for it.
4. Sponsor income
DIRECT SPONSOR INCOME
This is related to an affiliate deal, but there is a key difference. An affiliate only pays when you sell something for them; a sponsor will pay over a specified period.
Neil Patel and Eric Siu have a daily podcast called Marketing School. They had hundreds and hundreds of episodes before deciding to get a sponsor. Building an audience was worth the wait. Their current sponsor pays one million dollars a year for a daily mention.
Even if you are getting just two hundred downloads per episode you still have options. Vertical markets abound. Every category has products – from microphones for podcasters to food for goldfish.
INDIRECT SPONSOR INCOME
When magazine advertising was in its heyday, they would sell ads based on circulation. Let’s say Life Magazine sold four million copies per week. They may have used an ad formula like $10 per thousand readers. The strange abbreviation for this is CPM, Cost per Mille (thousand). Today, people who market podcasts sell time by using similar criteria.
Nothing is set in stone when it comes to advertising rates. Companies like Advertisecast publicize what they think are fair rates. For example, if you get 5,000 downloads in the first thirty days, then, you might be able to charge $25 per thousand for an advertisement in the middle of your podcast. Remember, this does not scale, so you max out at $635 for a mid-roll spot. This pales in comparison to some affiliate deals you can work out.
5. Charge guests to be on the show
Now, if you hit the talent lottery card and get hundreds of thousands of listeners, it is quite possible to charge guests for getting on the show.
One of the most famous examples is John Lee Dumas and his Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast. He has such a desirable audience that he charges $5000 to be a guest.
From a journalistic perspective, you will lose all credibility and may end up with guests that tank your show. To get around that, some podcasters magnificently appropriate the term “apply.” To be a guest, you must fill out an “application.” This allows them to screen the bad talent from the good.
6. Have listeners pay for the podcast
Another model is to offer a partial podcast for free, then charge for premium content. Some podcasts from Daily Wire use this formula You get an hour of content for free, or you can subscribe to the company, Daily Wire, to get the bonus content.
You may be surprised to learn that the podcast market in China is estimated to be twenty-three times more valuable than the US podcast market. They have a much wider variation in revenue models than the United States.
This is a topic for a much larger discussion, but some Chinese models offer educational services for a nominal fee. Some have turned this concept into millions of dollars per year.
For a big company, a podcast is an opportunity to increase reach and brand awareness. For smaller companies, a podcast allows you to connect to prospective customers, get affiliate income, obtain ad revenue, and even charge to be on your show!
Do not stress over number of downloads. There are parallels in the book-selling business. Most authors do not reach the top, but books are published every day that only sell hundreds of copies. Authors use creative ways to generate income from their books, primarily by giving the author credibility for consulting or public speaking.
Our friend Rob may even find a creative way to use his goldfish podcast to make money.
If you liked this article, you may want to read, “8 Easy Methods to Improve your Podcast Interview Skills without Spending a Dime.”
Has been in front of a microphone since 1991. He can help you structure, launch, and promote your company podcast. firstname.lastname@example.org