If you’re alive in 2021, there's a decent chance you listen to a podcast. At the very least, you know someone who listens to a podcast, and they’ve likely recommended several ones for you to also listen to.
You can’t escape it – and you shouldn’t! At Real Ways to Earn, we highly recommend that you jump on the podcast-listening train – and then start your own podcast.
Why? Because you can actually monetize it! Read on to learn more.
5 Ways To Earn Money With a Podcast
Step 1: Start a Podcast
Do you have a best friend who you have great conversations with? Do they make you laugh non-stop? Do you think other people may want to hear your conversations – and laugh along with them? Then you’ve got a podcasting partner!
There was a meme going around recently of a person sitting on the ground next to a large wall advertisement of people laughing and enjoying ice cream, and the person sitting on the ground was looking up at the picture, laughing too, as if he were hanging out with his friends. The text read, “How I feel when I listen to podcasts.”
I’ve never seen any meme – or any other piece of media – perfectly encapsulate what listening to podcasts is like, other than this one!
When you listen to a podcast that you really love, it feels like you’re having a conversation with your best friends (albeit one that you don’t exactly participate in – but hey, if you do talk to the podcast hosts, no judgment!).
So how does one go about starting a podcast? After you’ve picked a co-host (or two) that you really vibe with, pick a brand or a theme.
One of my favorite podcasts is My Brother, My Brother, and Me. Three brothers named Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy host a weekly podcast for the modern era in which they give advice to both listeners who write in and Yahoo! Answers users who don’t write in. They go to the Yahoo! website in the “Answers,” section, find user questions about random problems, and give those folks advice on their podcast. Trust me – it’s hilarious.
I use this as an example, because the McElroy’s format is specific. Choosing something that you either a.) have expert-level knowledge about, b.) is funny, c.) is something you want to learn about with some else, or d.) all of the above is the best podcast recipe to follow!
Once you have a theme or brand, a co-host, and some topic ideas, get to recording!
You can even record several episodes in advance, as long as your topics are evergreen content.
When you are able to, invest in good sound equipment. You're going to need a good podcast microphone, and these are available on Amazon in many different price ranges.. Sound quality is key in a podcast.
Of course, you have to have a great idea to start a podcast, since there millions of them out there, but the technical aspects matter, too.
Make sure to record in an enclosed, quiet space; sorry, no kids or animals should be running around! You can upload your podcast on several different hosting platforms and then publish it on Spotify, iTunes, etc.
Step 2: Find Sponsors and Advertisers for Your Podcast, or Why Your Brand Matters
Why is it important to choose a theme or brand? Because that’s how you can obtain sponsorships!
It especially helps to have a niche area of a market cornered. Is your podcast about true crime? It’s likely that a security system will want to sponsor it, if it takes off. Are you chatting about cats and coffee? There could be a cat cafe in your city that will buy airtime on your show!
No matter how you set it up, whether you advertise your Patreon or through partnerships via your website, getting sponsors is key to a successful podcast.
And again, if you’ve listened to any podcast recently, you’ve probably heard a million advertisements for mattresses-in-boxes, super-soft bedding, and even TV shows or movies – those are sponsors, and they pay big bucks for podcast celebrities to talk about their products or services.
Outside of gaining immediate podcast fame, how do you show advertisers that your podcast is worth investing their marketing budget into? It’s surprisingly simple: you offer a value proposition.
If you can show sponsors and advertisers that you have a certain amount of weekly users who also, say, purchase meal delivery kits, then that is a key value proposition as opposed to not knowing your audience entirely and having them remain anonymous. Information is key.
But how can you figure out what your listeners buy? Take a survey! Don’t sit around and wait to get famous based off of your witty rapport – ask your listeners for help.
Another key way to get sponsors to jump on-board is to create a sponsorship model; for example, if you use a CPM (Cost Per Impression Model), you could conceivably get X amount of dollars per X amount of downloads for a 15-second pre-roll or a 60-second mid-roll slot.
The money may not be exorbitant – you may only get $15 per 1,000 downloads, but that also adds up over time!
Step 3: Affiliate Marketing
Is your show a deep dive into the history of the Industrial Revolution? Are you discussing the newest smart home gadgets to hit the market? If your show is super technical or if you often mentioned your sources in the show, then affiliate marketing may be for you!
In the case of podcasting, affiliate marketing is best used for evergreen content, so you can continue to generate passive income for years to come.
Make sure that you’re also only using affiliate marketing for good, not evil – using it for nefarious purposes can come back to bite you. Only promote products you believe in, and try to meet your audience where they live, so to speak (i.e., meet their needs, not just your own!).
This way, you can go about affiliate marketing the “ethical” way.
Step 4: Listener Donations
I mentioned Patreon earlier – it’s a great platform to use to ask friends, family, and fans to donate so that you can continue to create art. However, Patreon is a beast all on its own, and it’s one that needs mastering before diving into without looking!
There’s a right and wrong way to raise funds through the platform and in this case, to ask for listener donations.
One quick tip is to make donations to your podcast’s Patreon into a call to action at the end of every episode. However, that could potentially get annoying to your audience, depending on what your podcast is about and who your audience is, so again, do your research beforehand.
Another big key to getting listeners to donate to your podcast Patreon is to incentivize them. Offer things like extra episodes, merch before anyone else can get their hands on it, private forums, Q&A and AMA sessions, hangouts, etc. Your listeners will be clamoring to donate!
You can also start donations out at a very small amount, too; say, $5 per month. That way, listeners who may not have the means to donate can still feel involved and special.
Step 5: Help Others Set Up Their Podcasts
Podcasts fall right in the middle of the marketing world. What’s great is that podcasting is still a relatively new market – it was only invented in 2004. Being that’s still something many people are getting their feet wet in, it’s something you – or any other podcasting expert – can train another podcaster on who may just be getting started. And that’s something you can monetize, too!
Offer your services in the sense of setting up others’ podcasts, producing and editing shows, and performing online marketing. You can even deploy traditional methods of advertising, like press release distribution and new business development outreach.
Get the word out through social media marketing, and use some of the new platforms, especially since podcasting itself is a newer platform!
Think about all the different, creative content you can make; can you use TikTok videos to get the word out? Can you use survey marketing? Should you even go so far as to distribute flyers? Get creative and do something different to advertise your unique offering.
Now matter how you choose to go about it, podcasting is a home business idea worthy of exploring. Good luck to you if you decide to go for it!
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Anna Jones is a bicoastal writer, editor, and producer currently living in Atlanta, GA. She is the proud owner of Girl.Copy, a freelance copywriting and editing business that specializes in creating stellar content in the fashion, technology, marketing, and design sectors. She has a husband, human baby, and fur baby that are her favorite parts of any day. She enjoys traveling, reading, and a nice cold Diet Coke while taking an uninterrupted shower. If you want to internet stalk her or make a business inquiry, check out her website at: www.girlcopy.org.