Some treat podcasts as a source of entertainment, while others seek to gain knowledge. There are plenty of different hosts who share their insights from personal experience or with the help of guests.
Starting a podcast and building an audience takes a while, but the effort is well worth it. According to Demand Sage, there are more than 460 million podcast listeners globally as of 2023, and the number is expected to grow.
The medium’s popularity invites interested individuals to give this idea a go with the expectation of monetizing the content.
Of course, you will first need a large enough listener base to make money. Once you are there, however, it is up to you how you want to monetize the podcast. It should not come as a surprise that there are quite a few different options, and we will cover the most popular methods below.
Let’s start with the merchandise. All kinds of content creators build a brand and then use their brand elements, such as logos or slogans, to create custom merchandise.
As a podcaster, you can sell custom mugs, t-shirts, pillows, caps, and so on. Setting up a simple online store yourself should not take too long. Or, as an alternative, you can use one of the available marketplaces, though those tend to take a small cut, so you need to weigh the pros and cons of both options.
The merchandise sells because your fans get something great in return while also supporting your podcast. And the more effort you put into the product quality and interesting designs, the more you stand to profit from the merchandise method.
Leaving the support directly in the hands of your listeners is another common approach among podcasters. There is no catch. You simply create a Patreon page or a page on another crowdfunding platform and let the audience support you via donations.
It is common to introduce various perks and multiple tiers for supporters. For example, patrons in the upper tiers could receive behind-the-scenes footage or send their suggestions for the next podcast episode topic or who the next guest should be.
Providing perks encourages more signups, which benefits you money-wise. Do not overpromise, though, as failing to deliver will backfire and leave you in an awkward place, leading to your audience turning away.
Advertisements are arguably the simplest of all the available monetization methods. You can look for various goods and services that you can promote on the podcast.
Listen to a few podcasts, and you should get an idea of how to do that. There are various pauses between the topics when the host talks about today’s sponsor and whatnot.
Giving a quick shoutout should not take more than a minute or two unless there is an ingenious way to incorporate the sponsor in the episode and go on a longer speech than usual while giving it the spotlight.
Another angle for ads is to charge guests for appearances on the podcast. If somebody wishes to come on and discuss something they find important or to promote an event/cause, they could pay money directly to the podcast host.
To avoid confusion and backlash, it is recommended to mark such episodes as sponsored. Otherwise, your listeners might call you out for selling out, and the whole thing can snowball a lot, so keep that in mind.
Gated content can be a hit or miss depending on how you set it up. Premium episodes or exclusive clips are usually part of the crowdfunding perk method, but you can also consider recording episodes and selling them individually.
Your most loyal listeners will be happy to pay a few dollars to access gated content. It leaves the regular audience member on the ice, but if premium content is worth it from a monetary point of view, shifting to it is the decision to make.
More and more podcasters are looking for opportunities to host live episodes at conventions and other venues.
Paying for a ticket to hear your favorite podcaster live is an opportunity that might happen once in a lifetime, which is why this particular method seems to be gaining popularity a lot, especially in a post-pandemic world with restrictions lifting.
Expansion on Other Platforms
Let’s say that you are mainly uploading your podcasts on Spotify and YouTube. The two are the go-to platforms, but it does not mean that you have to limit yourself to just them.
If anything, expanding your brand to other platforms is a good piece of advice, given how much you can potentially gain.
Take Twitch TV, for instance. As an established podcaster, you will have an easier time building an audience here. And who knows, if you play your cards right, you can focus on streaming more in general, which then leads to money made from subscriptions, donations, and other popular monetization methods on Twitch.