Podcasting has undoubtedly become an increasingly popular form of media over the last few years. With improvements in technology and internet connection speeds, it’s now easier than ever to record a podcast and put it online for people to download. While many people start a podcast for fun, it’s only natural to consider a way of turning a hobby into a side hustle or even a full-time job. There are several options available when it comes to making money from a podcast, and while it can be difficult to do, there are many people out there who have managed to turn their podcast into a profitable full-time occupation. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the options that are available for monetizing a podcast, explore how easy each of these is, and explain how you can make money with a podcast.
Before you start to think about advertising or affiliate schemes, you need to find an audience for your podcast. If you don’t, there is no chance of any manufacturers wanting to advertise on your podcast.
Choosing a niche market is generally a good choice for an independent podcaster. If there is a topic or hobby that you are particularly interested in, then this could be a great choice. This is because popular and general themes tend to be dominated by big players in the world of podcasting such as the BBC, New York Times, or NPR. Secondly, if you choose a topic that you are passionate about, your enthusiasm will come through in the episodes. You’ll also find it far easier to make episodes of a podcast you are not being paid to produce if the topic actually interests you. Since you’ll have to crank out a significant number of episodes before there is any chance of advertisers showing any interest, this factor is very important. Many podcasts wither and die before they really get going because their creator discovers that podcast production requires more effort than they had expected and loses interest after a few episodes. To avoid this from happening to you, set a schedule before you start and make sure that you have at least a few episodes in the can before you put the first one online to give yourself a little breathing space if life gets in the way.
This may sound like a really obvious point, but it’s actually remarkably important. There are tens of thousands of podcasts out there, and your potential audience has a huge amount of choice. If your podcast isn’t top-notch, then the chances are that they are going to go somewhere else, and you are never going to attract the size of the audience that is required to secure advertising contracts.
This means that your content and technical production standards have to be very high. The key to getting the content right is planning things out in advance and editing your podcast when it is done. Remember that audiences tend to have fairly limited attention spans and that you’ll have to work hard to keep their interest over a significant period of time. The key to doing this is to keep things short and snappy and to make sure that you know enough about the topic you are discussing to sound informed and knowledgeable.
This is why editing is also really important. It’s extremely hard to talk for 30 minutes without screwing something up, hesitating, or saying something that you wish you hadn’t. These types of slip-ups are not a problem in everyday conversation as people expect them. However, in a podcast, they sound strange and off-putting. Make sure that you listen back to the recording after you’ve finished and performed a tight edit before the episode goes online. It can be hard to listen back to your own content at first, but it’s well worth the time. After all, if you can’t bring yourself to listen to it, you can hardly expect anyone else to do the same!
Secondly, it’s key to make sure that you’re using high-quality equipment that delivers excellent sound. Resist the temptation to record your podcast using the microphone that is built into your smartphone or laptop. While these microphones may be sufficient for meetings or quick phone calls, their shortcomings tend to become incredibly obvious when they are used to record. Invest in a good microphone (we’d suggest checking for reviews from fellow podcasters before deciding which one to purchase), and you’ll definitely notice the results. Next, make sure that you record in a room that lends itself to good sound quality. This means avoiding empty rooms with high ceilings as they tend to be very echoey. You can often deaden this echo by surrounding yourself with duvets, towels, and blankets to soak it up. You may feel a little odd doing this when you are recording, but you’ll definitely notice the difference when you listen to the results.
If your podcast is successful in growing a larger audience organically, then there is every chance that advertisers will approach you with offers. Even if this doesn’t happen, you still have other options. There are a number of podcast advertiser networks such as Acast, which can help to find advertisers for your podcast. In general, the return you receive from your ads will be lower with these types of providers than with a direct deal, but it’s still a good way of getting your foot through the door of podcast advertising.
Many of the podcast advertising models that are out there require the podcast host to read their own ads. This may feel unfamiliar but was actually the model that most advertising worked on back in the early days of television. In many cases, you’ll be given a promo for a popular service and will only be paid when one of your listeners signs up for the service using a unique promo code or URL. In other cases, you’ll be paid a flat rate in advance and a bonus for every person who signs up. Advertisers like these kinds of models as it allows them to track the success of their spend and target their money towards the podcasts that are giving them the best
If you manage to build a loyal audience for your podcast and don’t feel comfortable adding advertising into the mix, then you always have the option of asking the audience to support you. Websites such as Patreon allow podcast listeners to pledge a certain amount towards their favorite content creators in return for what they do. In most cases, the creators provide perks for contributors who commit to a certain level of funding. These perks can include the chance to listen to episodes earlier than the general public or chat one-on-one with the creator of the podcast. It’s possible to come up with perks that don’t cost anything to produce, and they can be a great way of rewarding loyal listeners who want to help your podcast to succeed.
If you select a niche topic, you are more likely to find listeners who really value your content, (since the chances are that there is nobody else producing the type of stuff that you are), and who are willing to contribute towards your costs.
Overall, it is certainly possible to make money from a podcast, but you should not underestimate the amount of effort that will be required. The best advice that we can give is to take your time at the start and make sure that you get the content right. Most podcasts take at least a few episodes to get into a natural rhythm, and there is every chance that your podcast will evolve when you start to get feedback from listeners.
If possible, try out your podcast on some friends and family before you launch it to the wider world so that you have a better chance of getting things right the first time. The chances are that you may get some fairly brutal feedback, but you should see this as a learning experience and be thankful that you are not getting the same message from a random stranger on the internet as they tend to be a little ruder!
The biggest problem that newbie podcasters face is the temptation to give up a few weeks after they have started because they’re not getting the results they were hoping for. While this is understandable, it’s very important to persevere for longer. It takes time for newcomers to the world of podcasting to be discovered and even longer for them to be big enough to attract the interest of advertisers. If you know how the system works before you start and go in with realistic expectations, you are far more likely to succeed in your quest for podcasting success.