How Do Podcasts Make Money? 12 Surefire Ways in 2021

With over 100 million people regularly listening to podcasts now, it’s no surprise that people have started to monetize this relatively new medium.

There are several ways that podcasters have been able to earn money through their podcasts.

The most popular way that podcasters are adding revenue to their podcast is through advertising and sponsors.

However, several other popular methods to earn income include paid subscriptions, premium subscriber-only content, cross-platform publishing, donations, affiliate marketing, courses, public speaking, books, coaching, and merchandise sales.

So, if you’re curious about how podcasts make money—keep reading!

12 Proven Ways for Monetizing a Podcast

There are more ways that podcasts can make money than you might think. Dive into the options below to learn how you can make money as a new or experienced podcaster.

1. Advertising And Paid Sponsorships

Advertising is by far the most popular way that podcasts make money. This method of income generation is relatively straightforward. Advertisements are purchased for a certain amount of time within a podcast episode.

The podcaster then gets paid depending on the length of the ad spot purchased and how many episodes it runs in.

Sponsorships are another form of monetization used by many podcasters. Sponsored content is when a business or company pays to have their product or service featured in an episode, usually with a short promotional message at the beginning and/or end of an episode.

This allows the sponsor to promote their product, and the podcaster gets a portion of the sponsorship fee.

2. Subscriptions

Paid subscriptions are when the podcaster requires a fee to listen. For example, you might get behind the curtain content or early access to new episodes if you subscribe for a monthly cost of $5. Some podcasts offer ad-free listening, and some offer multiple paid subscriptions with extra perks at each level.

3. Premium Content (Subscriber Only)

Premium content is a type of subscription that offers exclusive access to email lists, special podcast subscriber-only episodes, live chats, special events, early access, Slack or Discord communities, or other restricted content.

These are usually optional add-ons offered to free podcasts. This allows those wanting to gain access, to pay a monthly fee for additional content.

4. Cross-Platform Publishing

When a podcast is made available on multiple platforms (such as iTunes and YouTube), it can increase a podcaster’s income. This allows the podcaster access to a broader audience while gaining more revenue from their content on multiple platforms.

Some podcasters even have a double or triple dip situation where people can listen for free on one platform but pay for extra features such as early access or bonus episodes.

5. Donations

Some podcasters have even started asking for donations so they can continue creating quality audio content. Podcasting isn’t cheap, and some podcasters have found success by asking listeners to send in their hard-earned money so they can keep doing what they love full-time.

If listeners enjoy your podcast, they might consider donating if it is produced by someone they admire and respect.

6. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when a podcaster promotes a product or service through their podcast. If this happens, they get paid for providing referrals to that product or service— making it another popular way podcasts make money.

The primary source of income from affiliate marketing comes from commissions on sales made due to these referrals. 

7. Course Sales

Offering a course or a bundle of courses is another way that podcasters are making money. Courses can be provided in the form of live workshops, webinars, and recorded lectures.

This content monetization method offers up to 3x more revenue than advertising because it allows for personal interaction directly from the creator with their audience, which tends to affect conversion rates positively.

8. Public Speaking And Events

Many people who have gained success from podcasting also make money by getting invited to speak at various events such as conferences, seminars, trade shows, and more. If done successfully, this could land them more sponsorships and paid contracts in the future!

9. Book Sales

Some podcasters have even started selling books closely related to the content they are putting out.

For example, if you have a health & wellness podcast- it might be wise to sell your own book with recipes and/or meal ideas related to your topics. Or, if you’re in the business world- consider writing an autobiography or self-help book!

10. Coaching And Consulting

The more successful podcasters can offer coaching or consulting services. These often take the form of group webinars, one on one conference calls, or even Skype or Zoom sessions.

This type of content monetization offers a lot of potential for continued revenue streams because it directly links listeners with the podcaster in question- thus creating more opportunities for success!

11. Merchandise Sales

Merchandise sales is another way that people are earning extra cash from their podcast. From t-shirts and phone cases to mugs and watches: there’s a whole range of different items that podcasters can sell with their brand logo on them.

Once you have enough listeners, it might be worth considering creating some merchandise for your fans so they can sport your brand while gaining free advertising for you! 

12. Create an Email List

After a while, many podcasters have also started creating an email list to update listeners on new episodes. This is another way some podcasters can develop a loyal following- which increases the possibility of listeners converting into paying customers for future products and services!

How Much Money Do Podcasts Make?

The amount of money that you can potentially make through podcasting depends on several factors.

Podcasting Income Example

  • What audience are your listeners (niche)?
  • How many listens do you get per episode?
  • How frequently are you publishing new episodes?
  • The CPM (cost per mille, or cost per thousand) ranges for podcast episodes from $10 to $100 for 60-second advertisements. AdvertiseCast’s data suggests that the average CPM for a 60-second ad is $25.

Let’s assume you publish four new episodes each month, and each episode receives 100,000 downloads, including one advertisement with a $25 CPM from sponsorship advertisements.

Your earnings would include the following:

100,000 * $25 CPM = $2,500 per episode

$2,500 x 4 episodes a month = $10,000 per month in income

Let’s assume you have a Patreon set up, where for $5/month, you offer behind-the-scenes discussions and a private membership community. If just 1% of your audience joins, you’ll be making an extra $5,000 per month from Patreon.

If you recommend an affiliate product that pays $15 in commission and 0.25% of your audience decides to make a purchase, that’s another $3,750 per month from affiliate sales!

If 0.1% of your audience purchases a piece of merch, where you average $10 in profit per item, you’ll earn an additional $1,000 per month from merch sales.

When Should I Monetize My Podcast?

One of the biggest questions people have about monetizing their podcast is whether or not it’s too early to monetize. Some podcasters wait until they get 50,000 downloads per month before they put ads in their show, while some start selling merchandise at 5,000 downloads per month.

The answer to this question varies for each person. Ultimately you need to do what you feel is right. It’s sometimes hard to stay motivated if you’re not earning any money from something you’re pouring your heart and soul into.

Keep in mind; you don’t have to start all of the methods mentioned in this article all at once. It’s ok to focus on implementing one or two and gain more revenue streams over time.

There is no perfect time to monetize your podcast- if you feel like you want to start making money off of your hard work NOW, then do it! Podcasting has indeed become a fantastic source of income for many individuals- and why shouldn’t that include you?

Most Popular Podcast Advertising and Sponsor Networks

Implementing advertisements into your podcast can be one of the easiest ways for you to earn some money. Once you finalize a deal with a sponsor, you can start raking in the dough!

Several platforms help pair you with companies willing to spend their advertising dollars to get featured in your show. Even if you’re just starting as a podcaster – you’d be surprised at how many companies are willing to work with you to get a feature.

Here’s a list of sites to check out if you’re searching for sponsored deals:

If you’re not getting a lot of views, you will have less room for negotiation. However, once your show starts to take off, you’ll be able to demand more pay per feature.

How To Increase Your Podcast Audience and Listenership

There are many ways to help increase the number of listeners your podcast receives. And of course, the more consistently your listeners tune in, the better the chance to monetize them.

  1. Ask for an honest review about your podcast on iTunes (and other platforms)! This helps new users quickly see how much people are enjoying what you’re doing so they too can enjoy it.
  2. Spend time building a quality website that contains all the details about your podcast, including links to your social media pages and subscribe buttons.
  3. Link your podcast’s RSS feed to as many platforms as possible. At a minimum, get it onto Google Play, Itunes, and Spotify. It’s a free way for listeners to find your show without any extra effort on your part after the integration is set up.
  4. Promote your podcast on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! For example, you could post about your latest episode or even share a video of your latest episode with the link to the episode right below it.
  5. Word of mouth is always a great option. Don’t be afraid to ask your listeners to share the show with friends and family members who they think would benefit.

How Do Podcasts Make Money FAQ

Here are the most frequently asked questions about making money with podcasts.

Who Is the Highest-Paid Podcaster?

Joe Rogan is the highest-paid podcaster. In 2020, he signed an exclusive deal with Spotify worth 100 million dollars. Even before this deal, he was believed to have been making over $30 million a year.

How Do Podcasts Make Money on Spotify?

Spotify Ad Studio program is Spotify’s method to allow podcasters to earn ad revenue. This enables podcasters to sell Spotify ads within their episodes. Spotify pays approximately $10 per 1,000 listens to the podcast hosts.

How Do Podcasts Make Money on YouTube?

YouTube partners can receive payments through ads played on their platform. The CPM for this can range from $1 to $15 on average.

How Are Podcasts Monetized?

Podcasts are monetized through all of the methods mentioned in this article! This includes advertisements, affiliate marketing, sponsored deals, and so many other ways.

Understanding How Much Podcasters Make

Now you know how podcasts can make money. There are many ways that podcasters can generate revenue, and the choice is yours on which method(s) to pursue. The more popular your podcast becomes, the more likely people will donate or sponsor your content. So keep up the excellent work!

Read my related article: 6 Simple Ways to Make Money on YouTube.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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