Let's be realistic here
You expecting to earn money from day 1 of your podcast launch? Get that idea out of your system NOW.
Practicality and realistically speaking, you won’t be earning anything from the first week months from podcast launch; and that’s ok. It’s perfectly normal.
That’s why we emphasize so much on podcasts starting off as passion projects, because if you’re ONLY motivated by the $$$ money, then you probably won’t go very far. (Let’s exclude those special cases where people become a viral sensation overnight, because chances are, that’s not going to happen to you. Sorry, bud).
It’s NOT WRONG, however, to aim for monetization on the side. It can also be a good motivation, but we’ve got to be realistic with our benchmarks and milestones, and expectations.
Creator economy: Why content monetization can be important
The creator economy refer to the businesses that are built by millions of independent creators and community builders who produce content on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, blog sites, and podcasts.
The creators behind these consumed content may appear to simply be passionate people who enjoy what they do in providing entertainment, resources, or education to the public. While that may be true, independent creators are legitimate income streams that have the potential to bear unexpected outcomes.
Creators usually use social media platforms and other mass-audience platforms (such as podcast directories like Spotify) as a launching pad for their career as content creators. This is especially effective in gathering people INITIALLY, but creators eventually move their audiences away from these platforms in the long run as they create a funnel towards their monetization systems.
What is the pattern here?
- Creators driving fans away from social media sites to their own monetization tools, websites, e-commerce platform, apps, etc.
- Creators becoming founders and using their content creation as an effective medium of marketing and advertisement.
Monetization can be a very important factor, especially as your channel, account, or brand grows along with your fanbase and pool of supporters. As you scale up, you’re going to spend more time and need more resources to sustain your show and even have the opportunity to move from your day job into your creator business.
That is why monetization can be an important factor to many forms of content creation, and that applies to podcast creators as well.
How do podcasts make money?-- Types of income streams
Podcasts are one of the significant types of content and a great part of the creator economy. Just think about Joe Rogan’s impact on Spotify’s podcast directory and how much of Spotify’s news are about Rogan’s show. How exactly do podcasts make money?
- Audience donation
- Subscription-based exclusive or premium content
- Starting their own e-store and merchandise line
- Opening their own brick-and-mortar shops and businesses
- Online coaching and consulting
- Brand sponsorships
Audience donation. This is pretty straightforward. There are a lot of monetization systems that allow you to set up this “tip jar” such as Ko-Fi, Buy Me a Coffee, Patreon, even PayPal and Venmo P2P systems would make a decent audience donation funnel. When deciding on which to use, most of it lies on convenience of wiring money, the safety and perception of the platform, as well as what the audience feels they are gaining in return.
Subscription-based content. A lot of creators provide exclusive content for subscribers. Whether they are Webtoon artists, YouTube animators, or Instagram famous, these creators place exclusive content on their Patreon page, where subscribers are rewarded with exclusive content or merch for a small monthly fee.
E-store or merchandise. If you’ve got a distinct brand or look to your shows and content, launching a merchandise line or e-commerce shop may be a great idea to earn some extra on the side, in a very cool manner. Bonus point is getting to use your own brand’s stuff at cost!
Brick and mortar shops. Becoming a founder or owner? You could be a fashion podcast that opened up your own fashion boutique; or perhaps you are a practicing lawyer with a podcast who has recently opened up his own firm. Podcasts are a great way to market brick and mortar establishments as well as digital ones.
Online coaching and consulting. This is one of the most common ways podcasters earn a little extra income on the side. I’ve seen a lot of business podcasts offer startup consulting and coaching services; the same goes for self-help shows. Digital marketers have also stepped in to offer coaching on driving online businesses with SEO strategies.
Brand sponsorships. Assuming your show has grown to a point where brands and products have started to take notice of you. Similar to YouTube, you may be approached by business to read or say some lines in exchange for certain sponsorship agreements (e.g. Merchandise, special discount, affiliation package, etc.)
Advertisements. The most obvious one of them all. This one’s what most people are aware of, but also the one that is farthest from our control. The process is more passive than active. Because advertisers are usually the ones choosing and reaching out to creators they wish to advertise with, don’t expect to have advertisement income if you have just started your podcast.
What you should do after setting up
Suppose you’ve gathered a pretty close, supportive following base and have been experiencing some growth with your podcast. You create a Ko-Fi or Patreon page hoping to monetize your content– but it just doesn’t work. Nobody is subscribing to your Patreon or buying you a coffee. Why?
It’s NOT just about the system and setting up what you need to gain monetization opportunities. You need to do your fair share of marketing and promotion. It’s not just about building a new doorway, but also about letting people know about the doorway and the benefits of using it.
Marketing and promotion is key. So what can you do?
- Make it easy for your fans to support you (e.g. Direct links, guides, illustrations)
- Share it on your social media and other channels
- Communicate the help that the support would give
- Provide attractive perks and benefits for supporting fans
- Quickly mention them in your podcasts
- Put them into your show notes and description boxes
What type of monetization is right for you?
The type of income stream you choose is dependent on the stage of your podcast maturity and growth. If you’re still in a small growth stage but have some pretty loyal and hardcore fans, you can start with donations and providing subscription-based exclusive content. This is a good starting point because it requires low to no investment and doesn’t require any significant extra effort from you.
E-store and merchandise would require a small amount of investment and some more time to get set up, so it would be best to venture into these when you’ve acquired a significant amount of fans. Remember economies of scale. The more you produce, the cheaper it will be on your costs, and the more you can earn per unit of item.
In some cases, you may already be a founder or owner of a brick and mortar shop even before you started your podcast. If that’s the case, that’s great! If you want to create your startup after creating your podcast, you don’t exactly have to have that big of a podcast audience (although having that would surely help). Your market goes for both online and offline customers anyway. Just make sure you have enough capital to start and sustain.
If you have a professional expertise such as law, marketing, running a business, sales, psychology, sports, health, or offer self-help content, online coaching and consulting may be a viable option for you.
Advertisements and sponsorships usually come towards you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out to potential partners and offer up ad spaces on your show too. You can easily add, remove, swap, and insert these ad spaces into your old (published) episodes and new (future) episodes through the Dynamic Insertion tool in your podcast hosting platform.
Can I make money from podcasts?
Yes, you can. We’ve listed out several ways to do that, and there are going to be a lot more other creative ways you can gain some income from the content you create.
Just remember that content creation is a passion project that shouldn’t ONLY be about the monetary benefits it can provide. Although the creator economy offers the attractive chance for everyone to become new media celebrities, the success rates are slim; and there are a lot more factors in play apart from JUST your content quality and marketing efforts.