Without a doubt, the number 1 question I get asked about podcasting is “How do people make money podcasting?”
And my answer is this: the same way people make money playing golf.
Making money podcasting is like making money playing golf
I.e. There are a very small number of people in the world who make A LOT of money playing golf. They are by and large the best at it in the world.
But most golfers do not make money golfing. That’s not why they do it.
It doesn’t mean the Pros are the only people who could be that good at golf: certainly it’s possible and even likely that there are a few people playing at your local golf club on a Saturday who have the potential to be just as excellent as the Pros, but for whatever reason (probably a lack of investment of time, energy, interest or other resources) they are not.
The vast majority of golfers in the world do it for fun, and they spend a lot of time, energy and money for the privilege of doing so. But they haven’t spent as much time, energy and money as the people who make it to the top echelons of the sport.
For the average golfer, nobody asks, ‘How are you going to make money playing golf?’ when you sign up to play (although your spouse may well ask ‘how are you going to pay for this?’)
Starting a podcast with the aim or expectation of making money is like being a beginner golfer and expecting to bring in sponsorship deals like Jason Day.
Do not look at Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas and Amy Porterfield and think, ‘I am going to start a podcast and be like them.’
That’s the equivalent of taking up golf and expecting to have the success of Tiger Woods.
Start a podcast (or golf!) with the aim of having fun, learning new skills, and making new connections.
Building authority, becoming an expert in your industry
The number one way you can make money podcasting is to use podcasting as a tool to build authority in your niche and be seen as an expert in your industry.
This takes time and is an indirect way to make money through podcasting, but it is also the way that is most within your control.
When you consistently produce quality content over a period of months or years, people will start to take notice.
You can use your podcast to show your expertise, interview other big names in your industry and build your audience.
A podcast can be a powerful tool in building your business or personal brand
Over time, the audience you build will hopefully begin to know, like and trust you. They may then decide to buy from you and that is one way that podcasting can make you money.
This is what we call a LAG measure: the results (new customers) only happen after you execute the lead measure (you making great content).
Focus on the LEAD measure (making quality content), and be a little bit strategic about how you do that, and you can let the LAG measure (making money) take care of itself.
There are a number of platforms that have sprung up over the years to help support creators and artists to continue putting their work into the world.
The most commonly known in the podcasting world is Patreon.com
Crowdfunding sites like Patreon allow your audience to support you financially in exchange for rewards, such as bonus content, on-air acknowledgement, exclusive access to you, or input on editorial decisions, like nominating guests.
Crowdfunding can be quick and easy to set up, and allows your audience to give back to you
A common strategy is to ask your audience to contribute just $5 or $10 per month, in exchange for one bonus episode. If you have enough members of your audience sign up, then you can make enough money to cover production costs or keep the podcast ad-free.
The most commonly known way to make money from podcasting is through sponsorship, or affiliate deals.
Getting a sponsor for your podcast can be incredibly lucrative, but again, it happens only after you have built up a big audience.
Sponsors are interested in good quality content and an engaged audience
Do you need to have a huge audience to get a sponsor for your podcast?
Not necessarily. It depends what kind of sponsorship you have in mind.
You can sign up for the affiliate program for any number of sites for free with zero audience, but if nobody’s listening to your show there will be nobody to click on the affiliate link either.
No audience = no clicks = no money.
You can also get sponsorship deals even if you have relatively small numbers of downloads, as long as your audience is engaged and targeted. If you have a very clear niche then it’s entirely possible to get sponsorship from a product or service that is specifically targeted to the audience you have. That’s exactly how I did it with my Teacher Wellbeing Podcast.
Once again, it comes down to building the audience first, which depends on quality content produced on a reliable schedule. This ensures that listeners begin to know, like and trust you, and they keep coming back for more.
The bottom line is that if you are starting a podcast with the aim of making money, I’d suggest that alone is the wrong reason to podcast. That’s like learning golf with the aim to win the PGA: theoretically it’s possible but if that’s your sole reason for doing so, it’s unlikely you will stick at it long enough to get anywhere near close.
But if you want to start a podcast for other reasons (e.g. to share great content with your audience, because you love the medium, to have a great platform to share your message, to make new friends and build your network), then you can use one or all of these strategies to bring some money in as a bonus.
Want my help getting started?
Book a free Discovery Call with me to see how I can help you get started podcasting!