At some point in your podcasting career, you will find yourself asking, “Can I make money with my podcast?” The answer, of course, is a resounding “Yes!” However, the question you ask after that is far more important: “What method(s) works best to monetize my podcast?”
There are many ways to monetize your podcast, and can even be combined together to create multiple paths of monetization. The important things to consider, though, are what each method entails and which methods work best for you and your podcast.
Podcast monetization can be broken down into two categories:
Being paid by your audience will include monetization methods like patron programs, creating premium podcast content placed behind paywalls, and donations and merchandising. These methods place the responsibility on your audience to help fund your show, and work well for podcasts with strong audience engagement.
Being paid by sponsors will include monetization methods like advertisements and ad campaigns, and being paid by a general sponsor of your podcast. This places the responsibility of paying you for your podcast on someone other than your audience, though audience interaction and participation in your content can be a factor in how effective these methods are.
Using one method to monetize your podcast does not mean that you can’t utilize another method. For example, you can have a patron program while also running advertisements in your podcast, or you can have an overall sponsor for your podcast while selling premium content.
Once again, you just need to keep what methods work best for your podcast in mind to ensure that you’re monetizing your podcast as effectively as possible. For example, take into account how much time during each episode will be devoted to shouting out patrons or having your ads play, or if any of your monetization methods conflict with each other.
When it comes to ads in your podcast, they fall into two categories: dynamically-inserted ads, and baked-in ads (such as host-read ads). Both types of ads have their benefits, but we’re going to focus primarily on dynamically-inserted podcast ads. These ads are created by making a cut in the podcast audio at specific time stamps for the ad to be inserted for the duration of the ad campaign, and then removed when the campaign is over. These ads can be host-read, announcer-read, or even advertiser-read, and can blend in with the episode seamlessly. This style of ad means that there’s no need to leave silent spaces for the ad to play over, or to go back and re-record episodes to remove advertisements after the end of advertising campaigns. Dynamically-inserted ads are also efficient in terms of increasing your revenue, and sponsors are paying throughout the ad campaign instead of immediately up-front, and can create more targeted and effective campaigns using geo-targeting and other tools.
Joining Podbean’s Ads Marketplace is one of the easiest ways to get ads on your podcast. The Ads Marketplace is the leading advertising marketplace, and allows you to get ads for your podcast without a download minimum. The platform also frees you from having to hunt for ads on your own, or hire a team to find ads. This lets you focus on doing what you do best: making the best content possible.
The Ads Marketplace also gives you more control over the ad campaigns that run on your podcast. You can opt in to run ads automatically, or you can opt to manually review each ad campaign that is offered to you to ensure that the ad is something you’re comfortable running on your podcast. Both methods have their benefits; by automatically opting in, you’re maximizing your chances of running ads and taking any delay out of the equation. And by manually reviewing each offer, you always know what ads are running on your podcast and you remain in control of your brand and the content you give to your listeners. (Just ensure that if you’re manually reviewing offers, you’re checking your email regularly to ensure you’re not missing anything!)
Podbean’s Ad Marketplace ensures that you’re making the most money possible. For example, you can set a minimum CPM that has to be hit in order for your podcast to be available for the ad campaign. Also, if two advertisers offer to run their campaigns in the same time slot, for example, the system will automatically run the higher-valued ad campaign. You can also run multiple ads in the same time slot, as advertisers can run ads that are geographically targeted, so you can maximize profit on your timeslots and get ads delivered that are relevant to where the particular listener is.
Once a sponsor selects your podcast for a campaign, you can always opt out. You can adjust your settings to either allow ads to run without pre-approval or to opt in manually to all ads so you can review them first. If you choose the first option, you can still opt out at any time of any ad campaigns but ads may start to run in the meantime.
The ads will be inserted dynamically to pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ads positions. Pre-roll ads play near the beginning of your podcast episode, post-roll ads play near the end of your podcast episode, and mid-roll ads play anywhere in the middle of your podcast episode. The Podbean ads system has the ability to automatically detect and set these insertion positions for you. Nevertheless, it is recommended to set these insertion positions when you publish the podcast episode in Podbean so the ads integrate into your podcast more smoothly.
After initial setup with the Podbean Ads Marketplace, the Podbean ads system will insert ads dynamically into your podcast episodes. This means instead of one static ad to run in your podcast, you can have multiple ads to run on your podcast on the same day. For example, the highest bidding ads will run first. If the first ad campaign runs out of daily budget, the second ad will automatically start to run. And the same if second ads run out of daily budget, more ads can run in your podcast. Essentially, the system automatically optimizes ads for you to help your podcast generate the most revenue from what’s available.
Dynamically inserting ads also means multiple ads targeting different geographic areas can run on your podcast simultaneously. For example, if company A targets their ad in the US, company B targets their ad in the UK, both ads can run on your podcast simultaneously going out to listeners based on where they are located. Your US listeners will hear company A’s ads, and your UK listeners will hear company B’s ads.
Podbean’s Ads Marketplace automatically manages the ads campaigns for you. The platform will start to run the ad when the ad campaign starts, and remove the ads when the ad campaign ends. This means that the responsibility of starting and stopping the ad campaign is not on you, but on the advertiser.
Register your podcast for our Ads Marketplace here!
PodAds, like the Ads Marketplace, is a dynamic ad insertion system.. However, the PodAds system allows you to take advantage of this technology to run your own ads, whether for advertisers you secured by yourself, through an agency, or even your own content promoting your business, event, etc.
PodAds puts ad campaigns all under your control. You get to set the parameters for your campaign such as:
By allowing you to choose precise destinations, timeslots, and episodes, the PodAds system is perfect for running multiple campaigns at the same time to ensure the most effective use of your available time slots.
Because you’re running the ad campaign, the PodAds system leaves you in control of how much you charge per CPM for your ads, and how you receive the funds from your sponsor. Podbean does not take a revenue percentage, but simply charges a use fee based on CPM of ads served...so you can keep more of the revenue to benefit your podcast!
Start your PodAds campaign here!
Once you get your podcast set up and ready to receive ads, there are further steps you can take to ensure your podcast’s success in gaining sponsors and advertisers. One of the best things to do is promote your podcast’s ad space on social media!
For Podbean’s Ads Marketplace specifically, Podbean provides an “Advertise On My Podcast” badge feature. You can easily share this badge on social media platforms, blogs, and websites. Brands/companies who like your podcast can click the badge, see your podcast profile and create an ad campaign to run ads on your podcast.
Setting up ad time slots in your podcast and then doing nothing further is like publishing a podcast episode and not doing anything to let the world know about your podcast’s latest release. It may reach a few people, but it would have nowhere near the audience it could get if you promoted it on your social media platforms.
Premium content is content that is behind a paywall. Whether this is extra content that expands further on a topic you’ve already covered on your podcast, a special episode you’ve put extra time and resources into, or lessons that go above and beyond your usual podcast, it allows you to set prices for individual episodes or for time length-based memberships.
Monetizing your podcast through premium content keeps your podcast content gated, yet accessible. This will allow you to increase revenue for your podcast while also keeping track of who has access to your content.
Your premium content can be set up to either allow individual episodes for purchase, or time length-based passes that allow for access to all of your content for specific lengths of time. Individually purchased episodes allow you create special-edition episodes or sell audio from special event episodes. Whereas purchasing passes to all of your content allows for things like completed educational courses or multi-episode topics to be accessed as a resource, for any time length specified.
Podbean’s Premium feature allows you to create as many premium channels as you wish and set your own price. Your premium program channel can feature all types of content from regularly-posted content to an archive of several episodes, or even a single episode. For a more membership-based program with recurring payments, check out our Patron program.
Much like we stated before, the best way to get your premium content noticed is to promote it on your social media channels, and within your podcast itself. Your Podbean website features a widget that will display a link to where listeners can buy your premium content, but during your intro, outro, or wherever you deem appropriate you can mention your premium content that is available.
Remember: It’s on you ro help your listeners discover your content and show them the value of your paid goodies. Help your listeners discover the content by putting it in front of them. The more that you mention or showcase your premium content, the higher likelihood that you’ll see your audience taking actions with them.
On the surface level, a patron program might be similar to a premium program in that a listener opts to pay a certain amount in return for content. However, your patron program allows you to also offer things beyond just your podcast episode. Through your patron page, you can give anything from behind-the-scenes content and early looks at new episodes to physical merchandise and one-on-one time with your most devoted listeners, all in exchange for a monthly donation.
The main draw from a patron program is the ability to give your listeners more content and more chances to engage with you. The listeners who donate to your patron program are looking for more content and more attention from you as a content creator, and are driven by the exclusivity of your patron program as well as a desire to support work they appreciate.
When it comes to rewards and gifts for your patrons to pledge for, this is another chance to explore your creativity. Your patron program is a way to monetize your podcast while also giving your audience a chance to foster more of a relationship with you. We recount some great patron gifts here, but your patron page is also a great place to:
Similarly to your premium content, if your listeners don’t know about your patron program, they will not be able to pledge to your patron program. The best way to bring it to their attention is to promote it on your social media and within your podcast. Mention what sort of gifts they can expect to receive that month, or when you’re sending anything (from physical merch to exclusive livestream links) out to your patrons.
The selling point of your patron program is the exclusivity. Your podcast already fosters community, but your patrons are a community built within your audience, who are all driven by a desire to receive more content and attention from you as the creator. Hype up your patron program in places your listeners hang out to remind them what they could be receiving if they joined, and to thank those who have already pledged and helped your podcast grow.
Podbean Livestream is a new way to share your content with your followers. Host a streaming live podcast audio show and your followers can listen, interact with you in the live chat, or even call in to your livestream. Podbean Livestream has room for up to 8 co-hosts or interviewees, so all your friends (or all the cool people you want to talk to) can pop in and speak with you. Podbean Livestream also allows you to earn money by receiving virtual gifts from your listeners.
Monetizing your podcast through Podbean’s livestream platform involves receiving virtual gifts purchased and given by your livestream attendees, that in turn get converted to real-world currency. Unlike the patron program or premium content, listeners can donate as many times as they would like in whatever denomination they would like! This gives more flexibility to your listeners, and fosters spur-of-the-moment spending.
For example, if one listener were to donate a gift, you can thank them in the chat, which spurs others on to donate as well so they can be recognized by you in the chat. Or you could turn donating into a game for your livestream attendees. Interactivity is the heart of podcast livestreaming, and donations are another aspect of that.
When announcing your livestreams, and during the livestream, be sure to mention that donations are accepted and that there is a system built into the platform to assist with it. If your listeners don’t know that they can donate during your livestream, then they won’t be able to donate. Don’t be afraid to bring it to their attention, as it will benefit the both of you.
Podbean Livestream is available to all podcasters for free, regardless of who they’re hosted with. You can create a free account and try podcast live streaming here.
Whether it’s a sticker or a shirt, a keychain or a poster, various podcast merch will appeal to your fans who are looking for physical, tangible proof of their admiration for your podcast.
When it comes to creating and selling merchandise for your podcast, the two main methods are to either buy in bulk and create an online store to sell through, or to utilize a print-on-demand service that handles the printing and distribution of your merchandise.
Buying in bulk may require a higher investment cost initially, but over the course of selling your merchandise there is the opportunity to make more money in the long run. This method will also require a bit more bandwidth from you, in that you’re the one in control of maintaining stock, mailing things out, and taking care of any issues in regards to customer satisfaction. But with packaging and sending things out yourself, you can cultivate a closer bond with your listeners who return to your store over and over.
On the other side of the merchandising coin, print-on-demand services (such as those found with Teepublic and Redbubble) allow you to create multiple designs that can then be printed on a wide variety of items, from leggings to sweatshirts to scarves to phone cases. Print-on-demand services will handle fabrication, distribution, and customer service issues, but in return for these services you do not get the largest cut of the profit. This method of podcast monetization is a great way to introduce your audience to your merchandise, and to see what items your audience likes the best.
No matter what sort of podcast you run, you should always be open for donations. Donations from your audience are no-strings-attached money that someone chose to donate to you for the sake of helping you develop your podcast.
For ease of use, sites like Paypal and Ko-fi have HTML buttons you can always have on your website, or links to have in your social media headers. Because these options allow listeners to donate in whatever amount in whatever fashion they prefer (be it one-time donations or recurring donations), you make donating to support your work as easy as possible for your fans. By having these sites listed on social media and your personal sites, you remind your listeners that they can contribute to the show in whatever denomination they choose, and it goes directly to you.
Sites like Ko-Fi can even act as a stepping stone to a patron page. You can set the denomination you’d want donations in (being anywhere from one to three dollars) and people donate in that denomination as many times as they like. In doing that, you can then offer certain things in return for a specific amount of denominations hit. So for example if you set the Ko-Fi denomination at two dollars and someone sends you five “coffees,” they’re sending you ten dollars. In return, you can offer shout-outs, voice-acted bits, or whatever else you can think of.
When it comes to monetizing your podcast, you’ll want to keep putting your energy into making the best content possible! By producing great content, you’ll continuously bring in more listeners and more opportunities for advertisers and listeners to sponsor your podcast.
It’s also important to keep in mind the role that promotion plays in monetization. If you don’t promote yourself and the content you have available - be it physical merchandise, your patron program, or the space available for sponsorship - then you increase the likelihood of your podcast getting overlooked. We do have a separate page and webinar on promoting your podcast, with some great tips and tricks to promoting your podcast, which we highly recommend.
Want to learn more on monetizing your podcast? Check out our free webinar on monetization tools!