(By Dave Jackson) Before we get into the actual strategies of monetization, let’s not forget the obvious fact that often gets overlooked: You monetize your audience. It’s not called fundcrowding, it’s called crowdfunding. If you don’t have a crowd, you won’t have any funds.
1. Selling Your Own Products
This BY FAR is the most profitable strategy for monetizing your podcast. You’ve given your audience value. You produce a podcast on a regular schedule and consistently deliver value. Your audience now knows, likes, and trusts you. When you produce a product that fits their needs and delivers value, it is a home run for sales.
2. Selling Other People’s Products (Affiliate Marketing)
With the right product that fits your audience, this can be just as profitable as selling your own product. When the Fitbit activity monitor first came on the scene, I made $9 per sale. Even with a smaller audience, I made $50 CPM.
This is the strategy that most people jump to and yet it is often the least profitable. Radio-sold advertising using the CPM (price per thousand listeners) model. This now translates to a price per one thousand downloads. If you look at your basic podcast with 300 downloads a week (1,200 downloads a month), with a CPM of $35 they would make $42 for the month.
This is why, if you have a smaller niche show, instead of using CPM, you should use a flat rate for each episode. A person who has a product for triathletes might advertise in magazines such as Men’s Health, Shape, Women’s Health, or Running. With this scenario, they are hoping some of that audience are active triathletes. When they find a podcast dedicated to triathletes, they should be willing to pay more as you have a much more targeted (and valuable) audience.
Dynamic advertising is technology that inserts ads (often at the beginning of the episodes, known as pre-roll and the end as post-roll) automatically. The income from these is small ($1.50 CPM up to possibly $6), and only slightly works for those with millions of downloads per episode.
4. Crowdfunding And Donations
What if you want the absolute freedom to say whatever you want and not worry about a sponsor pulling their support? Crowdfunding through sites like Patreon.com or donations through sites like PayPal.com can offer surprising results. This relies on the law of reciprocity. This means because you have delivered value, the audience feels they are indebted to you and must pay it back.
This is not a “set it and forget it” solution. Instead of running an advertisement on your show, you now run a spot asking people to join your campaign. It’s not enough to put a PayPal button your site. With this in mind, there are some podcasters who have been building their audience for years (not months) and are making six figures through crowdfunding. See https://graphtreon.com/
5. Live Events
While podcasts like Pod Save the Queen may sell out two nights at Radio City Music Hall (with 6,015 seats) at a ticket price of $40 (which means the gross income was $240,600 for one night) you could do an event online using tools such as Zoom.us for streaming the event, and eventbrite.com for selling the tickets.
6. Free Stuff
As you become a digital influencer, companies may send you their product to use in exchange for you talking about it on their show.
I have a whole segment on my show called “Because of my Podcast” where my listeners share the endless opportunities that they experience that never would have happened without their podcast. These opportunities (such as speaking, traveling, jobs, networking) can often lead to other opportunities and relationships that then further your monetization efforts.
According to the book Beyond Powerful Radio, Valerie Geller states that it can take up to three years to build an audience on the radio. Be patient and focus on delivering consistent value. Make it easy to share and subscribe to your show. By focusing on the crowd, you can later add the funds.
Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcaster and consultant. He started the School of Podcasting in 2005 and has helped more podcasters with their podcast than any other human on the planet. Find him at www.schoolofpodcasting.com