How To Monetize a Podcast Without a Big Audience

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(By Casey Franco) Vadim and Sergei Revzin are identical twins who were able to make millions off their small podcast with a few easy steps. Their show is called The Mentors

Remember everybody starts from zero.

Early stage podcasters tend to ask when it’s okay to start charging for a service and the answer tends to be much sooner than expected. Rely on the market itself to tell your whether or not your show has value. Put what you have out there as soon as you have it and let your listenership decide your direction.

The twins at this phase began emailing anyone they could about how to promote a business, not just a podcast. There was one specific value they wanted to get out of all this. They needed an external party to start showing their own product to give it value. For them, this was bold, a Facebook-produced internet variety show.

They then shifted to entry into other audiences directly. They though they could do this by pivoting into publishing. They attempted to get a column in Goalcast by directly emailing the owner with a pitch demonstrating their value. They made sure to highlight that their missions aligned. In the email he requested the column so the answer came with a response. This is why the initial request is so important.

The twins got the column and developed a separate audience that they were then able to direct back to their podcast. Now they had some published content and a small audience. They needed to get reposted on other platforms. Forbes was their white whale.

After months of pushing, they became contributors to Forbes and that was their first instance of their content having monetary value.

At a convention later on, they happened to meet someone who runs the Harvard Business Review. They asked to come on the show and were turned down because they tend to only promote published authors. So after sending months of drafts and papers, they were finally published.

The morals here are to always ask for more than what you need. Don’t let fear get in the way of the market determining your value. Lead with the value that you already have. Writing to make money for a podcast is a very common route. Use your podcast to build credibility. Use your writing to make money.

Hosting public talks are another avenue for revenue. The twins were able to find an opening when a speaker for Meetup.com dropped out. Their first few talks were free and they slowly started charging moderate ticket prices. Once their audience was solidified, they began reaching out to sponsors. It takes time, but this is a very viable method for making money. Especially if your audience aligns with potential sponsors.

Now they were writing for Forbes and hosting events on top of a podcast. That takes a lot of time. How do they get access to a new audience at this point?

Guesting.

Once you’ve made a name for yourself you can do for others that which has already been done for you. Reach out to other shows and platforms in or out of your lane. For the twins, they made an entire “mentorship series” complete with literature and then invited various other shows to participate. The made connection with two PR companies which then passed the opportunity onto their clients. They didn’t charge to participate. In fact, they provided free audio and video recording to sweeten the pot. Now they were getting big clients. Once you have proven media, you can start charging the companies who sign on for the produced media afterwards.

The additional value in all of this is the varying audiences through this event. These sessions served two purposes. Making money and introducing the twins to new audiences. If your brand is crafted expertly, this becomes cyclical.

Now that they have a brand underneath them, they shifted their focus to newsletters. Actual, physical, newsletters delivered through the mail. This endeared them to the customers adventurous enough to sign on. This was a creative spin on an old classic and it paid off since they could charge for it like it was a luxury item with exclusive information.

Vadim and Sergei started from zero and built a podcasting and business empire through tenacity and mobility. Start by using any possible lane of revenue, but be ready to shift and pivot whenever one spring dries up. Don’t be intimidated by starting from zero. You have value and your content has value. You just need to begin.

Casey Franco can be reached by e-mail at caseyfranco@me.com

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