Updated March 2020
Ready to create, grow, and monetize a podcast? You’re in the right place!
My name is John Lee Dumas and I’m the host of Entrepreneurs On Fire, an award-winning podcast where I interview today’s most inspiring Entrepreneurs.
Since I launched in 2012, I’ve published over 2,200 episodes, and Entrepreneurs on Fire generates over a million listens a month.
We pride ourselves on transparency, so every month we publish our income report to share our biggest wins, losses, and lessons learned so you can emulate our successes and avoid our failures.
In addition to this ultimate guide to podcasting, I want to share two free resources before we dive in that I know you’ll find incredibly helpful on your podcasting journey:
- Free Podcast Course: Bite-sized trainings on how to create and launch your podcast!
- The Podcast Masterclass: A 1-hr training that dives deep into creating, launching, growing, and monetizing your own podcast!
Alright, let’s dive in!
The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting
Creating your podcast doesn’t have to be a big, fat, hairy, scary thing. It can actually be one of the funnest experiences, and the personal growth and knowledge you’ll gain through podcasting can’t be beat.
To show you how simple is truly can be, let’s look at the 5 steps to creating your podcast.
Creating your Podcast in 5 steps
- The 8-step process
1. Your Podcast Topic
What should my podcast topic be?
This is the #1 question I receive.
First, get your mindset right. Podcasting is a marathon, not a sprint.
Your topic needs to light a FIRE inside that will keep burning for the next three to five years, minimum.
Your listeners will be able to sense the passion (or lack thereof) in your voice, so make it easy on yourself and choose something you love and are passionate about.
When you choose the right topic, podcasting is not work but FUN.
Through podcasting you’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with those you admire while learning more about a topic that inspires you.
Video Tutorial #1: Your Podcast Topic
2. Your Podcast Avatar
This is the biggest mistake 99% of podcasters make when creating their podcast: they don’t craft their avatar.
Your Avatar is your ONE perfect listener.
Your Avatar is the ONE person who will listen to your podcast and ask him or herself, “Was this Podcast created specifically for me? Do I feel like the host is talking directly to me, addressing my pain points, and giving me valuable information on how to move past my biggest struggles?”
Right now you’re reading this and saying, “But I want my podcast to be for more than just one person; I want the world to love me and to have millions of listeners!”
It’s a mistake I made.
If you try to create a podcast that resonates with EVERYONE, you will resonate with NO ONE.
Your goal is to serve a loyal base of listeners at an incredibly high level.
This will only be possible if you know your avatar inside out and base your decisions on what your avatar would want.
Podcast length? Frequency? Interview-based? Topic-based?
What Would My Avatar Want?
Every question you have about your podcast should be answered by your avatar; and guess what, YOU create your avatar!
I was so committed to this process that I spent $3,000 on an animated video of my avatar, Jimmy. Through this process I came to know Jimmy inside and out, and every time I turned on the mic, I was speaking to and helping Jimmy.
Should you create an animated video of your avatar?
Maybe. But maybe not.
A pen, paper, and 2,000 words will do.
Here’s Jimmy in action!
And here’s a tutorial outlining the exact process for creating your avatar…
Video Tutorial #2: Your Avatar
3. Your Podcast equipment
You can check out my complete list of recommended podcasting equipment here.
Buying and setting up podcast equipment is a scary thought for someone who doesn’t consider themselves a ‘techie’.
I’m here to tell you it’s much simpler than you think.
Below is a picture of Kate’s podcasting setup. All you need is a laptop, a mic, and recording software.
The ATR-2100 microphone (that’s our affiliate link; we recommend the equipment we use and love) is the best microphone for your money, and it plugs into any USB port – super easy!
Video Tutorial #3: Your Podcast Equipment
4. Your Podcast Software
How do I record and edit my podcast?
A great question.
There are 3 recording and editing software options I recommend for recording and editing your podcast.
My #1 recommendation is Adobe Audition
Adobe Audition works with both PC and Mac, but it’s not free.
To use Adobe Audition, you’ll pay $20 a month for the Creative Cloud membership.
I believe this is one of the best investments you’ll make on your podcasting journey; becoming an expert in Audition has done wonders for my podcast.
If you’re looking to learn the basics of Audition, a simple YouTube search will do.
If you’re looking to become a pro, then within Podcasters’ Paradise I have several in-depth video tutorials I created specifically for those looking to master the Adobe Audition software.
My #2 recommendation is Audacity
Audacity works with both PC and Mac, and it’s free!
There are fewer bells and whistles than with Audition, but Audacity will definitely get the job done for you when it comes to recording and editing your podcast.
Within Podcasters’ Paradise we have plenty of tutorials that will get you well on your way with Audacity, too!
My #3 recommendation is GarageBand
GarageBand is for Mac only, comes pre-installed, and it’s free!
Again, you get what you pay for, so there are fewer bells and whistles, but GarageBand will also get the job done for you.
Within Podcasters’ Paradise we have plenty of tutorials for you on GarageBand, too!
4b. Recording Podcast Interviews
Every single episode of the 2,200+ I have recorded for Entrepreneurs On Fire has been on a Skype-to-Skype call.
Why do I insist on Skype-to-Skype?
Unlike landlines or mobile phones, Skype uses technology called V.O.I.P.: Voice Over Internet Protocol.
There is no need to get technical here (you can Google it if you wish to learn more); all that’s really important to know is VOIP sounds MUCH better than using a cell phone.
If one of my guests says, “I don’t have Skype”, then my response is this:
Please create a free Skype account and send me your user name, as Fire Nation deserves the highest audio quality I’m able to provide, and Skype will ensure that.
What if they decline to do so?
Simply put, they are not the right fit for Fire Nation, and I move on to the next potential guest.
**Note: I’ve never encountered someone unwilling to join Skype.
Recording audio interviews on Skype
There are three ways to record Skype calls that I recommend, and those are, in no particular order:
- Directly into your software (Audition, Audacity, or GarageBand – this is a pretty complicated setup process)
- eCamm Call Recorder (note: eCamm does not currently have an update for the new Apple update to Catalina)
- Zencastr or Zoom.us (if using these options, you can eliminate Skype and just connect with your guest on Zencastr or Zoom itself)
If you’re recording directly into your software for an interview show, a mixer is required. In my opinion, this is a lot more technical than you need to get, especially when you’re first starting out.
eCamm Call Recorder works GREAT, and after you record you can split your tracks if you wish to edit on separate tracks (this allows you to get a lot more precise with your editing).
If you choose Zencastr, that will be your Skype + call recorder in one. It records each side of the conversation separately, so you’ll have separate tracks for editing when all is said and done.
Zoom.us is also another “all-in-one” connecting and recording option for interview podcasts.
If you’re doing a video podcast, then I recommend Zoom.us.
5. The 8-step Podcasting Process
Here is the 8-step process for publishing a podcast:
1. Press Record
This is actually a lot harder than it sounds, because this is when the imposter syndrome kicks in.
You’ll hear a voice saying:
- Who am I to share my thoughts with the world?
- Who would want to listen to me?
- Who would want to come on my show?
As someone who has personally mentored hundreds of podcasters one-on-one, I can say with confidence that you cannot avoid these thoughts. They are part of being human, and the best step you can take to get passed them is to accept they exist and always will.
I have to overcome the imposter syndrome almost every day. And in the beginning, I delayed my launch for over 5 weeks because I was scared.
How did finally overcome it? I pressed record and I spoke.
The words will come, trust me.
2. Edit and add your intro and outro
This is where you can fix mistakes, add intros, outros, calls to action, etc.
Adobe Audition makes this process super simple, and in the video below I’ll show you how!
3. Export your file as an MP3
Exporting an MP3 file is just like saving a document in Microsoft Word.
The export specs I recommend are: 44100 Hz 16-bit, Mono, 64kbps, CBR (constant bit rate).
This will ensure your audio files stay small, and this will not only potentially save you money on your hosting account, but it will also save your listeners from having to wait on huge files to download on their computer or mobile device.
4. Tag your MP3
Tagging your MP3 is an important step, as it adds important information to the audio file such as keywords, title, and description.
I recommend the tagging software ID3-Editor for this, but you don’t HAVE to use ID3 Editor. You can also tag your episode within your media host (like Libsyn) by adding your title, description, and other relevant info.
You can see an example of how tagging will look in the ID3 Editor below:
5. Upload to your media host
You will need a media host to store your audio files, and your media host is who will generate an RSS feed for you to submit to the major directories (like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Spotify, etc).
My #1 recommendation for hosting your podcast is Libsyn. Use the promo code FIRE and you’ll get the rest of the current month and all of next month for FREE!
6. Schedule your release date
In May of 2014, Kate and I took a trip to Europe for 14 days – completely unplugged from our business.
The #1 question we received before and after the trip was: “How are you going to keep your podcast episodes going live every day while traveling?”
Simple question, simple answer.
Your media host will allow you to schedule episodes to release on any date and at any time you desire.
I always stay at least a month ahead with Entrepreneurs On Fire.
Once you have all your settings correct in your hosting platform, and you have double checked the release date, it’s time to PUBLISH that episode!
When you publish through your media host, nothing really happens, as you have yet to take step 8, which is submitting your RSS feed to the directories who will display your podcast to the world.
Step 7 is, however, a necessary step before you go on to step 8. You have to make sure at least one of your episodes is ‘live’ at the media host level for the podcast directories to accept your RSS feed.
8. Submit your Podcast to the major directories
This step will only have to be done once!
Once you’re accepted by a platform, like Apple Podcasts, every time you publish an episode in your hosting account it will automatically be sent out to every directory you have submitted your podcast to.
Here’s a complete list of all the podcast directories we recommend submitting your podcast to.
Watch the video below where I go through all 8 steps.
Video Tutorial #4: The Complete Podcasting Process
Congratulations – your podcast is live!
Now you’ve successfully created your podcast and released it to the WORLD – CONGRATS!
The rest of this guide will be focused on ways you can grow and monetize your podcast!
How to Podcast: Grow
Now that your podcast is live, let’s talk about getting 1,000 raving fans!
During our Podcast Masterclass, I share 5 amazing growth strategies that are not mentioned here, so if you’re looking for even more great podcast growth strategies be sure to check that out!
We also have an article on the 7 strategies to grow your podcast audience, so be sure to check that out, too!
For now, let’s check out these 7 incredible ways you can start growing your podcast audience TODAY – right here, right now.
1. Have a headquarters – and send listeners there!
Every podcaster needs a place to host all the resources, tips, and tactics shared throughout their valuable episodes. The problem is: most forget to send their listeners there!
This headquarters is your website, and the host I recommend for you if you don’t already have a podcast website is Bluehost (this is our affiliate link and will get you the best monthly hosting package around!)
Once you have your website up and running, don’t forget to let people know about it!
You can share the resources you’re creating on social media, email your family and friends about it, and of course, once you launch your podcast, don’t forget to let your listeners know where they can find more great resources from you!
2. Create a Landing Page to Collect Emails
In order to grow your podcast audience, you need a simple, fast, and effective way to create landing, sales, and email opt-in pages so you can start growing your email list.
An email list is one of the very few direct connections you have with your audience, and once you’ve built a strong, engaged email list, the sky is truly the limit. This engagement is key!
An amazing platform that can help you do this is ClickFunnels, and we recommend it because, well, we use it ourselves EVERY DAY to help run and grow our business! (That’s our affiliate link)
We use ClickFunnels, Infusionsoft, and Optin Monster to help us creating landing pages, email optin forms, campaigns, and have popups that help us collect emails on our website.
But Infusionsoft can be kind of clunky if you’re just getting started, so another great option is Convert Kit.
3. Commingle Audiences
There are going to be other amazing podcasts in your niche who are reaching the same or a similar audience that you are.
Reach out to the hosts of these podcasts and suggest an interview swap! This is an amazing way to commingle your audiences and gain awareness and traction for your podcast. You can think of it like “guest podcasting“.
I spend a full 10-hour day one time per month being interviewed on 20 other shows because I know being exposed to other audiences, no matter the size, will continue to grow my name, brand, and reputation.
And it can do the same for you!
Be bold, make the ask, and you’ll be ready to rock!
4. Ask for Ratings and Reviews
…but do it at the RIGHT times and in the RIGHT places!
SOOOO many people get this wrong.
I hear it all the time on intros, outros, during the episode… heck, I used to do it myself – until I wised up. Podcast hosts LOVE asking for ratings and reviews during their podcast episodes. But if you think about it, what are most podcast listeners doing when they are hearing your voice?
They’re driving, walking, folding laundry, at the grocery store… you name an activity, they are probably doing it.
Now, what are most podcast listeners NOT doing when they are hearing your voice?
They’re not sitting in front of a computer where they can do what needs to be done to leave a meaningful rating and review – not conveniently anyway.
I have over 3,000 reviews in Apple Podcasts, and the reason for this is simple: I ask for reviews at the RIGHT time and in the RIGHT place.
Every day my listeners email, Tweet, and Insta message me thanking me for the show, asking a question, or any number of other things.
I love taking the time to respond to these inquiries, and I always make sure to end each response with the following:
A review would be SO appreciated!
This one response accounts for 90% of my rating and reviews!
Why does asking for Ratings and Reviews this way work so well?
A. You’re reaching people when they are in a position to quickly click on a link and take immediate action, and people like taking immediate action.
B. You’re giving listeners an opportunity to show they are thankful for your podcast and the time you took to respond.
Believe me, they will be grateful to be able to express their thanks with a rating and review if they’ve taken the time to reach out to you in the first place! Words mean a lot – actions mean much more – and humans recognize this.
Once you have ratings and reviews rolling in, podcast listeners searching for relevant content – who WILL look to ratings & reviews when making a listening decision – will see how well-liked your show really is.
5. Create Question and Answer shows (Q&A)
Your audience will grow to know, like, and trust you if your show consistently delivers high value.
However, everyone likes to be involved, have an impact, hear their name – and best yet – hear their question answered by YOU on an episode.
Whether you have an interview or a topic-based podcast, spice things up every now and then with a bonus episode where you take questions from your listeners and answer them!
I used to do this on the weekends back when I interviewed 5 guests per week; I’d have 2 Q&A episodes on the weekends, and Fire Nation loved it!
It doesn’t have to be all the time, but if you let your audience know you care about them and the questions they have enough to create a bonus show around them, then they’ll become even more loyal.
6. Interview the Movers and Shakers in YOUR Industry
Every niche has its rockstars.
And what is one thing rockstars have in common?
A dedicated, engaged audience.
Once you’ve built a platform, reach out to these rockstars and ask for 25 minutes of their time to be interviewed on your show.
Be sure when you ask that you share your mission and what you hope to accomplish through your podcast. Also, be sure they know what’s in it for them (hint: exposure, an opportunity to share what they have going on right now, etc.)
You also want to make sure your interview stands out from the rest.
SO BE UNIQUE!
When you release the episode, reach out to your guest and let them know their show is live. Be sure to include a link to the show notes page on your website, and a request that they share it with their audience (sending them an easy “click to Tweet” will make it more likely they’ll share.)
My recommendation is to share the link to their show notes page on your website versus the episode in Apple Podcasts because you get more traffic to your website, which equals more potential for new visitors to find out more about you.
This single tactic is a major reason for Entrepreneurs On Fire’s success.
Three days a week an email goes out to that day’s guest with the above request, and 3 days a week Entrepreneurs On Fire is being shared with a new audience, some of whom are listening for the first time.
Some of those new listeners are choosing to subscribe to Entrepreneurs On Fire, and some become raving fans.
For the email template I send to my guests when their interview goes live click here!
**Note: getting the “biggest names” on your podcast doesn’t always guarantee success.
Some of the “fan favorites” here on Entrepreneurs On Fire are people who aren’t very well-known in the industry at all. And some of my guests who share their episodes and Entrepreneurs On Fire with the most passion are ones who have very small audiences.
The size of your guests’ audience isn’t the point. The point is that your show is being shared through word of mouth, and once that snowball gets rolling, the momentum will be impossible to stop!
How to Podcast: Monetize
Entrepreneurs On Fire monetizes to the tune of over $150k every month.
So yes, there is potential in podcasting.
Will everyone who launches a podcast monetize it?
Let me break it down…
There is money in growing an audience – no matter what medium you’re leveraging – and podcasting is the best way to grow an audience in today’s online world. I truly believe this.
I am going to take you through the top four ways to monetize your podcast, but remember this: your podcast is not your business.
Your podcast is a vehicle that can help you grow your business.
If you are interested in learning about all the ways Entrepreneurs On Fire monetizes on a monthly basis, you can check out our monthly income reports.
I also talk about monetizing in great detail in our free Podcast Masterclass if you want to dive into more detail.
1. Products and Services
This one will start off being your smallest source of revenue, but as your audience grows, it will quickly turn into your largest.
Your Big Idea, Real Revenue, The Podcast Journal, Podcasters’ Paradise, The Freedom Journal and The Mastery Journal make up a huge chunk of our overall revenue, and that percentage continues to climb as the size of our audience grows.
You might be wondering, “But how do I know what products and services to create?”
Simple answer: you don’t.
Here’s how to find out what products and services to create for your audience:
1. Create valuable, free, consistent content.
2. Grow an audience who knows, likes, and trusts you as a result.
3. Listen to your audience as they share their pain points, needs, desires, obstacles, and challenges.
4. Track this feedback in a spreadsheet or other document.
5. When one or two pain points are repetitively brought to you, create the SOLUTION.
6. Offer that solution to your audience in the form of a product or service.
7. Ask for honest feedback and pivot / improve what you have to offer
This is the exact process we used during the creation of Podcasters’ Paradise, The Freedom Journal, The Podcast Journal, Real Revenue – EVERY product or service we’ve created at Entrepreneurs On Fire.
It’s not easy, it takes time, and you will fail along the way. But when you finally get it right, put the pedal to the metal and IGNITE!
2. One-on-one or group mentoring
Over the past several years I have personally mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs one-on-one who are looking to launch their own podcast and create financial and lifestyle freedom.
I no longer offer this, but I do have a shortlist of highly recommended mentors, so email me if you would like an intro!
So why is mentoring such a great monetization opportunity for podcasters specifically?
Simply put, as a podcast host who provides free, valuable, and consistent content to an audience who wants and needs it, you will become an authority figure in your niche.
You will gain a followers who know, like, and trust you.
They will reach out to you with questions and ask for your time, and it is your responsibility as an entrepreneur and business owner to value your time.
Take these relationships to the next level and offer them a mentorship package.
This was my earliest monetization method, and it could easily become yours, too!
What should you charge? How long should the mentorship last?
These are all questions you’ll have to answer based on what you know about yourself, your avatar, and your industry.
A great place to start is to put a monetary value on your time (seriously ask yourself, how much is an hour of my time worth?).
Then, figure out how long it will take you to truly make a positive impact on your mentee.
Your package might be a 1-hour session, 1 time per week, for 3 months, and cost $3,000.
It might be a 1-hour session, every other week, for 1 month, and cost $1,000.
You need to put a monetary value on your time and offer what feels right for you and your business.
3. Create a Mastermind
Masterminds are a GREAT way to generate revenue, create an amazing platform for like-minds to come together, and make a massive impact.
We started out by launching Fire Nation Elite – a 100 person Mastermind for entrepreneurs who were just getting started on their journey. Several years later, we created The Revenue Crew – an 8-person mastermind for those who were already running a successful business, and wanted to take their 6-figures to 7-figures.
Why is this exciting for you?
Fire Nation Elite and The Revenue Crew prove beyond a doubt how much demand there is for masterminds that provide incredible value.
People want to be part of a tribe; they want to be held accountable; they want to invest in a community where EVERYONE is in it to win it.
Check out our complete guide on how to run a mastermind, and then consider this: what if you were to offer a community to your tribe?
4. Affiliate relationships
Creating relationships with others in your industry or niche who have products and services to offer you know will be valuable for your audience is powerful.
Not only are you creating a strong relationship with the creator, you’re also offering your audience something that will help them on their journey.
The cherry on top is that you’ll actually earn an income when your audience decides to take action and buy whatever it is your affiliate partner has to offer.
So who in your industry or niche has something to offer you know would be of huge benefit to your audience?
Now, get to know them and their products and services!
If you feel great about promoting their products and services, then propose an affiliate relationship where you receive a commission for every sale you send them.
This is oftentimes 50%, but could vary based on how the product or service is set up, and how the creator chooses to run their affiliate program.
EOFire has generated millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue since 2013.
The first month we brought sponsors on the show, our total revenue was $12,350 (30 episodes).
Since then, our monthly income from sponsorships has risen to over $50,000 some months – and up to $100,000 in others.
There is real money in sponsorships, and I’d like to some time to break down what sponsorships are, how you can implement them for your podcast, and much, much more.
Let’s Get Real About Podcast Sponsorships
Can you start a podcast today and have sponsors lined up at your doorstep tomorrow?
Actually it’s very likely the answer to the question is: NO.
Can you start a podcast today in a niche you are passionate and knowledgeable about, (the knowledge part can come with experience); work hard to provide free, consistent value to your audience for a significant amount of time (6 months… a year?); build a captive and engaged audience as a result; then have sponsors beating down your door to get in front of your listeners?
Yes – this is very possible!
My first 6 months at Entrepreneurs On Fire
Let’s take a minute to turn back the clock and go through my first six months at Entrepreneurs On Fire, which we’ll call the “Pre-Sponsorship Days”.
This is just one example of how to go from launch to sponsorships, which by the way may NOT be the route you want to take, and that’s ok.
Sponsorships are not easy, and they aren’t for every podcaster.
I launched on September 22nd, 2012 to four straight days of crickets, AKA no downloads.
Zero, zip, zilch (unless you count my personal downloads).
Then, as my guests began sharing their interviews with their audiences, my download numbers began to climb.
Next thing I knew, I was ranking high in “New and Noteworthy” in Apple Podcasts, which began to drive a ton of organic traffic my way.
My first email every morning was to my featured guest, whose interview went live that day.
Here’s what the email said:
Thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey on EOFire. I would be honored if you would share with your audience.
Here are the links if you decide to do so. <insert links here>
Thank you again for igniting the world!“
The template I use today is downloadable at the end of this post.
Is this email corny?
Is it effective?
Heck yeah! :-)
Soon, the combination of Entrepreneurs On Fire being shared with a new audience daily, and the organic traffic coming my way as a result of ranking in New and Noteworthy got the Entrepreneurs On Fire “snowball effect” rolling.
Our guests sharing Entrepreneurs On Fire with their audiences resulted in more downloads; more downloads resulted in higher rankings in “New and Noteworthy”; higher rankings in “New and Noteworthy” resulted in more organic downloads; and more coal was being added to the fire daily!
Within 2 1/2 months of launch, Entrepreneurs On Fire was generating over 100,000 unique downloads a month.
This level of success is not typical in podcasting. The biggest reason I experienced this level of success? Well, a lot of it had to do with timing.
Nonetheless, it landed me a speaking engagement at NMX Blog World in Vegas, January 2013.
This was the same conference I had attended just six months prior, which is when I approached people like Pat Flynn and Andrew Warner and asked them to be one of my first guests on Entrepreneurs On Fire.
Yes, I got my first guests for Entrepreneurs On Fire from going to NMX and walking up to them, introducing myself, telling them about my vision and mission, and then asking if they’d be a guest on my show! …and this is a great strategy for you to get your first guests, too.
The conference was powerful, and the credibility from speaking at NMX in Vegas landed Entrepreneurs On Fire interviews with Tim Ferriss and Barbara Corcoran in rapid succession.
Then things really started to take off.
In February 2013 I published Podcast Launch: A step by step guide to launching your Podcast.
Podcast Launch immediately became the #1 ranked book in Amazon on Podcasting (and remains so), with over 550 5-star reviews.
Podcast Launch established Entrepreneurs On Fire and myself as an authority figure on podcasting, and as a result other opportunities began to appear.
In mid-March 2013, I was approached by 3 sponsors.
I kindly replied by asking for a week to consider the opportunity, and then I immediately got on the phone with a friend and fellow podcaster who had been in the industry for a while to ask for some unbiased advice.
During our conversation, I found out what sponsors had come to expect from sponsorships and podcast hosts.
Here’s what I learned on that call, and in the months that followed while working with dozens of sponsors for Entrepreneurs On Fire…
Below is the “Industry Standard”. But always remember that YOU are the host of your show and should propose any arrangement you feel is best for you and your listeners.
If the interested sponsor is not game, then, bye bye.
I only partner with sponsors who will add value to Fire Nation, and I never hesitate to turn away sponsors that do not have my listeners’ best interests at heart.
I have created many valuable relationships this way, and many of my current sponsors stay with Entrepreneurs On Fire month after month and year after year because I strive to create a win-win-win in every partnership.
I will share how and why in just a minute.
Industry Standard for Podcast Sponsorships
The current “Industry Standard” podcast sponsorship is a combo 15-second Preroll and a 60-second Midroll.
Preroll: Prior to launching into the main content, the host will talk about the sponsor’s product or service for 15 seconds.
You can click here to listen to a sample.
Midroll: There’s a lot more flexibility here.
Typically inserted somewhere in the 40 – 70% mark of the podcast episode, the Midroll is when the host will talk about the sponsor’s product or service for 60 seconds, often sharing a personal story or experience if possible.
You can click here to listen to a sample.
**Another opportunity for sponsorships is during the outro, which is considered a Postroll. This is also typically 15 second in length.
Today in 2019/2020, we’re running Pre, Mid, and Postrolls on every episode, and sometimes we take the liberty of being our own sponsor, which is an awesome option to consider for yourself.
For example, you might hear me talk about Free Podcast Course, or The Freedom Journal in the Midroll or Postroll of the show (it doesn’t have to be someone else’s product or service you talk about!)
So what exactly are these “Industry Standards”?
A 15-second Preroll commands $18 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
A 60-second Midroll commands $25 per 1000 CPMs (listens).
For ease of math purposes, let’s say your podcast averages 10,000 listens per episode.
18 x 10 (for the 10,000 listens) = $180 is the cost to the sponsor for a Preroll.
25 x 10 (for the 10,000 listens) = $250 is the cost to the sponsor for a Midroll.
Therefore, your 10,000 per episode podcast would cost a sponsor $430 for a Preroll/Midroll combo.
Let’s say you allow 2 sponsors per episode, now you are making $860 per episode.
- 4 episodes a month: $3,440
- 8 episodes a month: $6,880
- 30 episodes a month: $25,800
The above model is only the “industry standard”, and I have structured deals with both higher and lower CPM’s.
A common question is, “How do I know what my ‘average’ listens are so I can determine my CPM rate?“
Look at the download numbers of your episodes starting at six weeks after they go live.
Remember, you’re guaranteeing a MINIMUM number of listens, so you need to be confident that you are fulfilling your end of the contract.
Once you see that EVERY episode is over a certain number of downloads by week six, that is your CPM. You can adjust this as often as monthly (I adjust quarterly).
To be clear, sponsors only care about how many downloads you are guaranteeing for the specific episode they are sponsoring. Go to your stats, look at the downloads you have PER EPISODE, and use that information to find your CPM rate.
What if you over-deliver?
Awesome! Let your sponsors know that is sometimes the case, and they’ll likely feel pretty darn awesome about the fact you’re sending a little extra traffic their way.
Once your quarter (or month) is up with that particular sponsor, then re-evaluate!
Pricing Model: CPM vs CPA
There are 3 routes you can take with your sponsors:
- Cost per mille (CPM): Cost per thousand views (listens in the podcast world).
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): Cost to acquire 1 customer.
- You name the price, sponsors say yes or no. (This model is underrated for newer shows, and I like it… Remember, this is YOUR show!)
Cost per mille (CPM)
First step once you have an interested sponsor is to send them a proposal and agreement. We have example templates at the end of this article so you can see what those might look like.
At that point, they can accept, reject, or negotiate.
My Q4 2019 sponsorship inventory was 100% sold out by September, so I don’t find myself having to negotiate too often. However, when I first started out – or when it came to re-upping with a sponsor who has been with us for a long time – I have done it.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
One of the first ways I started monetizing with Entrepreneurs On Fire was by using this model.
In Podcasters’ Paradise I have a great video tutorial that walks you through the entire process of setting up a partnership with Audible, where you will get paid for every person you send to their sales page that results in a sign up for a free audio book and free 30-day membership.
This is a great example of a “cost per acquisition” sponsorship setup.
There were a couple months in a row where I generated between $2-3k using this model. For those of you that have heard me say “EOFireBook.com”, that was its original use.
In the Podcasters’ Paradise tutorial, I dive into why it was so strategic to use that domain as a forwarding domain instead of the link Audible provides. This strategy has allowed me to stay in control of my evergreen content, meaning that if I ever want that URL to direct somewhere new, I can do so without having to change any of my calls to action for it.
So why not bring more sponsors on?
I will say once again: Your podcast is your show, and therefore it’s your decision. However, my opinion on this matter is as follows:
I am a believer in the law of diminishing returns.
In this case, I believe having 3 or more Preroll, Midroll and/or Postroll sponsors is bad for everyone involved.
- It’s bad for the sponsor.
Their message is getting diminished, less listener action is being taken, and therefore, it is less likely that the sponsor will stay with you when it comes time to talk extension.
- It’s bad for the listener.
Your listener loves listening to podcasts because they’re free, they’re on demand, and they don’t have to put up with annoying commercials on the radio. Podcast sponsorships work so well because it is YOU, the host, who is promoting the product or service, and your listeners trust you.
That trust will deteriorate if you make it seem more about the sponsorships than the listener.
- Finally, it’s bad for the host… you!
Why? Your goal is to provide so much value and high-quality content that your listeners not only keep coming back for more, but they tell their friends and family about it. Your goal is to provide great content, increase your listener base, and by default, increase the amount each sponsor pays you per sponsorship.
The math is simple.
It’s better to have 2 sponsors paying you $430 per episode than 3 paying you $287 for all the reasons above – and every other obvious one.
I will never have more than two sponsors on Entrepreneurs On Fire.
And I will only partner with sponsors that I believe benefit Fire Nation on their Entrepreneurial journey.
Don’t believe me?
I was approached by a Pay-Day loan company that offered me double my going rate to sponsor Entrepreneurs On Fire. I do not believe in Pay-Day loans for many reasons – especially as a recommendation for Fire Nation – so my answer was simple: No.
Saying yes would have generated $18k MORE in sponsorship revenue per month. But it wasn’t even close to worth it… no dollar amount would be if I don’t believe in the product or service.
Show the same care for your audience, and you will be better serving yourself, your sponsor, and most importantly, your listener.
When should I bring on sponsors?
My first recommendation to each podcaster who is interested in going the sponsorship route is to sit down and think.
Sit down and think about the LEAST amount of money it would take for you to dilute your podcast with a sponsorship.
Did I just say dilute? Yep… and I meant it.
Dilute is not meant as a dirty word here. It is meant as a reality.
When you bring on a sponsor, no matter how relevant, and no matter how awesome, you are on some level diluting the message of your podcast.
You’re going to turn off some listeners, (although very few if you do it right); you’re going to be sending some listeners away on actions that do not involve your platform; and you will be distracting some focus from the main content of your podcast.
Are any of these things bad? No, not necessarily.
But I bring them up because they should come with a minimum price tag.
So sit down and come up with that baseline price tag.
Your listeners are valuable, don’t sell them out as otherwise.
For me, $500 was my baseline number when I first brought on sponsors.
I said to myself that if Entrepreneurs On Fire could bring in $500 per episode, that would be $15k per month at 100% capacity… and that made sense. Anything less – nope, not ready yet.
In April 2013, I hit that magic number, and my sponsorship revenue has been growing ever since!
What is your number?
If you know your number, you will be in a MUCH better position come negotiation time with your sponsors.
Also consider the fact that sponsorships might not be right for your show – and that’s okay! Sponsorships shouldn’t be the reason you start a podcast, and they certainly shouldn’t be the focus.
How do I find sponsors?
Within Podcasters’ Paradise I have some great video tutorials on how to find the perfect sponsors, how to reach out to them, and how to lock in the best possible rate for your show. We also discuss how to build great relationships and retain sponsors.
For purposes of this post, I will share some of those tips with you now.
What is your niche?
Here are some things to consider based on your niche.
What companies currently market to your niche?
Is your podcast about raising children? I am sure Babies “R” Us would love to offer value to your audience. Fishing? L.L. Bean and Cabela’s are already lining up!
Listen to other podcasts in your niche.
Do they have sponsors? If so, a well-crafted email to that sponsor could yield a partnership. It has for me on numerous occasions.
The secret is out! Podcast hosts have a captive audience. We have engaged listeners. We have followers that know, like, and trust us, and when we put our stamp of approval on a product or service, that means a lot to our listeners – and sponsors know it!
Think of the podcasts you listen to regularly. Don’t you feel a closer connection to the hosts than you do to the author of a blog, or some unknown voice on a radio ad?
You can also consider hiring a sponsorship broker, like Midroll or AdResults to help.
How should I approach sponsors?
I have a link to a well-crafted email template to the end of this post that I have used to successfully approach many sponsors.
Check it out, review it, breathe it in, and then make it your own.
Approaching sponsors is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Your communication with every sponsor should be well thought out, well researched, and unique to you and your show.
I have interested sponsors, now what?
Let your sponsors know what your download numbers are and what it will cost for them to sponsor an episode.
Send an agreement for them to sign plus the details of what they’ll get with the sponsorship package you’re proposing.
Then, stick to your guns.
At some point, your download numbers may be able to be inserted into the above “Industry Standard” CPM rate and command a higher price than your minimum baseline number.
At that point, it’s time to go back to the negotiating table with your sponsor, and start increasing the amount you receive per episode.
A Summation of Sponsorships
I’d like to end this section on sponsorships by saying this:
Building an audience is an incredible way to create a viable business, and podcasting is an incredible way to build an audience. But your podcast is not your business. Your podcast is a tool that can help you grow your business.
Everything I shared here today is to help you turn your podcast and your business into a viable one, and I hope you’re able to take some of the information provided here and create your own financial and lifestyle freedom!
For further reading on Podcast Sponsorships, visit our Ultimate Guide on Podcast Sponsorships!
Is podcasting right for you?
This has been quite the journey walking through this guide with you!
By now, you should have a pretty solid idea as to whether or not podcasting is right for you.
If you know that podcasting is right for you, then we have an amazing community in Podcasters’ Paradise, and we’d love to welcome you to the Paradise family!
The 100% focus in Podcasters’ Paradise is on helping you create, grow, and monetize your podcast via the following:
- A community of over 3,400 passionate podcasters who are here to support you on your journey.
- A Private FB Group where Kate and I are engaging, supporting, and answering your questions every single day.
- In depth video tutorials that give you the step-by-step for your podcasting journey.
- Email templates, sponsor documents, and loads of samples you can replicate for your own podcast.
- Monthly LIVE Q&A webinars where you can ask us anything!
Podcasters’ Paradise has turned into an incredible place to take your podcast to new heights, and we welcome the beginner, intermediate, and expert podcaster alike!
Until next time, Fire Nation…
Prepare to IGNITE!
Email Template: Approaching a Sponsor for the First Time
Email Template: Sponsorship Proposal
Email Reminder: Your Interview is Live
How to Podcast: Overall Summation
If you made it this far in one sitting, then congratulations! You’re amazing!
If it took you a few sittings to get through How to Podcast: The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting, then no worries, you’re still amazing :-)
So there you have it – How to Podcast: The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting has been written, and I am committed to updating this regularly, and more often if/when major news happens in this exciting world of podcasting.
A final call to action?
Now that you have the knowledge of how to podcast, join our Free Podcast Course for bite-sized trainings that will help you create and launch your podcast with me, JLD!
Until then… prepare to IGNITE!