John Lee Dumas launched a podcast called Entrepreneurs On Fire in September 2012. Since, we’ve created an entire business around the podcast, and every month we monetize to the tune of six figures.
You can learn about every one of our income streams, in addition to everyone of our expenses, in our monthly income reports.
This post is going to focus on how to monetize a podcast. We’ll share the top 5 ways we monetize our podcast, and throughout we’ll be sharing everything we’ve learned about these monetization strategies in order to help you monetize your podcast.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of EVERY way possible to monetize your podcast; be creative, thoughtful, unique, and take these top 5 ways as inspiration for your own podcasting journey!
Top 5 Ways to Monetize Your Podcast
This list is in no particular order, but I have feeling I already know what you’re thinking: the most popular way to monetize a podcast is through sponsors.
While sponsors are a great way to monetize, and they do make up a large percentage of our revenue, they are not always the best way to monetize based on your podcast and your goals. It’s important to keep this in mind.
As you read through the top 5 ways, remember: your business and podcast is set up and runs in a different way than ours, and you’re likely speaking to a different audience.
Just because these are our top revenue streams, doesn’t mean they will be yours, too.
1. Online Courses
We launched our first online course, Podcasters’ Paradise, in October 2013, just a little over one year after launching the podcast, Entrepreneurs On Fire.
By that time we had grown a steady following and listenership for the podcast, and we were spending a lot of time engaging with our audience via email, social media, and at in-person events.
Through that engagement we learned a lot about what our audience was struggling with, which is the most important thing you could ever know about your audience.
The pain point our audience was telling us they had was this: they wanted to create, launch, grow, and monetize their own podcast, and they had no idea where to start.
So, after a lot of brainstorming and trial and error, we created the solution: an exclusive membership site and community filled with video tutorials, templates, and resources to help you create, grow, and monetize your own podcast.
To date, we’ve generated over 4 million dollars in revenue from Podcasters’ Paradise, and we’re still going strong over five years later with more than 3,400 members and counting!
So what is YOUR audience’s biggest pain point, and can you create the solution in the form of an online course and promote that on your podcast?
About 6 months post launch – in March of 2013 – an author reached out to John and asked if he could sponsor the podcast.
This author was about to launch a new book, and his ideal reader was an entrepreneur who was just starting out and who was looking to launch and grow their own business (that essentially describes our listener, so it was a perfect fit).
Because he knew it would be a win/win/win situation, John said ok, the author submitted a $500 payment for the ads, and John inserted a 15-second pre-roll and a 60-second midroll talking about the author and his upcoming book.
Since, the way we run our sponsorships for the podcast has changed and evolved a lot.
We went from one-off sponsorships with individual authors and creators, to signing multi-month contracts with some of the biggest businesses in the industry, including ZipRecruiter, Klaviyo, Capterra, ClickFunnels, and more.
The biggest lessons we’ve learned about podcast sponsorships to date include:
- The sponsorship has to be a win/win/win: for your audience, for the sponsor, and for you – otherwise, it won’t work. Example: you wouldn’t take on a sponsor offering kid’s books to an audience of single men between the ages of 35-30. The ad just wouldn’t make sense, and it wouldn’t covert at a high level.
- It’s a lot of work – everything from building the relationship and gaining trust, to agreeing on terms, coming up with copy… sponsorships aren’t easy. Example: my last back-and-forth email chain with a sponsor – starting with the outreach all the way through to having approved reads for the first ad – consisted of 87 emails.
- Sponsorships have to FIRST make sense for you and your business based on your goals. Example: if your business goal right now is to sign on 5 new one-to-one clients for your coaching business, then getting distracted with promoting someone else’s product or service via ads on your podcast isn’t going to help you accomplish that goal.
I’ll expound a bit on that last point, because it’s a big one…
There is no “one size fits all” for podcast sponsorships, and you will always run the risk of diluting your content when you place ads in the middle of it.
So again, it has to make sense for you and your business based on your goals.
Sponsorships also come in many different shapes and sizes, and not all sponsorships are equal. While there are “industry standards” for podcast sponsorships (how much you can and should charge based on the number of downloads you get), your agreement should be what YOU want it to be.
Not every ad deal has to follow the CPM (cost per mille) model. You can create an ad deal that follows CPA (cost per acquisition), or one that is a flat rate for a sponsorship package (including more than just the podcast ad).
We put together an ultimate guide for podcast sponsorships to give you an in-depth rundown, but remember: no matter what sponsorship model you go with (even if it means you sponsor your own podcast), make sure it makes sense for you and your business based on the goals you have set.
First off, let’s talk about the difference between sponsorships and affiliates.
A sponsorship is when an individual or a company pays you a set amount of money to promote their product, service, or company to your audience.
An affiliate is when you promote a product, service, or company to your audience and you are then paid out a certain percent or dollar amount per transaction or customer acquisition.
We’ve been nurturing and growing affiliate relationships with several different partners for years, and to-date it’s proven to be a very successful income stream for us.
So how do you become an affiliate?
Well, it starts with figuring out who – or what – you want to be an affiliate for. Make a list of the top companies you currently use yourself. This initial list should also be based on the products, services, software platforms, or companies you know your audience would benefit from.
A good rule when looking at potential affiliate relationships to pursue is to make sure you know, like, trust – and ideally use – the product, service, software platform, or company you want to team up with.
Some examples of the top affiliate relationships we have right now – and that we get paid a commission on every time we refer a new customer – include:
- ClickFunnels (marketing and funnel software for entrepreneurs)
- Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy (how to promote and sell your online course)
- Bluehost (website hosting)
- Libsyn promo code FIRE (podcast hosting)
Again, your goal with the affiliate relationships you build should be to start with finding a product, service, software platform, or company you know, like, trust, and use. Once you have your list, it’s time to reach out and ask to become an affiliate partner.
Good news for podcasters: there are some companies who offer affiliate programs that are perfect for you and your audience regardless of your podcast topic.
A great example of one is Audible.
Podcast listeners clearly love consuming content audibly, which means they’d probably be interested in at least trying out a subscription to Audible: an audiobook library where you can download books in any genre and then listen to them on-the-go.
If you want to learn more about Audible and find out how you can become an affiliate and promote them on your podcast starting day 1, head over to EOFire.com/audible!
This isn’t your typical top way to monetize your podcast, but it has definitely been a successful income stream for us here at Entrepreneurs On Fire.
And sometimes your most successful revenue streams will come as a result of doing something different.
We launched our first crowdfunding campaign back in January 2016 in conjunction with launching our first physical product: The Freedom Journal: Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days.
While we could have launched The Freedom Journal by marketing it to our audience using the podcast, our website, and our email list, we decided to reach further and use Kickstarter to help us get the word out about the journal.
Our campaign on Kickstarter ran for 33 days, generated over $453,000, and closed with over 7,000 backers. This landed us as the third most funded publishing campaign of all time.
As result, this campaign not only gave The Freedom Journal a lot more exposure than it would have gotten otherwise, it also gave us a valuable experience with crowdfunding that we also used to help launch our second journal, The Mastery Journal: Master Productivity, Discipline, and Focus in 100 Days.
Crowdfunding isn’t for everyone.
Setting up your crowdfunding campaign, giving it the marketing push it deserves (and requires) to be a success, and investing the time every single day for the duration of your campaign – not to mention the fulfillment period – is not easy.
But, the reason crowdfunding makes our top 5 list is because it’s a way to monetize your podcast that 99% of people aren’t going to take the time or effort to figure out – and again, those are the opportunities that will allow you to WIN.
5. Coaching & Membership Masterminds
Coaching was one of the very first ways John monetized after launching the podcast.
Within a couple of months after launch, John had listeners reaching out to him asking if he offered private, one-on-one coaching to help individuals create their own podcast.
John was no expert at podcasting – in fact, when John first launched Entrepreneurs On Fire he had zero broadcast experience and zero online presence. He was literally starting from scratch.
But he took the time to learn through consuming content online and in books, plus he invested in himself by joining a mastermind and hiring a mentor to learn how to be a better podcaster.
So when these individuals from Fire Nation reached out and asked John to be their coach so they could start their own podcast, he was actually in a position to offer up his expertise.
Coaching might not be your thing, especially when it comes to private, one-on-one coaching. But you might also consider group coaching, or offering something called a mastermind.
The very first membership we presented to our audience post-launch was a mastermind community called Fire Nation Elite. (When I say membership, I mean a recurring, monthly expense.)
We ran Fire Nation Elite for over two years, and it was an incredible experience to help other entrepreneurs and podcasters on their journey.
We built a lot of lifetime friendships, and we were able to provide a platform for hundreds of other entrepreneurs to do the same – all while improving their businesses and having support while navigating their entrepreneurial journey.
That’s the power of a mastermind: you’re providing a platform for your audience to come together and support one another.
No matter what type of journey you’re on – or your audience is on – knowing you’re not alone, and having like-minded people you can turn to for support: that is priceless.
If you’re interested in creating and running your own mastermind, we have a free course to help you get set up!
Monetize Your Podcast Your Way
Now that you have the rundown on the top 5 ways we monetize our podcast, you hopefully have some ideas around how you can monetize your podcast.
There are several strategies I haven’t even touched on in this post that are viable options and very popular when it comes to how to monetize a podcast, like:
- Writing and selling a book
- Hosting in person or virtual meetups and events
- Offering access to premium content (bonus episodes and content behind a pay wall)
- Using Patreon for a pay-want-you-want donation model
The list goes on, and again, this is your time to be creative, listen to your audience, and create the solution to their biggest problem.
We hope you’ll walk away from this post with some great ideas for how to monetize a podcast, but also with the understanding that every podcast and every business is different. Just because one of these ways works for us, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, too.
You have to figure out how to monetize your podcast your way, and that starts with providing free, valuable, and consistent content to an audience who wants and needs it. You’ve got this!
Looking for up-to-date, top strategies, plus a community of podcasters who are all ready to help support you on your podcasting journey?
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make money with a podcast?
Yes, there are several ways to make money with a podcast.
How much money can you make from a podcast?
You can make anywhere from hundreds of dollars per month to thousands of dollars per month from a podcast.
How many downloads does it take to monetize a podcast?
While downloads are a factor when it comes to podcast sponsorships, they aren’t the deciding factor for all types of monetization. You can monetize a podcast with 100 downloads if those 100 downloads are coming from engaged listeners.
When should you monetize a podcast?
You should monetize a podcast when it feels right for you. It’s important to grow an audience who knows, likes, and trusts you before focusing on monetization.
How much should I charge for a podcast?
Podcasts are popular and their reach continues to grow because they are free. Many podcasts have bonus content behind a paywall or use platforms like Patreon to take donations of all amounts.