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I got a question from a listener awhile back that I want to answer in today’s show. Zack asked: How much money could a podcaster just starting up expect to make?

I like making money. I know you like making money. But making money with podcasting can be tricky. It can be a hard thing. So in this episode, I want to share some strategies for making money with your podcast.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • There are many ways to make money with podcasting, but you won’t make any money if you quit.
  • Think about how podcasting plays into your long term goals.
  • If you haven’t started a show yet, or if your show is still new, spend some time thinking about ways to make to make money besides ads or Patreon.
  • Some things are more fun if you can do them without worrying about making money.

Show Notes

  • 2:00 I want to start off by saying that it’s ok to want to make money from podcasting, but don’t let a lack of money keep you from doing your podcast.

How Soon Can I Expect to Make Money With Podcasting?

  • 2:15 If you’re just starting out (and you don’t have a pre-existing large audience), don’t expect to make any money with podcasting in the first few years. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible (it is), but it’s possible that you might not even grow a medium or large audience (1000+ listeners per episode) in the first few years.
  • 2:50 Podcasting a long-term investment in your future, not a quick way to make money. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it; there are many benefits to doing a podcast. I talked more about that in episode 27: Why Are You Podcasting?

There are many ways to make money with podcasting, but you won’t make any money if you quit.

Don’t Do It For the Money. Do It Because You Love It.

  • 3:10 I want to give you an example here. I started playing drums when I was 12 years old (I’m 30 now). I practiced a ton when I was a teenager. I added the hours up and I’ve played for well over 10,000 hours. I didn’t make any real money with it until I was in my mid twenties, but the first time I got paid to play was when I was in college. A friend’s band asked one of my friends to cover a show for them at a local bar. We didn’t really have songs prepared, so we just kind of jammed for awhile. We did so poorly that the bar owner gave us money after 30 minutes and told us we didn’t need to play any more songs (ouch). He basically paid us to stop playing.
  • 4:49 My point here is that if you’re new to something, it might take you awhile to figure out how to make money with it. Don’t take the lack of money as a sign that you should quit.

Think About Ways Your Podcast Can Make Money

  • 5:02 Charli asked: I podcast, but I don’t earn money for it. Should I be?
  • 5:07 It’s good that you’re asking this question. Seriously. It’s great that you’re thinking about it. So here’s another story for you.
  • 5:16 I’ve been focusing on getting back in shape this year, and last week I had a conversation with my friend and Community member Alex Kelerman about running and diet, and it was really helpful. I started thinking about how fun it’d be to do a podcast where I interview people about health and fitness, you know, like their workout routines and habits, how they eat healthy, what their journey was like, things like that.
  • 5:44 But I realized that while it’d be fun to make a podcast about fitness, I don’t have a good plan for monetizing it. If I did do a podcast about fitness, I’d be paying $12/month for hosting and investing a bunch of time into it. It’d still be worth it to me, and I know a lot of other people would find it valuable, but there’s something else i have to consider, and that’s opportunity cost.
  • 6:22 The time I invest in that podcast would be time and mental energy that I wouldn’t be investing in other things, like the Successful Podcasting course I should be working on. I’d like to spend more time working on the course, not less.
  • 6:44 I don’t have the time to do another podcast the right way. I like writing detailed show notes and preparing a ton. I like talking with people on Twitter and answering emails. That stuff takes a lot of time, and I already have this podcast to do. Another podcast would split my focus.
  • 7:07 And then there’s the matter of consistency; would I have time to do another podcast every week? Or would I just do it every couple of weeks or whenever I could get around to it?
  • 7:12 While losing weight and being healthy is one of my long term goals, I’m not planning on making a living teaching people how to do it. If I did do a podcast about it, I’m not sure how I’d make money with it other than ads or doing Patreon.

Think About How Your Podcast Fits Into Your Long Term Goals

  • 7:33 You have to think about how your podcast fits into your long term goals. This podcast (talking about The Podcast Dude) fits into mine because producing podcasts has been my full time job for the past few years. Doing research for my episodes and teaching what I’ve learned helps me get better at my job. I’m also growing an audience of people interested in making podcasts, which is great because I’m working on courses and other products for podcasters. Even though I’m not making a ton of money with the show right now, I have a plan for how to make money with it in the future. If you aren’t making money yet, start thinking about how you could possibly make money in the future.

Thank about how podcasting plays into your long term goals.

How to Make Money With Podcasting

  • 8:12 There are some obvious options when it comes to making money with a podcast. These are the ones that probably come to most people’s minds.

#1. Sponsors/Ads

  • 8:28 We don’t do sponsors/ads on the seanwes network, but I’m not above talking about it.
  • 8:39 If you want to sell ads, what you’ll be doing is growing a specific kind of audience and finding companies that have products or services that your audience would be interested in. This is why it’s important to have a narrow focus for your show. If you podcast about a very specific topic, you’ll grow an audience of people who care deeply about that topic, and you’ll have an easier time finding companies whose products or services will be a good fit for that audience. You’ll still need to grow a pretty sizable audience; the common wisdom is that you need at least 5000 downloads per episode to get advertisers attention, although that number depends on the company.

Patreon

  • 11:00 Note: Patreon is a crowdfunding platform popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and webcomic artists. It allows artists to obtain funding from their fans or patrons, on a recurring basis, or per artwork. This is basically asking people to support you out of the goodness of their hearts. This works for many people and is one of the easiest ways to make money with a podcast.
  • 11:13 One problem with this is that it satisfies the rule of reciprocity. That is, if you’re providing a ton of value to someone, they feel obligated to repay you in some way. Supporting you through Patreon is one way they can square that debt, that is, not feel obligated to you anymore. If you’re willing to play the long game, instead of accepting donations through Patreon, you could use the rule of reciprocity to drive sales of a product or service you offer.
  • 11:49 I’ve never used Patreon before because I have a different plan for making money with my podcast, but it’s a really interesting platform that I’d like to talk more about in a future episode (hit me up if you’re having success with Patreon, let’s talk).

Less Obvious Options for Making Money With Podcasting

  • 12:33 Femke asked: If I want to make money from my podcast, but don’t want to engage in sponsorship, what are some other ways I could explore to make money from it?
  • 12:51 There are many different ways to make money from a podcast. Selling ads isn’t the only option. There are other, far less obvious things, like using the podcast as a way to get new clients for your business, relationship marketing, building valuable relationships that can lead to full time jobs or collaborations in the future, affiliate sales, and so on.

If you haven’t started a show yet, or if your show is still new, spend some time thinking about ways to make to make money besides ads or Patreon.

Your Podcast Can Help You Sell Products

  • 13:07 If you have a product to sell, for example, coffee, you could do a podcast to grow an audience of people who would be interested in buying your product. I was on a podcast about coffee recently, talking about my coffee addiction. One of the sponsors of that podcast is a company that sells coffee subscriptions. That company recently started their own podcast, which is a great example of making a podcast to build awareness about the products you have for sale.

Your Podcast Can Help You Sell Client Services or Consulting

  • 14:03 This is one way I make money with my podcast. Even though I’m a full-time employee of seanwes, if I wasn’t, I would be attracting lots of people who need a podcast editor. If you offer any kind of client services, you could probably attract additional clients with a podcast.
  • 14:22 Consulting is another way to make money with a podcast. If you have expertise, if you know how to do something or solve a problem, there are people out there willing to pay you for your knowledge or help.
  • 14:41 For example, I’ve offered consulting services for several years. If you want one-on-one help with your podcast, you can email me and I’ll jump on a Skype call with you (for a small fee). I’ve also recently started offering podcast reviews as a service as well. As much as I love my listeners, I don’t have time to listen to and provide feedback on everyone’s podcast. But I can offer reviews as a service and charge for them.

Sign Up For Affiliate Accounts to Make Some Extra Money Every Month

  • 15:49 Amazon, iTunes, and many other companies offer affiliate accounts. You can make money by sending (referring) people to a company that has a product of service for sale. I mainly do this with Amazon; since many of the products I recommend are for sale on Amazon, I use affiliate links and get a little kickback from Amazon every time someone buys a product that I linked to in my show notes. It doesn’t cost them any extra, and I get to invest that money into more podcasting gear. Win/win. Note: I use a Mac App called Affiliates to quickly generate Amazon and iTunes affiliate links. Check it out.

Reasons to Podcast Besides Making Money

  • 18:06 There are great reasons to podcast that have nothing to do with short-term income. I’ve said before that I think these things are more valuable in the long term. By “these things”, I mean:
  • 18:23 #1. Relationships. I’m huge on relationships. I asked Twitter this morning, “are you making money with your podcast? If so, how? If not, what are you getting out of it?” Most of the people that responded said it was more about the relationships they were building with their podcast. I personally believe that investing in relationships is one of the best long-term strategies. Getting to know a single person can change the entire course of your life.
  • 19:05 Even if I knew there was no chance I would ever make money with podcasting, I still believe that the relationships I’d build would make it worth the time investment.

Some things are more fun if you can do them without worrying about making money.

  • 19:17 #2. You’ll get better at communicating and writing. If you podcast consistently (and prepare for your episodes), you’ll get better at writing and talking which are both extremely valuable skills to have whether you’re looking for a job or trying to attract clients to your freelance business.
  • 19:32 #3. Become known as an authority/expert in your field. One of the responses I got from Twitter in response to my question about podcasting was from Prescott Perez-Fox, who said, “I needed a way to become “famous” in my field w/o working for a top-flight firm.” You can become known as an expert in your field by sharing what you’ve learned. Demonstrating your expertise will help you grow your audience.

Sean McCabe and I are going to be doing a free live training event about how to make money with podcasting soon. Sign up for the email list to get notified. Seriously, it’s going to be amazing and I don’t want you to miss out, so go sign up now.

Q&A

  • 28:38: Charli said: Before the Community, I assumed that all legit podcasts have sponsors just because most seemed to. So I could see why people starting out could fall into that trap.
  • 28:57 What does “legit podcast” even mean? Just because you don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 listeners, that means you’re not legit? I don’t buy that. You can have a legit podcast with only 300 subscribers. No one starts off famous. You have to put in the time to get good and grow an audience.
  • 30:36 John Loudon asked: Do you think it’s ok to offer a wider range of services than what you talk about on your podcast? For example, my show is about Ecommerce, but I offer a variety of web design services.
  • 31:06 It comes down to what you want to do with your time, but I’m all for up-sells. If someone comes to you for an Ecommerce setup and you can sell them design and branding services, great.
  • 31:46 I’m all for curation. I mentioned a fitness podcast earlier in the show; one of the reasons I don’t think I’ll do it is because I don’t really want to be known as the fitness dude. I put myself in the podcasting “box” because that makes it easier for people to decide if they want to follow me or not, but I could very easily do three different podcasts. I could do a podcast about podcasting, I could do a podcast about being a musician, and I could do a podcast about fitness and diet.
  • 32:26 Maybe I could grow a decent audience for all three, but that’s splitting my focus, and really, keeping all three from reaching their full potential because my time and attention would be split. If I focused on one instead, I would have three times as much time and energy to devote to it.
  • 33:14 Always ask yourself if the thing you’re doing right now is going to help you get you closer to where you want to be in five or ten years. If you don’t know where you want to be in five or ten years, spend some time thinking about it.