Podcasting is a rapidly growing form of media that presents unique opportunities for both individuals and businesses. But what are these opportunities? How can you make money through podcasting when you’re just starting out or aren’t interested in paid advertising? In this episode, I answer this and more.
This past May, Podfest invited me to speak on how one can effectively monetize a podcast and to share how I’ve managed to grow and monetize my podcast, The GoGedders, to over 220,000 downloads in three years and generated over seven figures for GGMM. So, whether you currently have a podcast or are curious about the benefits of starting a podcast for your business, you’re sure to learn some key insights. So tune in and discover the top four ways to monetize your podcast.
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The Top 4 Ways To Monetize A Podcast Without A Huge Following
If you read through the whole thing, you’ll be walking away with my main takeaways from a few successful podcasters that spoke at Podfest and my four ways to monetize a podcast without a mega-following so you don’t have to rely on ads. These four ways are all based on what I’ve done personally over the years to generate well over seven figures in revenue for GGMM based directly on the podcast that has enabled the GoGedders to generate hundreds of thousands of downloads.
These will all be takeaways that you can apply to your own show or if you are thinking about starting a podcast, you’ll also get a lot of good information on how you should go about it. Also, if you’re looking to have the podcast move the needle for you from a business standpoint because a lot of companies that start podcasts don’t do what I’m about to go over and don’t get the results that they set out to get.
This show will be very applicable if you’re anywhere from a Fortune 500 brand to a small to a mid-sized business owner or marketer or even an individual looking to start a podcast or grow your brand. The information in this is all based on the Podfest conference I attended in Orlando and did have the opportunity to speak at that conference as well on podcast monetization.
This show is brought to you by GoGeddit Marketing and Media, GGMM.io and our friends out in OnMilwaukee. I’m going to reference some of my overarching findings in this episode. I want to give some credit. They are based on my favorite speeches that I listened to at Podfest. There were a lot of good speakers but the ones that stood out were the hosts of the Grow The Show, The Only One In The Room, Young and Profiting and The Stacking Benjamins podcasts. These are all very successful podcasts. After I go over my overarching takeaways, I’ll dive into the four ways to monetize a podcast without a mega-following. Thanks again for reading. Let’s dive in.
The Elements Of Good Podcast Content
The common themes that I got as far as podcast growth goes from these 4 were number 1, their contents are good and it’s for a specific audience. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast, how can you create good content? How can you get it in front of that specific audience? What I’m talking about good content, especially in their case, there was usually an element of it that was polarizing, authentic, vulnerable, educational, entertaining or a blend of all five of those things. If you can hit on those triggers, polarizing authenticity, vulnerability, educational and entertaining, that’s where a lot of the good stuff is.
Joe Rogan is super successful. Some people like him. Some people hate him. He is polarizing and very entertaining. His content is educational. He hits on those. He does a good job. These people are not afraid to tackle controversial or taboo topics. Especially at the start, they have a very well-defined audience and it’s a narrow audience. Those things are important, whether you’re starting out or just trying to reposition your podcast. They’re all very consistent as well.
Kevin started his show but before then, he had a podcast but all the other ones were in the hundreds of episodes. I’m in the hundreds of episodes. A lot of people think they can put out a few episodes or an episode a month. It’s hard to gain an active listenership in that base or way. If you want to put out a series of podcasts, I’m not opposed to that as long as it’s going to help your sales process, you have a marketing strategy behind it and it’s used as evergreen content to serve your audience.Good content is either polarizing, authentic, vulnerable, educational or entertaining, or a blend of all those five things. Click To Tweet
That can still be a very smart business move but if you’re looking to grow regular listenership and a larger following, then consistency is very important. Laura from The Only One In The Room who’s gotten the 28 million or 38 million downloads and a book deal had a good all-encompassing marketing strategy. Her team hustled and got after it. I know Hala also did that. They both had teams of interns who were getting good experience running all their content. They didn’t do this on a large budget but it was a lot of sweat and effort to do. They were doing articles that were getting featured in larger publications. They were getting media features, whether it was going on TV, pitching their podcasts to TV or going on other larger podcasts. They were in the media outside of their podcast.
They’re also very active on social media. They picked a platform and dominated it. In some cases, several platforms. I’d be active on social media and play to your strengths. There’s a lot of opportunity on TikTok even when it comes to posting podcasts and clips. Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever your strong ad, these people did a very good job on social media. They got influential guests. They were consistent. None of them seem like they had a magic bullet. They created good content that was somewhat polarizing, authentic and vulnerable. They were not afraid to tackle controversial or taboo topics.
A lot of them have an element of humor or they’re educational and very entertaining at the same time. Combining good content with a very good and aggressive marketing strategy is key. We’ve done a lot of that through the GoGedders. I talked about my anxiety in this episode. We’ve done a lot of episodes on race and hot topics. We’ve marketed them pretty aggressively at times through social media, video, our partnership with our OnMilwaukee, our email list, live appearances and traditional media that we’ve got into, whether it’s been conferences, the newspaper or doing a lot of podcasts at rotary clubs. We’ve gotten out there in that way.
Using The Podcast As A Tool To Promote And Sell Your Own Products And Services
Moving on to the main takeaways from my speech, which were how to monetize a podcast without a mega-following and relying on ads and what we’ve done to generate hundreds of thousands of downloads and bring it over seven figures for our small business since 2019. The 4 ways that we’ve mainly used to monetize this show are number 1) Using the podcast as a tool to promote and sell our products and services, 2) Using it as a way to get earned media and speaking gigs and press that have led to business, 3) Sponsorships and, 4) Having people pay us money to come on our podcast.
The first is, “Promoting your products and services.” Podcasting is an absolute crack sales and network in play. When I started the podcast as a young, small business owner, I was doing cold calling, cold emailing and showing up to every networking event. That worked. To an extent, it was a lot of work, unanswered phone calls and unanswered emails. It was a lot. When I came up with the GoGedders, I thought it would be the one I wanted to do.
I saw a lot of success in entrepreneurial podcasts on a national level and I said, “No one’s doing this in Milwaukee for Milwaukeeans. I can be that guy.” Selfishly, I thought it would be a good way to network and meet people, which is proven. A lot of those unanswered emails before when I emailed the same person and invited them on the podcast usually respond within the hour and be down in our office the next week. They’d have a good experience. We’d create a bunch of content for them. We’d tell their story and promote them. We’d essentially make them look like a hero.
A lot of times, after that, it would be like, “What do you guys do here?” I’d let them know what we do at GGMM. They’d introduce us to their marketing department. That’s what led to a lot of business for us. If you have a podcast, use it as a tool to have those conversations on important topics within your industry or whatever your podcast is about and invite those centers of influence or prospects that you want to get in front of. I never hard sell or pitch someone when they come in here. That’s not my style when I’m hosting the podcast. It’s not why I do it.Combining good content with a very good and aggressive marketing strategy is key. Click To Tweet
Consequently, it’s led to a lot of relationships that have organically turned into a business over the last few years. Some people recommend pitching your guests right after they come on the podcast. That’s not my style at all but I’ve formed a lot of good relationships with these guests. I’ve provided value to them before ever asking for something because that’s essentially what you’re doing when you have someone on your podcast and you’re creating things for them and positively promoting them. You’re adding value to them. The best rule of networking I believe is adding value to others and helping others win. Essentially you’re doing that if you’re highlighting people on your podcast.
They tend to like you and you tend to form a relationship organically. It can go from there. It’s not transactional but transactions end up happening somewhere down the road. We’ve also done mid-roll ads on our podcast and those perform well. You’re always almost going to get more. If you have a legitimate business product or service, you’re going to get more out of advertising that on your podcast because you’re forming a relationship with your listeners as the host of your show. Especially if you’re positioning yourself as the expert, there’s a good chance they’re going to want to buy and work with you one-on-one. Make sure you put that out.
On this show, most of the episodes are not solo episodes like this. I’m usually interviewing other people, which is not positioning me as an expert but I put my mid-roll ad into the right audience and be like, “This Richie guy knows what he’s doing. This is a good episode. They offer a bunch of marketing services. I should reach out to him or see how I can get involved in this show or my company wants a show, needs video work, digital ads or whatever that may be.”
In using your ads, you’re going to get more out of that than trying to put other people’s ads in your podcast, do affiliate marketing or something like that. You can also do episodes on your products if it’s done right. If you are doing a commercial on your product, it is probably not going to be very good at podcast episodes. A good example of this is Trek whose show we produce, the Better With Bikes podcast came out with this revolutionary new helmet a few years ago called Wave Cell, which it’s 42 times better at preventing concussions than the average helmet or other standard helmets.
It’s a good technology that these guys spent one decade developing. Trek had two engineers that develop that technology. It was an interesting story about how they formulated it and how they’re trying to change cycling safety for the better. It wasn’t a commercial but essentially it did a good job of promoting the helmet and people wanting to buy a helmet after listening to it. If you can create a good story about one of your products or maybe even someone else’s product and do it as an affiliate, you can make money that way.
Using The Podcast As A Way To Get Earned Media And Speaking Gigs That Lead To Business
Number two is using the podcast to get earned media and speaking gigs that lead to business. This show has a partnership with OnMilwaukee. For those of you who don’t know, they do awesome content. They are a fun blog news site in Milwaukee that’s been around since the early 2000s. Jeff and Andy founded it back in the day. Jeff’s no longer there. Andy runs it but they do a good job. We have complimentary audiences.
At the time when we got that partnership, they weren’t producing any podcast content. They then have FoodCrush, which is a good show. If you’re a foodie in the Milwaukee area, make sure to check it out. With OnMilwaukee, essentially, we shout them out as a partner. In every episode, we put their logo on our marketing materials. We write articles and then they’ll publish them on their site. They promote our social content sometimes if it aligns with their social strategy. That enabled us to get on a bigger scale, especially at the beginning.The best rule of networking is adding value to others and helping others win. Click To Tweet
If you have a podcast within a specific industry, think of what publications, media companies, websites or social media accounts your audience is spending time on. Is there a way you can partner with them? Is there a way you can make them a media partner of your podcast and do something similar to what I’m doing with on OnMilwaukee to get your distribution at a higher level at the beginning? The first thing is, is there a media partnership within your industry that you can pursue?
Number two, I’ve got to speak at a lot of conferences because of my podcast. Some of these are doing live podcasts. If someone has a conference in the Milwaukee area, a lot of them have done a lot of GoGedders that. This enabled me to get in front of new audiences, network and get in front of a lot of people that way, done conferences, chambers, rotary clubs, things like that, where my target audience is hanging out and my podcast would make good content.
Speaking at those places doing live podcasts is a good way to get your podcast out in front of your target audience and meet the right people. Also, local press and industry press. I talked about this. The woman from The Only One In The Room did a good job of this. If you have certain podcast episodes or if your podcast is newsworthy, you can get coverage in the local media, which can drive more downloads, subscriptions, users and press for your business.
Number three is sponsorships. When a lot of people think of sponsorships, they think of ad dollars that are going to come in. The reality is that 99.5% don’t make any good money or would not make any good money on podcast advertising, including me. Podcast ads on a CPM model or Cost Per Mille, which is Latin or something for 1,000. It means Cost Per 1,000 downloads, which is what people will pay to advertise on your podcast. Those rates are typically in the $25 to $50 CPM range where I believe the average is around $33, even on the lower end of that.
That’s how much you can get paid for podcast ads. A lot of advertisers aren’t going to touch a show unless it’s getting 10,000 downloads an episode. Even the GoGedders as a show when we’re doing well and getting 10,000 downloads a month if I put 3 ads that $33 into every single episode, all 4 episodes as an aggregate, we’d be getting $1,000 a month in ad revenue, which would not pay for the production, content and time that goes into this podcast.
If anyone wants to hand me $1,000 a month, I will happily accept it. That would be great but that’s not going to move the needle from an ROI standpoint from this show. That’s the reality of ads on podcasts. When I do sponsorship deals, I think of how much value can I add to the sponsor with the resources that I have. I think of myself in this show as a marketing and media company. If you’re a podcaster, you should think of yourself as a marketing and media company as well.
Media companies have distribution. They distribute content. As a podcaster, you have some level of distribution. The larger audience you have, the more you can demand because the more distribution you have. You should also come at it with a marketing agency mindset. I say marketing and media mindset because companies pay for content. As a marketing agency, some companies will pay us $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 plus for a video.The four ways of monetizing a podcast without a big following are: promoting your own products and services; using it as a way to get earned media and speaking gigs’ using it to get business sponsorships; and having people pay to come on your… Click To Tweet
Those videos, the high-end ones require production crews and stuff like that. There’s time and effort to go into that but companies are used to paying for content. Also as a media company, you realize a lot of media outlets, whether it’s trade publications or local business publications, are mostly pay-to-play articles in a lot of ways where if they advertise, they’ll also get articles, sponsored content and all of that.
I work with Meridian Putters, which is a golf company. If you’re looking for a great new putter, check out MeridianPutters.com. When I call up Golf Digest or some of the large golf publications and try and get PR or affiliates, they want us to pay $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 for an article on a campaign around it. Those are not free articles. Even when you go to look up articles like Top 10 Skincare Products, Top 10 Putters or Top 10 Vacation Sites, a lot of those articles are based on affiliates because that’s how those websites make money. If you click on those skincare products and buy them, that news site is getting a kickback.
What I’m saying is companies pay for marketing and media. You as a podcaster configured yourself as a marketing and media company. When I do sponsor deals, I try and bundle in, “You’re going to get clips of us talking about your product on the podcast. We can mix in the roll of your product, run a campaign for you and drive traffic to your website. Your marketing team can take these clips and use them in your Facebook, TikTok or Instagram advertising. We’re going to give you shout-outs on the podcast. The guests we have who are influencers are also going to be posting about your product in the podcast episode and sharing that.”
I’m trying to create a bundle. When I do that, that takes me out of that CPM model where I wouldn’t be making much money. It puts me in a different category where I do make good money and provide good value to the clients. I’m looking at, “With the resources I have, what can I offer this person?” That’s how I do sponsorships.
Having People Pay To Come On Your Podcast
Number four is having people pay to come on your podcast. A lot of the media world and all of the marketing world are paid to play. A lot of GoGedders episodes are not paid. A decent amount is paid to some extent. Sometimes it’s just, “Do you want us to amplify your episode? We can run an ad campaign around it. We can take the videos. We’re already creating and driving more traffic to the episode to your website if guests or business leaders come on.” It’s a good value proposition for them.
The guideline I have is I never have people come on the show who I do not think would make a good story for my audience. It’s never someone who comes on and it’s like a commercial. It needs to be a good episode for the audience. The audience wouldn’t know if it was paid or not. What we do, especially to companies who don’t want to go through all the time and effort to start their podcast but a podcast is valuable content to them, it’s a bundled package of, “You can come on the show. We’re going to create video content that you have full rights to and run a campaign around it. You’re going to get this kind of media distribution.” Bundling that all together is essentially how those deals work and why people pay to come on. This podcast is a good marketing vehicle and distribution for them.
To recap, my four ways of monetizing without a big following are promoting your products and services, using it as a way to get earned media and speaking gigs that lead to business, sponsorships but selling it as a bundle, not as ads on how you can add the most value, having that marketing and media mindset and then having people pay to come on your show. You can do all those. The more distribution and the value you can provide, the more you can demand. Those are some ways that I’ve been able to monetize this show. It’s brought in a lot of money for GGMM without taking ad dollars from companies.
Thanks so much for reading this episode. I hope you got a lot out of it. If you need help implementing any of the tactics that I went over, you need help with production for your podcast or you’re a company looking to grow through podcasting, we’d love to hear from you. Go to our website, GGMM.io. We’ve got a nice form that you can fill out on there.