With Google recording up to 10 million monthly “podcast” searches from the search engine giant in 2020, it’s safe to say podcasts’ popularity will only rise higher in the coming years. Millions of people are now looking for more common words such as “best podcasts” or “Google podcast” or “Apple podcast” to discover shows that may catch their fancy.
In June 2019, Edison Research announced that the preceding month saw about 90 million Americans tuning in to a podcast, quite a jump from the 42 million listeners in 2014, and a 26 percent rise from 2018.
Additional statistics show the trend towards increasing podcast listening even further, particularly among the older U.S. population. 74 per cent of Americans from 25-year-olds to 54-year-olds tap into podcast listening each month, according to marketing charts. And the group of 55-year-old Americans and older was among the top rising audio listeners online, jumping from 33 percent in 2018 to 40% in 2019.
The hundreds of thousands of people who are asking Google how to make their own podcasts and how much money podcasters earn can find a gold mine behind a microphone. Bloomberg estimates that top podcasts already pull in sales in excess of $ 1 million a year. In 2018, the New York Times’ The Daily podcast earned more than $10 million via advertising.
Between $0 and an estimated $100,000 per episode and up-Podcast sales figures differ widely
Next to zero, new podcasters will produce their initial episodes, and focus on building listeners. The Jerry Banfield Show producer, for example, reported earning $188.73 for 74,080 playbacks, meaning he receives around $2.55 for every 1,000 people listening to his Anchor.fm broadcast, while advertisers on the site prefer to pay more, reports Banfield.
However, tried-and – true podcasters who over the years have built up a skyscraper-load of avid fans tend to make significantly more money. The Gamer from Mars breaks down how Ethan and Hila Klein’s H3 podcast earns an estimated $100,000 per episode from a variety of revenue streams, in the video titled “Yes, The H3 Podcast Can Make $100,000 An Episode-GFM.”
The YouTube star noted that they are enjoying a total of 6,200 subscriber points as the H3 podcast airs live on Twitch and has 48 emotes. Hence, with a minimum of $2.50 earned per subscription level, and based on four potentially released monthly podcasts, this is equivalent to $15,500 a month — or $3,875 earned per podcast.
While the Mars Gamer reports a modest $1,000-per-YouTube-video received for the H3 podcast, according to Social Blade, the H3 podcast earns estimated $425,100 per year, based on a $4 per 1,000 views CPM average. With the H3 Podcast YouTube videos regularly gaining nearly or more than one million views each, the approximate monthly earnings of the podcast via YouTube that Social Blade lists-ranging from $2,200 to $35,400 per month-are fair.
Counting the various ways that podcasters make money: From ad revenue to merchandise
Podcast listeners are made up of groups which can be very appealing for products and services sellers. Ad brokers sell advertisements for every 1,000 podcast downloads, at prices from $25 to $50. One podcast episode can average 2 to 3 commercial breaks, and the revenue can build up, particularly for top shows like Freakonomics Radio, which has more than 1.5 million downloads for each episode on average. That’s a cool $225,000 per episode for three mentions of one advertiser who pays $50 for every 1,000 downloads-minus any ad broker fees and the like.
Specific age brackets may be of greater or less interest to ad brokers. As recorded in the 2019 study of Edison Research in The Podcast User, all major categories increased but much of the rise in podcast listening was attributed to Americans aged 12 to 24. Previously, the number of Americans aged 12 years and older who listened to podcasts each month increased 24 percent in 2018, with the number of podcast listeners tuning in their cars , SUVs and trucks growing in spades during commutes.
Nearly one in every five Americans, aged 18 to 49, have listened to a podcast at least once a month, according to comScore. As reported by TechCrunch, around one out of three men aged between 18 and 34 enjoy podcasts.
Okay, if you’re intrigued by all the numbers above and are considering jumping into the podcasting game or are already there and curious how other podcasters turn their podcasts into lucrative pursuits, be warned that while there are people who have made full-time careers out of podcasting, this isn’t always an easy pursuit.
While viral podcasts such as Serial have been downloaded nearly 100 million times for the initial twelve episodes, and Dunc’d On’s full-time NBA expert podcaster creators have had unprecedented success, these podcasters are at the top of the game per Bloomberg.
In its first week, massive podcast hits like S-Town gained 16 million downloads while twelve episodes of Atlanta Monster were downloaded 20 million times.
Although it may be tough to make the transition from part-time podcaster to full-time, it is not impossible, as Joanna Graham and Kefin Mahon — creators of the How2Wrestling podcast — have discovered, Culture Vultures reports.
Another podcast run by a full-time podcaster is Lore by Aaron Mahnke — one that cautions others to use a variety of means to monetize their podcasts. As Forbes reported, Aaron advises prospective podcasters to combine multiple revenue streams to create a river of money flowing in from their podcast. Mahnke discusses making money out of his podcast in many of the ways it addresses below, such as selling advertisements and merchandise, using crowdfunding, hawking tickets to live podcasting events, and more.
This article lists eight interesting ways in which many real-life podcasters make money.
Podcasters make money via sponsors
One of the most common ways podcasters make money is by corporations willing to pay them for putting their products in front of listeners to the podcast. However, several podcasters will warn anyone jumping into the podcasting arena that securing a paying sponsor may take a little bit of time or creativity.
The AskPat Podcast, for example, earned $3,389.00 in December 2017 from Pat Flynn, according to its most recent detailed income report. Pat has been involved online since 2008, just before his wedding, when he lost his architecture work. In his major money-making company, Smart Passive Income, he was able to parlay a related website he had developed and create a value podcast to go alongside the cash cows.
Bear in mind that the income from podcasting, whether from advertisers or otherwise, is often limited by the expense of producing the podcast. As an example, Joseph Liu, who runs the Career Relaunch podcast, spends about $150 on putting each episode together — but says he got his first sponsor after publishing around 15 podcast episodes and gaining 500 monthly downloads per episode. Liu decided to stop a plethora of advertisements littering his show, as he saw on several other podcasts.
As recorded by The Atlantic, for every 1,000 listeners, famous podcasters can command around $25 to $40 from advertisers. Advertise Cast positions the industry-wide average podcast advertisement prices for 2019 at $18 CPM (cost per 1,000 listeners) for a 30-second ad, and $25 CPM for a 60-second ad. Larger podcasters paying $25 CPM based on a million listeners per episode will also pay at least $25,000 or more to read an ad. And if an ad agency earns a commission fee of 20 per cent for such an ad, the podcaster is still left with a fair 80 per cent share of the advertising income, of course, minus any podcasting expenses.
Where to find sponsors for podcast:
He explains his sponsorship gaining via a podcast network called Boardwalk Audio, in an interview with On Comedy Writing podcaster Alan Johnson via Listen Notes. Johnson called it one of the big advantages of joining a podcast network for like-minded individuals — because the network handled business-end things that freed Alan to just read an ad on his show. “I would almost certainly not have the sponsorship without a network,” he said.
A common theme discovered through over 120 podcaster interviews is that many of them make no direct money at all through podcasting — or the money they earn took quite some time to arrive, making their podcasts profitable only after their popularity grew.
So it is with Tony Martignetti, who has been managing Community Radio since 2010. Like most podcasters, Tony admits that in the beginning he started paying the costs for his podcast from his own pocket. Now the Nonprofit Radio sponsors are “more than covering costs” incurred in creating the weekly show.
Martignetti is proud that his podcast not only makes a profit, but that since July 2010, he has not skipped putting out a weekly series, even though his hour-long episodes take about three hours of pre-production. By the time Tony acquired his first sponsor, about 5,000 listeners per show or 20,000 downloads a month had been obtained. At first, Tony will offer free sponsorships to let companies get acquainted with the concept and get addicted to the benefits of advertising through podcasts as a promotional tool. Tony did not disclose his secret that his early sponsors were getting free publicity, but now that he’s enjoying more than 60,000 downloads a month, he’s free to share his tactics to win paying sponsors for his popular podcast.
If you’re a podcaster searching for opportunities to earn money from other podcasters or just somebody who likes listening to podcasts, one fun way to find sponsor offers is to check for promo codes and get discounts from a number of companies. As you’ll find, some podcasters make money by offering their listeners discounts to places like Harry’s Shave Club or Stamps.com with special promo codes that tell the companies the specific podcaster that sent them customers — offering a way for the podcaster to earn revenue on sales.
Podcasters searching for opportunities to find their own sponsors will find them in several different ways. First of all, they should look at the sponsors that other podcasters are supporting and learn about the particular companies that are open at sponsorships, and approach those companies via social media, the company’s contact pages or the advertisement email address of the firm.
Podcast advertisement networks such as Advertisecast, Midroll, Podgrid or a host of others will open up new ways to attract new sponsors for podcasters.
Online forum sections specifically built for podcasters, such as this subreddit, help podcasters exchange all kinds of information about gaining sponsors, listeners and other helpful podcasting details.
Interestingly, the Blog Talk Radio Network approached podcaster Justin Rimmel, who runs Mysterious Circumstances, without justin having to hunt for the sponsors the network seeks. Rimmel says that when he started getting 50,000 downloads a month, the network discovered him, a coup that brought him money — along with the next way to make podcast money, through donations and crowdfunds.
Podcasters receive grants and crowdfunding payments:
Most podcasters fund their love labors out of their own pockets and a portion of them turn to their listeners for assistance.
Leslie Krongold, who runs the Glass Half Full podcast with Leslie Krongold, Ed. D., has set up a GoFundMe web site where she raises donations for her chronic health-focused podcast.
Podcasters may guide listeners to their crowdfunding projects Patreon, GoFundMe or Kickstarter — or collect contributions to be paid directly to them through other means — to promote the continuity of the podcast.
Elecia White and Christopher White used Patreon to collect funds to cover the cost of supplying microphones for their Embedded podcast to their podcasting guests.
Elecia explained that, in the beginning, she and her co-host only planned to create six or twelve episodes of their engineering-focused podcast, but ended up creating over 200 episodes. He said that while the Patreon Fund allowed people to contribute money for microphone shipping costs, it has been a blessing to make excess funds available for purchasing stickers. Elecia says that the podcast has also given the company and book of the duo a spotlight, but admits that there are probably less intensive ways to advertise a company or take outside a podcast.
Check out the Radical Personal Finance Patreon page to see a real-life example of the kind of donations made to podcasters, which currently lists 216 patrons providing $1,220 per month to the podcaster.
If your viewers enjoy the content that you have, they’ll be able to support your dream to help it succeed.
Podcasters earn increased income from their products or services by new consumers
There are avenues in which some podcasters make money beyond the conventional path of sponsorship. Side Hustle Nation founder Nick Loper explains making a total of $5,200 by selling his services to a private mastermind group for $97 a month.
The Fearless Millionaire Podcast is run by Nathan Amaral, a man who wanted to get over his fears by recording a 30-minute audio session on his iPhone and launching the podcast in 2014. Nathan talked about a podcast listener purchasing a program he ‘d sell for $15,000 by 2018.
The trust created through the podcasts helps turn listeners into customers.
Graham Jones, Simon Hazeldine, and Phil Jesson are three sales experts running the Sales Chat Show, a podcast that helps other professionals drive their own sales projects forward. As the salesmen trio supports others by passing on their insights and advice to salespeople, sales managers and sales managers, the podcasters are also attracting customers to boot.
The Sales Chat Show podcast provides the three men with a forum which ends up promoting them as sales experts — as well as consultants and speakers available. Companies have taped into the three men’s knowledge base to find ways to light a fire under sales teams or encourage podcasters to collaborate with other companies’ sales departments. Such outdoor gigs have become a symbiotically beneficial process for the podcasters, as performing the sales consulting jobs and meeting with selling staff helps to provide new ideas for their upcoming episodes that they can pass on to listeners.
Beauty Inside & Out podcast host Angela Dileone also states that while she hasn’t spent much time worrying about finding a sponsor for her beauty-focused show, the episodes are already benefiting her career by helping the beauty expert develop a following.
Podcasters are paid out of their affiliate income
Although some podcasters accept money for ads, podcasters can also make money by the the income their listeners are willing to pay for products or services found via podcast.
For example, if The Unknown True Crime Podcast provides its listeners with an promo code to save 10 percent by using SquareSpace.com to set up a website, the podcaster will receive a portion of the money that those who use the same code would pay to SquareSpace.com — a company that, according to AdExchanger, plops down $12 million annually for podcast ads.
Podcasters who create access to show notes for their listeners, which may include links to the products or services mentioned during the episode, may include monetized links to items through the Amazon Affiliate Programme, CJ Conversant Affiliate, Ratuken Marketing or sites such as the Blubrry Affiliate Programme.
The podcaster can search for the specialized links to products after joining the affiliate program, which they can then pass on to their followers to earn a percentage of the sales made through those links.
Side Hustle Nation has earned almost $1,000 from the sale as an affiliate of its guests’ products or services.
Podcasters make money from the value they pay
There are podcasters who choose to avoid running ads, and instead make money through paid content and subscriptions, according to the Wall Street Journal. While many podcasts are available to listeners free of charge, some podcasters may charge $4.99 per episode to allow early access to episodes for their customers — or offer their listeners bonus content with their ad-free experience. The publication describes how the Swedish firm Acast+ is experimenting with subscriptions for podcast listeners ranging from $2.99 to $6.99 a month.
For example, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast makes money by charging $1.99 per episode for older content, and $5.99 to $69.99 anywhere for Hardcore History compilations of podcast episodes for listeners willing to binge-listen to the show. Newer and existing versions of his Hardcore History podcast are, however, free for listeners.
Fans will pay $4.99 monthly subscription fees for exclusive content inside the Stitcher Premium app, for instance fictional shows about Wolverine.
Spotify customers can purchase Amy Schumer’s podcast, 3 Girls, 1 Keith, with future podcast episodes potentially placed behind Spotify’s paywall.
Podcasters gain funds through the sale of branded goods
Some podcasters have found their fans willing to promote their love of specific podcasts by supporting the podcaster by becoming a consumer of the merchandise on offer for sale.
The shop of Dan Carlin sells everything from hats to t-shirts to gift cards and more to support his brand and get him extra income through the promotion of the podcast and the gross profits of the items.
YouTube has even started to allow creators to sell their own merchandise on their channel, directly below each video. Podcasters who put versions of their podcasts on YouTube may also use sites such as Shopify, Squarespace, Teespring or others to help develop, produce and/or sell their products and directly promote it to their listeners.
Podcasters may use platforms such as Teespring to design their own t-shirts, leggings, hoodies and other items by putting logos and sayings on the gear and selling the product via the website.
Shopify also enables ecommerce sellers to set up their own retail brands on their shopping website.
Podcasters make money by selling their tickets to live shows
Many podcasters have found that their podcast ‘s popularity has grown beyond people who want to listen strictly to the episodes while driving on long commutes or during other downtime periods.
Viral podcasters have found success in selling tickets to their shows to customers who would like to watch the podcast in action and be part of the process of episode creation. Such is the case with podcast shows such as Pod Save America, with tickets for sale from the Radio City Music Hall in New York to venues stretching from Atlanta to Nashville and beyond.
The 2 Dope Queens podcast hosts won a four-episode HBO series which found the comedians taping their podcast with a host of celebrities at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre.
Bloomberg notes that the popular podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, which covers strange events in a desert community, sold out two shows at Seattle’s Neptune Theater. With tickets priced in the auditorium at $30 and 800 seats, the show took in about $50,000 during PodCon.
Welcome to Night Vale continued to perform over 20 shows from international venues such as London and Berlin to U.S. venues such as Phoenix and Austin. Jeffrey Cranor noted that touring is more efficient and lucrative while the show still gets 400,000 downloads per season. Cranor said, “The announcers are fickle.”
Podcasters can find innovative ways to reduce costs, and make more money
There are times when increasing podcast profits means lowering expenses so that hosting fees, pricey equipment, and the like don’t consume revenue. While some podcasters could spend hundreds of dollars a month on hosting fees and production costs — spicing up their podcasts with fancy editing and musical backgrounds — others are running almost free by using cheap hosting and equipment that they already own. For certain podcasters who want to keep their expenses extremely low as long as possible, an iPhone for voice recordings thrown into GarageBand suffices, like Nathan mentioned above when he delved into getting the first episode of his podcast online.
Many podcasters shift to non-traditional, innovative ways of offsetting their podcasting expenses. For example, the Mind Gap podcast formed a partnership with a Chicago bar called Elephant & Castle, which offers the podcasters a place to record during the show, in exchange for weekly ads.
In summary: The way to fund a podcast is more than one way
In researching the above examples of real-life podcasters who use a variety of ways to make money out of their podcasts, it becomes apparent that lucrative podcasts are not generally a dime a dozen, but are possible.
The case profiles also show that the money earned from podcasts will flow to the producers of the episode in non-obvious ways, whether the money reflects career-improving sales, gifts, crowdfunding profits, paid content and subscription models, or a special out-of-the-box method of earning discovered after listening.