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  • Writer's pictureScot Oppenlander

Guide: How to Monetize Your Podcast

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Unfortunately, there is no “built-in” way to make money off a podcast, since almost all podcasts are available for free. Therefore, it can be difficult to generate revenue. That’s where monetization comes in.

What is monetization?

You may have heard of monetization before. It means “to utilize (something of value) as a source of profit,” according to Merriam-Webster. To monetize your podcast is to take steps in order to make money off it.

How much money can I expect to make?

In all likelihood, podcasting isn’t going to make you much money, especially when you first launch your podcast. You need to have a very large audience to make a lot of money, and it can take a long time to build a listener base that large. However, if you are willing to put in the necessary time and work, anything is possible!

Podcasting is a growing industry, and it’s certainly possible to make a lot of money. The Joe Rogan Experience, an extremely popular American podcast, is estimated by a 2019 Lime Link article to make about $800,000 per episode. However, it’s probably unrealistic to expect to make that much money anytime soon. Joe Rogan has a massive audience (he has 12.6 million subscribers on his podcast's YouTube channel as of writing), and he releases multiple episodes per week. That means advertisers are willing to pay him a lot more money than they would for another podcast with less of an audience.

When should I monetize my podcast?

You probably shouldn’t try to monetize your podcast right from the start. Remember: what makes your podcast appealing to advertisers isn’t the podcast itself, it’s your audience. Advertisers want to pay you to have access to your unique audience. As such, they will want you to have an established audience when you start your partnership, at least several hundred downloads per episode. And, if you are planning to use your podcast to sell your own products, you want to make sure you are reaching enough people that will want to buy them!

Since you probably won’t have many downloads per episode as soon as you launch your podcast, it wouldn’t do much good to try to monetize right then. Focus on building a loyal audience first, then start to incorporate some of the monetization strategies below.

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How do I monetize my podcast?

There’s a plethora of ways available to monetize your podcast. I did some research on this topic, and I think that podcast monetization can be broken down into two main categories:

  1. Things you sell

  2. Ads and partnerships

Let’s take a look at the strategies that belong in both of these categories so you can incorporate them into your podcast!

1) Things you sell

Podcasts are a great place to promote products. In fact, there were 82.7 million podcast listeners in the United States as of 2021, according to Statista. That’s a lot of people you can reach! So, why not promote your own products? Here are some ways to monetize your podcast by using it to sell different things:

  • Exclusive content:

Selling exclusive content means that audience members pay for new content that you didn’t include in the free version of your podcast episode. This can take many forms. You could use deleted clips, a video version of your episode, or anything else you can think of for this kind of content. It’s important that your exclusive content is distinctly different from your free content, since your audience is paying for it. You can charge customers by the piece of content, or you can use a subscription service like Patreon.

  • Podcast merchandise:

You can sell t-shirts, cups, hats, etc. and brand them with your podcast's logo or artwork. Make sure your listenership is large enough and will want to buy your merchandise if you decide to go this direction.

  • Books:

If you already have a well-established podcast, then you already have an audience that cares about what you say! Another great way to take advantage of that is to write and sell a book. This isn’t an uncommon monetization technique. For example, Jenna Kutcher of the Goal Digger podcast just released a book called, “How Are You, Really?

If you’d like, you can focus your book on the topic of your podcast. This might help the audiences of your podcast and your book merge together. For example, a photography podcast may publish a book that teaches readers photography techniques.

  • Online courses:

Again, monetizing your podcast is centered around skillfully utilizing your access to a large audience. Is your podcast informative? Does your audience trust you to teach them things? If so, then you may want to consider launching an online course. You would charge students either a flat rate or a subscription, and in return you would provide them with a course teaching them something. There are online courses available for a wide variety of topics, including cooking, photography, and even podcasting! Check out Jill Devine Media’s new online course called Podcast Production!

  • Live events:

This seems to be getting more popular in the world of podcasting. These live events can be live podcast recordings, Ted Talk-style public speaking, or even a comedy show! This strategy requires a very large audience, well into the range of thousands of downloads per episode. You can't have a live show without a live audience!

  • Sell items related to your podcast’s topic:

You can sell your own brand (or someone else's brand, if you have permission) of products that relate to the topic of your podcast. For example, a podcast about photography could sell camera straps, or a podcast about cars could sell bumper stickers and decals.

  • Services:

If your podcast’s topic has services that are related to it, and if you are qualified enough to provide those services, then this can be a great opportunity to earn some money from your podcast. If we use the example of a photography podcast, a service they could offer would be wedding photography. A podcast about cars could offer car detailing or repair services.

  • Direct donations:

You can ask your audience for donations, but you need to use the proper "etiquette." You should probably tell your audience what the donations will be used for, and be honest. Don’t tell them you will buy a microphone with their money and then get a new flat-screen TV. It’s important to gain your audience’s trust!

While it's important to use proper "etiquette" when you ask for donations, there's no need to be nervous! Your audience listens to your podcast because they like your content, and probably because they like you! They will probably be willing to spare a little money to support you and your content. You can receive donations on lots of platforms, including PayPal, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe.

2) Ads/Corporate Partnerships

Like I’ve already mentioned, podcasts become profitable when they have an audience. Part of that is when other people want to pay you for access to your audience. This is usually done by selling ads during your podcast. Here are some different kinds of ads and partnerships you can use to monetize your podcast:

  • Sponsorships:

Sponsorships are one of the simplest ways to monetize your podcast with ads. They're exactly what you’d probably think of podcast ads, someone paying for you to mention their product. You are either paid on a CPM basis (being paid for every 1000 people you reach) or a flat rate based on the potential value your podcast offers.

  • Affiliate partnerships:

Affiliate partnerships are similar to sponsorships. You promote a product, and are paid on a CPM basis. That means you are paid a set amount for every 1000 customers you create for the business. The amount usually depends on the size of your audience. Listeners will use your "affiliate link" or a promo code when they purchase one of the products you promote, so the business can track how many people you've influenced. Your affiliate promotions should be authentic; try to only promote products you actually like and use. Affiliate programs are widely available, and are popular on Amazon.

  • Sponsorship package:

Think of a sponsorship package as a bundle. You package together a selection of ads and any other promotions you offer to sponsors. For example, Jill Devine Media offers a sponsorship package that includes three ads in one podcast episode a month and two social media posts. Creating a bundle makes it easier for sponsors to buy more of your ads.

Types of Ads

If you are looking to have a sponsor for your podcast, then it’s important that you know the types of ads they will want to run on the show. There are three different types of ads, and they all play at different times during the episode.

  • Pre-roll (plays before the episode)

  • Mid-roll (plays in the middle of the episode)

  • Post-roll (plays at the end of the episode)

Additionally, there are two other categories ads can be sorted into:

  1. Host-read

  2. Pre-recorded

Sometimes, sponsors will send you a script to read during the podcast. That is a “host-read” ad. Or, they may send you a pre-recorded ad that you can simply edit into your episodes.

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According to a Podchaser article, these are the average CPM rates for the different kinds of ads in 2022:

  • 15-25 second long pre-roll: $15 CPM

  • 30-60 second long mid-roll: $30 CPM

  • 15-25 second long post-roll: $10 CPM


Podcast monetization takes a lot of time and effort. You will need to be proactive at pitching yourself and seeking out opportunities to monetize. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful! If you are willing to put in the hard work to gain and keep an audience, then you should be able to monetize successfully!

Scot Oppenlander is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho studying communication with a journalism emphasis. He is in his last semester of his bachelor's degree, and he plans to attend law school in the near future.

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