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How to make money from podcasts

Even though podcasts are still in their relative infancy—at least, in terms of internet-age—they’ve become so widely popular because of their potential as a new form of content. Whether its entertainment, storytelling, or even news, industries have begun to jump on this new format of engagement and create shows and episodes that appeal to huge audiences.

Podcasts are a form of “audioblogging” (a term coined by inventors Adam Curry and Dave Winer and then later called “podcast” by Ben Hammersley) where certain topics are discussed and recorded and then released to the general public via the internet for people to download or tune into. There are usually several episodes or installments that people can look forward to. 

They took off in a big way, creating a new form of content that anyone could listen to while doing anything—doing chores, studying, going for a walk, etc. It was a revolutionary move that was accessible to many who didn’t want to commit to reading whole blogs or watching videos. Listening is still a form of consuming storytelling, which is what listeners love.

Businesses are now capitalising on podcasts, finding ways to forward their products or copywriting services in an entertaining manner with good hosts and guests. By using podcasts, they can boost their traffic, direct people to their sites, and generate leads as long as they can entertain or educate their audience.

Monetising podcasts is also a big opportunity to bring in more revenue for your brand. Whether its advertisements or setting up events once the podcast takes off, your brand can definitely benefit from a podcast making it another stream for earning. All you have to do is set it up right and create engaging content.

Why start a podcast for your business?

Taking advantage of the growing popularity of podcasts can put your business in the spotlight especially since not a lot of other businesses have ventured into this form of content yet. 

Utilising this opportunity can bring you a wider audience since 50% of all homes are podcast listeners. That’s millions of homes in the US alone, making the worldwide numbers even bigger. In Australia, 60% of listeners want to listen to a variety of perspectives with 1.6 million Australians downloading podcasts since 2019.

People who listen to podcasts are also active on social media, making it more likely for them to share their favourite podcasts with their followers and friends. This word-of-mouth marketing, as well as high-quality content, can boost your brand and can lead more people to your business.

Podcasts are also mobile-friendly, making it easier for people on-the-go. Everyone is glued to their smartphone these days and prefers to do things on them rather than on computers or laptops. More people, 69% of podcast listeners, that is, listen to podcasts on their phones than any other medium, making it the more convenient option.

How podcasts are effective

People are attracted to stories. They remember stories more than they remember data because the story made them feel something, follow a narrative, and reach a conclusion. This is because the idea of the narrative is so familiar to them. Everyone has their own, and listening to another person’s pulls them in. Podcasting does the same, telling stories that bring about a sense of trust. 

It’s also the fact that there’s a human voice behind the podcast that establishes a connection between you and the host. Other content can feel detached and impersonal, but with a podcast, you can definitely recognise the human behind the scenes and appreciate them for their stories.

They also make multitasking much easier as you’re hands-free. All you need is your phone in your pocket and a pair of earphones to make it possible to listen to a podcast. When driving, you can put a podcast on. On a run, you can play your favourite episodes. There are so many possibilities to the medium that it’s arguably become more effective than other types of content.

Because there’s so many different podcasts out there, the variety ensures that there’s a series for everyone. Those into crime thrillers can listen to podcasts like Casefile True Crime, those who are into skits and stories can listen to The Truth, and those who are into the New York Times Modern Love column, they have their own podcasts, too (often narrated by celebrities like Morgan Freeman). 

5 ways podcasts generate money

Monetising a podcast can seem difficult since it’s such an untapped platform but there are definitely ways to do it. Here are five ways that are effective and still organic for creating podcasts.

1. Advertisements

Just like blogs and videos, podcasts can have advertisements, too. Although they’re not usually employed in the same way given that the visual factor is missing, they seem just as effective, if not more. Studies show that the conversion rate that podcasts have is seven times higher than standard websites.

Listeners also prefer advertisements that are read out by the host than pre-produced ones as it feels more organic and seamless and less like a pushy businessman trying to interrupt the episode. It feels like more of a soft sell, which is preferable when it comes to a medium that people want to be entertained by or learn from.

A good example of a host-read ad can be found here, advertising HSBC. The host sounds natural, doesn’t seem forced, and is concise when she reveals their sponsorship. It feels more organic and more integrated with the show. 

Just like how a television show will pause for commercials, podcasts will do the same but most people don’t mind. In fact, they’re more likely to check out the product or service because they’re tuning into something they personally enjoy.

2. Partnerships and relationships

Good partnerships promise many things. A wider audience, an in-depth look at different processes and approaches, and mutual benefit. With a podcast, you also have access to new guests who can provide different insights and perspectives in terms of your businesses and partnership. 

This also highlights the importance of networking and creating meaningful business connections. Not only does it humanise business, it also provides new opportunities for both parties.

Podcasts that have guests who interact with the hosts can bring in a bigger audience as listeners can learn something new from more than one person. Collaborating can entice more listeners, bring in more subscriptions, and ultimately bring in more money.

3. Events

Once a podcast reaches a significant amount of success, events can become a great way to earn money. People will likely want to meet the faces behind the voices they listen to every episode and will attend an event that allows them to mingle with the host and their guests. Being able to meet the business that put it together can also bring a brand more profit.

Inviting special guests that have a pull on social media can also benefit an event as listeners will also flock to them. Celebrities or small-time social media stars can bring about an even bigger audience and partner with them will entice more people to attend.

4. Premium content

When a podcast fan becomes engrossed in your content, they often want even more. This is where subscriptions and premium content come in. They’re the content that people can get access to if a listener pays a certain fee to access them. It can be special episodes, ad-free episodes, or even listening to episodes in advance, content that listeners who listen for free won’t be able to get.

One good example of paying for premium content is Patreon. By subscribing monthly, a consumer has access to special content from artists or content creators alike. 

Subscriber-only content is a popular way to get people desperate for episodes in advance or special ones that only they can access. Some are purely subscriber-only while others are a mix of free content and subscription-based content. Either way, premium content that can only be accessed through subscriptions can become a good way to monetise a podcast.

5. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding for any kind of content isn’t uncommon, even with podcasts. Usually, they advertise that they’re collecting donations to keep the podcast going and it isn’t usually viewed as a pushy, unwanted move. 

By leaving tips and donations for your podcast, listeners can show their direct support for you and help your podcast stay afloat. Of course, you shouldn’t resort to begging and constantly bringing up that virtual tip jar. Minimise the number of times you mention it and make sure you explain its goals to keep the podcast going. 

If people think something is of value to them and their learning, they will often contribute to it. 

Generating money for your podcast can seem intimidating as it’s such a new platform to explore. But it’s just like any medium with advertisements, crowdfunding, and exclusive access to content, but in audio form. There’s no need to feel as if you have no direction as long as you keep these tips in mind and invest in your podcast properly as it has great potential to do well.

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