Yesterday I talked about creating a happiness podcast and it's a really exciting idea. But before I get going I really want to investigate how podcasts make money – if they can even realistically do that. I want to know before I get started whether it's worth my while monetizing the podcast or keeping it as a pure hobby and not worrying about the money at all.
How Podcasts Can Make Money
Podcasts are one of those things that rarely make money by themselves. They're almost always free and there's already a million of them out there. To make money you have to be creative and balance trying to make money against how it affects your audience. Too much selling and you'll lose your audience not enough selling and the hosting bills will eat you alive.
One of the most common ways to make money online is through sponsorships. It's convenient for the podcaster because you don't have to ask your audience for money but you do have to sell a bit of your show. With podcasts you have to take time out of your show to announce the sponsor which as a consumer of podcasts I find super annoying.
Another really common way of making money online is by endorsing a product and selling it to your audience to make a commission on the sale. This can be a nice way of making money if you were going to mention a product on your show anyway. It becomes a problem when you have to make money and you have to sell your customers on a crap product to keep your own finances under control.
In this particular case affiliate marketing probably don't make a lot of sense. I'd love to endorse products I already use and make a few bucks off of them but I don't want it to be a significant portion of revenue. If it is then you can fall into that trap of having to sell people.
Affiliate marketing would be doubly hard with my take on happiness. You don't need anything to be happy. There are a few books and documentaries that can help you ask the right questions but that's about all of the endorsement I can imagine.
Selling Related Services
Selling premium services is what a lot of podcasters do. They demonstrate their expertise and then use that expertise to convince you to buy their extra services. I do like this model but this podcast is just a side project and I don't have any premium services. If I had a happiness workshop or a book then I'd love to recommend those but at this point I don't have anything like that.
As with the other methods there are downsides to this too. If you're not careful you start to put all of your good information into your premium services and the podcast loses value.
Donations are perhaps my least favorite method of making money online. You have awkwardly ask your audience to give you money every episode. That sucks and most people don't donate. There are however some new cool tools that make this a bit easier. Services like Patreon allow you to get donations on a subscription basis. This simplifies the process quite a bit. You don't have to beg your audience every episode. You can beg a couple times a year and let the subscriptions roll every month or even every episode.
Now that tools like Patreon exist the donation model is a bit more viable. If you have awesome content people will be willing to pay you 1, 5, 10, or even 100 dollars an episode. While it's awkward to ask for money this is one of the very few models that aligns your goals with your listeners goals. As long as you produce epic content they'll keep supporting you.
One of my favorite podcasters and writers, Dan Savage, has extended episodes for sale on his site. The extended episodes add an extra 30 minutes of content to the regular episodes and are filled with more goodness. I don't terribly mind this model but from a technical point of view it's a bit of a pain in the ass. Hopefully you make enough money that you can edit two different podcasts and create two different podcast feeds not to mention have your own store that processes the payment and sends the customer the secret extended podcast RSS feed. Bleh.
You Can't Win Without Selling
Taryn Southern a YouTuber who has 480,000 subscribers, 100+ videos, and millions of views makes $1,106 per month on Patreon. That's pretty dismal considering how many hours she spends scripting her videos, filming them, and then editing them in post production. Ouch.
You can make money in podcasting but I'm not sure you can do it without selling something. Either your brand, your audience, or your own products. I'm not terribly happy with any of those but I do think that producing your own premium works involves the least amount of selling. You can cover the basics in your podcast and then point to your premium products to take your message to the next level. Or maybe your premium products offer a streamlined step by step process where your podcast jumps around depending on where they start.
I have to admit I'm not thrilled. This podcast is still worth exploring and investigating but it may be a hobby and not a business. Knowing that going in I won't push myself too hard.
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