7 ways to monetize podcasts in 2023 without a massive following

1) Sponsor reads / advertising

This is the first method that comes to mind for people. But it requires 25,000-50,000 downloads per episode to generate $1,000 per sponsor read.

I’ve done this with shows who have smaller followings, but it’s not worth it for a majority of people in the first few years. Your energy is better served diversifying your revenue streams with a few of the following.

2) A service

This is by far the most reliable and profitable method. Yes, it requires actually delivering a service. Although it’s not as “passive”, it’s the fastest way to monetize. Works very well with coaching, teaching, and done-for-you services.

Assuming you’ve already sold this service 10 times, you’re marrying content marketing with a proven model. If the episodes are actually aligned with solving the same problems that your service will, you’ve got a scalable system.

3) Modern business card

I did this for an exterminator company in Australia. The dude didn’t need millions of downloads and views. He just used 10 episodes like a business card for people in a 25km radius. People aren’t actively listening to “how to get rid of mice” for enjoyment. But they’ll probably search for it.

So when people call this guy, he sends them an episode / video relevant to their problem. Most of the time, people will try and still end up just calling someone. When they’re comparing between a few options, they’ll trust this exterminator more because there’s ‘history’.

I get a preview from the episode / video of how this person talks, thinks, and might apply their skills to my problem. “Oh wow he’s done this with all these other problems I also have…” You’ll often make that judgement without even listening to the other episodes. The titles alone will convince the right customer if the catalog is right.

4) A product

This works really well with physical and digital products. The problem is usually the quantity that needs to be sold if the price point is something like a $25 purchase. You’ll have to generate a substantial amount of impressions (downloads/views) to filter down to actual customers. Average conversion rates are 1-2% for most industries online. The advantage of cracking this code at some point is the scalability. The delivery of the product can usually be automated (a book, a shirt, a course). So you save time on the delivery, but have to work extra hard on getting the impressions. Or else it won’t work consistently.

5) Landing a dream job

My podcast helped me land a dream internship and then another dream job. This happened by episode 29 and 50. This worked in 2016 and works even better in 2023 and beyond. Podcast content weirdly attracts opportunities that are usually OFF THE MARKET. You won’t find these on LinkedIn or any job hunting sites. If that job helps you earn $75k per year for 3 years, is that worth it? I see this route of monetization applying to more and more people. Countless stories I’ll share at some point with this strategy.

6) The Butterfly Effect

This one is subtle. It involves a bunch of small ripple effects that eventually lead to insane outcomes. My first week on the dream job, my boss’s client recognizes me and shouts the name of my show. Geeks out about certain episodes for a few minutes. Turns out this dude was worth a LOT of money. And managed hundreds of millions of dollars. So someone with a little bit of influence and a long time client, makes me look good in front of my boss. That impression affected a series of events over the next few years. Years later my boss eventually trusted me to work with this client. So now I’m providing a service to an OG podcast listener. And like 5 of their millionaire friends. I can quantify parts of this with straight cash. But there’s other parts that are invaluable. Like making that good impression in front of my boss. Or the life lessons I got from witnessing elite performers up close. To honestly the feeling of being trusted my some of these people.

7) Membership / Community

This can be fun for the right person. There’s this Facebook group that charges $49 / month. And they make $30k per month. What everyone is paying for in that group is not feeling alone while they’re going after this daunting goal. There’s a live call every Thursday where you get complex questions answered. And if you can’t make it, there’s a recorded version. It’s pretty common to then have members referring new people to your community.

I can tell you that if I tried doing some community membership I had to manage, I’d fail miserably. Love it as a user sometimes, but I’d hate it as a provider. For some of my clients, they thrive off this style of monetization.

The future of making full time livings online with podcasts and YouTube does not rely on advertising 100%. I regularly help shows form pitch decks that have landed deals with bigger brands. It’s possible, but too volatile for the average Joe. Monetizing a show will involve a combination of methods that are authentic to you.

Head over to podmahal.com for more free tools that help build your own table with podcasting.

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