Podcasting: How Is It Monetized?

how to make money podcasting

WTF with Marc Maron. The Joe Rogan Experience. The Nerdist. True Crime Obsessed. Chapo Trap House. Only fans of podcasts may know the names of these popular podcast titles. If you don’t know these titles, then you have a lot to learn about how to make money podcasting.

Chapo Trap House is humorous, left-leaning political podcast with over 30,000 listeners that makes over $137,000 monthly. Want to get in on that sweet podcast money?

Not so fast.

Nothing in life is that easy. While you might be able to launch a podcast, monetizing one is a different thing.

First things first – let’s discus the basics of podcasting.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a digital recording that can be streamed live or saved as an audio file for later listening.

Think of a podcast as radio or TV show in an audio internet format. The term, “podcasting,” is a mix of the words, “iPod,” and, “broadcasting,” since the practice became ubiquitous during the rise of the iPod.

A podcast is usually hosted by a well-known celebrity, interviewer, journalist, comedian, actor, businessperson, or adventurer with a large social media following.

The Economics of Podcasts

If you want to know how to make money podcasting, well, it’s no different than how TV and radio make money: advertising.

About half of all people have listened to a podcast at least once. Over 6% of Americans listen to podcasts daily. That is over 18 million people.

In 2015, the advertising revenue generated by podcasts was about $70 million. Podcast advertising revenue is projected to surge to about $660 million in 2020.

The average podcast listener listens to over 7 podcasts weekly. About 50% of people download a podcast and listen to it at home. Over 80% will listen to an entire podcast.

The economics of podcasting are lot more involved and complicated than I am describing. These estimates are just the basic.

But it gives you a good idea of what it takes to make money podcasting. Ideally, you need to have several revenue sources to make appreciable income.

You’ll especially need a sponsor. Here are some of the ways to do it.

Podcast Subscriptions

You need to have an existing following, or generate one quickly, to have a chance at monetizing your podcast. In 2014, there were over a billion podcast subscriptions.

In the same way you would subscribe to a YouTube video network, your followers need to subscribe to your podcasts.

Your success is measured in how many people download your podcast. They also need to patronize the advertising commercials in your program.

You will have to mention your sponsor throughout the podcast several times throughout the program, like a commercial.

Still, you have a lot of work to do before getting to this point.

50,000 Download Sweet Spot

Sponsors won’t answer your calls until you hit at least 5,000 downloads per broadcast. Even then, you will only profit about $100 per broadcast.

If you are not famous or already have a loyal following, it will take you years to gain one.

To get an appreciable sponsorship deal with a national or international broadcasting network that will expose you to a winder audience, you need at least 50,000 downloads per podcast or month.

You can make hundreds of dollars a month. The more downloads you have, the more money you make.

Even then, the sponsor may take up to 50% of the money you generate. Especially if the deal helps to increase the number of subscriptions and listeners.


Ask your listeners to donate. Podcasts can be conducted in living rooms, garages, or offices. Still, you need a production team to pull it off and that costs money.

Kind of like how your local public TV station conduct pledge drives, you need to encourage your listeners to donate to keep your podcast going.

Less than 2% of your listeners may donate, so you may make $100 monthly in donations as a baseline. The more listeners you have, the more likely donations you may make.

One way to collect online donations from podcast listeners is through Patreon.

Affiliate Advertising

Try to get Amazon or some business to provide an anchor link on your podcast website.

Then you will get a finder’s fee percentage for every listener who buys a product from that link.

Learn as Much as You Can

So, you ask how to make money podcasting? Well, you will need to hire a professional staff or take production courses to learn how to produce podcasts for starters.

Do you have an attention-grabbing speaking voice and a lively personality that will keep listeners engaged?

There are over 700,000 podcasts in existence. How will yours stand out? What will be the subject angle of the podcast?

Why will people listen to you? How can you get them to subscribe and stay loyal?

I am not telling you not to try your hand at monetizing a podcast. It’s possible. Still, it won’t be easy.

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