This video explains the ways podcasters generate revenue. Attorney Richard Stim shares methods that include include donations; crowdfunding; sponsorships (ongoing payments often based on a principle known as CPMs). He also talks about affiliate marketing, a method by which podcasters can earn commissions on merchandise sold.
- [Voiceover] Podcast Income. It used to be difficult for podcasters to earn income because sponsors were hesitant to buy ads and listeners were hesitant to pay for podcasts. But as podcasting gained in popularity, advertisers and producers figured out creative ways to make money and still have fun. For example, Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor turned their quirky Welcome to Night Vale podcast into a commercial enterprise with a spin-off audiobook, Night Vale merchandise, a touring life performance, and by soliciting listener donations.
Ready, Set, Knit!, the popular knitting and crocheting podcast, was created by the couple that runs WEBS, the largest online yarn store. The financial effect of their podcast is direct. When they discuss a particular yarn on their show, they often see a spike in sales for that product at their online store. Here are some other ways podcasters generate income. The tip jar, the easiest and most popular way to generate income is to ask listeners for donations.
Although income from donations is inconsistent and in some cases, negligible, it's probably the simplest revenue system to set up. Paypal can help you link to a donate now button, or a buy now button. The donate now button is intended for fundraising, and non-profits must verify their status to withdrawal donations. If you don't qualify for donate now, you can set up a buy now button. When setting it up, you can leave the price box blank, allowing listeners to decide how much they will contribute or you can do as many podcasters have done and set a standard donation, say $5.
Another excellent option is patreon.com at which you can solicit recurring donations from your listeners. For example, a listener may donate $2 per episode, and will be billed when the episode airs, or the listener can opt for a monthly recurring fee. Crowdfunding, the practice of funding a project by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people has been used successfully by some podcasters to set up their shows, buy equipment, or to fund a full season of programming.
Crowdfunding is fairly easy to set up at sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and RocketHub. Generally, these sites charge 4-5% of your revenue as a fee and donations are refunded unless the goal is reached. If the goal isn't reached, some sites still permit you to keep the money, but charge higher rates, for example, 8-9% of revenue. Contributors to crowdfunding usually receive something, such as t-shirts, coloring books, and even in the case of large contributions, a cameo on the show.
For example, the Radio Diaries podcast seeking to raise money on Kickstarter gave vintage transistor radios to those who contributed over a certain amount. A poetry podcast on Indiegogo offered key chains to some contributors and those who made larger payments, received an invitation to a pizza party with the show's hosts. Sponsorships, also know as partnering, refers to ongoing payments, usually a fee per show, to repeatedly run ads or to mention a product or service.
Less than 5% of podcasts at iTunes have ad sponsors, but that's because sponsors typically seek out podcasters with a minimum of 10,000 downloads or more per episode. When calculating ad revenue, a formula known as CPM, cost per thousand, is applied. For example, if your show has 25,000 downloads per episode, you would have a CPM of 25. If a sponsor was willing to pay $10 per CPM to run an ad, you would earn $250 per show, that is $10 times the CPM of 25.
Sponsors often provide 30 or 60-second ads or ad copy that precede the show, known as pre-rolls or that appear within the show, known as mid-rolls. Many of the most popular podcasts, utilize the service of ad sponsorship companies, such as midroll.com or you may want to try advertisecast.com, a site that helps podcasters seek out sponsors. The positive side of sponsorship is that you're guaranteed regular income and brand associations.
The potential negative side of sponsorship is that your show may lose some of its credibility and autonomy. Also, some sponsors may demand exclusivity, no advertising from competitors, and may tie payment to a minimum download quota. Finally, keep in mind the FTC's disclosure rules as discussed in the video about government regulation. Paid subscriptions are another source of revenue. Some podcasters have locked podcasts feeds that are only open to listeners who pay to subscribe.
Paid subscriptions can generate reasonable revenue but they take some work and can be expensive to set up and more importantly, are hard to make profitable, unless you're appealing to a niche audience, or you have some unique expertise to provide. Affiliate marketing is a system by which you earn commissions based on merchandise sold via your website, blog, or podcast. For example, if you have an ecology podcast, you may direct listeners to a link for composting bins and thereby earn a commission for each sale.
To get started, sign up for an affiliate program, for example, Amazon Associates, and the program will provide you with links to a product or service. A natural fit for some podcasters is audible.com's affiliate program, because it offers audiobooks. Two final notes, if you're also running a popular blog or website, take advantage of Google ads, google.com/adsense. And if you're earning money, get a good bookkeeping system.
Hopefully, you already have a simple accounting system, some method of keeping track of your income and expenses. If not, it's time to start.
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- Choosing the right name for your podcast
- Using music and interviews in a podcast
- Understanding government regulations
- Responding to complaints
- Generating podcast income
- Registering podcast trademarks and copyrights