How to make money from your tiny podcast

How to make money from your podcast

The general consensus right now is that if your show doesn’t have 30,000 – 50,000 downloads per month, you can’t get any sponsor to look at you seriously. To really get the big advertisers (MailChimp, Squarespace) you need 50,000 downloads per episode.

If you’re looking to earn an income from a podcast with smaller download numbers, here’s what’s worked for me.

Background — I’ve had three podcasts (MegaMaker, Build & Launch, and Product People) all focused on a very specific niche. They’re for software developers, designers, and other makers who want to launch their own digital products (apps, software, courses).

How many of my listeners might support my show?

One way jack-ass marketers (like me) assess percentages is by asking: “how much purchasing intent does the initial group have?”

For example, the book I just released had an email list where people get notified about the launch. Here’s what the math looks like:

1,359 people on the launch list
663 of those people bought
= 49% conversion rate

Now, let’s compare that conversion rate to my overall list:

12,703 people on my mailing list
674 of those people bought
= 5% conversion rate

So 5% of my big list bought. But when I narrow it down to the launch list, the % is much higher (49%).

The podcaster’s sales funnel looks like this:

The podcasters' marketing funnel

“Asking listeners for money feels yucky.”

I’m worried about damaging the goodwill I’ve built up with my audience. If I ask them for their support, won’t I lose their trust?

Here’s a quick example: I recently got into Iron Maiden. I wasn’t allowed to listen to them in the ’80s, but now as a 30-something year old man, I was curious. At first, I just listened on Spotify for free. Then I started buying their albums on iTunes. Then I ordered t-shirts.

I’d spent probably $100 on Maiden stuff when I got an email from Iron Maiden asking me to pay $117.86 for concert tickets.

Iron Maiden isn’t worried about damaging their goodwill when they email me. They know they’ve earned my trust. Even though $117.86 is a ridiculous amount to pay, I did it gladly.

Sometimes as creatives, we’re too worried about the trolls. For sure there were a few metal heads that said: “Maiden sucks! I’d never pay that kind of money for a show.” But for every one of them, there were thousands of people that were like: “YES! I’ll pay anything!”

In what ways can a small podcast earn revenue?

Here are ideas I’ve tried:

There are other models I’ve seen work as well:

Have you seen anything else that’s worked? Let me know on Twitter.

Justin Jackson

PS: if you liked this post, you’ll like The Freedom Ladder.

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Published on September 3, 2016