My first response to that title is “lol”.
My advice: don’t go into podcasting for the money. Go into podcasting to share your story, build your credibility, and get your knowledge and expertise out there. Aiming to at least cover your expenses could be a basic requirement, but if you’re aiming to make a living out of having a podcast, it’s likely to be a long, hard road.
It’s not impossible to make a living from podcasting but the podcasters whose pay cheques make the news do so, because the rarity is newsworthy. You’ve probably heard of the deal that Spotify did with Joe Rogan a few years ago; that was reportedly worth $100 million. Podcasters such as Tim Ferriss (reportedly $54K per episode), the ChapoTraphouse team (apparently $154K per month), and many others are making good money through sponsorship, crowdfunding, merchandise, book deals, speaking fees, or a combination of all of them.
Big businesses are willing to pay for podcasts because they build intimacy and trust over time. However, if you are planning to start a podcast, this big-money info should not be your guiding star; with over 800,000 (and rising) active podcasts in the world, the podcasters who make over $100K per year are the outliers.
1. Be Unique
The more unique that your podcast is, the more it’ll stand out. It’ll be memorable, and your audience is more likely to share it with their friends. The community it creates may be smaller, but more enthusiastic.
Can you make lots of money by simply recording yourself talking? Probably not.
Can you make money by sharing knowledge and expertise with a combination of excellent sound design, unique and useful ideas, careful research, and interesting guests? More likely. Podcasting alone is one thing but adding bonus content helps.
In no way is podcasting passive income. It’s a lot of work.
2. Diversify Your Potential Sources Of Income
Sarah Rhea Werner is one of the biggest success stories in independent podcasting. She began making solo shows (Write Now and Girl In Space), and now she is able to say, “I make a full-time living podcasting because I include both direct AND indirect podcast income.”
Sarah diversifies her podcasts’ revenue streams through avenues like Patreon, tip jars, in-episode advertising, etc. She also makes money indirectly through speaking engagements, product & merchandise sales, course sales, freelance opportunities, coaching, IP/rights licensing/sales, opportunities that only come about because of her podcast.
She points out that the key is to set realistic goals and build your audience first. “Unless something magical (or illegal) happens, you’re probably not going to make $1 million podcasting overnight. But you can begin to make money and increase it incrementally over time, scaling it like a business. It comes down to setting and attaining realistic goals. So perhaps your first goal is to cover your podcasting costs — your microphone and other equipment, your website, your hosting company, paying actors, and maybe a few other things. What does that money look like on a per-month basis? How will you obtain it, dollar by dollar? That’s your first goal.”
3. The Intangible Rewards Of Podcasting
Taylor Mali wrote a poem, “What Teachers Make”. The point of Mali’s poem is that for most teachers, it’s not about the money, it’s about the difference they make. “How much money do podcasters make” is a similar thing.
I started podcasting as an aside to my blog. I wasn’t making any money from it but it was so good to connect with other women who were struggling through midlife like I was and feel that I was making a difference in people’s lives, even though it wasn’t millions of people. Over time, I spent more of my free time writing about podcasting, communicating with other podcasters, and helping other people make podcasts. Now, I have a job that I do find fulfilling, and a community of colleagues who feel the same way that I do about podcasting. Do I have an Amy Schumer pay cheque? No. But I’m definitely richer than I was before.
Podcasting can help you build skills, meet people, and improve your business. You can connect with other people in an enlightening way. Your podcast can help people finish boring tasks, endure long drives, withstand chemo, bike one more mile on the exercise bike, or get a good night’s sleep. You can help people understand the world better. You can build intimacy and trust.
So, How Much Money DO Podcasters Make?
How much money do podcasters make? A select few make money, and a lot of it. Most podcasters make the world a better place.
In summary, there are many ways to monetize a podcast, but you first need to build an audience around your content. That can take a lot of time and a lot of hard work.
If you want to start a podcast, the best and easiest way to do it is to join the Speak Up Podcasting Academy. We take you step-by-step through all the aspects of podcasting from what equipment you need to what not to wear (yes, really!), which platforms to use and, yes, how to monetise your podcast. Click here to join now.