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How to Monetize a Small Podcast Audience

June 22, 2022

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Let’s say you have a podcast with a very small audience. How do you monetize?

This is a common question in the podcasting world. Fortunately, there are several ways to make money from a small audience.

I talked about this a lot in the last few seasons. But since then, I’ve learned quite a bit about monetizing a small audience. I would even say that my approach has changed. In this episode, I’m going to share with you some of my learning when it comes to this topic. 

There are many different ways to monetize a podcast but some of the overarching strategies you can use are sponsorships, affiliate links, selling your own product or services, and perhaps creating premium content on your podcast. But the question is what brings in the most amount of money the fastest? And what makes sense in the long term?

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are very easy to set up. It’s actually a strategy that I always recommended to start with because it is so easy and you can see a result relatively quickly. However, II think that this is exactly what changed over the past few months in my podcast monetization strategy. I think affiliate links are easy to set up but I personally never had a good result with them.

I think the reason is when you have a small audience, there are not that many people to convince to buy something. And if you also only get a percentage of the sale that you make on a podcast, a flat fee, or a small amount of what you actually sell, then there is not much that is left for you. Your portion of the sale is relatively small, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing, of course, especially if you have a huge audience then it can still be super profitable. Maybe I just haven’t cracked the code yet. But in my opinion, I have never had huge success with affiliate sales.

Selling Your Own Products and Services

I would actually change my recommendation about affiliate links and say, go for selling your own products or services. This is probably the most profitable thing you can do if especially if you already have products or services of your own. For example, if you already have a course, start selling it on your podcast ASAP. That is the easiest thing you can do to monetize your podcast.

Sponsorships

Sponsorships are a really good way to monetize a small audience, which I didn’t know before. This is also the reason why I created so much content about sponsorships in this season of the podcast because I have been learning a lot about them. And, it’s quite awesome actually. I always was a little bit hesitant to make a deal with a brand and let them sponsor a podcast because I didn’t want to let my podcasts become one big ad. But now that I have sponsors for both podcasts, I think it’s still not one big ad and it can be really beneficial for all parties, including listeners. 

What to Expect from Sponsorships

Sponsorships can be really really interesting when you have a small audience and you want to start monetizing it. But I will say your first sponsorship, when you have a small audience, might not be a full-time income.

When you monetize a small audience, your first sponsorship, will probably not pay all your bills. Although I think monetizing a small audience in this way can be definitely a really cool strategy because you start building relationships with the brands that sponsor your podcast, especially when you make a deal directly with the brand and you are in contact with a person at the company, then you build a relationship. It might not be super-profitable in the short term yet but don’t undervalue the influence that you do have when you have a small audience. You are also building up this relationship with this company or with this person at the company for the long term.

If you charge a certain amount now, and your podcast keeps growing, you can charge more for the sponsorship that you already have or maybe you have a sponsorship for a set amount of time, which is what I did.  I have sponsorships for a certain amount of time and II make sure that during that time, I am the best person to work with ever. I update my sponsors. I really focus on building this relationship. So when a sponsorship ends a little later, I can reach out again and say. “Hey, I love working with you. Are you looking for a new campaign? I would love to work together again.  If this is interesting, please let me know and we’ll negotiate a new deal.”, right?

The Importance of Building Relationships

Having a small audience is perfect to start building these relationships. Because once your podcast grows, and your audience grows, you are ready to charge these larger amounts for sponsorships. It is scary to send out a proposal for a sponsorship of a few thousand dollars when you have never done it before. So I think there’s also a lot of value in just getting your feet wet and just starting while you are still small and when expectations are not gigantic, and when you also don’t feel the pressure of like a huge deal on your shoulders. Maybe this is just me, but I know that I’m not alone in this feeling. It feels a lot of pressure when there’s a lot of money on the table. You want to do a good job no matter what, of course. But I think there’s actually a lot of value in starting small. 

Takeaway

There are a lot of different strategies that you can use to monetize a podcast audience. Before I would recommend starting with affiliate links and affiliate marketing because it’s really easy to set up. You just pop some links in the show notes and you’re done. You can just wait and see if there’s money coming in.

But maybe it will make way more sense to start with a sponsorship. If you do have your own products and services, sell that. That is the most profitable and easiest way, especially if you already have it. If you don’t have that, then I would say look into sponsorships, especially when you reach out to brands or brands reach out to you directly. These direct agreements are usually way more profitable compared to when you use a platform that is made for this. And especially when you have a small podcast audience, you want to make sure that you don’t get paid per 1000 downloads, because you might not get a thousand downloads. You want to make sure that you explain to the brand the value that you bring to the table, which isn’t a huge number, but you can show them that you’ve had steady growth over the past few months or you can tell them more about the audience that’s there – what makes them so awesome that they definitely want to reach these people who are listening even though they’re not thousands and thousands. They can still be very, very valuable for the brand.

So those are my top tips to monetize a small podcast audience. I hope you find them helpful. I invite you to listen to other solo episodes because there is a lot more about how to take the first step towards monetizing your podcast and how to get ready even if you don’t want to monetize your podcast yet. We also have an episode on how to get ready for podcasting monetization in the future. So definitely stay tuned to that and I’ll see you in the next episode.


Resource mentioned:

What Is The Best Way To Monetize Your Podcast?


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