There is an overwhelming amount of advice available on how to start a podcast scattered across the internet. But it can be a little hard to find answers to the question: how much do podcasters make? And how do they monetize their businesses?
Every podcaster is different and will have their own way of running the show and monetizing it. And the best part is that there are so many different ways to monetize a podcast.
So, let’s talk about how much do podcasters make and what monetization ways are the most popular.
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How much do podcasters make?
It’s very hard to say how much money podcasters make on average. The podcast revenue can vary from $0 to tens of millions of dollars per month, so calculating the average podcast salary is difficult.
However, there is enough information available online to approximate what you can expect to make if you decide to create a podcast and turn it into a business. What’s great about monetizing a podcast is that there are multiple different ways to do it. This allows you to have multiple income streams and increase the overall revenue.
Now, the easiest way to monetize is by placing ads in a podcast. There are two metrics that play a part in calculating podcast earnings if you decide to monetize by doing ad placements or sponsorships:
- Episode downloads: This is how many times people download a podcast episode.
- CPM: Cost per thousand, which is a number determined by you or a sponsor and indicates how much a thousand views/downloads/listens/etc. is worth.
According to entrepreneur and NYT best-selling author Tim Ferris, premium podcasts have a CPM between $25 to $100. He considers premium podcasts to be “high-converting, (often) single-host (due to Oprah-like sales impact), iTunes top-50 podcasts.”
So, let’s say that a podcast has 10,000 downloads per episode and a CPM of $25. Here’s how much you can expect to charge one sponsor for one episode:
$25 CPM X 10,000 = 25 X 10 = $250
It’s quite common for podcast hosts to have more than one ad or sponsor placement per episode. Usually, there is an ad break at the beginning with one to three ads. And then there is usually a mid-break with one to three ads and an ad break at the very end.
Of course, it will depend on the length of an episode as well as who the podcast listeners are and what niche you’re in. If a podcast has shorter episodes, then fewer ads are better. That way you don’t overwhelm the listeners and turn them off from tuning in.
However, even with a lower CPM of $25 and 10,000 downloads, an episode that has three sponsors/ad placements can make up to $750.
High-earning podcast examples
Let’s look at some of the popular podcasts and see how much podcasters make.
- Call Her Daddy: A lifestyle podcast hosted by Alex Cooper was bought by Spotify in a three-year deal for over $60 million dollars.
- Entrepreneurs on Fire: One of the best business podcasts out there that makes around $150,000 per month.
- Joe Rogan Experience: One of the most popular podcasts in the world was reportedly bought by Spotify for over $200 million dollars. Some sources claim that the podcast brings in around $800,000 per episode.
- My Favorite Murder: A popular real crime podcast made $15 million in 2019.
- Smart Passive Income: In the last income report from 2018 by Pat Flynn, the podcast made over $3,000 from sponsors and over $120,000 a month in total from book sales, online courses, and affiliate marketing.
Obviously, these are podcasts with famous and well-known podcast hosts or hosts who have been in the business for decades (like Pat Flynn). So, take these numbers as an inspiration for what’s possible, rather than what’s the average podcast income.
When can you start making money with your podcast?
How fast you can monetize after launching your podcast will depend on the size of the podcast audience. The more listeners you have from the beginning, the more revenue streams you set up, and the easier it will be to make money with your podcast.
If you want to monetize your podcast with ads/sponsors, then you should wait until you have at least 5,000 downloads per episode on average. Then you can join networks or approach brands directly.
How do podcasts make money?
As we already mentioned before, there are many different ways that podcasts can make money. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular and lucrative methods:
Advertisement and sponsorships
Sponsorships are one of the most popular ways to make money online, whether you’re an influencer, blogger, or podcaster. Podcasts usually have one or more sponsors or ad placements per episode. Usually, you’ll hear them at the beginning, middle, and end. These are known as pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads.
How much you make per ad depends on your CPM and the number of downloads your podcast has. When it comes to finding sponsors for the podcast, there are a few approaches you can take. You can approach brands yourself or join advertisement networks.
If you host your podcast on Spotify for Podcasters (previously known as Anchor), then you can take advantage of their built-in monetization tools. These tools allow you to place ads without having to join a network or approach the brand yourself.
When it comes to finding an ad network for your podcast, you have a few different options to choose from:
Successful podcasters focus on building multiple income streams and put a lot of emphasis on passive income. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make passive income with your podcast.
The way affiliate sales work is you join an affiliate program and include affiliate links in your podcast episode descriptions and podcast notes. So that when you recommend the product or service, people who are interested can easily click your link and make a purchase.
Once they do that, you earn a commission on the sale. Now, how much you’ll earn will depend on the brand you promote. Some do a percentage, while others have a flat rate, and others offer a combination of both.
While the percentage of the commission might seem low at first, the affiliate sales quickly add up. Entrepreneurs on Fire is a great example of how successful affiliate marketing can bring in thousands of dollars in passive income every month.
In their latest income report for February 2023, you can see that their podcast earned almost $150,000. They have set up multiple different income sources and affiliate marketing accounts for almost $8,000. While it’s less than 10% of their overall income, it’s a huge number. Especially when you consider that this money comes in from people simply clicking a link they mentioned in their podcast.
Now, when it comes to generating an affiliate link, always make sure to keep it easy and simple. It will be easier for your listeners to remember the link if they want to visit it while listening to a podcast on the go.
If you’re looking for a good affiliate program to start with, here are a few popular, quality programs you might want to check out:
- Audible: an audiobook company that offers a flat commission rate for free trial sign-up and full membership sign-ups you bring in.
- Grammarly: a popular and reliable editing software that offers great commission rates and other benefits for their affiliates.
- Squarespace: one of the best website builders on the market, they have an affiliate program that pays up to $200 per new lead.
Another great way to monetize a podcast is by offering paid exclusive content for your podcast audience. Many podcasters choose this route because it allows them to keep the podcast ad-free.
The Writers’ Co-op hosted by journalist Wudan Yan is a podcast for freelance writers. It is funded mostly by their Patreon page. They have a page where people can choose a membership tier and receive exclusive content. That content includes things like downloadable resources, discounts, a monthly newsletter, early access to the podcast, and much more.
This is a wonderful way to build a community around your podcast. And it allows you to create a space for people interested in your brand to connect with each other and share their interests too.
If Patreon is not a platform or a business model you want, there are other ways to go about it. Spotify for Podcasters has a built-in feature that allows you to create a membership zone. That’s where your audience can subscribe and support your podcast and get access to bonus content.
They also allow you to set up a simple donation fund so that people who want to support your work and content can easily do that directly in the app.
Another alternative to Patreon is Substack. It’s a paid newsletter platform that allows you to set up a paywall for a newsletter. You can easily direct your listeners to your Substack page where they can easily sign up and access exclusive bonus content.
Selling products or services
All top podcasting gurus will tell you that the best way to monetize a podcast is by promoting your own products or services. Just as you promote your business on your social media profiles, in your email newsletter, and on other channels, a podcast serves as a great way to sell your goods.
If you look at Pat Flynn’s income report from 2018, you can see that his online courses and book sales accounted for over $40,000 he made in one month. Whether you have a book or digital products to sell, promoting your products (or services) is one of the best ways to monetize your podcast and grow your brand.
Yan, the host of The Writers’ Co-op podcast offers coaching for freelance writers who want to build their six-figure freelance writing businesses. During one of the seasons of the podcast, she and her then-co-host Jenni Gritters did coaching sessions with their clients as podcast episodes.
Not only is it useful for the audience to hear a live coaching call, but it’s also the best way to sell their coaching services. Those freelance writers who are listening and want to get more guidance on their careers are ready to buy. And this works for many different industries and niches, from lifestyle to finance.
Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about how much do podcasters make.
Can you make money from podcasts?
You can absolutely make money from podcasts. While there is no set average podcast salary you can expect to make from your podcast, it’s possible to grow and monetize it. It takes time to grow a podcast to a place where you can charge for ads and sell enough products or services to start making enough money.
However, just like with any other business venue, making money with podcasting can be very lucrative due to all the possibilities.
How much do podcasts make?
How much a podcast makes depends greatly on the size of the podcast audience, the industry, and the ways that the host chooses to monetize. The sky’s the limit really and a podcast can make anywhere between zero dollars and millions of dollars per month.
It’s much easier to determine how much podcasts can make if we look at ad placements or sponsorships as a way to monetize. The revenue will depend on two metrics: CPM (cost per mile) and download number.
A podcast CPM can range anywhere between $18 to $100+, depending on the popularity of the podcast. And the minimum download is at least 5,000 per episode for advertisers interested in working with a podcast.
How do podcasters get paid?
There are multiple ways that podcasters can make money with their podcasts. Here are some of the most popular methods:
- Sponsorships/ad placement: Podcasters monetize by offering to place ads of brands in their episodes. It’s often one or more placements at the start (pre-roll), middle (mid-roll), and end (post-roll) of an episode.
- Affiliate marketing: Affiliate sales are another great way that podcasters make money. They use affiliate links to promote products and services they love to their audience and for every sale they make, they earn a commission.
- Patreon: Some podcasters offer exclusive content for an extra fee to their audience. It can be anything from free downloadables, webinars, discounts, private chat groups, and much more. Some even accept regular donations from their listeners who want to support their favorite podcaster.
- Selling products/services: One of the most lucrative ways podcasters make money is by selling their products or services. A podcast is a great marketing channel to promote your products like digital templates, online courses, books, coaching services, and other similar things.