With Google reporting more than 10 million monthly searches for podcasts, it's safe to say podcasts are only going to rise in popularity.
The reason for podcasts being so popular is people can listen to them on the go. While driving, while commuting, during lunch, while laying in bed. It's an easy way to absorb information without needing to bring something physical along like a book.
But before starting a podcast, anyone who treats podcasting more than just a hobby is going to wonder how much they can make. To be frank, most podcasts make $0. Are you surprised? Beginner podcasters have a negative cash flow since they spend money on equipment like microphones before earning anything.
But if you can manage to create a podcast that grabs people's attention, you could be tapping into a goldmine. Bloomberg reports that top podcasts in 2020 are making more than 1 million in revenue per year!
How much money can you make podcasting?
The amount you make from podcasting depends on which method you decide to monetize, the number of subscribers you have, and your conversion rate. Each method has its own paygrade, whether you're in sponsorship, affiliate program, or you're selling your own products.
With that being said, let's take a look at the most common ways to monetize your podcast so you can get an idea of the kind of money you can make.
1. Podcast sponsorships
If you can provide value to your listeners through your podcast, you will get sponsors. In fact, for most new podcasters, sponsors are their primary source of income.
Let's look at Entrepreneurs on Fire as an example. They started a podcast, devoted their time to it, made it intriguing, and built an audience. Just 6 months after the launch, they began to attract sponsors. They even had their first 5 figure month 6 months in, earning $12,584, which 85% was from sponsors alone.
If you're looking at making money through the CPM (cost per impression) model, you'll earn:
- $18 per 1,000 downloads for a 15-second ad.
- $25 per 1,000 downloads for a 60-second ad.
To put this into perspective, if you get 5,000 downloads for a 15-second ad, you'll make $90.
If you get 5,000 downloads for a 60-second ad, you'll make $125.
With those small numbers in mind, you better get cracking and look for ways to grow your audience. It's suggested you use your first earnings on things like advertising to get your name out there.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is another excellent way of making money through podcasts, especially if you find yourself mentioning products often.
An affiliate program is when a company gives you a link or code you can promote to your audience. The commission earned from this link depends on the price of the product or how much the shopper spends. But you can usually get anywhere from 7%-75% while some companies pay a flat rate.
Affiliate programs are different than sponsorships. Anyone can join an affiliate program (as long as you can meet their basic terms), while sponsorships are selected more carefully.
In a way, being a part of an affiliate program could be more profitable than having sponsorships. If you're posting an affiliate link to a $50 product and you're getting 15% as an affiliate, if you get even 10 referrals, you'll make $75.
However, the best case would be to have sponsors and affiliates.
3. Sell your products and services
Before looking for sponsors and affiliate programs, consider the products or services you already sell. Are they relevant to the audience that tunes into your podcast? If the answer is yes, you could leverage your audience to make more sales.
Being in your listener's earbuds is a powerful way to build authority and trust with your audience. A great way to catch their attention is to offer exclusive discounts, which will also build brand trust as much as personal trust.
You can even plan some podcasts to be about your products. Introduce a problem, expand on it, then introduce your product as the solution. Chances are if you're known for your product, listeners are already thinking about buying.
The best part about selling your products or services is that you get to keep 100% of the money!
The 10 highest earning podcasters in the world
Now that you know how much money you can make by podcasting, let's look at the highest earning podcasters in the world for some inspiration.
With over 9 million followers, Joe Rogan is perhaps podcaster with the largest audience on the planet, and his income aligns with this show's popularity.
On the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, you won't miss anyone's experiences. For every episode, Joe brings in inspiring figures to talk about their life, goals, projects, or anything interesting. He's interviewed industry leaders like Elon Musk, Sam Harris, and even Mike Tyson.
Joe Rogan's podcasts make approximately $75,000 per episode. At 3 episodes per week, this podcast is earning $900,000 per month and $10.8 million per year!
It's no wonder he's racking in cash with this podcast. He's got over 40 sponsors supporting him, including 23andMe, Athletic Greens, and Calm.
Update May 2020: Joe Rogan just signed an exclusive multiyear deal with Spotify worth $100 million. This pushes him even further ahead of the pack of the richest podcasters in the world.
Chapo Trap House is the American political humor podcast, which started back in March 2016. 4 people host it, each of them hilarious as the podcast is known for its “laugh my az off” commentary.
This podcast earns most of its money from patrons (fans who support their favorite podcasts). As of now, they have 34,213 patrons, making them $153,055 per month. That's $1.8 million per year.
Unfortunately, this group of podcasters does need to split the profit. But even with an income of 460K per year each, I think they're doing pretty well.
Smart Passive Income is exactly as it sounds. Pat Flynn brings aboard everyone who knows the ins and outs of passive income to teach listeners all about how to live a life in pajamas. His podcasts interview other podcasters, and he often interviews his affiliates.
Here's an example of a podcast that makes big bucks from affiliates. While Patt Flynn runs two podcasts, the two make a combined income of $100,000 per month in affiliate revenue.
There's nothing better than tuning in to a good horror story, right? Last Podcast on the Left, hosted by Ben Kissel, Markus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski, is all about different horror stories. Both fictional and non-fictional. The group goes on tour to give their fans live podcasts.
Up to date, they're nearing 500 episodes ranging on topics like alien sex and vultures. And, they have a broad base of horror-loving fans with 11,346 patrons. Although they don't earn as much as the podcasters mentioned above, thanks to their patrons, they earn $55,898 per month and $670,776 per year.
Ex-Viners and YouTubers, the two comedians Cody Ko and Noel Miller, came together to create a podcast that makes people chuckle. While their episodes have nothing to do with meat, they do make humor out of things like celebrity gossip, how to be manlier, and sometimes political topics.
Like Last Podcast on the Left, this dynamic duo also travels to give live shows. The travel time and live shows pay off, as they're often a full house. The Tiny Meat Gang has 10,638 patrons and make $51,199 per month and $614,388 per year.
Food and humor, what could be better? The two comedians, Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger, hop around to review different fast-food chains. What's best about their podcast is the reviews are 100% honest. So, even if they're getting the food for free, it doesn't mean they're going to go easy on anyone. They also compare different chains in battles, such as who has the best curly fries.
Doughboys is sitting at 8,094 patrons. Although their earnings aren't published for the public, it's assumed they make anywhere between $23,000 and $58,000 per month. That's pretty good, considering the fast-food niche isn't for everyone, especially the granola and quinoa eaters.
7. The Ringer
Are you obsessed with sports, pop culture, and podcasts? The ringer podcast is where you can get all 3. This podcast was launched in 2013 by Bill Simmons. He brought along several editors that previously worked with him on Grantland, an ESPN owned blog he operated from 2011 to 2015. On this podcast, you can listen to commentary about recent games and news about celebrity campaigns.
It seems the popularity of sports and pop culture never dies. The Ringer attracts more than 15 million listeners per month. In 2018, Bill Simmons made $15 million in revenue.
It's only human nature to be curious about crime, and Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle turned that curiosity into a podcast. The podcast focuses on reviews and recaps of the most gruesome and chilling crime stories. But it's not as serious as it seems — this pair brings the perfect balance of humor, entertainment, and analysis needed to lighten up a heavy crime story.
Patrick and Gillian have built exceptional relationships with their fans and now have 13,718 patrons. Although TCO's income isn't public knowledge, it's estimated they make around $1.2 million per year.
Second Captain was launched in 2013 in Dublin and remains the most listened to podcast in Ireland today. Again, the best podcasts aren't run by only one person (except for Joe Rogan and Pat Flynn). This podcast consists of a team of 5 podcasters, which allows them to run a full-time podcast business publishing one podcast 5 days per week! They cover a variety of topics like sports, politics, and the latest news.
They make money by charging their audience $5.55 per month for access to their podcasts. With 11,383 subscribers, they make $63,175 per month and $758,107 per year.
Did all this talk about podcasting get you motivated? If so, what's your next step?
While it's important to think of ways to monetize, it's more important to think of a good podcast theme that will differentiate yourself from others. All the examples of successful podcasters in this article have out of the ordinary ideas. That's why they're able to get people to subscribe.
Once you have your theme down, you can start thinking of which method will work best for you to start racking in the sponsors, affiliates, and patrons. And if you have an extra leg and sell your own products, don't forget your podcast is an excellent source to advertise those products.