Podcasting has been around for just over four years now and people are still struggling to make money podcasting. What’s the problem? Maybe we just haven’t discovered the business model(s) that work. There are lots of ideas out there and I thought it would be a good idea to make a list ( and make some money doing it – Note: If you click on links on this post and try the services, it will make me money. Many of the links use affliate program links to illustrate one of these business models. I use all of these programs and refer you to only the ones that seem good. Hope you don’t mind me making some money from writing about ways you can make money:)
Here’s my list. I’ve ordered the list from the what may be the most obvious ideas to the not so obvious ideas. Read to the end to find something you may not have thought about.
If you have another idea add it with a comment. Or you can comment on these ideas.
1. Sell your content
This seems like it should be the most obvious idea of all. Make content, sell content. The execution however may be somewhat more difficult. The easiest way to do this is to put your content onto CDs or DVDs and sell them on your site, like Ask A Ninja and Will It Blend.
Another way is to sell some or all of your content via a subscription basis. This can be accomplished by making members only sections of a website or using a service like PremiumCast. If you want a members only section to a website, there are ways to do it using WordPress, or you can use a forum or a membership website from someone like Wild Apricot.
NOTE: If someone buys something, get them to sign up for your mailing list so they can get your PodZine Newsletter. Don’t have a list? START NOW. DO NOT WAIT. DO NOT PASS GO. GO DIRECTLY TO START A MAILING LIST. IT COULD BE YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET. Ok, enough screaming about getting a list. I use Aweber. It’s inexpensive, easy and works great.
Think NPR. Think Public Television. Ask people to donate money or buy you things from an Amazon Wish List. Both of these ideas are easy to execute. You can get donation button code from Paypal and Amazon Wish Lists are really easy to make an publish. Here’s my Wish List.
And if you want to make a donation to Digital Podcast you can do so using my PayPal Donation Button.
If someone donates, give them a free subscription to your PodZine with some bonus, like a personal thank you picture or some other creative thing. See mailing list comment in idea number 1.
3. Run ads within your podcast
Another obvious idea. But you have to sell some ads. Bummer. This is often where this becomes a problem for podcasters. Selling ads is hard work. There are some Podcast ad networks you can join, although I have no idea how much they pay. If this is for you try here or here or here.
If you want to run ads, but don’t want to sell ads or use an ad network stay tuned, because the last two ideas on the list may be what you need.
Make sure you have an ad in your podcast with instructions on how to sign up for your free PodZine subscription. See mailing list comment in idea number 1.
4. Promote a sponsor within your podcast
This is one of my favorites. Leo Laporte does a great job of this. He has some deal with Audible and promotes a book each week. I have seen presentations where people behind Grape Radio and Endurance Radio talked about selling sponsorships for decent amounts of money. To execute this, find someone who would really benefit from some exposure and sell them on how great it would be to promote them to your audience.
Give people who sign up for you free PodZine some bonus from your sponsor as another way to promote your sponsor. See mailing list comment in idea number 1.
5. Run ads on your webpage and use your podcast to drive traffic
This should be easy to do, if you don’t mind low CPM rates. Adsense and Yahoo Publisher are worth trying. Other Adsense like programs include Adbrite and Adengage. You can also set these up as a way to sell ads on your site. Adbrite and Adengage will also work with explicit content. Just be careful not to run Adsense on the same page as something similar. That’s against the Google rules.
Chitka is another option. They run ads on your site with specific products within categories.
There are also online ad networks that have lots of banners you can run. Adsense can be set up just to run banners and you can find lots of other banner ad networks such as ValueClick and ClickHype out there. CPM rates tend to be very low however.
If you want higher CPMs, you will have to get busy selling your own ads or get creative in creating your own high paying ads which I will explore in the last two ideas on the list.
Don’t forget to advertise your PodZine on your webpage. See mailing list comment in idea number 1.
6. Sell your own product
Maybe you make blenders or some other widget. Use your podcast to sell your widget. Don’t make a widget? Make and sell an ebook that would appeal to your audience. You can also set up affiliates to sell your ebook using something lick Clickbank.
If you want to sell your own T-shirts, cups etc. get a CafePress store.
Or maybe even sell a premium version of your PodZine with special content. See mailing list comment in idea number 1.
7. Sell Professional Services
If you don’t make stuff, you can sell time. Not very scalable if it’s just you, but depending on what you do you may be able to make good money.
Create a contest for people who sign up for your podzine subscription. Winner gets 30 minutes on the phone with you. Or some such thing.
8. Sell Training
Training is another great way to make money selling time. If you don’t know how to build a training course, then take a course about building a paid membership training site. If you are looking for some help in making an online course or a information product Bill Myers Online is a good resource for developing online products.
Promote a 30 minute training session contest for people who sign up for your PodZine.
9. Affliate Sales
This is where things get really interesting. You don’t have to sell you own products, services, ads, ebooks or time.
You can make money selling other people’s products, services, ebooks or time. You can find an affiliate program for selling just about everything.
An affiliate program is where you make a commission or a fixed payment when someone buys something that you linked them to. If it can be sold, you can probably find an affiliate program for it.
I’m working on a page with affiliate sales links that would work for different podcast categories. I will post it when I’m done.
Even better, if you don’t want to sell ads, you can run ads on your podcast or website to promote your affliate store or the products you are selling via the affiliate program. This way you have sales cost, you control the ads, you control the presentation and you get the full commission.
You can also sell ebooks if you want. ClickBank is the king of ebook sales. Just be careful in there as they also have a lot dubious quality products. I’ve found I have to buy the product first to make sure it’s not bogus or some consumer rip off.
Many companies also have their own affiliate programs. You can usually find a link to the program at the bottom of websites if they have a program, although sometimes you have to ask via an email. If there is something you think you can sell, get in contact with the maker and cut a deal. For example, I wanted a sound effects package for podcasters and got the link by asking.
Don’t forget to tell your PodZine subscribers about the great products you’re now selling.
10. Affliate Lead Generation
Selling stuff can be hard. The good news is you don’t have to sell to get paid. You can get paid for just providing a lead. There are tons of programs that pay you for providing traffic that turns into leads. Some are great, while others can be a bit dubious so beware.
What kinds of leads can you make money on? If a lead is worth something to someone, you can probably find a way to get paid for providing it.
For example, here are lead generation programs for
Some of these,like the control diabetes offer, are really good offers for consumers , others are not so clearly good for consumers. For example, the free gift card offers harvest lots of info and funnel the consumer into a lead generation process which sends them off to some other affliate program without ever giving the consumer a gift card. So be careful with what you recommend. My recommendation is to only recommend what you would use and what your audience will find truly valuable.
I’m also working on a page with affiliate lead generation links that would work for different podcast categories. I will post it when I’m done.
If you are interested in this kind of program, here are links to programs to lead generation programs I’ve used:
Bonus: Mine Your Podzine
If done correctly, your PodZine list could turn into one of your biggest assets. First, you get a direct channel to your audience in addition to your podcast. Second, unlike your podcast, your PodZine can carry links. Links to the products and services you recommend. If you like something, make it a habit to tell your audience – put it in your PodZine. Be sure to check to see if there’s an affiliate program for it, because then you will get paid to promote stuff you like. I suggest only promoting stuff you really like. It’s more fun, more genuine and probably works better over the long haul.
And some programs are email only. For example, there is a free business card campaign that pays our $12 per lead, but is email only. This is something that might fit nicely on a business oriented podcast’s PodZine.
If you need help setting up your PodZine, I recommend Aweber. If you want an alternative, I’ve also seen people use Constant Contact, but have not tried it myself.
Let me know what you think. Which of these pays your bills? Got other ideas. Post a comment and let me know.