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5 Ways to Monetize a Podcast


About Anne Claessen

After graduating from law school and getting two master’s degrees, Anne discovered she wasn’t going to be fulfilled working in the corporate world. She took time to travel and explore her options. While doing so, she discovered podcasting and decided to start her own business as a podcast manager. Anne realized pretty quickly that she wasn’t the best podcast manager, it wasn’t her dream job or zone of genius, but quickly realized how to monetize a podcast. Helping others do the same became her mission.

Anne now empowers other podcasters to monetize their podcast even without thousands of followers. She is using her degree in strategy to help podcasters map out strategies to monetize podcasts and find profitable business models for their podcast. Anne helps her clients come up with a strategy and helps them implement it.

Robyn Graham interviewed Anne Claessen on The Second Phase Podcast. Anne shared how to monetize a podcast even without thousands of followers. On the podcast graphic is a photo of Anne smiling at the camera while her hands are on her headphones. She is standing outside on a path.

5 Ways to Monetize a Podcast

There are five ways to monetize a podcast.

The most common way is sponsorships. But sponsorships aren’t the most profitable way to monetize a podcast.

Affiliate links are the second way to monetize a podcast. You can add affiliate links in your show notes as well as in blog posts about the show. An affiliate link is when you like a product and get an affiliate to think and when someone purchases the product you receive a commission.

The third way to monetize a podcast is by creating a membership. This can create a community feeling for your listeners.

Donations are yet another way people monetize a podcast.

Lastly, you can sell your own products and services to monetize your podcast.

More on how to start a podcast. 

Audience Size to Monetize a Podcast

Anne believes that you do not need a large audience to monetize a podcast. Most people think you need a large following because of sponsorships. On average a sponsor pays $25 per 1,000 downloads. For sponsorships to be lucrative, you do need a relatively large following. This can be a lot of effort for little money if you don’t have a large following.

It is also possible to negotiate a deal with a sponsor and the sponsor pays a set amount for a short ad per episode the ad is run. Depending on the sponsor, you may not need a large following to negotiate a decent deal and this may be more lucrative than a per-download agreement.

Selling your own product or service is more profitable than sponsorships. If you get more clients, you are going to make more than $25 and this is possible by simply publishing an episode vs. having so many followers and negotiating contracts with sponsors.

Values Must Align When You Monetize a Podcast

It’s important to ensure that your values are aligned when working with sponsors. It can be a challenge, and you have to be particular about who you bring on as a sponsor. If a sponsor doesn’t align with your values, it will cause confusion with your audience.

If you have multiple sponsors within a single episode, it will turn people off. The ads simply become noise and put off your audience.

Before you try to monetize a podcast, think about your audience and what will benefit them.

You can also monetize a podcast with affiliate links for products and services you use. If you like the product and service, then it aligns with your business and podcast but will also benefit your audience. A win-win.

The Expense to Monetize a Podcast

Another consideration is the need for a contract when working with sponsors. This could result in an additional expense to have an attorney create the contract for you.

There is definitely more work and expense related to sponsorships than with promoting your own business.

Using Affiliate Links to Monetize a Podcast

When using affiliate links to monetize a podcast, you can offer something that you know your audience will benefit from and help them on their business journey. The goal of your podcast is to build trust with your audience. If you are sharing tools that you love and have worked for your business, they are likely to purchase them because they trust you.

The reverse is also true. If you promote things that do not align with your business just for the sake of making money as an affiliate, you can lose the trust of your audience.

Using a Membership to Monetize a Podcast

Step number one is to ask your audience what they want and how you can serve them. If your audience wants to connect with you more, offer a membership where you meet with them once a month for a question-and-answer session.

You could also offer a membership that includes more content for those who subscribe.

A common tool to use to create this option is Patreon. They suggest doing three tiers.

Tier One, less expensive – members are here to support you as a podcaster

Tier Two is more expensive – members receive more content

Tier three, more expensive – something extra like a new masterclass about a podcast topic every month.

The key is to poll your audience and see what they want.

Using Donations to Monetize a Podcast

Some podcasters have success with this by using “Buy Me a Coffee”. There is something tangible. The podcaster can buy themself something, versus, just getting money.

Anne and Robyn agree that asking for donations is a little uncomfortable and it’s best to actually provide something to your audience than ask for a donation.

Selling Your Own Products and Services to Monetize a Podcast

To promote your own products and services you can create an ad specifically for your business. There are three options for ad placement. The first is in the intro.  The second is a mid-roll ad, takes a quick break, and then goes back to the episode, and the third is at the end of episodes.

Anne suggests to her clients to do all three but keep it short and to the point.

Don’t go too deep into a promotion at the beginning because people are there to learn, and you haven’t given them anything yet. Especially if you are new to podcasting, be sure to keep the ad short.  If you do an ad in the intro, keep it super short, maybe two sentences.

In mid-roll, you can have a little bit longer ad because you’ve already given the audience something. If you are doing an interview, you can create a cliffhanger. Ask a question, then take a quick break, and since the audience wants to know the answer to the question you asked, they’ll hang around to listen to the answer. Keep it to less than two minutes, and less than 5 minutes.

If doing an outro, you want to have a call to action for the mid-roll ad. You can say “hey, remember when I talked about my service, here is the link where you can learn more or book a call”.

Tip For Podcasting

Interested in starting a podcast, tune in to Episode 32 with podcast coach, Jeanette Tapley.


It is very overwhelming and a lot of work. Pod-fade is real. People start with a lot of energy and then feel overwhelmed and quit. Create a backlog of episodes so that you have some time before you have to record episodes.

Don’t put too much importance on download numbers. Download numbers don’t say a lot. You can have a very profitable podcast with a few downloads and a non-profitable podcast with a lot of downloads.

Make a commitment so that you can enjoy the process and don’t worry about numbers before trying to monetize a podcast.  Think about monetization before you think it’s possible because it possible to monetize a podcast from the first episode.

To learn More About Your Host, Robyn Graham, Click HERE.

Learn more and connect with Anne:

Website for Anne and The Podcast Babes


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