Stacks of gold coins with a dollar sign

How much money can you make podcasting?

Podcasting can become a profitable income stream, but what does it take to make it happen?

This guide will explain how successful podcasts leverage their podcast audience to support themselves financially. It will also help you gauge the amount of money your own podcast could generate.

Meet the basic requirements

If you try to monetize your podcast too early, you risk stunting your audience growth and jeopardizing future plans. Before you consider monetizing your podcast, make sure you:

  • Submit RSS feed to all top directories (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.)
  • Post a new episode once a week
  • Have a social media presence
  • Have a baseline of 1,000 downloads per episode

According to podcaster Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, the best podcast monetization strategy is to provide value with your content.

Indirect selling through serving your audience and understanding their needs lets you build rapport, so they trust the offers you make down the line.

Below are three scenarios to give you an idea of how much you can make based on your audience's size. Take a look at which one best fits your own podcast!

Scenario #1: 1,000 downloads per episode

At 1,000 downloads per episode, you’ve entered the realm of moderate success. At this point in your podcast’s life, the last thing you want to do is stunt your growth.

Podcast advertising can take away from the listener experience, so it’s best to use strategies that aren’t obtrusive. Here are a few of the best revenue streams for this stage of your podcast's growth.

Amazon Affiliate Sales

Amazon’s Affiliate program lets you share links to products on their website. As an affiliate, you get a percentage of sales whenever someone clicks on your link to purchase an item.

Anytime you mention a product available on Amazon, include a custom affiliate link in your episode’s show notes to give your listeners an easy way to learn more about the product.

Anything they purchase on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking your link will earn you a commission.

Note: Roughly 1% of your audience will purchase through your affiliate link (at an average of $15 for each sale).

Buzzsprout Affiliate Marketplace

 Podcasters holding sign for Buzzsprout Affiliate Marketplace

If you host your podcast with Buzzsprout, you can start monetizing your show through our affiliate marketplace regardless of audience size.

All companies in our marketplace have to meet a strict set of criteria. When you make a sale, affiliates pay your earnings via PayPal. Buzzsprout doesn't take any commission or middle-man fee from your sales.

To access the marketplace, log in to your Buzzsprout account and select the Monetization tab.

Then, you can browse our list of affiliates to find the products most relevant to your audience. Once you find the right product(s) to promote, fill out the affiliate form to get your link within 48-72 hours.

Podcorn

Like Buzzsprout's marketplace, Podcorn is open to podcasts of any size. There's no middle-man fee, and you get paid in cash via Stripe or PayPal.

Podcorn's self-service platform for podcast sponsorships is an excellent alternative to traditional CPM models or searching for sponsors on your own. Their open marketplace connects you with unique sponsorships that match your podcast's branding and message.

Podcorn homepage image within a pink box

You can access Podcorn through your Buzzsprout dashboard. Click on the Monetization tab and select Find a Sponsor with Podcorn.

Sign up for a Podcorn account and enable Podcorn tracking. Then, search through the available sponsors to find one that's relevant to your audience.

Once Podcorn matches you with sponsor opportunities, you can pick which companies you'd like to work with, submit a proposal to the sponsor, and negotiate the details (prices, formats, schedule, etc.).

Listener Donations

Once you have 1,000 downloads per episode, you can make extra cash via monthly listener donations. NPR and other radio stations have been listener-supported for decades, and it’s becoming a popular revenue stream for independent podcasters, too.

Patreon is the most popular crowdfunding site and makes it easy to get support from listeners. Having a Patreon page means you need to spend extra time creating exclusive content for donors, so make sure the potential earnings are worth your time.

Note: You can expect approximately 2% of your podcast listeners to become patrons. The $5 per month tier is the most popular donation level.

Online Course(s)

Online courses are one of the most lucrative passive income opportunities. They let you dive deep into one particular topic and offer premium content not available via your podcast.

Identify your top three most popular podcast episodes to develop a course idea. Then, brainstorm how you could use one of those topics to help your listeners solve a problem.

You can use a site like Podia to launch your course and start collecting sales. Advertise your course on the podcast and discuss why your listeners should consider investing in what you’ve created.

Note: A well-made course takes time to create and averages around $197. You can expect 0.5% of your audience to purchase each month.

Scenario #2. 5,000 downloads per episode

Once you hit 5,000 downloads per episode, you can start to earn more serious money. You can continue using the monetization strategies you started with and add these additional income streams to the mix.

Podcast sponsorships

Most sponsors prefer to compensate you based on CPM (per 1,000 downloads). An episode with 5,000 downloads will net you roughly $100 in ad revenue.

Most podcast hosts feature a midroll ad that runs halfway through the episode with a promo code. Listeners can use this code to get a discount on the product you promote, and your sponsor can use it to track how well your ad performs.

To find podcast sponsors, see what brands are featured on podcasts in your genre. Do a Google search to find the contact info of their sales or marketing team and ask to speak with the person who handles online advertising.

Note: At this level, you can charge $20 CPM and expect to have one sponsor per episode.

Scenario #3. 10,000+ downloads per episode

You hit an inflection point when you start to average more than 10,000 downloads per episode. You’ve cultivated a following who finds value in your content, and you can easily generate a full-time income from your podcast. 

Here are the lucrative revenue streams available to you at this stage.

Partner affiliate programs

Listeners are smart and quickly pick up on disingenuous podcast ads. You can keep your listener’s trust by partnering with companies whose products you use and love.

Companies often have affiliate programs for their products, with compensation rates ranging from 25% to 50%.

Research the products you currently use to see if the company has an affiliate program. If they do, the sign-up process is usually straightforward.

It can take time and good negotiation skills to research companies on your own, so be patient as you work to strike a mutually beneficial deal.

Speaking engagements

Podcasting is a gateway to the world of public speaking. If you have 10,000 listeners a month, you're probably a trusted resource in your field and an engaging communicator.

It’s a good idea offer free talks to get your foot in the door. You can offer free talks at live events to get experience and network with conference organizers that might want to hire you in the future.

Once you establish yourself as a high-quality speaker, you can earn thousands of dollars for a single speech.

Consulting services

There are probably a handful of listeners in your audience who would pay for personalized help in your area of expertise.

People are willing to pay for saving time learning things on their own, even if you aren't the number one authority on the subject.

As long as you know something your listeners don't and can help them solve a problem, you have a service to sell.

Increase download numbers and grow your podcast!

Success in any area of podcasting ultimately comes down to hard work and valuable content. Engaging, purposeful content is the bedrock of a successful show that could make money in the future.

Until you reach that first threshold for monetization (1,000 downloads per episode), your time is best spent creating valuable content and building your listener base.

Alban Brooke

Alban Brooke

Alban Brooke is the Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout and the co-host of Buzzcast. Have any questions about this guide? Reach out on Twitter.

FAQs

Can you make good money with a podcast?

Podcasters can make good money, but earning podcast revenue depends on the size of your audience and the ad model used. Podcasts make money via:

  • Podcast merch (t-shirts, etc.)
  • Premium content (online courses, Patreon, etc.)
  • Podcast sponsorships and affiliate marketing

What is the best way to monetize a podcast?

The best monetization method for your podcast depends on its size. Affiliate marketing is a great way to start if you're a beginner with at least 1,000 downloads per episode. If you get 5,000-10,000 downloads per episode, you can sell an online course, or offer services like coaching and speaking.

How much do podcasters make a year?

According to Advertisecast, the average rate for a 30-second podcast ad is $18 per 1,000 listens. That rate adds up to big money for chart-topping podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience. An independent podcaster with 5,000 downloads per episode would earn roughly $90 every episode.