Monetizing Your Podcast & Making It A Sustainable Project

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Monetizing Your Podcast & Making It A Sustainable Project

I recently sent out a write-up on my interview with marketing and podcasting extraordinaire, Yaagneshwaran Ganesh. We talked about the value of creating valuable podcast content for your audience – and today, I’m going to book-end that conversation by discussing how to source monetary value from your content.

It’s no secret that, in order to be successful, your business must make a profit. Your sales efforts must grow in tandem with the size of your company if you want to maintain (or improve) your margins and reach new heights. But what does monetization and scaling actually look like? And how do you make sure you’re doing it effectively?

In a recent conversation with one of the most successful marketers and podcasters I’ve ever met – Ben Shapiro of I Hear Everything – he enlightened me on the ins and outs of monetizing your podcasting efforts. If you enjoyed the podcasting advice in Yaagneshwaran’s interview, you’re going to love this one.

Let’s take a look.

Ben Shapiro, CEO and Co-Founder of I Hear Everything

My guest and inspiration for today’s write-up is Ben Shapiro, and as mentioned, he’s one of the most successful marketers you’ll come across. Going from strength to strength, Ben has achieved some pretty incredible career feats:

  • Ben is the host of both the Voices of Search Podcast and the Martech Podcast, as featured on top global charts
  • He is a brand development & marketing strategy consultant, and before that, he worked in business development at eBay
  • He specializes in helping growth-stage companies build an effective marketing strategy
  • As part of his marketing role, Ben has launched podcasts for some of the largest brands in the world

A resume can’t get much more solid than that. I was thrilled with the opportunity to have a chat with Ben, and we dove deep into the topic of finding revenue streams in podcasting.

Monetization: Making Your Projects a Full-Time Gig

Podcasts are a crowd favorite when it comes to marketing strategies, as are YouTube videos and other methods that get your business in front of a crowd. But what about the nitty-gritty of monetizing your projects so that they become sustainable financially?

The truth is that podcasts drive a hard bargain when it comes to ROI – especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. As I mentioned in my last write-up, most podcast episodes will only receive 27 listens on average, which isn’t exactly a lot.

On the other hand, advertising agencies are making a bucketload of cash from podcasters. “The industry standard is selling podcast advertising on a CPM basis, which is great for the advertiser, and even better for the agencies,” Ben explained. “The problem is that it’s not good for me and you as the podcasters.”

In fact, studies show that the average return on adspend for marketing campaigns is $2.42 – a return of millions of dollars in revenue for advertised brands. So how can you get a cut of the pie as a podcaster? Let’s see what Ben had to say.

Setting Up Multiple Revenue Streams

When Ben was starting out on his podcasting journey, he found that the revenue wasn’t enough to sustain the podcaster lifestyle.

“I built the Martech podcast, which in its 11th month hit 10,000 downloads. So I’ve got a room of 5000 marketers that make $200,000 a year, and an agency wants me to sell the advertising inventory for that for 2500 bucks a month – not enough to pay San Francisco rent.”

Determined to persist in his endeavors, Ben began to look for other ways to monetize his podcasts. (Audio ads aren’t the only way to cash in, believe it or not).

“So, how do you figure out how to scale the monetization without relying on agencies to buy inventory on the cheap? You have to figure out other ways to provide value, and go direct to the people that are interested in leveraging your audience.”

According to Ben, there are five key ways to do this. Let’s run through them now.

Method 1: Advertorial Content

When you watch or listen to something that is clearly paid advertising, how quickly do you lose interest? Probably pretty quickly. That’s where advertorial content comes in – it’s a form of advertising that is blended in with editorial content so that it doesn’t feel like advertising at all.

This is one of the ways Ben makes sufficient revenue from his podcasts.

“We invite the people that are sponsoring our podcasts to be guests on the show, and we are very upfront about the sponsorship – but we’re not doing a sales pitch. We are just giving them more airtime to build thought, leadership, and expertise.”

Research shows that advertorial content really works in the marketing space. One study found a staggering 81% increase in sales between paid advertising and advertorial content – so yes, it’s a pretty powerful tool.

This isn’t just a monetary advantage for Ben, either. It also helps to plan content and fill up weeks or months of content in advance.

“An advertorial sponsor gets five episodes that are 15 minutes each, instead of an invited guest who gets two. And now we’ve got a week’s worth of thematic content.” Win-win.

Method 2: Content Syndication

Once Ben’s team has captured and created pieces of advertorial content, they create a second stream of revenue from the same content by syndicating it out to new audiences – people who look like Ben’s audience, but who may not have found the content without some prodding.

“We are marketing that content not just to our existing audience, but we’re also going out and finding people that look like our listeners. And we’re saying, here’s a great piece of content, you should listen to it!”

With this kind of marketing, Ben can multiply the revenue he earns from each piece of content by syndicating it out to new, relevant audiences.

“It’s a win win for both parties: sponsors get additional exposure, and they’re paying for our marketing because we’re going and finding people outside of our audience.”

Method 3: Audio Advertising

When your podcast takes a quick break to “thank today’s sponsor” for a few seconds, that’s audio advertising. It’s one of the oldest and most common forms of advertising, and it still works like a charm – if you do it right.

“Everybody knows how this medium works – you put an ad into a podcast and people pay you for it.”

Where many podcasters charge based on a CPM model, which is cost per thousand impressions, Ben charges a flat fee with a benchmark of 75,000 to 125,000 impressions per month. This gives him the stability of a monthly retainer with his clients, and it allows him more breathing room when it comes to creating new content.

Methods 4 and 5: Targeted Advertising

Finally, Ben does something particularly tricky to get even more bang for his buck. By sourcing the IP addresses of his audience members (in a completely law-abiding way, mind you), he can create social media audiences to target with marketing.

“I can take my first party data, put it into Facebook, and create an audience. I could then share that audience with the sponsor of the podcast, because they’re a contributor in creating the content. So they’re marketing to their audience as well.”

What Ben means by this is that, as an added incentive for the sponsors of his podcast, he will help create social media audiences that are similar to the audience of the podcast. This way, sponsors can market to those people directly, and Ben gets a piece of the pie for helping to create that audience.

“On the flip side, we can also create look alike audiences from the people who listen to the content, and then do direct response marketing through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We use the seed data that we’ve got from the podcast listeners to drive traffic through the funnel.”

Method Outcomes

There you have it – Ben’s five methods for bringing in revenue from his podcasts. The result? He’s able to bring in a six-figure income each year from his various shows.

“We are building the story, sharing the content, and advertising a specific offer to build awareness, giving people access to promote content and services to the people that heard their content. So instead of being 2500 bucks, these are $10,000 to $20,000 a month sponsorships, which is why we’re 10x the average pod now just in terms of monetization.”

Clearly, these methods work – and they can work for you, too.

Take Ben’s Tips To The Bank in 2022

So, how can you apply these monetization strategies in your own podcasting project? I’ve put together a few tips to wrap up the piece, and I also highly recommend listening to my entire interview with Ben Shapiro. You can find it here.

Tip 1: Find Great Sponsors

A key lesson to learn and navigate through when beginning your podcast journey is that agencies won’t pay you what you’re worth until you have a large audience (and sometimes, not even then). Instead, find a valuable sponsor who can both monetize your episodes and reach new audiences.

Tip 2: Avoid the One-Basket Mistake

Just as investors should have a diverse portfolio, podcast content creators should be tapping into multiple sources of revenue. This is where Ben’s five monetization strategies come into play.

Remember that podcasts are highly versatile and can be used to create content across a variety of formats, including interviews, solo shows, roundtables, and more. Think outside the basket and be creative with how you can repurpose your content to reach new audiences.

Tip 3: Leverage Your Content

The beauty of podcasts is that they can be re-posted, repurposed, and rearranged as blog posts, articles, videos, and even slideshares. You can also use them as the basis for lead magnets, e-books, and other valuable content offers.

You work hard to create valuable content, so make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Repurpose your episodes into different formats and use them as a powerful tool to reach new audiences.

Tip 4: Build an Email List

This is one of the most important tips I can give you. An email list gives you direct access to your audience and allows you to cultivate relationships with them. It’s also a powerful tool for driving traffic back to your website and content offers.

Wrap-Up

Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after content formats for advertising and promotion. I personally love the medium – it allows me to speak to some of the most brilliant minds in the world and learn new things.

The best part is that anyone can start a podcast with a little bit of effort and some basic equipment. If you’re looking for more inspiration, I strongly recommend my interviews with both Yaagneshwaran Ganesh and Ben Shapiro – they’re both great sources of information and provide tons of value.

Although we’ve talked about building podcasts into a revenue powerhouse today, I totally endorse the concept of broadcasting for the sake of broadcasting. However, if you’re looking to turn that project into a full-time gig, then these monetization tips will definitely help.

Good luck and happy podcasting!


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