How To Monetize Your Podcast

 In Blog

The word “radio” has an interesting origin. Around 1890, Marconi’s wireless invention was transmitting morse code messages which were converted into “radio-telegrams,” and consumers referred to the telegrams as “radios.”

“Radio” has been evolving ever since, and the latest seismic shift has been the rise in popularity of podcasting.

Ask any teen or 20-something what “radio” they listen to, and they may mention their local CHR FM station, Pandora, Spotify, Serial, Invisibilia and Tiesto’s Club Life.

On the Portland streetcar last week, a young college student explained “Car Talk” to me like it was a new podcast that just debuted. She had no idea that Car Talk was an FM radio show, or that the show was no longer being produced or that one of the hosts died recently. She just loved laughing at the podcast.

Some of our ‘terrestrial radio” friends, like the KVJ Show on WRMF West Palm Beach, are racking up serious podcasting audience numbers. We expect podcasting to grow because from the listener’s perspective, what’s not to like? It’s their favorite content on-demand. It’s user-friendly, sharable, and free.

So if your show is podcasting, you are smart. If you are collaborating with your sales manager to make some money with podcasting, you are even smarter.

Here are some tips on how to monetize your podcast.

  • Include commercial messages in the podcast. This seems like a no-brainer, but many podcasts that we hear don’t include a sponsor, and they should. A short sponsor mention at the start and finish and a single :30 message in the middle somewhere. A live endorsement-style spot is best. (No, your sales manager is not allowed to place seven minutes of spots in the podcast.)
  • The commercials are most valuable if delivered by the host.
  • Promote the podcast on-air and on your stream through live mentions and recorded sweepers and include the sponsor name prominently. Charge them for the mentions.
  • Promote the podcast through station email blasts and social media, and include the sponsor name – charge them for that too. (However, promise JUST the sponsor name in social media – no slogans or commercial messaging.)
  • Promote the podcast all over the station website and include the sponsor name/logo in every graphic.
    If you are recording original material for podcasts, include topics that would lend themselves naturally to involving the sponsor, if possible. Example: if an episode is about cars or driving, and the sponsor is a local Toyota dealer consider having them participate if it would add to the content. Don’t do infomercials by any means, but invite sponsors to be part of the show if it is fun/interesting for the listeners. Have fun and joke around with the sponsorship, the way Seinfeld does on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.
  • Take the podcast on the road, and record it with a studio audience. If appropriate, the location could be your sponsor’s location, or perhaps they could supply product for the audience to sample.
  • Give away the sponsor’s product during the podcast through interactive games. Example: answer the trivia question, name this mystery voice, etc. Send listeners to the station website or to text in to enter.
  • Consider investing in Facebook ads to promote the podcast to people who like your show – and to people who like the sponsor of the podcast. Deliver that message while they are at their computer or on their mobile device, and there’s a likelihood that they’ll subscribe and try it right then and there.
  • Make sure that the podcast is distributed everywhere – station website, iTunes, Downcast, Stitcher, etc. Listeners don’t expect to have to hunt for podcasts.
  • Ask the sponsor to help promote the podcast in their advertising, print, in-store, website, social media and etc.
  • If you are producing original podcasts, consider making video “vlogs.” Roll cameras during your recording session, edit the video together and put on YouTube. Include sponsors in that as well.

If your employer is making even a little money with a podcast, there is a higher likelihood that they will allocate resources to your show to keep it going. Also, it brings greater opportunity for raises, contract renewal and etc. for you.

Here’s a link to a recent NPR article about advertisers investing in podcasts, including one podcast called The Comedy Button that rakes in $100,000 a year, with operating costs lower than your gas budget for the station vehicle.

Podcasting is also a chance for you to connect with an audience that doesn’t use an FM radio. Ever. That number is also growing. Let’s get your show on top of this podcasting thing before your competitors do, shall we?


Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012/Flickr

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