How To Start a Podcast in 5 Easy Steps: The Definitive Guide
August 3, 2020
Are you looking to start a podcast? Alas, you’re in the right place.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to start a podcast from scratch at the lowest cost possible.
When we’re done, you’ll be able to:
- Choose a niche, name, and artwork
- Find a format and get equipment
- Host your podcast
- Launch and promote your podcast
- Monetize and grow it
And a whole lot more. Sounds good? Let’s get started.
Why Start a Podcast?
Starting a podcast has many benefits. From getting exposure to meeting new people, and potentially making some money on the way, the possibilities are endless.
Whether you’re starting a podcast for a business or just for fun, podcasting is the pinnacle of content marketing (using content such as blog posts, videos or any other form of content creation to target an audience).
Let’s go over some of the reasons why podcasting is booming right now.
Even though it has been around since 2004, Podcasting is the hottest new trend in the audiovisual industry.
Compared to other business models, podcasting is not overly saturated yet unlike other online businesses such as e-commerce, Youtube (31 Million channels live), or even blogging (there are over 600 Million blogs live on the internet).
You might think that there are millions of podcasts right now, but the fact is that there are less than 1 Million podcasts at the moment (Little over 850k), and those are getting tons of engagement as over 144 million Americans have listened to a podcast.
Businesses are discovering the power of podcasts as well, more businesses are spending a significant amount of their marketing budgets on podcasts.
It’s not hard to understand the reasons behind that since it increases their visibility, brand awareness, and boosts purchase intent by more than 14%.
For these same reasons and more, podcasting is relatively easier to get into compared to other mediums in the digital space.
Who’s listening to podcasts?
The interest in podcast has exploded during the past couple of years as 70% of Americans (roughly 330 Million) are familiar with the term “podcasting”.
The analytics shows that 32% of Americans are regular podcast listeners.
Note that 67% of total podcast listeners are in the age between 18 – 44 years which means the younger your content is, the better.
You need to make sure that your topic/message is very clear from the get-go, don’t confuse your listeners, the first couple of episodes are crucial.
A lot of big podcasts were able to gain traction instantly due to a well-executed launch of those first 10-15 episodes.
Build a core audience first, you can start expanding on your subject matter, segments, and all of that later on.
Now that you know the “why”, it’s time to move to the “how”.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are five essential steps you need to know to start a Podcast.
With that said, here’s step one.
Pick a niche, name, and artwork
This the fundamental step where you craft the identity and define the purpose of your podcast.
Building a strong base can go a long way in starting a successful podcast.
So without any further ado, let’s start with the very first elements: choosing a niche, then a name, and finally designing the artwork.
Finding a Niche
The number one thing to do before you start a podcast or anything for that matter is figuring out the topic and theme your podcast will focus on.
This is the part where you’ll have to soul search again (just kidding!).
It’s much simpler than that.
All you need to do is to define your target audience and demographic.
To help you do that, start by looking for something that interests you or that you are an expert in.
For example, if you are a martial arts enthusiast, you want to talk about everything related to martial arts, it doesn’t mean that you limit yourself to only that but that needs to be the bulk of your content.
The secret to finding what your audience wants to hear from you is dependent entirely on your audience itself.
You can test with different things, see what they like more, and build up around those central themes that stuck with them.
Choosing a Name
The name of your podcast is hyper important, it is your first and only chance to leave an impression on potential listeners.
Similar to a book title, it either makes the reader curious and make him check out the book (or the podcast in this case), or they just glance by it and never see it again.
Length of the name is very important. 75% of all podcast titles are 29 characters or shorter, and the average rate for a podcast name shows to be 20 characters.
One of the big reasons why going with a shorter name is safer is the appearance of your name on different apps and screens.
Many podcast services will not show the entire name if it’s too long. Which harms your visibility and impressionability.
When you look deeper, you can find commonalities.
Popular podcast names tend to be unique, concise, and descriptive.
If you can fit your keyword (or a related word) in the title, that would increase your chances of standing out. Unless it’s a perfect match, do not try to stuff your keyword in there.
Not only that would look forced but it might actually discourage people from listening.
Furthermore, Apple is very strict with keyword stuffing. They made it very clear that any attempt of keyword stuffing will get your podcast banned from their directory.
Avoid using the word Podcast in your title, and try to make it broader than your niche, so it gives a sense of ambiguity but still hints at the overall vibe of your show.
Take Action: check for a domain name with Namecheap and see if it’s available. If it’s available then purchase the domain name and make it your own.
Designing the Artwork
Your first introduction to your audience isn’t your amazing voice or great content, but a tiny picture.
This falls under the same umbrella of choosing your title.
It needs to be an attention grabber, something that makes your podcast stand out, especially when shared on social networks and podcasting platforms since it’s what’ll show up on the screen.
The same way that your name sells the message to your audience to let them know what they can expect, your artwork is even more powerful since it communicates visually with your listeners.
Your podcast artwork needs to be specifically optimized for Apple Podcasts.
Apple Podcasts is the largest podcasting platform that people use to listen to their favorite podcasts, it’s important to optimize your artwork following their new artwork policies which state that:
“cover art should be a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi, in JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png), and the RGB color-space. To optimize images for mobile devices, Apple recommends compressing your image files.”
It’s important to do this to be able to feature in the new and noteworthy and section which pushes out new podcasts.
Now, if you have some graphic design experience then you can use Adobe Photoshop to create your design or if you know someone with such a skillset, ask them to help you with it.
If you have none of the above, you can get designs done for cheap on websites like Fiverr.
Make sure you choose freelancers with extensive portfolios and experience.
Define your podcast format and get equipment
By format I’m referring to the elements that contribute in constructing your podcast episodes. We can sum them up in 4 things:
- Podcast structure
- Episode style
- Episode length
- Equipment and audio software
We wont focus heavily on equipment as we are trying to keep the budget low. So I’ll make sure to keep the list short and inclusive.
We’ll also touch on podcast recorders and how to record your first podcast episode.
Let’s get started.
Your episodes have to have a certain structure.
You could totally freestyle it and go with the flow but it will require you to do some (or a lot) of editing afterwards.
Therefore, it’s always nice to have a plan in place that you can resort to whenever you’re stuck.
Podcasts typically consist of:
o Ad segment
o Discussing what’s important (start with the recent events and build up)
o Interview if you have a guest in place
o Call to action & outro
Play around with this until you have the best format for your podcast.
You can get inspiration from other podcasts so get creative with this one.
There are many styles of podcasting. Some are easier to pull off than others.
It all comes down to your vision and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Let’s explore some of the popular podcasting styles and figure out the best style for you.
1. Interview Podcast:
It’s pretty self explanatory.
Interviews are the most popular type of podcasts, and the easiest ones to pull off in terms of content matter.
But the difficult part is finding and booking your guests.
If you have a professional career and know some experts in your industry, then this should be easy for you.
When you’re starting with no background, you’ll need to hustle. Reach out to as many potential guests as you can find.
Once you land your first few guests, pitching other guests will be much easier since you now have a track record that you can show.
2. Co-hosted Podcast:
As the name suggests, you’ll must find a partner to host the podcast with you.
You can invite a friend or someone you know that is a good fit with you and can make for interesting conversations, debates, analysis, reactions and so on.
So think this process through because it either will make or break your content production ability.
Find somebody who can share the burden of carrying the podcast with you (and to pick up the slack at times).
Solo-hosted podcasts fall under this section, too. However, they are much harder to carry out since it’s a one-man show.
It’s typically for the more seasoned media personalities and journalists with a team of content producers.
3. The Panel Podcast:
This is a conversational style podcast between many people (3 or more).
Panel podcasts can be challenging as it needs some technical experience connecting all of the sound sources and getting all the people together at once (same time, same place).
But once you bypass the technical part, panel podcasts have many advantages.
They can make for interesting conversations, presenting different takes and perspectives make it more interesting.
Additionally, the responsibility of carrying the show is shared among the whole team, not just you.
4. Non-fictional storytelling podcast:
These podcasts tell real-life stories that happen every day using audios from the people narrating the story.
It requires some narrating skills and research, as you need to be able to give thorough and insightful information to the listener without making him feel like he’s listening to the news.
One way to do this is to use a script that you read throughout the different segments of the podcast, you’ll have to make it sound organic/interactive, though.
Nobody wants to listen to a spoken word in the form of an audio recording.
So, these are the most common podcast styles, make sure to pick the one that suits your approach and character.
There’s no rule of thumb to determine the perfect time for your podcast.
The length can range from 15 minutes to 60+ minutes long episodes as it is all dependent on your format, structure, subject matter, and audience.
Not to mention that you want to make sure that the quality isn’t compromised by length. Unless you’re certain that you’ll keep your audience listening no matter the length, keep it on the shorter side.
Experiment with different time ranges, nonetheless.
With longer episodes, it’s easier to fit sponsorship and ad segments without affecting the listener-experience with irritating advertisements.
Read this study by Pop Up Podcasting to learn more about podcast length.
Equipment & Audio Recorders:
Recording a podcast can be a delightful experience if you have the right equipment.
The sound quality of your podcast plays a huge role in gaining positive feedback from your listenership.
Since having clear audio with no outside noises sends a professional image to your listener.
You don’t want to be the podcast with background noises overriding your voice and message.
Sound Editors and microphones can help eliminate all the undesired sound problems and guarantee the best possible sound quality.
There is plenty of good quality and 100% free audio editing software, here are some of my favorites:
I’ll show how to record your first episode with Garageband in a little bit.
The Best Paid Recording Options
If you want a more automated tool with no major learning curves, you can use Alitu software.
It’s not free though, you pay $28 for a monthly subscription but if you need an audio editor that can do everything with very little work, this is the software for you.
Here’s a quick tour on how to use it from the creator of Alitu himself Colin Gray:
The best microphone to record your podcast
You’ll also need a microphone for the best sound quality. It’s not an absolute requirement, but it helps you get professional sound quality.
The best option on the market with a reasonable price tag is: Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB keep in mind that it’s a one person show microphone.
If you’re planning on having a pod with multiple co-hosts consider getting the: Audio-Technica ATR2100.
Remember that a major part of making money is investing some of it first. You can’t expect a business to make thousands of dollars without investing some upfront. That is unrealistic.
How to record your podcast with GarageBand?
Garageband is a practical software to record that you can learn quickly.
When you want to start recording, you need to plug in your microphones in the USB of your PC/Mac.
After that, open Garageband and make sure that the microphone is the default input recording device. Now you can click the record button and start recording.
Watch this 10-minute video to show you exactly how to record a podcast using Garageband:
This brings me to the next issue in question which is recording a podcast with your iPhone.
Can you start recording a podcast with an iPhone?
Yes, you can. But the quality of the audio might suffer because the microphone inside of the iPhone is not intended to conduct interviews. Yet you can fix that with iPhone microphones.
I recommend getting the Shure MV88 for iPhones.
It makes recording super easy since you can rotate it and position it however you want.
The company behind this mic (Shure) even developed an app specifically for it.
Using this app, you can adjust your audio quality and record different formats like uncompressed WAV audio using the built-in mic, editing audio using trim or split options that include adjustable fade curves and marker, and much more.
Having said that, you can find other apps that turn your iPhone into a podcast recorder.
Podbean offers a phone app with podcast recording features. Soundcloud is another app that enables you to do that.
Remote Calls Recorders
If you plan on doing remote interviews, you’ll need software to assist with recording interviews.
There are several paid options but we’ll stick with the free ones since they are as reliable as the paid options.
- Skype: in 2018 Skype released its audio call feature. It’s easy to use, and it helps that nearly everybody has used Skype once in their life before. Read this article from Skype support to learn how to record your calls.
- Zencastr: You can record your call via Zencastr by sending a link to your guest. When the call is done, you can receive the audio track from your guest or co-host.
And with that we’re on to the next step. Getting your podcast hosted.
get your podcast hosted
Now that you have your topic, name, and artwork sorted it out. Plus format and equipment ready. It’s time for your newly started podcast to be hosted online.
There are a lot of podcast hosts so it’d be impossible to cover them all here, but I’ll mention the best paid and free hosts.
Best paid hosts:
Best Free hosts:
Let’s get started.
But first, what is hosting?
In layman’s terms, hosting is having a virtual space online where you can store all your files, audios, data, and pictures in one place.
It is what keeps your content live on the internet.
Think of it as a PC that’s always on and set to make sure your material stays live online so people can view it at all times.
After all, your podcast is a collection of large audio files that requires a lot of storage, space, and bandwidth that regular Web Hosting services do not provide.
And that’s where Podcast Hosting comes to play.
Not to mention that podcast Hosts doesn’t just store and keep your audio live online. They do much more, things like:
- Allow file downloads (MP3 files downloads)
- Have an RSS feed illustrating audio files, and updates
- Data and analytics about podcast audience
- 24h support in case of any technical difficulties
- free website, domain, and podcast embedding option
There are hosting services that provide a whole lot more but these are the major elements you want your host to have.
For that matter, I made a shortlist of the best podcast hosts available on the market. Hosts that you’ll always see rated highly on the podcast hosting market.
The best paid options
Simplecast is a newer platform on the market. Founded in 2013, this podcast hosting service has reinvented the podcast hosting industry with edge cutting services and technology.
They have the cleanest looking embeddables in the game with tons of articles that can take your podcast to another level.
Simplecast also host podcasts for some of the prominent brands in the world, these brands include but not limited to Nike, Facebook and Shopify.
I think it’s safe to say that you’re in a pretty good company (pun intended).
Another strong point of this host is their full support of their clients since they provide instant chat support.
They have three plans available, you don’t need more than the starter plan. For $15 you get:
- 2 team member seats
- Unlimited storage & uploads
- Distribution everywhere
- Customizable show website with a custom domain
- Manage multiple shows under one account
- Embeddable episode web player
- a secure (HTTPS) site and RSS feed
- 20K downloads included per month
- and Email support
For the $35 plan you get more features: 4 team member seats, additional web players, compare analytics across 2 episodes, location analytics, unique listener reports, web player analytics, technology analytics, 50K downloads per month, and chat support.
They also have a $99 business plan. But unless you have an established podcast, I don’t think you need it.
Simplecast is more than just a hosting platform, they are a system designed to help serious podcasts scale and reach their full potential.
They are a favorite of mine.
If you’re ready to start your podcasting journey, go ahead and try Simplecast 14 days free trial.
Bonus: use our promo code: ONSIMPLECAST to get 50% off your first 2 months.
Buzzsprout is by far one of the best podcast hosts. And they have been around for a long time.
It’s number two on my shortlist and it’s ranked highly in pretty much any list out there.
They offer both free and paid plans:
- Free Plan: This is a practical option if you’re looking to start a podcast and get the essence of it before committing to a paid plan. It comes with its limits though, as you can only upload 2 hours of material each month for 90 days, which is enough time for you to test things out.
- Paid Plan: When you upgrade to a premium plan, which costs anywhere between $12 – $24, you get indefinite hosting time, unlimited storage, 20k – 40k amount of podcast plays, and 250GB of bandwidth.
Their service is one of the easiest to use, all you gotta do is upload your media file and it’ll take care of the rest.
It automatically posts your podcast to all directories which guarantees having your podcast on all platforms and apps.
Moreover, buzzsprout has the most interactive dashboard in the business that makes tracking your analytics, such as: audience countries, and size in the first 90 days, even easier.
You can easily embed your podcast on your website with Buzzsprout and it’s even easier for WordPress websites since they have a free plugin specifically for that.
Additionally, it has one of the best looking embeddable players, I must say:
It shows your artwork, and all the needed buttons in a practical aesthetic way.
One downside is the limitations on their free plan, but other than that, you can get your podcast up and running in no time.
Sign up here and start your 3 months free trial.
Who should you pick?
With that being said, I think both of these hosts are tremendous. They offer all the necessary tools for podcast growth.
It can’t go wrong with any of them.
Now, onto some free hosting options.
Free Podcast Hosting
Unlike premium hosting services, the vast majority of the free hosts have limitations and constraints.
Services like Soundcloud, speaker, anchor.FM and many more provide hosting for free.
But they all come with limits on the amount of podcasting time, downloads, and so on.
I mean at the end of the day if you don’t pay for the product you are the product, right?
Let’s explore some of these options and see what they offer.
Technically speaking, Spreaker has a free plan but most of their powerful features come with their paid plans.
The reason I’ve included them here is that their free plan provides you with 5 hours of storage but only 15 minutes per session.
This means that you can only record 15 minutes for each recording session.
They have both a desktop and mobile app that you can use to live stream your podcast, a feature that you don’t find in most hosts.
The live streaming option can help you create engagement and communication with your audience live.
Their On-Air Talent plan is very cheap. At $7 mo ( and $6/mo when billed yearly), you can auto-publish your podcast on all the major directories, along with some basic analytics dashboard.
But most of the useful features like advanced analytics, monetization, and advertising programs like Speaker Prime, and audience chat are all under their paid plans.
It’s worth noting that you can host many podcasts using the free plan.
So, I recommend testing Spreaker’s free plan before deciding on whether you want to upgrade or not.
Anchor.fm is an interesting company. They have been pushing the agenda of free podcast hosting.
They believe that all podcast hosting should be free and all of the paid hosting services are robbing people of their money.
Spotify have recently acquired Anchor, so it remains to be seen if they stick to their beliefs or will this acquisition change things for them.
Anchor provides a lot of services free. These services include:
- Unlimited storage and hours
- No cap on the number of podcasts you can host
- Monetization opportunities and advertising partners
- One-click Distribution to all the major platforms
- An app to help you record with your phone
If you think about it this is a lot for a free hosting service.
Keep in mind that they still offer a free product, so don’t expect to have the same backup and support as you have with paid hosts.
Besides, if you’re a fan of analytics and data, Anchor isn’t offering anything substantial in that area. Their analytics are basic and not as in-depth as you want them to be.
Anchor is perfect if you’re just starting and want to do podcasting as a hobby. You can upgrade to a professional option once there’s a call for it.
You can upload your content on Soundcloud using either free or premium subscriptions. Soundcloud plans have an allowance limit.
let’s break it down:
- Free Users: can upload 180 minutes (3 hours) worth of content per month.
- Pro Users: 360 minutes (6 hours) uploaded per month.
- Pro Unlimited Users: unlimited uploading time.
Soundcloud is a large hosting platform to get your voice heard, but it’s really limited and meant for shorter audio files. Learn more about Soundcloud plans here.
All in all, these are some of the best hosts on the market, they have the best tools to help you start your podcast.
Thus explore your options and try some of these platforms (for free) and learn how podcast hosting works.
Launch And Promote Your Podcast
The moment of truth has arrived. It’s time for the big launch of the first episode or episodes as I recommend you start with 3 episodes but we’ll talk more about that later.
It’s time to upload your first episode but before that, you need to build some momentum for your brand new podcast so it doesn’t get buried.
For your podcast to standout, you’ll need to plan your launch strategically.
In this part, I’ll show you how to build your first base of listeners and we’ll try to feature your podcast in the highly sought after section of iTunes New and Noteworthy.
How to get your podcast featured on Apple’s New and Noteworthy?
One of the best ways to build your first listeners is to get featured on Apple’s New and Noteworthy section.
It’s the section that millions of Apple users browse to find new podcasts they might be interested in.
Needless to say that you want to be in it.
It’s presumed that the podcasts must be younger than 8 weeks old to be qualified for New and Noteworthy. However, if you browse the section you’ll see a lot of podcasts older than 8 weeks old.
You’ll find podcasts that are months or even years old still in the section.
So take the 8-weeks window with a grain of salt.
And even if you don’t get in the New and Noteworthy within the first 8-weeks, you can still make the What’s Hot section on iTunes.
However, climbing up to this invaluable piece of digital real estate takes a lot of work and authority.
The process that the iTunes algorithm uses to decide on what gets on the New and Noteworthy isn’t disclosed by apple.
But there are a lot of variables that will likely help you land the section, things like:
- Number of listens of the first of episodes.
- Positive Reviews on your podcast.
- The number of downloads.
- Podcast subscriptions.
- All of the above repeated in most episodes.
So how do you achieve this?
Well, there is no definite answer but there are few things you can do to increase your chances of landing a spot in the category.
Build an audience before launching
This is probably the best thing you can do for a podcast launch. If you have a pre-existing audience, that’s even better.
But in case you don’t, there are ways you can build one:
- Organize a launch team composed of your friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors, and anyone that can spread the word about your recently created podcast.
- Once they are fully invested, create a social media copy and give it to them. By doing that, you make sure everybody is on the same page and sharing the right things at the right time.
- Leverage social media channels by creating early content. See what other podcasts in your niche are posting, and try to attract their followers.
- Search for Facebook groups, Reddit forums, and various communities in your niche and provide support to the people of those communities, and you’ll be able to promote yourself the right way, not the spammy style.
- Release at least 3 episodes at launch. You want people who like your material to binge-watch and hopefully get hooked from the start. It also shows that you’re serious. Besides, it’d triple your metrics (instead of getting 1 download, you’d be getting 3).
Note: Don’t abuse this. It’d hurt you in the long run when you’re releasing podcasts by your regular schedule.
It would result in a drop in your stats sending negative signals to the iTunes algorithm.
- This goes without saying but always insert a CTA (call to action) by encouraging people to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast.
- Reach out to other podcasters in your niche and try to get an interview with them (either they interview or you interview them), make sure they plug your website and socials.
The most important element
Now, this is the most important step of them all, are you ready? Have outstanding content.
Not what you expected, right? but I can’t stress it enough.
Make sure you have something worthy of people’s time. Don’t create a hoax. People are not morons, they can easily separate rubbish from quality.
If you don’t know where to start, then see what other successful podcasts are doing, study their program, see what’s working for them, what segments they include, what structure they implement, Incorporate their strategy and add your spin to it.
Don’t downright copy, but model their success.
Scaling Your Launch
If you have some resources (money) to allocate, you can scale your launch beyond these steps causing a bigger impact.
What to do exactly?
- Set up a website, put up content, use a magnet to collect emails, and make sure you invest in SEO to rank on google.
- Always leave show notes and a transcribed version of the podcast. There are many ways to do this, my suggestion is that you hire transcribers from a company like GoTranscript as they do the human transcription for reasonable prices. Or you can go with auto transcripts but proofread those as they make a lot of mistakes.
- Buy social media ads, use a lead magnet to collect emails, build an email list, then promote your podcast to your subscribers. Once you’ve built an email list, you can even start offering your own products to them.
I understand this is a lot to take when getting started, but you don’t have to do everything at once.
You can start little by little, podcasting is a long term project.
Not everything has to be perfect, achieve smaller goals first then move onto bigger ones. Podcasting is a marathon, a very long one at that.
For more on having a successful podcast launch, I suggest enrolling in John Lee Dumas’s free masterclass. It’s really helpful when you’re starting.
I mean John Lee Dumas has made 17 million in revenue since starting his podcast back in 2012. He knows a thing or two about podcasting.
Promote and Grow Your Podcast
Hopefully, the launch you prepared for has gained some traction and set your podcast on the right path.
Even if you don’t have traction immediately, which is very likely, you should be all-in on promoting and growing your podcast.
There are a lot of ways to go about this process, but I’ll mention the basics:
1. Make good use of data:
Any decent podcast hosting service would give insights that tell you important things like when are people tuning in? And for how long are they listening?
When you have the numbers lined up, make sure to take action based on what the data is saying.
For example: if your analytics show that people are listening at a certain time, you should post your podcast at that time of the day.
If you don’t have enough data yet, that’s okay. Ask other podcasters and see what’s working for them, follow their lead until you get enough data to rely on.
2. Refer listeners to past episodes:
Always mention your old content whenever it feels right to do so.
3. Network your way to the top:
Reach out to people, go to conferences and meetups, make sure to look for opportunities to connect with other podcasters.
4. Get mentioned by others:
This is rather straight forward. You reach out to other relevant podcasters in your niche and you ask them to promote your podcast. But before you grab your wallet, try to see if they are willing to accept cross-promotion. Meaning you mention their podcast and they do the same. In both cases, the worst thing that can happen is they say no.
5. Encourage engagement:
Engagement is an important ranking factor. That’s why boosting it can fasten your growth.
One way to encourage your listeners to leave reviews and ratings, and to subscribe is through incentives.
So, you announce giveaways and rewards for people who engage with the podcast.
This can be as simple as featuring their comment or mentioning them at the end of an episode, or something tangible like a course you’re offering. That way you motivate your listeners and keep them engaged.
Monetize Your Podcast
Phew! We’re finally here, the part you’ve probably been waiting for the most: how to turn your podcast into a viable source of income?
I mean you have started a podcast to make money (and if you’re doing just as a hobby that’s cool too!).
It’s no surprise that podcasts can make some serious dough.
If you do it right, it can turn to a significant income source that can support you in the long run.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, podcasting is a long term project. If you want quick-cash this is not the kind of thing for you.
It’s for those who want to build an extra income source that can help become financially free further down the line.
How Much Does Podcasting Pay?
Podcasters are typically paid per download. You usually get paid by CPM (cost per mille) meaning that you get a certain amount of money for every 1000 downloads.
Let’s understand one thing here, the top podcasts can make up to $100k+ per episode, but that’s a very small percentage.
These podcasts get hundreds of thousands of downloads each episode because they have been doing it for at least 3 to 5 years.
The most common way podcasts make money is through advertising and sponsorships.
By 2020 Advertisers will have spent over 1Billion dollars on podcast promotion.
But for a podcast just starting, your focus should be around building valuable content that a people would enjoy and want to hear every week.
At this point in your podcasting journey, you shouldn’t be worrying about any sponsorships or ads – why? cause it would hinder your growth, make you sound sales-y, and worsen the listener experience as 65% of people online skip ads.
Especially if you haven’t established yourself in your niche, gained authority and credibility.
So, taking into thought the fact that you’re just starting. I will focus on the monetization ways that are best for newly created podcasts.
I’ll mention other ways but it’s going to be at the bottom since these methods are not effective unless you’re getting a minimum of 5000 downloads per episode.
1. Donations & Crowdfunding
Part of what you can do to monetize your podcast is to encourage your listeners to participate in the process of making things happen for your podcast.
That’s why I keep emphasizing on building a faithful listenership because they are the most vital element in growing a podcast and making money with it.
One podcast that’s generating 6-figures monthly using Patreon is Chapo Trap house podcast.
They have over 38,000 paid followers on their Patreon page and it brings them an impressive $170k+ per month.
Not too shabby.
So this idea is simple, they pay $5 (or so) to access to exclusive content that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
So think wisely about what your audience is paying for when they subscribe to your Patreon, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or whatever crowd-funding platform you use.
Make sure they’re getting something in return, an incentive for supporting your work.
Don’t make it feel like they are doing charity work, let them have something in return or be involved with the work you’re doing.
You can offer things like:
- Early access to content
- Content upgrades
- Ability to contribute to the production
- Live Q&A sessions
- Ability to participate in polls to decide the next guest is, ask questions and so on.
Asking for your audience support is an effective way to generate some money, but don’t expect all of your listeners to support you.
Aim to connect with your core audience first before jumping to Patreon.
You can expect a small percentage to convert into supporters, so the bigger you get, the more support you’ll have.
Another important tactic is to give them multiple subscription tier options, from the cheapest ($1 to $2) to the highest tier ($20+).
Don’t limit the subscription plans to just one so more people can contribute.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing has been, and will always be, one of the best monetization ways online.
It works with blogs, videos, and podcasts all alike.
In short, affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products and receiving a commission once you get a sale or generate a lead to the product you are promoting.
First, begin by promoting the products you use and that benefit your listeners.
There are products to promote in every niche. If you don’t have products to promote, see what other podcasts in your niche are promoting.
Another way to get affiliate products is to start joining affiliate networks.
Affiliate networks are websites that have a large collection of products that publishers (affiliates) can promote.
Some of the biggest affiliate networks are:
– Amazon Associates
– SVRN Commerce (Previously Viglink)
One of the best ways to promote a product is by inviting the creator of that product (or a representative of the company) to your podcast.
Dedicate an entire episode to talk about the history of the company, how they started, and the product itself.
One podcaster that’s making sizable amounts of money with Affiliate Marketing is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income.
He makes over $3000 from his podcast by Promoting other people’s products.
3. Sell Your Products and Services
Using a podcast is an effective way to sell your products with 54% of podcast listeners are more likely to consider buying an advertised product.
Starting a podcast isn’t just a means to an income but a way to market yourself and your business to get clients, boost sales, and increase conversion rate.
Several podcasters don’t generate direct income from their podcasts. Rather, they use their platform to get visibility, build relationships, network, and a portfolio to further their career path.
Hence, podcasting is a traffic-driving tool to reach a new audience, improve your brand awareness, and influence.
You can also sell your merchandise. It could be products, courses, books, T-shirts with print on demand websites like TeePublic, or any other items that your listeners would buy.
This is more of an indirect monetization method to help you diversify your income sources.
You might ask about the difference between sponsorships and advertisements.
Well, the only difference is that sponsorships don’t require getting huge amounts of traffic. Whereas, advertisements necessitate a lot of downloads.
Rather, you can get sponsored by a company that’s looking for a small audience that fits their criteria.
You don’t need to have 50,000 downloads per episode to get sponsored.
There are plenty of companies that are looking for small audiences to target.
Sponsors look for quality traffic that is easier to convert into sales instead of a broad audience where they might spend more but fail to hit their ROAS.
One podcast that got sponsored with less than 1,000 downloads per episode is the Leading Learning podcast which brings in 5-figure annual revenue from sponsors alone.
They said that they had a sponsor before they even had a thousand downloads per episode.
How To Get Sponsored?
First, focus your efforts on a specific niche and grow an audience within that niche. That way, you have a higher chance of landing a sponsor that is willing to pay you to have their product advertised.
Next, you can reach out to potential sponsors and let them know what you offer and the exposure they’ll get if they sponsor you.
It’s better to contact brands that you’re familiar with in your local area since you can help them reach a market they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Just make sure that the sponsor you’re targeting fits your brand and your listeners.
Read this in-depth article about how to get your podcast sponsored for a more detailed walk-through.
Once you develop a successful relationship with your sponsor, it can turn into a partnership with your sponsors by doing consulting and public speaking for them, or any other opportunities that might arise.
There are other monetization ways but these are the most common ones especially for newly started podcasts.
How To Start a Podcast FAQ
What is needed to start a podcast?
Some equipment like:
- Microphone and headphones
- Audio recording and editing software
- Podcast host
- A PC or a Mac
- A website
How much does it cost to start a podcast?
It depends on your budget. You can start a podcast for as little as $75 and it can go up to $5000 for a professional podcast studio.
How much money do podcasters make?
You can make from $0 to $100k per episode. It all depends on the amount of listens you get per episode. The top podcasters get anywhere from $25 to $40 for 1k downloads from advertisers and sponsorships.
Can I make a podcast by myself?
You sure can. However, you’ll need content that will captivate the attention of people for you to be able to carry a show by yourself and keep people listening.
Should you start a podcast?
Podcasting is the best way to market yourself and create opportunities for your business. It’s a platform that enables entrepreneurs to reach new highs and create a major impact.
What makes a good podcast?
- Good content that scratches an itch.
- Provide something new, different, or/and innovative in your niche.
- Make data-driven decisions and listen to your audience.
- Consistency: don’t obsess over the numbers and accolades.
Can you start a podcast on your phone?
It might not have been possible a few years ago, but many apps allow you to record a podcast on your phone. Apps like Anchor.fm, Podbean app, Soundcloud, Spreaker, and many more.
Where do you put podcasts?
You publish podcasts in directories like iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, google podcasts, and many more.
How do you make money from a podcast?
- Sponsorships and ads.
- Affiliate marketing.
- Products and services.
- Premium content.
- Direct support and donations.
- Public speaking and appearances.
- Consulting deals.
Can you start a podcast for free?
You absolutely can. All you need is a free host (like anchor.fm) and a computer, but it’s highly recommended that you get a microphone for sound quality.
OVER TO YOU
Start a podcast from scratch today
The ball is in your court now. It’s up to you to take action and make your vision a reality.
Starting a podcast can be a tedious task but once you get in the habit of recording, you’ll start to enjoy it more.
For the last piece of advice, I would like to leave with this video from one of the most successful podcasters Tim Ferris.
watch it as it explains what it takes to start a successful podcast from scratch.
Make sure to leave any questions you have down below. I’ll try to answer all of them.