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9 strategies for monetizing a podcast, from sponsorships to premium content

How to monetize a podcast

A podcast can serve as a creative outlet, a platform to discuss a niche interest or a marketing tool for a business. Because there are so many opportunities to monetize a podcast, it can also serve as a source of income. Whether you have an established audience or have yet to start a podcast, this article will teach you how to monetize a podcast using strategies such as sponsorships, advertising and event hosting.

Tip: No matter what podcast monetization strategy you decide to use, create a website dedicated to your podcast that will come in handy to your current and new listeners.

Starting a podcast? Use this podcast name generator to name it.

How to monetize a podcast

Here are nine strategies that can help you turn your podcast into a lucrative side hustle or even a full-time career:

01. Get sponsorships

A podcast sponsorship is an agreement between a podcast and a brand in which the brand agrees to support the podcast in exchange for promotional mentions within the podcast. Since these mentions are typically only 15 to 60 seconds long, listeners won’t be bothered by them—they might even trust you more if you have the support of a brand they know and trust.

Sponsorships can take many forms, such as providing funding for the production of the podcast or offering products or services as giveaways to listeners. Sponsorships can be especially useful for smaller podcasts that may not have a large enough audience to attract advertisers, as sponsors may be more interested in the quality of the content and the alignment with their brand rather than the number of listeners.

02. Publish episodes on YouTube

Syndicating your podcast recordings on YouTube is a simple way to further monetize your podcast. You can simply use an image as a placeholder for the visual element and have your podcast audio play in the background. That said, it’s worth taking the extra step of making video recordings of your podcast tapings—better visuals means increased engagement and increased engagement means more ad revenue. To maximize the potential of your YouTube channel, be sure to follow best practices for YouTube SEO to help your videos rank higher and attract more views, which can ultimately help you monetize your channel.

You can also use a Podcast SEO strategy that will help you generate traffic and users to your recordings, and from there you can develop ways to encourage them to convert on your channel in someway.

A podcaster using YouTube to monetize a podcast.

03. Run advertisements

There are pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll podcast advertisements, which means they are played at the beginning, middle or end of an episode, respectively. The ad might be an endorsement from the host, a script from the brand or a more traditional commercial that the brand produced.

Once you’ve grown your listeners to a few thousand listeners, you can start to work with podcast advertising networks such as Midroll, AdvertiseCast and Authentic. Some podcast hosting sites even have their own built-in advertising networks. The advantage of working through a network rather than directly with brands is that there’s less administrative work involved. You’ll use the network to find advertisers, negotiate rates, and get the ad script so that you don’t need to do the leg work and can focus on creating great podcast content instead.

Because advertisers often pay at a cost per mille (CPM) rate, podcasts with larger audiences tend to make more money. Newbies should still consider podcast advertising because, even if you don’t make much in the short run, you can use your experience to demonstrate your worth to larger brands once your audience is more substantial. Don't forget to get on board with podcast analytics, in order to understand the success of ads on your platform.

04. Host an event

When you have a more dedicated following, you can start to promote in-person events that you charge admission for. These events can be anything from live podcast recording, a public speaking appearance, a workshop, or even just a meetup for your avid listeners.

05. Offer subscribers premium content

Create exclusivity with your podcast by offering a subscription model. Whether you want to put all your podcast content behind a paywall or not is up to you, but with this method, your dedicated listeners will pay a monthly fee to listen to your podcast.

A good way to have a bit of both free and paid content is to offer premium content for subscribers only. This means that the majority of your podcast episodes will be available to all listeners, and you’ll release some exclusive episodes that are only available to listeners who subscribe.

For this type of premium content, you want to make sure the added fee is worth it to your audience. So, you might release a free episode with a partial interview with someone relevant to your niche, and to hear the full interview the listener will need to subscribe. Recently, Spotify has made it possible for podcasters to set up paid subscriptions for their followers, with Apple following suit not long after.

06. Accept donations

It might seem strange for podcasters to ask for donations from their listeners at first, however, once you take into consideration all the time and hard work you put into creating content for your listeners, asking for donations makes more sense. It’s become more commonplace for content creators in all fields to request donations to help them continue to create the same great content for their audience. There are a few different ways you can go about asking for donations:

  • Set up a PayPal or Stripe button on your podcast’s website

  • Create a GoFundMe page to fund a specific project, episode, or season

  • Open a Patreon account and remind listeners about it every episode

The key to asking for donations as a podcaster is to be upfront about what it’s for. If you need extra funding to buy new gear or create new episodes, say so. Your fans are more likely to donate if they know where their money is going.

07. Sell products or services

Is your podcast linked to a product or service you offer? You might be an expert in your niche, offer consulting services or even just create merch surrounding your podcast. Selling to your listeners in your podcast, if done right, can generate a decent amount of income.

In Wix’s own podcast, Now What?, we invite industry leaders to our show to discuss changes in business and technology. We use that platform to tell listeners about Wix products, such as Wix eCommerce. Since our podcast covers similar topics, we know it’s a good opportunity to promote our own products and services.

Try and apply the same strategy to your podcast. If you have a business podcast, remind listeners you’re available as a consultant for small businesses. If you have a motivational podcast, offer your listeners online coaching services or online workshops. You could also sell podcast merchandise such as T-shirts with your podcast’s name or mugs bearing a catchphrase you use often. Whatever it is you’re selling, make sure you remind listeners in a natural way during your episodes and frame it as an added-value product.

Tip: Wix has a print-on-demand feature that’ll make it easy to produce, sell and ship your podcast merch.

A brand using a men's beauty podcast to sell skincare.

08. Promote affiliate content

If you don’t have your own products and services to sell, you can always promote those from another brand. Affiliate marketing is a great monetization strategy for new and emerging podcasts since you don’t need to have any specific number of listeners to start. Every time a listener uses the affiliate link you share on your site or in the episode notes to buy the product, you’ll earn a percentage in commission. Rakuten has a sprawling affiliate network that is easy to use. You can also use big-box partners programs such as Amazon’s, which enables you to earn commission rates up to 10%.

09. Produce online courses

By selling online courses on your podcast's topics, you can not only monetize your podcast but also build a deeper relationship with your audience and showcase your expertise. Whenever the topic comes up in a podcast episode, you can share the course and frame it as an opportunity to get a deeper understanding.

It takes quite a bit of time and effort to write and produce an online course, but tools like Coursera or Wix’s video maker can make it easier. Once you’ve built the course, you can sell it for years, generating passive income. Plus, you can attract more listeners to your podcast by regularly promoting the course on social media.

A boxing e-course being used to monetize a wellness podcast.

How much do podcasters earn?

You’re probably wondering now how much you can expect to earn while using one or more of these strategies for making money podcasting. The sky's the limit, considering that Spotify made a $100-million licensing deal with podcaster Joe Rogan to license his podcast on Spotify. That is, of course, an extreme example, but it shows you just how lucrative podcasting can be. The amount you make depends on how many listeners you have and how many monetization strategies you use.

For example, let’s assume the following about a relatively new podcast:

  • The podcast has 2,000 monthly listeners

  • The podcast isn’t running ads

  • Around 1% of listeners donate $5/month on Patreon

  • Around 1% of listeners make purchases through the podcast’s affiliate links

  • Around five listeners purchase the podcast’s online course every month for $79.

Based on the above assumptions, the breakdown of what the podcaster would earn:

  • $100 per month in Patreon donations

  • $400 per month in affiliate sales (assuming 1% of your audience makes a purchase of $20)

  • $395 per month in e-course sales

Therefore, the podcaster would generate around $845 per month. Once the audience grows and the podcaster pursues other monetization efforts, that amount would increase significantly.

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