Many people have asked me if there are ways to make decent money — effortlessly — by running a podcast.
If the answer is no, then they ask, “What’s the point?”
By the way, if you are new to podcasting, every 10,000 downloads translates to an est. $400 in sponsorship revenue, on average (of course, there are outliers). Yet, most podcasts struggle to reach 10,000 downloads per month and $400 a month isn’t enough for anyone to dedicate a significant amount of time to podcasting.
Podcasting can be labor intensive. On average, it takes a lot of time to produce one episode.
Running a quality podcast and securing interesting guests takes a great deal of work. Then getting people to listen to your podcast is no easy task. And while podcasts can be monetized in a variety of ways, downloads doesn’t have to be an exclusive revenue strategy.
I’m going to cover some overlooked opportunities to make a profit through podcasting. These methods are much easier than the usual path, which is to grow your podcast to X number of downloads per month, then look for sponsorship opportunities.
After two years of working on my weekly Feisworld Podcast, I’m not in a position to secure large sponsorships, etc. yet. However, instead of sponsorship, there are other ways to generate revenue from your podcast. Here’s a look at three in particular:
1. Podcast guests that become clients
I noticed this method after releasing the first ten episodes of Feisworld, an audio show where I interview “sung and unsung” heroes from all walks of life. A number of Feisworld Podcast guests have proactively reached out to me before/after their podcast release to inquire about my services. This was incredibly eye-opening to me.
Approximately 20% of my podcast guests have reached out asking to partner with me in some capacity (a rather high conversion rate, especially when the cost of acquisition is particularly low). It doesn’t stop there either.
Due to podcasting, most of my guests have a good understanding of what Feisworld is and who I am. As a result, they pre-qualify themselves as good client leads for my consulting services. However, if your podcast doesn’t involve guests or focuses exclusively on you and your brand, this method might not work.
2. Referrals from podcast guests
If my podcast guests don’t have immediate needs to work with me, they are more than likely to recommend me to other friends and close connections. My guest initiates the introduction email. It’s never generic. Rather, it often sounds like this:
“Hey John, I just appeared on Feisworld Podcast, check it out here [url]. Fei is a freelance consultant who helps small businesses and people achieve their goals. She’s a one stop shop for all your marketing and digital needs (including design and tech). I think she could help you with X, Y, Z.”
Though not every client lead is a qualified lead, owning a podcast, connecting directly with your guests and their network is a wonderful way to market your business and build industry credibility.
3. Listeners who turn into clients
Listeners who turn into clients are people who a) are referred by previous listeners and b) discovered me via LinkedIn, social networks, but have never met or spoken with me before. Instead, these potential clients turn to Feisworld Podcast simply to get an idea for who I really am.
For example, when I was interviewed at a few small marketing agencies for freelance work, the first thing people bring up is my podcast. Specifically, they tell me how they’ve enjoyed Feisworld or they think it’s pretty cool to have your own podcast.
Everyone who has interviewed me for full-time and freelance gigs (and confirmed that they knew Feisworld Podcast exists) has hired me, without exception. I don’t think many of them became avid listeners, but I can tell you that at least a few turned out to be interesting guests on my show.
Ultimately, you don’t need to run a Top 50 podcast to drive revenue, attract new clients and close deals. In fact, Feisworld Podcast isn’t on the radar of most households, yet it has helped me in the ways I’ve explained … above and beyond financial means. I also know that relationships with my guests and new clients are going to last for a very long time. I already value many of them as lifelong friends.
This article has been edited.
Fei Wu is the the creator of Feisworld Inc and Feisworld Podcast. She works as a freelance digital strategist who helps people and businesses tell better stories, find new customers and create multiple revenue streams. Feisworld Podcast was born in 2014 to celebrate stories of sung and unsung heroes. Today, the podcast has received over 20,000 downloads and welcomed listeners from over 40 countries. Learn more at feisworld.com and subscribe to my newsletter.
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