The beauty of podcasting is that it allows you to turn a passion project into a side hustle, and potentially a career. And, if you're in it for the long haul, you’ll need a strategy when it comes to monetizing your show. Getting paid will allow you to sustain making episodes, and improve the quality of the podcast going forward. Besides, think how many hours of planning and production go into every episode. You earned this. Nowadays there’s more than one way to get paid to podcast, whether it’s through classic sponsorship and advertising, or direct listener support through subscriptions or donations. It’s all available on Acast and, because every podcast is different, so too is how you choose to make money from yours.
How to find advertisers for a podcast
If you’re an independent podcast creator who’s just starting out, then connecting with advertisers won’t happen overnight. But in time they can provide a great way to future-proof your show.
As your audience grows, it’s worth listening to podcasts of a similar size to yours to scope out potential advertisers. Once you’ve got some ideas, you should be able to approach them through their publicity or marketing departments.
Before you reach out, you’ll need to have some numbers ready. Advertisers will want to know how many “impressions” their ad is likely to get – in other words, how many people are likely to hear it. They’ll also want to know how many downloads your podcast usually gets. This will give them a picture of how big an audience they are likely to reach.
It’s also crucial to understand who your audience is. This goes for both you and your potential advertiser. If your show is concerned with climate change, you might want to avoid approaching airlines. Likewise, if you think your audience would respond particularly well to a certain sponsor, prepare to explain why you’d make a great match.
Finding and securing advertisers independently can be hard work. Fortunately, Acast makes this super easy by connecting podcast creators with thousands of advertisers through the Acast Marketplace — facilitating partnerships that don’t sound out of place. Users on either an Influencer or Ace plan can access the Acast Marketplace, with the potential to start making money from ads right away.
How to make podcast advertising that fits your show
Once you’ve secured interest from a commercial partner, it’s time to work out what form your ad, or ads, should take. Thanks to personal approaches, and cutting-edge advertising technology, podcasts don’t have to sound like the awkward “money-making” bit. Done right, they can fall seamlessly into the episode, following on naturally from the show’s main content.
It helps to know the different types of advert, and the terminology used to describe them. A “sponsorship” is a host-read advert you, the host, record in your own voice. These probably offer the best shot at sounding natural, as you can pitch and phrase the advert in the same tone of voice as the rest of your show.
If you don’t go down this route, you’ll most likely end up relying on dynamically inserted ads – a means by which pre-recorded ads directly from the brand are added to your podcast episodes by a third party, like Acast. The neat thing about these ads is that, because they’re not “baked” into your audio file, they can be changed and updated at any point — without changing the content of your episode, or requiring you to re-upload anything. It also means that, if people listen to your back catalog, you can still make money from those listens — because, no matter how long ago your episode was published, the ads they’ll hear will be up to date.
Then there’s the question of where the ad appears. There are three basic options here. Pre-roll, at the beginning of the show; mid-roll, in the middle of the episode; and post-roll, at the end. With Acast, you can choose exactly where you want your ads to be inserted, so you can say “time for a short ad break”, or leave a pause, so there’s no surprises for your listeners when an ad interrupts your podcast in full flow. Better still, the Acast “sting” — a very short musical motif — lets listeners know an ad is coming.
How to grow a podcast audience
Sustaining a podcast is a delicate balancing act. You need regular episodes to attract listeners, but will want to get advertisers on board to support regular episodes. Then, of course, those advertisers will want to know that you’ve got a solid base of listeners…and so it goes on. Ultimately, it’s an art of steady growth — gradually developing your podcast in a way that builds and keeps listeners, episode by episode. It’s about making sure that they don’t “dip in”, but rather hit the follow button and return next time for more.
The best – and most obvious – way of getting an audience to return is simply to ask them to. Tempt them back by teasing future episodes. Tell them their support matters, and ask them to follow wherever they get their podcasts — as well as leaving a positive review. Remind them that you’ve got social media accounts they can follow, and that you’d love to hear from them. The relationship between podcast creator and audience is an unusually close one, so make the most of this bond.
Some podcasts make the most of additional content to entice returning listeners. This could take the shape of an email newsletter, dropping a reminder of the next episode into listeners’ inboxes and offering another opportunity to build your relationship. Some pods even create additional content in return for a small subscriber fee – often offering ad-free episodes through tools like Acast+. You’d need to know you had the listener base before making this your sole business model, but a membership deal can help your audience feel part of a club.
And it should feel like a club. Your most valuable listeners are the ones who keep coming back – the ones who reach out to let you know they’re listening. Let them know you’re listening, too.