70% of new podcasters in our podcast planner tool survey told us they want to make money from podcasting. 29% even said they wanted to make podcasting their main income stream.
If this is a goal you can relate to, here’s a question you probably want to know the answer to: How much do podcasters make?
Podcasting might seem like money for nothing, as the Dire Straits once sang. All you need is a couple of mics, a notebook to scribble on, and a voice that people want to listen to…right? Not exactly.
Podcasting isn’t easy money. It takes time and commitment to start generating income from your podcast. But it is possible, and you can make good money from your podcast if you get the formula right.
How Much Do Celebrity Podcasters Make?
When you hear people talking money in podcasting, it’s often in eye-watering figures. This is because the popular podcasters whose paychecks make the news do so because the rarity of it is what’s newsworthy.
For example, there’s Joe Rogan’s reported $200 million deal with Spotify, Tim Ferriss cashing in $54K per episode, the ChapoTraphouse team earning $154K per month. They’re not the only high earners in podcasting, either.
Even before the Apple-Spotify wars for market share, popular podcasters made good money through sponsorship, crowdfunding, merchandise, book deals, speaking fees, or a combination of the above.
Big businesses are willing to pay for podcast advertising because they offer a unique way of reaching audiences. Studies have shown that podcasts can strongly influence listener brand perception by building intimacy and trust over time. And recently, podcasts overtook TV and radio as the most effective medium to advertise on.
But what about the millions of other podcasters who monetize their shows? How much money are they making? Let’s take a look at some examples, before diving into exactly how they make it.
How Much Does An Average Podcaster Make?
Podcast celebrities aside, how much money can your average independent podcaster expect to make?
Well, the answer is “it depends”. But, based on our own experiences of well over a decade in the medium, here are some fictionalised but realistic case studies.
The Hobbyist – $60 per month
The hobbyist could be running a fiction podcast or creating content around their passion (think knitting, miniature painting, or retro video games). Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they build a dedicated community around it. They use a site like Patreon for regular listener donations, release premium episodes behind a paywall, and sell the odd t-shirt, sticker, or mug. After a couple of years, they’re able to cover their hosting costs and treat themselves to a pizza every now and then.
How much does a hobbyist podcaster make?
Crowdfunding $30 per month
Premium content $20 per month
Merch $10 per month
The Side-Gigger – $240 per month
The side-gigger is having fun talking about their passion, too. But it’s more likely that their topic will address some sort of audience pain point. That could be anything from weight loss or fitness goals to learning a language or passing a particular type of exam. They’re offering solutions or help to their listeners, and approach it with more of a business mindset. Their show is a good fit for advertisers and affiliate links, and they took some time to distil their knowledge into an eBook, too. Maybe they will eventually be able to grow this into a full-time income, but for now, it’s a nice extra earner for doing something they enjoy.
How much does the side-gigger podcaster make?
Sponsorship $150 per month
Ebook Sales $20 per month
Affiliates $70 per month
The Business Owner – $2600 per month
The business owner might’ve once been a side-gigger, or, their business might pre-date their podcast. In either case, though, this type of podcaster offers something that their listeners are willing to invest heavily in. They’ve grown such a strong authority and personal brand that people will pay a lot of money for an hour of their time. For those who can’t afford one-on-one coaching, there are detailed courses for sale. The business podcaster has also created a product designed to address their audience’s particular pain point, which is another solid source of income. Though the top line here seems (and is!) impressive, outgoings and time demands are also much higher.
How much does the business-owner podcaster make?
Course sales $600 per month
Coaching $1200 per month
Product sales $800 per month
Choosing a Money-Making Niche
Our fictional podcasters all have one thing in common, and that’s a clearly defined niche.
If you expect to make a substantial income stream from your podcast, you’ll need to choose a niche that will help you do that. Either that or you’ll need to be an already-known figure or brand.
For example, there are a lot of tv-recap podcasts, and sponsors are willing to pay for ad reads on those shows. But, the more unique your value proposition, the more your podcast will stand out. It’ll be memorable, and your audience is more likely to share it with their friends. The community it creates may be smaller but more engaged.
Joe Rogan and Amy Schumer were celebrities before they started podcasting. Serial was widely promoted by This American Life, and followed a changing news story.
Some podcasters dig into a social need, what marketers call “pain points,” to create content. Chapo Traphouse’s niche is a deep dive into political opinion, drumming up fierce loyalty. Their Patreon followers make a small financial investment, but a huge emotional one. Tim Ferriss tapped into white-collar workers’ need to feel fulfilled and gain control over their lives.
Can you make lots of money by simply recording yourself talking? Probably not. Can you make money by sharing knowledge and expertise with a combination of excellent sound design, unique and useful ideas, careful research, and interesting guests? Much more likely.
The main takeaway here is that in no way is podcasting passive income. It’s a lot of work.
6 Core Podcast Monetization Methods (and How Much You Can Make)
Let’s look at a few of the core ways podcasters make money and how much you can expect to make if you go down that route with your podcast.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate sales are probably the easiest way to start monetizing your podcast if you’re new to the game.
Running an affiliate program is when you have an agreement to provide an affiliate link somewhere on your website or show notes that promotes a brand. We won’t go into the details of how it works here – you can read all about that in this affiliate marketing for podcasters guide.
But essentially, you generate a small income every time a listener makes an online purchase through your custom affiliate link. How much you make per click depends on the affiliate sales agreement you have with the brand, but normally it’s between 5-50% of the sale. So if it’s a link to a book that costs $20, you could earn between $1-10 for every click.
2. Advertising and Sponsorship
While advertising is often the go-to monetization strategy, it’s not the easiest way to make money podcasting. To make decent money from advertising and sponsorships in podcasting, you need one of two things: Impressive download numbers or an extremely niche topic with a hardcore audience (or both!).
How Much Do Podcasters Make Per Episode?
CPM (cost per mile) in podcast advertising is around $25 per 1000 downloads per episode. But note that this only includes downloads within the first 30 days of the episode’s release date.
But if you have a popular podcast with a very loyal niche audience, you theoretically could earn the same amount for around half the number of downloads per month. Ultimately, it depends on your niche and how valuable your audience is to the advertiser.
3. Exclusive Content
Offering exclusive content is a monetization method that will only work if you have a hardcore loyal audience who lap up your content. That, or you’ll need to provide very niche content where listeners see value in paying for your expertise.
Normally podcasters will charge for access to their back catalogue or additional high-value episodes on top of the free content they offer. You can expect to earn between $3-6 per series with this strategy, depending on how popular your podcast is. Check out this guide on how to sell podcast episodes if you’re interested in pursuing this.
To generate income from a private podcast, you’ll also need to pay for a hosting provider that offers membership capabilities. You can expect to pay around $20 per month for this software.
4. Selling a Product or Service
Creating your own physical products or consulting services to sell through your podcast (rather than advertising someone else’s) is a popular way to make money through your podcast.
For example, maybe you run a bodybuilding podcast and decide to start selling your own health shakes. Maybe ones that include a new ingredient you’ve been raving about to your listeners. Or, you might start offering online training sessions with listeners too.
How much podcasters make from this sort of monetization depends on how much you charge for the product or the service you’re selling. But the good news is, if you’re an independent podcaster, you get 100% of the takings.
5. Paid Subscriptions
Paid subscriptions might include exclusive content as part of the package, but not always. To start making money from paid subscriptions, you’ll need to be popular with your audience or offer a really attractive subscription package. This might even link up with selling exclusive content or a service or product through your podcast.
Here’s an example: TikTok influencer Jimmy Chang hosts his subscriber community on Fanhouse. For $10 per month, his subscribers get access to a load of additional bonus content as well as one-to-one ‘body transformation coaching sessions, and a load of other stuff too.
And how much can you make through paid podcast subscriptions?
If Jimmy has 15k subscribers and 3% of those were paid members, he’d make around $450 per month through Fanhouse (minus any monthly fee he pays to host on the platform).
Accepting listener donations is a monetization method many creators use to keep their podcasts independent.
Asking listeners to commit to a regular monthly donation frees you from relying on other podcast monetization strategies like sponsorship, which might influence the content of your show.
Donation buttons can be set up for voluntary amounts (starting at $1 per month), or you can have fixed tiers that ask for a higher donation in exchange for something (for example, bonus content or merchandise).
Use Multiple Income Streams
If you ask any podcaster who makes a decent income from their show how they do it, it’s likely they’ll all say the same. Multiple income streams. A combination of some, if not all, of the above monetization methods is how most podcasters make their money.
So while no single option from the list above will be your golden ticket to quitting your day job, a combination could bring in a decent monthly package.
The Price of Admission in Podcasting
Although the price of admission in podcasting is low, it’s not a free-for-all. So while you can easily make money with your podcast, you’ll need to spend at least a little cash first to make some later. This means you’ll likely be operating with negative cash flow when you first start out.
But you can definitely start a podcast on a low budget. Libraries sometimes offer courses, equipment and quiet space to record. If you’re just starting a podcast, you have some fixed costs (such as gear, hosting, branding) and variable costs (time, energy, enthusiasm).
However much it costs you to make your podcast, your podcast’s idea, or niche, has to be equally interesting, unique, well-crafted, and necessary.
If you’re asking “how much do podcasters make?” because you’re trying to choose whether to take on a second job, or make a podcast, consider the following: Podcasting won’t provide the income stream and stability of a job, especially not at first. However, it can be very rewarding in the long term. Most podcasters want to quit their jobs to podcast full-time, and some even manage it.
There are many different ways to monetize a podcast – but they all require one thing, and that’s an audience. In order to build an audience from scratch, you’re going to have to create content that people actually want to listen to.
Case Study: Sarah Rhea Werner, Write Now and Girl In Space
Sarah Rhea Werner is one of the biggest success stories in independent podcasting. She began making solo shows (Write Now and Girl In Space), and now she is able to say, “I make a full-time living podcasting (including paying for healthcare, if not saving for emergencies) because I include both direct AND indirect podcast income.” She diversifies her podcasts’ revenue streams, “avenues like Patreon, tip jars, in-episode advertising, etc.” As a result of per podcasts, she can also make money indirectly, “speaking engagements, product & merchandise sales, course sales, freelance opportunities, coaching, IP/rights licensing/sales, and more.”
She points out that the key is to set realistic goals, and build your audience first:
“Unless something magical (or illegal) happens, you’re probably not going to make $1 million podcasting overnight. But you can begin to make money and increase it incrementally over time, scaling it like a business. It comes down to setting and attaining realistic goals. So perhaps your first goal is to cover your podcasting costs — your microphone and other equipment, your website, your hosting company, paying actors, and maybe a few other things. What does that money look like on a per-month basis? How will you obtain it, dollar by dollar? That’s your first goal.”
– Sarah Rhea Werner
So, How Much Money Do Podcasters Make?
In summary, there are many ways to monetize a podcast, and generating multiple income streams from a combination of them is the way to make a decent packet.
But you first need to build an audience around your content. That takes a bit of time and hard work.
Podcraft Academy has detailed courses and downloadable resources to help you with all aspects of making a podcast. Plus, our weekly live Q & A sessions can help with any questions that you might have. Join us!
Originally posted on April 28, 2023 @ 4:26 am