By Heather Osgood, founder of True Native Media
Do you have a podcast? Are you curious about how to monetize it? It's time to think about how to capitalize on all the energy you’ve been diligently pouring into your show. There are five steps to consider when taking your podcast from side hustle to full-time moneymaking business. In this article we'll cover the following:
- Establishing a business mindset
- Designing a simple yet effective business plan
- Investing in your podcast and yourself
- Focusing on growing your listenership
- Determining your revenue streams
At the end of the article, you’ll also find a bonus tip, so make sure not to miss it!
1. Establish a Business Mindset for Your Podcast
Shifting how you think about your podcast is the first step to change its path to financial success. Take a moment and think about a podcast you admire that is financially successful. Chances are the host of the show has a goal-oriented mindset and the confidence to drive better results.
An honest evaluation of how your podcast is currently doing is critical in creating a business mindset. For example, are you hitting the revenue goals you’ve set? Are you increasing your audience size and retaining listeners? Are you creating the types of content you set out to create? From there, take the time to develop achievable goals and then work backward to form the steps you need to reach the goals.
2. Develop a Simple Business Plan for Your Podcast
Make the podcast a priority. Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to focus your energy on those steps and goals. I’ve found that creating a simple podcast business plan can go a long way. Include things like:
- A vision for your podcast. Take a moment to revisit your why—the reason you started your podcast. Is it the same, or has it shifted?
- The goals you’ve developed.
- Your target audience/customer demographic.
- How you will monetize your podcast, through ads, courses, memberships, book sales, coaching, services, etc.
- The cost of producing your podcast (including time).
- How you plan to market your podcast to grow listenership.
If all of this is clear, it will give you the foundation you need to springboard your podcast into a profitable business.
3. Invest in Your Podcast and Yourself
Customers and advertisers buy into consistent, high-quality content. While there are free options available to create your show—like using your phone or computer mic to record and hosting your podcast on sites like Anchor—many of them have limitations that affect quality. Investing in a good mic is crucial, as is a quiet studio space or environment with sound-dampening equipment.
Two of the most overlooked services are a hosting platform that can grow alongside your podcast and a production person. A skilled editor can make a listener subscribe in a flash.
Parallel to investing in your podcast is the need to invest in yourself as an entrepreneur. Taking the time to build your business skills is crucial in building a goal-oriented mindset. If you want your podcast to produce income, you must approach it like a business and develop the skills of a business owner. Important skills include knowing how to take consistent, measurable action toward business growth, understanding the financial aspects of your podcast business, and cultivating your determination to succeed.
There are free resources available to help you level up, like YouTube or LinkedIn Learning. Many influential entrepreneurs offer free resources, webinars, and other educational assets that can get you started. For paid options, books and courses are readily available and won't break the bank.
4. Focus on Listenership Growth
After the initial honeymoon period of a podcast, it is common for download numbers to plateau. Podcasters are often focused on churning out episodes and forget to promote their show.
The first step to head off this problem is to put together a basic audience growth plan that answers the following questions:
- Who’s listening to your podcast (so you know how to target them)?
- What kind of content besides your podcast would your audience be interested in?
- Which social media channels are best to reach your audience?
- What’s your posting schedule?
- What metrics will you track to determine if it’s working?
You can set yourself up for success here with my Audience Growth Guide.
Another essential piece to growth is a website for your podcast— a place where you can build a community for your podcast and capture sales.
An audience growth strategy needs to be systematic and consistent to see results. It can feel overwhelming, so set up a plan and work it step by step until you get the hang of it and then move on.
Another critical thing to remember is that podcast listeners listen to podcasts. So, leveraging other podcasts to grow your listenership can be extremely useful. Here are three ways to do that:
- Promo Swap: Each host reads a promo for the other show.
- Guest Interview: Be a guest on another podcast, share value with the audience, and then promote your show as the call to action.
- Podcast Ads: Purchase ads on other podcasts to promote listenership on your podcast.
In session 462 of the SPI Podcast, Pat talks to Heather about the massive opportunity to grow your podcast using ads.
5. Determine Your Revenue Streams
The fantastic thing about podcasting is that you can create several revenue streams from one channel. Revisit your target audience demographic and your why to help determine which revenue streams to focus on.
Podcast revenue streams include:
- Promoting your primary business in order to gain new clients.
- Selling your own products and services such as courses, training, coaching, or membership groups.
- Selling podcast ads.
- Crowdfunding support with subscription platforms such as Patreon.
The next step is to ask yourself what your audience is lacking that you could provide them.
Your podcast can be a valuable vehicle to create revenue. You simply need to decide how you are going to best generate that revenue.
If you are interested in getting sponsors for your podcast, check out the Podcast Moneymaker Course.
Bonus Tip: Start with the End in Mind
While starting a podcast is relatively easy, maintaining and growing your show is more complicated than most podcasters anticipate. You may begin with the idea of it being a hobby, but you never know where it will lead. So, always start with the end in mind.
Suppose one of your goals is to get advertisers for your podcast in the next few years. In that case, you need to format your podcast correctly from day one to receive ads. For example, you would need to create natural breaks in your content where ads can be inserted later.
Think beyond the immediate state of your podcast. Implement a business mindset, and give yourself tools to grow as an entrepreneur. Take the time to strategize a system for growth, and your side hustle will become a full-fledged podcast business in no time.
Heather Osgood is the founder of True Native Media, a boutique podcast representation agency specializing in podcast advertising. She is the creator of Podcast Moneymaker, a course for podcasters who want the formula, tools, and tactics to get advertisers in six weeks. She is also the host of The Podcast Advertising Playbook, a show dedicated to educating anyone interested in podcast advertising.