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Monetizing Your Podcast – Donations and Subscriptions

This is Part 1 of a 5-part series: Monetizing Your Podcast.

You’ve been at your podcast for some time now. You’ve built an audience and established some cred. You believe that maybe it’s time you start getting paid for all of your hard work. It’s time to monetize your podcast

There are a myriad of ways that podcasters have come up with in order to make some income from their shows. In some cases, actually make a decent living from it. Is it a get-rich-quick way of doing things? Probably not. But if you put some planning into each step and, above all, give it some time, you’ll start seeing some rewards for all of your hard work.

I’ve come up with ten of the basic ways you can monetize your podcast. There are more, of course but a lot of them are just variations on the basic ten.

Each day this week I’m going to spend some time discussing a couple of the items in the list below.

Ways to Monetize Your Podcast

  • Donations
  • Subscriptions
  • PPC (Pay Per Click)
  • Affiliate Advertising
  • On Site Advertising
  • In Show Advertising
  • Selling Your Services
  • Selling Your Product
  • Training
  • Public Speaking

Of the ten, this is the simplest way to monetize your site. Let me rephrase that, it’s the simplest way to begin. Getting people to cough up cash for what they’ve been listening to for free all this time is not easy. But it’s not impossible.

Have some fun with it. Sure, you can stick a PayPal link on your site and beg for cash, but trust me, you’re not going to get a whole lot of traffic on it. Instead of blatantly begging for money, come up with a line like, “Hey, did you like the show? Then buy me a cup of coffee!” Or a sandwich, or some music or help pay my cable bill – something that personalizes the experience between you and the listener. Yeah, it sounds a little hokey, but hokey sells.

Set up a simple PayPal $5 payment button. You can either have a dedicated page on your site or post the button on each of your show pages.

One of the drawbacks with this method is that you may not be getting the amount of traffic to your site in comparison to the amount of traffic your show gets. In a lot of cases this is because of your show being automatically downloaded to a podcatcher like iTunes. Somewhere in your show you’re going to have to tell people about your donation button, where they can find it and why they need to use it.

Constantly A/B test your pitch. Create three different pitches and try them each out for a month of shows. Then look at which one drew a better response. Write two more pitches based on what you’ve learned and then A/B test those two against your previous winning pitch – again, a month each. In six months you should have an idea of what type of message resonates best with your audience.

Subscriptions can be tricky. Like donations, why would someone want to start paying for something they’ve always gotten for free? But, with the added detail of paying a reoccurring amount month after month (or quarterly or yearly).

Subscription-based podcasts tend to be more niched oriented and educational. How-to’s fit this category nicely. Still, it can be a tough sell without some support such as a free blog. Giving away good content and establishing yourself as an expert in your field can go a long way in selling your readers on a subscription-based podcast.

You’re going to need some software or scripts to create your subscription site. There are a number of options available. Costs can run anywhere from free to thousands of dollars dependent on the amount of features you’re looking for. Since I work primarily with WordPress, I’m going to limit my suggestions to available WordPress plugins.

Note: I’m not affiliated with any of these sites and I urge all of my readers to investigate each one thoroughly before investing your money in them.

Suma Plugin for WordPress
Suma Subscription Management offers a number of different options starting from $29.

A very powerful WordPress membership plugin with many levels of support. Packages start at $199.95. A free evaluation package is also available.

If you’re just looking for a single-user license, wp-Member is a cost-effective solution. Prices start at $39.99 but use the code “member25″ to get at least $10 knocked off the price.

CMS Members by WP Wave
Single-user license is $59.50. Not only will this work as your subscription manager but it can also be used as an eCommerce solution.

This is a subscription site. But what a site! If you’re seriously into setting up a subscription-based site you owe it to yourself to investigate WPMUdev. Their slogan is, “It’s like a developer for your WordPress, BuddyPress or MultiSite.” Monthly subscription varies based on length.

WordPress eMember
One price, $49.95. Lots of goodies, documentation and support. An eCommerce solution called WP eStore is also available for an extra $20.

S2 Member
Free! And a Pro version also available. Integrates Paypal and credit cards into your site. Different membership levels dependent on the customization required.

Free – if you don’t want or need a manager then create a button in PayPal and place it on your site. Set the amount you want to charge and PayPal will automatically charge your member at the interval you set.

Tomorrow we’ll look at using PPC and Affiliate Advertising to monetize your podcast.

Back to Tutorial | Continue to PPC and Affiliate Advertising

About Jay Walsh

With a combined 25 years of design, marketing, podcasting, video and social media knowledge, Jay created with the goal of helping you make a better podcast.

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