The podcast industry has seen steady growth over the past several years. And it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the estimated number of podcast listeners in the US is set to reach 100 million by 2024.
But, probably the question crossing your mind is, “how much do podcasters make?”
Worry not — you’re on the right page!
Everything money-related you’ll find here. Plus, you’ll learn some tips on how to start and maintain a prosperous podcast. And now, stay tuned for more to come.
Overview of the Podcast Industry
Initially known as “audio blogs,” podcasting dates back to 1980. It started to attract attention in 2004 when a reporter from the Guardian, Benn Hamersley, wrote an article about the audible revolution. Then, with the internet’s development and the invention of the iPod, a new boom on the market arrived called podcasting.
What are podcasts exactly?
Essentially, a podcast is a talk radio series on demand focused on a particular topic, typically entertaining or educational. After being recorded, the audio files are edited and uploaded on podcast platforms and applications, where people can subscribe and listen to the audio files anytime and anywhere.
In 2004, Apple introduced iTunes — an application that acts as a media library for podcasts and other audio files. And within a year, many famous networks like BBC and NPR started using iTunes to place their radio shows.
But who is the father of podcasting? That would be Adam Curry, a former MTV video jockey who launched his Daily Source Code show in 2003. Besides talking about his everyday life, Adam aimed to develop the podcasting industry. Shortly after, more and more people were into it, producing their own podcasts.
As of 2019, Spotify became the main player in the podcasting industry by buying two of the biggest podcast companies:
- Gimlet — a content-creating company
- Anchor — an audio-creating company
As of 2022, Spotify remains the top podcast service among US teenagers and adults.
How Much Money Do Podcasters Make?
Now, it’s time for the financial part — how to make money off podcasts?
We’ll elaborate on the several ways to monetize your podcast.
So, let’s get started!
At the beginning of their journeys, podcasters can try selling ads during their shows.
Many platforms, such as Podcorn and Acast, help connect podcasters with advertisers. They do all the hard work — matching the right podcaster with the right advertiser, negotiating rates, and more.
There are three types of ads podcasters sell for their shows:
- Pre-roll ad — at the very beginning of an episode
- Mid-roll ad — in the middle of an episode
- Post-roll ad — at the end of an episode
Podcasters mostly prefer mid-roll ads, as they’re the most expensive ones. It’s believed when a show is in the middle, the audience is deeply into it and paying the most attention. Ads placed at the beginning or the end of a show are cheaper for advertisers, thus generating lower podcast income for the hosts.
To sell an ad, podcasters charge per CPM — cost per thousand listeners, where M is for a mile, an expression for thousands. The ad rates vary from $20 CPM to $100 CPM.
So, how much do podcasts make from ads? It depends on how many plays/downloads your episode has.
Let’s say that you have an average of 200,000 listeners for every episode and the agreed rate between you and your advertising company is $50 CPM. In that case, you’ll make an average podcast income of $10,000 per episode ($50 CMP x 200 = $10,000).
There are two options for selling the ads:
- Podcasters promote the ads — the host speaks about the ad during the show. The goal is to get the audience’s attention and put in a good word for the advertised company.
- Pre-recorded ads — the company has a record of their ad. All you need to do is play it at the agreed time.
Wondering what it is or how it works? Well, pay attention.
The process is based on promoting other companies’ products or services.
Podcasters earn an affiliate commission for each sale made through an affiliate link mentioned on their podcast. According to Podcast Movement, the affiliate commission is around 30%. But, it varies depending on the product and company.
When it comes to the affiliate link, it needs to be easy to understand and simple enough for listeners to memorize. See for yourself:
- www.company.com/podcaster’s name — this is a good URL link. Even if you mention it only once during your show, the audience will remember it.
- www.company.com/568#af15KG3 — this is not a good URL link. Randomly chosen letters, numbers, and signs can’t be easily remembered. Plus, you might miss a symbol while pronouncing it.
Notably, you don’t need to wait for a certain company to approach you. For that to happen, your podcast needs to be well-famous. But, you can approach a company all by yourself, as thousands of products and services have affiliate programs.
Try Amazon, one of the best companies with tons of affiliate programs. Go there and find the most suited one to your audience’s needs. Additionally, ShareASale is a network that takes a major part in affiliate marketing, where you can create an account and find your preferred program.
This one takes time and effort. Only podcasters with large audiences can think of hosting an actual event. Not only will you earn a good amount of money from the tickets you sell, but you’ll also get to meet your fans and see how they react to your show in person.
Also, for the event to be more engaging, invite a co-host. This could be another podcaster or a celebrity matching your event’s genre.
Donations & subscriptions
Ask your audience for donations. You’ll be surprised by how supportive they could be. If you’re a beginner and need money to fund your podcast, this is one way to earn some.
Or, you could create subscription packages with different features. Your audience will most likely want to have access to your content, creative work, and more. So, they will need to make a purchase, and you’ll earn some money.
Patreon is a platform guiding this process — allowing podcasters and audiences to connect. The platform accepts donations and subscription payments and transfers the money to you.
Upload your podcast on Youtube
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you must transform your show into a video to upload it on Youtube. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have the idea or funds to create a video show. Simply upload your podcast and add a cover picture to it.
As we are all aware of Youtube’s popularity, this is a good way to make money for your podcast. The options are as follows:
- Memberships — the audience can subscribe to your channel. You could charge a monthly fee for access to your content, creative work, and more
- Premium subscribers — you’ll earn money if a premium Youtube subscriber watches your videos.
- Ads — these are the same ads mentioned during the podcasts. Earn your commission by placing the ads at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of your show.
- Branded merchandise — sell your branded products through your channel store, end screens, as pinned products in live streams, and as a section under your videos or live streams.
You can start giving online courses. But consider this option only if the number of your listeners per episode is large enough. In this case, you’ve proven yourself to the world how good you are at your job.
Transform your experience into a course where you can speak about how to start a podcast, how do podcasts make money, and everything else connected.
Additionally, you don’t have to give online courses as a podcaster coach only. Instead, share your knowledge or expertise by teaching online courses on something you’re knowledgeable about.
Sell a branded merchandise
You can make a brand out of your podcast. Yes, that’s right. If your podcast is popular and you have an eye-catching logo, then consider the idea of creating your own branded products.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans are obsessed with wearing the series branded t-shirts. Also, kids love to wear clothes with their favorite cartoon characters. The point is people love branded things. So, you can try and create stuff with your podcast logo, quotes, and more.
Tips for Successful Podcasts
Being a podcaster is a fun job. Having a large number of listeners means people love listening to your voice and ideas. And that’s the only encouragement you need.
Now, the time has come for a few tips on how to have a successful podcast.
Keep reading and find out more.
Find the right audience
First of all, decide what is the ideal audience for your show. There is no point in speaking to everyone out there, as you’ll probably end up with fewer listeners. Instead, choose the audience that’s most similar to yourself and the type of podcast you’re performing — entertainment, politics, education… Also, think about the age, geographical positions, hobbies, interests, and job positions of your ideal listeners.
Keep in mind that the importance of targeting the right audience is huge.
Produce with passion, give your podcast a purpose
Remember, never start a podcast without giving it a topic, a purpose, or a goal. You need to know what your show will be about and how to deliver a specific message to your audience.
A successful podcaster is the one who plans the podcast before producing it and who knows what tone of voice to use for different subjects. Decide what kind of show you want to run and stick to it.
So, presenting a clear idea will make it easier for your audience to follow you.
Get the right equipment
Consider podcasting as a business. To earn income, you must invest money in it. Here, you should invest in the right equipment.
To start off, you’ll need the following:
- Video cameras
- Audio interface
- Recording and editing software
Buying the proper equipment is crucial for the quality of your episodes.
One of the best and free ways to promote your podcast is through social media. Having a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account is a big plus for reaching more listeners.
As we live in an internet era, social media marketing is probably the best option for your podcast. Also, the most creative one. For example:
- Try to create engaging posts or topics where people will open up a discussion all by themselves
- Announce your next episode with a couple of fun hints
- Go live and allow people to ask you questions
Remember, the larger the audience is, the more successful you’ll be.
Ensure a quiet recording environment
People listen to audio recordings because they find podcasters interesting in the first place. No one wants to hear buzzing noise or traffic in your background. The most important thing is the story you tell without being interrupted by some irritating noise.
So, recording in a quiet environment is a must.
Determine the duration of the episodes
Depending on your podcast topic, decide how long your episodes will be. The average episode durations are as follows:
- Short — 10-20 minutes
- Medium — 30-45 minutes
- Long — an hour or more
Notably, stick to the chosen podcast duration.
Keep a consistent schedule
Decide how often you’ll release your podcast episodes. This could be each day, a couple of times per week, or once per month. Having a schedule will help you organize your work smoothly. Also, your listeners will always be aware of your next episode release.
Once you make the schedule, stick to it. Try not to change it often. You don’t want to confuse your listeners, right?
Invite guests occasionally
To break the monotony of you being the only speaker, you can include guests every once in a while. It’s a good idea and a very fun one.
Invite guests who are suitable for your niche market. More importantly, you must like them and feel excited about having them in your episode. That will surely result in a large number of downloads or streams.
Sometimes, the path to a successful and exciting show is having a co-host by your side.
The Highest Paid Podcasts
According to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), advertisers spent $1.4 billion in 2021 on podcasting. The ad expenditure is expected to reach $2 billion in 2022 and $4 billion in 2024.
The data shows us the continuous growth of the podcasting industry. Moreover, being a podcaster could be very lucrative.
Don’t believe us? Check out the numbers that follow for some of the highest-earning podcasts in 2022:
- The Joe Rogan Experience (estimated net worth of $30 million) — in 2009, one of the most popular podcasts was born. It’s hosted by Joe Rogan, an American comedian, and UFC commentator. The podcast is about interviews and uncensored conversations with guests on various topics such as politics, sports, comedy, philosophy, and science.
- The Ben Shapiro Show (estimated net worth of $20 million) — everything an American needs to know about current events and politics will hear on the daily Ben Shapiro podcast.
- My Favourite Murder (estimated net worth of $15 million) — a comedy podcast where the two hosts, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstarkthe, discuss real-life crime, survivors, and historical stories.
- The Dave Ramsey Show (estimated net worth of $10 million) — the show officially started in 1992. In 2020, it became a podcast and one of the five most listened-to radio programs in the US. The podcast’s host is Dave Ramsey, who focuses on all possible money and finance-related matters.
- Dax Shepard Armchair Expert (estimated net worth of $9 million) — the show is about “the messiness of being a human”. The American actors Dax Shepard and Monica Padman are the hosts of this podcast, where each episode features interviews with journalists, academics, and celebrities.
- The Bill Simmons Podcast (estimated net worth of $7 million) — the host Bill Simmons is an American sports writer and analyst. So, his podcast is mainly focused on sports news.
It appears that being a podcaster is a fun thing to do.
Everyone with a mic, computer, and headphones can consider diving into this industry. The success, though, requires good planning, significant effort, and some talent, of course.
Remember to always have a target audience and a story. Don’t get discouraged by the small number of listeners at the beginning. Just be yourself, be positive, and give the audience a reason to listen. You’ll be surprised by how profitable the podcast industry can be.
In 2021, Spotify launched a podcast subscription feature that allows podcasters to monetize their content through Anchor, the podcast distribution platform Spotify bought in 2019.
As of 2022, podcasters are the ones who determine the monthly price of their subscription plans, and they keep 100% of the income earned. But, from 2023, Spotify will take 5% of podcasters’ income for access to this feature.
How much income podcasters will make on Spotify depends on the number of their subscribers and the prices they set for their plans. For example, if you have a subscription plan priced at $5/month and 1,000 subscribers, then the income earned on Spotify would be $5,000 per month.
Additionally, podcasters can earn income by employing other monetizing strategies, such as advertising. Spotify is known to take 50% of the ad income. So let’s say you have an average of 10,000 listeners for every episode and the agreed rate between you and your advertising company is $50 CPM. In that case, you’ll make an average of $500 per episode ($50 CMP x 10 = $500) and keep $250 of it.
Typically, podcasters start monetizing their content after reaching 2k+ listeners per month.
For you to be among the top podcasters, check out these statistics from August 2022 showing how many downloads your episode needs in the first seven days:
- You’re in the top 50% with a minimum of 29 downloads
- You’re in the top 25% with a minimum of 99 downloads
- You’re in the top 10% with a minimum of 373 downloads
- You’re in the top 5% with a minimum of 910 downloads
- You’re in the top 1% with a minimum of 4,682 downloads
How much money a podcaster can make per episode is a question that involves several variables and no fixed amount. Yet, here we are to give you a clearer picture of what to expect.
For example, let’s take ad selling as a source of income. Podcasters use the CPM (cost per thousand listeners) pricing model. The ad rates are between $20 CPM and $100 CPM.
So, if your podcast has an average download of 100,000 per episode and the agreed rate between you and the advertising company is $20 CPM, then your income per episode would be $2,000.