Today I'm interviewing at Jimmie Whisman of the podcast Crime in Sports. Jimmie has been podcasting with his partner James Pietragallo for just over a year and has garnered nearly 6 million downloads within that time.
And Crime in Sports is not their only podcast either. They have another true crime podcast called Small Town Murder that is equally popular and gets just as many downloads.
In this interview, I drill down on the monetization model that Jimmie uses to gather income for his podcast. Today you're going to learn all about:
I think it's important to know that when it comes to monetization, there are multiple ways you can earn money for your podcast.
When you think about earning money for your podcast after you've been doing it for some time, start considering opportunities in the following areas AFTER you’ve built your audience.
I stress AFTER because your download numbers and TSL (Time Spent Listening--a feature coming to iTunes Podcast Connect) will carry more weight for you to sell to advertisers. I will talk about this in another video or blog post once the feature becomes available. But first, let me share some thoughts with you on ways I have made money on a podcast or have seen money being made:
The first one will be your traditional ad that sounds like something like a radio spot. It might be 30 seconds or even 60 Seconds. Either you can produce these commercials or your potential advertiser can produce them and send them to you.
The downside to this is more technical/production side. Not all the time will your ad have the same sound normalization levels as the rest of your podcast. In other words, one part of your podcast might sound louder than the others and this can be a really big annoyance for the listener.
Unless you really know how to manage levels and make your podcast sound equal in volume across-the-board, this will be one of the most difficult ways of selling ads. It's not impossible, but it can be more hassle than you think if you don’t know what you’re doing from a technical standpoint.
The billboard method is when you hear a podcast or say:
“This podcast is brought to you by ABC Company. ABC Company has been in business for 60 years and provides nothing but the best service. I know that I use ABC Company in my daily life and they do nothing but help me create more business for my company and build relationships that I need. ABC Company, doing business for 60 years. You can visit them online at ABCcompany.com.”
This type of billboard method is usually done at the beginning of a podcast. It's probably the easiest because you don't have to put a whole lot of production into it. You're just reading a script from your advertiser and placing it before the podcast even starts. Does Blue Apron or Squarespace sound familiar?
You can also use the billboard method for segments. If you're someone like me who likes to use segments in their podcast, you can sell space to read and advertiser’s copy.
For example, let's say that you have a segment on social media tactics and marketing tips. You can say, “This week in social media tactics is brought to you by XYZ company…”
I think you can get the picture. Just get creative with what you want to sell in terms of ad space and how you want to sell it. Are you selling a copy read per episode? Or are you selling packages of advertising reads over the course of weeks?
Think of it this way: if you can put it in the podcast and sell it, do it! Just don't go overboard with offering too many ads because that will turn off your listeners. There's definitely a method to how many ads you can put inside of your podcast, but I will talk about that at a later time.
I belong to a couple of groups on Facebook where podcasters talk about their favorite podcasts. Sometimes you'll see posts from podcasters asking whether or not they should include some type of extra episode in exchange for a donation on Patreon. This is completely doable, but can get tricky--not too tricky.
First, You have to think about where you're going to store the episode if it's going to be a bonus episode. I know that services like Libsyn allow you to have bonus episodes, but it comes at a higher cost in service.
I have heard of some people using Patreon as a means to store that content, but I can't be for certain whether or not you can store MASS AMOUNTS of data like podcasts. You might end up reaching a limit with those services, so be aware. If you currently do this or have tips, please leave a comment below to help other podcasters.
And whatever you do, don't think about hosting any of your audio on SoundCloud. Even though SoundCloud gives you the option to hide tracks, SoundCloud is always under the threat of shutting down.
This week they may have money to keep their platform and business afloat, but next week they may be going under. Plus, they rarely update their platform and it's very clunky. Trust me, this was a big headache when I launched my own podcast.
In August of 2017, I attended the conference Podcast Movement. Not only was I there on my own accord, but I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by attending sessions that related to radio. Score! But the most valuable lesson wasn't at the conference, per se...
On my first day in Los Angeles, I drove to Burbank to watch my friend Dino produce the Tom Leykis online radio show. Even though this isn't podcasting, Tom is still utilizing the digital platform to create a membership site for his audio, but also building an audience who trust him and thrive to hang out with him.
On that particular day, Tom, Dino and the rest of the production crew were preparing to meet up with listeners who paid money to hang out with them. This absolutely blew my mind but made complete sense.
I had seen digital marketers use this method before and had always thought podcasters could do this, but sloughed the idea. Oh, and when I asked Tom about his method, he made no bones about what he was doing. It wasn’t a secret. He told me, “If they want to hear me they [my listeners] need to understand the work I put into the production to keep them entertained.”
The following night I was eating dinner with a group of radio broadcasters who were still trying to figure out how to monetize on podcasting. As the discussion swirled around about creating advertising inventories and retargeting campaigns, Tom walked through the door and blew everyone's mind with how he made money for his program.
I'm going to constantly drill this into your head: you need to build an audience first before anyone will be willing to spend money with you. Get them to LOVE YOUR CONTENT and trust you first! You just have to understand that you will need to develop that rapport before you build out a “meet and greet” or “meetup”.
I would recommend following popular bands online through Instagram to see this in action. You'll notice they are utilizing this method themselves to earn extra cash while out on tour. This isn't just a podcast thing. It's more universal than you think.
BUILD A MEMBERSHIP SITE WITH MORE BONUS CONTENT
This is one of my favorite ways to earn money for your podcast, but it is one of the most challenging.
First, you have to think of your podcast like a newspaper subscription. You can always read the articles online for free when it comes to reading something like the Washington Post, the New York Times, or whatever news publication that is out there.
If you're someone like the Washington Post, you're constantly feeding the beast of your membership site with quality reporting. Remember, they are constantly feeding the beast.
Let’s look at the Washington Post's business model: If readers keep coming back, it's worth their time to spend the money on a membership. Why? to continue getting the same articles they get for free up to a certain threshold, they might as well just get a $6 subscription to get behind the pay wall.
You have to think of your podcast in the same respect.
If your podcast is 2 hours long, you can definitely parse back the episode by at least an hour, and offer the other hour on the back-end of a membership site. Or maybe you ad an additional hour to your already-2-hour podcast.
Or you could place video interviews on the back end of a membership site where one of your guest gives exclusive tips or insider info that you wouldn't normally get on the public podcast that goes to iTunes.
The idea here is that you have to be selective about what you're putting on your public podcast versus what is going on your membership site where people can consume additional content.
You just have to remember that your content has to be really good on the public podcast in order for people to decide whether or not they want to pay a small fee to get additional content.
As I said before, this is one of the most challenging because it does require a little bit of an investment and money and time. If you are consistent and persistent in building the membership site, it does pay off over time through your monthly subscriptions, though.
Just do the math:
$6.99 x 50 subscriptions per month = $349
$349 x 12 months = $4,194 per year
There are number of membership sites that are out there that you can use, but I prefer to use Kajabi because it's so easy out of the box. You are welcome to use any membership site that you want as long as it makes the checkout process easy and the download process even easier for your listeners.
This is why I recommend using Kajabi. It’s more than easy and is mostly done for you. Also, let me shill away for Kajabi...if you get service with Kajabi, you get 15% off your price for the first year through this link.
One of the challenges with a membership site is that you have to CONSTANTLY feed the beast of your member area because if you don’t, your members will drop off and cancel their subscription. Just keep that in mind.
Let me know what you think about this blog post. Are there other ways that you are monetizing your own podcast? I'd love to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment down below and I promise I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Oh, and don't forget to share this post with someone you think could use the help.
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Shannon will share his 18 years of radio broadcasting knowledge and show you how strategies in radio relate directly to podcast creation and strategy!