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How to Make Money With Podcasts

Jan. 29, 2015
Small Business
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Podcasts are all the rage these days: In 2014, 30% of people had listened to at least one, up from 11% in 2006, according to Edison Research. What’s more, of those who listen weekly, one in five tune in to six or more podcasts.

With such a far-reaching audience, it’s only natural for small business owners to want to take advantage of this surging medium. Here’s an overview of the potential benefits of hosting a podcast, as well as a look at the costs of doing so.

Increase visibility

Hosting a podcast helps address one of the toughest challenges facing small business owners: creating brand awareness. Although hiring a marketing team can get incredibly expensive, relying solely on a flashy website may not be enough to get the job done either. Podcasts, on the other hand, can be a cheap and trendy way to build your customer base and increase your company’s visibility.

“I think truly the biggest financial benefit of podcasting is in building a community or tribe around your show that then do business with you,” says Maggie Patterson, a marketing consultant and host of the podcast “Marketing Moxie,” which focuses on marketing trends and techniques.

People like John Lee Dumas, who hosts the podcast “Entrepreneur on Fire” and makes more than $40,000 a month in advertising revenue, are the exception, not the norm, Patterson says. Instead of trying to make a direct profit off of your podcast, Patterson recommends creating an entertaining and informative program that will lead to more eyes on your business.

Create a sense of trust and credibility

For consultants like Patterson, one of the first steps to gain more customers is earning their trust and convincing them that the advisors’ service is reliable and worth investing in.

Meredith Eisenberg, a business consultant and co-host of the podcast “Paycheck to Passion” — a show that provides tips for budding and current entrepreneurs — is in the same boat. Hosting a podcast, she says, has helped to establish her as an authority on business matters, which has encouraged people to seek out her consulting services.

“We have doubled our email list size and increased our network of customers,” Eisenberg says. “All of this has made us more money for our business. We think that podcasting is one of the quickest ways to build your credibility, especially if you don’t have a large platform already.”

Consider production costs

Hosting and producing a podcast requires time, energy and money. Fortunately, there is no single right way to do a podcast, and it’s up to the business owner to decide how much or how little money to spend on equipment.

“The equipment itself can be simple, such as a USB mic which you can purchase for under $100,” Patterson says. “For editing, you can use free tools like GarageBand and you can also outsource to a third-party editor for as little as $10 an hour.”

Patterson, who spends two hours a week on her show, invests about $300 a month on her podcasts, which includes an editor, assistant, transcriptionist and website hosting. She acknowledges that this sum is on the low end of podcast budgets.

“In my case, I run a business full time so my focus is on creating a great show for my listeners without spending too much time or investing too much money,” she says. “For me, the time invested and how it supports and engages my community is well worth it. If I were to double or triple my time and energy, I’m not sure it would be.”

The takeaway

Although not every podcast host will achieve the type of success enjoyed by the producers of NPR’s “Serial,” this medium can be a great tool for entrepreneurs to increase their customer base. This is especially true for freelance consultants such as Patterson and Eisenberg. What’s more, producing a podcast doesn’t have to be a resource-draining endeavor, nor does it have to add additional stress to your already busy life as a small business owner.

Illustration by Dora Pintek. Photo via iStock.