Ways To Make Real Money In Podcasting Without Selling Your Soul

Evo Terra
6 min readMar 4, 2021
Cup with coins and a plant growing from it.
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Taxes. Stimulus checks. And whatever the hell NFTs are. Today, there are more monetization options — ways for podcasters to get paid — than ever before. Which are right for your podcasting empire?

Echoing the words of a wise philosopher from the prior century; my mind is on my money and my money is on my mind. But not just my money. I’m thinking about the money we podcasters need to keep our shows running smoothly. More to the point, how we make it. Can you tell it’s tax time?

Fractional Ethereum For Your Thoughts?

By now, you’ve probably heard about NFTs or non-fungible tokens. Like most things cryptocurrency, I’ve but a tenuous grasp. So I’ll leave it to others to give you a primer and simply say it’s a new way for creators to get paid. Including creators or digital content. Podcasters are creators of digital content, so my interest is piqued. Couple that with a way for the original creator to keep getting paid as digital assets change hands… Well, now you have my attention.

Yesterday, I took to Twitter to see if anyone had been exploring NFTs specifically for podcasting. While the comments were coming in, I heard Brian McCullough say he had made an NFT out of the episode of Techmeme Ride Home I was listening to. Which didn’t surprise me in the least. Many more will follow Brian’s lead and attempt to sell their episodes as NFTs.

But monetization in podcasting is not-and never has been-a one-size-fits-all prospect.

The Podcasting Money Hunt

The default assumption is “I’ll make money selling ads on my podcast!”.

No, you won’t.

At least, not meaningful money. Not unless you have tens or hundreds of thousands of listeners. Then you can make a lot of money just running ads on your podcast.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t sell ads on your podcast and make some money. You’ll probably have to handle your own ad sales, but niche shows with a few hundred listeners do, in fact, generate a revenue stream from selling ads on their podcast.

Because math, listener-support services like Patreon and Buy Me A Coffee will capture more revenue for podcasters with huge audiences than shows with more modest audiences. But plenty of shows with small audiences have listeners who are happy to help support the podcasters they love, with or without supporter-only content.

Services like Glow, Supercast, and others make it dead-simple to create and sell access to premium podcast feeds, often time ad-free or with extended content.

For podcasters who like to write (👋), Substack is a great newsletter service that has a premium model. With a tick of a box, I could activate paid membership and select which articles are only mailed to those who have paid. And don’t forget the option to just sell ads or sponsorship on your existing, for-free newsletter or mailing list you’ve probably been neglecting.

Affiliate marketing has been a part of podcasting since the beginning. Chances are, there are companies with affiliate programs that make products and services that are germane to your niche audience.

When conferences are once again a thing, either this year or next, you can bet that conference organizers will be on the hunt for speakers and presenters. And some of them pay good money to get an expert like you to share your knowledge with their attendees.

If you demonstrate your expertise on every episode of your podcast, you might find people who are willing to pay you to be a consultant. They can get a real feel for the expertise you bring to the table by sampling a few of your episodes or reviewing your well-built podcast website, right?

Have you discovered an affinity for some aspect of podcasting that other podcasters-new or existing-would rather outsource? Package that up and offer the service to the world. You might be surprised at the number of podcasters who will happily pay money to take pesky tasks off their plate so they can stay focused on the parts of podcasting they love.

And then there’s merchandising! Your show’s logo on a t-shirt. Or your funny catchphrase. Yes, people will pay to wear “you”.

From Podcast To Money-Making Opportunist-In A Good Way

Imagine implementing all of those ideas over the next few months, figuring out what each means to you specifically. It’ll take time, for sure, and it’s heavily dependent on the size of your audience. But imagine bring in a couple of hundred dollars on average for each of those revenue options every month.

Suddenly, making real money in podcasting without selling your soul seems possible. Maybe it starts at the “basic income” level. But as you start to see what works, you can probably grow it. Even if your audience stays modest.

So why don’t more podcasters try this? One reason is the concern of alienating listeners and/or turning off would-be listeners with a heavy emphasis on making-money content to the detriment of delivering great content. And yes, you should be concerned about that. That keeps you focused on making great stuff.

But selling t-shirts isn’t going to make any reasonable person call you a sell-out. Your listeners will not punish you for offering packaged services to other podcasters. And if you start selling webinars, potential listeners will not be turned off, likely because they aren’t even going to know.

So yes, there are ways to make (at least some) real money in podcasting without selling your soul, even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of listeners. (Though that last part makes it much, much easier.) It just means you have to be creative in your approach.

And you can call me crazy, but I think creativity is perhaps our most valuable skill as podcasters.

Let’s keep the conversation going. Tomorrow, February 5th at 10:00a Los Angeles / 1:00p New York City / 6:00p London, I’m hosting a voice-only conversation about ways real podcasters make real money, and I’d love for you to be part. Yes, you can just sit and listen. But I’d really love it if you’d raise your hand and tell everyone what’s working for you. And if you want to be a co-moderator or a listed speaker on the event, send me an email!

(Side note: Yes, this is a Clubhouse room. And yes, I’m well aware of the various people excluded by my decision to make this yet-another Clubhouse room. I’ve been experimenting with Twitter Spaces, which has its own but different challenges. I’m not married to either and will happily switch to whatever best serves. The social, drop-in audio space is very new and, as such, not very full-featured. Please allow me to continue to explore the space and do my part to make them better too.)

Final note that’s on-point: You can support my efforts with a few bucks over at BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra. If you would be so kind.

I hope to see/hear you tomorrow. And if not, I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.


Originally published at https://podcastpontifications.com, where it started life as an episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇

Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler.Media, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.



Evo Terra

Professional contrarian. On a mission to make fiction podcasting better. he/him. คุณ | https://theend.fyi | https://home.social/@evoterra