Many people start podcasts, but often, they end up being a money-losing proposition. Either the podcasts end up taking more time than the founders expect, and they end up abandoning the venture (and stowing the gear in the attic) or they don’t know how to make the most of opportunities to monetize their efforts.
It doesn’t have to be that way, according to Jason Allan Scott, who runs A Podcast Company, where he teaches clients how to create podcasts. “Anything that has value can be monetized,” says the Lond0n-based entrepreneur.
Jason Allan Scott tapped his knowledge of event planning to launch his podcast. Now he teaches … [+]
Scott has a lot of experience in earning money from what he knows. He drew on what he learned as a meeting professional when he founded the Smarter Event Planning podcast. He now sells a software-as-a-service tool to help podcasters get up and running, along with a master class for aspiring hosts. He’s built a strong presence as a YouTube influencer, as well.
Beyond these activities, Scott runs MICEOFFERS, a deals site for the meetings industry, and Lokkima, which rents cryotherapy machines to hotels and spas. He recently raised funding for Pynk, a block-chain based investment platform. In 2020, he participated in the YCombinator Startup School’s Future Founders program. And most recently he launched Kopus, an app that allows owners of restaurants and other public spaces to turn them into flexible workspaces. Collectively, his efforts generate seven-figure revenue, he says.
It takes an effort to keep all of these ventures in motion, but Scott believes working for himself gives him more security than he would have in a traditional job. “When you work for someone, you only have to upset one person to lose your job,” he says. “When you have a multitude of clients, you’d have to upset every single one of them to lose your business.” Besides that, he says, “It’s never been easier for a creator to make a living. It’s never been easier for someone who doesn’t fit the traditional box to support themselves.”
Here are some of Scott’s tips for creating a podcast that generates revenue for your business.
Keep it niche. It’s hard to stand out with a podcast on a broad topic like business or the arts—the podcast world is too crowded. It’s easier to break in if you specialize in a specialized area you know well, as Scott does with his event-planning podcast. When choosing a topic for your podcast, take stock of the areas where you have knowledge or expertise that other people may not have. “You have innate skills from all of the other work you’ve done for so long,” says Scott. “Through podcasts, you can monetize that.”
Cultivate your “true fans.” Author Kevin Kelly coined the term “1,000 true fans” in his book by the same name. Scott believes that finding these passionate followers is essential to building a successful podcast. One way to attract listeners who are not only willing to listen to you but also to spread the word about you is to create a 2-3 minute trailer that you play before each episode. That requires a lower commitment than listening to a 30-minute or one-hour podcast and will give you a chance to attract people who like what you have to say. “You’ll have higher chances of converting from a passive listener to a fan,” Scott says.
As you attract these fans, keep two objectives in mind, he recommends. First look for a way to create enough valuable content for them to spend $1,000 with you over the year and generate at least $100 in profit from each. “That is easier to do in some businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more than it is to find new fans,” says Scott.
Make sure to build a direct relationship with your fans—newsletters can be helpful on that front—and set up a way for them to pay you directly. Some podcasters are turning to Patreon and OnlyFans, sites where fans can contribute. Podcasting makes it easy to maintain an ongoing relationship with fans because your podcast will not live on any platform. “It’s the last great medium,” says Scott. “If you’re on YouTube and YouTube goes down, your business is gone. With a podcast, you own your podcast. iTunes doesn’t hold your podcast—they have a way of sending your podcast out.”
For some podcasters, monetization mainly comes through selling related products and services, such as T-shirts, coaching, mentoring, or a Mastermind course. Scott has published more than 30 e-books in his areas of expertise, such as The Ultimate Podcasting Guide, on Bookboon; some are as short as 15 pages long. “You slowly build this up over time,” Scott says.
Include a call-to-action on every episode. When you produce a podcast, your programs will be sent through different syndication networks. The end of every show is an opportunity to attract new followers. Make the most of it by asking listeners to take action that will help you build your following. For instance, “If you’ve enjoyed me, please subscribe to the show,” “Please give me a 5-star review and please leave a comment,” or “If you’ve enjoyed this, please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll tell you about what I’m doing and how I can support you.”
“Syndicates have made it difficult for people to rate podcasts,” says Scott. “If someone is willing to go from the show to opening up the app, that shows to the platform you have real fans. It’s not easy. It takes work.”
Aware of this, platforms reward you for any love your fans send your way with added visibility. “Apple is amazing,” says Scott. “If you do well in your first eight weeks, Apple will promote you for free. You are driving people to your platform.” The more visibility you have and the more listenership you attract, the easier it will be to generate revenue through other means, such as advertising.
Fortunately for aspiring hosts, podcasts show no signs of losing popularity. Some estimates say the number of U.S. podcast listeners could exceed 100 million by 2024. “People get Zoom fatigue,” Scott says. “No one is getting podcast fatigue. They can listen to podcasts when they want.”
I am the author of The Million-Dollar, One Person Business, a Random House book looking at how everyday Americans are breaking $1 million in revenue in businesses with no