These days, the tools necessary to produce a podcast are pretty easily accessible… and they can even be affordable.

If the price tag for your podcast is manageable — and even if it’s primarily a passion project — there’s no reason you shouldn’t be paid for your content. After all, no matter how much (or how little) you’re spending to get your show out into the world, your time is worth something.

Why shouldn’t you be paid for your hard work?

All too often, podcasters give up on seeking income from their shows before they even get started. There’s a misconception out there that you have to be a big name, a massive following or thousands of downloads per episode in order to get paid.

This is patently false!

According to Veronica Davis over at Pod Sound School, “Brands are always on the lookout for new audiences to promote their services and products. And with the growth in popularity, brands are using podcasts increasingly as part of their marketing campaigns… If your podcast has a small but profitable niche, you may be able to approach sponsors before reaching big numbers with your downloads.”

With a little creativity, even podcasters with a smaller listener base can earn income via advertising and other methods.

Consider the pros and cons of finding advertisers for your show

As appealing as advertising dollars can be, it never hurts to pause and think through the potential advantages and disadvantages before you move forward.

The pros of podcast advertising

  • Advertising dollars can help you cover the costs of producing your podcast. Remember: this isn’t necessarily an expensive medium! Even small deals may be enough to help you break even — and, if you’re lucky, to earn a little extra too.
  • Advertisers can lend some extra credibility to your podcast. When listeners hear that a company or brand has agreed to do business with you, they can be sure you’re not messing around with your show.
  • Ads can give your listeners the opportunity to get to know you better, especially if you’re sharing about products or services that you use and enjoy. When you share about your experience with the product or service, your audience will learn a different side of you than what they hear on the pod!

The cons of podcast advertising

  • Unfortunately, advertising can drive some listeners away, especially if they’ve come to view your show as an independent operation. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to pursue advertising opportunities — according to Marketing Week, 78 percent of listeners do approve of sponsorships — but it’s worth considering.
  • Locking in advertising will add a bit more work to your plate, especially at the beginning. You should plan to spend time corresponding with your advertisers, writing ad copy, recording ad copy, integrating it into your standard show format and more.
  • Some advertisers will require approval over various aspects of your content. They may insist on reviewing your ads before you run them and may even ask for previews of the subject matter you choose to cover on the show to make sure that it’s aligned with their brand. Before you sign on with an advertiser, be sure you understand exactly what they’ll expect in terms of approval.

4 ways to explore earning advertising dollars for your podcast

Here are a few places you might start looking for advertisers, no matter the size or reach of your show.

1. Promo exchanges with other podcasts

Yours isn’t the only mid-sized show looking for promotion and advertising opportunities. If you’re thinking about these matters, you can rest assured that there are plenty of other podcasters in the same boat. Now is a great time to network with them so that everyone involved can secure some extra exposure… and maybe even some cash.

Do a little research about shows with subject matters or target audiences similar to yours.

Contact the hosts and producers of those shows and suggest a promo exchange.

In this type of exchange, you and another podcaster will agree to read ads about each other’s shows as part of a predetermined number of episodes. In many of these exchanges, money won’t be part of the deal, but you can certainly negotiate. Maybe, for example, the other show will promote yours on just one episode, you’ll promote that show on five or six episodes of your show and you’ll be paid for the extra airtime.

2. Sign up with Podcorn

The Podcorn marketplace seeks to connect podcasters — with shows of all sizes! — to a wide range of brands and companies looking to advertise in the pod world. It’s a really cool platform, and one that I’ve successfully used to secure advertisers for my own show.

Once you sign up with Podcorn, you’ll have access to an extensive list of hopeful advertisers, along with a dashboard that allows you to apply to work with them, without ever having to leave the Podcorn universe. You’ll be prompted to share details about your show, to explain why you think you and the advertiser might be a good match and to answer any other specific questions the brand might have. If, after reviewing your information, the advertiser wants to move forward, you can make all the arrangements — including ad approvals and payment — on Podcorn.

The whole thing feels incredibly safe and streamlined and is a great place to start looking for advertising opportunities that will be a logical fit for your show.

3. Seek out and target potential advertisers yourself

If you’re willing to do a little extra legwork, you could also reach out to potential advertisers yourself, instead of using a platform like Podcorn to make the connection.

Brainstorm ad partners by thinking about the brands you already use and love, considering products that might be a natural fit with the topics you discuss on your show and noting advertisers who are regularly promoted on podcasts similar to your own. Keep a running list of companies that fit these criteria. With a little bit of digging, you should be able to find contact information for the people who manage partnerships and ads for those companies. Reach out with information about your show and see if they’d be interested in working together!

Remember: if your show is still smaller or mid-sized, your best bet is to go after brands that are also in a growing phase.

4. Work with a larger advertising firm

Podcast advertising networks like Midroll, AdvertiseCast, PodcastOne, HeadGum and Earwolf streamline the process of working with advertisers for podcasters. Once you’re part of these networks, most of the work will be done for you! 

The downside? Large networks typically work exclusively with bigger shows.

Still, if you’re interested, it never hurts to apply. I’ll have my fingers crossed for you!

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