The highest paid podcasters include voices ranging from Joe Rogan to Bill Simmons. Here’s who else made the list. Photo Credit: Do512, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Podcasting has emerged as a field that is more than just a great way to consume entertainment: It is highly lucrative. According to the latest information, the monetization of podcasting is exploding, reaching $1.33 billion in 2021 — and climbing still, potentially hitting $3 billion by 2023. These stats have succeeded in earning podcasts a reputation of being financial powerhouses. The power of podcasting from a financial perspective is now unquestioned.
Some podcasters — usually those who already had a built-in name and audience base — have truly monetized the medium, turning to a slew of revenue options to make even more money from podcasting. Here’s a look at the podcasting market and how it is expanding.
Overview of Podcasting Market
The podcast industry has become so lucrative because of both the popularity of its hosts and a major push by a variety of corporations — like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon — to monetize this new form of audio content.
Studies have found that more than half of all Americans have listened to a podcast. The number continues to increase as more and more Americans download this content and successful podcasts emerge on a regular basis. New podcasts appear every day, driven by the fact that the barriers to entry are relatively low: All someone needs is the right recording equipment and an internet connection.
To be clear, not all podcasts make money. While the best podcasts do make money, developing interesting content and building a podcast audience is vitally important to ultimately sell podcast advertising and find podcast sponsorships.
How Do Podcasters Make Money?
The below provides an overview of the various ways that a podcast host can make money on their program. As you can see, there is no one way to make money. Podcast episodes can generate revenue for things that are related to content produced on the show. In many cases, popular podcasts will not only have advertisements but also push products. Indeed, the most popular podcast episodes will successfully generate multiple revenue streams from podcast listeners.
It is also important to consider that podcasting has now become an invaluable part of content marketing for many businesses and services. The idea behind content marketing is that businesses will sell their product not just through straight advertisements, but by creating useful, interesting, and engaging content. This content is value-added information that people want to listen to. In so doing, people who create podcasts can better get their name out there and establish their own credibility.
Sponsorships and Advertising
One of the main sources of ad revenue for any podcaster comes in the form of sponsorships and advertising. This can be done in multiple ways, including midroll ads, ads at the start and end of a program, sponsorships, and more. Many podcasters will partner with advertising networks that enable them to monetize their show.
Podcast advertising networks have also proven to be a hugely successful method of monetizing podcasts, and there is more information on how these networks work below. In essence, you turn your show over to them. They sell ads for your show based on the content you are producing, then turn around and give you a portion of the profits from those ads.
It is also worth noting that the advertisements you sell do not have to be limited to your show. Pre, post, and midroll ads are very popular and lucrative, but there are a variety of other ways of giving value to your sponsors. This includes:
- Plugs in your show notes and RSS feed, along with a link to a website of their choosing
- Mention on all of your social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube channel
- Specific graphics on your social media that can be used to thank and acknowledge your sponsors
It goes without saying that the sponsors you work with should complement your show and any other marketing efforts you have. As such, you may find the need to be very selective with the sponsors you work with.
Affiliate marketing is another type of sponsorship. In affiliate marketing, a company will pay a content creator — like a website owner or a podcast host — for giving them leads and sales. For example, in podcasting, you could promote another product or service as part of your broadcast. When checking out, the customer who buys that service or product would use your referral code for a discount. This would mean that your podcast generated that lead, and you would receive a portion of the profits from that sale.
Affiliate programs have become very popular for many podcasters and YouTubers. This is because the payment you receive is directly related to the number of sales or leads your advertisement generates for the company in question. This makes it more effective than many broad-based sponsorships. Affiliate marketing has generated billions of dollars for participating companies and the individuals who turn their content into affiliate marketing opportunities.
Podcast advertising agencies can match you up with the right affiliate marketing agency. As with any other type of advertisement, it is vital that you identify a product that fits your niche of advertising and is on-brand for your content. There are multiple types of affiliate marketing, including:
- Unattached marketing, in which you have no direct connection — save for a sales relationship — to the product or service you are advertising
- Related affiliate marketing, in which you do have a relationship with the product in question
- Involved affiliate marketing, in which a podcaster may use their own personal stories to advertise the product
Podcasting can serve as an excellent method in which to promote a variety of services that are directly related to the topic of the podcast. Online courses are a very common example of this phenomenon. To be clear, this is not a college course. This usually refers directly to a class that someone pays to take. Common examples include classes on Masterclass or Udemy. In these classes, individuals teach a useful skill or craft. The content of their podcast is usually reflective of whatever this skill is.
Coaching can apply to other things besides just sports: Relationship coaching, life coaching, financial coaching, etc. You name it, there’s a coaching and mentorship industry for it.
Creating a podcast in the field in which you coach can be an extremely successful way of getting your name out there and demonstrating your expertise in a specific area. You can also invite clients you’ve worked with to be on your podcast to discuss the skills you worked on together, thus subtly promoting yourself and what you do.
This is most useful when you create content that is specifically geared toward giving people advice. As you’ll see, many of the most popular podcasts deal directly with giving advice, mentorship, and broad-based coaching. This gives you a chance to advertise your coaching services or other professional services. A podcast can be a great opportunity to prove your expertise and value.
Just like with any other podcast service offered, you should make sure you appropriately promote yourself. This means mentioning your services in your podcast, listing them in your show notes, and more.
While crowdfunding is not a new innovation, the extreme ease with which it can be accomplished is. Thanks to the internet and social media, crowdfunding is fairly easy to accomplish.
Crowdfunding is relatively simple: You ask listeners for money in order to support your program. There are many ways to successfully crowdfund. You can appeal to your listeners out of the goodness of your heart, note that crowdfunding will keep your platform ad-free, or ask your listeners to pay for specific items related to your show, such as travel fees or new equipment.
How you crowdfund will be wildly important. There are many programs, like Patreon, that make crowdfunding easy. They have a slew of tools that make it easy for you to ask for money and acknowledge people who give to you, including deep analytics and the ability to create various reward levels. Using platforms like Patreon for podcasting can enable you to reward donors with acknowledgments, free merch (like T-shirts or stickers), or exclusive and early access to certain pieces of content.
Patreon isn’t the only program that allows for crowdfunding. Other examples include Subscribestar, Kickstarter, Gumroad, and Indiegogo. All of these platforms have various strengths and weaknesses. As such, if you are going to engage in crowdfunding, you should give all of the potential platforms a comprehensive look. Remember that these platforms will also charge you a fee and take a percentage of every donation that you get.
A podcast can also be a great place to advertise an event, but you have to be more careful here since the timely nature of an event can make life more difficult.
On the one hand, just like anything else, you can and should promote an event that is timely on your podcast. This means discussing the event details, talking about where it is, where people can get more information about it, and potentially offering your podcast listeners an “exclusive” discount. This gives your listeners added value.
However, there can be a challenge with events: If someone is listening to your podcast after the event has occurred, you are basically wasting their time. Fortunately, there are ways around this. You can still direct people to check out a website and link in your show description. However, you can also add a note when speaking about the podcast: If people are listening to this podcast after the event has occurred, then they can still check out the website for information shared at the event, videos, or information about other events. You can also alter your show notes to reflect the same changes.
E-commerce services can be advertised on a podcast. However, this can be a little bit more difficult: You have to make sure that the nature of the e-commerce service you advertise aligns well with your podcast.
E-commerce is a broad term, and there are many e-commerce services that may fit the subject matter of your podcast. The challenge for you is to find e-commerce services that will still align with your brand. This may not be possible. As such, when trying to find e-commerce services, dig deeper. Who is your audience, and what sorts of services do they use? From there, you can begin to identify potential sponsors and people who may want to buy time on your podcast as a way of expanding their customer base.
Podcasts can be a great way of promoting any services or products that you have created. For this reason, they can be an outstanding way to promote books you have written.
This can apply to fiction or non-fiction books, but it is often easier to promote non-fiction books on a podcast. That’s because people tend to listen to non-fiction books that are oriented around their interests. As such, creating a podcast around a book topic can be a great way of growing your audience and building your own platform. It can also make it easier to sell books in the future: Publishing companies look for authors who can bring an audience to the topic they are writing about. If you create a successful podcast around your book, you can not only sell more copies but also demand higher royalties for future books.
Even if you don’t start your own podcast, podcast marketing should be an important part of book marketing. There are many podcasts that review books of all genres. If you have written a book and are looking to promote it, you should search for these podcasts and appear on ones that make sense for your audience.
The world of paid public speaking is a lucrative one. In essence, you are paid to attend a variety of conferences or other events, sharing your expertise and insights into some interesting and timely field. It isn’t for everyone, of course. In order to be a good public speaker and be paid well for your knowledge, you have to have a hook and a platform that makes you a valuable, sought-after, and interesting speaker at various events and conferences.
This is where a podcast can be hugely successful. On one hand, podcasting can help you build credibility in a certain field. It gives you a chance to do more research on a topic and interview guests that can give you additional insight into an area of your choosing. This, in turn, can build your platform and allow you to become a more sought-after expert on a certain subject. Second, a podcast can help you build an audience. If you become well-known enough in a certain area, people may begin to contact you, asking if you are available for speaking. This may mean travel, or it may mean speaking at virtual conferences. If you want to speak publicly, you should state as much on your podcast. After all, it’s your microphone, and you should absolutely use it to promote yourself.
If you want to become a public speaker, it is important that you market yourself as such. You should have a website that discusses who you are, what your platform is, and what credibility you can bring to a certain subject area. You may also want to create a one-pager that can be downloaded and lists your public speaking opportunities. Finally, you may want to consider enrolling with a public speaking bureau that can push you as a speaker. These groups take a portion of your fees but can be a great way of getting your name out there.
What Are the Best Podcast Advertising Networks?
Podcasting advertising networks are organizations that allow you to sell ads on your podcast. They take care of all the ads for you. You simply sign a contract with an organization, and they will handle matching your podcast content with the right type of advertisements. Podcast advertising networks essentially act as brokers for podcast advertisements.
Typically, these ads work on a CPM model: You will get paid per 1,000 impressions, with an advertising network keeping a portion of the profits.
There are dozens of advertising networks out there. Some are large behemoths, while others are smaller and more targetted. Examples include Advertisecast, MidRoll, PodGrid, Archer Avenue, and more.
Like anything else, there isn’t necessarily a “best” podcast advertising network. Different networks will pay different rates for access to your audience. Some networks only sell ads. Others go further and can help you engage in affiliate marketing, selling exclusive content, growing your public speaking opportunities, and more. The best podcast advertising network ultimately depends on you finding a network that fits your needs and will be right for your podcast model.
How Much Does the Average Podcast Make?
This can be a difficult question to answer because there isn’t really such a thing as an “average” podcast. Podcasts vary wildly in quality. Some have full-time staff and content creators who are seeking to use a podcast as their primary means to generating an audience and creating interesting content. Others are part-time hobbyists or run by beginners. These individuals may create podcasts as a passion project that doesn’t last more than an episode or two before they stop making new episodes.
Different estimates answer these questions differently. One found that the answer depends on the techniques you use and if you incorporate an affiliate marketing program for affiliate sales, noting that downloads of 10,000 per episode can potentially net content creators up to $900. If you use podcasts to leverage other forms of your business, like public speaking, you can potentially expand your audience and generate more speeches. You can also use your podcast to sell merch, promote live events, or give access to premium content.
Here Are the Top 10 Highest Paid Podcasters
The top podcasters have figured out how to generate a large amount of money on their shows, using all of the above strategies. According to Forbes and other rankings, the top 10 highest paid podcasters are:
1. Joe Rogan — The Joe Rogan Experience — $200 Million.
2. Bill Simmons — The Ringer — $200 Million.
3. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark — My Favorite Murder — $15 million every year for this true crime podcast.
4. Dave Ramsey — The Dave Ramsey Show — $10 million for this personal finance show.
5. Dax Shepard — Armchair Expert — $9 million for this talk show.
6. Bill Simmons — The Bill Simmons Podcast — $7 million.
7. Will Menaker, Matt Christman, Felix Biederman, Amber A’Lee Frost, and Virgil Texas — Chapo Trap House — $2 million.
8. Tim Dillon — The Tim Dillon Show — $1.3 million.
9. Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle — True Crime Obsessed — $1.2 million.
10. Pat Flynn — Smart Passive Income — $1.2 million.
Keep in mind that the above podcasts are the exception, not the rule. Most of these people already had broad followings and successful careers in their field of choice. The average podcaster is lucky to make any money off of their podcast. But, with hard work, this can absolutely happen.
The term “podcasting” has become so much more than a mere hobby for people who like to talk. It has become a massive business enterprise, one that has the potential to help individual users create interesting content that can be monetized to help them grow their careers. If a podcaster uses the right monetization strategies, they could turn their podcasting into a full-time business, one capable of generating multiple income streams.
Like everything else in life, the success of a podcast ultimately depends on being able to produce high-quality content. Podcast income can be successfully generated, or a good podcast can be used to create a successful online business. As you can see, it requires a lot of work to create your own podcast and turn it into a full-time job.