With podcasting on the rise, starting a podcast business is a great opportunity for creatives, people with expertise in a certain area, or anyone with thoughts to share. However, with so many podcasts out there, it can be hard to know where to start and how to break into the competitive market.
If your goal is to turn a profit from your podcast, either as a full-time job or a secondary source of income, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll walk you through 8 crucial steps in creating a successful podcast and earning money from it.
8 Steps to Start a Podcast Business
1. Determine Your Topic and Format
A podcast can be about just about anything, so pick a topic you’re interested in and passionate about. Podcasts need to be continually updated in order to be successful, so it’s important to choose something you don’t mind making hundreds of episodes about.
While the subject you choose may not be in the highest paid category, trying to play to the market will result in you being bored in the material and potentially burning out. Start a podcast about what’s most interesting and exciting to you! Here are some ideas:
- Personal finance
- World news
- Fashion and beauty
- Pop culture
…or anything else you can think of! The sky's the limit, but the more niche your topic is, the better chance you have of carving out your own audience.
After you’ve decided on the subject, you’ll need to figure out what format you want your podcast to be. Some questions to consider:
- Will you be a solo host, or will a co-host be joining you?
- Will you script the show ahead of time or talk off the cuff?
- Is it going to be fiction or nonfiction?
- Will you conduct interviews?
- What is the primary goal of the podcast – entertainment, educational, informative?
- How often will you post new content?
- How long will the episodes be?
There isn’t one right answer as there are many examples of successful podcasts with all of these format types.
Most podcasts drop new shows either weekly or biweekly, but you can determine your own frequency depending on how research-intensive the subject is or whether you need to plan interviews regularly. You can host through a number of platforms, like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, but I also recommend posting them on your own branded website.
2. Research the Competition
Once you’ve determined what you want to talk about and how you want to format your show, you’ll want to see what already exists. Find shows with similar themes, formats, or styles and do some research – listen to some episodes and find out what people are thinking by seeking out reviews online.
It’s important to understand what’s successful in your niche and how you can distinguish yourself from others and grow your brand. It can also help give you an idea of the types of sponsors or other financial support you could get for your podcast.
Finally, look at the logistics of your competitors’ shows – how long are they, where are they posted, and how often do new shows drop? The answers to these questions can help you determine your own content schedule. Some niches, like news, might be quick 10-15 minute episodes, but posted more frequently, while a niche like history might be research-heavy and only drop one a month.
3. Buy the Necessary Tools
High-quality sound and editing are vital to the success of any new podcast. While recording on your phone or your computer’s built-in mic might sound fine to you, professional equipment makes all the difference in growing and monetizing your brand.
You’ll want a high-quality microphone to record your voice, good editing tools like Adobe Audition or Audacity, and maybe even high-quality phone recording software if you plan on conducting phone interviews with your guests.
This equipment is an upfront cost, but investing in it early on will save you issues down the line and make your podcast sound crisp and professional from day one. You don’t need to buy the most expensive gear, but find equipment that has good reviews and decent sound quality for starters.
4. Create Your Branding
When it comes to creative businesses like podcasting, branding has a huge influence on listener impressions. Branding includes your name, logo, category and podcast description, and even the music and cover art you choose. You want something that stands out and intrigues potential listeners.
First, choose a name that gives listeners a sense of the topic, while still being fun, interesting, and easy to pronounce. Unless you’re already a well known person, avoid using your identity as part of the brand name. Additionally, avoid vague names like “The History Podcast,” which doesn’t identify what the podcast will be about as it’s too general.
Next, you’ll want to spend time creating cover art and a podcast description that really sells your podcast to potential listeners. This is the Nike swoosh of podcasts. You want something that is recognizable, fun, and catches the eye easily. Then, once they click on your podcast, the description should sell them on the idea.
Finally, the podcast itself is part of the brand. From the intro you use to the music that plays during the credits. Take time to carefully consider these aspects before you record your first show, as long-time listeners will come to know and want these little elements.
5. Promote Your Podcast
The podcasting world is a highly competitive one with thousands of new shows entering the channels daily, from all across the globe. Don’t expect your show to be found organically when you’re just starting out. Instead, you’ll need to focus heavily on building a following and promoting your material.
Being present and engaged on social media is a great place to start. Make sure you're active on at least a couple of platforms to help grow your following. Post your episodes on your platforms, engage with listeners by answering questions and getting suggestions, and collaborate with other content creators in your niche to grow your network.
In addition, find areas where people in your niche might congregate. If your podcast is aimed at university students, for instance, use online university groups to promote yourself, post information on campus, and get the community involved. In the beginning, self-promotion will be one of the most important aspects of growing your brand.
6. Monetize Your Podcast
While podcasting can be a fun hobby to share knowledge and grow a community, most people are looking for ways to earn income from their efforts. There are several different ways to earn money from podcasting, including:
- Company sponsors: you strike a deal with a company and then promote them during your podcast
- Selling products: instead of promoting a company as a whole, you could sell products related to your niche (i.e. athletic gear if you host a fitness podcast)
- Tiered memberships: for fans of the podcast, you can offered tiered membership to exclusive, additional content through sites like Patreon or your own website
- Tips and donations: you can ask for tips or donations on your show for fans who want to support you as a content creator.
- Branded merchandise: as you build a following, you can create branded merchandise like mugs and t-shirts for fans to buy
Many podcast businesses rely on several of these strategies to diversify and strengthen their income. This can help ensure income is steady and varied, in case one stream dries up one month.
7. Set Up a Payment System
Once you’ve determined how to monetize, be sure to have a way to accept payments from followers and fans. Pay.com is a payment service provider that lets you offer a number of different payment options so your listeners can choose how to pay.
If you want to sell tiered memberships or merchandise on your website, you can add a secure, customized checkout page to your site with Pay.com. If you need to invoice a sponsor you can create and send direct Pay Links with Pay.com’s Pay Checkout feature.
Pay.com is great for content creators as the dashboard makes it easy to take payments from multiple payment methods. Plus, Pay.com operates on a flat-fee model so you don’t have to worry about hidden fees.
Don’t wait till the last minute – click here to sign up for Pay.com now!
8. Grow Your Following
After you’ve produced several episodes and worked on ways to get income from your show, it’s time to focus on growing it bigger and bigger. Keep promoting it online, collaborate with other creatives, and network with those in your subject area.
As your podcast grows, you can even think about starting additional podcasts that are complimentary to your original or completely new topics. This can also help you stay engaged with the growth, and potential reach newer and more diverse audiences.
A success podcast business doesn’t happen overnight. As with any creative pursuit you have to spend the time creating something people want to come back to again and again. With a little perseverance and strategic thinking, though, you can generate income and create content you love.
The Pros and Cons of Starting Your Own Podcast Business
- You can choose a subject you’re passionate about
- Potential for huge growth
- You can get started with few costs
- You can work as a content creator but stay anonymous
- Heavily saturated market
- Hard for new podcasts to get traffic organically
- Producing podcasts is very time consuming
- Big learning curve
The Bottom Line: Is Starting a Podcast Business Right for You?
If you’re creative and passionate and you want to share your knowledge with the world and connect with others that share your interest, podcasting could be a great opportunity for you. Like most endeavors, it will take time to build up, but if you stick with it and work to promote it relentlessly, you stand a shot at being successful.
Podcasting is a hobby for many, but only few earn an income from it, and this means you’ll have to actively work to monetize your podcast. Monetization doesn’t mean just one thing, it can happen in a variety of different ways. Thinking like a business person will help ensure you succeed.
Pay.com lets you accept a variety of payment methods, so you can easily receive payments online. It’s simple to set up, even if you don’t have any technical knowledge. You can customize your checkout page and let your listeners choose how they want to pay you.