[Updated] In 2023, podcast purpose and partnerships play a big role in podcast revenue, though you may not think inherently so.
One of the most asked questions we hear from podcasters is “how can I make money from my podcast?” or “when can I start making money with my podcast?”
Unfortunately, that is not a simple answer, as with most things with podcasting — it depends.
I was able to sit down with award-winning broadcast journalist and former CBS News reporter, Erica Mandy. She is making money from her long-running podcast The Newsworthy, primarily through advertising.
Erica shared two key insights and very actionable advice on how to make sure that you set yourself up for success and continue to thrive, even when the world changes and fluctuates.
Be Clear on your Podcast Purpose
In 2017, Erica launched her now noteworthy podcast The Newsworthy to help people stay informed in a more convenient, unbiased and less depressing way. The show provides a wide variety of news in 10 minutes Monday through Friday.
She started her show because she saw a need in the world for news to be less incendiary and anxiety inducing. She saw an opportunity to provide important, unbiased news in a way that would inform her audience, giving them what they needed to know, without creating more unease and angst.
When you look at her podcast artwork or visit her website you will immediately see this messaging over and over again:
The day’s news
Fast, fair, fun
Quick, unbiased, fun
In just 10 minutes
We all know that the world changed in a way that we did not expect in 2020 due to COVID-19. Not only did we have to find new ways to work, but our everyday behavior shifted.
I was curious about the impact of these years on Erica’s audience and advertising partnerships, and whether things had changed.
Her answer: not really.
Erica’s podcast purpose was clear prior to the pandemic.
She had built an audience due to her stellar, well-researched content, her consistent production and her undeviating delivery of fast, fair and fun news in just 10 minutes.
The pandemic, Erica said, “only accelerated and highlighted the need for content that was fair and grounded.” In a world turned topsy-turvy, her efforts to make news digestible and convenient — even enjoyable — was welcome.
“Everything can be alarmist if you want it to be,” said Erica. “We’re constantly balancing reporting what’s happened without communicating unnecessary anxiety and division. That means putting things into context: this is what is happening, this is who it’s affecting, and here’s the plan moving forward. It’s a constant.”
When it comes to staying informed, her podcast provides the solution that we are all looking for.
And you might think, well, my show isn’t a news podcast, or it’s not a short podcast, or it’s not like her show.
You are right, we don’t all have shows like The Newsworthy, but here are some things that you can be clear on that will help sustain your show through uncertainty and change.
- Be extremely clear on why you are starting your podcast and what problem you are looking to solve.
- Communicate this message just as clearly on your podcast artwork and on your website
How does that help you make money?
Making money with advertising is all about figuring out what works best for you and making sure that you continue to build rapport with advertisers.
Erica works with Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast Marketplace, who manages the advertising on her show. “When I first started, I thought ‘I’m gonna try to do sponsors on my own.’ And it’s just very time-consuming. In the end, it made more sense to work with the people — like AdvertiseCast — who already have the relationships.
Admittedly, when you are first starting out, your show might not be ready to work with an advertising network. But that should not stop you from developing processes to work with advertisers in the future.
- Are you looking to curate bespoke relationships with sponsors?
- Do you have existing sales expertise?
- Do you want to concentrate 100% on creating content and build an in-house sales team?
- Do you want to concentrate 100% on creating content and want to work with a podcast advertising agency?
- Do you want to get your own sponsors, but need a CMS to help you manage relationships?
As you work on content, if you want to monetize through sponsors and advertisers, start to set up workflows that will allow you to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself.
Here’s a quick list of organizational tools to help streamline that workflow:
- Notion for reference
- Asana process management
- Calendly for scheduling and managing meetings
- Wanna get fancy? Teamwork
Once opportunities show up and you start to get advertisers, nurturing those relationships becomes very important.
One way Erica does that nurturing is to participate readily in calls with potential and/or ongoing advertisers.
“It’s an opportunity to make everybody excited about working together. I try to show up with excitement and energy. When we can connect on the call, it’s beneficial to everybody.”
The right advertiser can also become a powerful relationship. Over the years, Erica has formed some really solid, long-term partnerships with advertisers like Rothy’s “They have been with me for two or three years,” she said, “and they just keep buying. It’s an amazing partnership. If they had an issue, I’m sure I’d hear, but I think they’re just having success with it. And I like talking about them. I don’t think about it; everybody’s getting what they need. AdvertiseCast gets paid and I can just concentrate on my content.”
When you are first starting out with your podcast or when you are first starting your journey into podcast advertising, you might not know what works and what doesn’t. As opportunities come your way, you discover how you work best, what you like and you don’t, and how to use your personality to deliver the results that you want. All of that comes with time and patience. Erica has been building what works for her for more than four years!
Through Erica’s example, you can see how having a clear purpose for your podcast can help you weather uncertain times and how nurturing your relationships with future or current advertisers can keep you reaching your goals…
And there’s one more thing.
None of this is possible without building listenership and engaging community.
This you can begin at any time in your podcasting journey!
Here are some things that Erica does to build rapport with her audience.
“I send out a weekly email that listeners reply to. And we get Instagram messages, so there’s a lot of back and forth. Am I the best at social media? No, but one of the things I have found that has worked well is our Trivia Tuesday.”
What is Trivia Tuesday?
Podcast Promo Tip!
“We ask a trivia question on the show and say go to our Instagram stories to find out the answer. And then next week, we’ll reveal the answer and give a new question. Every Tuesday we get new listeners who go and follow us on Instagram because they’re curious about that trivia question. When people message on Instagram, you know they are following the show.”
Erica especially values the interactions with listeners that are more personal, when they share how her show affects their real lives. “Occasionally people will tell me about their kids on the way to school, like this five-year-old who calls me ‘Merica Mandy.’ That’s the best. And there’s a kid that dances to the show music.”
But wait, there is more!
“When someone messages ‘I finally feel informed,’ it’s so amazing,” says Erica.
Clearly, when responses line up with the purpose and mission of your show — in Erica’s case, when someone who couldn’t stand to listen to the news can now not just listen, but enjoy — it’s better than money!