7 Podcast Monetization Strategies

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Paul Colligan seems a big fan of over-delivering. Though his presentation at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo was entitled “7 Proven Strategies to Monetize Your Podcast in 30 Days or Less,” my notes reached a length of five pages, containing no fewer than 20 websites to consider, and an entire industry compacted into one hour.

This guy has a lot to say, and it’s not just a bunch of talk. Colligan whipped up the audience into a steady cadence. “Who da media?” he’d ask. “I’m da media!” the crowd responded, each time he asked.

The era of professional distributors, in Colligan’s estimation, is nearly over. In the past, a content producer, a musician or writer, needed an agent of some kind to get their message out there.

“That’s the old game,” said Colligan. “The podcaster is the distributor. The website is the distributor. You are also the record store. If you want to sell it, you can. If you want to give it away, you can. Record companies are saying podcasting is no big deal because they’re terrified.”

Colligan encouraged the audience to register at his website ImTheMedia.com and get their free business cards, which, he teased, would serve as a press pass. He assured the audience there were nearly countless ways to make money, from directing people to sign up for Yahoo Unlimited, for $15 per referral, and to eBay for $20.

Digital sales too, were a great product. A digital book, made of “zeroes and ones,” is $47, compared to his “book of dead trees,” which costs $20. After getting the crowd sufficiently wound up through the who-da-media-im-the-media refrain, Colligan got into his seven proven methods.

Method #1: Benefactor Revenue

Colligan is developing a PayPal-based product called TipScript that allows a form of donations for podcasters. For example, an invitation on the website could read “Buy Paul a cup of coffee if you like this podcast.” That’s a dollar per cup, or $8.00 per pound. The product could be anything – Raman noodles, wine, beer, blank disks.

This method works well for popular podcaster Soccergirl (maybe NSFW), who took donations to fund her trip to last year’s and this year’s Expo.

Method #2: Newsletter Revenue

“Have a newsletter about your podcast,” said Colligan. With the newsletter, a publisher can put in affiliate links. For example, readers could be prompted to buy tickets to events right from the newsletter, gaining commission from the sales.

Two things are necessary for newsletters:

1. Give a reason to subscribe
2. Send out regular updates, weekly if possible, so subscribers don’t forget they subscribed.

Method #3: Merchandizing

The wildly popular Askaninja.com became popular through fantastic content. Content is what brings people to it and makes it popular. Askaninja.com t-shirts are $25 each and a DVD is soon on the horizon.

Colligan recommended Cafepress.com, where podcasters (or anybody with some sort of web presence) can upload logos and begin selling merchandise. Though the margins there aren’t great, he says, it’s a good test run to see if people will buy your stuff.

He mentioned “Keith and the Girl,” a popular podcast, that sells top 10 spots on it’s MySpace friend’s list to advertisers – a great example of “thinking outside the box.”

Method #4: Premium Podcasting

This is a basic subscribe for more model. For an example, Colligan plugged The Affiliate Guy’s podcast, where expert advice is given for $47 per month.

“The first 20 minutes of the podcast are free,” he explained about the model. “If you want the rest, you need to subscribe.” But he warns that if you’re going to sell content, then it’s best to over deliver. “Give them an hour and a half.”

Method #5: Commissioned Sales

Similar to what he mentioned in the newsletter suggestion, Colligan recommends that podcasters and vidcasters direct traffic to affiliate links where products can be bought, and referral commissions are paid.

Method #6: Web Clicks

This segment follows a previous segment’s “Monetization rule #1.” Podcasts don’t make money. Clicks make money. If you’re looking for revenue, drive listeners to a website.

Using AdSense and affiliate programs has made lots of money for marketers. But how do you use this keyword-search-based industry with audio or video? Colligan recommends transcripts of content in boards and forums, blogs et cetera. Plus, if it’s user-generated, it’s better, as comment threads will generate keywords on their own.

He directed the audience to a service called CastingWords.com, a transcript service podcasters can send an RSS feed to, transcribing 30 minutes for $15.

Colligan says he hasn’t visited his site FrontPageTalk.com, a forum, in 18 months. It makes money for him because people will write 500-word responses to his podcasts, which become “spider food.”

He also recommended HitTail.com, a website that collects keywords nobody uses, so bid prices are cheap. Writing articles based on those words is a good way to generate traffic.

Method #7: Sell Your Own Product

Popularity will be a big determiner of whether you can sell your own ad space or a your own product through a podcast, and whether that will be more profitable than affiliate marketing. On Colligan’s blog, he refers to Andrew Baron, of Rocketboom, and how 300,000 daily viewers costs advertisers $80,000 per week to put commercials on the video blog.

But the really interesting concept that had everyone buzzing at the Expo, was Baron’s new approach. Baron will knock $20,000 off the price, if he likes the commercial, if it matches his audience. But also, as Colligan mentioned in the conference session, Baron can’t keep Rocketboom t-shirts in stock.

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  • http://www.sunnyjames.com Sunny James

    Great info
    if you need motivation & inspiration stop by
    my podcast

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