How to Monetize Your Audio


There comes a time in every creator’s life when a project, campaign, or business feels so successful that they begin to think, “Maybe I can make money off of this!”

To those ambitious folks, we say, ”Welcome to the highs and lows of podcast monetization!”

Here’s a short list of the most effective income-generating strategies being used by audio creators today, in increasing order of complexity with respect to setup and management. And most importantly,  when we recommend you implement each monetization strategy. 

“Buy Me A Coffee”

A simple and friendly donation button linked to a payment service like Venmo, CashApp, or PayPal, located at a visible part of your project page, platform, or website, is an excellent way to encourage an appreciative audience to donate to you without a long-term commitment. You’ll be amazed at how many people are happy to send you funds so you can keep doing the good work you’ve been doing.

Recordical Recommends: Roll this out right at launch – or right now, if your project has already launched.  Small donations are an excellent motivator, and take only a few minutes to set up.

Referrals and affiliate marketing

If your project is a natural fit for selling complementary products or services, then affiliate marketing is a strong monetization strategy for you. Setting up an affiliate revenue stream is much simpler than most people imagine it to be. The hardest part entails vetting retailers or sponsor brands to ensure they align with your and your listeners’ values. Once that’s done, you can work through these broad steps: 

  • Make a list of the products and services you use to produce your podcast, and then host them prominently somewhere the more technically-minded portions of your audience can see it.
  • Sign up for an affiliate marketing program at a major retailer, like Amazon Associates. Provided that the products you’re using can be sourced from that retailer, the company will give you customized unique affiliate links to link back to the list you made.
  • Each time that product is purchased because someone clicked through to the product page via your link, you get a small percentage of the sales. 

Recordical Recommends: Start a referral program as soon as you find retailers or brands that you feel match your values and your listeners’ needs or interests.

Audience Subscriptions (like Patreon or Podia)

Even now, member-supported podcasting is the gold standard of content monetization. There is simply no greater leverage in your monetization utility belt than a small core of devoted audience members who have committed to you and your content for the long term. However, this strategy does need two things from all creators – consistency and authenticity. 

Maintaining this strategy long-term involves consistently creating content. You might want to have a content calendar spanning a minimum of three months before you start. Ideally, you’d even have the first 10-12 pieces of content generated. 

Sometimes, this level of creativity and creation can lead to burnout. Since the members who engage with you on these platforms will have spent more time consuming your content, they will appreciate you being authentic about your deadlines and capacity. Let them in. 

Here’s how to get going:

  • Start out by picking the right subscription platform for you.
  • Build out your content calendar and preload the platform with some core content.
  • Make your audience know all about it. Keep shouting it out to your audience all the time.
  • Reward your more generous members with tiered privileges. 
  • Create content that’s private and exclusive to your most regular supporters.
  • Keep it up!

Recordical Recommends: Ideally, you want to start this when your project has a consistent number of downloads in the triple digits, and you’re reasonably certain that you’re beginning to recognize the names of some of your more consistent fans.


If a member-based subscription is the gold standard of content monetization, then ads are the platinum standard. Depending on how you primarily use your audio, there are different ways to monetize through ads. 

However, before you get into the vetting process, ask yourself if you can make meaningful money placing ads. Start by knowing how much you will be paid per impression of your ad airing. 

For instance, podcast ads earn you an average of $25 CPM (cost per thousand impressions.) So your audience has to be large enough to earn meaningful money. If your average audience size is 5000, your podcast earns $25 x 5 = $125 per ad. Which is likely not enough to make you quit your day job. 

Once a threshold like such is reached, you start by: 

  • Searching for brands or networks, you can monetize through
  • Choosing brands your and your audiences’ values align with
  • Creating a financial plan for yourself as to how much money you can expect from the campaigns
  • Monitoring your metrics closely

Recordical Recommends: As soon as your project starts to approach a minimum 10,000 streams, downloads, or views, you should start developing and planning for a full-blown long-term advertising campaign.

Merchandise and Live Events

Chin up! You don’t have to be an ultra-large creator to have a devoted fanbase. At a certain point, once your show has enough of social history or footprint, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t ask (poll) your audience about the kinds of merch they want to buy from you. Chances are it’s worth your while to start thinking about badges, coffee mugs, T-shirts, hoodies, caps and socks, some of the most popular styles of merch for independent creators.

When it comes to live events, there’s a lot of fun you can have. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Invite an audience member or two for a live stream
  • Host your show or stream live in front of an in-person audience
  • Take your show on the road
  • Pitch yourself as a speaker or performer at a live event happening near you

Recordical Recommends: When considering what to do for the live event, think of something you have not done before. If you’ve always wanted to showcase a talent to your existing audience, this is your chance. However, if you’re seeking ideas, you can poll your audience on what they want to see from you. 

Ancillary Revenue Streams

Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to be a historian and only started Sherlock Holmes as a side hustle? You never know which spin-off projects can determine your legacy or at the very least, earn you some extra cash. 

Consider repurposing your content to create ancillary revenue streams for yourself. Here are some ways to get going: 

  • Text-based content, like blogs and newsletters, is a great ancillary revenue stream for most audio creators. Start by transcribing your show, creating intentional show notes, and mining them for content that aligns with your value-add. For example, the podcast “The Pod Broads,” a show about women in podcasting also has a newsletter to go with it – Podcasting by the Moon.  
  • Consider what other forms of creation you enjoy. Say you love to sketch stick figures. There’s great merch potential there. For example, the blog Wait But Why has some great stick figure merch, like this one
  • Merch ideas, like the ones mentioned before, and live events also count as ancillary revenue streams. 

This is your playground. The great thing about being your own showrunner is that you don’t have to wait for great success to start creating value inside projects directly related to your main project. Not only can you end up developing really cool things, it’s also an incredibly useful way to upsell audiences to your main project. 

Recordical Recommends: Not getting too carried away when spinning off your main project. Start small with one but do it well. Respect your boundaries to reduce the risk of creator burnout. 

Always Remember

Always check in with your audience when you start monetizing your content. Ensure that they are not turned off by your methods and include them in the decisions you make around monetization. After all, they are your bread and butter. 

Stay Tuned

While we have likely touched on multiple aspects of monetization here, there are some other things you should also be thinking about, including:

  • How to optimize your content for monetization
  • How to avoid annoying your audience with your ingenious monetization schemes
  • Common mistakes to avoid when monetizing your audio via specific strategies

Stay tuned for resources on these topics and more!


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