Episode 3: Monetize Your Podcast with a Small Audience, featuring Melissa Guller
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Melissa Guller is the founder of Wit & Wire, where she helps creators launch and produce podcasts with real growth potential. She’s an experienced podcast host and producer, as well as a top-rated instructor at General Assembly NYC and on Skillshare.
By day, Melissa is the Head of Marketing Engagement at Teachable, a platform for entrepreneurs to build and sell their own online courses. She’s the host and producer of their podcast, Everything is Teachable, which peaked as the #2 Career Podcast in the USA, hit 50,000+ downloads in the first season, and was featured in Apple Podcasts under best new podcasts.
Melissa shares her experiences with a podcast that has a “big” audience versus a podcast that has a “small” audience. She debunks the myth that you need thousands of downloads per episode to start earning money as a podcaster. We also chat about using a podcast as a marketing platform to promote online courses or other products and services, without getting all “used car salesman”.
Sponsorships Versus Your Own Products and Services
There is a misconception about podcasts only being “successful” if they have a large audience. But what does “success” mean to you? Having your own podcast will help you to build your brand as well as your client list. Regardless of audience size, your podcast will still make meaningful contributions to the overall bigger picture vision for your business.
If you can expand your idea of what it means to earn money as a podcaster, then you will start to see real opportunity. When you put out episodes consistently, you will continue to grow your audience. They will begin to know, like, and trust you which increases the likelihood that they will buy your course or product, join your coaching program, or become a client in the future. Sponsorships, in general, will not compare to the possible return on investment if you direct your listeners back to you rather than to an external product.
Affiliate Marketing on Your Podcast
If you do not want to deal with sponsorships or if you are not ready yet, another great method to start to monetize your podcast is affiliate marketing. I’m sure you use a lot of products and services that you would feel great about recommending to your audience. If you list them out and do a little investigation, you will find that many of them have affiliate or referral programs that do not require a minimum audience size.
When you take the time to build trust with your audience, they will show up week after week to listen to what you have to say. So if there is something that you’re really passionate about - whether it’s a product, service, or tool, then there’s a good chance that your listeners will like it as well and will appreciate you for recommending a solution to their problem.
How to Promote Yourself
When you are just starting out, you can usually anticipate that your audience will start small. There are a couple of ways that you can promote yourself no matter what your audience size is. The first way is to mention it throughout the episode so that people become familiar with your offers. Another way is to be even more direct. Create an ad that runs during your podcast that is actually pointing people toward a specific offer. You can create this ad the same way you would for a sponsor. Create a script for it and play some dedicated music behind it.
If you are thinking that promoting yourself sounds too salesy, Melissa and I would advise you to reconsider. If people are tuning into your show, they already enjoy what you have to offer. They’re at least primed to buy in, and they probably won’t mind hearing about your offers. In fact, for some of them, your offer will be exactly what they need. You would be doing a disservice to both of you if you didn’t mention it at all - that is why talking about what you sell is so important.
If somebody is just tuning into your show, the chance that they’ll say yes to a $500 course or offering is pretty low. But what they might say yes to is a free download of something that’s valuable, or a free strategy call. You can think of your podcast as being at the top of your marketing funnel.
Not all of your listeners will be buyers, and that’s okay. Make sure that every episode feels valuable on its own. That’s what will get people to know, like, and trust you. They will be more inclined to buy from you if they find insane value in your free content, podcast included.
Your podcast audience can also continue to grow as your listeners refer their friends to it. You do, however, need to make sure that you can clearly explain what your podcast is about and who it is for.
Creating Content for Your Podcast
Melissa’s Winning Podcast Formula outlines three areas of focus:
- What is your podcast about?
- Who is it for?
- What is the benefit for them?
You need to have a clear sense of your ideal listener. When you have that, you will know what kind of content you need to be creating for them. Make sure you have a clear elevator pitch for your podcast (This podcast is about the topic for some ideal listener to help them….). This will also help you stand out and keep listeners coming back.
If your audience can clearly recognize that, they’ll keep coming back. They’ll continue to listen. And they’ll know who to refer to the podcast or to you. They’ll also be the ideal buyer when you are offering something. The more specific you get, the more memorable you are. And so people will come to you because you do something that is exactly for them. So don’t be afraid to niche down even more.
Call to Action
Remember, every episode will be somebody’s first episode of your podcast. Be sure to include your name, the podcast name, and a brief summary of what the show is about (this is usually done in the intro).
Please, please, please make sure you include a call to action at the end of your podcast episodes. Where are your listeners supposed to go next? Tell them what they can do to connect with you further in between listening to episodes. Don’t throw every possible option at them at once - choose one or two that will be easy for them to do immediately following your episode.
You can also send them to an inexpensive starter course that’s at around a $27 price point. For example, if they’ve tuned into an episode about how to brainstorm a ton of new episode ideas for their podcast, at the end of this episode it makes sense to pitch them this course which will help them start to produce those episodes or bring them to life.
Using Deadlines to Encourage Purchases
Another call to action is to encourage people to join something that’s timely. Some offers will be consistently available on your site, such as your opt-in and maybe lower-ticket products or services.
But a few times a year you can do a larger promotion to open up something higher-ticket like your flagship course. You can lead up to it with a free challenge or masterclass, and the scarcity is very real since listeners can’t just join at any time.
Use Your Website Landing Page to Provide Value
When you have a deadline for something, create an easy-to-remember URL. Once the offer expires, this page becomes a landing page showcasing other valuable information. This page will have an email opt-in, so people can sign up to get notified when you open the doors to your course again. In the meantime, you can offer them other resources so they can get familiar with you and your other offers. This method is more efficient than trying to go back into your old podcast episodes to change links.
Consistency Creates Results
Be consistent with your podcast. Don’t give up. Over time, your podcast will steadily grow.
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