How to Start a Podcast and Make Your First $500

How to start a podcast

Yes, it’s possible to start a podcast free and even make a decent income from it. While the history of podcasting is short, we’ve seen podcasters establishing their podcast shows and making money from it.

The focus of this piece is not going to be about how to start a podcast for free alone, but one that is set up to make money podcasting in the process. If you meet anyone who has been podcasting for a while, they will tell you that it’s difficult making money podcasting. Even Forbes agreed that making money podcasting is possible but not easy.

While you might have heard of Steven Bartlett, who made $1.2 million from his podcast in 2021, The Joe Rogan Experience with about $30 million a year, and The Dave Ramsey Show with $10 million in annual income. All of these podcasters started from somewhere before they started growing millions annually.

For this piece, our target is how you can start a podcast free and make your first $500. Once you reach the $500 mark, you can from there. Our opinion is that the first $500 might be quite difficult, and once you are past this milestone, you’ll have all the motivation to make more money podcasting.

5 Ways To Make Your First $500 Podcasting in 2022

If you ask 20 podcasters how they monetized their podcast shows, you will get 20 different ways. However, not all of these monetization strategies can be adopted, especially for a new podcast show. You’re still working hard to identify and build your podcast listeners; this is why most of these podcast monetization strategies are likely to fail.

Having the above in mind, we’ve come up with foolproof ways to help you arrive at the $500 milestone faster.

1. Accept Donations from Your Podcast Listeners

You can accept a donation from your podcast listener. This is the simplest way to make money from podcasting as a new podcaster. If you can build a loyal podcast listeners base, they will be happy to send a token to support your show.

If you produce content that adds value to your listeners, they will not want you to quit the podcast show. They will also appreciate being a part of a community. It would be best if you also acknowledged their donation during the show.

When soliciting donations, be honest with your podcast listeners, and tell them why you need their contributions. Be transparent enough to tell them the cost of producing each episode of your podcast. Knowing where the money is going, they will likely be interested in donating.

Recently, Disctopia made accepting donations and direct payment from your podcast listeners easier. The beauty of this direct payment option is that creators will get the entirety of whatever their listeners send as tips and donations.

Here’s how to accept donations as a podcaster on Disctopia. Go to Settings from your Dashboard, click on Payments, and toggle the Accept Donations Button.

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Remember that if you can provide valuable content unavailable elsewhere, your audience will be ready to keep you in business.

2. Paid Subscription: Put Your Podcast Behind a Paywall

Putting your content behind a paywall is not a new concept. This is quite common even outside the podcasting industry. You’ll see closed Facebook, WhatsApp or Telegram groups. People are willing to pay for your ideas; if it’s worth it.

You are really to provide value for the subscription fee. This will be a recurring fee, and there cannot be a compromise on the value to be created. Every month, create more value than what they are paying as subscription fee.

This is quite easy if you are transitioning from other forms of content. You are bringing on an existing audience to your podcast show. We’ve also noticed that podcast listeners prefer paid podcasts as they are ad-free, one they can listen to without any unnecessary distraction.

Don’t forget that there are many free podcasts around, and your podcast must beat these free podcasts hands down.

3. Sell Branded Merch

After you’ve mastered the art of starting a free podcast, one way to make your first $500 is by selling your podcast merchandise. Once your podcast listeners love your show, they will be ready to buy your merchandise and rock your brand colours.

You can sell either physical merchandise or services. For physical merchandise, you can list merchandise such as mugs, caps, t-shirts, or mousepads. Disctopia allows creators to sell and receive payments for their merchandise via the platform.

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You can use merchandise services to help produce and deliver these items to your loyal fans. Your job is to direct people to your Disctopia page, where the merchandise is listed.

You can also offer services outside of physical merchandise, depending on your podcast topic. Let’s say you run a podcast show about digital marketing; you can offer a service on Ads Management, Social Media Marketing, or any services that will add value to your audience.

4. Earn Revenue Via Affiliate Marketing

One way you can also make money via podcasting is via affiliate marketing. You can join an affiliate program right from day one of starting your podcast free. The affiliate will provide you with a code that you’ll provide your podcast listeners.

Anytime a purchase is made using that code, the affiliate is notified, and you get a cut from the sale. Affiliate marketing is not new; it has been tested severally in numerous industries with tremendous success.

Research affiliate programs that relate to your podcast topic and focus. Affiliate marketing payouts are not bad; you should be able to reach your first $500 in record time.

Don’t forget; that whatever affiliate product or service you’ll be promoting must align with the content of your podcast show.

5. Sponsorship

We’ll rather say local sponsorship as bluechip companies are rather interested in numbers rather than engagement. Walk into local businesses in your locality and convince them how your podcast show can add to their business.

Like we’ve said earlier, go with a sponsor whose product or service aligns with your podcast show. You need to be able to prove that their sponsorship will turn into conversion for them. There may be a need to identify deliverables.

Let them know that you have 500 engaged and loyal listeners rather than 10,000 casual listeners.

However, ensure that your podcast show is one that anyone would want to sponsor.


Final Thoughts On How to Start a Podcast and Make First $500

There’s indeed more than one way to make money podcasting. We believe that these five ways can earn you at least $100 each. You can either focus on one of these strategies or focus on all of these 5.

However, we want you to know that only a handful of podcasters make direct income from podcasting. You might need to pay out of pocket to run your podcast for a while, but you’ll surely make money podcasting by focusing on any of these five strategies from the onset.