How to Monetize a Podcast and Build an Audience

Uncategorized Jun 28, 2020

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John Lee Dumas is an amazing personal friend, known for his podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire and his website John is not only a prolific podcaster, he is also a true membership master inside his membership community, Podcasters’ Paradise. In it, he teaches aspiring podcasters how to start, build, grow, and monetize podcasts of their own.

What You'll Learn:

  • Memberships do have legs, you can give yourself a raise every day. (8:00

  • The ins and out of lifetime offers. (9:30

  • There are pros and cons to everything you do in life. (11:30)

  • How to turn ‘making a living into ‘making a fortune.' (14:45)

  • How to keep your finger on the pulse. (18:30)

  • All things website! (30:00


How to Monetize a Podcast Through Memberships

Ongoing Podcast Recording

Building a membership community is one of the best ways to earn income when running a podcast. In addition, it allows you to connect to your audience and even create a second family based on common values and interests. This podcast episode features John Lee Dumas of EOFire in which he discusses the power of podcast memberships.

John is not only a prolific podcaster but also a true membership master. He runs his podcast community called “Podcasters’ Paradise,” where he teaches aspiring podcasters the basics of podcasting and how to monetize a podcast. In this episode, he teaches how to build a community through membership and how to turn your audience into paying supporters.

How to Make Money Podcasting Through Membership Sites

In 2013, John was already successful with his podcast, but he believed something was missing. His audience was reaching out to him regarding their own podcasting issues, like how and where to start. His solution back then was to point them to different references, such as YouTube videos or other blog posts. 

Eventually, he realized that he had a lot of knowledge about these common problems himself, having already conducted 250 episodes at that time. An idea then came to him: instead of directing his audience to other sources, he could teach them how to make money podcasting. This is how the “Podcasters’ Paradise” was born, a show where John shares his tips on how to monetize a podcast through memberships.


Even though John already had followers during that time, he and his wife were a bit hesitant about starting. So, the first thing he did was to send an email to his audience informing them of their intent to start a community based on learning podcasting insights. The catch was—those who are interested must pay a membership fee.

If 20 individuals are willing to pay a $250 fee for a 45 day period, he would start the community. John enticed his subscribers by offering 50% off the total cost of the membership fee to the first 20 people who signed up. At the end of the day, John was surprised to receive 35 registrations in his email box. Their target number was surpassed, so this was a sign they needed to proceed.

Today, John’s podcast community already has 6,000 members and a revenue of over $5 million. His move shows us that it is important to first reach out to your audience before starting something labor and time-intensive, hence the necessity of the “pre-launch” test.

Moreover, when offering membership, you should be clear that you are requesting a fee. It’s easy to answer “yes” to a survey, but when a payment is involved, people may be hesitant and require more information before they proceed.

Pricing options

At first, John just wanted to launch the membership and figure out things from there. He thought that the community existed merely for templates, tutorials, or training facilitation. It wasn’t until  the couple’s fourth month when they sent the community a survey about their most favorite aspect of “Podcasters’ Paradise.” The options given were ‘Webinars’, ‘Videos’, ‘Templates,’ and ‘Others’, which John placed as the last option to allow people to manually input their specific answers. Poignantly enough, one member answered, “came for the tutorials, stayed for the community.” That’s when John realized the group should exist not only because of the value it received from the templates, tutorials, or training materials but because it provides its members with a sense of community.

With this new realization, John decided to make modifications to the members' payment methods. He gave the community the option to either pay a fee for 12 months and then receive lifetime access to the community or pay a one time fee upfront and automatically receive a lifetime access from day one.

Lifetime offers

Today, their membership fee costs $97 per month and $997 per year. Needless to say, those who opt for the annual rate save more money than those who choose to pay monthly. The annual rate also comes with bonus perks and other advantages.

Offering lifetime memberships will surely open the opportunity for a podcast creator to earn more. Plus, the move builds a core membership within the podcast community. In his own experience building the “Podcasters’ Paradise” community, John understood that those who pay for the annual membership are the same individuals who were committed to the community from day one. That is why he offers bonuses to annual subscribers, such as a 15-minute strategy discussion with John himself, as well as a professional intro and outro worth $600 for members’ own podcasts. However, John clarifies that members paying monthly are equally valuable and appreciated. 

John adds that instead of worrying about how to make a sale, a podcaster should focus on getting creative about how he or she is able to help members get their money’s worth.

Ascension model

Implementation of this model means you’re willing to take your members to a more personal level. Here, lessons are of more value compared to what subscribers get from the community’s online page, emails, webinars, etc. This also comes at a higher price.

John uses the ascension model in his traditional business. He calls it “A Day with JLD.” Customers pay $10,000 just to have a sit-down conversation with John himself for 12 hours. And, he makes this special only available to members of the “Podcasters’ Paradise.” 

He also runs the Puerto-Palooza entrepreneur group in Puerto Rico. The membership rate is $7,500 per person for a three-day audience with John, which involves discussions about business and other related topics.


Don’t forget to engage with your audience. John’s advice is that your presence should be felt in your podcast community. Don’t be afraid to ask and answer questions. Communicate with your listeners. All these insights will provide you with the right understanding of what your next step should be in handling the community.

John constantly uses email as a platform to communicate with his members. He also facilitates events to meet with his “Podcasters’ Paradise” family. Because his podcast community already has thousands of members, he usually breaks them up into groups for these events. 

The problem with large events is that not everyone may get a chance to be heard. In small groups, on the other hand, everyone is able to share insights. This not only allows members to connect to each other, but it also gives them a more personalized time with John (even if they aren’t able to talk to him directly).

When it comes down to it, it shouldn’t be about you. Ultimately, it should be about the community and connection that you create.


John set up a website to invite aspiring podcasters to join his webinars. Back then, his stream of thinking was that it’s more likely that people will join his community if they have already attended his podcast masterclasses. These recorded podcast masterclasses serve as a warm-up or an introduction to the people about John, his brand, and what he does. Furthermore, when people click on a masterclass, their emails end up registered on the “Podcasters’ Paradise” email sequence. Course sales or membership sites? John didn’t need to choose between these two, because his strategy made him win both!

Another advertising method that John used on his website is adding a 30-day money-back guarantee. This makes people more confident about signing up. In fact, at least 94% of his site visitors sign up because of this option.

Also, there are only a few testimonials on John’s website. Referring to an advertising study, he says that when people are offered many options, they could end up choosing none. When offered with fewer options, on the other hand, they can easily make a choice. With fewer testimonials, you can ensure that people will actually read them, compared to having an overwhelming amount that can put readers off right away.

How Much Money Do Podcasts Make Every Year?

Studio Microphone

Approximately 150 million people listen to podcasts every month. And, this statistic is for the US alone. With such a big number of listeners, it’s not surprising that the podcast industry has grown so fast.

Do podcasts make much money? To be honest, some podcasters aren’t able to earn much. Some even have a negative cash flow, as they invest in equipment too early or pay hosting fees even though they haven’t earned anything yet. 

To avoid this unfavorable scenario, you have to be creative and smart. According to John, you first have to create amazing content that your audience will enjoy listening to. Then, they will follow you and even recommend you to other people. This is where your chances of growth and monetization of your podcast can begin.

Let’s take a look at some scenarios to give you an idea of how much money podcasts make and to help you learn how to monetize a podcast.  

1st Scenario: 1,000 Downloads Per Episode

1,000 downloads per episode actually looks like a big number. But in reality, it’s just the equivalent of average success in this industry. The good thing is, having 1,000 downloads per episode means that your audience already considers your content to be valuable. Research even shows that some advertisers are willing to pay a podcast $25 to $40 for every 1,000 listeners. Not bad! However, if you’re looking at podcasting as a full-time job, this will not be enough. To increase your podcast’s revenue, here’s what you can do:

Build a membership site

One of John’s revenue streams is the membership community that he built. He uses that platform to help people learn how to begin, grow, and monetize a podcast. He started the membership to help struggling podcasters with their concerns. He first presented the concept to his listeners, asked them money to pay for the concept, and then he launched it.

Building a podcast membership community can give you a steady stream of income through the recurring fees your members pay. However, you have to make sure that they are paying their money’s worth. As John recommends, your members should receive exclusive access to courses, tutorials, and other important information. Also, you should allow your members to get acquainted with each other. This provides a sense of community and greater comradery. This is how “Podcasters’ Paradise” grew to over 6,000 members.

Join Amazon affiliate sales

Amazon affiliate sales allow you to share links of products on your podcasts’ content. When people click on these links and buy an item, you get a percentage of the sale’s revenue. Just advertising a product available from Amazon and inserting a custom affiliate link on your episode’s show notes helps your listeners get a better idea about the products. You are guaranteed to earn a commission or “finder’s fee” within 24 hours of them clicking on the links provided.

Encourage listener donations

Some podcasters turn to their audience to fund their podcast, so you can do it too! You can easily set up a GoFundMe, Kickstarter, or a Patreon account to initiate crowdfunding. To thank donors, you can offer bonuses or exclusive content in return. Even if only 2% of your listeners decide to donate, the total amount could still be more than you expect.

2nd Scenario: 5,000 Downloads Per Episode

5,000 downloads per episode mean that your audience has grown significantly. Achieving this number is akin to getting a steady stream of part-time income. To grow your podcast faster, continue doing the aforementioned monetization strategies and apply these additional revenue streams:


This is the perfect time to look for podcast sponsors. At this point, your listeners already understand that you will need ads to sustain your podcast. So, this will not turn them off. 

Moreover, you should already have quality content that can attract sponsors. If they’re happy with your content, then there’s a chance that they will continually sponsor your podcast and use it for advertising purposes.

Sponsors usually pay per 1,000 downloads. Their ads can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of your podcast episodes. 

To find potential sponsors, try to listen to podcasts with a similar genre as yours and try to find out who their sponsors are. Of course, you can also search online for companies that are advertising to your target audience.

Online courses

Hosting online courses is also a good way to earn more profit. Not only that, but it also serves as a channel to give back to your podcast community. How? By sharing your knowledge with your listeners. Sure, your podcast episodes already do that, but online courses go deeper into a specific topic.

You can start by identifying the topics of your top podcast episodes. From there, you can write a process and discuss with your team how you’ll be able to expand on that topic. Launch your online course on your website and wait for your audience to sign up. Don’t forget to show how this will be beneficial to them!

3rd Scenario: 10,000 and More Downloads Per Episode

10,000 or more downloads per episode already mean that you’ve built an enormous network of loyal listeners. These people love your podcast. Also, this number of downloads is an indication that you’ve earned a name in your industry. At this stage of your podcast’s evolution, you can use the following strategies to further your podcast build and monetize your business:

Partner affiliate programs

Since you are already considered a big name in the industry, you can now proceed with advertising brands you believe in. Some companies offer affiliate programs for their products or services, and the rates can range between 25% to 50% of the sales you create.

Take a look at your favorite brands. Research if they have an affiliate program. Negotiate, and if you manage to secure a partnership, you can begin to promote what the partner offers on your shows.

Speaking engagements

All that time spent in front of the microphone surely has given you an edge when it comes to speaking. So, don’t put your hard-earned skill to waste. At first, you may offer your services for free just to get enough experience speaking to a live audience or establishing a network. But, as you grow into a renowned speaker, you’ll eventually be able to put a fair price on your speaking engagements.


Most people are willing to pay an expert just to learn a certain subject, rather than learning it by themselves. You can be this expert who can share knowledge with others.

Consulting is more hands-on than online courses. You work closely with a client and help them come up with a solution to a particular problem. If your total number of listeners is at 10,000, there must be a reason behind this. Most likely, your listeners find your content valuable. You’ll be surprised that some of them are even willing to pay you consistently just to receive advice from you.


John also cites the use of ascension models in his business, as listeners trust him and rely on what he knows. 

In this method, a member can consult you regarding his business concerns. But unlike consulting services that only last for a few minutes or hours, ascension can last for a whole day. John even dedicates three days to one of his ascension programs.

Ascension-based opportunities not only allow you to earn more, but they also give you a chance to impart knowledge, strategies, and even secrets to what it takes to be successful to a select few individuals. It can be a way to give back to your members.

As you can see, there’s no specific answer as to how much money podcasts make. When starting, you’ll start out with none or very little compensation. But if you work hard and continue to improve your content, then there’s a high chance that podcasting can become a lucrative career for you.

Start Podcast Building and Monetize Your Business Online

Man Doing an Audio Recording

Having a podcast allows listeners to connect to you in a deeper way and interact with their fellow members. It also allows them to get instant access to customized tools and knowledge. Without a doubt, podcast building and monetization is a good way to make more money and build a personal brand in your industry.

It may be difficult to start a podcast membership community, especially if you're just starting out in this type of business. But, there’s no need to worry. John is here to guide you every step of the way. He offers a free podcast course and a podcast masterclass that can help you on your journey. Ready to learn how to monetize your and create your first podcast? He’s your guy!


Create Your First Podcast



Can you make money with a podcast?

Yes, but it takes hard work. People will not listen to a podcast with useless content. Therefore, you must have the driving force to constantly improve your content. In the long run, this can profit you financially and provide an opportunity to cultivate relationships with different people.

You should also work on your presentation, delivery, and performance. Your content may be great, but if people are bored listening to you, then they’ll probably just ditch your show. 

Lastly, don’t forget to interact with your audience. Make them feel involved. This will get them to trust you and support your podcast!

How can you make money podcasting? Here are some of the common ways:

  • Memberships
  • Affiliate programs
  • Sponsorships
  • Courses
  • Crowdfunding and donations
  • Coaching and consulting
  • Services
  • Events
  • Merchandising
  • Books
  • Public speaking
  • Premium content

How much money can you make from a podcast?

This depends on the number of downloads per podcast episode. Podcasting can be profitable enough to replace your full-time job if your podcast is getting  at least 10,000 and more downloads per episode. If it averages 5,000 downloads per episode, this equates to a part-time job salary. This means that the higher the number of downloads per episode, the higher the chance that you can make more money.

What is the most profitable podcast?

Through the years, there have been several names that made it big in the podcasting industry. Check out this list of some of the top-earning podcasters.

The Joe Rogan Experience

 A known American actor, comedian, television host, sports commentator, and martial artist rolled into one—that is who Joe Rogan is. Today, he is also known as an established podcaster who earns $800,000 per episode. Joe produces three episodes per week, which earns the show $9.6 million per month. He also has an active YouTube channel, which generates a revenue of $16,500 to $264,000 per month. His podcasts don’t have a specific topic. He sometimes discusses science, sports, or comedy, and invites guests to come over to have in-depth conversations. Some of his most popular guests include Mike Tyson, Russell Brand, and Elon Musk.

Chapo Trap House

This political podcast is hosted by Amber A'Lee Frost, Felix Biederman, Matt Christman, Virgil Texas, and Will Menaker. They identify with left-wing politics and make extremist statements, so this can open your political side when you listen to them. They’re the 2nd most popular podcast according to Patreon’s website. Currently, they have 35,341 patrons and earn at least $158,431 per month. Moreover, their podcast download number ranges from over 150,000 to 200,000 per episode.

Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income

If you dream of starting up your own business, this is the podcast for you. Pat and his team are dedicated to providing an open community for aspiring and established online entrepreneurs. Pat currently manages two podcasts: “The SPI Podcast with Pat Flynn” and “AskPat 2.0”. Although one of them doesn’t sell ads, their combined earnings amount to $100,000 per month. Wondering about their strategy on how to monetize a podcast? They said that their earnings mostly come from affiliate marketing opportunities.

Last Podcast On The Left

Fan of dark subjects like conspiracy theories, serial killers, ghosts, Creepypasta legends, or UFO sightings? This podcast won’t disappoint you. The Last Podcast On The Left is hosted by Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks. They have an average of 2.5 million listeners a month. They are also included in the list of Top Patreon Podcasts with 12,591 patrons and earnings of $66,352 per month.

The H3 Podcast

Hosted by the married couple, Ethan Edward and Hila Klein, you are in for a fun time when you listen to this podcast. Their content is mostly focused on sketch comedy. They also have a YouTube channel wherein they do reaction videos. Their podcast earns $100,000 per episode from different advertising streams.

The Ringer

This podcast is known for discussing sports and pop culture. In fact, it offers a variety of podcasts under one roof, including The Bill Simmons Podcast, The Dave Chang Show, and The Press Box. You’ll never miss the latest happenings with all of their podcasts. The Ringer has earned over $15 million in 2018 through podcast advertising opportunities.

Does Spotify pay you for podcasts?

Cellphone with opened Spotify app

In 2019, Daniel Ek (founder and CEO of Spotify) announced his plans for podcasting. He said that he sees full potential in this business. This led to his decision to buy two huge podcasting companies, Gimlet and Anchor. Together with these companies, their goal is to become the leading platform for podcast creators and be the top podcast producer in the world.

With this, their management is dedicated to offering better discovery, data, and monetization for podcast creators. So yes, Spotify does pay podcasters! 
Spotify is reported to have plans of using Streaming Ad Insertion as an advertising and monetization strategy for podcasters. Also, it uses a recommendation algorithm called “Your Daily Podcast playlist” where it suggests different podcasts to its audience based on what it streams or who it follows. This gives podcasters more exposure.

About Spotify

Spotify is a music streaming platform and a media service provider. It is accessible to over 75 countries. The latest statistics show that they have 286 million monthly active users, 130 million of whom are premium subscribers.

As of writing, the said platform has over 700,000 podcast titles available. The most listened podcasts here are “Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal”, “My Favourite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark”, and “Gemischtes Hack”. Also, the favorite genre of the Spotify audience is comedy. 

Podcasts can be a great way to earn money. However, you must be willing to start from the bottom and continue to work your way up by constantly improving your content. There is no universal answer as to how much money do podcasts make. But if you really want to make it big in the industry, the aim is for your show to have at least 5,000 and up downloads per episode. You can try signing up on platforms, such as Spotify, to help you launch a podcast channel.

Grow Your Podcast with Expertise!

Are you a podcaster overwhelmed with the whole process or are you simply having trouble monetizing a podcast? Achieving success in this industry begins by taking your first stepand that is seeking the help of John Lee Dumas, the creator of EOFire. John is a successful podcaster who has published more than 2,500 episodes helping people succeed at the trade. His podcast has more than 80 million downloads from listeners in over 145 countries as of February 2020. Who else could you trust when it comes to learning the ropes of podcasting? Let John help you on your journey to success.

Take action on pursuing your goals and learn how to successfully grow your podcast!


Create Your First Podcast


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