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Can A Podcast Be A Business? Five Tips For Getting Started

Yes! You can absolutely consider a podcast as a form of business, even making it your primary source of income after some hard work and commitment.

It’s not exactly as easy as buying a microphone and letting rip with your thoughts, though – it’s quite an art form.

Originally referred to as audioblogging, the notion of the podcast began in the 1980s and has seen record highs in the last decade, with over half a million in production today. 

Clearly, there is an audience out there wanting to listen – you just have to find your niche.

It’s not all about being popular, though: your actual revenue comes from advertisements, which means you need to find partners… unless you’d prefer to go down the Patreon route?

As you can see, there’s quite a lot to learn, so today, we’re here with the first five things you need to do to get started. 

Remember that we can’t give you all of the information – you need to conduct more research in your own time to stand the biggest chance of success. 

Planning the Podcast – Establish Your Target Market

Like we said above, one of the biggest keys to success is figuring out a niche – this is the specific interest or audience your podcast is going to cater to.

Once you’ve established this, it’s time to plan everything out. Consider making a mind map so that you can answer the following questions and brainstorm your thoughts:

How much is it going to cost you to set this up?

At the very least, you’re going to need a decent portable microphone – we advise you to go for an XLR which will run you between $99 and $500 depending on the model. Then it’s time to think about software, obtainable for free at a basic level; the most expensive programs are as costly as $300.

You’ll also need a laptop or a PC for editing and uploading – you’re looking at about five hundred bucks to get started without one, and around a thousand if you need to invest in the tech, too.

Who is your audience – will you charge them to listen?

Let your imagination run wild – your podcast can be about anything! It’s important to remember that you need an audience, so try and make it about something that listeners will be interested in.

Depending on your intentions, you might want to use a platform that allows you to charge your listeners, like Patreon, to host all of your content.

Others may prefer to provide their episodes for free through apps like Spotify or Apple Music, perhaps choosing to offer premium content and bonus episodes via a paying platform too.

To be a successful business, you need to make money somehow – whether charging directly, using advertisements, seeking out sponsors, or selling merch.

Copyright Your Concept

Okay, now you’ve figured out your niche, it’s time to name your business and then copyright it before someone else can! Choosing the right name is difficult and shouldn’t be rushed – you should check in several places for existing businesses or copyrights under the same name in the following places before you attempt to register:

  • State and federal trademarks, as well as your state’s records of businesses
  • All social media platforms – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, etc
  • The availability of a suitable website domain name

Once that’s done, you need to create a legal entity, which basically means registering yourself as a corporation,  limited liability company, sole proprietorship, or partnership. By doing so, you won’t be held personally responsible and therefore legally liable if your podcast business is served with papers!

After this, you should get any permits or licenses that your state or local area requires businesses to have.

Prepare For Taxes – Open A Business Account

First things first, you need to open up a bank account specifically for your business; failure to do so means all of your personal assets, including your home, any vehicles, or other cash and valuables, could be up for grabs should you as a business get sued.

Keep those assets separate and ensure your tax filing process is way easier than it would be otherwise! Speaking of…

All of the above out of the way; you need to register to pay several taxes, both state and federal before you can officially proceed with making money. This involves applying for an EIN or Employee Identification Number if you don’t already have one. You can do this for free via the IRS website!

Last but not least, you should establish your accounts books or hire an accountant to keep books for you – these need to be as accurate and detailed as possible and help you stay sane come tax-filing time. 

Insure Your Business

Once you’ve registered yourself, it’s time to make sure you’re properly insured to make sure you’re running the business in accordance with the law. You’ll also be protected should there be a loss of finances outside of your control, which, as we saw in 2020, is more likely than you’d think!

There are various plans to choose between, depending on the nature of your business – here is a guide to help you make up your mind on which policy is for you.

Create Branding – Begin Social Media Presence

Branding is the way to attract audience attention and push you into the limelight – unless you have design experience, we highly recommend you seek the assistance of a freelance artist to help you out with a logo, website design, and any social media you’re planning to use.

Then it’s time to promote across a variety of platforms as much as you can, potentially paying for ad space, until you’re ready to launch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do podcasts make money? 

Yes, podcasts do make money! This can be achieved in several ways, the most common of these being by gaining sponsorships from companies, which you’ll then promote in the ad section of your podcast.

The amount of money sponsors are willing to pay is dependent on how much reach you have, usually determined by the number of monthly listeners or current download rate for your episodes overall. 

You might also prefer to go down the direct support route, which means using platforms like Patreon to ask your listeners for a subscription fee to access your content.

Provided that you have a decent enough niche, there’s going to be people willing to spend a few dollars to listen to what you have to say, as long as you’re delivering it interestingly enough!

Try to explain concisely why it is you deserve their money and what they get in exchange!

How do Anchor podcasts make money? 

By charging your listeners sponsorships! As a platform, Anchor is free to use, so that’s one way you can at least save some cash! It’s possible to monetize your podcast when hosted via Anchor – you need to activate Sponsorships.

You can do this in the Money section of the Anchor app or website and via the settings section of your account; then, it’s about waiting to receive an offer for an ad from sponsors, which you can only do by accruing listeners and becoming successful! Branding, niche, social media – it’s all about them!

As advised in their FAQs, “the sooner you record for a new sponsor, the more time you’ll have with their campaign” – many expire after a certain date. You don’t have to accept an offer of advertisement if you don’t want to – respond “Not interested,” and Anchor will match you with a new sponsor.

How do Spotify podcasts make money?

Ads and sponsors! Once you’re signed up with Spotify for Podcasters and have begun to upload your content, it’s all about accruing those, plus support from your listeners. Again, you can do this in different ways!

You could ask your audience to support you via Paypal, Patreon, Ko-Fi, or another online tool for accepting donations – whichever is your preferred way to receive them. Remember to make a note of everything for tax purposes.

Advertisers can be found via Spotify’s partner program, Anchor, and a variety of different advertising networks online and in person. Google it and dive in!

If you have enough of an audience, you could also personally reach out to companies you believe would benefit from advertising to your niche and ask them to advertise with you. Until you’re hitting listener stats in the thousands, it’s unlikely you’ll be reached out to by them, unfortunately.

Does Spotify pay you for podcasts?

No, Spotify most likely won’t pay you for your podcast. Whilst they have certainly spent millions of dollars to secure the rights to the podcasts of such celebrities as Amy Schumer and Joe Rogan, it’s unlikely yours will be considered a hot commodity like that. At least, not right away!

Put it this way – even artists streaming their music via Spotify don’t make that much money, netting literally between $0.0006 to $0.0084 per stream, which is nothing unless you have monthly listeners in the millions!

That being said, you do, however, get access to a lot of analytics and data regarding your podcast, allowing you access to insights that let you see where you’re having success and whether your audience is growing at the desired rate or not.

You aren’t using Spotify as a platform to be paid, but rather for all of that valuable information!

Does Apple pay for podcasts?

No, Apple does not pay podcasters to use their software for hosting. It’s also not possible for you to charge users for listening via Apple Music or to download an episode, for instance.

There are no opportunities for paid subscriptions either – pretty much similar to Spotify, you can only see your analytics, but it is free to host your episodes there.

However, the information that Apple provides is nowhere near as thorough and useful as other platforms; for instance, vital stats like the number of listeners and how long said listener actually played the episode for (including whether they finished it or not) are completely missing.

That said, the Podcast and Itunes charts can be a lucrative way to success – by accruing a broad enough audience, you can reach the top of said charts and hit a reach of millions just by climbing the charts!