Podcasting is continuing to trend as one of the hottest marketing opportunities for entrepreneurs and experts. Anyone who's anyone wants to be interviewed on a podcast - even the President. But unless a high-powered guest propels your podcast to millions of monthly plays, can podcasting really make you money?

As co-host of a fast-growing niche podcast - WTFFF?! 3D Printing Tips & Tools - I have personal experience with the podcasting trend. Conceived in April 2015, our podcast has grown to 25,000 plays per month in nine months. We are in the midst of taking on our first set of sponsors. More important than a little residual advertising income, podcasting has positioned our design firm to be the market's top agency creating 3d print consumer products. Is this success just a fluke of right place, right topic and right time, or have we tapped into a successful marketing technique that can transact into more than passive income?

Seth Greene, six-time author, Direct Response Marketing Magic podcast host and founder of one of the fastest growing privately held marketing firms in the US talked with me frankly about the realities, challenges and techniques of podcasting for market domination.

Metric and Monetization Misconceptions

Despite the poor analytics to ascertain the difference between downloads and actual plays, big and small sponsors are flocking to podcasting to advertise because there is such a high trust factor built with the host. Podcasting revenue is based on cost per mille (CPM) or cost per 1000 plays. So if you had 1000 plays per episode per month at $25 CPM then you stand to make $100 in sponsorship for the month on four episodes. Twenty episodes per month would net $500.

According to Seth, "only about 10% of podcasts are big enough for general ad sponsorship, typically needing to be in the realm of one million downloads or more per month to make significant income." However, niche podcasts like mine with very few competitors can command a premium and begin as early as 25,000 plays per month.

Cost Considerations & Tech Hurdles

Most entrepreneurs are comfortable using social media, writing or speaking, so most marketing methods are within the realm of basic skill sets. Podcasting requires a bit of tech capabilities or a budget to hire out. John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire reports that it cost him $10,000 in startup costs mostly in equipment and tech set-up. My experience was similar coming in at $8,750.

Tech costs are only the tip of the iceberg. John Lee Dumas spent about $3500 per month or $175 per episode in his first year in editing, transcription, graphics and apps. My operations run slightly higher at $3,950 per month or $198 per episode. Keep in mind that the cost of my time is not included in these calculations only actual out-of-pocket costs. My co-host and I spend about 8 hours per week on our podcast. Multiply that times your billable hourly rate and consider it your monthly marketing costs of a podcast.

Who to Talk to and What to Talk About

According to Seth, the hottest strategy for using a podcast for marketing domination purposes is to choose your guests wisely. Imagine how many closed doors open when you ask your dream clients to be your guest. Then ask all the smart questions and follow up with helpful tips and resources. Make your position as host a way to do the following:

  • Shorten the sales cycle by educating your future customers
  • Build a personal brand - like a coach, mentor or consultant and need to foster a know, like and trust relationship
  • Grow a following in emerging or high-growth market (like 3D Printing)
  • Get through gatekeepers to that dream client - remember it's trendy to be a guest on a podcast right now