How Carrie Monetized Her Podcast in Month ONE



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6 minute read

Making money from a podcast is reserved for those with like, 1,500,000 downloads a month right? NO. NOT IN THE LEAST. In part 2 of this “how to start a killer podcast” series, I’m joined by Carrie from the Hippocratic Hustle podcast to talk all things starting and EARLY monetization!

In the FIRST 2 months of the Do You Even Blog podcast, here are the stats:

  • Downloads = 1,200
  • Expenses = $170 (hosting and mic)
  • Revenue = $150
podcast monetization month one
Made $50 in month 1, $100 in month 2

Is this John Lee Dumas or Joe Rogan money?

Of course not–But it’s something, and it almost paid for a YEAR’S worth of podcast hosting and a nice USB mic. (this one)

Not only is it POSSIBLE to monetize a podcast from the very beginning, I’ve personally found it much easier than monetizing a blog. This post is going to show you how.

Carrie’s story was similar:

  • Downloads = 300 in month 1
  • Revenue = $75 per episode

That’s crazy. Let’s dig in.


Also, I have 2 really relevant YouTube videos for blog monetization and sponsorships!

Listen to my episode with Carrie from the Hippocratic Hustle podcast

or listen on Apple Podcasts \\ Google Podcasts

So why is it relatively easy to make money from podcasting *so early?*

A few reasons:

1 – More and more people “understand” what it entails.

When you pitch folks for blog or YouTube sponsorships–it’s not mainstream enough yet to really be understood.

But anybody that listens to podcasts (50% of Americans) know that sponsorships are how podcasts are monetized. 95% of popular podcasts have live-reads.

FAQ: What on Earth is a “live read?”

It’s taken from radio, but really just means “you read the advertisement out loud, live on the air.”

It’s not really “live” for most podcasts, but it just means an audio advertisement.

2 – You can start small.

We’ll talk more about this in a minute, but it’s obviously easier to land a $50 sponsorship than it is a $500 sponsorship. (or is it? More in a sec).

3 – Audio is superior to text when it comes to authority and brand-building.

When you read “I fully recommend Freshbooks” on my blog post, that could even be copy/pasted from some Freshbooks partnership manager.

But when you hear my voice whispering in your ear while you’re washing dishes in your underwear–telling you how awesome Freshbooks is–it’s a different experience.

Sincerity and authenticity shine through in audio. It’s a podcaster’s weapon.

Here’s Why You Should FORGET the Industry Standard CPM Monetization Models

Have you seen guidelines like this?

podcast CPM guidelines
Um no. We’re not Art of Charm.

Let me share how I really feel:

Feel free to use CPM models when you reach 10M downloads a month. Until then, these models are stupid and limiting, and can EASILY be overcome with a bit of creativity and hustle.

Carrie got $75 an episode.

Per these “standards,” that would mean she’d require roughly 3,000 downloads an episode.

She had 300/month.

Here’s Exactly How to Monetize a Podcast From Day One.

Step 1 – List out all the different ways you can add value.

Remember what we said about live reads?

It’s the obvious benefit people pay for, but ask yourself this:

What do live reads really offer sponsors?

People listen to podcasts while they’re

  • driving
  • cleaning the house
  • sexing?

Never, in the history of podcast sponsorships has anybody dropped what they’re doing to rush to a laptop and check out a sponsor. That’s why we MUST offer more than just live-reads!


If you’re looking to make money in month one, with small download stats, you’re going to need to list out more ways to add value.

podcast sponsorship pitch
Part of my old pitch template

The full template is available below by the way.

So step 1? List out all the ways you can add value!

Even if you don’t have tons of downloads, traffic, Twitter followers, etc–it can add up.

  • Email newsletter mentions
  • Social media shares
  • Live-reads for one or several episodes
  • An add in your blog sidebar
  • Wear their t-shirt every day for a month.
  • etc

Get creative and find ways to add value top every sponsorship. Blow them away.

Make it a no-brainer.

Related: Don’t forget to check out my MEGA guide to monetization here!

Step 2 – Find a very specific person/brand you can add value to.

So you’ve got a few ways you can help a brand–but what brand?

The next step in the process is to investigate your audience, and your authority/expertise, and then create a small list of targeted sponsor prospects.

The goal?

To be able to show a sponsor how your podcast topic and target listeners can benefit THEIR brand.

What do I mean by “brand?” What type of entities routinely sponsor podcasts?

Brands = businesses.

This could be anything from Fortune 100 companies to tech startups to small local businesses to other bloggers–as long as they have one small trait: They want to grow their business and are willing to invest some amount of cash to do so.

The people you target MUST have that trait.

So where should you start? Who should you target first?

Freshbooks? No.

Small businesses, fresh startups, or bloggers.

Find other bloggers who…

  • want to grow (hey, that’s everybody!)
  • can benefit from YOUR audience
  • are willing to experiment and drop cash

When Carrie started her podcast (geared towards women physicians), she booked a “friend of a friend” who was directly interested in her niche.

When I started the DYEB podcast, most of my audience was personal finance bloggers (carried over from my previous blog), so who did I target?

Non-newbie PF bloggers on the Rockstar Finance Forums (sorry J$).

rockstar finance forums
Where I pitched my first few sponsorships

Speaking of month 1 sponsorships…

How Much Should You Charge for Podcast Sponsorships?

It depends on one thing: your ability to add unique value.

Note: I did NOT say “how many downloads you have.”

This can make it difficult to land on a fee, but I’ve put together a baseline below. These are all based assuming you provide multiple services in addition to just a live-read!

Baseline for a podcaster in months 0-6 = $50 per episode

Do you have an existing audience before launching? = Add $50-100 per episode

Are you really good at pitching people? Be honest. = Add $25

Is your sponsor’s niche competitive? = Add $25

Are you alive? = Add $25

Example 1 = Brand new podcaster w/ no existing audience in a standard niche (travel, personal finance, blogging). $50-75 an episode.

Example 2 = Podcaster in month 4 w/ 100-300 downloads per episode and an email list of 150 people. $75-100 an episode

Example 3 = Podcaster in month 9 w/ 300-500 downloads per episode and an email list of 500 people who are LOYAL. $125-150 an episode.

Example 4 = Podcaster in month 12 w/ 700-1,000 downloads per episode and an email list of 1,200 people who are LOYAL (Hey that’s me!). $200-300 an episode.

FORGET CPM models. Add more value than live reads.

Charge what your worth, then add $25 πŸ˜‰

Step 3 – Customize & Craft the Pitch.

First, you need to realize something:

You will get rejected. Plan on it. Embrace it. WELCOME IT.

I pitched about 10 people in my first 2 months, converted 2 of them to sponsors, and the 8 others to friends πŸ™‚

Huge Important Bold Text: Your primary goal when pitching people for anything is to build a relationship. The actual sponsor/deal is of secondary importance. Friendships are 10x more valuable in the long-term.

That said, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts of landing sponsors via a cold/warm pitch:

1 – DO keep it short and sweet and to the point.

Nobody likes their time wasted. If the email takes longer than 8 seconds to read, it’s too long.

2 – DO ask permission to pitch them first.

This is adapted from Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, but asking permission to pitch brings several advantages, such as

  • it’s polite and unexpected.
  • it all but guarantees they’ll open the actual pitch email
  • it gives them an easy “out” if they know they don’t want it
  • it’s respectful

An example would be:

“Hey Freshbooks marketing person!

Straight to the point–I run the Do You Even Blog podcast, and I have a pitch I’d love to run by you.

Cool to send it along? It’ll only take 37 seconds and would make Freshbooks money for sure πŸ™‚


3 – DO be completely honest about your podcast stats

Valuable relationships are built on trust.

4 – DON’T send 6 follow-ups

Send 1 follow-up. Maybe 2, if spread out over enough time (a month or so).

5 – DON’T be clever.

There’s a fine line here somewhere, but if you want people to take you seriously, don’t do this:


Have a personality, but be a professional.

make money podcasting
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