How Many Podcast Episodes You Need to Publish to Make Money? #1


Improve Podcast School – episode 1

There is a significant correlation between podcasting success and the number of published episodes. 

74% of higher-income podcasters have published more than 100 episodes. Out of lower-income podcasters, only 10% have published over 100 episodes. So successful podcasters are over 7 times more likely to have published over 100 episodes.

And getting there is more complicated than it sounds.

Publishing 100 episodes is a significant achievement in a podcasting journey for everyone who dreams about making money from their show.

So it is easy, right? So let’s just start publishing, and the success will be ours.

Well, not exactly, knowing what to say, how to say it, and who is your target listener is crucial. Many answers to those questions will get refined as you create new episodes, and the initial assumptions you have started with will have to be verified.

But starting a brand new show knowing that you need to reach the 100th episode milestone has significant implications.

It brings a promise of hope, an achievable, and measurable goal you can strive to accomplish. All of it is mixed with a bit of fear of all the hard work that will be required.

Reaching 100 episodes is what we call the 1st Breakthrough Milestone that brings you closer to financial success with your show.

This should shape your mindset when you go into podcasting.

Knowing what you need to accomplish needs to be motivating and inspiring.

But also serve as a warning for those who hope for a quick success and an easy opportunity.

5 ways to look at this Breakthrough Milestone that will help you take full advantage of it.

1. Podcasting is a type of online small business

On average, it takes 2 to 3 years for a podcast to be profitable, just like most small businesses.

There are many similarities.

A traditional small business requires a high starting cost and a monthly operational cost.

You need a location, equipment, stock up on the inventory, pay your staff, etc. Running a small business with a physical location burns cash. But what you get in return is visibility – you have a location, hopefully, placed where people walk by so they can easily stumble upon your business.

With podcasting, you invest mainly by putting in the time.

A few hundred dollars can get you a long way in terms of high-quality equipment and software required to record and produce the show.

You don’t have monthly costs, except a few dollars required for podcast hosting, but you also don’t get the visibility. It is a known problem that new shows struggle with being discovered, but it is a topic for a separate discussion.

Getting back to the business part.

A traditional small business, a restaurant, for example, can earn money from day 1 when they open the doors for business.

Podcasting needs time and building an audience before you start monetizing.

100 clients a week for a small business could be a decent place to start, especially as you need to cover the monthly recurring costs and cover the initial setup costs. For a podcast, this won’t bring any significant revenue.

But in both cases, there is the same logic and discipline that requires patience and dedication.

There is also a factor of risk and uncertainty that comes with running any business.

You will need to find a way to mitigate that risk for your podcast.

One way to do it leads us to the second point.

2. You need 100 episodes to refine your style & business model.

Scripting, recording, editing, and publishing 100 episodes will give you enough time to refine your business model.

That is a lot of work to create high-quality 100 episodes. An important thing to say here is that your first episodes will probably not be the best, especially as you start comparing them, with the later episodes you have produced.

Doing it the right way is not easy, and it requires time for improvement.

It is a lot of work that will be time-consuming.

Dan Franks, founder and president of Podcast Movement, had this to say:

While “slow and steady wins the race” is not sexy or exciting when you’re first starting, it is something that clearly contributes to the long term success of a podcast.”

Dan Franks

And he is right.

Preparing and recording 100 episodes will give you time to get better.

Don’t get discouraged by it. Rather think of an activity that you are particularly good at – it probably took years to get you there.

You couldn’t have gotten better without that time and experience.

And working on your show gives you a lot of time to also refine your podcasting business model.

You will have time to find the right marketing channels and monetization channels.

Successful podcasts use on average 3.6 marketing channels and 2.5 monetization channels. Something we are going to talk about in detail in future episodes. So make sure you are following the show.

During the production of your first 10 to 20 episodes, it is best to focus on the production cycle.

Get your process of scripting, recording, editing, and publishing, a bit automatic. 

Then you can start strategically adding marketing and monetization channels on a path transforming your podcast into a business.

But how to start and ensure success?

3. Start your podcast by breaking it into manageable segments.

Starting a podcast with the prospect of releasing episodes for 2 years can be overwhelming. 

That sounds overwhelming. 

The task has to be broken down into manageable chunks, just like any New Year’s resolution.

Research shows that as many as 50 percent of adults in the United States make New Year’s resolutions.

Fewer than 10 percent actually keep them for more than a few months.

There are multiple reasons.

But, one of the biggest reasons is that most people set their end goal and don’t do anything about it.

Any big goal can be paralyzing and stop progress or delay a start.

If you want to avoid this, break your big goal into small steps.

A goal of publishing 50 or 100 episodes can overwhelm.

But a small goal of publishing 4 episodes a month or 1 a week is much easier to accomplish.

Not to mention the satisfaction you get when you know you have completed something.

In the next episode, we are going to talk about how to actually manage this big goal of publishing your 100 episodes.

But you need to have stepping stones. Something that seamlessly will allow you to get to 100 episodes but deliver satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment after each episode.

Just focus your mind on smaller goals like publishing 4 episodes per month. And make sure you reach this goal every month. 

You also need to have manageable ways to monetize your podcast.

4. You can monetize a show earlier if you can offer a product.

If you want to be monetizing podcasts quickly, you need to have a product ready before you launch. Or create one and release it soon after your podcast launches.

If you are motivated to make money podcasting as soon as possible, you need to have an idea how to do it.

And it might not even be a final product you will release or a dream product you want to offer.

But an initial offer helps a lot with early podcast monetization.

Data shows us that podcasters who monetize a show successfully before their 100th episode do it by selling their own services.

This is great news regardless of whether you already have a product or not.

If you already have a business and a product, you can create a podcast that will be both an educational tool for your listeners and a marketing tool for your business.

You can talk about the best use cases of your product, the latest developments in your field, discuss proper maintenance, give people tips on how your product can be used to save time or make them money – teach about all the benefits. Possibilities are endless.

You also improve trust with your existing client base and create more touchpoints with your brand. And more interactions with a brand are always good for business.

And if you are just starting a podcast, there are a lot of ways you can create simple products, that you can offer, to fuel your growth in the early days of your show.

This knowledge, that podcasters who monetize a show successfully before their 100th episode do it by selling their own services, is really a powerful tool you can use.

This also allows creators to monetize shows with smaller audiences below a few thousand listeners per episode when you are on your way to reaching that episode number 100.

And what happens after you have published 100 episodes?

5. After publishing 100 episodes, you have a good chance to get sponsors.

Podcasters who are making over $50,000 per year with their show, and have already published 100 episodes, point to sponsorships, and host read ads as their main source of income.

That has many implications.

That shows that publishing 100 episodes in most cases is enough to build a significantly large audience that will be attractive to advertisers.

By producing 100 high-quality episodes you can prove to your audience the value of your show, and this, in turn, creates value for advertisers.

Big, loyal groups of podcast listeners are in high demand to advertisers right now. 

It is reflected in advertising rates you can earn with your show.

Average CPM, meaning a rate you will earn for a 1.000 ad displays in any medium (blog, video, podcast) is much higher for podcasts.

CPM for publisher earning with Google display ads brings pennies, it is below $1 for 1.000 ads displayed. On YouTube, the average is better and jumps to $4 CPM, while the average CPM from Podcast Host-Read ads is $25.00

So publishing regularly, consistently, and delivering high quality over the course of releasing 100 episodes create a highly valuable audience.

Of course, this is not a rule. You could build your audience faster to become attractive for sponsors. But around that place, around episode number 100, it is a good idea to start looking for sponsors or a podcast network that will take you in and help you with monetization.

Summary

In summary, if you want to earn money with podcasting, you should expect that, in most cases, this will happen after you publish 100 episodes. To make it happen sooner, you need to have a product or service you can offer to your listeners and promote it on your show with relevant call-to-action.

About the Author

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.


Comments 2

  1. I’m not sure it is solely a function of episodes. If you have a daily podcast, you can hit 100 episodes in a little over 3 months. A weekly podcast will take about 2 years. A bi-weekly podcast will take 4 years.

    Word of mouth takes time, so while an episode count can be used as a proxy for time, it isn’t quite the same thing. 3 months of a daily podcast is still just 3 months,.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Gary,
      You are absolutely right, with a daily show you will hit 100 episodes, and a financial success will most likely not happen.
      However, this 100 episode breakthrough milestone comes out of this research data, where 74% of higher-income podcasters have published more than 100 episodes. For vast majority of them the weekly publishing cycle is the most popular release schedule.

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