If I had $1 for every time I’ve received an email like this:
“David, how do I make money from my blog/web show/podcast?”
“Hey David, how do I get sponsors? Is that the right way I should monetize?”
I would have, um, numerous $1 bills sitting around.
While I would be surprised if I received a bunch of emails about where I get my haircut, these questions don’t surprise me at all because they are freakin’ important and there isn’t a ton of information out there about it, other than fluffy theory.
Making money is important. And unless your blog/web show/podcast is a hobby (nothing wrong with that…but I have a feeling yours isn’t), making money from something you love just plain rocks.
And there are plenty of ways to do it. This doesn’t mean it is easy, but there are numerous ways to make the bling bling. The key, I believe, is seeing what resonates with you.
So, I went back into the archives of The Rise To The Top and compiled a variety of business models from guests (and myself). If you are like me, I bet you like learning from actual examples of people walking the walk.
What is it all about? Funny cartoons. Period. Trust me, it is flippin’ funny.
How Matt Monetizes:
Directly: His biggest sellers are merchandise. His biggest seller amongst his merchandise are posters (who would have thought?).
Indirectly: Matt landed a sweet publishing deal to take his comics (and new ones) into a book called 5 Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth (And Other Useful Guides) (affiliate).
The Art Of Manliness
What is it all about? A great blog focused on reclaiming the lost art of manliness created by husband and wife team Brett and Kate McKay. Includes mostly articles from a variety of authors.
How The McKays Monetize:
Through private advertising deals with products that are a great fit for the advertising (this can be seen on the right side of the website). There is also The Art of Manliness Store, which has a variety of great products including a book written by the McKays, an ebook, t-shirts, posters and a really neat idea: stationery.
Jet Set Life
What is it all about? Created by Kim and Rob Murgatroyd with a focus on financial freedom, world travel and fitness. Content includes podcasts, blogs, videos and more.
How The Murgatroyds Monetize:
A variety of interesting products. Rob and Kim put a lot of effort into creating really unique travel guides available for sale on the site (digital download) based on their experience to help you navigate the world’s poshest places. They have a membership site called Jet Set Money that includes a huge amount of content, course, action steps to create you own niche online business. There’s Jet Set Body (affiliate), which is a fitness program they developed to help get folks in fitness-model shape in 90 days (which I’m a graduate of!). And finally, Kim writes amazing cookbooks (affiliate) that are for sale as well.
Social Media Examiner
What is it all about? Social Media Examiner is “the world’s largest online social media magazine” and includes a variety of content (especially articles and video) from a range of contributors.
How Michael Monetizes:
This one is pretty darn neat. Everything on Social Media Examiner is free, but twice a year they hold a HUGE online event (example would be Facebook Success Summit). These events alone generate over $1,000,000 in revenue (!).
What is it all about? Andrew Warner interviews a variety of tech entrepreneurs sharing their experiences, insights and tips. The big idea is to help start-ups learn from successful people.
How Andrew Monetizes:
First, Andrew has three sponsors before each episode of his show that are also linked up in the show notes. Second, Andrew has premium “How To” courses taught by experts available to buy. Third, Andrew has members that pay a monthly fee to access the archives of shows (his shows are free for a week and then go into the members area). These members also receive all the courses.
What is it all about? Broadcasts (video and audio podcasts) for geeks, designers, developers and entrepreneurs created by Dan Benjamin.
How Dan Monetizes:
Through a variety of sponsorships and advertising. Advertisers and sponsors have options including a network sponsorship (all of his shows), individual sponsorship (one show) and also bandwidth and livestream sponsorships. Sponsors receive visual placement next to the show and a “live ad” read during the broadcast by Dan or other host. Also, fans of the show can donate and make contributions.
Keith and The Girl
What is it all about? Comedy podcast created by, not shockingly, Keith and The Girl (who saw that coming). The podcasts have an extremely passionate (and diverse) audience.
How They Monetize:
A mix. The most unique amongst their strategy is live events (charging admission). Other ways include donations, advertising, VIP memberships to the archives (monthly fee). Lots of buckets.
What The Buck
What is it all about? “What The Buck” is a popular YouTube pop culture show written, produced and hosted by Michael Buckley focusing on celebrities and other popular shenanigans.
How Michael Monetizes:
Michael’s major revenue comes from a partnership with YouTube who inserts ads into videos and brings interesting sponsorship/partnership opportunities to him.
The Rise To The Top
What is it all about? Web show and resource focused on mediapreneurship created by me, David Siteman Garland. Probably best known for my interviews with successful mediapreneurs and innovators.
How I Monetize:
My main source of revenue is through sponsorships. Right now, there are three sponsors of The Rise To The Top: an overall sponsor, a bandwidth/hosting sponsor, and a video player sponsor. The overall sponsor gets a plug before and after every episode of The Rise To The Top, link/logo in the show notes, and logo/plug on the home page in the top right corner of the website. Second to sponsorships, I have a variety of trusted affiliates that I promote when appropriate and earn a commission on sales (always disclosed).
Wrapping It Up with Some Advice for You
Monetizing is not a one-size-fits-all situation. There are many ways to do it. And I can tell you, there is a high probability of what you try first (or second) might not work and that is OK. Don’t get frustrated.
Direct monetization is possible. Some people out there say it is nearly impossible to directly monetize a blog, podcast or web show and the only way to monetize is indirectly (meaning perhaps the attention draws you client or consulting work or something else).
You might have to indirectly monetize/hustle your butt off when getting started. We were all there once. Professional blogging, podcasting and show hosting is not an on/off switch. It takes time to develop and monetize. What does this mean for you? It is all about your situation. If you need to work side jobs to make ends meet, do it. If you can sell yourself as a speaker, consultant, do it. But I can tell you with a game plan, some experimentation, a clear vision and hard work you can make it happen.
There isn’t a magic number, or maybe there is? Often I receive questions about how big an audience has to be to monetize in some shape or form. I wish there was a concrete answer, but there isn’t. The closest thing to concrete is when Michael Stelzner told me that he didn’t want to sell ANYTHING to his audience until he had 10,000 subscribers. Your results will vary.
Finally, I’m excited for the future of the mediapreneurship space. I strongly believe a few years from now there will be a huge variety of wealthy, happy people that have taken something they love and turned it into a successful business. I hope you are one of them.