How to Monetize a Podcast with Online Courses

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There are many ways to create online content that delivers your message and can also generate income. In today’s LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett talk about how to monetize a podcast by offering online courses. A previous LMScast episode in this series on monetization focused on blogging. Podcasting is another approach to consider.

Creating a podcast is quite an undertaking, and if you choose to employ this method understand that there is a lot of work involved, but there are also distinct advantages, one of which is personal appeal.

A blog features the written word of a writer but a podcast employs the spoken word of a host, and possibly also a video image of the person delivering the message. This provides an even deeper rapport with viewers, as voice and images of a person presenting your material psychologically establishes a greater level of trust in the information being presented. The host may also interview guests who are respected experts on a subject, and their influence validates the host’s credibility.

Everything you present in your podcast, including information shared by guests, can become the basis for an online course based upon the best ideas and information in your industry. One example is our affiliated Infusioncast podcast where we help people set up and optimize their Infusionsoft application as well as their website. Often people have difficulty grasping how the application and their website function together. Teaching these processes sets a foundation for creating a course as well as building an online community, and those become valuable resources that can be monetized.

All the content you bring together for your podcasts can be organized and placed into a system like lifterLMS to create courses and certifications, which can then be sold. The key is knowing what you can present for free and what should be monetized. The rubric for that is to structure your information into why, what, and how.

For example, John Lee Dumas produces a daily podcast called Podcasters’ Paradise. He shares information about successful podcasting that establishes him as a trusted advisor. His podcast creates interest in joining his community and accessing his resources. People are willing to pay for that support system and to learn the processes he uses to succeed. This same dynamic works with Joshua’s Infusioncast podcast and Infusioncast Confidential Facebook group. Bringing together the what and why of a subject area creates demand for the how.

Information itself is vast and expansive, and as such can be overwhelming. Because of this, content curation as a process of gathering information and organizing it becomes a valuable function of blogging and podcasting. Curating information into the structure of an online course offering makes it even more accessible and, therefore, more valuable. Andrew Warner adds another level of value to his Mixergy podcast by interviewing guests for his free podcast, and then continuing those interviews to provide exclusive in depth tactical information in advanced courses for his Mixergy Premium paid subscribers.

If you are debating whether you want to pursue developing a blog or a podcast, consider that in creating a podcast you essentially create a blog as well, so you actually can do both. Podcasting will also build your multimedia skills and that will help you design much better online courses, especially with a WordPress LMS plugin like our lifterLMS.

Whatever you decide, remember that consistency in your presentations is basic to how to monetize a podcast, because without consistency in quality and frequency you will not build or maintain an audience, and certainly not paid subscribers.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter at for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

joshua millage:        Hello, everyone. We’re back with another LMScast episode. I’m Joshua Millage and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett. Today we’re talking about how to monetize your podcast. This is in a series, I guess you could say, of monetization-type episodes. Monetizing a podcast is slightly different than monetizing a blog. Chris, what do you see as some of those differences?

chris badgett:           In the last episode we talked about how to monetize a blog, and I’d definitely kick it off by also saying congratulations to anybody who’s gone to the effort of creating a podcast, which is a huge effort. We all know the power of content marketing. Creating a podcast is difficult and keeping that momentum. The big difference between that medium format from the written word and blogging, there’s a couple things going on. One is the host of the podcast. It tends to have an even higher level of trust with his audience, because either it’s a video podcast or audio podcast. You feel a more real human connection faster than reading the written word in most cases. Even with smaller audiences on a podcast, you tend to have even deeper rapport than somebody with a broader audience who writes frequently. That’s one big difference.

The other thing is podcasters are often interviewing other guests or experts in their field and stuff, so they tend to have a very big amount of influence but also play the role of researcher in the sense of collecting some of the best information and ideas in their industry, and so on, which is fertile ground for creating an online course.

joshua millage:        I think one of the advantages that podcasters have is in the process of creating your podcast you are creating your course. A good example of that is with our other podcast, Infusioncast, I’m going through the process of explaining to people not only how to set up and optimize their Infusionsoft application, but at the same time set up and optimize their website. Because I will find that that always seems to be the gap. It doesn’t really matter what the business is, whether they’re selling info products or whether they’re a coach or a speaker, an author, or a brick and mortar, they have this disconnect between utilizing their website and Infusionsoft well.

Every single Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we go through this process of these are some things you should be doing this week. These are some things we should be doing next week. As I look at it, those are like modules. That’s my own unique format over there that we’re going through, but I’m really creating a course and a community that’s valuable that can be monetized.

I think what’s interesting is as I think about it six months from now really when I have that much content together is when I’m going to personally feel comfortable by going back and taking that and putting it into a system like lifterLMS and creating courses and certifications and things around that. Because I think that it would be valuable to say, “Hey, I was certified by the Infusioncast methodology,” so that when those people go out, if they’re ICCs for instance, they have another badge to say they’ve been certified in another different way. It lends more social proof. Those are the advantages for putting all this in a system like lifterLMS.

The one that I’m not mentioning is the fact that I can now sell that information. People are going to be like, “Joshua, why would you sell or how could you even sell it, because you gave it all away for free on the podcast?” And they’re right. The thing that I’ve realized is that there is intrinsic value in structuring information. Having it all in an episode list is inherently less valuable than structuring it and putting it in a course. I want people to suspend their disbelief on that for a second, because it happens all the time.

You you mentioned John Lee Dumas. John Lee Dumas has an incredible program called Podcasters’ Paradise. It’s cheaper now, but I bought into it I paid two grand for it. That’s a lot of money. The fact of the matter is, I could have found all the things that I learned on YouTube videos and all over the web. I could have.

chris badgett:           But I watched you become an efficient podcaster not just with one podcast but with two podcasts just like that. So that course rocketed you to what you wanted to do.

joshua millage:        Yeah, that two grand was time saved, because I didn’t have to go scouring all the web for a way of doing things. I look at a guy, John Lee Dumas, who’s putting out a podcast every stinking day and go, “I want to know what he knows. I want to know the inside of that machine.” I got to see the inside of that machine, and beyond that the community, which is what has really been helpful. There’s so many brilliant Paradisers. I need to be more active, but I’ve been pretty active in the Facebook group and that sort of thing. That community has inspired me, too. There’s the aspect of the content. What’s the saying? People come for the content but stay for the community? I think that’s the thing that has helped me with that. That goes to show you too with a podcast, Infusioncast, for instance, has about 2,000 unique listens every week. There’s a community there. Now I’m the process of taking the community that listens to me every week and getting them to engage with me somewhere else. Right now, Infusioncast Confidential, our Facebook group, is that. All of that to say is this is how you connect the dots in the podcast realm, bringing it together into a product that people would be willing to purchase.

chris badgett:           Absolutely. I think another good word to really wrap your head around is curation or curating. When you create a podcast or you write a blog, you’re curating content. In the past the internet was all about, “oh wow, I have access to all this information.” Now it’s about there’s too much information. We’re all overloaded. Let’s curate it, get the best of the best. You did that the first round with the podcast and now that you’ve curated it you can take it another step and curate it even more into an even more valuable online course.

Just for everybody listening, we talked about John Lee Dumas and Podcasters’ Paradise, his online course, but we’d like to also talk about Mixergy, which is a great podcast I’ve been listening to for years. It’s my free business education. Andrew Warner, who you know personally I believe, behind that. It’s an awesome podcast about the entrepreneurship, especially in the digital space. Andrew takes an interesting model with how he blends his podcasts with online education. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe he has guests come on for an hour for free, and then maybe some of those guests, they stick around for another hour and teach something more in depth and tactical about the whatever they covered in the first part in the free episode. That goes into his membership site as the advanced training that the members pay a monthly for, which is called Mixergy Premium. Is that right?

joshua millage:        It is right. That’s one of the ways. I don’t know. His format has changed a little bit now, but he has done that format before. People do come on for an interview that’s more of their story, and then they teach the tactics in the premium. He’s done such a good job in the last year really of organizing that. You can go on and click PR for instance, and there’s all these advanced courses on PR and that sort of thing. In my experience, and I will say this boldly, that I think if you want a business education and you make a point to listen to a Mixergy interview every day, in six months you will have more tactical, relevant business knowledge than you do if you went and got an MBA. That’s because I have an MBA, and I can speak directly to that. I think in the six months when I was recovering from an illness that I got in Asia … I won’t get into that story right now, but I was basically on my back for six months, and every day I listened to a minimum of one Mixergy interview. In that six month period from what I had learned, it landed me a job in Los Angeles at an ad agency, because I was able to pitch bloggers and I understood that world, because I had heard so many stories and I had learned really well. I had joined Mixergy Premium, and I had learned the tactics, too. I had the theoretical from the story side of it, and I had the tactical, like these are the things I can actually do, which is his methodology.

That’s another format, and I think what I admire.

chris badgett:           There’s another rubric there I just want to give the listeners, which is I’ve heard it described this way: the free podcast contains the why and the what, but you’ve got to pay for the how to. It’s just a way to think about it if you’re thinking about how could I start a podcast and then build a course.

joshua millage:        Absolutely.

chris badgett:           The what’s free and the how, you’ve got to pay for that.

joshua millage:        Absolutely. I think the thing with all of this that I want to end on is this isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes stamina. John Lee Dumas I see is now in the 800’s in terms of podcasts he’s put out. Andrew’s broken 1,000, which was awesome. That 1,000th interview was pretty cool the way he did that one. These guys have been doing this for a while, for a long time, so the people who are listening, make sure you have that long-term mindset. If you’re someone who just wants to build a course, our system, lifterLMS, is perfect for that, but I think it is enhanced when you start to do something with a commitment to consistency and putting out something.

We’ve talked about blogging in our last episode. We’re talking about podcasting in this one. Both of them, the reason that these methods are going to make you successful is you’re putting things out there, free things out there for people to get to know you. That makes them much more likely to buy your paid stuff. That’s something that’s really, really important. I think in a future episode we should definitely cover how to ask your audience what they would purchase, so you don’t build something that they wouldn’t want to purchase. That’s kind of in this and we’re not touching on that today, but the key is put something out there, market something, do something to get eyeballs on you so that you can make your course profitable. I think a lot of edupreneurs, as I would like to call them, are missing that. It’s key. It’s crucial if you actually want to make this a full-time thing.

chris badgett:           Absolutely. I’ll just cap it off with one pro tip, and that is if I had to choose between doing a podcast or doing a blog as my free line of content, I would actually choose the podcast, for two reasons. The first reason is that like we do here with LMScast, this podcast, our conversation here gets transcribed and basically turned into a blog also, so you’re killing two birds with one stone.

joshua millage:        Totally.

chris badgett:           The other thing is as you go into an online course, an online education, whether you build your learning management system with lifterLMS or not, is once you’ve practiced podcasting, you’re getting good at audio. If you want to, you can make more money by selling a course that includes multimedia format. It’s not just the written word. It may contain some audio and some video. Starting a podcast is a great way to get comfortable and used to teaching either on camera or at least in the audio format.

joshua millage:        Absolutely. There’s a lot of nuggets of knowledge and wisdom in this episode for everyone. I hope you enjoyed it, and please reach out to us at We’d love to hear your thoughts and the comments on this episode, so talk to us there. Until next time, we’ll talk to you then.

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