I discovered podcasts when a friend turned me on to Stitcher ten years ago. I listened to a few shows, but they all sounded like radio morning shows and that annoyed me. Five years later, I was thrilled to discover true crime podcasts like Sword and Scale and True Crime Garage. I followed the hosts, Aaron and Justin, from Generation Why on an almost stalker-level, and even became a guest on Justin's podcast Peripheral. This gave me a chance to talk to him about podcast editing. He made it sound a lot like radio editing which is why I thought, well, I'll just take the 25+ years of radio production experience that I have and do a podcast.
Since I can't afford the license to play copyrighted music, I knew I couldn't do a podcast about music which is my absolute favorite topic. I was not sure what my podcast would be about. A couple of years ago, I was working in a job that was so unfulfilling and I thought that trying to make a good impact on society through a podcast would give me purpose. I found a really interesting story about how the police department in my town destroyed rape kits and have done a lot of work to make up for that enormous mistake. It took me over a year of preparation to get it out there, but I did it! Please check out Rape, the Podcast, and have a listen. I'm a big NPR-junkie, so that is my style, but it isn't the only style. (another blog, another day)
Five years ago, although Generation Why was in the top 10 on iTunes, Justin was still working his regular job and doing his podcast on the side. I'm pretty sure that now, he's not working that job anymore and is able to support himself with podcasting because his shows are big but also the podcast audience is getting bigger! Big shows! Lots of downloads, huge true-crime fan base, and that means sponsors. Sponsors help you cover the expenses of your podcast, but unless you have a top rated show, you more than likely, are not going to make an income off of it. So why do you want to podcast, again?
If you are a business or a church, or a non-profit organization, podcasts can be really good vehicles to get your message out into the world. You have to do the work to pick up listeners, but with patience and maybe a good marketing budget, even YOU could acquire a decent enough following to make your business or church, or non-profit better known and more successful than before you started a podcast. Grow your community or customer-base by showing off your knowledge or services. Or just be like me, and try to tell a good story that will have a positive impact on your community. When you've reached the ear of an audience with a compelling topic (with good audio) you've got their attention. Use it well and be consistent.
If you've listened to podcasts (I can't imagine why you'd want to start one if you haven't) then you have probably heard about podcast networks. Networks are a group of podcasts that work together to grow and monetize their shows. This is where companies are investing their money in advertising because the network is able to pitch the combination of audiences. Some networks are really formal with rules and contracts for joining, and others are just a group of like-minded individuals who want to make it work in a loose partnership. Keep in mind that you might lose some of your creative control when working in a collaborative environment such as a Network and it might even end up owning your podcast.
If you want a money-making podcast, you can sell sponsorship of your show. But first, you have to build an audience. You'll hear a lot of cross-promotion of podcasts that are in each other's networks which is great for a new show that needs an audience. If you can't join a network, then find another podcast that shares your target audience, preferably one with tens of thousands of downloads so that you reach the largest amount of people. This means that, you need to learn everything about your audience and then seek out interview opportunities with the said show that shares your people.
It's hard to convince any business to sponsor your show if you don't have a listener base. You are starting from ground zero, so if you are making a podcast to make money, you're going to need to find a way to invest in your own production. How fast your listenership grows is up to you based on content, marketing, and good old-fashioned hard work. If you have unlimited funds to get started on, there is a good chance that you will get to sponsorship levels sooner than later.
Advertisers need to know that they will make money off of sponsorship of your podcast which means you'll need to sell them on the idea. Show them the research you've done about your audience and present them with some options of ways they can participate. You might listen to other podcasts that match your audience and contact their sponsors. My last blog suggested stealing ideas from other shows, and sponsors are excellent ideas to steal! Does the show have beverage sponsors? Go after beverage companies. Does the show do testimonials about pillows or meal plans? Then think of what products you can see your testimonials influencing an audience to buy. Seeing how the podcast community is a supportive one, you might even reach out to that show to ask for contact information for the potential advertisers (and an interview, don't forget to ask if you can be on their show)
Of course, there are many choices for good ole-fashioned fundraising that can help you monetize as well. Recently, I heard a rumor that Patreon may have had some legal troubles that could effect their service, but it is the most popular program to raise money. It's best if you can offer something to your patreons, like a T-shirt or bonus podcast episodes you can't get anywhere else. I've had more success with Facebook fundraising, but I have some really awesome Facebook friends. 😎
Podcasting is the fastest-growing medium at this moment in time. There are over 1 million podcasts listened to by 90 million people PER MONTH. Ad revenue is still growing and so the possibilities are increasing that even YOU (or I) could produce a show that brings you riches beyond your wildest dreams.
Podcasting is very time consuming if you are new to it. There's a million videos, podcasts, and manuals that can instruct you how to do a lot of it, including how to make money off of your podcast. But if you'd rather focus on your content, I can help take the load off with editing. I've joined a community of podcast professionals that have incredible experience and direction. If I don't know the answer to your question, I can ask the experts. They tell me basically what you just read. Although I'm a new podcast business, I'm not new to podcasts and I'm a listener first. I've heard the good, the bad, the ugly. But with good audio editing and audio processing, when needed, you can improve the listenability of your podcast to help you reach your goals for why you want to do a podcast.
Now, LETS PODCAST!