Revenue - If, When, How
So I said there were two things that most podcasters are a little bit unsatisfied by. One is their audience. They always want to grow a bigger audience. And the other is money. (audience laughs) Everyone's like, when are we gonna get to money. I'm not gonna go too deep. I mean, this is like, you could take a full week course on how to grow revenue for your podcast, and you might talk about that later on in this podcasting week with CreativeLive. But I do want to say, when you're starting small, and I think you should start small. I mean, check you ambition and understand what you can realistically do, unless you're famous, or you already work for a podcast network. Embrace smallness, embrace moderation, and start in a place where you're comfortable with. And then you have room to grow, versus trying to start really big and reigning back, and feeling like a failure. So when the money comes in, this may guide how big your dreams can be from the start, anyway, but one easy way to get some...
money for your podcast is to appeal to your listeners. There're several successful shows out there that started through Kickstarter, or run Patreon campaigns. I support a couple shows through Patreon, and it's also a way to engage and message, and be in touch with your listeners. And you'll find that listeners are really supportive. I mean, by and large, this content is free, and people understand there's hard work behind it, and they want to support you. If you're making a great show that people love, they want it to keep going, so I would say don't be shy about this. People are trained. If they listen to public radio they know they're, well, accustomed to producers asking for money to support their efforts. I wouldn't be shy. I would own it. I would be proud to do this, proud to be offering something that you think is worth people spending their money on, so embrace that wholeheartedly. You can also look for partnerships with like-minded organizations, depending on your content. Go to organizations national, or in your community who might want to have their name on a podcast that is a way that they get people to know that they're out there as well, so they might support your show through cash infusion, or they might just help spread the word to an appreciative audience, which eventually then rolls around to help support you through Patreon, or sponsorships, we'll get to that, if you're a little bit bigger. Think about the live events. Think about merch, things in real life that people can have and be proud to own. Of course, those both take investments. You don't know if the payoff's gonna be there, but move towards a situation where you can get creative about ways to make some money. And the live events are really fun, even if you're not bringing in money, you're bringing in, sort of, they call them friendraisers, you know, you're just deepening your relationship with listeners. Everyone loves merch. App support, so now a days a lot of the mobile apps are building in ways that you can support shows you love through the apps. Radio Public is an app that has paid listens, so every time someone listens to your show, you get a small amount of money, so the more you promote them, and the more listeners listen to your show through that app, the more money you get. But this is becoming more common, that no matter what tool you're using developers are creating ways that you can support producers directly through the app. So it's your job to do some of that research and find out which is the one that you can partner with and work with to develop some of those programs. So then, once you get down the road, and you've grown your show a bit, and you have more listeners, you can think about some sponsorships. It's harder, the kind of golden rule is you need about 50,000 downloads of an episode in a month for sponsors to maybe be interested, but still it's not always that simple. And if you have content that speaks with a particular audience, you might find a sponsor for a product that speaks to that audience sooner. One thing that I always suggest is thinking local and small. I like to use, for example, there's a podcast out of Nashville called Neighbors, and I first heard about a burrito joint on his podcast, then thought to myself, well I'm never gonna get to that burrito joint, but it's really cool that he's reaching out. His show is actually about neighbors and community in Nashville, and here he's got this local support. And I feel like that's an option for everyone in this room. There's gonna be somebody out there who's heard wind of this podcasting thing and wants to get involved. Ironically, or funnily enough, I was just in Nashville last week, and I was like, what's the name of that burrito joint? I can finally go. So, yeah, it's effective. You never know where people are gonna go. It also just shows a sense of continuity, like you're in a space making a podcast, you can appeal to your community to help you make it, whether it's your listening community or the people around you. And you'd be surprised, I think there are more organizations and companies willing to spend some money on this, so that would be my recommendation in the sponsorship realm. And it's always harder than you think. I'm always like, you know, why isn't this company sponsoring this? It's so obvious. Why wouldn't Crocs wanna get on Every Kid's Cast, you know. But there's more to the story than imagining that a company matches a podcast. Down the road, as I've mentioned a few times in the taxonomy, Hollywood is really all over the podcast right now. They're very slow, long processes. They aren't necessarily making successful products, but you are seeing books and some successful about film and TV made about shows. Again, this, you know, once you've got a hit podcast you can think about this down the road. And then there's the network question, which I get asked about a lot. And the truth is networks pick up a very very small percentage of the shows, and they take a grab share. It doesn't necessarily mean that's the right direction for you starting out with your show. I think you need to, I would concentrate more on making a great show that people love and getting on radar, and that's when networks will start taking interest. You can look to networks that have more of the kind of content that you're making. Radiotopia is by and large a creative storytelling network that has shows that are highly crafted, but there are networks out there that are pure comedy shows or interview shows and this and that, so really you have to educate yourself about what's out there and what's a good match. When I get a pitch for an interview show it enrages me, 'cause it's clear that whoever's approaching us hasn't really thought about what we do. Why would I give them the time of day to actually even entertain their show? Unless it's with inanimate objects. (all laugh) Then perhaps. Again, these are broad strokes. I would say don't get into podcasting because you want to make money. Get into podcasting because you have a burning desire to talk about something, and then maybe, if you do it right, and concentrate on quality, the money will come. But there's so much out there, there's so much competition, it's gonna be a while before you see money coming back on your investment to making it. So, reality check. Sorry to break it to you, but I think it's better to know, as you're moving into this.