You can make money podcasting. I want to caution you though and give you some background before you jump into the pool. This post will share some things I have learned over the past seven years. I want you to win.
I absolutely love podcasting. I have been podcasting since 2007. Before that, as a kid I used to narrate my comic books. I have always wanted to be a inspirational speaker and actually became a Christian minister.
Podcasting is where a amateur can potentially speak to thousands of people electronically using social media. It is a time shifted choice allowing the audience to choose who, when and what they want to listen to. It supports a loyal following. It is word of mouth advertising on steroids.
It is not really understood by traditional media. You cannot successfully copy a radio program and slice it up for a podcast. You have to talk directly to your audience. If there are too many commercials it turns off a podcast audience.
Audio quality matters. Podcast listeners use earbuds, and headphones. Poor quality is annoying. Producers that spend the time to learn how to make their shows easy on the ears, succeed. There are some hosting companies that alter the sound of a show to compress it and therefore make it sound horrible.
Podcasting is a new media phenomena that has been evolving since 2005. There are people making thousands of dollars doing it and just as many trying to copy their success. Like any gold rush there are snake oil salesman and charlatans selling methods and equipment to these over optimistic entrepreneurs.
Podcasting is hot right now. Corporations are trying to figure out how to get a hold of the genie that is out of the bottle right now. There are new services like Kaliki.com that are trying to get into the auto market where Spreaker, Stitcher Radio and I-heart radio have started.
Podcasting can be a great hobby if you are not in it for the money. If you want to share a passion, start a conversation or entertain, there is a niche waiting for you to fill.
There is power in niches. There is someone else in the world just like you. In fact, there may be a lot of you. In spite of this not all niches make money. Some audiences you will find don’t have the discretionary income to support your dreams.
I was watching the old Clint Eastwood movie, Outlaw Josey Wales, and it has a Snake Oil Salesman peddling his “magical elixir.” We still have those folks among us. They are big in the podcasting world. They are all over social media. They sell SEO secrets. They are social media “gurus” They make money off of entrepreneurs like you and I. They make a business selling you stuff you don’t need and advice you could get for free. If you are a new podcaster please be careful, of all the offers to make money podcasting.
In the midst of this the Internet has also spawned a new number of digital snake oil salesmen that are promoting that you can get rich from it. Most don’t outwardly say it but they imply that it is very easy and you too can be as successful as they are if you take their courses. I am just suggesting that you be careful.
I said be careful because the money they are making is coming from you. In your hopes to duplicate their success you buy, hook, line and sinker the over priced equipment, hosting, and training classes for knowledge that is often free, and equipment that you may not (yet) need.
As in all things, there are people that are just exceptional salespeople. There are people that are talented entertainers and are just blessed to know the right people, have the income to invest in themselves and get noticed by the “right” people. None of that is transferrable to you no matter what you do.
Can I share some truths with you? We live in a world where just about everything goes. Not every niche is profitable. Not every group you create has the income to support what you do. Musicians and artist for example are often scraping by. A show for them will probably not make you a lot of money. Podcasting for five days in a row will not guarantee that you make more money than one that is uploaded once a week. It all depends on your subject, your niche and your community.
The number of people you have on Twitter or Facebook alone doesn’t equate to success or failure. There are large corporations that have less Twitter followers than you do but are Fortune 100 companies. Don’t get consumed with your statistics. If you don’t know it, you can buy thousands of fake Twitter followers, and Facebook likes online. There are many celebrities “forced” to do it, because the entertainment industry believes in numbers. You can fool and impress future sponsors but you can’t fool yourself. You’ll know how many real people you are influencing. Statistics don’t equate to a payday.
Why am I saying these things? Did I get ripped off, or taken by a digital snake oil salesman promising that I could make money podcasting or get my money back? No, but I for a few minutes I was feeling inadequate because I had been in this arena for a few years and have had over a million downloads of my show but didn’t make five figures. I forgot that was not what I was in it for. I forgot that I use podcasting to preach, teach and reach people. I forgot. I started wondering what I had missed. I had a crisis of analysis. I was looking at all my demographics, and I was getting caught up in the trap of envy. I forgot that maybe it was all just snake oil.
I want to save you from being disappointed when your efforts don’t make you rich. Entrepreneurs suffer from hyper optimism and it can sometimes get the best of us. We will not listen to reason, and think everybody that is telling us to slow down is a naysayer, and a dream stealer.
You do want to do your best. You do want to be found on the Internet. You do want to be professional. You do want to give the best audio services you can. You want to make a difference but do it for the right reasons. Be honest with yourself. Grow organically. Grow your community. It takes time to find your niche. It takes time to discover your community and what they want. It takes time to master your craft.
I have learned that to make money with your podcast is based on relationships, both with your sponsor and your audience. Everything else is affiliate and third party applications. They are few people making money directly from their shows. Most are making money off of products and consulting services.
This space is no different than the late night infomercials. Beware of the virtual wrinkle creams, the diet pills, the stuff that grows hair, and the juice that will bring back your youth. Keep your podcasting goals in mind when you start and if it is to make thousands of dollars a month like the host of the fill-in-the-blank podcast, then good luck on that.
Some podcast are popular not for their content but from the personalities in front of the tent. Don’t get caught up in that and think you can do it too.
Be careful out there.
Kenn Blanchard, podcast producer.