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You Don't Make Money From Podcasts, You Make Friends

By Adam, Feb 3, 2014 | Updated: May 3, 2015 | |
  1. Adam
    09 You Don’t Make Money From Podcasts, You Make Friends-02.png One common conversation has occurred over and over again since I started paying attention to podcasters over the last couple months. There is a fairly good sized segment that want to know how to monetize their podcast episodes. I decided to take come time to think about this angle, and see if I can figure out what all the fuss was about. I mean, on the surface it seems completely reasonable to find a way to monetize your audio recordings, and admittedly some have found a way to make some ad money from their creativity. Finding ad money is the way the internet has worked for years. You simply create a blog, an article, a Youtube video, or whatever you want and put ads next to it. Why would you not do that with podcasts? Radio does it right?

    I see podcasting differently. I understand the power of numbers and people. I understand from an advertiser's point of view what they are looking for as well. I used to scout for places to put my ads in my past entrepreneurial life so this is second nature for me. I also know the weakness in numbers.

    The Numbers Say a Lot

    Podcasts are created each day by thousands of people. Some are better than others, and some are clearly for hobby. Some of the big names in Hollywood are even creating these podcasts and yes the Dollar Shave Club does sponsor some. One giant issue with podcasts is that there are just too many of them. How can they all compete for a few slots of advertising available? Seriously, only a select few will actually rise to the top with a few thousand listeners or better. Most will truly enjoy knowing that their hobby really was just that. That's ok, it's what a hobby is.

    The other issue with tons of podcasts being born each day is that advertisers don't know where and why they should spend their money on a platform that doesn't go viral. Even if they did, there are only so many slots you can fill in a 1-hour episode. This is so unrealistic to think you have a good shot at ever earning more than what you might put into your podcast to include your time. I look at podcasts like any major league sport, only about .0001% of people who truly put that level of effort into it will ever make it. I know, so pessimistic.

    Where do you even go to find the awesome podcasts? Beats me. I guess you can spend hours on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or some standalone website like this one...but you probably won't, and frankly neither will the people who want to purchase ad space.

    Looking At the Whole Package

    There is only two ways any podcaster will even come close to making even a little bit of money. The first is by joining a network that has all the features I put together in my diagram below, or create the entire package yourselves. I know some will say I am completely wrong...for them, perhaps they have a secret I don't know about.

    The network idea is kinda cool, but you have to pull the weight that everyone else in the network is pulling in order to get a share of the money. It also takes time, and you don't fully own a part of that network unless it's in some contract. Even in the instance of this podcast network [AMPN], it's all a gamble. I want people to participate and join in but I understand the "barriers to entry". It's not a possibility for some, and even I am a bit picky on who I want to spend my time on and allow to use my platform to promote themselves.

    The package you create is the best way to go. It's 100% yours and that includes the investment, the technical aspects, and even the marketing. For someone that just wants to podcast, this can be overwhelming. This is where the cost-of-entry is real for podcasting. Frankly, I like this because it will continue to keep the competition low. Well, sorta. It's easier these days to build a package if you have the money and a little know-how.


    Just Stop Already

    Just looking at the numbers alone should bring some levity to the conversation. My whole point of this article really is to get you to stop asking how to monetize your podcast, and start asking how you monetize your brand. Don't ask how you get advertisers to sponsor your audio show. They aren't going to unless you are that .0001%, and I know there will be some that say this isn't true and they are making money from just their podcast...stop, you are not. You are making money off of the other stuff you have done, you just happen to be putting ads in your podcast.

    We need to look at the bigger picture. You have a podcast, great...what else do you have. Well, for starters, if you are even remotely serious, you have a standalone website, hopefully some social media accounts, and possibly some Youtube videos. In other words, your podcast is an extension of your brand. If you aren't thinking on this level already, you need to start right now. Advertisers will absolutely line up to pay you for your podcasts as long as you include all your other properties with it. They want impacts and numbers and you can give them that by aggregating your other content platforms.

    I don't know a single podcaster that got famous for only podcasting in the last 10 years. Every popular podcaster on iTunes got a start somewhere else, THEN decided it would be fun to have a podcast too. Recognize this. You are not wasting your time, you are just building wrong or haven't figured out what to do yet. Even a semi-successful podcaster has at least a blog. You don't need to spend a ton of money, you just need to raise your effort. I know podcasting is a low-barrier type of media, and it should be. You don't get much out of just podcasting.

    What Are You Doing?

    Hopefully this layout is resonating with you. If you want to be the next Richard Pryor of podcasting or Lynda.com of audio, then you need to up your game. You don't create an episode, drop it on Facebook, and wait for the ad dollars to come in. That thought process is asinine. You are better than that. You need to build a brand around this audio and really connect with people. It takes more than a microphone and a mixer coupled with Audacity to be someone. The question is, do you have what it takes?

    About Author

    My name is Adam and I am the creator of the AM Podcast Network. This is a hobby, but it is starting to become a passion. It started with my own website and is morphing into a network so I can bring other podcasters on board and really expand our base out. You do things better as a group, and I plan on doing big things. If you are interested in joining, don't be shy and come on in!