Contrary to popular belief, podcasting can be a viable source of income. While it may not bring instant riches, there are multiple monetisation options available for podcasters.
One of the most common ways podcasters generate revenue is through advertising and sponsorships. Whilst this is a legitimate form of income, from my experience it destroys the flow of episodes. A particular show I started listening to moved to started adding advertisements. One or two at the beginning, 30 seconds each are bearable, the show very quickly moved to 2 to 3 minute host read ads in two and then three spots within each episode. Perhaps worse still, these ads were for things that had no correlation to the subject matter of the show. Other listeners must have left the same as I did because the hosts started justifying their leap into ads by saying they were just trying to feed their family.
Can’t argue with that but let’s step back a wee bit.
A Virtual Contract
This show and all the others that start without advertising enter into some form of agreement with their listeners. I will provide this content on this subject for you to listen to. Nowhere have I found a podcaster stating that this is only a temporary matter and my ears will be sold to advertisers once the number of listeners reaches a certain level. That particular show I mentioned previously is not one I follow anymore.
An alternative is to offer extra content for a subscription fee. Patreon is a platform that facilitates this. Apple has also jumped into the space with subscription systems built into their Podcasts Connect Portal.
The most powerful aspect of audio content is its intimacy. Podcasting connects content producers with listeners in a way like no other medium can. This takes time but is invaluable in building an image, a brand and most importantly, connections with your listeners. If you think of podcasting as a longer term form of advertising, it pays off in spades.
A Different Medium
In the last few years we’ve seen many new and new-ish entrants in the field. Many have folded. This isn’t because the medium is flawed but the new entrant’s business plans were. The assumption seems to be that podcasting is similar or even identical to the legacy media. Put out a show, throw in some ads to publicise the show and others to monetise the show and watch the bank balance grow.
Podcasting is platform building trust through speaking directly into your listeners ears. The vast majority of listens occur through earbuds or headphones. 93%ish of downloads go directly to mobile devices, 6% to laptops/desktops and Home pods like Alexa, Google Pod and the Apple HomePod account for less than 0.3% of all downloads. Podcasts talk directly to individuals, one at a time, all at once. This means you, your service and your service’s ethos, values and way of doing things is on full display to your listeners. How does this generate revenue? By driving individuals, their parents/caregivers and potential staff to your organisation because you are top of mind when they are looking. And these people have pre-qualified themselves for your service through their attachment to your content. They have a pretty good idea of whom you are before they contact you because you’ve been speaking directly to them.
And if you’ve avoided the advertising trap, your standing will be even higher in your listener’s minds because you’ve treated them with respect, shown you a financially stable by not relying on using your listeners ears for other people’s profits and shown you won’t take shortcuts to results which is important in the Disability Sector.
In summary, podcasting can indeed generate revenue, although it may not happen overnight. Advertising and sponsorships, crowdfunding platforms, premium content which may provide short term income but damage your brand in the longer term are all options. Driving consumers to your standard revenue streams, be they day programs, supported independent living services or one on one supports, your podcast grows your service through an intimate approach to each and every listener. Strategic planning, consistent growth and maintaining a strong connection with your audience are all key to building a successful podcast. With dedication and a focus on providing value to your listeners, your podcast has the potential to become a sustainable and rewarding source of new business.