In recent weeks there’ve been a couple of disappointing announcements from major podcast providers.
In early September the podcast network Panoply said they were shutting down their editorial division and ad sales teams, leaving shows like Harry Potter and the Sacred Text suddenly without advertisers and income. And weeks later, in what was considered an equally shocking bombshell, BuzzFeed shut down most of their podcasts.
This post isn’t to comment on Panoply and BuzzFeed’s decisions (They were terrible). Instead, I want to talk about doing what’s best for you, and in the process, becoming way more successful than you would with an employer.
As we go through life we learn that in the eyes of businesses, everyone is disposable. Your skills and your success do not necessarily equal job security. All that matters is the bottom line.
Podcasts, of course, are not safe from the axe either. Even if you have a hit show, the company you work for will have no problem tossing you aside, whether it’s due to the podcast’s lack of income, lack of listeners, or because they want to spend money elsewhere.
It sucks, and there’s only one way to fight it: Keep your show, and your abilities, to yourself. You may not realize it, but it’s actually completely possible.
If you hand your abilities over to a corporation, you’ll be setting yourself up for a possible let down, and you’ll be losing out on a lot of money in the process. By doing a podcast on your own, there’s a very high chance that you’ll actually make more money.
Podcasts have been a hit because anyone can create them. When they started coming online in 2003 – 2004, very few were by businesses who saw some sort of financial opportunity. They were “underground,” exclusively created by people who wanted to kick back and have a great conversation.
As they grew in listenership, it was only natural that businesses would try to get into the game. But we can’t let the businesses win. I want to throw up every time I read about businesses creating/expanding/closing podcasts. Gross! Podcasts shouldn’t be owned by corporations. What makes them so many great is that they’re home-grown. Businesses stepping in and creating podcasts to increase their margins is a disgusting thought.
You don’t need a business backing you in order to be successful. You can produce a great sounding podcast, great content, score a big audience, and generate big revenue all on your own.
And that’s why, if you are one day offered the chance to join a podcast network, or if the company you work for wants you to create a podcast, you shouldn’t take the opportunity. Keep it for yourself.
Recording equipment is affordable. All you’ll need to add to your home is a microphone (I recently reviewed a great microphone for $100). You don’t need a fancy studio and you don’t need editing experience.
Podcasters who go at it on their own will be able to monetize in two ways simultaneously: Advertising, and a crowd-funding service like Patreon. The former can be taken care of through various advertising networks specifically for podcasters. These networks handle much of the leg work. All you have to do is deliver passionate ad reads that will convince your listeners to try the product you’re selling. Podcast advertising networks are easy to work with — I love working with Audioboom.
Patreon is an additional revenue stream that will probably make more money than the ads do. I write more about Patreon here. At the same link you’ll find info on how to book a consultation session. I manage two Patreons and both have been very successful — with no corporations involved!
Between Patreon and advertising, a podcast can be making thousands of dollars monthly. Your success will be determined by the size of your audience (more listeners = more ad impressions, more potential Patreon sign ups), the quality of your ad reads (are you convincing people to try the product?), and the quality of the benefits you offer on Patreon (are you enticing people to pledge?).
Podcasting is amazing because you can do every aspect of it at home. I promise! This is why I get bummed when I see people join a podcast network, or when people create a show at their place of employment. It hurts to see people giving their skills, and their potential financial success, to employers.
Naturally, owning the podcast yourself comes with several other benefits, like total creative freedom (it’s nice being the boss) and the sense of accomplishment that comes with being self-employed.
For those who’ve been fired, there’s some good news: Your listeners will want to follow you to wherever you go next because they’ve built a personal (if one-way) connection to you. This means they’ll be eager for a new show to find you at.
And a new show would actually be a perfect time to launch a Patreon, because people will want to help you get back on your feet. They’ll also feel good knowing that their money is going directly to you and your show. Just make sure you give them great benefits in return.
I know that starting your own home-grown podcast isn’t as easy as flipping a light switch. Yes, you’ll need to go through a little bit of training, but it’s not difficult to learn. If you need help launching an amazing podcast or Patreon, I’m here.