I just finished reading Who’s Paying for Podcasts and thought this would be a good time to share a few thoughts from my podcast experiences. I’ve posted more than 20 shows on The Digital Story, and have 11 reviews on iTMS. Listener feedback through comments on the site, email, and reviews has made this a worthwhile endeavor. But it also takes discipline. Here are a few things I’ve learned as a podcaster.
In web publishing, consistency is important. Let people know when you’re going to publish and stick to it. This is vital in podcasting. I recommend posting once a week and on the same day. This is particularly important for commuters who plan out their weekly listening schedule. And believe me, you want to be part of their plans.
Show length is another component worth thinking through. I like 30-minute episodes because they’re about the same length as short TV shows, and they have enough substance to keep people occupied during their commute to work. Regardless of the length you like, keep it about the same each week so listeners can plan.
In terms of topic, forget about what you think you should do and pick an area you’re passionate about. It takes a lot of discipline to produce a show regularly. The key to survival is passion for your material. Otherwise your show will drift into a sea filled with those who gave it a shot, but couldn’t keep up the pace.
Have your syndication act together. Your RSS, Atom, and iTMS feeds have to be in top working order for success. Listeners know how things should work. You’ll need to meet their expectations here.
Make sure your supporting web site is in order. This is your home base where you post show notes, supporting articles, feature reader feedback, highlight sponsors, field questions, serve advertising, and show off your storefront to the world. I’ve been using Movable Type for my platform, and it’s worked well.
Finally, learn about audio. The show has to sound good. It’s funny how sophisticated listeners are about audio quality. When I first began the shows, I had trouble recording clean audio, and people offered me all sorts of tips. I switched to a M-Audio box (Podcast Factory), swapped out the mic, and got my recording room environment in order. The shows sound much better now.
So, back to the Forbes article. How do I pay for all of this? I make about $100 - $150 a month off Google Ads and Amazon Associates promos featured on the web site. That covers ISP and incidental operating costs. I have a new sponsor coming on that will help cover the time I spend producing the show and running the site. So I’m pretty much at break-even right now.
My profits are the listeners who make up this community. They support the site with their artistic contributions, feedback, and questions. I feel like I’m part of something useful on The Digital Story. And as long as I can find a way for the show to pay for itself, I plan on keeping it going.