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The Results of the Podcast Survey (remember that?)
OK… so, a while back I did a little survey to learn more about your thoughts on how I might get the CraftyPod podcast going again - this time sustainably. About 300 of you responded (thank you!), and I promised to report back on the results. So here we go.
(This post got a little longer than I expected, but in the interest of transparency I'm leaving everything in. Pack a snack, okay?)
So, how do we pay for this thing?
As you can see, among the monetization options I suggested, the top two vote-getters were Kickstarter campaigns and paying a little for each download. I was glad to see this, because these were my top two choices as well.
I also had an open-answer space in the survey where people could offer other suggestions, and I heard a lot of interesting stuff there. Quite a few people suggested sponsorships, advertising, and related forms of selling audience exposure. Here's the thing, though: I don't think sponsorships are the best option for me. Advertising is a great monetization option for many bloggers, but in the context of this podcast, not so much. Here's why:
- If I create an ad program for the show, I have to actively sell and administer it. This means I have to essentially create a whole extra part-time job for myself in order to help pay for the podcast. It's just too big a time cost. Plus, I'm no ad salesperson and I don't enjoy that activity – in the extreme.
- The minute I start selling ad space, I start having to tailor what I say to current or potential sponsors. I think one of the show's strengths is that I'm able to say what I want to say.
- Consider this: many of us listen to podcasts while we're doing other things, and often, away from our computers. This means that, if I speak a sponsor message in a podcast, you have to remember that there was a sponsor, remember their name or URL, and remember to check them out the next time you're at your computer. That's a lot of remembering in an information-dense world! If I were to sell ad space on my podcast, I'd need to be sure I could deliver the paying sponsor all the consumer attention they were paying for. And I honestly don't think that's a promise I can make in this case.
Why not use the podcast to sell other stuff?
There were also some suggestions that I keep the podcast free and then use it to sell kits, ebooks, print books, classes, etc.
What's interesting about suggestions like these is this: if I need to make a podcast, and then make a whole other product to sell with the podcast, I'm effectively doubling or tripling the amount of time I invest in making the podcast sustainable. I appreciate these suggestions, and I know that this is how some podcasters do it, but honestly, the model just doesn't work for me. To make that model cost-effective, I'd also have to inject a note of hard-sell into every podcast, which I wouldn't enjoy (and I suspect you wouldn't either).
The solution I'm going with is…
Honestly, what seems simplest and cleanest to me is to make good shows and ask a small, fair price for them. I'm looking into a distribution service that would make individual shows available for 99 cents via my site as well as iTunes and Amazon. It's still not the rosiest financial picture – thanks to fees, I stand to keep only about 45 cents of each download. But it's better than nothing, and it'll make it much easier for you to get downloads.
The original 126 episodes, by the way, will always be free and you can enjoy those anytime.
What about paying your guests, since you're charging for the show now?
I suspect that some of you will have this question, and it's a fair one. After crunching the numbers, here's what I come to:
I have a baseline income I'll need to make on each show in order to cover my production time, distributor fees and administration. That amount requires about 400 download sales. (Ack! Those distributor fees!) So, if a show reaches more than 450 downloads, then I'll pay the featured guest $50.00. Shows with multiple guests may need a different structure since there's much more production involved. I don't know the exact answer there yet.
You know, OTHER podcasters don't ask for money!
A few people told me they'd rather not pay for a podcast at all, since there are so many free ones out there. I get it, and no hard feelings. I do think that many podcasts are currently free because it's not at all easy to monetize a podcast. And that's too bad, because every free podcast we enjoy took someone quite a bit of time to produce. I'd really like to see more podcasters being paid something for their efforts. But we've talked about all this before.
I may put up a free show from time to time as a thank-you, though – as with all things, that will depend on my time resources and ability to make rent that month. :-)
What's the new show about?
Okay, moving on to the content of the podcast. Interestingly, you guys have widespread interests there, and this is just one more reason why I dig you. I think it makes sense to stick with the interview format I've been using, and do a broader scope that includes some business stuff and some explorations of creativity and its role in our lives. There were a lot of votes for more group interviews, so I'll give that some thought as well.
Your responses indicate that you'd like a show that's between 20 and 40 minutes long, delivered every other week. No problem! (Though if the distributor fees are too much, I might go monthly instead. We'll see how that goes.)
Giving it a fair shot
This is uncharted territory, of course, but I'm willing to give the project enough time to see if the community is really willing to support this podcast. I'll commit to producing shows for six months, and we'll see what happens.
Seriously, thank you.
I'll tell you what, though: again and again, people commented in the survey on how much they loved the podcast and miss it. That absolutely warms my heart. Thank you so very much for your kind words, and for all the hours we've spent in virtual company as you're working in your studio or on the treadmill or doing chores. Believe me, if I had the means, I'd make free podcasts constantly. But I really appreciate you being willing to enter into this discussion of sustainability with me.
I'm swinging back into production mode this week, and have several new shows in development. (I'll keep you posted on when the first one launches.) There are a lot of moving parts to work out, but we'll get there.