Today’s big idea is only tangentially related, I acknowledge, but still falls under the general work umbrella–and it is taking a look at the business side of this podcast. I know a lot of people have an idea or a dream about starting a podcast business. Or perhaps you even have one already, and I think it’s so helpful to hear how other people go about doing something that you’d like to know more about.
I listened to a similar episode on the podcast The Double Shift, which is about modern motherhood in America, and found it so illuminating and helpful. I hope this episode will help contribute to the conversation about what podcasting is really like.
Listen to the Podcast Here
So, let’s start at the beginning
I first considered starting a podcast business when I was at a writer’s conference, having lunch with my friend and online marketing whiz, Nancy Sheed. She was telling me about a short, daily podcast she listened to on Alexa and then she said, your book would be a great fit for that format.
People will give you lots of ideas about what you should do in life, but some have a zing. This one landed right between my eyes.
My goals in starting the podcast were to give my book, also called How to Be a Better Person, a longer shelf life. Books are only new for about a month, then they start to get stale. A daily podcast is new, well, everyday. I also know that I’d like to write more books, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write about –I figured that committing to a regular writing schedule would help me work my way toward the next subject I wanted to write about.
In the meantime, I also knew that I needed to build my audience, which is crucial for everything else I’d like to do–publish more books, create an online class or series of classes, and just stay in business. I also had a strong hunch that podcasting would help lead me to an opportunity I couldn’t even picture at that time.
I wanted to do a short, daily podcast for a couple reasons
First of all, I think in chunks. I also don’t really have time in my own life to listen to a longer podcast. 5-10 minutes is really all I’ve got. The idea of creating something that I could in fact consume was exciting to me.
My book has 401 distinct ways to, well, be a better person. I THOUGHT that I would be able to riff for a minute or two about a topic, then read that entry from a book, and boom it would be easy. Although that’s not at all what happened, as the book entries are very spare and a podcast is way more conversational. So I end up writing out every episode, and then I turn that script into a blog post. The book is still helpful to me as I plan though, as anytime I run out of ideas, though, I flip through the book and come up with a few more things to write about and a good headstart on what I want to say about it.
I plan episodes a week at a time. I used to be a couple weeks ahead, and then the pandemic hit, and everything felt like walking through mud and took longer, and I haven’t yet pulled out ahead of myself again, although I plan to (and my podcast editors would love it if I did).
Let’s talk money
My work as a ghostwriter, book coach, and personal development coach funds the vast majority of my expenses. In other words, I am bootstrapping this baby.
I have had, and continue to have sponsors, some small, some big. Both types have been great to work with, and they each have different plusses. Smaller sponsors actually typically pay more because I work with them to customize a bunch of different things to their unique needs–like newsletter mentions or social media posts, and that costs more. Bigger sponsors typically come through an agency, which takes a commission, and they want just the spots that run during the podcast and aren’t interested in add-ons like newsletter or social media mentions. They are easy, but they pay less.
To be clear, I do NOT want to load the podcast up with a bunch of sponsors. After all, I want it to stay relatively short! But I also want to, at the bare minimum, cover my costs.
My expenses are:
Admin help turning episodes into blog posts and Pinterest posts
Google ads, SEO help, some Facebook ads, and I’ve experimented with getting help with social media.
Design to create images for my interview episodes
I’ll tell you, it adds up. I am spending several hundred dollars a month, and earning a couple hundred at the moment. I won’t be able to continue on in this pattern forever, that’s for sure. But I’m also still growing.
My goal is to build listenership so that I can charge more for sponsorships
it’s the same amount of work to produce a podcast for 30,000 listeners as it is for 50,000 or 100,000 listeners, but the bigger audience means more money, so that’s a top priority.
To that end, I am working on a VERY fun quiz that will launch soon, called How Bad a Person Am I, that I am hoping will attract new people in to the how to be a better person orbit and get attract more listeners to the podcast. Watch this space for more about that!
And I have a fun and helpful class on the goal list for the third quarter of this year on how not to hate your husband that will be at an attractive price point, so I hope that that will be a nice revenue stream. I wrote a blog post in 2013 called How I Stopped Hating My Husband and You Can Too that continues to attract ⅔ of my web traffic–clearly this is a subject that people are hungry for help with, so I am working on serving up something useful.
I also am exploring ways I might be able to sell some repurposed episodes to apps and other companies that need audio content
I’m also starting to explore during voiceover work, as I get a lot of positive feedback about my voice and I definitely have plenty of material to share with folks, although I admit I have no idea how to do this. (Do you? Reach out!) Perhaps this is one of those opportunities I couldn’t foresee that I had a hunch launching this podcast would help me find.
Basically, I’m seeking to create multiple revenue streams, build an audience, keep raising my profile, and keep furthering the conversation and drawing more people into the fold on being a decent human, plus discover new doors that I might otherwise have missed. It’s a labor of love that has the potential to pay off–but it’s on me to be pro-active about creating those revenue stream.
I thank you for being along for the ride, and for sharing the podcast with folks you think might enjoy it, too.
I hope this episode was insightful and if you have other questions, my DMs are open on Twitter (katewhanley) and Instagram (katehanleyauthor).
Have a great weekend.