There are three waves to podcasting: The Marketers, the Storytellers, and you.
Podcasting was here long before the marketers found it. Back at the beginning, advertisers and marketers wouldn’t touch podcasts with a nuclear ten foot cattle prod because they couldn’t see the money in it. The pioneers in the space seemed to do fine, the Keith and the Girls, The Dan Carlin’s, the Free Talk Lives, they seemed to do just fine asking for listener support, they got enough of an audience to keep the lights on, and then they started charging for premium content, and people paid for it, and that gave them the ability to be full time podcasters.
Adam Curry tried what I think could generally be called a con job today with Podshow. Lots of effort on the part of people who bought the hype of “quitting your day job”, and not a lot of return, and let’s be real, they took that user generated content, ran ads off it, and made enough money to pivot to a different company, forgetting about all the podcasters that got them there.
However, Curry and his ilk proved you could make at least one dime off of a podcast, and when the marketers and business motivational types (marketers, they’re ALL marketers) saw that, they jumped right on the bandwagon.
Michael Hyatt and Chalene Johnson and Tony Robbins, and Gary Vee, Pat Flynn, and John Lee Dumas all came along, and every single one of them are very happy to tell you how to make money using a podcast as your platform if you’ll just attend this class they designed for you that costs more money than most people have the sense to spend. They’ve spawned an entire generation of podcaster that is the equivalent of Multi Level Marketing. They generate income and support for each other, and they do it on the backs of people who don’t know that the knowledge they’re seeking can be found for much less money, or even free. I don’t have a lot of love for these people. I’m the Pirate to their Navy.
The next wave of podcasters are the storytellers. Podcasts like Serial, Startup, and 99 Percent Invisible bring us the part of the world we don’t see, and I for one am glad they are here. They have value and serve a purpose, and it is they, not the marketing ghouls who made podcasting the mainstream force it has become. It is the storyteller that brought the big ad dollars to podcasting, but more importantly, it’s the storyteller that made your Mom, your Dad, and the older folks with iPhones wonder what that little purple icon was on their phone, and went looking around in there for the first time.
So now, we come to you, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be a business. You don’t have to be a reporter or a storyteller. You don’t have to worry about how to monetize your podcast. If you’re new to this format, monetizing should be the furthest thing from your mind right now. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing it wrong.
Before you start worrying about income from your podcast, first ask what kind of podcaster you are, and even more importantly, WHY.