So you want to start a podcast. You have a great concept and a few episode ideas. Now what?
You need cold, hard cash. Podcasting isn't free, and there will be expenses no matter how low-key your operation. Recording at home* can cut costs, but there's still editing software and media hosting fees, and even the most basic recording equipment — a decent laptop, headphones, a microphone — costs something. And while this might be a labor of love, everyone fantasizes about the day their passion project turns a profit. We know how to make that happen.
Crowdfunding can be a great way to secure ongoing financial support. Kickstarter and GoFundMe are options, but Patreon is made specifically for creative-types and their fans. It allows podcasters to create a membership platform where, in return for a monthly fee, patrons get exclusive content or early access to episodes. Patreon also offers podcasters a slew of other helpful services, like analytics tools and a how-to guides.
Pro-tip: Put a few episodes out into the world before you embark on Patreon. It's much easier to convert listeners into paying patrons if they're already fans of your work.
Ads are an obvious answer to the "How will I pay for this podcast?" question, and they're easier to get than you might think. Don't worry if you don't have a shiny new media kit or Don Draper's disposition, because media agencies like True Native Media and Authentic have built their names on pairing podcasters with advertisers. Getting a foot in the door is as easy as filling out a form on their websites.
We're particularly partial to Midroll and their automated ad calculator, though. If you know how many downloads your show has, how many ads you've got room for, and how many episodes you plan to produce each year, they'll tell you how much you can expect to make in ad revenue. Then it's just a matter of contacting them to get the ball rolling.
Sponsorships are becoming increasingly popular in podcasting, and you don't have to sacrifice a great story to get them. When done right, branded content is so good that the listener forgets a marketing team is funding it. Case in point: DTR, Tinder's official podcast (and one of our projects with Gimlet Creative, who are especially talented when it comes to branded content). DTR was listed alongside S-Town and The Daily on The Atlantic's list of Best Podcasts of 2017.
If you have a truly remarkable idea and the right connections, then by all means reach out to big corporations with money to spend. But don't forget local businesses with more modest marketing budgets, or even friends with their own shops, websites or other projects. A $50-an-episode sponsorship fee can easily cover basic expenses, and the association with a relevant podcast is good for your friend's brand image, brand awareness and sales. Your podcast can be a smart investment in their bottom line. (See why here: 7 Reasons to Add A Podcast to Your Content-Marketing Strategy and 5 Ways Podcasting Can Help Your Business Grow.)
Maybe a new dog food brand is eager to partner on your pet-centric podcast? Perhaps a small health food chain wants in on your show about holistic living? Don't think of these collaborations as restrictive — or as selling your soul. Aside from a cash injection, they often come with valuable resources, like (continuing the examples above) access to experts, industry news and product samples, as well as a built-in audience and promotional help. You may need to tweak your script to work in a sponsor's talking points, but the idea is to find a brand whose overall goals align with yours. Then it's a win-win situation, so long as both parties' expectations are outlined from the outset.
* Loads of internet articles claim it's easy to convert your bedroom into a makeshift recording studio, and it is. But there's a reason people book professional studio space to record great-sounding podcasts, just like there's a reason Titanic wasn't filmed in someone's swimming pool: you get what you pay for. If there's one thing to invest in when launching a podcast, it's quality sound. We'd love to show you why with a tour of our space. Contact us here!