In case you missed it, there's been a side conversation at "CE Conversations" between Sean Tubbs of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network and myself. Sean's most recent response raised an interesting question, and one I felt worth examining in a post. Recently, Sean said:
Great questions. The easier to consider is how to pay for the talent (we'll talk about audience-building in the next post).
IMHO, the primary difference between Internet content and traditional media is that its completely customizable. And that difference dictates different strategies.
Least successful (and therefore least common) seems to be the subscription model -- making the listener pay for content. Rush Limbaugh and Ricky Gervais are notable exceptions, but both built up a huge loyal audience first before launching their respective subscription services.
Banner ads are a tried and true method of generating revenue. As Google's AdSense and similar services gather more data and display ads more closely associated with the interests of the website's visitor, revenue-generating actions such as clicking through and purchasing will increase.
Some podcasters embed ads in their programs. Leo Laporte weaves the sponsor's ad copy into the conversation on "This Week in Tech" in a way that harkens back to older radio hosts of the 1960s. "Rocketboom" rolls a mention at the end of their podcast, with a link to the advertiser's site.
"Ask a Ninja" saves the end of their podcast for an ad for their own online store. Right before it, though, there's a spot for Ask.com. Go to Ask.com, type in the special word on the screen, and get more "Ask a Ninja" video.
I've experimented with a number of these with varying degrees of success. The AdSense ads you see at the top of this page have had very modest success -- as time goes on, though, I expect the ads to be more relevant to the topics of this blog, and hopefully generate a little more traffic.
The Scuffletown ad on the sidebar links to my own site, DCDRecords.com, and has done a good job in driving sales for this local band. For the online playlist postings for my radio program "Gamut" (heard every Wednesday morning on WTJU), I've become an affiliate of Arkivmusic.com. If they have a release I've aired for sale, I'll provide a link to it from the playlist.
This has proved the most lucrative of all, primarily (I believe) because the Gamut playlist is of interest to such a small group -- but that group is extremely interested in the classical music they've heard on the radio (or over the Internet at WTJU.net), and therefore have generated a significant number of click throughs and actual sales at Arkivmusic.com.
Now I haven't quit my day job yet, but I can say that all of these revenue models do work. The issue is simply one of scale.
So how to build an audience? I've some ideas, but unlike setting up revenue streams, its almost entirely dependent on other people -- as I'll explain next post.
Right after I posted this, an article about a concerted effort to make podcast ads effective landed in my [virtual] inbox. You can read it here.