Podcast Profits: Creating and Selling Your Own Online Audio

Imagine being able to create profitable content – that your customers are dying to get – by simply talking.

With podcasting it’s totally possible. What’s a podcast?

A short audio file that you can embed into your website and that people can listen to. It’s sort of like a short radio show, or an infomercial. It requires little equipment (in fact, if you have a computer, chances are you already have all the equipment you need) and you don’t need any “on-air” experience.

With just a minimal amount of preparation, you can add podcasts to your website, increase your business visibility, and increase your profits. It’s a fun, easy, and exciting way to do business online.

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What Kind of Podcasts Are There?

As a business owner, you’ll want to focus on informational podcasts that deal with the products you’re selling, advice you’re giving, and so on.

Some of the more popular podcasts that fall under this genre include “Stuff You Should Know” (a fun, informative show that focuses on a certain topic each week and delves into it), “Freakonomics Radio” (a show based on the bestselling book Freakonomics that explores the “hidden side of everything” in informative and compelling ways), and “Radiolab” (a highly-produced show that explores the world of science and technology).

You may already be a fan of other podcasts yourself. Entertainment podcasts that are personality-driven have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years. My personal favorites include podcasts from comedians Marc Maron and Adam Carolla. They’ve been able to develop a dedicated following – and make a decent living to boot from it!

But as I’ve said before, as a business that is putting out an informational podcast, your focus should be on products and information. If you’re business is focused on teaching people how to care for their tropical fish, your podcast could contain a lot of how-to information. You could even mix in some industry news and trends, listener comments and feedback, and more.

That’s not to say humor can’t find its way into your show. In fact, I recommend it. And don’t forget, this is YOUR show. You call all the shots – from how long it will be, to what topics you’ll be covering, to who is on the mic.

Which brings me to another point. Should you go solo or have a sidekick? Personally, I find podcasts that have more than one voice much more compelling. There’s the joy of conversation, an easier flow of information, and if you find someone you have on-air chemistry with, your show will be that much more interesting and that much more profitable. Having a co-host or frequent guests can also facilitate great back-and-forth that will get your message out in a more natural way than if you just talked into a mic.

Ask a friend (someone who may have no idea what it is you’re selling) to sit down and interview you. Have a “news-girl” who brings in stories relating to your business field to add extra depth and worth to your podcast. Are you an amateur musician? Try adding an intro theme. All these little details make for a more compelling podcast. And that entices listeners and sponsors.

Profiting From Podcasting

The medium of podcasts is truly in its infancy, and the truth is, they’re generally offered for free. So how does one make any money from them? The answer is advertising.

The most successful podcasts incorporate live-reads into their programs. They’ll read advertising copy from a sponsor and mention a special code customers need to enter when checking out.

That way the sponsor can gauge how successful advertising on your show is. The more customers that are steered to a sponsors website, the more the sponsor will pay you for the opportunity to advertise on your show.

You can even offer products over the air with your affiliate links – this is a great way to get started as you can do it without having to officially “sell” advertising spots on your show. Check out Clickbank and Commissions Junction for affiliate offers in your niche.

Continuing our tropical fish business example, you could include ads (from sponsors or affiliates) for pet stores, online fish supply businesses, manufacturers, and more.

Growing Your Podcast

Unless your online business is already well-established, chances are you’ll have some difficulty attracting lucrative sponsors. But worry not, friends! Like I mentioned before, the start-up investment for a podcast is a computer (which I assume you already own), a microphone or two (you don’t need high-end studio microphones; check out http://www.cheapbandgear.com/ for affordable options), and most importantly, your time.

If you can commit to recording a short podcast, say, once a month, and put a little prep work into it before sitting down to record (maybe a sheet of paper with a couple of bullet points that you want to touch on), you can quickly grow your audience. This will drive more customers to your business website and boost your revenue there,

But the beauty of podcasting is, once the number of listeners grows, you can approach potential advertisers with hard statistics and show them the reach of your podcast.

Before you know, you’ll be running your own fun radio show with real advertisers. A few companies that advertise heavily in podcasts include www.stamps.com, www.audible.com, and www.godaddy.com.

Promoting Your Podcast

In order to get the greatest amount of ears listening to your podcast it’s important to make it easily available. In addition to adding an audio player to your website, you’ll want to submit it to the iTunes Store. The iTunes Store is the major hub and aggregator of all podcasts, whether they’re business-related or humor-based or anything in between. Here’s the link with all the information you’ll need to submit your podcast to iTunes and get it in the store: http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html.

As I’ve mentioned, the most successful podcasts are the ones that are offered for free and make their money by advertising. Getting your podcast on iTunes is the best way to get that much-needed exposure.

Here’s a good example: how many times have you been at the gym or the subway and everyone around you is plugged into their iPod? Chances are many of them are listening to podcasts. And where do they download those podcasts? That’s right, the iTunes Store. Having a link on your website is important, but getting listed and ranked in the iTunes Store is the easiest, surest way to grow your audience.

People love to hear knowledgeable people talk. That’s you. You’re already an expert in your field of business – so why not put that expertise to work for you? After all, you’re a salesman – the gift of gab is your bread and butter. For the online entrepreneur, podcasting is an emerging revenue stream that can no longer be ignored.

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Best of luck!

Oh, and one last thing…

I just had to comment on something I experienced during my travels in the Arenal Volcano area of Costa Rica this past week. Travel really has become intertwined with the Internet.

I made all my car rental and hotel arrangements online either on sites like Kayak.com or a hotel website. Of course, before I booked, I made sure to check TripAdvisor.com for ratings on the rooms, as well as any restaurants I planned to visit. Same for any tours I did or nature guides I hired.

And guess what – most places touted their TripAdvisor rating proudly at the front desk.

Based on what I saw, if you are in the hospitality industry, you have to be online if you want to have any chance against your “wired” competition. Plus, I think travel-based online businesses, whether  information sites on certain areas or hotel rating sites still have a lot of profit potential for start up entrepreneurs.

I’m going to study this further for a future issue.

John Hollister

P.S. I’ve just given you the information you need to go out and make your own profitable podcast. But here are a couple of extra resources to help you on your way:

Help Getting Started

http://advertising.about.com/od/smallbusinesscampaigns/a/podcastweb.htm – a great resource about finding advertisers

http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html – everything you need to know to get your podcast on iTunes

http://www.cheapbandgear.com/ – a bargain site where you can find all the equipment you’ll need to produce a high-quality podcast.

http://www.podcastblaster.com/podcasting-for-profit.html – more tips on how to profit for your podcast

Advertising on Your Podcast

www.clickbank.com

www.cj.com – Commissions Junction

www.audible.com

www.stamps.com

www.godaddy.com

Some Examples of Successful Podcasts – Great Inspiration for Your Own

http://ecorner.stanford.edu/podcasts.html – a podcast dedicated to entrepreneurship.

http://www.venturevoice.com/ – an entertaining podcast that focuses on venture businesses

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/ – a series of podcasts that explore the world of science.

http://www.marketplace.org/podcasts – from American Public Media, one of the best podcasts, covering the fields of business to technology

http://www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/ – an entertaining, humorous podcast about current events. A perennial chart-topper on iTunes.

http://espn.go.com/espnradio/podcast/ –  a collection of podcasts from ESPN, the leading sports network.

http://wtfpod.com – Comedian Marc Maron’s off-the-cuff podcast – not kid-friendly.

One Response

  1. James Scroggins

    I believe that any newsletter or informational email should be one which mirrors your thoughts or provides food for thought. This newsletter titled “The Death of Radio” is like receiving a treasure map to the site containing the wholly grail. The only thing missing is the writer taking you physically there, digging up the goods for you and placing it in your hands. Bravo

 
 
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