attentionI first discovered podcasting four years ago and was amazed at the wealth of really high quality content for free. The creators all shared a commitment to keep the medium free. “A business model will emerge,” became the mantra for the first generation of podcasters.
David Spark wrote a fascinating article about the 9 successful business models for podcasting. While much of the podcasting world is still a labor of love, some enterprising podcasters are making a very good living from their content. Here’s a quick summary of the 9 models David identified. You can read the article here
1. Got audience? We’ll get you sponsors – podcast networks like Mevio, Podtrac, and Wizard Media will do the legwork and find sponsors to include in your content.
2. Get your own sponsors – If you’re willing to shop for and manage your own sponsors, you can make additional revenue and be more in control of your content.
3. Be like public TV, beg for donations – podcasting is expensive and passionate listeners will often help out with the costs.
4. Give some away free, charge for the rest – Some podcasts will give away every other show or one show a month and charge a nominal fee for access to the other shows.
5. Partial show free, full show paid – the first 15 minutes are free, and you pay for the remaining amount.
6. Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it – similar to building a radio network, but much less expensive. Handpick podcasts that fit an overall theme and sell targeted advertising.
7. Build your brand to sell your services – Duct tape marketing podcast, book, blog etc is a great example of how a podcast can help drive sales of a book and consulting organization.
8. Sell an iPhone app along with your podcast – Elsie Escobar sells a $3.99 iPhone app to go along with her free yoga podcast.
9. Integrate sponsorship with the show’s editorial – Audible sponsorship fits right alongside of book recommendations in Slate’s Culture Gabfest.
What’s interesting is that it wasn’t just one business model that emerged but many different ones. Most are tweaks of existing models that exist in the radio, television, or keynote speaking world. Others, like the iPhone app, use technology that was invented after podcasting started.
It’s encouraging to see people who are passionate about creating content take a leap of faith and find a way to make their passion pay. Leo Laport, runner of the TWiT network of podcasts, reported that he made $1.5million in revenue. Not bad for a guy who started a few years ago in his basement with some audio equipment and a Skype connection.
Transplanting Business Models
Clayton Christensen, author of the Innovators Dilemma, once said there are only a few business models in the world. As we explore new content creation techniques like Twitter, and new technologies like netbooks and smartphones, it is useful to pay attention to reliable business models and how they can be transplanted into the new content forms.
It’s also worth paying attention to the models that no longer work as well. Network TV advertising has slumped in the past decade. Fewer people are watching prime-time network TV and the mass-media audience is frequently splintered into more available shows and distribution techniques like Hulu. Product placements, like Pepsi billboards in a movie, are also getting a bit stale. But announcer sponsorships, like the ones in old-time-radio, are making a real comeback in syndicated radio and podcasting.
Take some time to explore some of the business models above and see if there’s a way to work them into your marketing efforts. You may be surprised at the business models that emerge.