Let's just put this out there: Monetization of podcasts is difficult. The most popular monetization platform for Podcasts is a site called Patreon. Only 2% of all Patreon creators make a minimum-wage-or-better living
. Not all Patreon creators are podcasters. From this you can take away that most podcasters on the platform (let's say 99%) don't make a minimum-wage-or-better living.
This may seem dismal, but think about any other business model and dismal-seeming will transform into actually-dismal. 70% of businesses survive their first two years. It seems you'd be better off starting any other business BUT podcasting.
But numbers are deceiving and "success" is a subjective measure. Your risk of failure will depend on 3 things:
1. The expectations you set for yourself and
2. Your ego driving your needs
3. Your ability to execute a good marketing strategy
Success, objectively, from a business perspective, is making enough money to pay your bills and keep the business operating. Breaking even is the only success you need to focus on in the beginning. This will prevent you from burning out when, a year from now, you're breaking even but can't afford a new pair of shoes or the latest Mac Book Pro.
You've got to know, going into this, if this is your career path (and for some of you it's not, don't worry, we'll get there), that you're going to be working a second job for a while. You're going to be eating spaghetti and toast for a while - and you have to be okay with that. More than okay, you have to be hungry for exactly that: the struggle.
If you're not excited to struggle through this, you're not going to make it. You're going to get mad that you're broke all the time and you're going to quit. Your ego is going to sabotage you, and you are going to fail. This is why only 2% of creators make it on Patreon.
But it's not stick-to-it-iveness, it's marketing strategy too.
I absolutely cannot tell you how many people come to me looking for advice on how to grow their podcasts.
"I've tried everything!" they say.
"Have you tried paid advertising on Facebook?" I ask.
The answer is always no.
"Why not?" I ask
"Because I want to grow organically!" they respond.
I take a deep breath.
There's this myth among podcasters that you can grow your audience if only you can encourage your audience to share you with their friends.
This would be true if people shared free products.
No on share free products. Not without a clear motivation or value proposition - it doesn't happen.
Think of the podcasts you like. How many people have you engaged in conversation about those podcasts with the intention of getting that podcaster more subscribers?
Let me guess. Once? Never?
People share because they are moved to. People support because they are moved to. People give money away because they are moved to. There isn't some magical equation that will turn your 1000 person audience into a group of evangelists that will sing the praises of your podcast all over the countryside.
Not without payment. Not without something extra. Not without motivation to do so.
Some people will spread the word, 99% won't.
A growth strategy based on 1% of your audience is pretty awful.
If you were selling something people needed, word-of-mouth would be more powerful. But you're not making something people need. You're creating something free that nobody needs. The odds are overwhelmingly against your success.
But who cares? Not me. Not you (hopefully). We're gonna do this anyway. So let's get started.