The question is not if you can make money from Blogging and Podcasting, the question is how.
There are many people (and media entities) that make money from Blogging and Podcasting. The challenge is that there are also multiple ways of making money indirectly from Blogging and Podcasting that seem to be most attractive to the content producers.
What do the revenue models look like?
- Paid content (direct). The content is valuable and people are willing to pay for it. The price will vary based on the value as defined by your consumer base. This can be super-cheap (making it a veritable "no-brainer") or premium priced. Getting people to pay for content will be based on the perceived exclusivity and quality.
- Advertising supported (direct). The content is freely distributed, but it is packaged with advertising. The content producer is typically paid on an impression basis (usually a flat fee for every one thousand impressions delivered), cost per click (if someone clicks on the ad) or cost per acquisition (when someone not only clicks on the ad, but takes a desired action - like buying something). Advertising can also be charged on a sponsorship basis (giving space on a monthly basis). On top of that, many Bloggers and Podcasters use affiliate marketing as well (they are paid a percentage of the total sales that are generated through the advertising that appears within their content).
- Thought leadership (indirect). There is no advertising or "sales pitch" in the content, but the hopes are that the content creates the desire to want to work with the content producer. This can be hiring them as a consultant or as a speaker or engaging in their company for the services they offer.
The challenge with the direct approach to making money.
Because many of these Social Media channels are relatively new, there are not that many new business models (when comparing it to traditional media). Because they have the same/similar looking business models as these more traditional mass media channels (radio, print, TV, etc...), their content is compared to the media buying opportunities that currently exist. This becomes a numbers game. Advertisers will only pay if there is enough visibility for their message (a mass audience) or if the quality of the people consuming your new media is valuable enough to them (you have a strong and loyal niche).
It is a "who" and a "how many" game.
While Social Media fascinates because of the varied niches and conversational-like engagement that takes place between the content producer and the audience, the only real way to make direct money is to have a significant audience. The definition of "significant" is loose because it either has to be a big audience (the "how many") or a hyper-concentrated audience driven by a topic of interest (the "who").
The direction you choose will dictate the type of money you can make.
Evan Pedersen from Fancy Pants Gangsters emailed me. He gets the feeling that Podcasting seems to be another link in the online marketing chain. He feels that there hasn't been much discussion about how to make podcasting a business unto itself (which includes more thoughts on how to actually grow an audience)... and he's right. The truth is that if your podcast (or blog) is your product, making money comes in two forms:
- You're a celebrity or known entity.
- You have a strong database and have converted it into paying customers.
What's your take on how to actually grow an audience to the point of being able to make money from Blogging and Podcasting?