Finding your purpose in podcasting, for many people, is a bit of work. But if you've actively podcasting for more than a year, you’ve figured out a couple of things. By that time, you should be comfortable with what you’re doing behind the microphone. And you've had enough time to develop your audience, so they’ve grown comfortable with how your words resonate in their ears. With those two elements solidified, you’ve also nailed down (hopefully) why you’re doing what you're doing.
All too often at the end of a year, that never-ending question of “monetization” rears its ugly head. Should you keep going? Are you making money with your podcast thing? Shouldn’t the latter dictate the former?
Clearly not. Remember this: The vast majority of podcasters out there aren't in it for the money, at least not directly.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no reason for all those not-making-money shows. Those shows -- most of them, in fact, have some sort of a purpose behind them. It’s just not necessarily income generation.
That seems a little silly to the people sitting on the outside of podcasting. They see people like us buying gear worth hundreds of dollars. They see us spending hours, if not days, of furious effort as we try to get a single episode published. And they ask,” Are you making money off of this?” Because to them, making money must be the purpose.
And there's the problem. When dollars are exchanging hands, either in gear or paying for help, those outside of podcasting will tell you that the money should flow back to you at some point.
But oftentimes -- most time, in fact, it doesn't.
Does that make podcasting an anomaly? No, not at all. In fact, there are all sorts of places rational humans spend money without any hope of monetary return. Instead, they have a different purpose.
I know people who have spent thousands of dollars, or even many tens of thousands of dollars or perhaps even over $100,000 on what seems to me like very silly things. like racing. Not NASCAR or F1 racing. Just regular folks who spend their hard-earned cash (and time) assembling a race car or racing bike. Or auto enthusiasts with carbon-fiber hoods and souped-up exhaust systems. Those people are spending money -- serious money -- not so that they can earn piles of cash as a professional race car driver. They spend that money because they want to. They have a purpose and reason for spending the money. It just isn't making money.
I know people who have put themselves through school (culinary school, fine arts degrees, etc.) oftentimes going tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands in debt without any hope of actually using that degree to earn income. Sure, they probably dream of being the next great American novelist or taking Anthony Bourdain’s spot, but recognize the dream for what it is, and that reality will be something quite different. Different, yes. But to them, still quite valuable. Even if the money-in/money-out scales don’t tip in their favor.
Yes, I recognize this is coming from a place of privilege. Not everyone (or even most people) can afford to blow tens of thousands of dollars with abandon. I get it. This is not an episode about fairness. This is not an episode about inclusion. But for a lot of people, perhaps most in podcasting, making money isn’t their number one purpose.
It is my birthday today -- 51 trips around the sun -- and here's what you can get me for my birthday: I want you to tell me what your podcast’s purpose is.
I want you to sit back and think about it for a while first. Don't just start hammering out a tweet immediately. Reflect on why you do what you do and really think about your purpose. Because you have to be podcasting for some sort of a purpose, even if that purpose is purely selfish. People just like you spend thousands of dollars every year making themselves happy. That's perfectly OK. And if that's your purpose, tell me.
I'm genuinely curious: What is your purpose with your podcast? Email me with your answer at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can tweet to me @evoterra. Or find me wherever you find me and let me know. That is my birthday ask. Happy birthday to me!
If you've questions about podcasting and you think you might need professional help; get in touch with me. PodcastLaunch.pro shows a list of the services that my company offers to our clients. You can also email me with your questions. I'm happy to set up a quick 30-minute consult with you for free.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.