Feature: Environmental Podcasting 101, Pt. III — Getting Out the Word, Getting In the Dough
By Parimal Rohit
Welcome to the third of a three-part series on starting your own podcast, brought to you by SEJournal’s own in-house radio experts, podcaster Parimal Rohit, our Inside Story co-editor, who wrote the series, and Karen Schaefer, our Freelance Files co-editor, who conceived and edited it. This week, we’ll help get you going on marketing/promotion and fundraising for your podcast. Be sure to check out Part I, on considering the kind of podcast you want, and Part II, on production gear and hosting. Enjoy and feel free to email us at SEJournaleditor@gmail.com to let us know how you liked the series and if you’d like to see more similar features in the future. And in the meantime, be sure to check out SEJ.org's growing list of environmental podcasts. — The Editors
|The author, podcaster Parimal Rohit. Click to enlarge.|
A podcast episode, like any other product, is just that — a product. The more ears tuned in to your podcast, the more likely you can eventually create a revenue stream for your podcasts (and raise awareness for whatever issues you are covering).
In order to get ears, you need to promote or market your podcast. Social media is the lowest hanging fruit — you can make a series of posts to your network of friends and followers.
For example, I often create an Instagram and Facebook story a day or two before a planned episode, teasing what’s coming up. I keep it simple: episode name, date, podcast title and maybe some short tease about the broad themes of the show. If you do this consistently, people will soon know your podcast and brand.
I also share photos or screenshots of each episode recording as soon as we’re done recording. This corroborates the story tease I did a day or two earlier.
Once I upload the episode, I then create posts on all platforms, explaining what we talked about and why people should listen. These episode promos are usually four to six sentences in length and include a photo or other artwork. I’ll try to do another post, reminding people of the episodes, a few days later.
Definitely create your own Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter pages, separate from your own profiles, and try to get as many followers as possible. Doing this alone should get you some sort of an audience tuning in.
Improving your podcast’s visibility
Boosting your posts or stories — which costs money, of course — will get you larger exposure, and, potentially, more listeners. Of course, there is also advertising via Google and other digital avenues — all of which will cost you money.
Consider attending in-person events (once we’re allowed to do so, post-pandemic) and promoting your podcast via word of mouth. Perhaps create a partnership with another publication or organization, which could allow you to tap into a larger audience without having an advertising budget.
Another way to get followers is to have the people you include in your podcast promote the episode to their own networks. I recently published a podcast where our panelists promoted their appearance on our podcast, and we had a 300% increase in downloads.
Lastly, in each podcast episode, ask your listeners to download, subscribe and rate your podcast. These three metrics help you move up the podcast charts.
The more downloads, ratings and subscriptions
you have, the more visible your podcast
becomes on the various platforms.
The more downloads, ratings and subscriptions you have, the more visible your podcast becomes on the various platforms (iTunes, Spotify, etc.). This means you’ll likely get more people seeing your podcast — and, eventually, tuning in to listen.
Podcast funding as a ‘journoprenuer’
Now that your million-dollar idea is taking shape, you’re ready to watch all those dollars flow into your bank account, right?
Hey, look, you’re a journalist, not a businessperson. Converting your podcast into a cash stream is easier said than done. Then again, if you’re pursuing your podcast endeavor as a freelancer or as a complement to your 9-to-5, guess what: you’re a journopreneur. And just like any entrepreneur, the pursuit of funding can be as daunting as it is thrilling.
Financing your podcast is probably the most important thing you’ll do, if you hope to produce more than a few episodes. At minimum you’ll need some money to cover your costs: purchasing equipment or renting a studio; paying for your podcast service; potentially hiring an editor; and, if you can afford it, carrying a marketing budget.
The podcasting industry is saturated,
but that doesn’t mean the money
isn’t there to fund your endeavor.
The podcasting industry is saturated, but that doesn’t mean the money isn’t there to fund your endeavor. You need to develop a plan and know where to look. With patience and persistence, you might be able to create enough of a revenue stream to keep your podcast production afloat.
A basic podcast production won’t cost you an arm and a leg to operate. You can purchase basic podcast equipment in the $100 to $200 range. Sometimes podcast editing software is included with the equipment you purchase. You can also find some software for free. Other programs, such as Adobe Audition and Logic Pro X, allow you to use their software for a monthly fee. Audition will cost you about $20 per month, for example.
You could hire someone to do your editing for you — and the price could range. I paid someone $60 per episode for editing services. Another editor offered his services for $150 per episode.
Then there’s podcast hosting services, where you upload your episodes. I pay $42 per month right now on Simplecast, to host three podcast titles — Erased, Storytellers in Action and The Brown Table Bollywood Podcast.
Your budget will increase if you decide to pay for website hosting and marketing/promotions. You might spend somewhere between $100 per month and $1,000 per month, depending upon how you set up your operation (equipment, paid editor, website hosting, podcast hosting, marketing/promotions).
Going for the gold
Here are three categories for funding to pursue in finding the budget for your podcast:
Crowdsourcing: Reaching out to family, friends and some strangers seems like the oldest suggestion in the financing playbook. Hey, if you can convince the people around you to chip in, there’s no harm in accepting the money from your family and friends (and some strangers).
The best crowdfunding sites to help you raise money for your podcast production are:
Grants: Believe it or not, you can find free money for your podcast. Grant funding can be quite competitive and writing the applications can be cumbersome. But there are certainly grant funding opportunities for your podcast endeavor.
Here is a short list of some places you can seek grant funds:
The Sloan Foundation also has a grants database, where you can find various organizations offering funding for reporting, broadcasting, podcasting and other media initiatives.
Advertising: Podcast advertising might not be your golden ticket, especially at the outset, when your audience is tiny. But there are companies out there who can bring advertising to your podcast programming.
Midroll offers podcast advertising to hundreds of shows, focusing on host-read ads. Many of the shows on Midroll’s roster have large audiences, so this might not be the best option immediately. But if you do have a sizable audience, reach out to Midroll and see what sort of packages the advertising service can put together for you.
PodGrid is another advertising service available for podcasters. This service caters to podcasts of all sizes. There’s also AdvertiseCast, which allows you to keep 70 percent of the revenue share created by your show. Other advertising services worth checking out include PodcastOne, Headgum and Megaphone.
Check with each service provider to see if your podcast matches what they offer. Megaphone, for example, offers its services to podcasts with an average download of 20,000 or more per episode.
In an ever-evolving digital age, you need as many tools in your shed as possible to tell your stories — and podcasting is one of the easiest and most effective tools you can have in your arsenal. Follow the plan outlined in our three-part series, but most importantly, tell your story authentically and with passion. There is a captive audience out there, and they are always drawn to authentic, passionate podcasts. — The Editors
Parimal Rohit is a veteran journalist currently serving as staff writer for the Austin Business Journal and podcaster with The Asian Highway. He hosts two podcasts: Erased, an environmental news podcast that launched in March 2021 (you can follow the show on Twitter at @ErasedEnvironment), and Storytellers in Action. He is also the producer of The Brown Table-A Bollywood Podcast. Previous stops include The Log (recreational boating publication), India-West (ethnic media), Mirror Media Group in Santa Monica, The Signal in Santa Clarita and Buzzine Networks in Hollywood. Rohit also covered sports, politics and entertainment as a freelancer for several publications, including Campus Circle and Sun Community Newspapers. He currently co-edits SEJournal’s Inside Story column, is a member of the SEJ Awards Committee and is editor of the upcoming Covering Your Climate-Southwest special report.
* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 6, No. 14. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.