The Myth of Easy Money in Podcasting
Why It’s Not the Right Path for Everyone
“No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” — Samuel Johnson
“No man but a blockhead expects to make money podcasting.” — Alex Greenwood
In recent years, podcasting has emerged as the medium du jour, touted as a gold rush for content creators and businesses looking to cash in on the on-demand audio revolution. Amidst stories of celebrities signing multi-million-dollar podcast deals (many of which have cratered — just ask Harry and Meghan) and niche creators finding their tribes (and considerable profits), there’s a pervasive belief that podcasting is a lucrative venture open to anyone with a microphone and a story to tell. However, the reality is far more complex and less promising, especially for those solely looking to make money.
Take it from me. I’ve been doing this since 2006. Here’s why podcasting may not be the best path for everyone.
Saturation and Discoverability
In the last few years, the number of podcasts has mushroomed, with estimates suggesting more than five million podcasts and over 70 million episodes as of 2023. While this growth signifies the medium’s popularity, it also makes it increasingly difficult for new creators to get noticed.
Unlike YouTube or Instagram, where the platform’s algorithm helps in content discoverability, podcasting platforms are still catching up. Most podcasts receive little to no attention and often fade into obscurity, leading to what’s known as “podfade” — the gradual dying out of a podcast due to lack of listenership or revenue.
High Production Costs and Time Investment
Creating a high-quality podcast isn’t as simple as hitting the “record” button on your smartphone. Sure, the barrier to entry is relatively low — a decent mic, computer, and internet access — but it’s a steep mountain to climb to get noticed. Trust me. From purchasing the right equipment and editing software to spending hours on research, scripting, recording, and post-production, podcasting can be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor.
And let’s not forget the cost of marketing and promotion. While you might be passionate about your topic, the return on investment often doesn’t justify the initial financial and time outlay for many creators.
Wait, Did I say “often?” I think I meant almost never.