By David Spark | Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:12 am
(This interview is part of David Spark’s (@dspark) series “Making Money from Podcasting” (read summary “9 Successful Techniques for Making Money from Podcasting”) where he interviews podcasters who are actually generating revenue from their podcasts. There are many techniques, and here’s one person’s tale of how he’s making money from podcasting.)
Ken Ray is a former colleague and now host of Mac OS Ken, a daily news podcast all about Apple and Macs. For a few years Ray had been hosting the show for free and built up a substantial audience. People started emailing and asking if there was a way they could financially support his show. Could they donate to it, they asked. Ray was not comfortable putting up a begware button on his site, but he did want to figure out a way he could generate income from the show. He just didn’t want to do anything that made him feel uncomfortable.
Interview (Time: 15:48)
Ray’s original hope was to generate advertising revenue. Over the first two years of producing the show he got an occasional advertiser, but it wasn’t enough. Also, he simply wasn’t an aggressive salesman. It became clear very quickly that advertising wasn’t going to be his source of income. While the subscription model had its promise, he didn’t like what he was seeing from other podcasters who started for free and then began charging, or made only one show free and made you pay for the rest of the shows.
If you start out free you engage in an agreement with your audience to produce that show for free, said Ray. If he was going to do a subscription it would have to be for something else, extra. So he decided to create what he calls a “Day 6″ show which is a longer form and interview-based episode of Mac OS Ken (I’ve been a guest) that’s only available to paid subscribers. In all, you get four extra shows for $10 a month, and now he’s producing even more shows available to those subscribers.
He sees the “Day 6″ model to be kind of a hybrid between subscription and public radio. He admits that the “Day 6″ show is designed to support the five free shows during the week. Ray hasn’t become wealthy from it, but it’s become a main source of income and he’s increased his brand as a Mac expert. Just recently he’s been asked to be an editor for an upcoming Mac blog. The ink hasn’t dried on this deal so he’s not ready to announce it, but stay tuned.
While Ken Ray has been a podcasting personality for many years, the subject of making money from his own podcast did make him a little uncomfortable, but in a rather charming way. He so obviously adores his audience and his audience adores him as well that he doesn’t want to say or do anything that’s so crass to offend them. Listen to my interview with Ken as he describes how he had to admit to his audience that he needed to generate some revenue for his podcast or he wouldn’t know how much longer he could do it. I really learned about how much a struggle it is for Ken to generate money for his passion, so he can keep doing his passion, while still respecting his audience.
David Spark is a tech journalist and founder of Spark Media Solutions, specialists in building industry voice through storytelling and social media. He blogs at Spark Minute and can be heard regularly on John C. Dvorak’s Cranky Geeks and ABC Radio.