The Blackbox

We have had a tremendous run with our niche podcasting journey. I’ve been a part of a lot of projects over the years and helped create a lot of different products. What we have created here lacks the sophistication and all the moving parts of other products I’ve helped create, but none of them have had the impact that our audio has. Creating audio for kids to listen to and enjoy, is incredibly rewarding. And I love getting direct feedback from them and their families. Something not typically possible in a large company.

Another thing I have discovered while attending a writing workshop is the challenge of getting published and getting people to read your material. Every month kids listen to my stories millions of times – I’ve built an audience for my (albeit weak) writing.

Now here comes the but …

I’ve learned a lot about podcasting these past few years. From audio editing and sound design to growth and monetization, and everything in between. Despite this, some aspects are still a complete mystery to me.

There was a naive expectation on my part that if you create a product that people enjoy, and you get enough people enjoying this product that revenue will follow. Sort of build it and they do come.

It’s a simple formula: A (audio that people want to listen to) + B (scale) = C (revenue) In fact that’s all anyone ever talks about. When the inevitable question is asked, “how do I make money podcasting”, the answer is almost always the same. You need scale (or a very valuable niche).

We have scale. In fact, using the number of downloads we have as a standard, we may have one of the largest podcasts in Canada. We are not the largest globally by a long shot, there are many podcasts in our category which enjoy multiple more listeners than we do, but it should be enough.

My focus has been on creating audio, not ad sales. Our ad sales are handled by Advertisecast, RedCircle, and Gumball.

Last year at this time the future looked bright. We signed several family-friendly brands, which helped make this the first year I was able to pay myself and keep the lights on in our studio. The celebrations were short lived because since June there have been no new contracts and I have no idea why that would be. I’ve reached out to the ad sales companies above and implemented all their suggestions, but they have been not very forthcoming with any solid suggestions.

So I started calling others working in audio. The most successful creators are a part of networks, others take advantage of being in the US (Spotify), and others can’t understand what our problem might be.

It’s a black box.

Advertising is not our only source of revenue, but unfortunately, it is our largest. Without it, it’s hard to justify continuing, especially with the rising cost of doing things on this remote Island in the Atlantic.

The only real solution I have is to start doing ad sales myself. Then I might find more answers, but finding time to pitch brands will be difficult, considering I take very few days off now.