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Podcasting 101

By:  Karl Stern (@wiwcool, @dragonkingkarl, karl@whenitwascool.com)

When I first began recording internet audio the term "podcasting" had not even been invented yet.  The first iPod came out in the fall of 2001 whence the term "podcasting" derived it's name.  I began putting audio up to my old website of DragonKing Wrestling in the late 1990's.  One of the earliest audio streaming stations on the internet was Eyada which kicked off in 1999 and I was a multi-time guest on the Wrestling Observer Live show which was one of the flagships of that station.  So, yeah, I've been around internet "radio" for a while.

Eyada was, at times, something else.

Eyada was, at times, something else.

One of the first "hit" shows I had was the Ric & Steve... er Karl Show which I hosted on the DragonKing Website.  The name was derived from the fact that my "real" name may or may not be "Steve" while my professional name is Karl but my friend and co-host Ric Gillespie kept calling me "Steve" for several episodes before we finally caught the mistake and even then we had the occasional slip up so we named the show humorously the "Ric & Steve... er Karl Show".  I will upload one of those episodes on our Patreon page if you are so inclined to give it a listen.

Eventually, that show ran it's course and I sold/gave/dumped all my DragonKing publications to Bryan Alvarez of FigureFourOnline.com who was, himself, a pioneer of internet audio.  Bryan then graciously invited me to join his website and host the DragonKingKarl (that's me) Classic Wrestling Audio Show which has now been running for almost ten years.  

Bryan Alvarez of WrestlingObserver.com / Figurefouronline.com

Bryan Alvarez of WrestlingObserver.com / Figurefouronline.com

Additionally, an idea we both had of doing an AM Coast to Coast style show lead to the creation of After Dark Radio which is now hosted at Bryan's site which has now spun off my own DragonKing Dark show.

So... I have some experience.

My wife and I decided to spin off our own website where we could cover things we enjoy, mostly of the retro and nostalgic nature, and I could host a podcast for us which is the When It Was Cool Podcast which is available everywhere you would expect a podcast in 2016 to be found like... well... here at this site, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, Castbox FM, Player FM, etc.

If you listen to podcasts regularly, as I do, then you are probably aware there are a LOT of them out there on a wide variety of topics and in wildly varying quality.  What is it that is so appealing about podcasting?  Is it lucrative?  Why do it?  Why listen to it?

With technology at the stage it is presently in with high-speed (at least relatively high speed) internet available in most places and equipment like microphones and mixers becoming more and more affordable, it is now pretty easy for just about anyone to record a near radio quality show and put the file up somewhere.  Many people (if not most of them) do it strictly as a hobby and a way to converse about something they are excited about.  If you are getting into podcasting for this reason then you will probably find it a very satisfying hobby and endeavor.

you can order this podcast set up at the bottom of this page through our amazon affiliate program.

you can order this podcast set up at the bottom of this page through our amazon affiliate program.

Is it lucrative?  No.  Very, very few people have found a successful way to monetize podcasting.  For a long time there were sponsorships like Audible which, honestly, probably did very little for most smaller shows in terms of monitization.  Then many podcasts went to the Amazon affiliate model (which we have also used for years) but unless you are converting a huge number of customers you probably aren't going to see substantial dividends from any affiliate program.  I have made some money in the past off of Amazon sales but it has been random and never in any huge amount but every little bit helps and it is pretty cool that Amazon makes this program available.

Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer over at WrestlingObserver.com probably have the best model in that there is a dedicated fan base of professional wrestling fans who covet news and information and are willing to pay for quality news and audio.  Bryan has developed an amazing podcast network that ranges from the serious news with Wrestling Observer Radio to the humorous with the Bryan & Vinny Show to the nostalgic with my DragonKingKarl Classic Wrestling Audio Show.

But keep in mind that both Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez already had a pre-existing pay base with their respective newsletters.  These weren't necessarily "brand new" customers and pro wrestling has a notoriously loyal and rabid fan base willing to put their money into the product.

Free advertising so maybe they will keep me employed a little longer.

Free advertising so maybe they will keep me employed a little longer.

I was able to successfully convert some listeners into paying customers by putting compilations of my audio shows on a flashdrive and selling them as a proverbial new era "box set".  Titled the "Super Stern Stick Flashdrive", I found a reasonable degree of success in selling these compilations but my work wasn't time sensitive since I talked about classic wrestling.  Perhaps, if you have a podcast that isn't time sensitive, this might be a good model for you also.  I also found that breaking up shows into multi-part audio documentaries was a good way to keep shows relatively evergreen.  I've began putting up some of those documentaries at our Patreon page.

That brings us to Patreon, which is where I have currently hung my hat hoping for the best.  Patreon has proven very successful for some podcasts.  I recently heard the numbers for the iFanboy comic book podcast and salivated at the number of listeners they have converted into Patreon supporters.  

For a short time, I tried the advertising route and did have a few advertisers, but found that to have been the least profitable monetary solution out of all.  Your results my differ.

I still, after all of these years, believe in podcasting.  On-demand is the way of the future.  While most people still tune into the radio or television there are many who have gone to on-demand audio and video streaming services and never look back.  Most of the people who I know that have began listening to podcasts have stuck to it for years.  The ability to listen to what you want - when you want - is very appealing in the same way Netflix or WWE Network or Hulu is for television viewers.

We would love for you to consider supporting us at Patreon and I constantly upload perks for our contributors.  Anything could turn up on our Patreon members feed from digital comics to audio shows to books.  So please consider taking a look at our Patreon page and helping us grow our Podcasts.