How Do I Make the Paid to Play Podcast… Pay?

For six episodes of the Paid to Play Podcast I’ve been talking with people across town, across the country and across the globe about how they took what they loved to do and turned it into something that other people paid them to do. I’ve interviewed a writer, an actor, a painter, three musicians and three shop owners.

But I’ve not talked about myself that much – at least, not myself as someone who wants to get paid to play too.

See, until now, I’ve not thought that I really had anything to offer. I’m a writer, but my first actual fiction “product” is still a ways off and freelancing seems like diluting my passion instead of picking it.

And while I’ve toyed with the idea of monetising this blog, that requires a narrowness of focus that I really didn’t want to give it – not to mention that I didn’t feel as though there was a particular subject I wanted to focus on at the expense of just blogging about where my curiosity takes me.

Now, though, I reckon I have that product that I love to make – the interviews I’ve done and have yet to do. It seems high time, then, that I started developing a plan to turn the play of talking with people into pay.

But where do I start?

I am a complete and utter Marketing noob. I work wth a firm that has its own dedicated Marketing department, I’ve listened to a lot of marketing podcasts like Internet Marketing for Msat People and Big Business Small Marketing, I even record a marketing-related podcast with my mate Marcus in Sydney, but I’ve never actually dabbled my toes in marketing a product myself.

Still, though, I think I’ve gleaned enough from those sources to decide on some initial steps:

3. Get the Paid to Play Podcast its own domain.

The Blog of Living Curiously is my own personal site; I want an outlet for stuff that mightn’t serve a listener of the Paid to Play Podcast. Plus, it really does deserve more than a subdomain of robf.com.au, not to mention its own blog where I can post about the things I’m doing to obtain and build an income.

2. Develop a plan for advertising.

While I’d prefer not to think of my audience as an asset of eyeballs that I can sell on to an advertiser, I think I need some experience in sales while I develop a product that I can offer to listeners of the podcast.

In essence, that will involve listing some Paid-to-Play-related things other people make, then contacting those people about an advertising arrangement. However, before I can start talking sales, I need an audience to whom any advertisers can pitch their products through my site.

Which means the very first thing I need to do is:

1. Build an audience.

Empty bleachers.
Photo by hotblack; sourced from Morguefile.

I mentioned during a recent episode of the Business Web Integrations podcast with Marcus that I want to turn the few spikes in my web log traffic (mostly relating to the Miracle of Sound-related posts I’ve written) into minor peaks in a respectable plateau instead of mountains on a sea-level plain. Therefore, I need to actively target the kind of people who will not only enjoy the Paid to Play Podcast but also find it useful so that they know it’s out there and can come and listen to it.

Not only that, I need to build some sort of firm relationship with them. In an early episode of the Business Web Integrations podcast, Marcus and I talked about generating leads and conversions; my goal in this case would be to convert enough audience members into subscribers of, say, a mailing list that I could present to a sponsor or advertiser as proof of an audience with whom I’ve connected.

But just who are those people?

That question will shape every marketing related decision I make about the Paid to Play Podcast, from the site’s design to how I write it (which includes the key phrases I’m targeting whilst optimising my written content for search engines).

Most of the marketing sources I’ve read and listened to identify a neat technique for this, one right up my alley as a writer:

1a. Create an avatar.

An ice carving.
Photo by jdurham

When I think about targeting an audience, I tend to think about studies, demographics, an amorphous cloud of trends that indicates the sorts of interests and behaviours that a person who woudl buy a marketer’s stuff might have.

No one can talk to an amorphous cloud of statistics, though. I have to talk to people.

Or, more accurately, I have to talk to a person.

Billy Connoly once explained the principle pretty well. When asked about how he kept audiences entertained when he went out on stage, he said that he tried to keep them gathered together into one person, to whom he told his jokes and made his observations.

If that one person ever began to split up into individual audience members, he’d gather them back together again like a shepherd of attention so that he could continue on.

In that vein, this avatar of my intended audience is a single person with a past and a present, a set of preferences and tastes and interests and, most importanly, needs. That way, instead of trying to target a statistic or talk about something general, I’m addressing an actual (if imaginary) person. I can ask myself, “Would Jeff be interested in hearing this? Would it make him laugh? Would it make him feel better? Would it give him something he can go and use to improve his situation?”

So the next logical step, then, is to figure out just who Jeff is. (Yes, I’m calling him Jeff. Unless he turns out to be a she, at which time I’ll revisit the whole name thing.)


Making the Paid to Play Podcast has been an absolute blast so far; I’ve talked with great people about the things they love doing and learned a heap about audio editing and creating a regular episode. I reckon it’s time to start doing it myself.

But in all the talk about making money from something, it’s easy to forget that that money comes from people, real people, when they give it to you in exchange for something of yours that they value.

Though I sometimes get a bit focused on the dollars (or, more accurately, my lack of them) I think these steps will help me keep my efforts focused on you folks who come to the podcast looking for entertainment and advice, and stand me in good stead for getting people I’ve not met yet to take a look and / or lsiten to the work and find it of value to them.

Now to start taking them…

Next Questions

Just who is my avatar?

Are You Curious?

Which projects are you building an audience for? How are you doing it?

Images sourced from Morguefile.