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How to Monetize a Podcast with Mike Kadin

George Grombacher November 3, 2022

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How to Monetize a Podcast with Mike Kadin

LifeBlood: We talked about how to monetize a podcast, the number of podcasts that are consistently producing content, the ways in which it’s possible to monetize, and how to get started, with Mike Kadin, Founder and CEO of RedCircle, an org empowering podcasters. 

Listen to learn how big of an industry podcasting will grow into!

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Mike Kadin

Episode Transcript

left, this is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful mate Kate and Mike, are you ready to do this?

Unknown Speaker 0:21
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

george grombacher 0:24
excited to have you on let’s go. Mike is the founder and CEO of red circle. They’re an organization empowering the podcasting community with powerful tools to support them in their efforts to grow, earn money, and be heard. Like, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work, why you do what you do?

Unknown Speaker 0:41
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I’m the founder and CEO of this company, we’ve been building it for about four years. Prior to this, I was a software engineer working in the tech industry and sort of got to a stage where I was working at a big company that was, you know, ultra capitalist company and just sort of in meetings all day doing other people’s work and decided I need to go out and build something on my own. And, you know, importantly, using the skills I learned in technology to build something that was the fundamental good in the world. And what we do is we help podcasters to be heard to grow their audience to make money on what they do. And a big part of the mission of the company is to help ensure that podcasters that are not, you know, Joe Rogan, or the New York Times, or CNN, the biggest publishers that are in this space that the indie podcasters, the middle class podcasters are the ones that we try to support. So we’re on a mission to sort of make sure that those folks get their due in the space as it grows. Personally, I’m I’m a dad of one kid, and my husband and I live in Boston. And you know, our team is remotes all so our whole company is everywhere.

george grombacher 1:45
Love it. Middle class podcasters. That that’s a great term doubt heard that I imagined that that’s 99%. Well, like, I guess there needs to be a bottom end of that, too. So yeah, it’s actually

Unknown Speaker 1:57
relatively small. I mean, there’s maybe 50,000 podcasts that are out there that we would call the middle class. There’s a lot of beginners, who we also help and our product is free for beginners. If you have one podcast and you just want to get it out in the world, it’s free and easy to use. But the middle class is sort of folks who have okay, I’m a little bit bigger. I have few people listening, I’ve gotten good at what I do. And, and our product is really well designed for that classes. podcaster.

george grombacher 2:24
Right on. So what was it four years ago, you’re you’re you’re in this wonderful company, but feeling like you’re a little restricted, like podcasting, I’m gonna get into podcasts.

Unknown Speaker 2:36
Yeah, well, I’ve been a podcast listener for forever. I mean, I had, you know, a podcasting app in the mid 2000s, you know, when when podcasting was just beginning to become popular, or just beginning to exist. And I’ve always been a listener, I’ve always been an auditory person. When I was a kid, I used to fall asleep with books on tape, you know, in my room. And so I’ve just always been obsessed with this medium. And, you know, when I left the company I was at before and I was looking for something new, I went and explored a bunch of different opportunities. And the you know, was a bunch of money grabs that just didn’t feel like something I could get excited about. But I did interview at a couple of companies that were in the so called like, creator economies or companies that were helping independent creators, YouTubers, focus on Twitch podcasters, Instagram influencers, all these kinds of folks that are sort of new, digital, you know, business owners, that I think are a super interesting segment of the economy that need tools to support this kind of work as our economy becomes more and more digital. You know, folks go from, you know, selling Avon makeup to to becoming a makeup influencer or you know, instead of being a local music teacher in your town or community, you’re you’re making YouTube videos to educate 1000s I think those kinds of small businesses are really interesting group to support and that sort of, I got excited about that. I combined that with what I was up to listening to podcasting for forever. And that just sort of brewed this this business. I just found myself up at two in the morning, coding something up reading Industry, Trade press, you know, I was having a baby at the time. It wasn’t a great time to start a business, but I just became obsessed. And you know, this happened.

george grombacher 4:16
If you want something done, give it to a busy person, like so. Yeah. Yeah. All right. So I think that that’s awesome. And it’s certainly this super fascinating, exciting time where the Avon salesperson can all of a sudden become the we have the ability to create an account on YouTube to really create our own media media empire. And, and it’s an awful lot. A lot of it’s probably distracting. How are you? How are you thinking about that? It’s we want to make good decisions and utilize our resources because it’s finite. I have finite time, attention and money. I can’t to everything.

Unknown Speaker 5:02
Yeah, I mean, I, one of the things we’ve noticed over the course of the pandemic, people were quite nervous about podcasts listening and sort of where that would fit in people’s lives, right, because people became much more at home, less time commuting, less time going to the gym. And you know, some of those patterns have reverted at this point. But what we found is like podcast listening has become such an ingrained habit for the pot for the typical podcast listeners that they’ve found space in their lives. For this, a lot of folks think of podcasting, as entertainment. But many folks think of it as a as an opportunity for learning and for growth, right. I mean, if you’re listening to this show, I’m sure you’re listening for some entertainment value. But you’re also like listening to the speakers that you bring on to get a feel for what they have to say, and maybe you can learn something from it. A lot of folks think about podcasting in an almost aspirational way as almost like eating their vegetables, and going back to class. And so I consider podcasting to be something that helps get in the way of that distraction. It’s not the two seconds of, of brain chemistry that you get from swiping through tick tock for an hour, to two seconds per video. It’s more deeper, you know, harder thinking longer thinking, that can be something that I think is important for everybody to center into their lives. And so as a listener, I try to find, you know, time and space, whether it’s when you’re doing the dishes, or the whatever chores around the house, or wherever else you can find, you know, 2030 minutes of time where you know, maybe your hands are busy, but you can focus your mind. That’s the time, you know that that’s what’s so different about this VM versus other ones that are primarily driven as a distraction economy.

george grombacher 6:41
Yeah. And I think it’s, it’s, I think it’s exciting. When you’re working with with podcasters. How do you How does that conversation start? Is it what are you trying to accomplish? What are your goals for your show? Have you thought about these things?

Unknown Speaker 6:59
Yeah, and a lot of times, it depends on the size of the podcaster. Right? When it’s somebody who’s just getting started, a lot of podcasters are interested in how do I grow, right? They they are doing the work, they’ve got something that they think sounds good, they’ve got some people listening, but it’s really hard to to grow your audience, if you don’t have existing celebrity or a big social media audience or something that it’s hard to figure out how to grow. So on the smaller side, that’s like the primary thing people are concerned with. And then as they get bigger, a lot of times folks are interested in okay, how can I actually monetize this? How can I get rewarded for the hard work that that I’m putting in? And then of course, at the very, very beginning, there’s folks who are just like, how do I? What are the nuts and bolts for actually doing this? Right? What do I need in terms of equipment? What do I need in terms of software? How do I make this go, and you know, we have a different conversation with the folks of all those different sizes. The number one thing that we say to everybody, regardless of the stage that you’re at, if you want to be a good podcaster, you want to generate audience, you want to make money, or maybe you just want to generate audience don’t care about money, the number one thing you need to do is produce good content, right? I can’t help you grow your podcast, if people aren’t going to enjoy it, learn something from it, or, you know, become, for lack of a better term addicted to it. So that can create a habit around listening to your podcast every week. creating good content is the number one thing and so always that’s, that’s the starting point for our advice for folks is okay, first, let’s figure out what’s your show about why are you uniquely good at making a show like that? And how can we make sure that the content is so good and so compelling that people want to come back week after week?

george grombacher 8:28
Got it makes sense? Does anybody ever say no?

Unknown Speaker 8:32
Look to making good content? Yeah. I mean, yeah, absolutely. There’s lots of folks that are looking to they see, you know, maybe they have a friend who’s making a couple bucks on podcasting, and they just want something, you know, quick and easy. And like everything in life, if you want to, you know, get value from it, you got to put in the work. And sometimes that’s a rude awakening for people for sure.

george grombacher 8:52
Yeah. So as if four years ago, and certainly much much has changed, but much is probably still still the same. Have has there been tech or I guess, things that have come along tools that have made it better easier to grow a listenership assuming that your podcast is a good show?

Unknown Speaker 9:15
Yeah, we have some stuff. And a bunch of other folks have really focused on what what, what has been shown to be like the most effective way to grow your podcast, which is to cross promotion. If you have a podcast, that’s good, but you need to gain access to other audience, putting your content or yourself in front of somebody else’s podcast audience and talking about what you’re doing and putting yourself out there is one of the most powerful ways to grow. And we’ve got some technology that helps sort of pair you up with other podcasts on our platform to do cross promotions in a semi automated way. And then there’s a couple other businesses that have spun up to do the same. So if you sort of Google around and say, you know, podcasts, cross promotions, you can look for some tools that can help with it. It’s a really powerful way to grow. It’s not like you know, you’re not going to double your audience overnight. But if you Do that a couple times. And you really focus in and do a good job on it and you find podcasts that you think will be in really good alignment between your audience. And there’s, we’ve got the data to show that it’s very effective. You know, we could watch and see listeners moving from one show to the other after we do one of these cross promotions. And so you know, that’s, that’s why you see a bunch of kind of mash ups between YouTubers at the top as well, because they’re all just trying to do the same thing. And in podcasting, it can be really effective. That said, you know, if you get somebody listening to your podcast, and the content sticks, and they’re not going to stick around, right, or if you get somebody to listen once, and you don’t remind them, hey, you know, go into Apple podcasts and press that subscribe button or wherever you listen, that’s another thing is you might be able to get people in the door, but you’ve also got to hook them and keep them coming back. Do you see

george grombacher 10:46
a time where you’ll have major podcast networks, what I’m thinking about is is is YouTube, I could start a YouTube channel, make great videos and be directly monetized by YouTube. And then you also have people that have started just doing their own ads and getting their own deals and sort of doing those in their video. Yep, you see something like that happening?

Unknown Speaker 11:10
It’s somewhat similar to what red circle provides for podcasters that are large enough. You know, Spotify, Apple, if you put those two companies together, they represent, I don’t know, something like 80% of the places where people are listening, without getting in too much into the business strategy, because I think it’s outside of the scope for this interview. You know, I don’t think Spotify is looking to pay podcasters unless they own the show. And Apple doesn’t seem very interested in monetizing podcasting, either. They’ve been kind of the benevolent dictator of the space for 15 years and haven’t made any significant monetization moves either. But there are companies like us, there’s a few others that have spun up to help a creator to just sort of upload your content to us, we’ll distribute it to the places where people listen for you. And every once in a while, you’ll get an email that says, hey, here’s an ad deal. If you want to make a couple 100 bucks, just read this script and upload it here. And we take care of the rest, just somewhat like YouTube in that, like the work is limited and actually monetizing the show, it’s sort of taken care of by a technology platform. And then you just get the money deposited in your bank account at the end of the month. There’s also programmatic advertising, which is the kind of pre recorded ads that you might hear on, you know, Spotify, or Pandora or something like that. And there are a bunch of businesses that can help set those up where you have to do no work at all, you just turn it on. And you know, those ads play, the disadvantage there is of course, as the podcaster, you don’t really have control over which specific ads are running. So and each individual listener might get different ads. So in that scenario, you have a little bit less control over what kind of ads are playing. And the last thing I’ll say is, you know, a lot of podcasters use Patreon as well, we have a similar thing I saw you have a buy me a coffee link and your podcast, I think, you know, you can ask for support from your fans. And if you think about the value that you get from listening to a podcast, I listened to a couple podcasts I’ve been listening to for, I don’t know, 10 years, every week, for an hour or an hour and a half. Just think about how much like value that has brought to me in my life. And a lot of podcasters are sort of unwilling to ask their fans for support. But I think it’s like, you know, I used to be a singer and I would go we would have concerts and our friends would come in, we would ask for $5. And we didn’t do anything with the money except, you know, buy a pizza afterwards and maybe like a new microphone. But I don’t remember any of my friends ever being like now I’m not going to pay the $5 this is this is wack. So. So generally speaking, you know, there’s ways to make money besides advertising as well.

george grombacher 13:31
Yeah, that’s interesting, right? What do you see as what what what are you most excited about either for podcasting in general or both? And and just for what you’re working on with with red circle?

Unknown Speaker 13:47
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve been podcasting in general is going through like a serious expansion in terms of the business and the industry. The expectation is that the podcasting industry is going to be $6 billion in total advertising spend in about three or four years. That was down at 300 million total advertising spend when we started the business. So we’re very excited about that. Not because it’s a big money making opportunity for me. I mean, I guess I’m excited about that, too. But the bigger thing is, I’m excited about most of those dollars going into artists hands, right? There’s going to be businesses like mine that spin up that that ride this wave, but all those dollars are going to be going to podcasters. And I think that’s fundamentally a good thing. This medium is becoming more and more mainstream. You’re seeing like, you know, high school teachers in social studies, having their kids create podcasts instead of writing a book report. You know, and we’re seeing it be a thing that more and more people can say, this is my job. And I’m very excited about that, as the industry continues to grow. What I’m more excited about and this relates more to our business is historically, most of that money, like I said, has gone to the largest publishers that kind of enterprise companies that have podcasts networks that use celebrities, but because of businesses like ours, at because of a growing space, and more and more advertising dollars coming into the space and needing to get deployed into podcasts that are not full of ads already, more and more of those dollars are going to make their way into independent creators hands, which is very exciting and super, you know it energizing for me in the business that we’re building. That’s what we build, we build products to help make that advertising transition possible. Where a brand can spy on 500 middle class podcasters get better performance because those podcasters are more authentic and reading the ads, but still have their brand be safe and not pull their hair out with a million emails and spreadsheets to coordinate a campaign of that size.

george grombacher 15:35
That’s what we do. Yeah, that’s interesting. I don’t know that I really thought about that from a brand’s perspective that they’d like to get their message out across many different podcasts. But the thought of going one one at a time is is pretty cumbersome.

Unknown Speaker 15:49
Yep. And that’s how the industry is primarily done. It’s done with PDFs and emails. And right here on my desk is a pile of checks in the mail that gets sent to us. And you know, you can imagine, if you’re trying to do that to 500, individual podcasters, without any kind of automation or technology, you’re either going to spend a bunch of money on the people to pull that off or, or you’re going to lose your mind to try to do it with one or two people.

george grombacher 16:12
Technology steps in and tries to find the solution without getting too big, like the job you’re working at where you felt like it wasn’t a good fit and remaining true to the values and everything else. gotta walk. Walk that tightrope, Mike. Yeah, exactly.

Unknown Speaker 16:28
And look, when when when there’s an opportunity to build a business that’s going to make that has a bunch of economic value, and there’s a money making opportunity. And you get to do a dance between that and something that’s providing real value in the world instead of just like, you know, taking a cut of something and rent seeking. You know, that is something that I’m excited to be able to work on and something that that I’m glad I was able to figure out how to do, you know, the independent podcasters that make money off our stuff, write to us all the time and say, hey, you know, this, this money has helped me pay for my kids college or this money has, you know, I was in a tough time. And this is really helped to make ends meet. And that’s the kind of stuff that really energizes us in what we’re doing and makes us glad that we’re working on this instead of you know, making the next computer chip 10% Faster, or whatever kind of thing you can do with technology. Yeah,

george grombacher 17:19
I think it’s awesome. Particularly because you’re so passionate about about podcasting, and you talked about books on tape and fallen asleep to him back in the day. And that’s awesome to be able to make a career out of it and provide value to to all parties involved. So well done. Thanks, man. Appreciate it. I appreciate you coming on. Mike. How can people learn more about you? And how can people engage with red circle?

Unknown Speaker 17:43
Yeah, I mean, the easiest way to do that is just to go to our website, it’s red If you want to find me a Twitter’s probably the best place it’s just my first initial M and my last name, Kayden KD I N. And you can find me there. Excellent.

george grombacher 17:57
Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did show, Mike your appreciation and share today show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to Red And check out everything that Mike is working on and find out if it’s good fit for you if you’re trying to start a show, or if you’ve already got a show, and you’re looking to bring in a little bit of money. And if you are an advertiser, do advertisers also come to you directly, Mike, I see. Yeah, absolutely. So there’s that as well. Then find Mike on Twitter. I’ll list all those in the notes of the show. Thanks again, Mike. Yeah, thanks for having me. This is fun. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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