Public Radio Exchange COO Breaks Down “The Business Of Podcasts”

Dollar signsKeri Hoffman, chief operating officer at Public Radio Exchange recently published an article on the business aspects of podcasting. It’s an interesting read and will surely provide some new insights to both new and veteran podcasters alike. The article is broken down into a series of major points, covering everything from media hosting to monetization.

Hoffman notes how, when PRX first ventured into podcasting, the state of media hosting was abysmal. Fortunately, that’s changed for the better over the years. Regardless, she has some good advice to create, “…a podcast feed that points to a stable place.” And when looking for a hosting provider, “Basic metrics like number of downloads and subscribers are how you will measure your success. If your host doesn’t offer these, walk away.” And perhaps most importantly:

If your podcast feed is not a domain you control you may have trouble upgrading or moving to a new publishing platform in the future. If your show URL is something like –, you may have a tough time extracting your feed since it is tied up with the domain of your host. Potentially, you could lose listeners in the transition. The best way to avoid this problem is to purchase a domain name and then use that for your feed.

The article goes on to explain why providing good meta data for your podcast is important, as it’ll help new listeners find your show in directories like iTunes. Hoffman mentions how she’s always disappointed when she discovers a show that hasn’t properly listed all of this information and then she lists a bunch of key elements that podcasters should focus on such as title, language, description, copyright, etc.

The portion of the article that will likely be of the most interest to many podcasters is the section where Hoffman covers monetization:

There are two basic things that come into play when monetizing your podcast – you have to have a sizeable audience that knows you and likes you well enough to either 1) donate to you or 2) purchase a product you endorse through sponsorship. Be careful wasting your energy on sponsorship sales until you grow your audience. In our experience, the magic audience number is about 20,000 downloads per episode. Or, your podcast is published frequently enough so that you have at least 50,000 downloads per month.

From there, Hoffman lists some typical CPM values and how, even with an audience of 20,000 downloads, a show is probably going to make just a few hundred bucks a month. It’s some real truth for those who may believe it’s easy to create big riches overnight thru podcasting.

The article winds up with some basic business advice for shows that are growing and making money. Overall, it’s an informative read and definitely worth checking out.

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