Targeted Content Development and Curation
for Legacy and Online Media

Finding an Audience Online


07.28.15 Posted in New Media News, Radio in all its forms by Denise

A recent survey states the obvious – acquiring an audience and revenue are a challenge for small podcasters http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/07/small-podcasters-have-trouble-finding-new-listeners-and-monetizing-survey-finds/ The same is true for other independent media creators.

I remember a seminar I went to a few years ago when a blogger indignantly demanded of the speaker “So when will I make money?”

Since I have more experience than most, here are my 2 cents. Getting a large audience is hard. Keeping one is even harder. No one is entitled to an audience. Having one is a privilege that has to be earned whether your medium is TV, radio, cable, music, film, print or digital.

While it’s true that traditional media companies have the tremendous advantage of being able to promote their shows to an existing audience (there’s nothing like a promo right after the Super Bowl), there’s ultimately only one way to get and keep an audience and that’s by delivering unique content they’ll find the time to consume.

We all have countless ways to spend our time and they’re not all with media. Our short attention spans have become a cliche. And yet, many podcasts drone on for two or three times as long as the subject matter warrants, bloggers post about items that appear in dozens of other places with nothing new to add and TV networks are still putting out the same formulaic sitcoms. (A lot of them fail, even with those spots after the Super Bowl.)

When I worked in network radio, I had to turn down hundreds of shows, many of which were good, because the companies I worked for could handle only so many programs profitably. The good news is that everyone now has a shot to create a hit show without going through a gate keeper like a programming executive.

But the reality is the content has to be great and the creator has to promote it vigorously and repeatedly in every way possible. Those who do both will attract an audience and make a living. A very few at the top will get rich. Those who create a great product and don’t promote it will fail, as will those who spend a lot of time and effort promoting a poor product. You might be able to get people to try your show by marketing it well but if it isn’t any good, they won’t stick around. Would you?

All too often, hosts wing it. They do a mediocre show, send out one or two messages on FB and/or twitter and sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Good luck with that. If you don’t care enough to produce a quality show why should anyone invest their time listening? No one owes you a living from podcasting or blogging any more than the local dry cleaner is owed a living. There are WAY more people who want careers in media than there are jobs.

Still, if you have an idea you believe in that you think a lot of others would like, go for it. Work hard. Research and prepare like crazy. Listen to constructive criticism. Be persistent. Put the kind of sweat equity into your show that would be required if you were a Silicon Valley startup. If it ultimately fails to meet your expectations, do what the professionals do – cancel it and start another, bringing with you everything you’ve learned from your first show.

Those who succeed put their own wants and needs aside in favor of the audience’s. And, unlike the old days, if you do hit it big, you’re not beholden to any networks or publishers.

It’s not easy, even for those with lots of experience. The public is fickle and unpredictable. There’s plenty of competition and there are no guarantees. People wash out of the entertainment business all the time, even smart, dedicated, talented people. But some make it.  And it’s never boring.

Welcome to show biz.



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