Sorry But Your Podcast is a Hobby

This post was originally posted in the Podcast Business Journal

If you take a look at you can get a snapshot of some of the podcasters making some money using crowdfunding. If you watch Lore on HBO you might connect the dots that it started as a podcast. When you see a successful podcaster post their income reports, you might get inspired to start your podcast. That is a good thing. Inspiration to get off the couch and create is always a good thing.

However, you are just starting out. While you may end up having your podcast support a full-time venture, that is in the future. For now, let’s treat it like a hobby. Here is why:

  1. You’re probably not good. This doesn’t mean you’re bad, but there is a pretty good chance that 50 episodes from now you are going to look back at episode 1 and cringe. There will always be room for improvement, but when you first start there is typically a lot more room for improvement.
  2. If you are focused on making money (especially quickly) life will give you a rude slap in the face. Companies with VC-backed marketing campaigns don’t make a profit quickly. When money does not fall from heaven, your attitude takes a beating and you contemplate quitting (and often do).
  3. If you start a crowdfunding campaign (for example, Patreon) you need to spend time on coming up with rewards and making adjustments. If patrons changed their level of support (assuming you get a patron — which is unlikely). It’s better to focus on people, not profit. Without people, there is no profit.
  4. You now have two “measuring sticks” in downloads and income to measure your “success.” Any shortage of those things can make you start to “white knuckle” your podcast as you fear you’re never going to succeed. It’s bad enough when you have smaller downloads than expected, but with the additional reminder that you’re not getting paid for the effort (yet), it can be a one-two punch that can add additional stress. Stress can be the enemy of creativity.
  5. You are missing out on the fun. Picture the six-year-old kid who wants a giant turkey leg at Disneyland. His parents say, “No, it’s too big for you.” Now you can pout, and fret, and ruin your whole day. Meanwhile, you are in the happiest place on earth and you’re missing it.

When you see someone boast about their success in a Facebook group, it can spur a “What do they have that I don’t have?” mentality.

If I started playing football today, I wouldn’t expect to have as much success or make as much money like Tom Brady, so why do you feel you should be as successful as much as someone who has been podcasting for years before you started? This person maybe has had a built-in community, or just may have a degree of talent that you are still working on. Quit focusing on others quit focusing on the money and instead focus on your audience.

Meanwhile, you are talking about a subject you love. You are getting e-mails from people and comments on your website explaining how they enjoy the show. You are impacting people’s lives. You may be interviewing people you have no business meeting. You are meeting people who feel like your long lost twin, and you are ignoring all that as you are focused on the almighty dollar.

Don’t get me wrong. Podcasting can be a great marketing arm for any product in service. My podcast helps create a relationship with my audience. A relationship that takes time. I’ve had people say, “I’ve listened to you for YEARS before joining the School of Podcasting.”

Years, Dave? Yes, years.

However, if you’re doing the “three guys, one brain” show where you sit and chat with your college buddies that you haven’t seen in years — that is not a business. This is a hobby and it’s fun. If it explodes and downloads go through the roof, then we can talk about turning it into a business. For now, sit back and enjoy your friends. Lean back and enjoy your community.

In a world of Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Sirius, DVDs, Redbox, Xbox, Cable, AM/FM, etc. you have people who are enjoying consuming your content. Reach out to them. Make new friends. Ask for feedback on how to improve the show and enjoy the act of creating content that people want to hear.

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcaster and consultant. He started the School of Podcasting in 2005 and potentially has helped more podcasters with their podcast than any other human on the planet. Find him at