A Conversation with a Friend


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So I hashed through some of the issues around the Seanachai with a friend of mind, Brandon Uttley. He ejected himself from a company he founded because he wasn’t satisfied with where it was going. He a good guy and a good guy to talk with.

If you’re interested in getting involved, here’s 60 minutes of our musings. Give a listen and post your reactions and suggestions.

Brandon’s blog is http://www.webbusinessfreedom.com. And don’t let his self-deprecating manner fool you, his blog is awesome. Go have a look.

10 replies on “A Conversation with a Friend”

  1. This is a shame. As of this morning only 1 download reported and I think this is the only comment.

    I like when the podcaster steps away from their content and talk about the inner-workings of the show. This is sort of a behind-the-scenes or a DVD extra. Mur Lafferty does this well. You get a glimpse of the person behind the craft which is an interesting side-story unto itself.

    My 2 cents as a fan & software engineer:

    I’d like it if you avoided the “pr*ck” business model of holding content for ransom. It feels like an act of desperation and I think it would damage the listener relationship.

    James Patrick Kelly did a subscription-based podcast through Audible so, I’m not sure of the mechanics but it can be done.

    What I would like from the Seanachai: in additional to the content I’d love it if you could post an RSS feed with the comments linked to each post, much in the same way some forums do. That way I could keep track of new posts and keep an eye tuned for Patrick’s replies. This makes the Seanachai more of an interactive community and maintains my interest while I’m waiting for the next installment.

    I might be in the minority here, but I’d be willing to put an unobtrusive Seanachai bumper sticker on my car.

  2. How about a monthly free podcast and a weekly premium podcast? The monthly podcast could just be one of the weekly podcasts but with a minute of trailers at the end for the other podcasts that month (no hard sell).

    That way you won’t alienate the freeriders, but will have a chance every month to convert them into paying customers.

    Also I’d like the option to pay for the year in one shot, rather than having to mess around with payment details every time I want to listen.

    I’d sign up in a heartbeat.

  3. One website I frequent releases a lot of content to the freeloaders, but it also offers the option to become a sponsor. You pay $10, and you get six months of extra stuff, including extended episodes, bloopers, extra videos, and access to the archives (they have rolling archives up for the freeloaders, so if you’re not paying, you might have to wait a while to get back to the beginning and see what happened there). Plus, for a while they had a rule where sponsors got episodes three days before everyone else. Sponsorship became almost a status symbol.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I enjoyed that method, and I’ve been a sponsor for some time. I would do the same for this in a half a second.

  4. In my opinion pursuing the “shareware” concept is the best logical business course. You will need to hammer it home though and remind people often to donate which will undoubtedly annoy some. $1 per month is perfectly reasonable and is a small enough amount that most people won’t miss it. In your pod casts urge people to donate $1 today. See if you can raise the amount per week to equal 1/4 of your total monthly amount. Remind listeners that Paypal doesn’t cost them anything additional. Once you hit $5 or more dollars in a sentence it begins to feel like a burden to a lot of people.

    Focusing on $1 is lightweight. You will probably get more people to donate $1 per pod cast rather than $1 per month even. Focus on the small amounts. As you talked about in your conversation, and it really holds true, there is so much free content out there that being forced to pay for content is unnecessary.

    Most of us listen to pod casts to pass the time. If we had something more interactive to do at the moment we would probably choose to do that instead. For example, I listen while I’m at work. I get somewhere between 6 to 8 hours of audio feed per day. I have stumbled upon some pay sites that offer great promos. They all want $10 on up to listen. I flip over to a different web site and keep going. I have donated to a few websites that embody the “shareware” attitude though. They offer a place to donate and let you know where to find it.

    Here’s a thought. Be a little bit like NPR (as you also mentioned). Ask people to donate 25 cents right now. One pod cast per week = $1 per month. Have a little 20 second blurb entreating them to keep sponsoring your work rather than having premium locked out content. Keep the new listeners coming and make the cost to donate so small it hurts more to listen to you ask than it does to pony up the quarter.

    Best of luck!
    -Dave M.

  5. You may be aware of these specific podcasts or at least the methods they use, but just in case one of these has never caught your attention, here are a few paid podcast ideas that I’ve run across that *seem* to work well. (Seem, to me the listener, at least. I don’t know how well they hold up when it comes down to actual dollars.)

    * NPR: This American Life – The latest n episodes (where n=1) are available for free. Older ones are available for purchase (on CD or in iTunes). Every so often they edit in a request for donations at the end of the current publicly available episode.

    * Delta Park Project – (Part of this is from memory–it’s a locally produced pop-culture podcast that I have since unsubscribed from because the subject matter just isn’t quite my thing anymore.) They experimented with per-user RSS feeds. Not only would subscribers get extra content, they got it a few days early. Additionally, they had a couple of different types of shows on the site. Users could go to a control panel and select which shows they wanted to appear in their custom feed.

    * Revision3/Diggnation – I’m not sure they are doing this anymore, but they had something set up where people that donate so much a month would get shows before everyone else. I think it was a Friday release (for weekend viewing) for donations versus a release on the following Tuesday or Wednesday for everyone else.

    * Podshow/Mevio – Podcasts published through them get preroll/postroll ads automatically inserted. They also have some number of flagship podcasts that have ads worked into the show content (the host giving out a promo code or whatever) that seem to have more direct revenue sharing between the company and the content producer.

    * Jay & Jack’s LOST podcast, Tiki Bar TV – They feature ads through Wizzard Media.

    * A bunch of other podcasts – all of the episodes are free, but you can make donations or purchase swag (CafePress-type stuff or archive CDs/DVDs.)

    Personally, I’m kind of partial to the This American Life model (maybe with “n” being more like 5 or 10) and the ones with advertising. I’m not sure that time-delay will work for The Seanachai, givin that your content is not as topical. I can see how ads might feel like “selling out,” but I don’t mind them, myself. The bills have to get paid somehow, after all.

    Regarding swag–CD/DVD compilations, books, t-shirts, and whatnot–I don’t know if I represent our average listener, but I don’t usually buy any of that stuff (exception: your How to Succeed in Evil comic & disc.) In concept, I love it. In practice… I don’t wear shirts with logos or artwork (only solid colors for me), I don’t need yet another coffee mug or mouse pad, the reason I listen to podcasts/audiobooks is because I’m not a big reader, and the back-episodes of shows that I like I will generally keep around. Wow. Typed out in black-and-white, that seems kind of harsh. It’s not meant to be. It’s just meant to better illustrate my thinking and point of view.

    I think one podcast that at least deserves an honorable mention is NPR’s Planet Money. As far as I know, this is strictly a podcast and not a radio program repackaged as a podcast. They’re really pushing to build community (Twitter, Facebook, blog) and often answer email/phone questions on the show. As best as I can tell, they’re funded by the good ol’ fashioned pledge drives, but the community being built up is the remarkable thing. I think it’s easier to ask for money from people when they feel they’re part of something. That is mainly why I point out Planet Money. While social networking websites do not do anything to directly influence your street-musician-with-donation-hat problem, it does help turn an emotionless and faceless “series of tubes” into a bit more of a street corner.

    What method will ultimately work for you? I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out! You are a great storyteller and I’d love to see everything work out well.

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