Elaine Clark Cracked the Podcasting Code

Elaine A. Clark

I usually don’t get hate mail, but there was one story I wrote back in 2015 that rubbed a lot of readers the wrong way. 

It wasn’t one of my stories about voices dot com. It wasn’t even an article about the Voice Arts Awards.

It was a blog post called The Problem with Podcasting (as always, bolded words in blue are hyperlinks).

Here’s part of the introduction:

“I spend very little time listening to podcasts. I’d rather read an article, than listen to forty minutes of blah-blah-blah. An article or blog post I can scan in a short amount of time. I search for keywords, and skip the fluff.

Done.

On to the next one.

Am I going to listen to a forty-minute podcast to possibly pick up a few useful ideas?

No thank you.

But there’s another reason why most podcasts are not my cup of tea.

I have no patience for mediocrity, half-ass efforts, or for untalented amateurs playing radio.”

Five years later, I still stand behind what I wrote in 2015, although I must admit that I’ve added a few podcasts to my listening diet. Here are some shows I’m a fan of:

The VO Meter with Paul Stefano and Sean Daeley

Making an Impression & You’re Popping with Simon Lipson

Talking Creative with Samantha Boffin

The VO Social  with Nic Redman and Leah Marks

Voiceover Sermons with Terrry Daniel

The Voice Cast with Albert-Jan Sluis (in Dutch)

On occasion I will listen to shows like This American LifeFresh Air, or RadioLab. All these programs are professionally produced, and they make doing the dishes or yard work much more pleasant. But I really can’t stand podcasts that take way too long to get to the point, hosted by nitwits that love to hear themselves talk. 

It turns out, I’m not the only one!

A NEW BOOK

Voice Over coach Elaine Clark, author of There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is, just published -as she wrote:

“the book I would want if starting a new podcast or needing to improve an existing one.”

It’s called “Voice-Overs for Podcasting. How to Develop a Career and Make a Profit.”

I just read it, so, let me get straight to the point. Should you buy this book if you’re thinking of podcasting, or if you already have a podcast?

A B S O L U T E L Y!

One hundred percent.

But before you make plans to produce the next Serial (the record breaking podcast by Sarah Koenig), I have some great news for you, and some not so great news.

According to Edison Research, American podcast listenership has grown one hundred percent in the last four years. 67 million Americans listen to at least one podcast a month.

Here’s the daunting news: there are more than 850 thousand active podcasts and more than 30 million podcast episodes. If you’re serious about starting a podcast, you better know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s just like the world of voice overs:

Many are called. Few are chosen.

One of the things that crossed my mind when reading Elaine’s book was this: is podcasting something I could do on the side, to provide some passive income through lucrative sponsorship deals?

A MONEY MAKER

Well, get this. Elaine interviewed six successful podcasters for her book. One of them is Melissa Thom, founder, producer, and host of Spellbound. It takes Melissa two to five days to edit one episode which usually runs for thirty minutes. 

Jordan Harbinger, host of the one-hour Jordan Harbinger Show, takes 10 – 20 hours of research, 90 minutes to record, and 9 hours to edit (which he outsources). Podcaster Jason Allan Scott spends one hour of research per minute his guest is on the air.

Most voice overs (Elaine’s target market) don’t have so much time to spare. They’re too busy making money where their mouth is. And as you read Elaine’s book, you’ll discover that monetization is one of the biggest challenges for podcasters.

For most of them, it is and always will be a labor of love. 

The key to making money from podcasting is to have a large listener base. Only then are sponsors and advertisers interested in you. Jordan Harbinger says:

“It’s easy to get sponsorships once you get the big numbers. Getting the big numbers is the hard part. You need about 5 to 15 thousand downloads per episode (at the very least) before most sponsors will be interested in your show.”

For Jason Allan Scott, the magic minimum number is 20 thousand downloads per show. So, as in voice overs, being successful at making podcasts is not only about making interesting podcasts, but about being good at selling your podcast to the world! That alone, could easily be a second job, if you have plenty of time on your hand. 

But you can’t really sell something until you have a product people actually want to buy, and that’s where Elaine’s book delivers big time. She writes:

“After hundreds of hours of listening, dissecting, and talking to others about podcasts, the universal theme is GET TO THE POINT! Don’t make your story too precious, your intro too long, or your focus too broad. Listeners feel their time is valuable.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Voice-Overs for Podcasting is an invaluable step-by-step guide to baking a mouthwatering podcasting cake, covering the most basic ingredients, to dealing with pitfalls and roadblocks. If you are serious about becoming a podcaster, this book will save you hundreds of hours of research, and will prevent you from trying to reinvent the wheel.

But remember: baking a great cake is about more than following a recipe. It’s about being creative, playful, daring, unusual, boundary-pushing, and about being an original. Those are things you cannot learn from letters printed on a page. 

It’s only 134 pages, but Elaine Clark’s book is filled with lists, practical tips and ideas, even scripts that will set you on the right track. In my opinion, there are only two things that will keep her book from reaching a wider audience.

One: The confusing title. Why isn’t it called Podcasting for Voice Overs? No matter how you spin it, the title suggests the book is geared toward voice overs. I believe it should be required reading for anyone who’s thinking of starting a podcast, and for podcasters who want to up their game.

Secondly, I think the cover looks generic and rather uninspiring.

But you know what…

If the cover is one of the only things to critique, you know the content must be pretty stellar!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerdain Articles, Journalism & Media, Reviews

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