Podcast Experiment

A few months ago I decided to try an experiment to learn more about podcasting. Because I’d produced my novel A Time and a Place as an audio book I knew I could easily turn it into a podcast. So I got myself an account on Podbean and started releasing chapters one week at a time.

Of course, this meant giving my work away for free. But A Time and a Place was released in 2017 and isn’t earning that much money anymore. This is because I’m not really marketing the book at the moment. For one thing, I refuse to give Jeff Bezos any more money than I absolutely have to (a subject for another post) and also because it doesn’t make sense to do so right now until I have more of a back list. Which isn’t going to happen until I retire from my day job.

I thought a part of the experiment might be to see whether releasing A Time and a Place for free as a podcast could itself generate revenue. So I included links with each episode indicating where listeners could donate to the cause.

The novel has now been released as a podcast in its entirety. I haven’t marketed it at all other then a tweet here and a Facebook post there. I released it via Podbean on all the major platforms including Samsung, Spotify, Google, Apple, Amazon, and so on. The only expenses were a basic Podbean account at $9 US per month.

Downloads for all chapters total 13.3 thousand. But this is misleading because the downloads were wildly skewed. They averaged 50-100 downloads per week for the first couple of months. Then, in June, downloads for Chapter One took off, ultimately totalling 4147 downloads. I’m not entirely sure why. Almost all these downloads came via Samsung Listen. Samsung Listen is only available to Samsung Galaxy owners, a device I don’t have. I can only assume it was a Samsung Featured Podcast or the like, but there was no way for me to tell.

I thought, great! Now it’s taken off and all those people will go on to listen to the rest of the book. But that didn’t happen. As of today, downloads for Chapter Two stand at 254 downloads. Other chapters average roughly the same until Chapter Twenty, which sits at 5506 downloads.

Chapters are still being downloaded at an average of about twelve downloads a day.

To date, the podcast of A Time and a Place hasn’t generated a cent, at least as far as donations are concerned. It’s possible one or two people have purchased copies but certainly there hasn’t been a stampede, or even a trickle. And even though I included contact information, not a single person has emailed, texted, commented, or tweeted any kind of response. My podbean account did accumulate four followers, one of whom is a friend of mine.

It’s difficult to draw any real conclusions from the experiment, so I’ll just leave it at that. I will be launching a different sort of podcast after Christmas. It’ll be interesting to compare the two.

In the meantime, I will be taking the podcast version of A Time and a Place down in a few weeks. So if you happen to be one of the people listening to it a chapter at a time, you’ll have another couple of weeks to get to the end. If you haven’t finished by then, well, you could consider purchasing a copy somewhere. 🙂

2 Comments

  1. John Corcelli

    Hi Joe: Perhaps users consider podcasts as “free” and audiobooks as “purchases.” A podcast could easily lead to a purchase if used as a sales tool. Your generosity hasn’t gone unnoticed if the stats are to be believed. If you had released it as an audiobook you may have had a financial return on your investment. That’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

  2. ilanderz

    Actually, it has been released as an audiobook, on both Amazon and Findaway Voices. It’s sold 16 audiobook copies on Findaway Voices and about 54 audiobook copies on Amazon, but those sales have petered out, which is part of the reason I was comfortable releasing it (temporarily) as a podcast.

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