Macro Voices Discussion Forum

The investment world is full of scam artists and con men, and one of their favorite tricks is to join an investment-related forum like this one, warm up to other users on that forum, then try to run some kind of scam on them. While we do our best to remove any posts we feel are inappropriate we recommend extreme caution when considering investment advice posted by other guests on this, or any other public forum. Read More...

Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
Welcome to the Macro Voices Podcast Forum!

Post you comments and questions about specific podcasts here.

TOPIC: Making MacroVoices Break Even

Making MacroVoices Break Even 5 days 13 hours ago #1

  • ErikTownsend
    Erik Townsend
  • Fourth Turning Capital Management, LLC
  • ErikTownsend's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 165
  • Thank you received: 36
  • Karma: 8
As we announced at the end of today's show featuring Art Berman, I really enjoy producing MacroVoices each week, but it costs a lot more than I initially expected to produce the show at a level of production quality I can feel proud of. I literally spend almost twice as much producing MacroVoices as I spend on my primary residence!

Yes, I'm financially independent and "have the money" to continue. But the way I got to be financially independent is by knowing how to make intelligent decisions about spending money wisely. This project has grown to the point where it costs well over $1,000 per week to produce a show that produces no revenue and offers me no direct benefit other than I enjoy it and I get to interview smart people. In other words, a really expensive hobby. I cannot justify continuing to pay for this out of pocket and giving it away for free.

Ironically, what I'd really like to do is increase the production budget in order to replace our "postgame" segment (what we call the exchange between Aaron and me after the guest interview) with a "Regular Guest" interview, where we'd have a monthly rotation of regulars. In other words, we still have the feature interview focusing on macro, but then there would be a shorter (about 10-12 minute) segment where the first week of the month is a precious metals focus with a metals guy, the second week of the month is an energy market focus with someone like Art Berman, the 3rd week of the month might be a geopolitical focus with an expert in that field, etc. But that would increase production costs even more because of the need to tape the additional guest interview.

To be clear, I have no desire or need to make a profit from this venture. I enjoy doing it and I already have a full-time job running a hedge fund. But I really can't justify spending $60k/yr or so on what is essentially a hobby.

I'm sure some of you are thinking "That's ridiculous! $60k? You should be able to do this for free! Just do the audio editing and the rest of the work yourself and publish the podcast! Why should it cost more than whatever the hosting fee is for your website?" If I were retired, you'd be exactly correct. It's a lot of work, but I could do it all myself and the budget for the website and other unavoidable costs would be about $5-10k/yr tops. But I'm not retired; I have a fund to manage and it would be irresponsible and unfair to my investors for me to spend anything close to the amount of time it takes to put this all together every week. The only way I can justify doing this at all is if all the time-consuming work that goes into recruiting, booking, and scheduling the feature interview guests can be delegated to a producer other than myself, and all of the audio editing tasks can be delegated to an audio engineer, while all of the technical issues in support of the website are delegated to a webmaster. These people are highly skilled and their services don't come free.

In short, the only way I can fit this into my life is to hire the services of others to do most of the work, so that my own time commitment is limited to researching the guests to decide what questions to ask them, then spending a couple of hours per week taping the show. Out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved, I'm not going to publicly detail who charges how much, but suffice it to say that it really does cost about $60k/yr to do what we're currently doing. I'd love to make some upgrades to the show format that would require increasing that budget to at least $80k per year. That's just way too much to spend on a hobby, despite how much I enjoy doing it.

I think the ideal solution would be to find a sponsor who can afford to subsidize the $80k annual production cost in exchange for bookending the show with their tasteful promotional message. My direct ask to listeners is for help finding the right sponsor.

So far I haven't thought of any other alternatives that "feel right". Here's a list of what I've considered and why I don't feel comfortable with each idea:

Switch to a paid-subscription model: We're finally getting traction and a reputation where we can recruit some really high-profile guests like Hugh Hendry, Steve Keen, and several more big names we have coming up in December and January. The only reason high-profile people in the industry are willing to do a podcast at all is exposure to a large number of serious investors. Macrovoices needs to grow, not shrink its listener base. Charging a subscription fee would dramatically reduce the audience size, and thus reduce the appeal for the guests we most want to interview.

Ask for Donations: Sounds good, but how much revenue is that realistically going to produce? I doubt it would make a meaningful dent in the $60k annual run rate.

Monetize by selling advertising: What everyone loves about MacroVoices is that it's an hour of no-bullshit solid financial content every week. If we put ads between the segments it would detract seriously from the quality of the product.

Dramatically reduce the budget: Sounds good, but how? Remember, I have a fund to manage. I can't recruit the guests or edit the audio myself. Ask for unpaid volunteers to do these things? Sounds great, but how realistic is it to expect someone to commit 10+ hours per week to doing something fairly tedious and time-consuming for free? Aaron spends a LOT of time e-mailing and sweet-talking prospective guests. Chris Curran puts a monumental effort into first recording the guest interviews and the editing and mixing the show. It takes up most of the day every single Thursday, and it's not something that can be done after hours. We have to accommodate the guest's preference for interview times. I'm sure plenty of people would love to try their hand at these things once, just for the experience. But how would we find someone willing to first learn how to do it and then want to spend at least a full work day per week doing it for free? I just don't think it's reasonable to expect anyone who is qualified to do the job competently to be willing to do it for free.

Simplify the format: I hate this idea, but may be forced to it if we can't find a sponsor or other solution. If we abandoned the whole host/co-host format, and just taped a one-on-one interview between me and a guest each week, with no market wrap, no co-host interaction, and nothing but the guest interview, the production cost could probably be cut in half. $30k/yr is still an expensive hobby, but it's better than $60k, I suppose.

I welcome suggestions and ideas from listeners. As noted above, I really don't want to scale the show down to reduce cost. I'd much rather scale UP to add another interesting personality in a short 2nd interview each week. But the current format is already beyond affordable. I can't see a path forward without a sponsor, but I welcome other ideas.

Thanks for reading!
Erik
Last Edit: 5 days 13 hours ago by ErikTownsend.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 5 days 8 hours ago #2

  • travelshowinc
  • travelshowinc's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 0
Erik, I'd like to start off by saying you've got a fantastic podcast. Great job to you and Aaron. I won't go into great detail but we have very similar backgrounds from the standpoint of being entrepreneurs, retiring, losing a ton of money and then making it back gradually, investing ourselves. One day maybe I can share my story with you, as you've been so gracious to share your story with the listeners.

(It's late for me so please excuse typo's.)

Let's discuss making money. My background is marketing and advertising so hopefully I can give you some ideas for bringing in some revenue for the podcast. Additionally, I've seen these methods work extremely well for other podcasts.

1. Private Facebook forum for "supporters of the show" (take donations). I know Tom Woods, who has a Libertarian podcast, does well with this. Or maybe make these forums private?

2. Freemium model. Is there some content you could add that wouldn't add too much effort, or money, but you could charge for? Example: I really enjoy your weekly market recaps. Could you do an additional podcast on fridays (just you and co host) doing another market recap for the week or maybe answer listener questions? Do it with the lower production cost until revenue increases to keep cost down. This, with maybe a couple more perks, could be packaged into a premium subscription for 9.99 a month? I'd gladly pay that for 4 additional market recaps per month. Then you can keep the main podcast free.

3. Of course sponsorship. I respect your desire to not interrupt the show but an ad at the beginning of the show is completely reasonable. Every other podcast I listen to has ads and I've never been annoyed by them. I'd guess the majority of your listeners are intelligent capitalists that have no issues with a podcast using ads, especially if it supports the amazing content. Have Raoul and Grant sponsor the show, you plug Real Vision 10 times a week! ;)

4. Set up a master mind group. Several podcasts I listen to have master mind groups. Similar to the group you joined at the start of you educational process (can't recall the name). I know you were disappointed with yours, but make a macro voices master mind group what you think a master mind group should be. Have them meet twice a year in themed location based on a investment topic. Example; meet in Cushing, OK for master mind meeting and tour storage facilities. Maybe crazy but it's an idea. ;) Also, you could have monthly mastermind webinars between meetings.

5. Your educational series is fantastic. Maybe you could do those more consistently and add them to the freemium package or sell them as stand alone products. At a minimum you should make them into Youtube videos to promote the podcast.

6. I've seen other podcasters have success taking the transcripts from past episodes and putting like topics together to form an ebook. Might not work for macro voices because it's more time specific but could spark another idea for you.

7. Set up an affiliate page on macro voices.com. This would allow you to generate revenue without having to pitch too many things on the podcast. Many of the products you use to run your hedge fund would potentially be helpful to listeners. See if they have affiliate programs. I know one podcast producer has such a fanatical listenership, he puts up an amazon affiliate link so listeners can buy books of his guests, many of his listeners use his affiliate link for every amazon purchase they make (not just books) to support the show. Maybe Scottrade affiliate or xyz broker? Maybe Raoul or Grants newsletter? I doubt they have an affiliate program but maybe they'd work a deal for every subscriber that came via macro voices.

8. I could go on and on but I'll leave you with one idea for the future. Macro Voices investment summit. I actually owned a convention business so I'm bias, but I've seen several other podcasts hold annual "summits" and have great success. A podcast can be more than a labor of love. My convention did substantial 8 figures in revenue so I know they can make money. Also, back to #7, some investment conventions may have affiliate programs? Like Delivering Alpha etc. If someone is going anyway might as well sign up through your affiliate link to support the podcast. ;)

A resource you may want to check out is John Lee Dumas. As far as I know, he's at the forefront of podcast monetization. His podcast (and website) is Entrepreneur on Fire.

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you'd like some more ideas or further clarification on any listed above. You produce a fantastic podcast with incredible content, please know listeners like me greatly appreciate the hard work...

Good luck,

George
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 5 days 14 minutes ago #3

  • pvlee
  • pvlee's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
Erik,
Great work with this podcast and I will still be an avid listener regardless of the number of sponsors. I don't think you would lose any listeners if you were to introduce more than one sponsor to cover costs. Maybe worth reaching out to Aaron Fifield of Chatwithtraders.com. He has a good professional podcasts and pauses his show once or twice for sponsors. (He'll probably want to interview you for his show)

Good luck to Aaron :-)
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 3 days 23 hours ago #4

  • ErikTownsend
    Erik Townsend
  • Fourth Turning Capital Management, LLC
  • ErikTownsend's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Administrator
  • Posts: 165
  • Thank you received: 36
  • Karma: 8
George and PVLEE, thanks so much for the suggestions. Much appreciated.

I wonder... What if we released the show a day earlier to people who made a donation. I really want to keep it free so that students and others who can't afford a subscription can always listen. But they don't need the market wrap to be up-to-the-minute.

What if you had to pay $50/yr to get it delivered on Thursday evening, but then it becomes free to everyone on Saturday morning? I wonder how many people would care about timeliness enough to be willing to ante up fifty bucks to get it early. Any reactions?

Erik
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 3 days 19 hours ago #5

  • SkunkyBeer
  • SkunkyBeer's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 0
Hi Eric,

First of all, thanks so much for what you do.

For me, the early-release idea isn't a good one. I think of your MV pods as strategic, not tactical, and the standard disclaimer your announcer recites at the very end of every pod would verify that the contents "do not constitute trading advice" (paraphrasing). Looking back over the past few months' pods, I can remember several "eureka moments", but none that caused me to go running to my eTrade account that very second and pull the trigger on something.

Have you ever listened to the "Skeptoid" podcast? They have an interesting business plan. Skeptoid encourages micropayments (a few bucks a month), but do not require them. Anybody can listen, but during every pod, the host (Brian Dunning) reminds listeners that Skeptoid is a "user-supported" endeavour. Monthly micropayments also smooth out his cash flow, I'd suspect.

I personally think Skeptoid offers consistent quality, so I send him a few bucks a month. It's no big deal.

As far as sponsors, almost all of my fave pods (Slate Money and Dan Carlin Common Sense, for example) have commercials embedded either before, during, or after. Even podcasts from heavily-subsidized NPR, such as the Diane Rehm Show, have commercials for themselves during breaks. Again, it's no big deal. Your listeners are accustomed to it.

Just my $0.02
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 3 days 2 hours ago #6

  • pvlee
  • pvlee's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
I would tend to agree with Skunky. The fact that it is free to all makes it a terrific resource and I think it would lose some of its charm if some paid for more timely/relevant info. Personally I would look at the sponsorship route first and go the payment way if sponsorship will not cover costs
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 2 days 5 hours ago #7

  • KeithStone
  • KeithStone's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 0
Hi Erik,

"Ask for Donations: Sounds good, but how much revenue is that realistically going to produce? I doubt it would make a meaningful dent in the $60k annual run rate."

A "value-for-value" model could warrant some consideration for MacroVoices. Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak from the No Agenda Show have been successful utilizing this model, getting listeners (referred to as "producers" because they fund the show with donations) to fund the twice-per-week podcast. They've been running strong for 9 years now (I started listening to them around March 2015) and do it on a full-time basis.

Numbers

Not sure on numbers, but I think Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak have mentioned that maybe around 1-2% of people who listen to the podcasts will actually donate for the value that they are receiving. Based on this wiki page, the No Agenda Show could be pulling in around $15k per month (source: noagenda.wikia.com/wiki/Donations]http:/...a.com/wiki/Donations[/url]). The wiki page claims a leak from the Adam Carolla show where Adam Curry allegedly mentioned the No Agenda Show was making about $5k per show. The wiki page source seems a little sketchy, but the section where they list out the individual donations per episode can be verified (Adam Curry & Dvorak read out the names of people who donate over $50 during the two breaks in the show).

Attached is my rough guess on the number of MacroVoices listeners and the per-show total donation estimate based on 1% of listeners donating and running 50 shows per year. At 5,000 listeners, the average donation to break-even would $24/show. For 10,000 listeners, $12/show. For 3,000 listeners, it would be $40/show.

Chris MacIntosh from Capitalist Exploits seems to do around 2k-4k listens per episode (based on me quickly browsing SoundCloud). Fash the Nation (before it was kicked off SoundCloud) experienced rapid growth (upwards of 7k-10k for a weekly show) during this last election - they filled a niche by covering politics that the mainstream media would never ever touch or acknowledge.

Adam Curry 2012 Cusp Conference

Listed below are some parts I found interesting from a presentation Adam Curry gave at the 2012 Cusp Conference (about the design of everything). One of the most interesting parts is when Adam Curry plays a video where Steve Jobs mentions his podcast and mentions the future of podcasts.

- 4:45 --Skittles advertising, Budweiser Spring Break, Michael Jackson VMA (then have to do a deal for "Michael Jackson King of Pop Weekend" in exchange for performing at the VMAs)
-


- 10:20 -- Adam Curry invents podcasts; Steve Jobs plays Curry's podcast on stage
-

- ~19 mins -- Adam explains how he decided to quit his dayjob and do podcasting full-time.

- ~ 21 mins -- Adam shows the audience (designers) some of the Internet funding models out

- On-screen presentation Adam Curry was using (http://cusp.curry.com/30YearsOfBroadcastHistory)

No Agenda Email Examples

The No Agenda Show sends out a brief email newsletter the day before each show (Thursday & Sunday show days) pitching listeners on various donation levels. Personally, these seem to be effective because I have probably donated around $150 over the past 1.5 years I have been listening. Here's a link to the archive of email newsletters (http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d0e55f3197099944345708652&id=9d09ce1037). The 11/26/2016 newsletter was a good one because they compiled the cover pages from the NY Post and the NY Daily News showcasing the blatant media bias against Trump.

Thanks for a putting together a great show each week. I'm 2 years removed from undergad working in management consulting and have learned a wealth of knowledge from your show (I'm in the "students" camp, so a little out of your target audience). I've forwarded the Research Roundup to my good friends and share your tweets with people I interact with on Twitter, but please let me know if there's anything I can help with!
Attachments:
Last Edit: 1 day 14 hours ago by KeithStone.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 1 day 18 hours ago #8

  • Vidocq1809
  • Vidocq1809's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 0
Erik,

Seen some great ideas here, but one that I've not seen is setting up a page at Patreon.com for MacroVoices. If you're not familiar with the model, it facilitates its users to set up an automatic deduction of their choice per episode. It's sort of like a Kickstarter for serialized work. You can set up different rewards for different per-episode pledge levels. As an example here is another popular podcasts page that has successfully supported itself through this avenue: www.patreon.com/philosophizethis

I'm a podcast addict with over 20 shows different feeds that I follow regularly. MacroVoices is my favorite one of all, its the one I'm most proud and excited to share with others, and I would gladly contribute regularly to offset the production cost if there was a way to do it. I can't be the only one. Whether you set up a Patreon account or do it some other way, I strongly encourage you to create a path for listener's to contribute.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Making MacroVoices Break Even 1 day 15 hours ago #9

  • coredata
  • coredata's Avatar
  • Offline
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 0
Erik,

You might take a look at finding a virtual assistant or freelancer who has the capabilities to do the tasks you're needing completed.
Seems like a lot of what you're needing done is definable and repeatable.
I wonder if you can significantly reduce your cost structure by going this route.

www.fiverr.com
www.upwork.com
Last Edit: 1 day 15 hours ago by coredata.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
Moderators: MikeRonayne, NathanEgger, amkc
Time to create page: 0.210 seconds

MACRO VOICES is presented for informational and entertainment purposes only. The information presented in MACRO VOICES should NOT be construed as investment advice. Always consult a licensed investment professional before making important investment decisions. The opinions expressed on MACRO VOICES are those of the participants. MACRO VOICES, its producers, and hosts Erik Townsend and Nathan Egger shall NOT be liable for losses resulting from investment decisions based on information or viewpoints presented on MACRO VOICES.

Go to top