On CNN, Doug Gross has a good account of Kevin Smith's SXSW presentation on how he became a podcaster and weaned himself off the "heroin" of movie studio money, going direct to his fans instead for advertising, merch sales and sold-out houses when he toured. This being CNN, they've got a lot of [expletive] marks where Smith is saying "fuck" in his charmingly innocent way.
Smith said he decided to take advantage of his access to celebrities and gift of gab to launch a new project. And he deployed a technique he said has always served him well: do what you love and what you're good at, then figure out how to make money doing it.
And that led to "SModcast," a weekly podcast that he and friend/co-producer Scott Mosier launched in 2007 and do to this day.
It was free. But as its online audience grew, the opportunities to make money arose.
"People would tweet left and right: 'You put out so many free podcasts; how can I pay it back?' " said Smith, who has more than 2 million followers on Twitter. "I was like, 'Go buy a T-shirt' and they were like, 'Cool.' "
Then came paid advertising. (The first sponsor notoriously being adult product Fleshlight). Then a paid version of the podcast, "SModcost," which contains bonus features but no ads.
Filmmaker Kevin Smith: Podcasting saved my career
(Image: Kevin Smith in Vancouver, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from shaynekaye's photostream)
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