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Katie Day, left, and Shailey Murphy’s podcast has listeners in 100 countries.
Photo provided by Karen Beiler
Katie Day, left, and Shailey Murphy’s podcast has listeners in 100 countries.

Power of Podcasting: Locals prove profitability is possible

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The proliferation of podcasts is undeniable.

Apple Podcasts shared new metrics at the start of June that more than 550,000 shows are now on the platform, up by 25,000 in a month’s time. When the program started in 2005, there were 3,000 shows. Today, more than 50 billion podcast episodes have been downloaded.

Although downloads of podcasts produced in Springfield are probably just a drop in the bucket, at least a few of them are making some local waves. Profitability has arrived in different forms for two Queen City podcasts, with thousands of downloads and a growing fan base.

When Shailey Murphy and Katie Day got into the podcasting world two years ago, they weren’t following any kind of plan. It started as a way to share their experiences as young entrepreneurs balancing business and motherhood. Separately, they do photography and videography work based out of their homes.

Nearly 90 episodes into “Shailey & Katie’s Lemonade Stand” podcast, the women are not only still passionate about the podcast, they’re profiting from it, too. They have two sponsors on board: Grove Collaborative and Prep Dish. Both national companies are signed on for the podcast’s 12-episode seventh season. They’ve structured payment upfront in a bulk amount, charging sponsors roughly $1,400 apiece per season, which equates to $235 grossed per episode.

“If we didn’t grow at all and we did around three seasons a year with breaks, I’m guessing around the $7,500-$10,000 a year range is where we are right now,” Murphy said.

The show has around 300,000 total downloads with a widespread audience of listeners in more than 100 countries.

Another Springfield-based podcast, “The Mixed Six,” proves one doesn’t need sponsors to make a profit.

Hosts Caleb Stokes, Spencer Harris and Ross Payton review a variety of beers throughout discussions on movies, board games, sports and philosophy.

Quickly after making its debut episode in December 2016, the podcast connected with Patreon, a crowdsourcing platform that allows users to charge a subscription fee to members, allowing access to exclusive content.

Harris said the podcast currently earns $1,280 a month with nearly 300 subscribers and 3,000 monthly downloads. Those numbers have roughly doubled in the past year, he said.

Subscriptions and downloads for “The Mixed Six” aren’t the only numbers on an upward trend, as podcast listenership is also on the rise nationally.

As of this year, 124 million, or 44 percent of Americans 12 and older, have listened to a podcast, according to Edison Research. Two years ago, it was 36 percent. On a monthly basis, an estimated 73 million, or 26 percent, listen to at least one podcast – a percentage that has more than doubled since 2013.

For those who are weekly podcast consumers, they listen to an average of seven podcasts per week, according to Edison.

Gaining attention
For “Shailey and Katie’s Lemonade Stand,” having sponsors started as an inside joke, Day said, as the two women would open up episodes by explaining the show was “sponsored” by a houseplant they would see while recording or by mothers who knew their children’s ages in months.   

“Whether or not we just willed it to happen by going off in space or not, we actually started getting approached by people who said, ‘Hey, I’ll be your real sponsor,’” Day said.

The sponsors started around the one-year mark, Murphy said. They typically pay per 1,000 listeners and receive two ad spots per episode. Most sponsors spend between $25-$35 per 1,000 listeners, and rates may increase as the audience grows, Murphy said.

She said their podcast’s listener average is nearly 3,500, but a number of their episodes have hit the 5,000 mark.

“We charge our sponsors based on the 3,500 [average] at this point. But we’ll reassess that for next season, because we’ve already kind of finished that for this one,” Murphy said.

To engage listeners, “The Mixed Six” guys take to social media. Harris said the podcast is in “constant engagement” with listeners on its Facebook page and group, and they’ve spent money on the social networking site to push out ads. Harris said several $50 advertisement purchases have moved the needle on program downloads between 400-600 within a few weeks of running.

While “The Mixed Six” can be found on numerous sites that host podcasts, there’s a lot of content that is only available on Patreon, Harris said. ITunes has 40 episodes available for download, but he said more than 100 pieces of content are available to the podcast’s subscribers via Patreon.

At home
Another local podcast that got its start in 2016 keeps most of its content connected to Missouri’s Queen City. After all, it’s named “A Podcast from Springfield.”

It has a more limited listener base, said Jared Cantrell, who co-hosts the show with Doug Smith, and brothers Justin and Cory Wilson. The show covers current events in and around Springfield, along with a community calendar, pop culture and beer reviews thrown in.

Cantrell said the podcast is downloaded 200-250 times a week, while others stream the show through its website. In the early days, he said “A Podcast from Springfield” only had around 50 downloads per episode.

Aside from social media, the hosts have started making appearances at community events to spread the word.

“That’s how we get most of our listeners,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell said he and his friends don’t have big aspirations of becoming profitable right now, as they’re not on Patreon and haven’t been pursuing sponsorships.

“Let’s create some content first and then see what we can make with it,” he said.

For “Shailey and Katie’s Lemonade Stand,” Murphy and Day haven’t spent any money on marketing or advertising to reach their current status. The women feel fortunate the podcast growth has been organic.

“I don’t know if it’s that we did anything right or wrong or if it’s just that we fell in the right place at the right time,” Murphy said.

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