We’re stuck at an inflection point familiar to many creators. Media Voices increasingly needs more hours in a day than we can afford to give it, but until we give that time, we won’t grow enough to be able to pay for additional hours on it. Help us, listeners and readers. You’re our only hope!
We at Media Voices – Chris, Peter and Esther – have made 2022 our make or break year. Now we’re halfway through that year, we want to share with you our progress and what we really need your help with.
The Media Voices podcast began in late 2016 under themediabriefing umbrella. When TMB was sold, we asked to keep the months-old podcast and we got the green light on the condition that we rebranded it. Media Voices as you know it was born. For the next few years, we sauntered along with the podcast, arranging interviews in our spare time and recording the news round-up early on the weekend.
In 2019, we realised there was real potential in this business, and we had to start thinking of it less as a hobby and more seriously. We launched the Publisher Podcast Awards, our sponsored Conversations episodes, a daily newsletter and a number of other experiments – some revenue-driving, some not – to see whether we could turn this into something we could actually get paid for.
We’ve seen some encouraging success. But Media Voices is now at an awkward inflection point. It increasingly needs more hours in a day than we can afford to give it, but until we give that time, we won’t make enough or grow enough to be able to pay for additional hours on it. It’s a familiar circle to many creators.
Growth on both our newsletter and podcast have been frustratingly slow this year. We tend to talk about large media businesses – but we’re still finding our feet when it comes to trying to grow our own. We have big ambitions but to be totally honest, we’re struggling to find our way to achieving them. 230 episodes in, and we’re beginning to wonder if the podcast itself has plateaued.
We’re facing two options at the moment:
- Focus on revenue: We put all our time and energy into bringing money into the business so we can afford to spend more time on it later down the line. This ‘sprint’ approach is less sustainable in the long term, but would secure enough for us to be able to give more time between us, as well as commission and bring in freelance help where needed.
- Focus on audience growth: Get the listener numbers, traffic and newsletter subscribers to a state where we would look at getting external investment for 2023 and beyond. This will make it harder for us to afford to spend time in the short term.
Realistically, we can only focus on a limited number of things between us. Chris has a full-time job, and Peter and Esther both have to spend the majority of the time on freelance work to pay the bills. Time is our major limiting factor, so we need to work smarter, not harder.
What you can do to help
We’re being brutally honest about the realities of this now, so that we can utilise the power of our brilliant community to help, before it’s too late. Here are some simple things you can do to really make a difference:
- Tell your colleagues about us: Honestly, this is the most powerful thing you can do. Whether it’s recommending a podcast episode you enjoyed, tweeting an article of ours or suggesting someone subscribes to our daily newsletter, sharing what we do with others in the industry helps immeasurably.
- Talk to us: Podcasts are really difficult to get feedback on. We’re aware we’ve got some real super fans reading this (we love you!) but we haven’t yet figured out a way to connect you to better enable that two-way conversation. Maybe it’s a WhatsApp or Facebook group… although I’m sure we could do without another Slack space. In the meantime, we’ll always respond to email (news/esther/chris/peter [at] voices.media) or Twitter.
- Buy us a virtual coffee: We have a Ko-Fi page if you would like to kick us a few quid. It’s a real morale-booster when someone contributes either as a one-off or a recurring subscription. Audience revenue isn’t a silver bullet for us, but every little helps. You might have noticed we’ve been pushing this option on the podcast and in the newsletter more often lately; we don’t especially enjoy doing so but we’ve decided to try being a bit more upfront about what we need.
- Sponsor us: If you’re a vendor and would like to reach a solid group of mid to senior level publishing professionals, our Conversations episodes may well be a great fit. Let us know if you’d like the info pack. We’re potentially looking at opening up article and newsletter sponsorship at the end of the year as well, if you’d like to have a chat about that.
If you no longer listen to the podcast or have any other feedback about how we can make it useful / better, please do let us know. We won’t be offended – we promise!
Thank you for your continued support. With your help, we hope to still be here throughout 2023 and beyond.
Esther Kezia Thorpe, Chris Sutcliffe, and Peter Houston
P.S. This in no way affects the Publisher Podcast Awards or Summit – these are separate to Media Voices and will continue to run and grow for the foreseeable future.