Jim Harold has been podcasting for 16 years. He became a full-time podcaster in 2012 and now makes a comfortable living behind the podcasting microphone. Before podcasting, Jim was a radio broadcaster. His focus is the paranormal. We picked Jim’s brain about how he became a successful podcaster.
PBJ: How and why did you get into podcasting?
Jim Harold: I went to school for broadcasting and did a good deal of on camera work in college. Then, I went to work in radio but ended up in ad sales. A few years later, I looked up and I had a wife, two kids and a mortgage. Not exactly a recipe for quitting the sales job and following my broadcasting dream to be in front of a mic or camera in a small market. But, I heard of this thing called podcasting from listening to Leo Laporte and I was off to the races. I never thought I’d earn a penny. I picked the paranormal because I was legitimately interested in it and there was hardly anyone doing that format at the time…how times have changed! To my surprise, the shows grew and grew and eventually I said, “honey, I think I’m going to quit my job and podcast full time.” Luckily, my wife agreed and we’ve never regretted it for a moment.
PBJ: How did you get into the paranormal?
Jim Harold: I have loved the paranormal since I was a kid. “In Search Of” with Leonard Nimoy was my gateway drug. I don’t believe in everything but there is definitely something weird going on out there. Also, to clarify, when I say paranormal I mean all of it…not just ghosts but UFOs, strange creatures, and everything.
Tell us about the different shows you have.
Jim Harold: My flagship show is Jim Harold’s Campfire (510 episodes) that I started in 2009. This is where I have regular folks come on and share their real stories of strange things that have happened to them. I love doing it and the audience loves it as well. We’ve had thousands of stories shared at this point and I’ve been able to turn some of the best stories into a series of five books (I’m working on the sixth right now).
The Paranormal Podcast (692 episodes) is my longest running show that I’ve done since the beginning in ’05. This is simply an interview show with authors and experts on all facets of the strange.
I have a series of “Plus” premium shows that drill down on the various subjects of the strange that I cover. I have had a number of podcasts I have experimented with and that I have put aside. I guess you could say they podfaded but I think you learn something with every experiment. I put out 16 episodes a month if you count my premium content and we are introducing a new show with another host to the Jim Harold Media network very soon.
How many total shows have you released and how many downloads/listens are you up to?
Jim Harold: If you just count my main two shows, Libsyn’s stats have those at over 50 million downloads combined. I have released over 2,000 episodes counting both free and premium episodes for all my various shows.
How do you keep the content fresh?
Jim Harold: There is always something new under the sun…everytime I think I’ve heard every ghost story out there someone calls in with something new. Get tired of exploring the true nature of reality? No way! I love it!
Are you making money? If so, how?
Jim Harold: Yes, the company allows me to make a nice middle class living and still have some part time help. Revenue comes from a combination of podcast advertising, premium subscriptions, books and merch.
Why do you believe you’ve been a successful podcaster?
Jim Harold: First, I have a genuine curiosity about my subject. Secondly, my business experience was essential. I am equally comfortable speaking to a media buyer about “spots and dots” as I am talking about ghosts. As I am a believer in fate, I feel somehow I was guided to wear all of these hats in the industry and to watch my radio colleagues in talent, programming, traffic, production, promotions and management very carefully so I could learn to run what amounts basically to a small radio station without a stick. Finally, I am very persistent when I set my eyes on something.
What advice can you share with others about launching, sticking with it and turning a show into a success?
Jim Harold: Persistence, persistence, persistence. Also, do a show about something you love. If you expect to earn money, treat it as you would any business and realize that podcasting for the vast majority is a long game. If you want to be respected as a professional then act the part. Always be looking to improve in content, audio, and business practices. Learn as much as you can about the media business. Also, continuously improve. I always want to get better even after 16 years. Never stop striving to improve.
Reach out to Jim to congratulate him on his stellar podcating career by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org