I am currently experimenting with an idea for the show that I’m calling Product and Service Discovery.
It’s pretty self-explanatory, except that I am fairly anti-ad and my show is subscriber (direct) supported, so I think the concept needs some introduction.
Basically, the idea is that I want to be able to do three things simultaneously:
Surface really cool, hand-picked products and services to readers and listeners
Avoid all the classic issues with having ads and sponsors, such as interrupting shows, having to worry about what you say, etc.
Make some money, from some of the sponsors. Maybe not the same amount as if they were a regular sponsor (because they can’t tell me what to do or how to do it), but to find a way to get some sort of support based on the fact that I’m giving them a shout-out.
I don’t think this is being done anywhere. Most content creators are fully ad-supported, and a few are member supported like I am.
But I find it extremely limiting to not be able to discover and surface cool stuff in my Discovery section. I could (and have), but there’s always a silent question when I read as an outsider:
Why did he mention that? Is he being compensated in some way?
And that’s what I want to (and need to) make very clear.
Basically, if I mention a product or service that’s not in the discover section, or that’s not in the clearly marked-up way that I use to highlight discovery, then it doesn’t matter how much I’m gushing about it—I’m not getting any money for it.
Never. Period. That’s gross.
What’s weird though, is that I will often be including products or services in the Discovery section that I am also not getting anything for.
I’m basically erring on the side of not getting paid but still surfacing really cool stuff.
But some of the things I surface there (hopefully) will eventually give me some sort of support for doing so. And I actually don’t want to call out visually which ones are which because I don’t want that to affect enthusiasm.
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You should be confident that if it made it to that section, I’m all about it.
I may have worked something out with them to get supported, or I may not have. And it could be that they didn’t give anything for a while, but then they did, but they have since stopped. But I’m still talking about the product.
What it comes down to is trust. Your trust in me.
I’m telling you now, if it’s in that section I’m legit enthused about it (for real). And I’m going to spend a small amount of effort to get some support from those companies, but if they don’t or can’t pay then I might just feature them anyway.
That’s horrible business to say that in writing, but I doubt their marketing departments will read this anyway. This is for my subscribers, not them.
So that’s the deal. I’m maintaining my direct support model, keeping my complete autonomy, refusing to accept any scripts or rules, and seeing if I can get any support from companies I mention despite all those stipulations.
It’s an experiment, but I just wanted to give you all the thinking behind it in a transparent way.
Please do let me know if you have any questions or issues with this approach, or if you have any ideas on how to do it better.