a tangent, not really a sober podcast at all

[apologies for cross-posting, this was also sent out to micro-email subscribers]

Episode 00: A tangent – not really a sober podcast at all

This isn’t a standard podcast episode, though I do talk about sobriety and control… Instead, this is an audio where I ask for feedback on the future of my sober podcast series (and maybe it’s about the future of my Job #1 too).

This audio has to do with sponsors, iTunes, and the (second) golden age of radio/audio. I even mention cookies.




I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Have you thought about YouTube as an advertiser-supported platform for your podcasts? It allows comment moderation/disabling, so you can ban the trolls and the jerks. You can even have your own “channel.” Downloading from YouTube requires a 3rd-party program, so that part may be tricky, but plenty of people these days can stream directly from their device.

  • Tea companies, pastry companies, pajama companies, organic lavender bath product companies…wow! I like LD ‘s idea of choosing some cool sponsors -May be a win win for all. I also like the idea that a larger audience could potentially have access to your voice. I think you are a part of something big … a movement if you will of people who are wanting more in life… A desire to truly participate in life…to practice self care and develop self worth. I support your decision either way.. I’m a subscriber and your podcast is one of my treats! ~Denise

  • But again, I think you should follow your gut and if you decide to keep things the same I am fully in support of you and I plan to order the Ellie interviews to hear them in full and a few other podcasts. I shy away from the monthly subscription thing though in general.

  • Hi There: I am hesitant to hit post but I wanted to let you know I listened and do have some feedback. I read blogs regularly (including yours) and listen to the Bubble Hour regularly. These and your Team 100, Team 180, and now Team 365 challenges have been my “program.” I was so excited to see that you interviewed Ellie and that you are in contact with here. Likewise, I am always thrilled when I see Mrs. D post a comment on Unpickled’s blog, for example, and to see their blogs listed in your list of blogs and vice versa. You 4 (you, Mrs. D, Unpickled, Ellie) and John of 6yearhangover are my sober superstars! I love that you all do things a bit differently but with the same goals and with no competition among you if that makes any sense, because why would there be any competition? Having said that, maybe Ellie would have insight for you as to how to do free podcast since The Bubble Hour is free? I have no idea how the sponsorship works for the Bubble Hour but I love that I can go to iTunes and listen for free and not enter any of my sign-in information even. Or maybe Mrs. D who just launched the free Living Sober sight could give insight into sponsorship? I would listen regularly if your podcasts were free. I have ordered a few individually, but unfortunately, I really cannot justify $13/month. I know you are not doing any of this to make money and it amazes me how much you do for all of us for free. But you are really good at this sober coaching stuff and you have an amazing voice and I think for sure a free podcast would be extremely successful and reach more people! I hope this helps a bit.

  • CiBo: “I think your website and process for getting sober is amazing. I think you should charge for podcast on iTunes because you will reach more people who are struggling with soberiety. So many people have failed, time and time again, as a result of rehab, AA, etc. your website and process has motivated me. That being said, I am only on day 6, but this is a great way for an over stressed, single mom, with a high powered tech job to at least try one more time not to drink after work to stay awake longer than a normal biological body should to meet the demands of a given day. It is flexible, easy to access and people who are addicts need that. Rehab, daily AA meetings – all add up to $$$. I would pay. Gotta run now to take my daughter to school. Thanks!”

  • Jacaranda: “your vision and energy that have got your website and your hundreds/thousands of visitors where they are now. Keeping your input at a level that maintains that vision and energy whilst also keeping you happy – input and income wise – has to be a priority. You started the blog for your own benefit and I think it needs to keep benefiting you first and the rest of us second.

    Personally, I’m on a tight budget but prefer paid podcasts to ads. I’d still listen/visit with ads though. Sponsored free podcasts would generate a bigger listenership (word?) but would also mean lots more of those admin/procedure type emails you get. Perhaps a page for *Belle’s Instructables” could help – whether you go sponsored or not.”

  • LD: “when I listen to the posdcasts … I do feel a closeness, an immediacy that is stronger (or brighter or…not better just more reality of you…make sense?) than the blog and I think that is a valuable part of what you are doing. And, what your doing is so valuable. I think it is good to be true to your desire to not “sell” this service/community/conversation but at the same time you need more financial return to keep at this. I don’t think the monthly fee is a daunting price to pay for the podcasts but at the same time I think there might be great opportunity in finding sponsors that support the ideas that you value and that is an extension of what you are creating with the blog and the podcasts. Tea companies, pastry companies, pajama companies, organic lavender bath product companies….The bottom line is (and the proof is in the numbers) that what you are doing with the blog and podcasts are extremely important to a lot of people. This is important work and it would be really good for you to do as much of it as you can…if choosing sponsors makes that possible to grow and survive financially…do it. That’s just me….”

  • Hi Belle,
    I listened to your tangent and also did a short research on Alex Bloomberg Start up Podcast. I think it is worth your time to research this as an option for your site, if you could generate money from sponsors, it would free your time to do more of your great sober work. Based on what I have read about you, this started as a personal journey, you started taking on others to help and it has snowballed into a business. You are a natural and I love the interview clips you sent with Ellie.

    I like the current set up for receiving your podcasts, but in all fairness, I have not listened to many podcast in the past.

    You have opened me to the idea of listening to podcasts in other topics of interest to me and I even signed back up for your monthly podcasts.

    Best wishes on taking your movement to another level. I think you should be on 60 minutes ! or a CNN Hero ! you are helping so many people with your work.

  • There are quite a few things to consider. Do you love job 1? Or could you take it or leave it? If you do sober podcasts full time will you get sick of it? Us?
    I think you could reach many more people if it were free. We are all so accustomed to advertising that most of us turn down the volume or tune it out mentally.
    I have paid for your podcasts because I think it’s a worthwhile investment in my sobriety.
    I use to spend a lot of my time thinking about drinking. Now I spend a lot of my time thinking about chocolate.
    All I ask is please don’t have your sponsor be a fantastic chocolate company because I would for sure go broke.
    But then maybe I could start a successful blog called “Tired of thinking about chocolate”.

  • L: “I don’t usually listen to anything (or watch videos) but I did this time, so I thought I’d share my opinion. I love your blog, all you do and I am so super grateful you could never understand.

    I never would have signed up or started this amazing journey if I’d had to pay .. Money is not under my control in our house and everything is accounted for one way or another. I just couldn’t/wouldn’t have done it.

    At the time I started the sober journey, I had no idea I would follow the course through, I had no idea I would have liked it, I had no idea it would work, I wouldn’t have paid. (That sounds so harsh, please don’t think it is, its just where my head was at the beginning)

    Also paying for help is admitting to having a problem that needs more than brain training to fix. I wasn’t there when I started.

    Advertising in my honest opinion is fine and if it allows you to keep it free for those without money, those without access to money and those who don’t really know that they need help. Ill read until I’m cross eyed and ignore the advertising.

    Now 105 days on, I know your service is worth everything to me. Thank you. Please keep it free. xo”

  • mmd: “I love the idea of the audio podcast! Sometimes, it’s easier for me to pay attention with just listening instead of reading. The audio podcast has a more personal feel to it.

    As far as advertising, sponsorship, free, or paid podcasts; you have to make a living like everyone else and it’s totally understandable if you were to charge for the podcasts.”

  • Miss M: “Sponsorship can be a great thing if the sponsor resonates with your values and message, it’s an extra bonus if they offer a really cool product;) I don’t see it as selling out in anyway.

    Your work in the sober stuff is changing peoples lives. I imagine it in someway is part of what you are here on Earth to do. I think you must keep this work going full steam ahead. You are doing an amazing service and I am sure it feels like the right thing for you to be doing or else you wouldn’t be pouring your heart into it.

    I know nothing about podcast or how to increase revenue, but I do know that passion can often equal income. When you are doing something that feels right, it is right.

    Those are my thoughts. Keep shining!”

  • L putting down the glass: “I have no idea, other than yours I have never listened to podcasts before. You are much better at knowing what’s best to do 🙂

    I have no issue with advertising, I don’t buy anything on impulse (except maybe wine 😉 ) so I tend to ignore advertising. I think this sober work you are doing is so important and not only is it important but you are very good at it. Not many people would be that good at doing this.

    Its the perfect type of support that I think is impossible to find in the real world. Thankfully for the internet I have found you, there is no way I would ever go to AA or anything I’m way too shy for face to face… but at the same time I have tried by myself and failed.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is PLEASE do whatever works so you can continue to do this (sorry job number 1) whatever allows you to do this and make some money would be great. I’m more than happy to pay.

    Sorry that’s not much help is it?”

  • ang: “Hi Belle, I think it would be fine for you to have sponsored advertising especially if it means your wonderful words of wisdom would reach a wider audience. And you most definitely deserve to at least make a good living from the invaluable advice you have dispensed so freely and generously up to now. I say go for it! I am forever in your debt. Love Ang x (17 days sober today :)”

  • DH: “… I’ve always shirked away from advertising on my sites/posts a bit like you’ve been saying you have. Sponsorship is different. And we all need to earn a living from whatever mix we think is right. Sponsorship if you can find the kind you really like, would be a great idea.

    Personally I think making the podcasts free whilst a nice idea (ergh did I say nice, I meant great idea) and you do that for samples of them already. However, I think (and I’ve done a lot of community based work) that there is a certain ‘value’ rightly or wrongly placed in our heads on things we buy whether its a class or a podcast or a workshop. Stuff for free, whilst its fabulous, somehow, sometimes, we don’t value it so much. Or maybe that’s just my experience.

    Before I bought a subscription to the sober podcasts I listened to all the free stuff and thought, yup, I’m committed enough to want to change to try a subscription to these. I look forward to them. They’re like a treat to me. I don’t mind paying for them, its my commitment to my sobriety.

    Not to say I wouldn’t if they weren’t free but I value them because I’ve allocated some of my resources to them, and I buy a fair few at a penny because they’re bloody good value!

    In fact I’d wondered if you had thought of charging a wee bit more for the subscriptions for the podcasts? Like more in line with a gym membership. Just a thought.

    I’m sure you have, so I’ll shut up now.”

  • soberp82: “Thanks for putting this request out there and asking for feedback. I totally see where you’re coming from -after all you have a life too and need to be able to support yourself financially. You do so much already for free like you mentioned that I think paying for a podcast subscription isn’t unreasonable.

    You have helped so many people to be free from alcohol. I know I couldn’t have done this without your support! I’m not sure adverts would be appropriate for this type of podcast but if you decide to go for this change, I’ll support you :-D”

  • Rich: “I guess my first question for you would be; do you want to stop working your first job? It sounds to me like you would rather work more with the sobriety blog side, which you are amazing at!!! Your website (blogs, podcasts, emails, personal phone calls, etc) is great as is but I can see how you’d like to begin scaling the website bigger. I think getting your site to more people is critical, it’s a life changer for me right now and it needs to extend to more people in need. I do understand the larger it gets then you may lose the personal touch that you have now so I see the quandary. …

    As for the “no ads” question on your blogs, I think it’s fantastic. As a problem drinker, I don’t need my attention drawn to a Viagra ad! Haha!!! I am there for your information and distractions is not what I need!”

  • themaddnessstopsnow: “I’m pretty new to all this (today is day 23). I use iTunes and selfishly would love for your podcasts to be there and free. However I would plan to continue to subscribe and pay at least for a while. I don’t think I care one way or the other about sponsors or advertising because you can ignore it if you don’t like it, right? I think the most important thing is that it’s what is best for you. Either way just keep doing them!! I am enjoying them very much and get excited when they arrive in my inbox. Your blog was one of the first I started reading and I could relate to so much of it. You are doing great things and helping many people, including me!”

  • Pauley: “Podcasts… my gut feeling is that you should drop Job #1 and monetize your sober podcasts but I hate sponsors. Even appropriate sponsors. Those flippin’ images and you tubes and on and on just interfere when all I want is a quiet time listening to your thoughts and forming my own. I’d pay more if that would allow you to continue and make a good living without Job #1. A book of your blogs would be super… not a drinking memoir but the kind of book you might have liked– focusing on the sobriety not the drunken falls down the stairs with the wrong guy. I suspect you are also an excellent public speaker and you might consider TED Talks… your following is big enough. Ok… those are my thoughts. Have a great day. My cinnamon buns are getting better… sort of. :)”

  • Happy Canuck: “Weird but I have been thinking about the time you devote to your cause prior to this podcast. Service is important in recovery and should be freely given which you already do in your blogs.

    If you had free podcasts with sponsors you will be able to perhaps reach more people but my thoughts are that people spend a significant amount of money on alcohol so to spend some money on recovery is to me important and signifies a degree of commitment. …

    You are helping people and having more time available can only increase that. I hate to think of what I have spent on rehab and psychologists. You cut through the bullshit and frankly add a lot of value to the drinking dilemma so I am behind whatever you decide.”

  • Bella: “Some things to think about: Do you want to get rid of Job #1? Are you okay with that? …

    your podcasts are short, which is why I like them. I don’t have time for a 1 hour podcast talk show. So 20 mins or less is really what I am looking for.

    Sponsors: well. I worked in advertising and marketing for a huge portion of my life. So I can go both ways here. But if you want to get bigger, yes, this is a necessary step … Revenue will probably be bigger with sponsors than with a paid podcast subscription.

    Also, on the flip side of that, you will have a ton more people / anonymous people leaving ratings and feedback publicly. so that can get sticky.

    Also, how long until someone finds you out? Remaining anonymous may be much harder.

    … With all that said. You would do REALLY well on iTunes. You’re a great motivational speaker. Something about what you say, how you say it and your voice that just makes me happy and inspired after listening. I’m sure everyone on your email list would agree.”

  • nowine59: “I’m an avid daily listener of podcasts. I listen to them while exercising, gardening, in the car in long drives etc. All the ones I listen to are free.
    I want to be able to listen whenever and wherever I want and I am willing to pay for it but I don’t have a problem listening to short advertisements at the beginning either for free ones.

    The free version allows you to reach many more who may need to hear your message which is a plus. Given how you feel about advertising it might be best to keep yours paid as long as subscribers can have access to archives etc 24/7.

    Personally I would like to see everyone have free access through itunes. I would also like to see the continuation and future additions of paid options for things like sober jumpstart.

    Whatever you decide I know you will have love and support because what you are giving back is so important to us all!”

  • AW: “Have only recently found your blog and only recently using it as a touchstone…..this was the first of your audios I have listened to, so I’m not really the best to make a comment…however..( lol ) ….it is usually what you and your heart feel in sync with that leads you to a decision that IS what LEADS you ..? and by happy wake surfing… the rest of your community ….myself included…
    Thanks for whatever YOU decide Belle …..”

  • Lucy: “I don’t subscribe to your podcast series because I listen to The Bubble Hour and agree that audio is an important medium. I do however read your blog every day and listen to the audios you share there. As for the way forward, Tim Ferriss has sponsors and I just skip past those to the interview part. Don’t want to listen to them and don’t have to so I guess that works for him and for me :)”

  • Hi Belle! Just listened to your podcast. My two cents is that you should try doing a couple of podcasts that are free, with sponsors, and see what happens – are your listener numbers higher? Is your revenue higher? I never subscribed to the podcasts because I have a hard time signing up for recurring expenses – it’s just one of my money saving habits that’s deeply ingrained. But I would definitely listen to podcasts if they were free, and wouldn’t mind the sponsor messages. Ultimately, what’s most important is how it works for you – you need to be making enough revenue so you’re comfortable (financially comfortable, and mentally comfortable putting in the time). This is a great opportunity to “test the market” and see what happens.

    PS – LOVE the Start Up Podcast. It completely captures what starting a company is like.