Entrepreneur: Chris Kalous
Tilt: For climbers, by a climber
Channel: Podcast (22K avg per episode)
Rev Streams: Advertisements and listener donations
Our Favorite Actionable Advice
- Listen to your listeners: Chris created such great content that his listeners asked how they could support the content business. So he launched a donate button on his site.
- Deliver one voice: When Chris thought the ads he read were dull, he changed them to fit his voice (with the company’s permission, of course.)
- Act like a climber: Know where you’re trying to get with your content business.
Chris Kalous lifted his voice to become a household name in the climbing community. For nearly a decade, he has produced Enormocast, a podcast by a climber for climbers. He’s loved for his wit, humor, swearing, and engaging his audience on his podcast.10 years ago, climber and creator Chris Kalous started @Enormocast, one of the first podcasts for climbers. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet
The Enormocast was one of the first climbing podcasts out there. “NPR was just kind of getting into rebroadcasting their things as podcasts, and that sort of put podcasting on the map. I was listening while I painted houses, and I just kind of decided that I would give it a try,” Chris says.
Bit of luck (also known as good timing)
Chris is humble and, at times, a little puzzled about the success of the Enormocast and his content business. “In the world of podcasting the Enormocast is still pretty tiny. It was kind of the first kid on the block. There had been one other climbing podcast, but it was from the early, early days and before podcasts had any traction,” he says.
About a year into making the podcast, Chris got his first bit of luck, as he calls it. “I had a friend at a PR company here in Carbondale (Colorado) who was like, ‘I think this thing is really cool, and we could probably talk Black Diamond (climbing equipment manufacturer) into giving you some money.’ So that’s really how it started. I didn’t ask for it. It just turned up on my plate.”At a friend’s suggestion, @Enormocast got its first podcast sponsor @BlackDiamond. #sponsors #contententrepreneur Click To Tweet
While it may seem lucky, Chris consistently churns out a quality podcast that climbers adore. “I get all this great feedback from my listeners, but how do I bump it to the next level? I don’t really know how you do that anymore without getting a bit of luck involved,” he says.
Around the same time Black Diamond came on as a sponsor, Enormocast’s listeners started asking how they could support Chris. “People got in touch with me and said, ‘Hey, you should offer some way for us to give you money.’ And I was like, ‘Well what do you mean? They said, ‘Well, you know we could donate money. I’m like, ‘OK. Here’s my address, I suppose,’” he says.
“Later, I figured out a donate button and all that sort of stuff. All of this was pretty early for podcasting, so there were no business examples,” he says..@Enormocast listeners reached out to its founder to ask how they could support the #podcast. That led to the donation button. #revenue #startup #contententrepreneur Click To Tweet
Nearly a third of his yearly income comes directly from listeners. In a classic Chris way, he is humble about it, only mentioning it every few podcasts. “I don’t really ask that often. I don’t do a big hard sell about it,” he says.
For now, he sticks with the direct donor method instead of using a platform like Patreon. “I simply have a PayPal button on the website,” Chris says. Most contributions come as one-time contributions, though some elect to give every month. “I’ve elected to avoid the Patreon thing because it’s really common to (offer) bonus content, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t have time,” he says.
Chris also isn’t in favor of offering ad-free episodes, which some podcasters do for their Patreon subscribers. An ad-free podcast offering could reduce the ad value in his paid podcasts, he says.
Ads as relatable content
Chris brings the personality to Enormocast, and that brings listeners coming back. “There’s a lot of humor in the Enormocast,” he says. “We also get serious about climbing.”
He brings the fun to the ads on his show too. Originally Black Diamond sent ad copy that was like, “Go on your adventures today with Black Diamond,” or something like that. He was so terrible at those dry readings that he asked the company to let him write the copy. “They didn’t care at all because they didn’t really even know who I was. So I started writing the copy,” Chris says.
“I think they’re funny. They play a lot on the sort of foibles of climbing that everybody understands, and they make fun of some of the dumb stuff we do … People like them. They want to hear them; they asked me about them. They wonder where they went when they go away,” he says. “I think my commercials are actually a feature. I feel like I’ve won. I beat the podcast commercial problem.”Ads should fit the voice of the #podcast. That’s why @Enormocast uses ad copy created by Chris Kalous (and approved by the sponsor.) #contententrepreneur Click To Tweet
Advice for content entrepreneurs
Chris has kept at the podcast for 10 years because he loves his community. “The way I did it was that I wanted to enjoy this thing. I wanted to talk to people. I thought there was a space that I could fill that would be creative and interesting,” he says.
“It’s like climbing a mountain. Know where you are trying to get to. It sounds cliche, but you have to love what you’re doing, and you have to want to do it. Create a body of work that you will feel good about and you think will stand alone regardless of how much it ends up paying you,” Chris says.
About the author
Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was 6 and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 26 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. Currently, she is based on Maui and, when not writing or parenting, she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.