Before we go too far with the idea of podcasting as a career savior for one of Hollywood’s one-time hip directors, we should probably establish Kevin Smith’s bona fides as an actor and director. Smith won fans as the non-talkative half of the duo Jay and Silent Bob, characters that appear intermittently throughout his films. His first critical and commercial success was the independent movie Clerks, which was shot for a miniscule $27,575 and earned $3.1 million at the box office in its first run. He followed up with the also low budget ($250,000) Chasing Amy, which went on to earn out $12 million.

But somewhere between a few bombs and failed scripts, the phone stopped ringing for Smith. Hollywood’s hip, boy wonder became almost unemployable. At one point, he decided to try podcasting and now says, “I had no idea, but that would become the center of everything I’m doing now. The ultimate freedom that allowed me to walk away from the heroin (money) of the movie business – what gave me the strength to walk away – was podcasting.”

Exactly how is this former director making ends meet with podcasting? He listed several ways.

Merchandise sales – It’s amazing the cumulative effect of t-shirt purchases by adoring fans can have on the bottom line. Smith sometimes takes his podcast (SModcast) on the road. In addition to merchandise, he charges admission to those who want to watch the shows recorded live.

Paid Advertising – Just like television, radio, and newspapers, sponsors can pony up cold, hard cash to have their wares hawked on Smith’s podcast. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the American way.

Premium Version – Like most of the big names in talk radio – Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Sean Hannity – Smith’s SModcast offers a paid version of the show which includes bonus features not found in the free version and also has no ads.

Network – Branching out from its modest beginning, Kevin Smith and partner Scott Mosier have leveraged the growing popularity of SModcast into an entire network, which accepts paid affiliates, of course.

Does podcasting make any money? Ask Kevin Smith. He’ll tell you yes, sir, and yes, ma’am, it certainly does (Top image: Flickr | Gage Skidmore).

The Speaking of Wealth Team