Where do you listen to your podcasts? In the morning when you’re getting ready, in the car on the way to work, whilst you’re sitting at your desk, or maybe in the evening, before bed?
Notice that we didn’t ask if you listened to podcasts, we asked where you listened to them. It’s a cheeky assumption but it’s one that, if you’re reading this, we feel isn’t too far removed from reality. Some of the most recent figures estimate that there are around 700,000 active podcasts, so you’re spoiled for choice.
We started our podcast, One More Question, earlier this year. It’s been a hard and fast learning curve, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it — from interviewing interesting guests to learning about how to improve our audio (thanks Jeremy), writing blogs, and watching our podcast slowly bloom. We’re learning more and more as we go.
In Episode #8 of One More Question, we spoke to Jeff Large, owner and founder of Come Alive Creative about moving from teaching into website development and marketing, and then doubling down on podcasting — building his own podcast and podcasts for clients.
Twenty-Nine Million (29,000,000) — that’s the estimated number of published podcast episodes currently in existence. With the current popularity of podcasts and the investment we’re seeing from companies like Apple, Google, and Spotify (and the predicted podcast wars, oooh), it’s a promising place for brands and businesses to want to play in — promise, however, doesn’t always lead to success.
As we mentioned a little earlier, there are around 700,000 active podcasts. This is up from the 550,000 Apple reported at WWDC in June 2018, and depending on where you sit — there’s more growth to come or we’ve reached a podcast peak.
When we consider the growth of the podcast genre, we think of three contributing factors:
This isn’t a new feature and it’s now ubiquitous over most of the platforms we use to consume content. The ability to download and store podcasts and listen to them as and when they choose allows listeners to consume content when it best suits them — whether that’s at home, in the car, or at work.
Audiences are able to choose what they listen to. There’s no need to wade through hoards of irrelevant content to find what you’re looking for— want to know about parenting, personal finance, or relationships? There’s a podcast for that.
Smartphones are top of the list when it comes to podcast consumption, and why wouldn’t they be? It’s estimated that around 35% of the world’s population have smartphones — they go with us everywhere and they are our primary methods for consuming content.
Looking to the future, we see two main reasons for further growth in the podcasting genre.
A few big brands have started taking more of an interest in podcast advertising, and this should encourage others to do the same. Podcast advertising spend sat at 326 million USD in 2018, and this figure is set to rise to 534 million USD in 2020.
With the growth of advertising in the podcast space, we’re likely to see more creators entering the space as a way to supplement (or if you’re really successful, replace) incomes.
We like our podcasts and we like the idea that the industry is set for further growth, at least for the time being. When we look at numbers like 700,000 active podcasts or 29,000,000 episodes, the industry may seem saturated, but what we have to remember is:
- Podcasting allows audiences to curate content and engage with specific areas of interest. If you narrow your market enough, you’ll be speaking to a select group of listeners that are looking specifically for your content.
- The challenge isn’t starting as much as it is maintaining. To keep your podcast going takes dedicated time and effort, not just to your podcast but also to marketing, and this is why so many podcasters experience podfade (putting out episodes more sporadically) which can then lead to podcast death.
Podcasting is a tempting prospect — being able to own another form of media for your business — but like any other form of communication, doing it successfully takes effort and know-how and if you haven’t approached it with specific goals, it’s very easy to get lost or forget your original intentions for starting.
Like the blogs of yore, podcasts are today’s de rigueur medium, seemingly adopted by every entrepreneur, freelancer, self-proclaimed marketing guru and even corporation.Have We Hit Peak Podcast? (The New York Times)
Onward, to Victory!
So, you still want to start a podcast.
We understand — the allure of podcasting is powerful. Owning another form of media, being able to select your messaging and put out exactly what you want your audience to know, plus it’s all the rage right now.
If you’re lucky, you’ll pick up a few followers (maybe more than a few), you’ll get a bit of traction and your podcast will spread. If you don’t make money directly off your podcast, maybe it will drive sales? If you’re lucky.
The trick here is to ask yourself, how would this podcast be different from any of my other marketing activities and would it provide any value over and above those activities? The likely answer is that if you’re doing it specifically for brand awareness or marketing, it may be better to double down on avenues in which you’ve already established a footprint. Maybe it’s time to improve your marketing plan?
It starts with goals.
Whether you decide you want to start a podcast or not, the best thing you can do before entering into a new space is set goals. Your goals will give you something to work towards and ensure that the goalposts don’t shift unless they need to.
I need to know out of the gate — what is your goal or what are your goals and who is your target market?Jeff Large, One More Question
If you’d like to simplify the goal-setting process, we suggest setting a victory condition.
A victory condition, also known as a how to win, is something that we’ve learned from game mechanics. It sets a condition which determines how a player wins a game. In our terms, this means that when we take on a new project, we set a condition for winning and are able to classify the success of the project based on whether we meet the predetermined victory condition.
Setting a victory condition works best if it is used from the start of a project because it will give you a win/loss condition to work towards. It can also work for existing projects if you are prepared to focus on one condition — this can be short, medium, or long term.
If you’re still thinking of starting a podcast to grow your brand, you face an uphill battle. If you enter into podcasting now, you’ve missed the ‘early adopter’ train (Joe Rogan was an early adopter), and you’ll need to work hard and with consistency (avoiding podfade), to get yourself noticed — remember the 700,000 active podcasts mentioned earlier? Luckily, there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet (and in Jeff’s podcast) to get you started and help you avoid common pitfalls.
When you consider the amount of time, effort, and marketing you would need to throw behind your podcast to gain traction, you may be better served auditing your current marketing, cutting what’s not working, and adjusting your marketing plan.
We’re new at this podcasting thing and we would (genuinely) love your feedback. Tell us what you thought of our podcast and this article – did you love it, did it make you feel tingly inside, or do we need to go back to the drawing board?
Leave a comment or send us a message.
The Nicework Team