The other day I had an interesting conversation with an old friend who was quite keen to tell me that I'm spending my money and time in the wrong way by doing a weekly podcast.
I've been doing a weekly podcast (with some minor interruptions here and there when direct business matters got in the way) since 2014. I've even done a couple of episodes for my brand, back in 2009, with this guy as well.
Audio podcasts are a waste of time, one might say. I've heard it before many times from people who didn't know why I podcast and what it means to have a podcast. True, my podcast is a Romanian podcast since I am a Romanian and my native language is... you guessed it, Romanian.
Not a lot of people know what an audio podcast is and that's why nobody listens to such things. They would rather listen to commercial radio or some Spotify playlist. Every other person who consumes OTT content uses YouTube and would never subscribe to an audio podcast. At least this is what I've heard from this guy (I am not going to name him here because of obvious reasons, but I am going to call him "C").
C also mentioned that doing a podcast may also incur some additional costs, such as podcast hosting (Anchor, Spotify's hosting platform is free) or equipment (you can start with virtually nothing, just your smartphone and something to say).
Some of the above may be right, but not quite. It's true that I now use a Rodecaster Pro and a Shure SM7B and I host my podcast with Libsyn, after testing a handful of hosting platforms and services, including SimpleCast, Amazon's S3, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, and Blubrry's podcast hosting solution. These add to my podcasting costs, but I've started with a USB microphone, on a MacBook Pro and upgraded gradually. I even built a small podcasting studio inside our new apartment and that allows me to create podcasts uninterrupted and without disturbing my wife or daughter. But this is not the level you are expected to be right off the gate.
My Romanian podcast has a fair amount of listeners every day and that's only for a small number of all people listening to podcasts on a regular basis (people are using mainly applications where they subscribe to podcasts, rather than listening occasionally on the podcast's website).
As I've learned people listen to podcasts while commuting, doing the dishes, walking the dog or cleaning their home. Listening to an audio podcast doesn't require your full attention, yet it's more intimate than almost any medium. It's a conversation between the host, guests and the listener.
You should never start a podcast because:
A podcast may help you earn more money. Let me explain some more, before getting those "I've started a podcast two months ago and I'm not getting any revenue from that!" comments.
Some of my listeners have businesses and they need some services that I don't quite advertise inside the content itself, but mention, occasionally, casually, when appropriate, such as when I have to tell some guest what I do or talk to my co-host what I've been doing lately on a public project or something similar. This is why I've had some listeners contact me directly, interested in some of the services my company or I am offering. Even signed some development agreements with them and now we have fully qualified customers, whiteout the need of investing in other forms of marketing where everyone shouts "we are the best, work with us!". Besides, because of the "connection" between the host (in this case me) and my audience, they already trust me (at least partially) and it's easier for me to talk to them since now we "know" each other.
So, having a podcast is the best marketing you can put your money (time equals money) into. It is also the most direct and personal and can reap many more benefits out of it than any other marketing medium. Also, I've discovered that by having the "personal" connection I can charge more for a contract than if the prospect would qualify from an ad on social media.
The podcast can market you as an expert in the field. Let me get one thing straight. I am not an expert in anything. I do some things better than others and I'm keen on learning new things and deepen my knowledge of the technologies and things I love doing, but apparently a podcast can create this presumption that the host is an expert in something, especially in something related to the podcast's niche. My Romanian podcast doesn't have a specific niche, but I always keep the content within topics such as technology, productivity, management and sometimes lifestyle (call it "car talk" with geeks).
Through a podcast you may actually meet some great people who you may not otherwise. I've met many great managers, bloggers, travelers, self development mentors and technologists. None of them would have ever talked to me if they wouldn't be interviewed on my podcast. The fun part is that you have a great conversation with these smart, interesting, great people and then some of their knowledge gets rubbed on you.
Jim Rohn said that "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." And each week you get to spend some quality time (sometimes with the occasional technical difficulties, but that just adds to the memories) with these incredible people through the power of the podcast.
Every time you get to sit in a conversation with someone else you get to learn something new. I try to keep the podcast within the aforementioned categories, so every new thing I learn from my guests, experts or somehow influencers in their field of activity enriches my horizons more than it would any other conversation with a friend. Sorry, but this is the truth and it's so pleasant to talk to these guests.
A properly done podcast can help you earn more money. Having more than one source of income is the best thing you can strive to achieve. Should one source of income go awry, you, at least, have a "safety net". Ad inserts inside your podcast can help you monetize your podcast, as your listeners already "know" you and are more inclined to buy from someone you recommend. What would you do with more money?
There is a myriad of reasons why I would recommend you not to start a podcast, because something great might happen to you should you start one and I'm sure you don't want to get out of your comfort zone and be known or earn more or something to that end. Don't start a podcast! Don't do it! Someday you may not be known as the person everyone wants to hang out with and that is a bad thing since your net worth is your network.
I'll just leave you with the words of Gary Vaynerchuk who said: "The smart phone hit the reset button on media consumption and changed all of the rules. More 16-30 year olds are listening to podcasts instead of music during their commutes Because it saves them time. It's what humans value. Because we are now consuming multiple media sources at once, podcasts and audio are destined to win. We would rather check our email while listening to the latest episode of Serial or take notes while listening. to music. With video you can't do both. It takes all of your attention to consume that content the second it starts. " and " Just remember, audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was approximately 1.5X more audio consumed than video according to Nielsen streaming statistics in 2016. This is HUGE. "
It's totally up to you if you want to start a podcast of any kind, be that audio or video. I'm here to help if you decide to go for it.