The pandemic birthed a rise in puppies, planting flowers in Animal Crossing, and podcasts — with 1.1m+ shows launched in 2020 alone.
But soon, the podcast phenomenon plateaued. New podcasts decreased a year later, and in 2022, fell by 80%. 😬
Would you ride this rollercoaster? Be honest. Source: NiemanLab
Does this mean the podcast train has left the station? No more tickets available to savvy hosts and sultry voices?
Not at all — your podcast just can’t suck.
Luckily, podcast geniuses Darren Clarke (executive producer of My First Million) and Kal Elsebai (HubSpot’s senior manager of podcast strategy) shared their tips on how you can create a killer show. The two broke it down into three distinct parts:
Here’s how you can turn your business or niche hobby (ever wanted to listen to 49 minutes of stationary fangirling?) into the next big thing in podcasting:
1. Create the podcast you want to listen to
If you’re launching a podcast to make a quick buck… think again.
Instead of finding a profitable niche, start with your passions. If you can rave about a topic for hours, chances are your enthusiasm will come through, and people will pay attention.
If you’re starting from scratch, conduct your research, identify your niche, and figure out your unique take on that topic.
“Niche down until it hurts,” as Darren lovingly suggests.
Consider the podcast Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet. As the name suggests, this widely popular podcast explores the most dramatic one-star reviews ever written. And that’s it. The hosts simply use their cracking wit and high-class Karen’ing to create a niche, comedic podcast.
Remember to ask yourself — what will listeners take away from tuning in to your podcast? Will they whip out the Notes app? Will they chuckle at your wit throughout?
Whatever emotions listeners experience from listening to you, identify the promise your podcast makes to them.
If you already have an audience, find the middle point between your passion and their wants. Poll your customers, newsletter subscribers, or social media followers. If possible, get them on a call.
2. Launch with slingshot momentum
Before you launch your podcast into the ether, set it up for success:
📅 Figure out a realistic cadence. Can you produce an episode a week? How about every other week? Whatever you choose, stick with it.
🎙️ Record several episodes before launching. That way, you give yourself breathing room to produce future episodes.
🎨 Design compelling podcast art. The thumbnail should tell a story right out the gate. When a user scrolls through shows, the art should tell them what your show delivers.
A mixture of cool art and cool headshots seems to be the winning formula. But you do you! Source: HubSpot Podcast Network
✏️ Write a snappy description. Your podcast’s description should explain exactly who you are and why they should listen.
📺 Create a trailer that demands attention. The trailer for your podcast should feature the hosts, your topic authority, and what listeners can expect — all, ideally, in under a minute.
It might feel strange calling up the parents and seeing if they can promote your new project. But the moment your podcast launches, put aside that ego and beg your family and friends to share, share, share.
Why suffer the embarrassment? Because launching gives you the opportunity to build serious momentum.
Platform algorithms, including Spotify, favor new shows and will promote them more than older ones. But you only have ~48 hours to leverage it. So, for the last time, call your parents. Please?
Outside of leveraging your personal network, you can:
The bottom line: Get your face (and voice) out there!
3. Make bank — in due time.
From the start, we warned you that podcasting requires some heating up before it gets you that cold, hard cash. But it will come – once you build up a sizable audience. Here’s how you can do just that:
⭐ Star as a guest on another podcast. If you have a connection to other podcasts in your niche, try reaching out to star as a guest. This works especially well if you bring a unique point of view, whether it’s your expertise or experience in your field.
🎧 Pay attention to viewership spikes. To build an audience, you need to create consistently popular content. Find what resonates with your listeners by paying attention to spikes in viewership. Did a certain topic generate a huge amount of listens? Create episodes around a similar topic.
🤩 Collaborate with influencers. Yes, even in podcasting, influencer marketing can help grow your audience. Identify popular influencers in your niche, reach out to them, and see if you can get a partnership with them (e.g., promotional posts, videos, and so on).
Podcasts make money using two modes: advertising and subscriptions.
🏢 Introduce advertisements. “This episode is brought to you by…” brings in ad revenue for podcasts. Listeners dedicate almost an hour of their time to someone they trust on a topic they love. When hosts recommend products or services, they pay attention.
🙋 Offer exclusives. Podcasts often offer exclusive content to subscribers, such as behind-the-scenes recordings or bonus episodes. You could record an hour of content and reserve half of it for subscriber-exclusive content, for example.
You can get sponsored advertising for your podcast in a number of different ways, some are easier (but less profitable) than others. You can:
Reach out to brands or small businesses directly
Become an affiliate marketer for Amazon Marketplace, Audible, and others
Take advantage of platform-based advertising, such as Spotify’s subscription model for their podcasts
But monetization happens in due time. You should prioritize creating compelling content and growing your audience before thinking of sponsorships. Few brands will pay to advertise to a nonexistent, or even small audience.
Still, podcasting can turn your knowledge (and beautiful voice) into a long-term investment.