Should you follow well-established, well-trodden ground for your next podcast? Or should you break away from the norm and do something very bold. I recommend the latter, with one caveat and three supporting reasons why.
Many early podcasters got into podcasting with the idea of doing something different than was possible with other mediums. And while that’s still the case, many podcasters — especially businesses just getting started with podcasting — are choosing a more conservative path, choosing to follow-the-pack instead of doing something bold.
And I get it. It’s hard to be bold. It’s hard to get fired by following the beaten path. But when you do something wild and weird? Your exposure goes way, way up.
But right now, in mid-2019, I’m convinced that there’s never a better time to go bold and do something different with your podcast.
Before I give you three reasons why that’s truer than ever before — yes, even for business podcasts — I’ve a caveat. Before you can make the conscious decision to something different from the status quo, you have to know what the status quo is. You need to do your homework and understand what un-bold podcasts in your particular niche look and sound like. No, you’re not going to fulfill that need by listening to one or two shows in your space. This requires a relatively deep study of what’s going on right now so you can really break from it.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s get into the 3 reasons why I think right now is probably the best time ever to go bold with your podcast.
All New People
There’s an old saying I’m fond of repeating: It won’t matter what mistakes you make today, because 100 years from now; the world will be filled with all new people. That’s the case in podcasting as well. Except we’re living through “the all-new” people faze right now.
Every day, a new flood of people become podcast listeners. Many have never heard a podcast before. Others have had very limited exposure to select shows. New listening apps are attracting new listeners who don’t have any (or not very many) preconceived notions of what podcasts should sound like.
(Of course, they do have some expectations of sound quality from other sorts of audio-based media. So don’t think you can get away with something that sounds like garbage.)
These “all new people” becoming listeners represent a much bigger slice of the population than the current listening audience. We know that only mid-to-high 20% of the population are regular podcast listeners. That “all new people” pool represents something like 75% of the population. These are “all-new people” who have different expectations than the current listening set. So play to that.
Differentiation Trumps Discoverability
We hear a lot about the discoverability issue in podcasting, which is both real and imaginary. One way to beat discoverability problems in podcasting, now and definitely in the future, is with differentiation. We podcasters don’t have much direct impact on discoverability (other than, you know, just making a great show that well-described, obviously). But we have 100% control over differentiation.
Once you do your study (see my caveat above) and realize that there are already two, twenty-two, or twenty-two-hundred shows already out there in your niche, each competing for the same audience and presenting the same sort of content, content that you also planned on producing in almost the same way, you quickly understand that the answer to discoverability has a lot to do with differentiation.
There Is No Pot of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow
“With over 700,000 podcasts out there, the owners of those shows must be making tons of cash. I also would like tons of cash, so I’ll follow the proven model that they used so I, too, can get my share of those riches!” — every business-minded person new to podcasting who is soon to be disappointed
Businesses rely on playbooks others have put in place. These playbooks detail how one or more people found success, with the promise that if you emulate those steps, you’ll find success too.
And while that’s true with podcasting to some extent, there’s one key factor missing. The money. In truth, there’s not a lot of it.
Most podcasts — even business-focused podcasts — do not rake in piles of cash. Yes, we do have our standouts. But by and large and especially for my clients — businesses and professional service providers who want a podcast but don’t want to become podcasters — the purpose of podcasting is to communicate to clients and prospects rather than selling services directly to the audience like an infomercial.
The good news is you can experiment with formats and styles without risking your share of the easy money if you just followed the well-trodden path. We’re not talking about alienating a Facebook-sized audience — or their checkbooks — if you have a quirky idea that fails to take off.
For as much as podcasting is growing, we’re still pretty small. That makes it a great time to do bold, interesting, and engaging things. Right now, you’re not risking giant piles of cash when you choose to not follow the standard model. So… don’t follow the standard model!
Be bold. Differentiate your podcast. Make content that appeals to the new wave of people who are looking for something different when they turn to podcasting for the first time. Surveys tell us that people don’t listen to podcasts because they think podcasting has nothing there for them. So make interesting content for them!
Don’t worry about the piles of money. We don’t have those. Yet. Instead, think of the piles of cash that might come in the future if you do something bold and different. Yes, even with your business podcast.
If you’d like some help figuring out how this works for your business for your professional services form, or just for you if you think podcasting might help you reach your audience; get in touch with me. My firm launches podcasts and keeps them running while keeping my clients out of the technical weeds.
Also: since you got this far, how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!
This article started life as a podcast episode. The 178th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen.
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.