I see people starting podcasts all the time. I've also been to a couple of conferences where entire sessions were dedicated to the huge benefits of starting a podcast.
And according to many, the market size of those listening to podcasts continues to grow. And I confess, I even listen to a podcast myself every now and again.
But based on my own experiences, I don't think starting a podcast is smart decision for many people.
I want to be very clear here, this blog post is not to discourage anyone from starting a podcast. I love listening to great interviews, and there are some fantastic podcasts out there.
However, what doesn't get talked about very much (that I'm aware of) is the downsides of podcasting. That's right, not everything about starting your own podcast is as rosy as it sounds.
Today, I simply want to cover my very real and raw thoughts about my own podcast and why I think many people shouldn't start a podcast.
There I said it.
Being Popular Doesn't Always Drive Results
When it comes right down to it, most podcasters don't see huge results from their podcast. Okay, maybe that's just my opinion…I don't have the hard facts. However, after seeing my own results (shared below) and knowing a few stats from others; I think that's a safe statement.
However, perhaps that's no different than many things; most people are never able to put together the right formula for maximum success in lots of business ventures.
I'm sure like me, you've heard the big success stories from some podcasters. I applaud people like: Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com, Pat Flynn at SmartPassiveIncome.com, John Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, and Cliff Ravenscraft of PodcastAnswerMan.com that have created highly successful podcasting businesses.
I have no doubt in my mind that for some people, podcasting can be a huge marketing or business opportunity. However, for others its important to consider the downsides before jumping in with both feet.
I have been blogging for about 4 years now. So, I had an audience in place when I started my podcast. So, when I launched my podcast, I had immediate listeners…yay!
In fact, my NichePursuits podcast made the New & Noteworthy list on iTunes when it was first launched…sweet! From what I hear, that's what everyone is trying to achieve with their new podcast.
Also, I just checked and the NichePursuits podcast is currently listed on the front page of the “Popular Podcasts” for Management & Marketing:
So, I made it to the new and noteworthy page, and I'm now on the “Popular Podcasts” page; that means I have thousands of listeners a day right? I must be seeing HUGE results from my podcast…I've made it!!
Well, not quite.
Turns out I average around 200 downloads per day with spikes up when I release a new podcast:
No New Audience?
You say that 200 downloads a day is nice? Well, it would be if I actually thought many of those were new listeners.
And here comes one of my big “beefs” with podcasts. I have no way of knowing if my podcast is reaching a new audience or if all those listeners are simply from my blog!
Think about it. I post my podcasts here on my blog and it gets lots of listens from my existing readers, but is anyone new discovering NichePursuits.com through my podcast? I'm sure there are some that do, but my guess is that its very few.
Why is there no software that can track this for me? (Idea alert for anyone paying attention, but not sure its possible).
The problem is that I get WAY more NEW visitors each day to my blog already, and its MUCH less effort for me to write a new blog post than to produce a new podcast.
People Don't Take Action from Podcasts
Other than my doubts about how many NEW people are discovering me through my podcast, it's also extremely difficult to get people to take action from podcasts. I have just a couple of quick examples.
I actually got a sponsored spot on a podcast a little while ago for my product Long Tail Pro. So, this was on someone else's podcast, I wanted to see if I could drive some traffic to Long Tail Pro through a sponsored message on a podcast. I provided a special link that the podcaster read in so that I could track how many people visited that link.
The podcast that Long Tail Pro was featured on was listened to about 1,000 times after the first day or so; and I'm sure has well over 2,000 downloads now.
So, out of 2,000+ downloads, how many people went to that special Long Tail Pro link?
That's right a measly 7 clicks were tracked on that link.
And one of those 7 was me. Ha!
Will I ever pay to be sponsored on a podcast again? Nope. Unless something changes, or I find a podcast that can produce better results. However, other content marketing and advertising avenues produce MUCH better results.
What about results from my own podcast?
So, I've also tracked a couple of links from my own podcasts. When I decided to write this post, I finally went back and tried to find the stats. In a podcast I did just over a year ago here, I asked listeners to go to a link to find out more about my Niche Site Project.
That podcast has been downloaded 7,724 times.
Out of nearly 8,000 downloads, surely a few hundred have visited that link, right?!
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That link has been visited only 70 times.
I get WAY more action out of just posting something on Facebook or Twitter.
So, overall, podcasts are not a good way to get people to act. And I totally understand! People listen to podcasts while they are driving in their car, or running, or working on other projects.
So, if podcasts are not a great way to get people to act, why do people have podcasts?
What Podcast ARE Good For…
As a branding and relationship building tool, podcasts are excellent. I can think of no other format where you can essentially have someone listen to your voice for over an hour sometimes.
I'm not hear to bash on podcasts, I'm really not. For certain businesses or individuals, a podcast that is developed properly can be a fantastic way to grow your brand and awareness.
For individuals, that are interested in speaking at conferences and probably eventually writing books, a popular podcast can help them leverage those opportunities. So, if you want to make it onto the speaking circuit or otherwise have something that you can point to and say, “Look at how many thousands of people listen to my show!”… then a podcast may be a great fit for your business.
Or if you have the time to truly produce a stellar show on a regular schedule…that can also drive results.
I personally have no desire to speak at conferences or get a book deal. I prefer to be thinking up new business ideas and making them a reality. To clarify, I'm not saying people that speak at conferences or have book deals aren't also coming up with other business ideas, etc…that's just personally not where my focus is right now.
In addition, having a podcast is an excellent way to network and build great working relationships with other successful people. Nearly everyone I've contacted has agreed to be on my podcast, and I also get sent requests from impressive people that want to be interviewed on my podcast.
So, if nothing else, you can use a podcast to network with other people and learn from some of the best in any industry.
Why Podcasting Sucks…Sometimes
Overall, your time is a very valuable resource. And for me, I don't see a lot of action taking place from my podcasting efforts. My blog has not grown because of my podcast…however, my podcast has done okay because of my blog.
I can see no growth in my blog readers and can't track any sales of my products directly to my podcast. However, I CAN track huge amounts of sales and blog readership to other methods that I have taken.
When it comes right down to it, I can write a blog post in less time than it takes me to produce a podcast. In addition, I can do it on my own schedule.
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For a podcast interview, you have to coordinate your schedule with someone elses, prepare questions, conduct the interview, then do post production. Then I also write a blog post to go with each podcast. Its a lot of work.
And perhaps I'm a bit spoiled now, but I really don't enjoy having “official” things on my schedule anymore. I'd prefer to not have any calls or interviews ever on my schedule. I know, I know…you can call my a cry baby if you want, it won't hurt my feelings.
I just personally like to keep a free schedule so I can work on the projects I'm most interested in. So, if I'm completely honest, hosting and recording podcasts is probably the least favorite thing I do in my business. I don't have the wonderful radio voice, and I'd rather analyze spreadsheets than interview someone.
Yep, that's how lame I am.
Why You Might Consider a Podcast
So overall, I know lots of people out there are not as lame as me. So, if you actually enjoy scheduling and conducting interviews with people, then perhaps a podcast is for you.
If you are more interested in networking and building relationships than seeing immediate results, then maybe a podcast is okay.
Also, I'm fully aware that my podcast could grow much faster if I was producing more podcasts. So, if a podcast is going to be a primary focus of your business, and you are able to produce a daily or even weekly show, you are much more likely to grow a larger audience.
However, as already explained, for my personal situation a blog is much easier to maintain and grow. I get many many times the amount of traffic to my blog than my podcasts. If I put more focus on my podcast, I wouldn't be able to produce as many high quality blog posts, which would just be shooting myself in the foot.
So, everyone needs to determine a strategy that is best suited for their business and overall strategy. If you already have an existing business that is doing well, and you are trying to grow your brand, then putting some effort into a podcast might be worth it.
But if a podcast is taking away from other activities that can produce more direct results, especially if you are a young company, I wouldn't recommend it.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you have a podcast? Have you seen the results you had hoped?
Again, I am not here to say that no one should be podcasting, but if you are considering starting a podcast, you need to go in with your eyes wide open. Its a lot of work, and often doesn't produce direct results (i.e. new readers and sales) that you might be looking for.
But if you are taking a long term branding and awareness approach that you hope to leverage into other opportunities, then perhaps a podcast is a good way to go. But its a huge time investment and other activities may be a better use of your time.
So, what about my own podcast, will I continue to produce it? Well, I'm not calling it quits yet. But for now, it will likely continue on the path that's its on…I produce maybe 1 podcast every other month or so, and that's plenty for me.
If by some miracle I find an extra 5 or 10 hours each week, perhaps I'll get all excited and try producing some more. But don't hold your breath! With a new baby and other booming businesses; the podcast is a pretty low priority at this point.
Am I way off base here?…Let me know your thoughts!