Ten years ago, admitting you had a podcast was the equivalent of saying to the world, “I enjoy sitting in a dark room by myself.”
But today, in 2019, podcasting has proven to be the Next Big Thing as our digital-first world begins to transition into a streaming society.
I was recently catching up with my friend Case Kenny, founder of the super popular email newsletter, PRSUIT, and his now wildly popular podcast, New Mindset, Who Dis? And somewhere during our conversation, I found myself incredibly interested in what he was building, how he was thinking about podcasting, and why right now is such an opportunistic time to start a podcast. And if you want any sort of tangible ($$$) proof, look no further than Spotify committing to spend ~$500M in podcast acquisitions in 2019.
That’s a lot of audio.
Why you should start a podcast in 2019.
I am a big believer in always keeping a lookout for the next BIG attention opportunity.
For example: back in 2013, I discovered a “little” (~150 million users “little”) site called Quora. As an aspiring writer, I started writing on the platform, and immediately noticed that my viewership and reach on Quora was 5x, 10x what it was on Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram at the time. And the reason that was, I believe, was because Quora was still so new. It didn’t have too many barriers to entry yet, and wanted to heavily incentivize users to spend time creating content on the site—which meant it was willing to organically show your content to more people. Unlike Facebook, where the platform was already generating billions of dollars in advertising revenue and wanted to save its precious News Feed space for paying customers.
From 2014 to 2018, I accumulated nearly 30 million organic views on my written content on Quora. I became one of the platform’s most-read writers of all time, and in 2015, I was actually the #1 most popular writer on the entire platform. And during my entire reign there, I told everyone about the platform. I said, “This isn’t going to last forever. Jump on this now.” And then, in 2019, Quora’s ad platform launched, and every single user’s organic reach plummeted—overnight.
That’s just how the game goes.
What I found so inspiring about my conversation with Case was the realization that the same cycle is happening now with podcasts. Even three short years ago, podcasts weren’t nearly as popular as they are today—the same way early YouTuber’s were considered strange Internet lurkers, but today are practically celebrities. Which means now, right now, is the time to start thinking about how you can capitalize on the growing trend of podcasting.
Here are 4 reasons why you should start a podcast in 2019.
1. Remember the Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon boom for new shows? Expect the same to happen with podcasts.
$500M spent by Spotify on acquiring audio content is a drop in the bucket.
For some perspective, Netflix spent somewhere in the ballpark of $13 billion (with a B) on content. And guess what? You can’t watch your favorite shows when you’re driving. Or when you’re going for a run. Which means streaming platforms already focused on the audio side (Spotify, Napster, Apple, etc.) are all competing for that hour in your day spent listening to something.
So, pick an audience, start your podcast, and who knows, maybe your show will turn into something much, much bigger.
2. It has never been easier to pick a niche audience—and then own that niche.
One of the things I’ve always admired about Case, beginning way back when he first started PRSUIT, was his ability to hyper-focus on a specific audience. As he so eloquently puts it in his Instagram bio: Just a dudebroguy w/ perspective.
Can you imagine who his target reader or listener would be?
You can. Probably very clearly.
And that’s a good thing.
In today’s world, it has never been easier to pick a niche (one you care about) and then go all-in on owning that niche. More and more, entrepreneurs of all different calibers are realizing the value in specificity. You don’t need to build “something for everyone” in order to be successful.
You just need to talk to your target reader or listener, and talk to them directly.
3. Podcasts can be a very easy way to maximize how much content you publish on a regular basis.
As I was talking to Case, I had this realization:
“I could turn every one of my podcasts into two or three different articles.”
When it comes to building your personal brand online, the game you’re really playing is impact v.s output. You should always be thinking about how you can keep quality high, but time investment low. Otherwise, you’ll spend weeks on one piece of content—and as data has seemed to prove (to myself and every other successful content creator out there), “Volume Wins.”
Instead of thinking about a podcast as another item on your To Do list, you should start thinking about how you can use your podcast, or the people you interview, as a catalyst to make some of your other content efforts even more effective.
4. Advertising budgets are making more and more room to sponsor podcasts that speak to their target customers and clients.
Want some inspiration?
The hit podcast by The New York Times, The Daily, reportedly asks for nearly $300,000 per month from its podcast sponsors.
Sure, that’s The New York Times, but still.
According to CNBC, “Ad revenues for podcasts overall are set to double by 2020, with PwC and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) predicting that U.S. ad spend will go up from an estimated $314 million in 2017 to $659 million in 2020, with “baked-in” ads (that are read by the presenter) the most popular type.”
This means that having a profitable podcast is not only feasible, but very doable. In fact, it’s safe to say that podcasts will follow in the footsteps left by the influencer marketing boom that happened between 2012 and 2016 (and arguably, still surging). You don’t need to have 5 million monthly listeners like The New York Times to turn a profit. You could be a “micro-podcaster” with 2,000 loyal listeners per month. But if those loyal listeners of yours are exactly who a certain brand or company is looking to target, then best believe, they’ll pay.