Why Bother With a Podcast

Chris Brogan Podcaster Everything old is new again. It seems that the wild west of podcasting is back and alive and that people are all planning on starting a show (I say “all” because of my position in the universe. Your uncle probably isn’t starting a show.) And yet, people are having trouble answering a very simple question: “Why bother with a podcast?”

What Does It Take to Start a Podcast?

It doesn’t take much to start a podcast. You need a place to store files, something to record the audio and/or video, and it wouldn’t hurt to have some editing.

For my show, I use Libsyn for my host (because it does a lot of stuff for me). I use Apple’s GarageBand for my editing tool, though you can use Audacity on Mac, PC, and Linux. I use a Blue Yeti microphone with a little screen to protect against pops. And I record most of my interviews using Call Recorder for Skype (on a Mac).

That’s all the technology it takes to start a podcast.

So What Does it REALLY Take to Start a Podcast?

Ah, a better question. You might want to have a plan for why you’re bothering in the first place. Here are some potential plans:

  • Build a media business, where I sell sponsorships or ads.
  • Build awareness for my company/product/service.
  • Build a growth vehicle for the rest of my platform.
  • Chit-chat with friends.

Guess which one most people inadvertently build?

Most times, it’s some weird mental disconnect people have between the idea of “start a podcast” and “use it to build my business.” They understand that people are podcasting, but they don’t understand the real reasons behind the shows.

My show, The Owner’s Mind, serves the following purposes:

1.) Build audience for my newsletter and magazine.
2.) Give me a reason to keep connecting with people in the monchu.
3.) Sell various products and services via this long-tail channel.

In that order. I wouldn’t be doing this if I weren’t at least getting #1 in some form or fashion.

But what else do you need?

What It’ll Take to Keep a Podcast Going

Once you’ve answered your how-to questions, and once you have a firm grasp on why, you’ve got to build your production into your schedule. If you do this “once in a while,” it’s doomed to fail. If you throw episodes together without much care for what you’re doing with them, who cares? (Hint: if it’s junk out, it’ll give you junk back.)

And further, you’ll have to do a lot to promote it. The answer isn’t “build it and they will come.” That was never the answer. You didn’t miss the golden age. There never was that golden age. Your podcast has to be a part of your digital channel development, not something that magically will find you a new audience.

So, should you bother with a podcast? Beats me. What will it do for your business? You tell me.

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  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ jaybaer

    I have done a lot of content marketing, social media, ebooks, events, emails, blogs and seances. Of them all, my podcast has perhaps had the greatest impact on my business (and is also the most fun).

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      We agree entirely. That’s what Stelzner said, you know. He said it’s just plain FUN. That’s how I feel, too.

  • Roger Whitney

    I started mine last week and have focused goals for it (all long tail). What will it do for my business?
    1. Build brand and social currency
    2. Make me better at my craft (gotta walk the talk)
    3. Attract people that need what I do
    4. SERVE

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Beautiful, Roger. I’m glad you’re approaching it that way. : )

  • http://bournemedia.com David Bourne

    Thanks for this, Chris. I like that a podcast can give you more media for your website. (I like the PowerPress WordPress plugin from Blubrry).

    Add a transcription and you make readers and search engines happier.

    I also like that you can make a podcast out of a video’s audio track (if you do it right) and you can make a video out of podcast by adding appropriate visuals.

    That’s a ton of mileage for something that was fun to do, as Jay said.

    I’m drinking a sparking water, btw. How about you?

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      True that. Lots to get done.

      A cup of black coffee this morning.

  • http://blog.momekh.com/ Momekh

    The Life of Adventure podcast begins soon enough. I remember saying that a million years ago Chris when I recorded a call with you over Skype. Then I lost my hard drive, yours, Julien’s interviews – gone. Along with those, my interest went too. I used that as the “perfect reason” to delay starting a podcast. What a beautiful loser I was.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      But now you’re not. Launch. : )

  • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

    Over the past year my podcast has helped me to build a targeted email list. I’ve also developed working relationships and friendships with guests (it’s an interview format). It’s also fun!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      That’s great. Cool to hear it. : )

    • http://TamelaRich.com/ Tamela Rich

      Stephen, would you be willing to share the tactical steps you used to convert podcast listeners to email subscribers? Thanks in advance for any tips.

      • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

        I’d be happy to share, Tamela. Thanks for asking. I combine a few tactics: 1) a spoken call to action at the end of every podcast episode; 2) placing an opt-in form above the podcast player for every episode; 3) offering email subscribers a free downloadable guide – plus access to podcast transcripts and exclusive weekly email content: 5) pop-up opt-in forms on popular pages (such as the podcast episodes listing page). I hope this helps. Questions? Let me know.

        • http://TamelaRich.com/ Tamela Rich

          Well no wonder you’re successful! Thank you kindly!

          • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

            No problem! Your website looks great, by the way.

  • epredota

    This is great timing for me, Chris! I am putting together a podcast and already thinking about the why, and the how of interviewing, as well as the tech how to. My why is to start a conversation around my passion – helping people to uncover their truth, embrace it, and create from it – with the idea that the people attracted to it will likely be My People and therefore interested in working with me and buying my products, down the line. But the passion and the conversation is the #1 priority.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Well look at that. Very happy you found this at the right time for you. I hope that folks enjoy your work. : )

  • http://www.nextstagemediagroup.com/ Pamela Muldoon

    I’ve been podcasting since 2009 and believe it was the best decision I ever made for my business. My interview format provides me the opportunity to build relationships with some of the best people around the globe. Business partnerships, speaking opportunities and brand awareness are all resulting from my podcast. I started in front of a mic when I was 17 and got the radio bug. I left radio as a career in the mid-’90′s but have always loved it. Podcasting brought that joy back into my life in ’09 and resulted in great content for my business. I cannot imagine NOT podcasting at this point.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Love stories like this, Pamela. So glad that you shared this!

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    Word, Chris. Probably the easiest thing I do that makes the most impact with that limited effort. Granted, it’s taken time to get the process to make it easier (and I have someone who now edits my shows), but it’s been a great way to reach my audience in different ways.

    In fact, I’ve felt the impact even more ever since I started recording audio versions of my blog posts. Readers love this, and it’s impacted time on site as well. Results in far more downloads than before, and I’m sure the added content will also be a good thing for iTunes.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Now that’s something I *used* to do but got away from it. I should get back into that. : )

  • Marquita Herald

    I just recently launched a new website and a podcast is in the plans. I get the why, but to be honest my biggest issue is that as a listener I’ve never been a fan of podcasts which makes it a challenge to find the energy to launch it let alone commit for the long term. After reading your article I think what I need to do is find a few podcasts that I do enjoy and maybe that will help to inspire me to take the next step. Love your photo by the way Chris. :-)

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      So why do it? If you don’t like doing it, why bother? I don’t do many things in life that I don’t like doing.

  • http://www.michaelreynolds.com Michael Reynolds

    You inspired me to launch my own podcast last year and it’s been a blast! And thank you again for being my guest :)

    I also use Libsyn and really like it. I love your fast, personal, casual style and I’ve learned a lot from you. Thank you!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      The pleasure was mine, Michael. : )

      ANd thank you. Very kind of you. : )

  • Isaiah

    I really want to start a podcast but I DON’T want to make my podcasts like everyone else’s. I don’t want to be interviewing guests; I think that bringing on guests is going to get old quickly. A lot of online entrepreneurs are adapting to that but I think that the trend is changing rapidly. I’ve been researching for the past week on all the alternative ways to do podcasts. Thanks for the post!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Why *I* like guests is that I can have an endless supply of great learning for myself and the community I serve. If it’s just my own ideas, that can get stale fast.

    • http://www.donnamaria.com/ Donna Maria Coles Johnson

      Isaiah, maybe you can try both and see what you like best!

  • http://readtoleadpodcast.com/ Jeff Brown

    I was so pleased to read this post Chris. You captured the heart of what I believe most people miss in launching a podcast (or anything for that matter).

    One of the things I help students in my Podcaster Academy course develop is a worldview statement for their podcast. This statement, when complete, is the answer to WHY they (must) do it.

    It should be so bold as to dare listeners to accompany you. It may even be divisive, but then your podcast’s content should “back it up” and “come to its defense.”

    As my friend Jeff Goins says, passion has to be the driving factor, not chasing an audience.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Precisely, Jeff. I agree. It’s the right way to think about it. : )

  • http://www.williamcmurray.ca/ William C Murray

    Great post as always Chris. I was just hammering this very concept into my students over the last week – the ‘why’ must always come before the ‘what’. I’m looking forward to launching into the podcasting world this year; plans are crafted and I’m wrapping up some major projects first (translation: finishing / defending my PhD) before launching. My three words this year are create, communicate, and complete!

  • http://www.RoninMarketeer.com John Wall

    I tell people not to podcast. It’s not worth it.

    • http://www.donnamaria.com/ Donna Maria Coles Johnson

      Hi John! I’m interested in why you tell people not to podcast. Would you mind sharing? Thanks in advance.

      • http://www.RoninMarketeer.com John Wall

        Well, I’m half joking having done over 350 episodes of the Marketing Over Coffee podcast (so part of it is discouraging competition), but I’ve found that blogging has a better return on investment, and then video after that. If you’ve got a great blog and have some decent videos on YouTube then you might want to think about podcasting. Unless you love it.

        • http://www.donnamaria.com/ Donna Maria Coles Johnson

          LOL! Bad on me for not knowing about your podcast. Great way to discourage the competition though. Hope it works for you :) I have over 300 podcasts in the can as well, so, nice to meet you fellow podcaster! I agree that blogging has a great return, but what about posting a podcast summary at the blog and then linking the stream at the blog, with a link to iTunes? You get double return, no? I do love podcasting though so I’ll be counteracting your discouragement :) Thanks for the chattiness!

          • http://www.RoninMarketeer.com John Wall

            Yeah, you can get some SEO juice. For the most part people subscribe in iTunes or stream it from a service and they never come back to the site. I’ve seen 6 month old blogs out pulling podcasts that have been running for more than 2 years. You get your actual voice out there but if you do video there’s a chance you’d actually be recognized. It’s a labor of love.

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  • http://jacksonandwilson.com/ Mitch Jackson

    I enjoy listening to and sharing most of your podcast. Keep up the great work. BTW, the fact that they’re easy to listen to via my tablet or smartphone, while on the go and between court hearings, is what works for me!

  • http://www.donnamaria.com/ Donna Maria Coles Johnson

    I started podcasting in 2005. I agree it’s a great way to kill multiple birds with one stone: share your ideas, improve SEO, strengthen your platform, have fun, learn new things, improve your speaking skills and if you interview people, it expands your sphere of influence by helping you make new professional friends. What’s not to love? :)

  • mikemcallen

    I can’t write very well. When you combine dyslexia with my California public school education and blogging was all the rage I turned to podcasting. In my niche industry I was given a voice and access to all our industry meetings as a media person. It opened doors, made me thousands of dollars indirectly. After 300+ shows I recently revamped it with segments from industry magazine editors and thought leaders. Another benefit is I resemble Lurch from the Adams family, so doing audio just works for me. We can’t all be as handsome as Chris Brogan.

  • http://www.epoff.com/ E Poff

    This was such a great post. Reading all of the comments made me excited about trying podcasting and it made me want to start today! Thanks too for the succinct list of software and tools that you use – very helpful. Of course I understand that the “why” is the key to all of this so I believe my own business plan still needs some tweaking before I begin my journey, but I feel a little closer to my goal now! Thanks for adding a dash of enthusiasm to my equation.

  • http://www.buildyoursoulpurpose.com/ Brandon R Allen

    Thanks Chris. I have been podcasting in conjunction with my business coaching that I do. I find that my clients always give me great ideas for content and it’s a great way to stay connected to them between calls. Once you get it going, it’s pretty easy to maintain.

  • Podcastcoach

    If you can’t answer the why, you will never make it through the how. Also if you can’t identify the why, then how will you know if you’re successful. With you, you can watch newsletter subscriptions go up, etc and track where they came from. I know at the School of Podcasting 805 of my new sign ups use a coupon that you can only hear by listening to my show (so I have instant ROI).

  • libbydbone

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
    last week I bought themselves a Chrysler from having made $5060 thiss month
    and-in excess of, 10/k last-month . it’s realy the easiest-work I have ever done
    . I started this 4 months ago and pretty much straight away was bringin in at
    least $78 per-hour . why not look here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­