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I talk a lot about making a podcast for your audience. I believe it’s an essential part of any podcast’s success. But in this episode, I also want to talk about you and what you hope to get out of podcasting.

Many people start podcasts without having a clear strategy or long term goal in mind. It seems like the common strategy is to do a show until you get enough listeners, then sell ads as a way to make money. The problem with this approach is that most sponsors aren’t interested in shows with less than 5000 downloads per episode.

5000 is a lot of people though! What if you have even just 1000 people who are passionate about your show and interested in what you have to say? What could you do with the attention of 1000 people? There are certainly other options besides selling ads, and that’s what we’re going to explore in this episode.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • No matter what your show is about, always think about your audience first.
  • It’s ok to describe what your show is about, but it’s even better if you can describe what your show will do for your audience.
  • Focus on what your audience needs and show them that you care.
  • Money isn’t the only reason to podcast. There are many other benefits.

Show Notes

  • 2:08 This episode has two parts. In the first part, I’m going to talk about why you need to focus on making a show for your audience.
  • 2:19 In the second part, I’m going to talk about why you need to understand your motivation for podcasting and what benefits you can get out of it.

Part 1: What Is Your Show Going to Do for Your Audience?

  • 2:29 You have to start by describing what your show is going to do for your listener. When they visit your podcast website or iTunes page for the first time, they’re thinking, “What problem is this show going to solve for me?”
  • 2:51 People have a lot of problems. Here are a few examples of problems that a podcast can solve:
    • I’m bored (we all need entertainment)
    • I’m confused about something (education)
    • I want to learn about… (education)
    • I have a serious problem I need to solve (education)
    • I want to hear a story and connect with other people and feel less alone (entertainment/education)
  • 3:21 For some people, podcasts replace a traditional college education. For some people, it’s a way to keep up to date with the latest news in the world. For some people, it’s a way to kill time while doing chores.

No matter what your show is about, always think about your audience first.

Write Your Show Description for Your Audience

  • 3:45 It’s important to know what your audience is interested in and tailor your show description to their interests.

It’s ok to describe what your show is about, but it’s even better if you can describe what your show will do for your audience.

  • 4:06 For example, if you do a show about tech news, it’s fine to describe your podcast as, “a show about the latest news in tech”. But if you add, “ so you can stay up to date with the newest technology and be smarter and more informed than your friends”, now you’ve really caught their attention.
  • 4:26 If you do a show about podcasting (ahem), it’s ok to describe your show as, “a podcast about podcasting for podcasters”. It’s better to describe your show as, “a show about podcasting that will teach you how to be a better podcaster so you can grow your audience and make a million dollars”. What’s the difference? The benefits. The benefits to your audience.

It’s All About the Benjamins – wait, no, the Benefits to Your Audience

  • 4:54 Will listening to your show make them a smarter person? Tell them that.
  • 5:06 Will listening to your show make them a better web designer? Tell them that.
  • 5:10 Will listening to your show make them a better parent? Tell them that.
  • 5:18 The description of your podcast should include the answers to these two questions:
    1. What is your show about?
    2. What is it going to do for your listener? (What are the benefits?)

Focus on what your audience needs and show them that you care.

Part 2: What Is Your Show Going to Do for You?

  • 5:56 Let’s talk about you for a minute. Why did you decide to start podcasting? What made you think it was a good idea to sit in front of a microphone every week and talk, and then spend 6 hours editing it before uploading it to your website? What made you crazy enough to commit to weekly episodes?

What Was Your Motivation to Start a Podcast?

  • 6:28 Now that you’ve established what your podcast does for your audience, what does it do for you? What are the benefits you’re hoping you’ll get by podcasting?
  • 6:39 This is the question I’m trying to get you to consider with the title of this episode, which is “Why are You Podcasting?”
  • 6:49 From my experience, here are some of the main reasons people start podcasts:
    • To make some extra money
    • To network and build relationships
    • To become famous
    • To sell a product
    • To sell their services
    • To put something awesome into the world
    • To help people
  • 7:28 Those are all perfectly valid reasons to start a podcast.
  • 7:34 I was curious about why people start podcasts, so I reached out and asked a few people. Here’s a few of their answers:
  • 7:49 Ed Williams said: My podcast is content marketing; providing value while also marketing my comic book. I also want to grow a fan base.
  • 8:00 Charli Prangley said: I started my vlog because I wanted a creative outlet and wanted to reach a certain audience of young designers. I also wanted to be involved in the community aspect of YouTube cos it’s SUCH a great community. I’m looking at ways to earn money from what I create and that’s definitely a big driver in my desire to build my audience, but it’s not why I started. I’m getting a sense of creative fulfillment, and I get to be part of a really great community and have made a lot of friends because of it.
  • 8:46 Ben Toalson said: I started In the Boat With Ben (podcast and video) because I knew people would connect with me through it. I’m hoping that as I continue doing it, my audience will feel a stronger connection with me and deeper trust, so that when I do come out with books and courses purposed to make life better for my audience, they’ll be more likely to take advantage.
  • 9:20 Cory Miller said: I’m working (not hoping) for three things:
    1. To improve my communication skills by challenging myself to write and speak.
    2. To grow my level of exposure by my own means and on my own terms.
    3. To establish myself in others’ minds as a professional and expert in my field.

You Need Goals – Start with the End in Mind

  • 9:56 You want to build an audience. What are you going to do with that attention once you get it?
  • 10:25 Of course, sponsors come to mind. You could sell ads. But most companies don’t sell ads to show with less than 5000 weekly downloads.
  • 10:37 5000 is a huge number! Imagine you were in a band playing to 5000 people. Imagine the size of that crowd. It’s insane, and yet somehow you feel insignificant if your podcast only has 500 downloads per week? I don’t know if you’ve ever given a talk in front of 500 people or played a show for 500 people, but 500 is a lot of people.
  • 11:23 Sure, you could sell ads, but I want you to start thinking about the other benefits of podcasting and growing an audience.

Money isn’t the only reason to podcast. There are many other benefits.

The Benefits of Podcasting

  • 11:30 We all need money to survive, but money won’t bring happiness. Sure, a lack of money will make you unhappy, but past a certain income point, money stops being such a huge motivator..
  • 11:51 I’ve personally found that I get a lot more satisfaction from making a postive impact on someone’s life with my work. If I can help someone reach a goal or feel more empowered or overcome an obstable or learn something new or get excited about something, that’s immensly rewarding to me.
  • 12:08 So let’s expand our thinking beyond ads. Let’s look at some of the other benefits.
  • 12:15 One of the biggest benefits to podcasting is becoming known as an expert. Becoming known as an expert means people will think of you when they think about a certain thing.
    • When you think hand-lettering, I bet there are a few names that come to mind (Sean McCabe, at least).
    • If you think DIY Video, you’re going to think Caleb Wojcik.
    • If you think movie director, you’ll probably think of Steven Spielburg, or JJ Abrams, or Quentin Tarantino.
    • Every time I think of becoming known as an expert, I think of Nathan Barry who became known as an expert by writing a book about how to become an expert. So meta.
    • When you think comics, you think of Stan Lee.
    • When you think Web Design and CSS, you think of Chris Coyier.
  • 13:37 I bet many of you think of me when you think podcasting (I’m the Podcast Dude, after all). But I bet you also think of Dan Benjamin, Daniel J. Lewis, and maybe a couple other people who teach people how to podcast.
  • 13:54 You want your name to become associated with a thing. When you reach that level, when you achieve that, there are many benefits. You will get more and better projects. You’ll be able to charge more for your work.
  • 14:08 There are several ways to become known as an authority. Most importantly, you have to do great work, but sharing and teaching what you know (podcasting, blogging, video/screencasts) is one of the best ways to get there.

Real World Examples

  • 15:24 I chatted last week with a fellow audio engineer from the Community (Jason) who just started a podcast for people who want to learn how to make better hip hop. I had some ideas for Jason about what benefits he could get from podcasting. Jason could:
    1. Sell personalized song reviews
    2. Sell one-on-one consulting time with artists other other engineers
    3. Attract new clients to his studio, meet new artists to work or collaborate with
    4. Make products about how to make better beats or songs
    5. Do online workshops for any number of things
  • 16:52 Let’s say you do a podcast about web performance. Web performance podcast hosts could:
    1. Sell tickets to in-person workshops
    2. Give talks at conferences
    3. Do webinars to help companies make their websites faster
    4. Sell ebooks
    5. Sell consulting time
  • 17:26 If you’re a musician, you could:
    1. Tell the stories behind your songs
    2. Answer questions from your fans
    3. Sell exclusive merch to your podcast listeners
    4. Arrange exclusive one on one meetups before shows
    5. Sell private shows
    6. Create a deeper connection with your hardcore fans, which will lead to more sales and bigger shows

Know Your Why

  • 18:26 Think about your audience first. That’s the best way to shape the content and direction of your show to create something that really resonates with people. But I also want you to think about your long term strategy; the WHY behind your podcast.
  • 18:43 Podcasting isn’t always going to fun. It’s work. You’re going to invest a lot of time into it if you want to make a great show. When the going gets hard, when you don’t feel like doing it, you need to know why the struggle is worth it, how it’s going to pay off in the long run.

Three Questions to Answer:

  • 19:11 I want you to write an answer to these questions and then keep them close. Print them out and hang them on your wall, or just create a text doc on your computer or phone and revisit it every few months or so. The questions I want you to answer are:
    1. What is my show going to do for my audience?
    2. What is my show going to do for me?
    3. What is my ideal life, and how can podcasting help me get there?


  • 25:42 Jason B. said: I like the way you phrased it when we chatted about reasons to podcast: you said, “Your podcast can prepare someone to become your client.”
  • 25:54 This is a great reason to podcast. If you provide any kind of client services, there are things that many of your clients need to be educated about before they’re ready to work with you. Mike Monteiro does this perfectly. He wrote a book called You’re My Favorite Client that is meant to be read by someone who is thinking about hiring a designer. If you haven’t heard of Mike Monteiro, you need to go check out his work right now.
  • 31:41 John Loudon said: I see podcasting as a way to build my engagement and provide content in a different manner. Audio is a very easy way to digest content, and I’m looking to build up more authority in my field. Video and podcasts will help there. Wish I was already doing it though!
  • 32:06 Audio is a very easy way to digest content. That’s the main reason why I became passionate about podcasts; I was working a job that I hated and I didn’t have time to sit in front of a computer and study, but I still wanted to learn. I wanted to get educated and hear what other people had to say.
  • 32:32 Podcasts allowed me to learn while working, or riding my bike to school or work, or while doing chores. It’s really easy and convienant to digest audio and I think that’s why podcasts are really taking off.
  • 32:58 Podcasting is a great way to become known as an authority about a topic. If there’s anything keeping you from starting your show, please reach out and let me know how I can help. I don’t have plans to stop doing this show anytime soon, so send me your questions!