Has all the talk about podcasts ever piqued your interest… even once? I’m sure you’ve heard about how popular podcasts are becoming. And you’ve probably seen at least one training course that promises to make you a podcasting star.
But would a podcast actually help your business? Is it worth the time and effort? What kind of results can you expect? There are a lot of pros and cons to podcasts. They can be the ideal platform for some people, but they can also end up as a dead end for others.
To help you decide if a podcast is right for you, I’ve assembled this list of pros and cons for launching a podcast. Hopefully it will be enough to help you decide if podcasting is a path you want to explore further.
7 reasons to launch a podcast
1) You hate writing, and you hate being on camera.
Some people would rather do just about anything than write. A podcast is definitely a way to get around writing, or at least a way to write less. Or maybe you’re terrified of making videos. That’s another reason to try some podcasting.
2) Once you’re set up, podcasting is nearly free.
In terms of the gear needed to get started, podcasting is a lot like creating videos. It can be a bit overwhelming and it all sounds really expensive, but it actually doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
You will need a microphone. Nicer microphones run about $100-150. Sometimes you can get good used microphones on eBay or other second-hand sources. There are dozens of great microphones available, but a few good ones include
- the Blue Yeti USB condenser microphone for $119
- Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone for $130
- The Samson C01 Condenser Microphone. This is a decent starter microphone for $80.
You may also want a pop filter to reduce breathing sounds or spikes in volume. Even a really nice pop filter like the CAD Audio EPF-15A Pop Filter only costs $11.
Next you’ll need a stand. Decide whether you want to sit or stand while you record. I have a Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount stand on my desk. I got it on Amazon for $30. It’s always worked very well.
Next you’ll need some sound editing software. Audacity is free and is widely used. It’s available for Mac, PC and even Linux. Other people like Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X, Sony Movie Studio Platinum, or GarageBand.
That’s all the gear you’ll need. There may be some more gear you’ll want, but that’s up to you.
3) Podcasting can help you build a large audience and position yourself as an expert.
Having a podcast does expose you to a vast potential audience. If you are seriously building a platform as an expert, having a podcast makes you look the part.
4) Podcasting is especially well suited to training or online education.
If you want to teach people how to do something, a podcast might be a great format. Podcast teaching is especially effective if your topic takes time to master and has a lot of nuances.
5) Podcasting gives you a great way to vary the content formats on your site.
As the web develops and people get more and more resistant to reading, it makes sense to start creating content in other formats. Adding an audio file at the end of a blog post works for many major sites, like Jeff Bullas’s blog and Copyblogger.
6) Podcasting often leads to speaking engagements.
Speaking is one of the highest paying gigs around. If you’re not terrified of talking in front of people, you might be able to work your way up to thousand-dollar speaking gigs.
Even if you don’t hit the big leagues with speaking, it can be a phenomenal way to build your reputation as an expert. And if you’re an author, public speaking is one of the most tried and true ways to sell books.
7) Podcasting is a great way to build relationships with the smartest people in your industry or niche.
Subject experts and other rising stars are usually happy to accept interview invites. You can find them by looking at guest posts on major blogs in your niche or by asking people whose work you know and love. You can also find potential guests by looking through Amazon or other online bookseller sites. Authors almost always want more interviews.
Bonus tip: Ask your guest a couple of questions that you can use for other pieces of content, like blog post roundups.
7 reasons to not launch a podcast
1) You need money fast.
A podcast is not a good way to earn money fast. For some, it may not be a way to earn money at all. Be leery of anyone who says you can start making $10K a month just from podcasting.
It’s best to lay off the sales pitches, especially within the first six months of when you launch. For awhile just focus on building your audience. Then build their trust. Then think about selling to them.
Still hope to one day make money from your podcasting? You can sell advertising or sponsorships, but you’ll need a fairly large following for that. See any of Jay Baer’s podcasts for an example of a sponsored podcast. If you must earn directly from your podcast, get a good business model and backend revenue generation system set up. Membership sites, ebooks or other products can help.
Want some real examples of podcasters who make money like it was growing on trees? Check out Pat Flynn’s podcast or John Dumas‘ podcast. Cliff Ravenscraft, “The Podcast Answer Man” writes extensively about how to monetize podcasts.
2) If you want to exclusively promote affiliate offers.
It’s harder to get credit for affiliate sales from a podcast. There are no trackable links in audio files. Of course, you can still send people to landing pages. You’ll do even better if you offer an extra, complementary product when people buy through your link.
This is why sponsors and advertising are so attractive to podcasters. There’s quite a lot of evidence that these revenue methods do well, too. John Dumas wrote a detailed post about how he’s done with sponsorships and exactly how they work.
3) If you’re not good at consistently doing things.
A podcast is guaranteed to fail if you only do 2-3 episodes. You need to be in it for the long haul. You may have to do several months worth of podcasts before you really start to build the kind of audience size that can deliver results. Do you have enough resources (both time and money) to put a hundred hours of work into your podcast before you ever see a dime?
4) If there isn’t a large enough audience for your topic.
There are a lot of podcasts (more than 250,000) on a stunning array of topics. That doesn’t mean they’re all successful. And just because there are no podcasts in a particular niche doesn’t mean you’ve found an opportunity. There may be a good reason why there are no podcasts for that niche.
Picking the right niche and topic to start a podcast on can be difficult. You want it focused enough to define your audience, but not so focused that you could run out of things to talk about.
5) You’re not good at reaching out to potential guests.
As with pretty much any activity online, it helps to already have a following. If you’ve only got 23 Twitter followers and a single digit Klout score, it’s harder to get people to accept your interview invites. This is especially a problem in the beginning.
That said, this is a challenge, not a deal-killer. Even if you’re “nobody”, that’s exactly where everybody else started, too. There is no shortage of information about how to build a following online. And nobody said you had to go out and land Seth Godin for your first interview, either. Start small, create the best podcasts you can, and just keep reaching higher.
6) Your interviewing skills are terrible.
This is a fairly minor reason to skip podcasting, though it is a disadvantage. Even if your interviewing skills are awful, they can always be improved. Just watching the late-night talk show interviews can show you some good tips.
7) You’re terrified of the sound of your own voice.
Do you have the podcaster’s version of stage fright – “microphone fright”? It’s a drag, but there’s good news: It will probably go away after your first few episodes.
If it makes you feel any better, there are world-class celebrities who go through intense, almost crippling anxiety nearly every time they perform. It never goes away for them, even after decades of performances. They just learn to deal with it. They summon the courage to step out on stage anyway.
Don’t let the fear stop you. But if you just are not meant to be the guy or gal with the microphone, that’s okay too. There are plenty of other ways to get your message heard.
Do you have a podcast? How is it working for you? Let us know in the comments.