Yesterday I was recording an episode of my podcast Mastermind.fm with my co-host James Laws, and the topic for discussion was our experience thus far with podcasting.
Mastermind.fm was the first foray into the podcasting world for both of us, so it was interesting to compare our feelings after having recorded 25 episodes.
It seems like podcasting has been the next big thing for a number of years now. While blogging took off very rapidly and no one nowadays doubts the power of blogging and content marketing, podcasting seems to be taking longer to become as mainstream as blogging.
No doubt one of the challenges with podcasting is that it is harder to create a podcast. You need to invest in some equipment (I use the Audio Technica ATR-2100 microphone which packs a lot of punch) as well as software (Audacity, Garageband etc). Perhaps more than equipment and software you will need to invest a lot of time in learning how to podcast properly and how to use that hardware and software.
We decided early on to outsource the production of the podcast and that has been one of the most important decisions for us. If we were doing the production ourselves I’m sure we wouldn’t have made it so far, because it is very time-consuming and frankly it’s not a job I’d look forward to doing every week.
Choosing a good topic and niche to cover is also crucial. We decided to focus on the business side of WordPress. There were several other podcasts which were more technical but very few actually talked shop. Since we were already having these conversations on a one-to-one basis in our weekly mastermind sessions, we basically just opened our discussions up to the public.
What I feel was most rewarding so far is the deep connection that forms between the host and the listener. I’ve attended several conferences where people walk up to me and introduce themselves as listeners of Mastermind.fm. They usually follow by mentioning something specific that they learnt from us. It feels great to know that you have helped someone with a concrete piece of advice. When I compare the effect of podcasting to blogging (which I have been doing for almost ten years now), the former one is way more powerful.
Adding on to that, a podcast can give you more exposure within your community or line of business. That can be important if you’re looking to land more clients, speaking engagements, etc. Personally, this wasn’t one of my main motivations since I already had WP Mayor as a platform within the WordPress community, but I can’t deny that podcasting has given us extra exposure and credibility within the WordPress niche.
Podcast monetization is not easy at all, and perhaps this is also a factor for the slower growth of podcasting compared with blogging. You need to have a sizeable audience before being able to attract any sponsors for the show. In the earlier days you can try using affiliate links in the show notes or giving out short URLs within the show itself that allow your audience access to special deals on products they’d be interested in. Mixergy and Smart Passive Income are two podcasts that do a great job with advertising and product recommendations.
Given the many other benefits of podcasting, however, monetization need not necessarily be the main goal for you. You could very well have a successful podcast and never earn a single cent directly from sponsors and affiliate links, but it would still have been rewarding in other ways and perhaps even profitable by helping you attract more clients, becoming well known etc.
I’ve always considered myself a decent writer, however speaking was a much bigger challenge. Throughout my childhood, I’d always been labeled as quiet and introverted and encouraged to speak more. Of course, things are never that simple. I like to think a lot before declaring an opinion, and that’s perfect for writing when you have all the time in the world to get comfortable with an opinion and formulate the right words. However, when speaking in the context of a group discussion or podcast, you need to be very fast in your thinking and persuasive in your speech.
Hence Mastermind.fm presented a huge challenge for me and a great opportunity to improve this weakness in my skill set. I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve achieved so far, although there’s still a long way to go and many more improvements to be made. I’ve also had some sessions with an accent coach who has been helping me on eliminating some Maltese English peculiarities in my pronunciation which can be a stumbling block when speaking to an international audience. I would wholeheartedly recommend such coaching if you’re not a native English speaker. Podcasts in English are dominated by American hosts and so you need to be able to make yourself understood as a basic first step. Again, a podcast is less forgiving than a blog in this respect.
I would highly recommend that you start a podcast, but only if you know you can commit enough resources to it. I see too may shows fizzle out after a few episodes and that’s a shame. You need to establish a schedule and stick to it religiously (we publish once a week). Compared to a blog, a podcast audience is way more sensitive to changes in your publishing schedule and quality of episodes. Two or three delayed or sub-par episodes and you will most likely lose a big chunk of your audience.
With blogging your content is more evergreen as Google does a great job of serving older content to people every day, while there is no search engine for podcast content yet. What you can do to mitigate this problem a bit is to make sure you have great transcripts of every show. We have a dedicated person who does a great job with show notes at Mastermind.fm, and our producer also makes sure that she lists all the sites and products mentioned on the show for easy reference.
If you decide to take the plunge with podcasting, have a look at my previous post on podcasting learning resources, I’m sure you’ll find the sites featured there very helpful to get you started.
And if you want to check out some of my favourite podcasts, I have previously blogged about my list of favourite podcasts for entrepreneurs.