April 11, 2018 Jess

Your Content is for Your Listener, Not Your Sponsors

Podcasters live and die by their content. Of course, right? Why wouldn’t you. You spend tons of time researching, finding the perfect guest, articles, facts. You hire expensive editors, spend hundreds of dollars on a microphone, make it sound exactly like This American Life, and wait for the cash to come rolling in.

This is a common problem with podcasters. And no, I don’t mean having amazing and professionally produced content is a problem. No, silly. Content is so important. (I actually hate the term “content is king” or “content is queen” because it’s annoying and also, everyone knows this already. Or we should.) If you don’t have a great show, you’ve got…nothing. Nada.

But where the failure lies is in telling other people you have a show. Building an audience. Building a marketing system. Building…ANYTHING other than just the podcast. Here you are with a voice like Barry White and an NPR quality show and no one is listening. Yet, you’re wondering how to monetize this passion project of yours.

Let me just come right out and say it. Your advertiser couldn’t give a spoonful of peanut butter what kind of microphone you use or how many hours it takes you to prepare for your show. This does not mean you’re ready for an advertiser. You’re doing that stuff for the listener. The LISTENER appreciates it, I’m sure. The listener gains the benefit of your painstakingly agonizing book reading schedule and in-depth journalistic style of questioning.

The advertiser wants your audience. That’s it. Sure, they’ll listen to your show to make sure it’s on-brand for them, that the subject matter is covered in a way they see as proper representation of who they are as a company – but other than that, they want to know 1. Who is listening, 2. Are they the same people who buy their thing, and 3. How many of them are there.

It’s very simple. Are these people the same people who like our stuff? Yes? Then we’re in. Are there enough of them to warrant spending advertising dollars to reach them? Yes? Then let’s do it, here we go. If the answer is no to either of those questions, then you’re not the right show for an advertiser.

The numbers are a key factor, to a point. There isn’t a magic number of how many downloads you need per episode. Different brands expect different numbers and certain niches are valuable even if the numbers are in the hundreds. What matters is that they’re out there. Find them. You may have a hard time finding listeners by creating great content only – but there are 2 billion people on Facebook. There are 1 billion on YouTube. There are 800 million on Instagram and 300 million on Twitter. Chances are SOME of those people are into your show topic, if only they knew it existed….

Make sure you’re putting your show in front of an interested audience, every day. Something every day, somewhere. Keep cranking out your amazing content, because your listeners love it. But your sponsors want reach, and without a significant audience…..you’re a very talented hobbyist.

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