With attention spans at an all-time low, audiences are looking for ways to consume quality information in a fraction of the time. Enter podcasts.
Podcasts are hardly new, but emerging platforms and easy-to-use tools mean they’re quickly becoming an increasingly popular way to consume content. Many business owners are starting podcasts to share educational information and give a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to run a business.
But are people really listening?
According to Edison Research, 32% of Americans—over 105 million people—listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. And that’s just in one country when podcasts are available worldwide.
So we don’t have to wonder if people are tuning into podcasts. But does that mean it’s the right move for your online business? Well, it depends.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of podcasting to see if it’s something you want to consider including in your content strategy.
4 ways a podcast can help grow your online business
Every few months (or, these days, even weeks), you’re bound to see another business owner announcing they’re starting a podcast. You may be wondering why they’re all flocking to podcasting, but trust when we say it’s with good reason.
Let’s go over some of the primary benefits of starting a podcast:
1. Increase your revenue through generous content marketing
Podcasting for business is a form of content marketing. Unlike traditional marketing, which zeroes in on the sale (such as advertisements), content marketing focuses on delivering high-value, educational content to an audience before ever asking them to purchase something.
With your podcast, you can build out an extensive library of content marketing assets and attract an audience of loyal listeners—many of whom might become paying customers or clients one day.
Two years later, he was earning $162,000 net profit per month from the podcast. One part of this revenue was from converting listeners into paying customers, and the other part was from sponsorships on his podcast.
When you start a podcast, you can follow John’s example and use it to grow your primary business and introduce additional income streams like sponsorships, merchants, and affiliates.
2. Reach potential clients where they already spend time
Podcast listening is on the rise, and by some reports, it may have already surpassed social media use. The 2019 Podcast Trends Report found that 59% of respondents reported spending more time per week listening to podcasts than engaging with social media.
When people listen to podcasts, they tend to be more engaged: 70% of listeners prefer to listen to podcasts while not doing anything else, meaning their attention is entirely devoted to the content.
This makes podcasting a considerable opportunity to build trust, provide value, and generate leads for your online business.
Sara Alepin, the founder of networking events company District Bliss, reports that starting her podcast The Wedding Dish boosted her leads by 25% during a pandemic that stalled sales for most events companies:
“This year, I’ve converted two leads to District Bliss without sales calls, resulting in $1,930 in profit. I’ve increased my followers on Instagram by over 3,500 across my business and podcast accounts. Since the pandemic started, I’ve seen a 25% increase in leads, even though I’ve been much more lax in my other marketing channels that have previously been very successful for me.”
3. Create a deeper connection with your audience
Your written voice is one thing, but your actual speaking voice? That’s what really connects you with your audience.
With a podcast, you’re able to give readers a deeper look into who you are and what you do.
Part of what makes podcasting feel like a deeper connection than other forms of marketing (such as social media) is that there are fewer distractions for consumers.
You may have advertisements throughout your podcast, but once someone is listening, they are likely to stay. 52% of podcast listeners reported that they consume episodes in their entirety, compared to just 20% of blog readers reading the whole blog post.
Life and business coach Lucy Liu started her podcast The Lucy Liu Show to create deeper connections with her target market, and she’s found success:
“I have clients who have listened to my podcast, and they feel connected to me, which makes it clear that I’m the right person to work with them. Because of my podcast, I’ve been able to meet and network with many amazing souls whom I have collaborated with and supported each other on our journeys to rise together.”
4. Establish credibility and authority in your industry
The more openly you share your expertise, the more others will trust you. That trust translates into higher conversions because people want to buy from those who have authority and credibility.
Through podcasting, you have more time to fully cover essential topics in your niche and show the depth of your knowledge. You’re also able to show how well you think on your feet, which is a true test of expertise.
Lexie Smith, the founder of The PR Bar, launched her podcast, Pitchin’ and Sippin’, in 2020, and it’s fast-tracked her to building authority in the public relations industry:
“Having a podcast benefited my business in establishing credibility, furthering my reach, and providing valuable content to both my clients and the larger PR and entrepreneurial community. To date, my podcast ranks in the Top 5% of podcasts globally.”
What if I’m too busy to start a podcast?
The benefits of podcasts for growing your online business are outstanding. But you might be wondering, “Is starting a podcast really the right move for me?”
If you’re already far too busy to launch a podcast or you’re not comfortable being the “star host” of your own show, there are ways to get the benefits of podcasts…without launching one on your own.
Partner with another creator for your podcast
A great way to lower the pressure of hosting a podcast is to co-produce a podcast with a fellow creator. You share the mic and the work of generating topic ideas, scheduling the podcast, and building an audience.
For example, I partnered with another freelance writer, Emma Siemasko, to launch the Freelance Writing Coach podcast. As an introvert, having someone else share the burden (and the spotlight) of podcasting has made the process that much easier.
Guest on other podcasts
Showing up as a guest on someone else’s podcast provides similar benefits to launching your own podcast—except you aren’t responsible for anything but showing up for the interview.
By being a guest on another podcast, you can share your expertise, take advantage of the long-form podcast format, reach a new or bigger audience other than your own, and build authority in your industry. While you won’t reap the benefits of consistent connection with an audience of your own, you will be exposed to a new audience of potential clients.
Before I launched my podcast with Emma, I was a guest on several different podcasts, like The Empowered Marketer and The Side Hustle Project. These opportunities allowed me to try the podcast format and reach new audiences before committing to launching my own.
How to use a podcast to grow your email list
The benefits of podcasts are huge on their own, but there’s another major benefit, too: Your podcast is an excellent tool to grow your email list (and vice versa).
We have a few ideas to help you get started:
1. Use call-to-actions during podcast episodes
You’re giving a lot of free, high-quality educational content through the podcast. It’s also being shared with a highly interested audience.
You should capitalize on the authority and trust you’ve built through your podcast by giving direct call-to-actions (CTAs) within each episode. At the end or beginning of an episode, ask listeners to download your lead magnet or directly join your email list. Then, include a link to do so in the show notes so people can easily find it.
For example, The Twelfth House podcast by Holisticism includes a call to action to download their Free Content Creation Station Guide:
2. Turn podcast episodes into blog posts and videos
Some people in your target market will prefer reading to listening for various reasons—to skim right to the good part, to read along as they implement your tips, or maybe just because they learn better through reading.
Additionally, blog posts have the potential to get organic traffic from search engines, drawing in people who may never have heard of you before. As a bonus, you can also use your blog post material as email newsletter content!
The same is true for video: some people are more visual learners. Cross-posting podcast episodes to YouTube also helps with discoverability, which is exactly what ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry does with his podcast.
Turning your podcasts into videos means you can reach a whole new audience through platforms like YouTube.
3. Offer a content upgrade for subscribers or members
A content upgrade is a unique or longer version of your free podcast content available to certain groups of listeners. You can choose to offer a content upgrade for paying customers (such as part of a membership or Patreon) or to those who subscribe to your email list.
If your free podcast content is good, many listeners will happily pay or subscribe for more!
For inspiration, look to veteran podcaster Dan Savage, host of the Savage Lovecast. He puts out a free version of the podcast, but he also has an extended, members-only version of the podcast that includes interviews with high-profile guests and comes ad-free.
4. Plug an upcoming training or webinar
Hosting a training, webinar, masterclass, or workshop is an easy way to turn podcast listeners into email list subscribers.
It works like this:
- Create a free or paid training in your area of expertise that goes into more detail than your podcast does.
- During podcast episodes, invite listeners to learn more by attending your training.
- Require an email address to register for your training.
Everyone who registers will become email subscribers!
For example, The Courtney Sanders Show is a business-building podcast for service providers. During recent episodes, the host includes an invitation during the podcast and in the show notes to “Join my free upcoming Masterclass all about how to consistently get clients.”
Have you considered starting a podcast for your online business?
The benefits of podcasts for your online business are too important to ignore: increase your revenue, build a deeper connection with your target market, increase your authority, and even grow your email list.
When you’re ready to launch, attract listeners—fast—by promoting your podcast with a free landing page on ConvertKit.