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Why to Not Start a Small Business Podcast

by Mike Abelson   December 2, 2020
Don’t be tempted by the elusive marketing medium that’s just not worth the effort for most companies.
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Libsyn, one of the biggest podcast hosting companies, actively hosts over 22,000 podcasts. That’s a lot of competition. With so many voices clamoring for attention, is it still a good idea to launch a podcast?

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular nowadays, with many who’ve become inspired to discuss topics ranging from politics to music to underwater basket weaving. People listen to podcasts during their long commutes or even substitute it for a book. In a way, podcasts have become the new form of television for millennials.

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However, they are not for everyone. Small business podcasts require time and effort, access to resources, startup funding, planning, and production time. Not everyone is cut out for it or has the time and energy to devote to a podcast. Before you decide to start a small business podcast, we want to discuss some of its advantages and potential disadvantages, so you can make an informed decision moving forward.

Why to Not Start a Podcast

Man dropping microphone to show there is nothing left to say about podcasting.

Yes, we’re trying to talk you out of starting a podcast. Give us a chance to make our case against it, and then if you still want to do it, at least you’ll be going in with both eyes wide open. Here are the biggest reasons not to get started.

1. It Takes Time, Money, and Commitment

Starting a business podcast will require you to devote a lot of time, energy, money, and attention. It took podcast expert Pat Flynn a year and a half to start his show. Mind you, a year of that time was spent not knowing where to begin, but even after getting some help, it was another six months before he published his first episode.

Where does all that time go? Well, before you launch your first episode, you will need to target your audience, name your show, choose a channel, develop your style, etc.

Then there’s the gear. Your podcast won’t be taken seriously if you don’t use professional equipment. This can be a significant investment. An excellent microphone, shock mount, digital recorder, and mixer will set you back about $1,000. You may need to make a few other purchases, including a laptop, audio editing software, and potentially a recording studio if you want a professional environment to work in. You may need a business line of credit to fund your podcast if things get too expensive.

After all that, you still won’t find listeners for a while. The average podcast only gets around 150 downloads. You should expect dozens when you first start. It can be hard to invest your time into a quality podcast when you know a few people will listen to it—many quit. We don’t blame them.

2. It’s Even Harder for Companies

One of the reasons podcasts fail is because the host never develops an authentic voice. He never gets comfortable behind the microphone and never really steps into the role. But even if you do all that, it won’t matter if people think you’re trying to sell them something. No one will listen to your podcast if they think it’s a commercial.

You want to develop your brand and image and a podcast to match. It has to be unique and inventive enough to entice listeners but easy enough to follow so that they are not lost among too many references and concepts that are difficult to grasp. The best small business podcasts are the ones that draw in listeners and allow them to engage with the content. Find a topic that you are passionate about and want to learn more about, and use that to your advantage. The more knowledge and experience you bring to the podcast, the more people will want to listen to you. The rest is developing the right angle and approach and honing your craft so that you can bring a fresh perspective to the subject matter.

3. Your Pride Will Be Hurt

Negative reviews are one of the biggest podcast killers. It’s not just because they’ll persuade people not to listen to your show. It’s what they’ll do to your pride. Few people can survive the ridicule brought on by the spotlight. If you are strong-minded and not easily fazed, you should not have an issue with negative commentary. Unfortunately, it is natural and a part of the podcast process, but with the right mindset and determination, you will see that it is only a minor challenge compared to what you may face later on.

One way to avoid excessive criticism is to become an expert and master in the subject matter. The more you know, the fewer people will question you and your skills. The delivery and angle are subjective and open to criticism, but facts are facts, and the truth generally cannot be challenged.

Graphic showing the word sponsor.

Podcasters need to pay the bills. Most of the time, they ask their fans for donations, but more and more companies are stepping in to fund popular podcasts. The most notable example is The Message, a podcast entirely sponsored by GE and has soared on the iTunes podcast chart, reaching as high as number 14.

The draw here is obvious. Instead of putting all the effort into developing a high-quality show, slowly attracting listeners, and subtly prodding them toward your product – you find someone who’s already popular and pay them to mention you.

If you choose this route, we recommend using a podcaster in your niche, so you are noticed by the right people.

Still, Want to Do It?

Man and woman participating in a podcast.

If we haven’t convinced you to quit, then you might have what it takes to succeed. If you decide to go through with it, then here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  • Forget about the numbers. Analytics will be important down the line. At first, though, just try to create a genuine product. Remember, listeners, are attracted to authenticity. To get there, you’ll need to focus more on your show and less on the number of downloads. At least for a little while.
  • Be proactive. Go out there and find your listeners. This is especially true during your first eight weeks. That’s when iTunes decides whether or not to feature your podcast as one of the best of the newbies.
  • In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Pick a schedule and stick to it. That’s the only way you’ll succeed.
  • Build trust. To get your listeners to like you and your content, be sure it is credible and valuable first. The more confidence you can build with your listeners, the more likely you will gain an audience and grow your sphere of influence with your podcast.
  • Have a purpose. Everyone is trying to make the next “big thing” or catch their big break. If you plan on running a podcast, don’t do what everyone else has done. Be innovative and inspiring. What are you trying to accomplish with your podcast? Putting content out there without a real goal or purpose is not going to get you, followers. And many podcasters believe they want to be heard or have something important to say. This is not true. We all think our thoughts and opinions are valuable, but few want to listen to what we have to say in reality. So if you have something to say, make sure it is meaningful and insightful.
  • Give it time. Do not expect your podcast to become a success overnight. It may take months or even years for you to gain a committed and broad audience. Many podcasters are surprised when their podcasts do not take off, and all the effort and time they put into their craft seems to go unnoticed. The fact of the matter is, there are hundreds of podcasts out there, and each and every person behind that microphone is working hard to be heard and noticed. If you are patient and know what you are doing, you have a better chance of success in the long-term.

We hope we didn’t dash your dreams. We just wanted to show that starting a podcast is a huge endeavor. If you recognize the risk and still want to get started, we wish you all the luck in the world.

Mike Abelson   Editorial Director
Digital Marketing
Mike is the Editorial Director at Lendza. He enjoys helping entrepreneurs and startups succeed through smart, innovative strategies. He’s partnered with CEOs and executives to grow businesses from the ground up. Before his work at Lendza, Mike was a stock market analyst. When he’s not traveling for work, he enjoys reading adventure and science fiction novels.