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Why Not to Start a Small Business Podcast

Don’t be tempted by the elusive marketing medium that’s just not worth the effort for most companies.

Best Practices October 20, 2015

Back in 2008, only about 9 percent of Americans were regularly listening to podcasts. Jump ahead to now and that number has nearly doubled. If you want a piece of the pie, though, it’s not going to be easy.

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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?

Why Not to Start a Podcast

1. It Takes Time, Money, and Commitment

You’ll need to devote a lot of time to your podcast. 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 got 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 major investment. A nice microphone, shock mount, digital recorder, and mixer will set you back about a $1,000.

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 out. It can be hard to invest your time into a quality podcast when you know few people will listen to it. Many quit. We don’t blame them.

2. It’s Even Harder for Companies

One of the major 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.

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.

Sponsor a Podcast Instead

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 that’s entirely sponsored by GE and is currently on the iTunes podcast chart at 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’re noticed by the right people.

Still Want to Do It?

If we haven’t convinced you, 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.

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.

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