10 Things I Learned at Podcast Movement

 In Blog

Podcast Movement 2019 highlighted many innovative ideas from a multitude of influential speakers representing numerous media platforms. CEO and founder of Straight Up Podcasts, Johnny Peterson distilled them down to the top 10 takeaways.

As I sat in the jam-packed convention hall, I suddenly found myself in awe of how large this community really is. I met people from all walks of life while in Orlando — a content-development executive from Alabama, a school bus driver from Wyoming, a fellow founder of a podcast company, and of course, plenty of talented hosts.

For those who weren’t able to attend, I highly encourage you to try to in future years. The convention really is a valuable experience because you build relationships as well as learn from and meet leaders in the podcast industry. I am looking forward to next years’ convention, which will be in Dallas, and I will certainly be in attendance and hope you will be, too! Until then, I’ve compiled the 10 most important takeaways from my first time at Podcast Movement.

1. Start with Why

There are arguably infinite reasons why someone would want to start a podcast, but you need to hone in on what is driving yours (if it’s to become Joe Rogan in under 6 episodes, maybe you should return that mic back to Amazon). The podcasters who succeed are the ones who are passionate about what they’re covering. Whether its ghost stories, interviewing a Venture Capitalist, or the daily news without the political twist: providing a unique value to your audience should be your utmost focus.

2. Content is King

Aaron Manhke said it best: “If they aren’t talking about your show, it’s not worth talking about.” Your content is what is going to draw the listener in. Not only should it bring them to your show, but get the listener to advocate for it; to tell their network. Consistently compelling content is what separates the Lore’s of podcasts from the rest of the pack.

3. Audio: Get it right the first time

Although we were postponed by a fire alarm, I thought that Marcus dePaula’s session was one of the most insightful of the week. He argued against recording complacency. Don’t say, “we’ll fix it in post,” instead, make small adjustments — whether that be ambient or digital — before recording rather than scrape together sub-par audio after the recording session. These quick fixes could be moving the mic closer to the guest’s mouth, finding a room with decent acoustics, turning off the room’s fan, or rebooting their computer in case of an internet drop out.

In short, get the best audio file from the beginning and save your producer and yourself editing headaches — your audience will have fewer barriers to overcome to consume your podcast.

4. Your podcast can be so much more than a podcast

My favorite session was with Barstool Sports’ Deirdre Lester and Ad Results Media’s Marshall Williams. They encouraged us to think about our work more as a franchise than just a podcast. They spoke about how a popular podcast can be leveraged beyond the mic and into merchandise, advertisements, segment sponsorships and massive social media growth. The show becomes a brand to be capitalized on.

Die-hard podcast fans want to wear the show, tweet the show and buy what the show has to offer. Don’t limit yourself —  this is the chance to create community through your podcast and develop the value of your personal brand at the same time.

5. Promoting products you care about is a win-win-win

Marshall and Dierdre also spoke to the effectiveness of a baked-in ad read vs. a dynamic ad insertion. Now, in either type of promotion, if the read is about a product that you can relate to and genuinely enjoy promoting then both the advertiser and you win. But how is it a win-win-win?

Win for you (the host): You get to advertise on your podcast! Which means money in your pocket and you may also receive some free goodies from the sponsor for your loyalty as a promoter.

Win for the audience: Your audience genuinely wants to know what you think of the products you are promoting. Through baked-in ad reads, the ad becomes part of the content; something to be enjoyed rather than a radio-style ad that takes the listener out of the flow of your podcast. The audience may also get a nice discount on certain products with promo codes provided by you!

Win for the sponsor: By developing a relationship with the host, they are able to secure a dedicated audience to promote their product or service. Even better for the sponsor is to have it read by a personable host with a unique approach of fusing their content with what they have to offer. The more seamless the transition is from content to ad, back to content, the more attention their product gets from listeners.

6. Consistency is the key to growth

The most popular podcasts hold themselves to the highest of standards, and their listeners hold them to even higher standards. Just like knowing your favorite restaurant will be open at the same time every week when you go to dinner, new episodes should be there consistently. The fastest way to kill an audience is to randomly stop putting out episodes for 3 weeks, and hop back in like nothing happened. A podcast takes commitment and you will rewarded with consistent downloads and increased growth.

7. Work with your audience

Gregg Clunis was a great speaker for both rookies and veterans on just how important our audience is and how to work with them. Who better to tell you what works on your podcast and what doesn’t, than the people who consume your content on a daily or weekly basis?

He highlighted several ways to reach out to your audience to hear what they want more of and what you should consider reworking in future episodes:

  • Create a Facebook group and encourage listeners to participate in polls
  • Create a dedicated podcast email to communicate directly with your biggest fans
  • Set up a Calendly and actually speak on the phone with listeners for personal, direct feedback
  • Leverage your social media and engage with your listeners on a variety of platforms

8. Don’t just have guests: Have GREAT guests

Pete Mockaitis co-hosted with Rich Jones a lecture on streamlining production, especially with guests. We all know that having guests on your podcast is a great way to grow your audience, but how do you determine good guests from great guests?

Well, they should have some kind of digital presence. Whether that be a Facebook community, YouTube channel, Twitter following or podcast. Then you need to critically consume the content they are putting out; does it align with the theme of your podcast? Are they a decent interviewee on other shows? When they speak, do they draw you in with interest, leaving you wanting to hear more? If so, they qualify as a great guest, and someone you should seriously consider sharing with your audience.

9. Share Beer and Pizza on social media

Tim Street was phenomenal in his experience of growing podcast audiences. He talked about how we should “share beer and pizza on social media.” Essentially, he meant that by creating a media habit with your platforms and providing consistent content that’s interesting and engaging, you find the opportunity to grow. Anyone can tweet a link, but adding value to that medium is what helps drive new potential listeners to your podcast. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Reddit: you need to provide content suited for current users but also draw new eyes.

10. Leverage the community

In my mind, the biggest takeaway from PM19 is that every podcaster has a varying process, and through rigorous trial and error have found different paths to success.

I appreciated how open and welcoming all the podcasters were about sharing their knowledge and stories with others. I think it’s extremely important to research and find these people on online communities and forums. On these platforms you can then swap ideas and questions and keep ahead of trends and technology. When you find like-minded individuals, you can learn from them about finding advertisers and creating a product that provides value to your audience and puts money in the bank. Clearly, we are not alone on this journey. Let’s help one another produce the best versions of our podcasts that’s possible.

Johnny Peterson is the CEO and founder of Straight Up Podcasts, providing professional podcast services and consulting. He is also the host of the Pod Logicpodcast. You can reach Johnny at johnny@straightuppodcasts.com

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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