Whether you've been listening to podcasts for years or just starting to pay attention to them, the genre is definitely gaining attention and traction. My podcast is in year two, and it has proven invaluable in my business. But is starting one right for everyone?

I recently attended Podcast Movement--an industry conference with nearly 3,000 attendees. Podcasting may have been around for over a decade, but it is anything but at its peak. People often ask what it's really like to have a podcast and how to determine if it's worth it for them. In light of the focus at Podcast Movement and my own experiences, here are some top things to keep in mind as you consider launching your own podcast:

Starting Is The Easy Part

Before starting my podcast, I spent countless hours researching all the stuff that seemed important: how to upload, what the process was like, what systems to use, best microphones, and so much more. 

Getting started feels like the thing to be concerned about because your brain's preference to focus on small things instead of taking on the full task at hand--a concept known as bikeshedding. By focusing on getting started, your brain can fool itself into thinking everything after that will be quick and easy. In reality, you should focusing on what comes after the launch.

Know What You Are Trying to Accomplish

According to Edison Research's The Infinite Dial 2019 report, 144 million Americans (51 percent) have listened to a podcast, and 90 million of those people listen on a monthly basis. This may make it feel as though there is an endless audience out there jumping at the chance to download and listen to your words of wisdom. And, while in some ways that's true, it also still takes effort to gain a following. 

According to Libsyn's VP of Podcaster Relations, the average number of downloads for episodes after 30 days is just 141 and the top 10 percent of podcasts average 3,400 downloads per episode after 30 days. 

Yes, downloads matter, but they aren't everything. If you know what your intention is for the podcast--what you want it to do for you and your business--before launching, you can set yourself up for success beyond downloads. Here are a few of those reasons:

  • Connections. (An interview show is a great way to get people to talk with you.)
  • Client content. (Establishes thought leadership and helps show a breadth of knowledge even if they never listen.)
  • Finding your voice. (Creating regular content can help you gain confidence and a clear point of view.)

Be Prepared for the Time Required

Seventy-five percent of all podcasts are victims of podfading and do not make it past episode seven. This may be due to not having a great goal or expecting the listeners to skyrocket immediately, or it could be due to a lack of understanding the time it takes to put out a solid podcast. 

An informal poll at the conference I attend found that most people spend five to 10 hours a week creating their podcast--and for people who edit their own shows it can be much more than that. Combine this with the time needed to create supplemental content for all the social channels and running a podcast can quickly become a full time job.

Podcasts can be incredibly lucrative for a business, but if you don't know why you are doing it and aren't prepared to dedicate the time required, it is probably better to not even start than to fizzle out after seven episodes.

Monetization and Ads Are in Their Infancy

Monetization was a huge topic at the conference--every session in this track was packed. The good news is this is an area with a lot of potential. The bad news is tracking isn't great so there is a lot of work to be done. Many advertisers say they only want to talk to podcasts with at least 10,000 downloads per episode. As you saw earlier in this article, that is the top five percent of all podcasts (and likely the ones that don't really need it to keep going). 

I'm sure there are other companies out there ready to advertise on or sponsor podcasts--and you could find the perfect fit for yours--but this should not be relied on as the ultimate goal of the podcast. That is a lot of work for a small sponsorship. 

At the end of the day, podcasting is fun and a great community to be part of, and it can be invaluable when done properly. My biggest tip? Find something you are passionate about, love to research and could talk about for hours (and hours and hours). When your heart is in it, it's so much easier to find an audience.