It's easy to fall for the dream of becoming rich and popular through podcasting. But the reality is it's extremely hard to do either. There are simply so many shows out there and it's very hard for people to build an audience from scratch. So it's probably not a good idea to get into podcasting for the reason of becoming rich or famous. Only the top 2%-5% of all shows out there have achieved this.
There are rewards in podcasting that can be far greater than fame or fortune. These rewards are easier to achieve too, so it's recommended to have a variety of goals you can hit to keep your spirits up and motivation high. Here's a list of some podcasting goals.
Number of Downloads
Maybe you're trying to make a goal to get a specific number of downloads. Well how do you know what number to choose? Here's some numbers to measure against.
Libsyn is the largest podcast hosting provider and they collect statistics on the shows they host. They make a podcast called The Feed and on it they tell us those stats. It's a great show and you should listen but here are the most recent stats they gave for May 2018.
They measured the number of downloads for all episodes uploaded in May and recorded how many downloads each episode got in the first 30 days.
- If your episode got over 145 downloads it's better than 50% of the shows out there.
- More than 1,200 downloads it's better than 80%
- More than 3,300 downloads it's better than 90%
- More than 8,000 downloads it's better than 95%
- More than 19,000 downloads it's better than 98%
- More than 33,000 downloads it's better than 99%
I find this to be very valuable because I think it's a great goal to try to be more popular than 50% of all other podcasts out there. And getting to 145 downloads per episode doesn't sound that hard does it? Suddenly you aren't trying to get thousands of listeners, only 145. So depending on where your show is, I recommending each of these tiers as your next goal so you can measure how you're doing against other shows.
Also, keep in mind that sponsorship and advertisers won't really start showing up until you hit 10,000 downloads per episode. And if you match that up to the numbers above, you start seeing that only 5% of the shows out there are making any significant money from ads.
Make a Positive Impact
There's an unbelievable high you get when you meet a fan who shows true gratitude for what you do. Maybe they tell you they love your show so much they've listened to every episode twice. Or they tell you they made their whole family sit down and listen to an episode because it was so good to them. Or maybe someone tells you that something you said changed their life. Hearing listeners tell you stuff like this is always an amazing feeling. It makes it feel like it's all totally worth it when you impact someone in a positive way.
There are a few ways to impact people in positive ways. Tell stories that aren't being told. Be bold and take a stand against something. Help someone through a hard time in their life. Be vulnerable and open up to your audience. Or just teach them things they don't know.
Someone told me once "it's better to focus on depth of impact instead of width of impact". That is, your audience will appreciate you more if they really resonate with you, compared to a large audience that barely resonates with you.
Always remember, it's not about your podcast, it's always about your listener. The more value you can deliver them and make a positive impact to them, the more they'll love you and share your show with others.
Decide How You Will Deliver Value to the Listener
It's important to know what value your show brings to the listener. In other words, what benefit will they get from listening? Here's a list of possible reasons to listen to a show.
- To make people laugh
- To teach them something (marketing, coding, science, history)
- To entertain them
- To help them through something difficult (coping with depression or anxiety or relationship issues)
- To inform them of the news or culture
- To give them new perspectives
Once you know what you want your listener to gain by listening, now work backwards and figure out how to deliver it. Maybe you interview experts, or bring on comedians, or write really captivating stories that glue to the listener to their headphones. By having a goal of knowing what you want the listener to get from your show, will help you stay focused on what the show is for. And when you hear people tell you things like "I learn so much from your show!" will help keep you on your path or decide if it needs adjusting.
Make New Friends
It's very possible that as you make your podcast, new people will come into your life. Such as fans, guests, co-hosts, editors, musicians, and of course, other podcasters. There is huge potential for connecting with people who share your passions and interests. And who doesn't want more friends! After you get out of school it becomes harder and harder to meet new people.
To help make friends, let people hear who you really are. Express your passions, share your failures, and be brave enough to do something that someone will judge you for. Because you have a real potential for finding amazing people to connect with who will judge you in a positive way. People who have your same story or really resonate with what you've said. So don't be afraid to be bold and daring as long as it's really what you believe in.
Make it Past 7 Episodes
It's been said that if your podcast makes it past 7 episodes, it will probably last significantly longer. Meaning a lot of people quit before even making 7 episodes. So it's a great goal to simply make it to episode 8. By the time you get there you'll have learned so much, start getting the swing of things, have come closer to finding your voice, and your confidence will be much higher than when you started.
Get 1,000 True Fans
There's a great article by Kevin Kelly called 1,000 True Fans. In summary, it states that all you need to make your hobby your full time job, is to find 1,000 true fans. This is great because it lowers the target significantly for making your show popular enough to do it full time. The "true fan" though is much different than a normal listener. A true fan loves you or your show so much that they'll help you anyway they can. Not only will the promote your show every chance they get, but they'll also buy everything you sell. Just to give you an example, if you had 1,000 fans giving you $5 a month to your Patreon campaign, that's $60,000 a year, which is potentially enough for you to quit your job and do podcasting full time.
Get a large Social Media Following
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the top three social media platforms right now. If you're the type of person who makes stuff (and you are if you're making a podcast), then it's worth it to build a large social media following. Your social media accounts rarely grow all by themselves. You need to invest time into making them grow.
It's very possible to get 10,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram in a year, even without a podcast. So imagine if you spent the next year building all 3 of them up to 10k followers each. Now you'll have 30,000 people to market to on whatever it is you make. This will have a far more returns on your downloads than not having a large following. Social media is free marketing, and anyone can grow a large audience. So read up on tips and tricks for growing your followers and set some goals. 10k in a year is doable. You can get 10k in 6 months if you work hard. And if you're really serious, you can do 10k in 3 months, all for free. Don't let a year of podcasting go by without also building these up.
Some benefits to having a large social media following:
- People perceive you to be popular and worth their time, they'll listen to you a little more.
- You can poll your audience so much quicker.
- You can make lasting relationships through social media if you go where your fans are.
- You'll be invited to other podcasts or to be a guest somewhere because they want you to promote them.
- You can communicate with your fans faster and easier.
- You can get your fans to help you when you need help. Like voting for you in a podcast contest. Or finding new guests.
Podcasting is Worthwhile IF
I recently saw this motivational video about "4 Ifs That Make Life Worthwhile" and I think it applies to podcasting as well!
Podcasting is worthwhile if you learn. Learn how to record, make a website, be entertaining, improve your writing, learn how to edit, interview people, and be interesting. Just learning one or a few of these will make podcasting worthwhile. These skills will transfer to other things in life and potentially open new doors for you. If you can learn how to get to really great topics in an interview, you will be able to carry that over into every day life, like when having a dinner with friends, you'll find yourself looking for great stories in them.
Podcasting is worthwhile if you try. Low effort and no effort shows will have very little success. Spend time practicing, learning, taking it to the next level, getting feedback from listeners and people who inspire you. Learn how to do stuff you have no idea how to do like marketing or being a good story teller. The more you try, the more podcasting is worthwhile.
Podcasting with worthwhile if you stay. Stay until you get momentum. Stay long enough until you're noticed. Stay until you mastered the skills. Podcasting is worthwhile if you keep at it get through the hard parts.
Podcasting is worthwhile if you share. The more you share the more you receive. Share your knowledge and expertise on your show. Teach as many people as possible. Be grateful of everyone who helped you. You'll receive even more by sharing. There's a concept that when you share, it opens up space for you to get more. Which allows you to be better.