There’s a story I like to tell here at Smart Passive Income. I tell this story again and again because it’s a core part of who I am, and it’s an integral part of my journey to becoming an entrepreneur and the “crash test dummy of online business.” The story I am referring to is the time, back in 2008, when I was laid off from my architecture job.
If you’ve been here awhile, you’ve probably heard that story. What you may not be as familiar with, however, is the specific moment within that story that made all the difference in the world for me, and made where I’m at today—in my personal life and my business—possible. That’s what I am going to get into today.
But before I do, if you’re interested in the whole story, I wrote about it in my first book, Let Go.
I was still a couple of months away from being laid off from my full-time job at the architecture firm. I was seated on a train, watching as the Southern California landscape zipped by me, stressed about the failing U.S. economy. I felt lost, uncertain of what the future would hold.
But it was during this train ride when everything changed, all because of a podcast I was listening to.
That podcast is Internet Business Mastery.
Led by Jeremy Frandsen and Jason Van Orden, Internet Business Mastery opened my eyes to what could be possible in online business. It’s what inspired me to create Green Exam Academy, my first experiment in creating passive income. It’s what formed the foundation for what would eventually become Smart Passive Income.
Not only was a podcast the inspiration for SPI, but podcasts are, I believe, the number one content platform—for me and for you.
Remember, you can start anywhere. I was on a train about to get laid off from an industry that was struggling due to a massive economic downturn when I found direction in a podcast. Through that podcast, Internet Business Mastery, I felt a renewed sense of hope. I felt like I had made friends in Jeremy and Jason. I felt like I had mentors. I learned so much. And, eventually, I was motivated and trusted them enough to subscribe monthly to their Internet Business Mastery academy.
At the time, I honestly didn’t know if I could afford it, because I knew that my termination date from the architecture job was closing in. But I had a strong sense that it would be worth it. I had, after all, consumed dozens of hours of their podcast content. I knew, because of them, that this was a world—the online business world—I needed to be a part of.
After I went through the Internet Business Mastery course, and after I got a little experience under my belt with Green Exam Academy, I started the Smart Passive Income blog. I didn’t start a podcast right away because I just wasn’t comfortable with putting my voice out there. Even in December 2008, after announcing that I was going to start a podcast, it still took me a year and a half to finally launch my first episode.
In July 2010, I released the first episode of the Smart Passive Income podcast. Nearly eight years later, it’s the best thing I could’ve done for my business, and led me to the opinion that podcasting is, without a doubt, the number one content platform.
10 Reasons Why Podcasting Is The Number One Content Platform
1. Podcasting Fits Into People’s Lives
Podcasting is the only online content platform that allows for passive, or indirect consumption. In other words, people can actively listen and learn from a podcast while also doing something else (i.e., working out at the gym or driving to work) at the same time. If you tried to read a blog post while driving (don’t do that please!) or working out at the gym (one-handed push-ups only?), it’s not going to be a great experience.
As a podcast listener, you don’t have to keep your eyes on a video, or on a screen to read a blog post. You can consume content as a listener without disrupting your day-to-day life. It can be, if you want it to, a seamless part of your routine. That’s goals for a podcast creator.
Think about this: the average commute time in the United States is 25.4 minutes according to the US Census Bureau. That’s 25.4 minutes of podcast audio your audience can be listening to! You’re giving people an opportunity to learn more about you and your brand in an environment where the other content platforms can’t really go.
2. People Consume Podcasts for Longer Periods of Time
Someone might spend ten to fifteen minutes reading this blog post, or maybe even a shorter amount of time if skimming is involved. Videos are consumed at various lengths of time, depending on the length of the video. Some videos are really short (like a half minute or a couple of minutes). Some are longer. According to MiniMatters, the average length of a video on YouTube is 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
People consume podcasts differently. When they listen to podcasts, if they are listening to something that is worthwhile, and they have subscribed to a show, they could be listening for up to an hour or longer. The Joe Rogan Experience, as an example, is a podcast in which most of the episodes are more than two hours. The Smart Passive Income podcast varies in length, from between 30 minutes to sometimes as long as an hour and a half.
Again, because you can fit podcasts into your day seamlessly, binge consumption is far more common than it is with blog posts or video. Plus, I think podcasting is just one of the most engaging forms of content delivery, which translates into more listening time!
Lastly, you’re going to listen to a podcast longer simply because it’s not as easy, or there’s less of an incentive, to exit out of that content platform. As a podcast consumer, you’re not being distracted by what’s happening on the other (millions of) tabs in your browser, and while there are advertisements in podcasts, they are far less intrusive and distracting than what’s in video and blogging sites.
That means your brand, your message, your voice, you, are in front of an audience for much, much longer than with other content platforms. That’s valuable.
3. There’s Less Competition in Podcasting
Podcasts are a growing content platform. There’s no denying that. But there are still far fewer podcasts than blogs and YouTube channels. The statistics speak for themselves.
Podcasts vs. Blogs vs. Videos
- 200,000 active podcasts / 19 million active blogs / 1 billion YouTube users
- 98 million people listening to podcasts / 409 million people view more than 23.7 billion pages each month (WordPress.com only) / 4.95 billion videos watched on YouTube every single day
- 23% podcast listenership growth between 2015 and 2016
- 75% monthly podcast listening increased since 2013
- 36% of the worldwide population is listening to podcasts
Sources: HubSpot State of Inbound 2016; WordPress.com/activity; StatisticBrain.com/youtube-statistics
Podcasting, in my experience, allows you to compete with the big guns, creating a more even playing field. For example, I’ve consistently outranked The Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review in the realm of podcasting. In a traditional media setting, I wouldn’t even be seen. But in podcasting, I have the edge.
4. Podcasting Is the Best Way to Scale Intimacy
Podcasting allows you to build a stronger relationship with your audience, faster. When you think about it, when a person is listening to you, your voice is in their ear (literally if they are listening with earbuds). It’s intimate. They can pick up on your intonation, the emotion in your voice. I find, as a podcast listener myself, that it’s easier to empathize with a story if I’m able to listen to the storyteller. If done right, they can transport listeners to a particular moment in time that may be relatable to you in some way. Finding common ground with your listeners is an amazing way to build relationships.
When I speak at events and meet listeners of the podcast for the first time, we usually start conversing as though we’ve been friends for years. Because of the podcast, there’s this intimate connection they’ve created with me. At first, those interactions caught me off guard. For example, if the listener recounts a thing I said on an older episode of the podcast, or mention a personal detail about me that I forget even discussing, that was a little jarring at the beginning. I felt like, “Huh? Who are you?” But then, of course, I look silly because it’s an amazing listener trying to connect with me.
After a while I got used to that. I eventually realized just how powerful that was. I am, through a microphone in my home office, able to build massive amounts of real friendships with my audience using the power of my voice, and no other platform allows you to do it better and faster. It’s the best.
Podcasting allows you to build a stronger relationship with your audience, faster.
5. You Can Connect with Influencers
In addition to connecting with your audience, podcasting is an amazing platform for you to connect with influencers—people who you may look up to, other thought leaders and authorities in your industry. If you were to go and ask a person who you look up to if you could spend thirty minutes to an hour speaking with you, they might say no. Or they might say yes and charge you for the privilege. But the moment you have a podcast, it shows them immediately that you have something to offer. You have a stage to give them. An audience. An opportunity to speak about themselves and show off their service or product to an entirely new group of people.
And, conversely, you get a chance to gain more listeners of the show and more exposure to your brand from their audience. By connecting with these influencers, as I mentioned in reason number four, you are also building a relationship with them; you’re getting to know them better and you’re providing value to them. In return, they’ll likely be able to provide value right back.
6. When You Have a Podcast, You Have Your Own Scalable Stage
I love speaking on stage. It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I love the podcasting stage even more because, in order to speak to my audience, I don’t have to fly anywhere. I don’t have to travel. I don’t even have to leave my home. In order to get my audience together, I don’t have to create an event and have them fly out. I don’t have to worry about renting a venue, or paying for catering, or making sure there’s enough coffee in the back of the room for everybody. I can simply, using my voice, record a podcast episode and share it with the podcast subscribers who get it automatically pushed to their devices.
It makes it seem like every time I come out with an episode—now that my podcast is getting over 100,000 downloads per episode—it’s like I’m walking into Neyland Stadium at The University of Tennessee, full of people waiting for me to share something with them to help them on their online business journey. Imagine what it would be like to actually be on a stage like that. It’s totally possible, and it blows my mind.
But it’s not going to start that way. When people come up to me and say, “Pat, I only have 100 subscribers on my podcast, or 100 downloads per episode on my show. I’m getting discouraged.” You know what I say? I say, “What would happen if you had 100 people in a room, and you were up on that stage in front, and everybody was there listening to you? How would you feel?” Most people say they would feel nervous, but also feel like they’d have to deliver. They wouldn’t want to let those people down. They feel compelled to press on.
It really puts it all into perspective. That’s what you have with a podcast. You have a stage. And that stage is an incredible way to grow your brand, and build a raving fanbase who then become a built-in community of brand ambassadors for you, which only helps you grow even more. It’s an amazing asset to have.
7. Testimonials Galore
One of my favorite strategies is utilizing the podcast to feature members of my audience who have taken action. I love sharing success stories, and sharing interviews with A-listers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss. But, some of my most popular podcast episodes are with people my audience haven’t even heard of before.
Shane and Jocelyn Sams come to mind. Two teachers from Kentucky, Shane and Jocelyn heard the SPI podcast one day, and were inspired to take action for themselves. The result? They built an incredible business empire in the librarian and football coaching industries.
Featuring these type of stories says a few things to your audience. First of all, you inspire a lot of people. Sometimes your audience needs more than just the A-listers. Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk rock. They provide a ton of value, and I like having them on the podcast, but not everyone can relate to that level of notoriety. But Shane and Jocelyn Sams are relatable because they are newer to the game, perhaps like you.
Second, when you feature audience members on your podcast who’ve taken action because of your content, it shows that you love your audience (I definitely do!). It shows that you’re giving your audience a platform to speak, that you are listening to them, and that you care about their success.
Third, you don’t have to talk about how great your stuff is, because the guests you feature from your audience will naturally do that for you. It’s a more genuine way to do it. It becomes an amazing testimonial that doesn’t even feel like a testimonial because it’s a true story you just happen to be a part of.
Even though I was deathly afraid of speaking in public, the podcasting experience definitely helped me prepare for it.
8. You Learn to Become a Better Communicator
If you have trouble speaking on stage or communicating with others in a public setting, starting a podcast is an amazing tool to help you get better at it. Eventually, over time, if you do it consistently, you’ll realize how much better of a speaker you can become. It took me a year and a half to realize that myself. That’s when I finally had the courage and experience to speak on stage in public.
Even though I was deathly afraid of speaking in public, the podcasting experience definitely helped me prepare for it. Now, I can’t get off the stage. I love speaking on stage now, and podcasting was definitely a major part of that.
Even in my day-to-day conversations, I realize I am better at clarifying my thoughts and thinking through processes out loud. The “ummm” to clarified thought ratio has improved greatly! And, more than anything, I’ve become a confident communicator and conversationalist. I learn more about my friends in conversation because I know the questions to ask, and I know how to listen. I think being a great communicator is an amazing skill to have in life, and starting a podcast is a fantastic way to get there.
9. Opportunities Open Up That You’ve Never Dreamed About
I’ve had some incredible opportunities open up for me because of the podcast. Once, the podcast helped me get noticed by publishers, who then expressed interest in working with me on various book-related projects. Another time, a listener reached out to me because he liked the show, and asked if I would come on as a marketing and social media manager for an independent movie production. In Hollywood! That was cool.
All of that experience led to the production of my Back to the Future short that I created as a lead-in to my New Media Expo presentation in 2015—the one where I came onto stage in a Delorean!
You may be thinking that these things may be out of your grasp, but they’re not. The opportunities will come your way. People will reach out to you. But you have to put yourself out there to make it happen.
10. Monetization Possibilities
You don’t have to monetize your podcast, but there are many ways you can, and many ways monetization can benefit your podcast and business. Even if you don’t directly monetize from your podcast, you will indirectly benefit from it in many different ways, some of which I’ve mentioned already. But there are ways to directly generate an income through your podcast.
First, advertising is probably the most popular way to monetize your podcast. This is how it works: you get a company to pay you to give exposure to their brand on your podcast, whether in the pre-roll (before the main content of the podcast), mid-roll (middle of the show), or post-roll (at the end of the show). But, with that said, it’s not one that I would recommend sticking with for the long run. There are other possibilities that can benefit both you and your audience. I’ll talk about those in a second.
Typically, advertisers will pay a certain dollar amount, anywhere between $15 and $40 CPM (cost per thousand) downloads. Since the advertisers only pay for every thousand downloads, it can be for fairly cheap, compared to paying a flat fee for something.
Affiliate marketing is another way you can monetize your podcast. If you don’t have your own products, or even if you do, you can recommend products that make sense for your audience to use, such as services, tools, and apps. If you have an affiliate relationship with those companies, you can earn a commission if your audience purchases a service or product through your affiliate link.
Note: If you do have affiliate relationships, and you earn a commission on those affiliate links, it’s very important that you mention they are affiliate links on your podcast. You can get in trouble if you don’t. Plus, it’s just about being open and honest with your audience, which they’ll appreciate.
Affiliate marketing can be very profitable. I’m the first to tell you that. I’ve been doing affiliate marketing since 2010 on Smart Passive Income, and I feel it’s still one of the most underutilized forms of monetization out there.
And guess what? You can start affiliate marketing today. Find a company that you’ve used, that you work with, that you trust. Make sure it’s one that you’ve used, so that you don’t potentially tarnish that trust that you’ve grown with your audience. Create an affiliate relationship with that company, and you can start generating affiliate income. What’s nice about the podcast is, if the content is evergreen (which it should be, for the most part), you’ll continue making affiliate commission from those podcast episodes.
Hot Affiliate Marketing Tip:
If you want to boost your affiliate earnings for a particular product that you know has been proven to be helpful for your audience, and you know is working for you, invite the CEO or founder onto your show to talk about the story behind the product and things that are happening. What that does is it allows the audience to build a relationship with the product and that product owner and it will make them more likely to actually follow through on a purchase going through your link.
Another way to monetize your podcast is to sell your own products. It’s a lot more difficult to do it directly on your show, but there are workarounds to that. One of the workarounds is to build your email list from your podcast. I see a lot of people doing this. You build your email list by giving away freebies or incentives to bring people onto an email list, which is essentially the beginning of a funnel. A number of emails down the road, after a certain amount of time, you promote a product that is related to that freebie or the episode that person subscribed from.
Finally, there’s another monetization mode you should be aware of: the “paid for by viewers like you” model. There is a tool called Patreon that allows your fans to pledge a certain dollar amount per episode or per month on an ongoing basis. If you have a podcast on Patreon, you create the pricing tiers, which can be as low as high as you want.
Imagine if you had 1,000 listeners, your 1,000 true fans, who pledged at the $1 per episode tier. That’s $1,000 per episode right there! If you come out with four episodes per month, four dollars per person, you’re going to make $4,000 a month. I had the founder of Patreon on the SPI podcast if you’re interested to learn more about that monetization option.
Bonus Reason Why Podcasting Is the Number One Content Platform
It’s fun! A podcast becomes your own show, and you can do whatever you want with it. You make it you. Obviously, you have to stay within the rules of the FTC, and there’s intellectual property and trademark rules that you have to follow, but it’s your show. Yours to make magical. You can structure it any way you want. It can become your own, and it becomes an extension of you and your voice and your brand. It’s an amazing way to start to reach new people, better serve them, and build better relationships with those who already follow you on whatever platform that you’ve already started with, or even if you’re just starting from scratch.
I mean it when I say that podcasting has changed my life. It can change yours too. You just got to start. And guess what? You don’t have to start alone. I can help!
Power-Up Podcasting Launches July 17!
Those of you who want to start a podcast of your own, I actually have an in-depth, fully validated, step-by-step online course to help you achieve that.
Power-Up Podcasting was beta tested with 167 students, many whom have already launched their own podcast with episodes to listen to on iTunes. They’ve been eager for me to share this with you because they want other people who they know to start podcasts as well!
So, if you’d like to have your podcast up and running in iTunes in just a few weeks, sign up for the waitlist to be ready for the Power-Up Podcasting launch on July 17. The online course not only covers how to set up, but also how to market your podcast, automate the podcasting process, and have it become a big leverage point for you and your brand. You’ll also get direct access to me during scheduled office hour calls, and you’ll be a part of the student center, a community of alumni and new students who help hold each other accountable through the entire process.
Sign up today at PowerUpPodcasting.com.
See you there!
P.S. If you want to get a head start on your new show here’s a cheat sheet you can use to start planning out your podcast and setting yourself up for success.