Hello and welcome to episode eighty of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast with myself David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe. And if you have a vegan business, or are thinking of starting one, then Vegan Business Tribe is here to support and inspire you not just to build a vegan business, but to build a SUCCESSFUL vegan business.
And this week, Lisa actually let me out of the recording studio and we spent two days at The Podcast Show London 2022 for what had to be one of the biggest podcasting industry events I’ve seen, in the UK at least. And I guess that now we’re fast approaching the 100th episode of The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast I thought I should really find out how to do it properly and the Podcasting show was definitely the place to do it! But, I also know that a lot of you are interested in podcasting – you might have thought about launching a podcast yourself, or you might be thinking about getting onto other people’s podcasts to promote your company – so I made sure that I took loads of notes over the two days of the conference and in this episode I’m going to share our six big take-aways from the event. Some are going to help you if you already have a podcast and some are just things you should know about the podcasting industry and where it’s going even if you’re just an avid podcast listener.
But just before we jump into that, I want to give a quick shameless plug to our Vegan Business Tribe membership community, because this podcast is only something like 20% of everything we do at Vegan Business Tribe. If you are looking for help to grow your vegan business and to link up with an amazing community of vegan business owners, then head over to the website at veganbusinesstribe.com. There you will find all the information about our live events, our networking meet-ups, our Vegan Business Accademy with over 20 hours of video masterclasses and a whole lot more. And at the same time, by joining us at Vegan Business Tribe you are also making sure that we can keep putting out this podcast each and every week and keep doing everything we do to help champion the vegan business scene around the world. So if you are not a member yet, maybe you’re one of the lurkers who I KNOW listen to this podcast every week but haven’t reached out to us yet, then do go sign-up on the website as either a free fan or a full paid-up member and let’s see how we can help you grow your vegan business too.
OK, so as I said, Lisa let me out of my box this week to go hang out with a load of podcasters at the Podcast Show London 2022. And the first thing to take note of, before I get into my list of take-away points, was how big and busy this event was. There were 12 stages in total that you could bounce between throughout the event and most talks were pretty much packed out. Another thing that I noticed was the average age of the people at the event. There were a lot of under-thirties, and not just as attendees but the people giving the presentations, there’s a lot of expertise in the younger demographics in this sector. Now, it wasn’t JUST people in their 20s, a lot of the veterans of podcasting have been doing it for the last 20 years and a lot of those were there too. But a packed event, with a lot of those people there being younger people, all goes to show that the podcasting sector is really set for a lot of growth. And this was also reinforced by the brands that had a big presence on the conference floor. Spotify and Amazon Music both had huge areas right by the entrance to show podcasters what they could offer on their platforms. YouTube sponsored three of the stages and there were lots of smaller businesses that had developed production technologies or offered promotional services.
This was obviously a show by the podcast industry for podcasters and this was shown by the fact that it was a mid-week event rather than on a weekend. And with two very long days and 12 stages, each with its own programme of speakers, there was a lot of information to take away.
Now even if you are not running a podcast yourself, you should still be aware of the industry and what’s happening in it. You might not have your own podcast but are looking at using other people’s podcasts to expand your brand awareness for example. Or it might be that you never thought of having a podcast for your business because you hadn’t fully got your head around how they generate business and revenue. So, I’ve been back through all my notes from the event and I’ve pulled out six main points and themes that I took away from the podcast show.
So, let’s get straight into point one, which is:
01 – Podcasts don’t make money like you think they do.
When we listen to the BIG podcasts, so the podcasts that have tens of thousands of listeners, then they can be packed with adverts. You get a pre-roll advert at the start, then the presenter mentions their sponsors, then you get an ad break in the middle and another sponsor mention at the end. And I can understand that, we’re getting the content for free but the podcaster needs to earn money somehow and taking on advertisers is one of the oldest ways of doing that. But, well, gosh adverts can be really annoying and, actually, they don’t pay anywhere near as well as you think they might. An industry-average rate for a 30-second advert is just £15 per one thousand listeners. Only the top 1% of podcasts get over 10 thousand listeners, so you can see that there’s a long way to go to make your podcast into something that will bring in sustainable revenue from advertising.
But very few of the podcasters who were talking at the show embraced the advertising revenue model for their podcasts. The way that they made money, and some of them very good money indeed, was by offering extra exclusive content to their followers who were willing to pay. It’s no wonder that Patreon had such a big stand at the event because this is the way that the majority of podcasters are making a living – and when you look at the numbers, it makes a lot of sense also. So imagine you have a podcast that gets 1,000 listeners per episode, which is a nice landmark to hit. You might put out your podcast once a week and decide to take two 30 second adverts from two advertisers that really want to talk to the niche audience that you have built up. At £15 per advert, that’s £30 per episode, so if you’re a weekly podcast then your podcast’s earning potential is going to be around fifteen-hundred a year. Which isn’t a lot for all that effort! Now, let’s say out of your thousand listeners, 10% of them love you so much that they are willing to pay £5 a month to sign-up to your Patreon or paid community to receive an extra bonus episode a week from you – after all, they love your content so if they are going to pay for anything, they are going to pay for more of the same. 100 people paying £5 a month is six-thousand a year, four times as much as you could get from adverts – but still not enough to live on. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Kane Baron who is the host of The Podcaster’s Podcast, shared his business model that had a £5 a month basic Patreon tier for which people would receive an extra episode a week, followed by a £10 a month tier to be able to suggest and vote on future topics and even a £50 a month tier be able to take part in a group question and answer session with the presenter. From this kind of set-up, people were people making a good full-time living from podcasts that had a few thousand listeners – but they had built up a strong offering of extra content for those superfans that really wanted it and were using off-the-shelf platforms that require no technical knowledge, like Patreon, to deliver it.
And this leads straight into point two, which is:
02 – Use your podcast to make connections and get work.
This follows directly on from point one. Out of those people who were using their own memberships or platforms like Patreon to get income directly from their supporters, some also offered a very top tier of about £150 a month in which they gave coaching calls. But many also used their podcast to generate new customers for a separate business that they also ran. After all, having someone invite you into their ears week-in week-out gives you a golden opportunity to develop trust and demonstrate your expertise on a topic. But it’s not just your listeners who you can nurture into clients, it’s the people that you interview too. Now, interviews are not the only podcast format but they are a hugely popular, and James Mitra who is the host of the 40 Minute Mentor Podcast explained how the podcast had made him over 100 thousand pounds. Not through advertising or subscriptions, but from the business experts he interviewed then going on to become clients of his recruitment company. Spending an hour talking to someone about their life story is a great bonding opportunity. Some of his podcast guests had even gone on to become advisors for his company bringing with them decades of experience. He had made new friends and connections from the most experienced and connected businesspeople simply by interviewing them.
And this is something you can do too. As an example, our Vegan Business Tribe member Callum Wier launched his Plant Fuelled Podcast and got vegan bodybuilder, motivational speaker, and best-selling author Robert Cheeke as a guest on just his eighth episode – making Callum a very well-connected and experienced friend in the process that he wouldn’t have been able to get to talk to any other way.
OK, so point 3…
03 – Podcasting has gone visual.
When you think about what platforms people use to listen to podcasts, you think iTunes, Spotify or maybe you are using some third-party app like Stitcher or Tune-in. However, the number two platform for podcasts is YouTube. Yup! And a lot of industry research has gone into this to make sure they were not just counting people who were watching YouTube videos that had been made in a podcast-like way, the stats only counted actual podcasts that had a separate RSS audio feed who then upload a video version of that podcast to YouTube. The number one platform for listening to podcasts is actually Spotify, and they too are betting big on video podcasts, rolling them out across their platform.
Further surveys published by Edison Research asked the public how they find new podcasts. The top two ways were by a recommendation from a friend or by searching the internet. And the two places that people go to find a podcast they had heard about? Google and YouTube. And because YouTube is owned by Google anyway, where do you think the majority of those search results are going to lead people? To Spotify and iTunes… or to Google’s own video platform.
But YouTube is not really just a video platform, it’s a discovery engine and the best content search platform in the world. Its algorithms are built to deliver you content that you really want to watch, even if it wasn’t the content you went there to find in the first place. And it’s designed to keep you there by leading you from one bit of content to another. So if people are already on YouTube consuming content, then it makes a lot of sense to take your content to where the people already are and where it’s going to be discovered – rather than trying to get them to move and listen to you on a different app or platform.
If you DO have an interview-format podcast, then there is also something really compelling about watching two people having a conversation like you are a fly on the wall. But even if you don’t plan to upload a video version of your podcast to YouTube, you can also use a video recording of your podcast for something else. Such as extra content for your backers and paid subscribers above and beyond the audio version, or to take snippets to share something more visual on your social media channels. I don’t think that anyone was saying that podcasting as an audio format was going to go away any time soon, but video is definitely becoming a huge component of the medium and something that you shouldn’t really be ignoring.
Which leads us to… point 4
04 – If you are looking to grow a podcast, you need a team.
Podcasting, for many, is a solo pursuit. It’s just you and a microphone recording for 30 minutes, then editing for an hour, then uploading to your podcast host, then writing the show notes or transcript, then updating your website, then creating snippets and posting it on social media, then going out and looking for guests and starting to research and write your next episode – and creating a podcast once a week can easily become a full-time job for one person. Many of the successful podcasters at the show explained that the moment their podcast started to grow was at the point when they started to build a team. At some point, you need to decide if you are the presenter, the producer or the promoter of your podcast – because if you try to be all three then that’s really going to put a limit on how quickly you can grow your show.
We live in what’s called the ‘gig’ economy. You can find people on Fivver and Freelancer.com who can do pretty much anything, and do it well, without having the expense of having to employ someone. If you want someone to take over the production or the promotion then you can go out and find them – in fact we’ve got a lot of vegan members in Vegan Business Tribe who can help you with your administrative tasks. Or it might be that you hate doing social media – so go give that bit to someone else who can do it in half the time and actually enjoys doing it.
And this is especially important if you actually run a business as well and your podcast. In fact, there is a growing podcast service sector such as Bloody Vegans Productions run by Vegan Business Tribe member Jim Moore. It was obvious at the conference that a lot of brands want a podcast, but they don’t want to commit the time of their own founders or team to create one. For larger companies, this is easy – just get a podcast production company to make a show for you with a celebrity as the host (and there were plenty of these kinds of professional production companies at the show) and all you have to do is give some input into the content. But smaller companies are also looking at this option, and there were a number of podcast hosts who had already built up experience and an established podcast, and then they pitched themselves to companies in their sector to produce and present a podcast for them too as a complete package.
And this is the thing, if your company sees the benefit of having a podcast then you don’t have to be the presenter. It may be that you’re simply not the best choice for it or you just don’t have the time. You can bring in someone else who knows your industry or is already familiar to your audience and get them to be the host and do the interviews or deliver the content for you.
Which brings us nicely to point five…
05 – Interviews are not the only format
Interviews are probably the best-known podcast format, and they are probably the easiest to make too. Book someone interesting, talk to them for an hour, record your conversation and bingo – you’ve got a podcast episode. And the bigger your podcast gets, the less time you have to spend finding interesting people to talk to because they start coming to you and pitching themselves as guests. But, there are so many other podcast formats you can look at – and people are starting to look beyond the familiar interview format for something new.
For example, when the Royal Kew Gardens in the UK wanted to launch a podcast they could have just interviewed experts about their plants – but Kew wanted to reach beyond the ‘plant people’ who already knew them. Because Kew Gardens isn’t just about their grounds, they run the Millenium seed bank, they are fighting biodiversity loss and do a lot of research into the future uses of plants, believing the world’s future is botanic. They want to expand their brand into the wider public consciousness not just attract more plant enthusiasts. So when they launched their podcast, they did so using the ‘true crime’ format where famous botanist James Wong looked at the grittier side of botany – such as how police had used plant-science to solve murder cases and the illegal trafficking of rare species.
People are looking to be both entertained and educated when they listen to a podcast, and this is why many are now exploring different types of podcasting formats – with some even being produced in ‘seasons’ like TV shows instead of weekly releases. So if everyone else in your industry is releasing interview podcasts, maybe you can do something else. For example, each episode of the Zendium Toothpaste Podcast (I know, I use all the glamourous examples), but their podcasts last for just two minutes, the time you should spend brushing your teeth. There’s even a version for parents to listen to with their children when brushing their teeth together.
Which leads us perfectly to point 6…
06 – Make shorter content
And this is possibly the hardest one to wrestle with. With these podcasts I try to aim for about 30 minute, and sometimes that comes in at 20 minutes and sometimes that comes in at three quarters of an hour or longer depending what we’re talking about. And I do that because that’s the length of podcast I like to listen to myself. But the average podcast listener consumes 5 hours of podcasts a week, so if you have an hour-long podcast then you are asking a listener to give up one of their other favourite shows that week to take a risk on yours, which might turn out to be rubbish. So you need to make content that fits what listeners are looking for in that moment: are you trying to serve someone a full meal when they are out looking for snacks? That doesn’t mean that you can’t make that longer content, but are you making something shorter and more digestible for someone to sample and get familiar with you before asking them out for dinner?
People will say they don’t have time to watch a 40 minute video, but they will happily watch 20 two-minute videos back to back without leaving their chair. So you need to provide people with an entry-point for your content that isn’t going to take up their time – and that’s not just giving them a snippet of your main content, but a full stand-alone listening or viewing experience in 30 or 60 seconds. This is what people are happy to consume to try something new without feeling they are committing too much of time. This is the kind of content which is findable and shareable on social media and each one can end with a call to action to try out your full podcast for more.
Create a trailer for your podcast if you haven’t already, a short 90-second intro telling people what your podcast is and what people can expect from listening to it, and pin it to the top of your social media profile. Or create a landing page for your podcast trailer on your website and instead of trying to drive new listeners straight into to your full podcast, make watching your trailer your main goal instead.
OK, so that’s all six points and they are things that you will probably see us working into our own content over the next few months, so let’s just have a bullet-point recap of the six things we learnt from the Podcasting Show London, 2022:
Podcasts don’t make money like you think they do. An industry-average rate for a 30-second advert on a podcast is just £15 per thousand listeners so you’re unlikely to get rich from advertising unless you get into the top 10% of podcasters. But getting revenue directly from your listeners (such as offering extra weekly content for £5 or £10 a month through a platform like Patreon) gives you scalable income many times more than you will ever get from advertising.
Use your podcast to make connections and get work. Spending an hour talking to someone about their life story is a great bonding opportunity, so if you have an interview podcast then that might be the perfect way for you to make new contacts in your industry. If you have a business or service linked to your podcast, then a percentage of those people you interview are likely to become either customers or great new connections that can help your business.
Podcasting has gone visual. YouTube is the second-largest platform for podcasts, just behind Spotify but way ahead of iTunes. It’s the best content search platform in the world and where your audience is already spending their time, so why not put your effort into bringing your content to where it’s going to get discovered instead of trying to get people onto a different platform instead?
If you are looking to grow a podcast, you need to build a team. At some point, you need to decide if you are the presenter, the producer or the promoter of your podcast – because if you try to be all three then that’s really going to put a limit on how quickly you can grow your podcast. Bring in people to do the things that you hate or that can do it in half the time at low cost. And remember, if you don’t think that you are the right person to be the presenter then bring in someone else instead!
Interviews are not the only format. There are a lot more podcasts around now than even a couple of years ago so both listeners and podcasters are looking for more innovative formats. Look at how Kew Gardens used the true-crime documentary format to promote the botanical work they do. Or you could even produce ‘seasons’ that each run for a certain amount of episodes.
Make shorter content. People will say they don’t have time to watch a 40-minute video, but they will happily watch 20 two-minute videos back to back. You need to give people an easy entry point to your long-form content. And that doesn’t mean just a snippet of your main content, but a full stand-alone viewing or listening experience in 30 or 60 seconds. Make a trailer for your podcast and direct people to that instead of trying to get them to listen to a full episode.
And that is it!
So, just to finish us off, like everything we’ve just been talking about, we know a lot of people find THIS podcast through recommendation. So if you know other people who are looking to grow a vegan business who haven’t tried us out yet then tell them to just search for The Vegan Business Tribe Podcast. And if you are listening on one of the platforms that lets you leave a five-star review or a thumbs up then just doing that is a huge help in us getting the message out there.
And as always, if this episode has got you raring to go with your own vegan business, or even with your own podcast, then do go check out veganbusinesstribe.com where you can get access to lots more great content, lots of weekly online events and access to the most amazing community of vegan business owners – who all want your business to succeed because you are on the same mission that they are.
So thank you so much for listening, and we are out on the road again for Vegan Life Live at Alexandra Palace in London on the 11th and 12th June 2022, so if you spot Lisa and myself walking around in our Vegan Business Tribe hoodies please do stop us and say hello! And I will see you, on the next one!