6 big takeaways from the Podcast Show 2022

We share our 6 big takeaways about where the podcasting industry is heading following the two-day Podcast Show London 2022. Find out what trends you need to be aware of, from the rise in video podcasts to how podcasters really make money.

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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 we spent two days at the Podcast Show 2022 to find out what you should know about where the podcasting industry is heading.

And this was a big and busy event with 12 stages, more than 350 speakers and many large brands with a big presence on the conference floor. Spotify and Amazon Music both had huge stands to show podcasters what they could offer on their platforms and YouTube sponsored three separate stages. This was obviously a show by the podcast industry for podcasters with a lot of expertise on show – and much of that expertise is being amassed by people in their 20s and 30s. So let’s look at the six main takeaways from the event:

01: Podcasts don't make money how you think they do.

Big podcasts that have tens of thousands of listeners can be packed with adverts. And that’s kind of understandable – we’re getting the content for free after all but the podcaster needs to earn money and taking on advertisers is one of the oldest ways of doing that. But adverts can be really annoying on a podcast and they don’t pay anywhere near as well as you think. 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 few of the successful podcasters who were speaking at the show embraced an 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 the subscription platform Patreon had such a big area 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.

If you have a weekly podcast that gets 1,000 listeners, you might decide to take two 30 second adverts from two companies 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, your podcast’s earning potential will be around £1,500 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 extra content from you (such as an extra episode a week only available to subscribers). After all, they love your content so if they are going to pay for anything then they are going to pay for more of the same. 100 people paying £5 a month is £6,000 a year – four times as much as you would get from adverts.

 

However, it doesn’t have to stop there. One podcaster shared his business model which started with a basic £5 a month Patreon tier which his listeners could subscribe to in return for an exclusive extra episode a week, followed by a £10 a month tier for listeners to be able to suggest and vote on future topics that he was going to cover in his business podcast. Then a £50 a month tier enabled his listeners to take part in a group question and answer session. From this kind of set-up, people are making a good full-time living from podcasts that have only a few thousand listeners – having built a strong offering of extra content for those superfans that really wanted it. Even better, they were using off-the-shelf platforms that require no technical knowledge, like Patreon, to deliver it.

02: Use your podcast to make connections and get work.

Continuing the subscriber revenue model above, some business podcasters were also offering a top tier option of £150 a month for which they included a monthly coaching call. 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. James Mitra is the host of the 40 Minute Mentor podcast that interviews successful business leaders to get their insight and tips. James explained how his podcast had made him over £100,000, 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 and some of his guests had even gone on to become advisors for his company, bringing with them decades of experience. He had made new friends and connections with some of 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.

03: Podcasting has gone visual - in a big way!

YouTube is now the number two platform for consuming podcasts. And we’re not counting YouTube videos that had been made in a podcast-like way, the research stats only count actual audio podcasts that upload a video version of that show to YouTube. The number one platform for listening to podcasts is Spotify and they are betting big on video podcasts too, rolling them out across their platform.

YouTube is now the number two platform for consuming podcasts. And we're not counting YouTube videos that had been made in a podcast-like way, we mean audio podcasts that upload a video version of that show to YouTube.

YouTube is no longer 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 it makes a lot of sense to take your content to where the people already are and where it’s likely to be discovered – rather than trying to get people to move and listen to you on a different platform.

If you have an interview-format podcast then there is 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 other uses: such as extra content for paid subscribers or to take snippets of video to share on your social media channels. Nobody at the Podcast Show 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 be ignoring.

04: If you are looking to grow a podcast, you need to build a team.

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 promotion of your podcast, you can go out and find them. 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 run a business alongside your podcast. In fact, there is a growing podcast service sector to help you with a wide range of tasks, such as Bloody Vegans Productions run by Vegan Business Tribe member Jim Moore. A lot of brands want to have their own podcast but they don’t want to commit the time of their team to create one. For larger companies this is easy – just hire a podcast production company to make a show for you with a celebrity as the host and all you have to do is give some input into the content. But smaller companies are also looking at bringing in companies to make podcasts for them too. There are a number of podcast hosts who first built up their experience and visibility by growing their own podcast, and then pitched themselves to companies in their sector to present, produce and grow a podcast for their brand too as a complete package.

 

And this is an important thing to remember, 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 or you just don’t have the time. You can bring in someone else who knows your industry or is already familiar with your audience and get them to be the host and do the interviews or deliver the content for you.

05: Interviews are not the only format for a podcast.

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 as the podcasting space becomes more crowded, 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 they launched their ‘Unearthed’ podcast using a real-life crime documentary format where famous botanist James Wong investigated the grittier side of botany – such as how police had used plant science to solve murder cases and illegal trafficking of rare species.

People are looking to be both entertained and educated when they listen to a podcast which is why many podcasters are now exploring different types of podcasting formats. Some are 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 lasts 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 nicely to…

06: Make shorter content.

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. So you need to make content that fits what listeners are looking for at 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 and more considered content, but you should also be making something shorter and more digestible for your potential audience to sample 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 be perceived as something that’s going to take up their time. That doesn’t mean just giving them a snippet of your main content, but stand-alone listening or viewing experiences in 30 or 60 seconds. This is the kind of content which is findable and shareable on social media, each one ending with a call to action to try out your full podcast for more.

Create a trailer for your podcast (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 getting people to listen to your trailer your main goal instead.

A bullet point recap of what we’ve just covered in this article:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Podcasting has gone visual – in a big way! 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?

  4. 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.

  5. Interviews are not the only format for your podcast. 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.

  6. 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.

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