Podcasts Trifecta: Audience, Content, and Revenue!

Are you still thinking podcasts are only for a younger demographic? Think again.

Check out these stats from Quora.com:

  • The future belongs to podcasts, with an estimated $534 million in ad spend by 2020!
  • Listener share is growing too, with a jump from 33% in mid-2016 to 45% at year end,
  • Particular interests are in non-fiction, on-demand content, and ability to share podcasts socially.

Podcasts present a huge revenue opportunity for publishers. Plus it’s another way to deepen the connection with your niche audience. With technology catching up​ to enhance both the production process and user experience, now is the time to get in front of this money train.

We recently interviewed Editor and Co-Publisher Bill Thompson III (aka Podcast King) of Bird Watcher’s Digest about where to start, what not to do and how to build listener share.

What are some good guidelines for niche publishers who want to launch a podcast? Any pitfalls to avoid?

  1. Listen to some podcasts to get a feel for how others are doing it. Then draft some ideas about what you want your podcast to be about.
  2. The hardest part is the technology: recording, editing, outputting, and publishing. There are lots of good resources about podcasting (such as Lynda.com) that can help with this and there are also production freelancers and companies that can help with the techy stuff.
  3. Practice by recording on your phone, then listening (or having a trusted colleague listen) and get/give honest feedback.
  4. Avoid being too commercial. Try to lead with your personality. Content is king.

What makes a great podcast user experience? Can you share some tips on building listener share?

Most successful podcasts seem to involve story-telling or conversation with interesting personalities. Keep things moving in your podcast. Worry about being too long (not too short) in your content/episode length.

Get your podcast into iTunes and make an RSS-feed for your own site to help gauge traffic patterns and downloads. See which topics/episodes are the most popular and then follow that trend with future episodes. Once in iTunes, your podcast may get picked up by other podcast aggregators.

Beyond a sponsored podcast, what are other ways to generate revenue from a podcast show?

You can run your podcast through a commercial audio site like Audible or Stitcher to generate revenue, but this commonly occurs after reaching 5,000 or more downloads per month. And these commercial aggregators may sell ads on your podcast page on their site without your consent or control. You can also sell episodes in a pay-to-play mode. This may not result in the best content, however.

I haven’t allowed my podcast to be picked up by any commercial aggregators because I want to control the revenue stream for it. I prefer to generate revenue through sponsorship with advertisers. Not only does this create a new revenue stream, it also builds our relationship with the sponsor because we’re placing their branding with our popular content in a way that they cannot do themselves, and my competitors cannot offer to them.

Finally, check out our podcast site, Podcast Central, for more ideas on how we market our Bird Watcher’s multi-product line of books, videos, consumer events and more.


Editor’s note: Are you a niche publisher who wants to learn more about the latest revenue streams? Bill will be speaking about The Future is Podcasts: Content, Audience and Revenue! at the Niche CEO Summit, June 22nd in Washington D.C. Join us!


More about Bill: Bill Thompson III is the editor and co-publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, North America’s first popular birding magazine. He’s an unapologetic futurist who dove into the digital realm: his company offers digital editions, apps, podcasts, e-newsletters, and more. Past Life: Bill has written numerous books on birds and nature, and is a sought-after speaker, birding guide, and performer on the birding festival circuit (yes, there IS such a thing).



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