Are you thinking about starting a podcast?
If so, why?
Don’t get me wrong, there are many good reasons to start a podcast. I just want you to be clear going in. I believe the most crucial first step when starting a podcast is to work out WHY you’re doing it.
Want to be famous and top the charts? That’s a legitimate goal. And if that is your goal you should go after it: Research your audience, find the right content and format for them, and then promote, promote, promote!
But topping the charts is only one of the reasons you might start a podcast, and sometimes a focus on widespread popularity can get in the way of you successfully achieving your purpose.
This is why being clear on your purpose is so important, it sets the strategy for everything else you do around your podcast.
I talked to some podcasters about why they do what they do and have compiled a list of top reasons below. I hope you find them inspirational and help you clarify your big WHY.
To raise the profile of my business, or raise my profile and credibility as an expert.
Nathan Chan, Founder of Foundr magazine and podcast told me “it's an extremely efficient way to produce engaging content for our brand and grow our audience. From a business building perspective, the level of trust that is built if someone spends 30-40 mins listening to you speaking is incredible!”
This is a very common purpose and totally legitimate. For this one, the more listeners you have the better you'll do, however, focusing on the ‘right’ audience will be the most important thing.
In his book 1,000 True Fans, Kevin Kelly talks about the importance of finding your niche and catering for them at the expense of everyone else.
Aim to make a podcast that everyone will love and you’ll deliver a podcast that no-one will love.
Having a podcast can be a great way to research a topic and explore other’s experiences, perspectives and wisdom and share that with the world.
This is the primary purpose for my podcast, to research technical leader’s journeys, their failures, triumphs, and leadership lessons. I use their insights and quotes as part of leadership training through my business, and I’m writing a book to bring their collected wisdom together.
Mel Telecican of The Customer Centric Show agrees “I'm enormously curious about how other people do things and getting insight and knowledge into what are the best practices right now. I’m an educator, so by nature I like to facilitate learning and understanding for other people and a podcast is a great way to do that at scale”
To raise awareness of an issue and progress the conversation (e.g. around a disease, human rights or social issue).
This could be your sole purpose for starting a podcast, or a secondary one: To raise awareness and deepen the discussion of a cause you’re passionate about. Perhaps you believe in progressing gender equality issues, or you want to empower young people in a certain field, or certain way.
For example, as a secondary goal for my podcast I want to raise awareness around the challenges faced by women in the technology industries and the opportunities and benefits for women and the industry itself by getting more women involved.
To create a community.
Sean D’Souza of The Three Month Vacation has a focus on stories, people and community. He started out with commercial goals in mind, but over time what’s kept him going is sharing stories and the community that’s grown around this podcast. He told me “I don’t believe you have to struggle, but I don’t believe you have to be always growing your income and client list too”.
To be able to start conversations and relationships with people I wouldn't usually be able to access.
Jordan Harbinger who’s podcast The Art of Charm is one of the top 50 podcasts on iTunes told me “I love the conversations and the access and the network. I also really like being a positive influence on a huge amount of people.”
Having a podcast can be a great way to get a ‘foot in the door’, make contact and start a conversation with people you wouldn’t usually be able to talk to.
Which may sound a little nefarious on face value, but it doesn’t have to be. Especially if this is just one of your reasons for podcasting. Once you’re having the conversation, this is where your other goals and integrity can shine through.
Jordan focuses his conversations on helping people improve their lives rather than trivial gossip or grandstanding, and this comes through very clearly in his episodes.
Starting a new relationship is then just a pleasant by-product.
To build my confidence in public speaking and presenting.
This one is self-explanatory, and it works. I can vouch for that personally. It was never my main goal, but as a natural introvert I’m very happy with this as a side-effect.
It’s said most people fear public speaking more than death. And podcasting is very public. It can feel quite intimidating speaking into a microphone and getting no audience response back, just more silence to fill, stretching out in front of you.
But the more you do it, the easier it gets. And surprisingly, the comfort and confidence you gain speaking in this way rolls over into speaking in front of groups of people.
You might just enjoy talking to people and creating content.
An easy goal to meet, and it’s not necessary to be top of the charts to do it. However, Ronsley’s podcast is listened to tens of thousands of listeners every week, so the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
If you have the right audience and you’re adding value for them, then doing what you love means you bring the dedication and passion to it to keep them coming back for more.
What about you?
Hopefully this article has given you a lot to think about. What’s your big WHY for podcasting?
It could be one of these, or something different again. In the end, it doesn’t necessarily matter what your purpose is, as long as you’re clear about it.
Podcasting can take effort and commitment. It’s your big WHY that will sustain you through the tough times, and ultimately lets you know what ‘success’ looks like for you.