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108. How To Start and Grow a Successful Podcast, Tips from a Behavioral Economist

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2 years. 6 continents. 108 episodes. 162 countries. 207,000+ downloads.
and this is just the beginning…
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Today’s episode honors the two year anniversary of the podcast with some celebration and my tips for starting and growing a successful podcast. The Brainy Business podcast launched with its first three episodes on Friday, July 6, 2018. We have had an episode every single week since then and never missed a Friday release or newsletter in those 2 years. Hooray!
That first month had 844 downloads, which I was incredibly excited about at that time! As you’ll learn in this episode, my show actually hit the average podcast download numbers in that first month…and since then things have gone up and up. It took 483 days to hit the first 100,000 download milestone and less than half that time (only 237) to get the next hundred thousand. If pace stays the same we will be passing the quarter million mark around October, which is amazing as well!
There have been listeners on every continent (minus Antarctica) and 162 countries.
Shout out to the top downloaders! Not surprisingly, the US tops the list, followed by the UK, then Canada, Australia, India, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, and Spain rounds out the top 10. Coming in at 11 we have the Netherlands, followed by South Africa, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and France rounding out the top 20. Shout out to my friends in Canada! The top Canadian provinces by downloads are Ontario, followed by British Columbia and Alberta. And to those in the states, we still have a lot of the same top 10 with a fairly similar order: California has the most downloads followed by Washington, Texas, New York, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina.
What has made the podcast successful, and what can you learn from my first two years in podcasting?  That’s what this episode is all about. I’ll answer questions like:
How long does it take to run a successful podcast? Do you really need to be weekly? How many downloads does the average podcast get? Do most podcasts make money? How should you strategically think about your cover art and podcast name? What the heck is podfade, and should you be concerned about it? All this and more covered in this week’s episode…[PLUS my awesome Podcast Episode Best Practices Checklist is now available for preorder!]

Show Notes:

  • [00:46] This week is the two year anniversary of The Brainy Business podcast, which launched with its first three episodes on Friday, July 6, 2018.
  • [01:38] There have been listeners in 162 countries.
  • [04:04] I appreciate each and every one of you who has ever interacted or connected with The Brainy Business.
  • [06:10] Podcasting is a growing medium, and just like any exciting new format it can feel like “everyone” has a podcast and that you “must” be there to be successful in business.
  • [07:24] If it isn’t worth your time to be there and build it the right way, it probably isn’t worth doing.
  • [09:39] Sure, I could spend less time preparing for each episode, but all those things are what make The Brainy Business successful.
  • [11:41] I did the research and invested in good audio from the beginning.
  • [13:45] Why is a podcast a good fit for your business model and how will it support the work you do?
  • [14:28] One other reason I started the show was to help people understand what behavioral economics even is and how it can apply to business.
  • [16:36] Knowing your goals before you jump in and create a podcast is incredibly important and should be used to determine how you set up the structure of your show. 
  • [19:03] Clear, concise, targeted content can often take more time to create than something longer.  
  • [20:35] Most podcasts don’t get past episode seven.  
  • [21:27] Podcast stats aren’t as detailed as we would all like them to be.
  • [22:35] Most podcasts do not make money, and actually cost money.
  • [24:05] Podcast downloads are not a perfect science and the numbers look at the average after an episode has been live for 30 days.
  • [26:54] According to Libsyn, the hosting platform I and many other podcasters use, the average podcast episode has 141 downloads after 30 days. (As you saw in the intro, The Brainy Business was above this from the first month of launching the show, even though I didn’t have a big list – the tips in this episode are a big reason why.) Preorder Your Podcast Episode Best Practices Checklist NOW
  • [28:22] Think about how you will stand out from competitors.
  • [28:56] Knowing which areas are searchable is important in helping people find you.
  • [30:45] Searchability and clear alignment to the topic was most important.
  • [32:43] The name and art should draw their eye and make them want to click to get to the next step of reading your full title and description and decide if they want to listen to an episode.
  • [33:38] If you are going to be investing in a podcast, it should be a main driver of business for you.
  • [36:06] In my opinion, it is almost not worth doing if you aren’t going weekly.
  • [38:12] Start with your first three episodes and go live with them on the first day. This allows people to begin that binge listening and start forming that habit.
  • [39:46] It is more important to pick a day that works with your schedule so you can release great content on time every time than it is to be on the “perfect’ day.
  • [41:12] For each episode, I come up with the topic and determine if it will be a guest or a solo episode. After I determine my topic I start doing my research and write the full script. 
  • [41:51] After all the preparation, I then record using my ATR2100 mic into a system called Audacity. Then I submit to the team for editing and creating social media graphics and worksheets for the episode (using Canva).  
  • [42:43] I listen to every single episode and review and edit the show notes before approving.
  • [43:26] I also create audiograms (using Headliner), set up the newsletter (Active Campaign) and write the social copy for all platforms.  
  • [45:11] Spend an hour making a list of every topic you could possibly do an episode or post about. Break them up into smaller pieces, combine some together, list as many as you can. 
  • [46:09] Write down ideas in bulk when you don’t need them right away. It is much easier to come up with a bunch of topics when you don’t need them. When it is for next week’s show it is a lot harder to create a topic from scratch.

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER: Podcast Episode Best Practices Checklist

(This includes the Trello Template I use for every episode and more!)

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

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