Podcasting is having a serious moment right now. After all, nearly six in 10 Americans above the age of 12 listen to podcasts

Whether these podcasts are teaching listeners something, entertaining them or being a source of inspiration, one thing is certain: This medium has a growing popularity. 

Here, media update’s Taylor Goodman chats podcasting basics with Jon Savage, director,  content strategist, musician and host of the popular podcast What's Your Poison.

More listeners are gravitating towards podcasts these days. What do you think makes podcasts so appealing to listeners, compared to other forms of media? 

There is now more content available for consumers to binge on than ever before. Mainstream media is still quite prescriptive and they use a lot of research data to focus content on the widest possible audiences — but herein lies part of the issue. People are not one-dimensional; they like lots of different things. 

For more niche interests — such as flyfishing, business strategies, oddball comedy or even politics — there is no place for deep exploration of these subjects in the mainstream [media] other than a general perspective. 

Podcasting answers a call for people who have hobbies, obsessions, or are just extremely inquisitive and want to learn things by deep diving into the things that make them happy. 

There are also no gate-keepers. Anyone can become a podcast host. This creates a large quantity of low quality podcasts, but also gives amazing new talent real opportunities to break through and create careers for themselves. 

What [also] makes podcasting unique is it’s ‘passive’ delivery, meaning that you can engage with podcasts while you run, gym, meditate or even sleep. 

For these reasons, it’s an incredibly powerful place for brands to consider playing in — due to the high engagement with the content that people have chosen to immerse themselves in. 

A lot of brands are still blindly focused on reach in the digital space, but engagement is a much stronger metric. In podcasting, you can get both by diversifying and focusing on a group of specific podcasts and getting infinitely more engagement.

What are five things a beginner would need to start their own successful podcast? This could be related to equipment / content / personality. 
  • Good sound: This is more important than anything else! Whether you buy a good quality USB mic or use the microphone on your smartphone, if the sound isn’t strong, clear and clean, your podcast stands no chance of survival. 
  • A great idea that has long legs: In other words, an idea that can give you unlimited episodes that [won’t] make you run out of guests / topics after 40 or 50 episodes. 
  • Something to record on: You could use free audio software like Audacity – or whatever you are comfortable recording on. You need to record the sound properly.
  • Distribution: You need to get your podcasts on to all of the major podcasting networks like Apple, Spotify and Deezer [but you are not just limited to these options]. There are many good ones, including Libsyn, Buzzsprout, or a free one like (Spotify-owned) Anchor. 
  • Patience: It takes time to grow an audience in podcasting. It’s a snowball that gets bigger and bigger in fragments. Stay focused, stay patient and have at least a 50 show game plan at a time.
Where do you find inspiration for topics to cover on your respective podcast?

It’s different for each one. For [my podcast] What’s Your Poison, I really talk to whoever I feel like talking to [if] I think they have a good story. That’s why my show has such a weird and diverse range of guests — from Kwesta to Abdullah Ibrahim, to a guy who was captured and held by Al Qaeda for six years, to my mom.

For the AMPD and Nasty C podcast, the show is always looking to provide education to the entertainment industry. So we are always looking for guests who have stories that young artists and content creators can learn from.

For the Madness Method with Moonchild Sanelly, we look for what we describe as ‘unicorns’ — people who have become successful in South Africa by doing things in a very different way to anyone else.

For topic-related podcasts (like my Podcasting insta-reels), I just made a long list of all the podcasting advice I could think of and dedicated each episode to one simple idea. 

What is the most important piece of advice you have to offer a beginner podcaster on making it in the industry? 

It’s a long slow slog. Be patient and plan ahead. It is important to make sure you are passionate as hell about your show.

What are the best practices for those looking to monetise their podcast?  

Focus on building your audience. Brands are not seduced by cool topics or original ideas. They want to see how big your audience is, how they engage with you and if they trust you. So, don’t focus on the monetisation of your podcast, but focus on serving your audience selflessly. Your show will [then] become highly monetizable.

What is your favourite podcast? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Need more convincing to start your own podcast? Then be sure to check out these Five reasons to start a podcast.