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Discovering Great Podcasts with Arielle Nissenblatt of EarBuds Podcast Collective

SoundHER is a monthly interview series where the ladies of Sounder have candid conversations with influential women in podcasting about their journey to success. Read on for industry tips, poignant POVs, and a few laughs.

Arielle Nissenblatt has spent a lot of time in a car. Her first job could have her traveling up to eight hours a day. Next, life brought her to a city where commuting 13 miles took over an hour and a half. Some people may have found these circumstances frustrating, but our SoundHER has a knack for optimizing her time. She became obsessed with highway and interstate facts. She memorized directions and even began collecting license plates. She also started cueing up podcasts.

It’s been four years since Arielle welcomed podcasts into her life, and she’s been in the industry ever since. From marketing to editing, she’s done just about every audio-related job in the book. Today you can find her running the EarBuds Podcast Collective newsletter, working Community Management over at SquadCast, co-creating the Outlier Podcast Festival, and co-hosting Counter Programming with Shira and Arielle.

Today, Arielle is here to talk about her journey in this young industry, how to discover great content, how to market your podcast on a budget, and advice for anyone interested in an audio career. When she’s not writing or listening, you can find her playing soccer, rollerblading, or taking long walks. In fact, when she “grows up,” Arielle aspires to be a tour guide, and has even led a 15.8 mile tour the length of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles! Let’s dig into her podcasting story.

What you’ll find in this SoundHER interview:

  1. A Snapshot of Arielle Nissenblatt’s Podcasting Journey
  2. The EarBuds Podcast Collective Origin Story
  3. Demanding Diversity In Podcast Spaces
  4. Top 3 Tips To Discover Great Podcasts (Forever!)
  5. Smart Ways To Organize Your Listening Habits
  6. Easy Ways To Market Your Podcast
  7. Advice About Getting Into The Podcast Industry

A Snapshot of Arielle Nissenblatt’s Podcasting Story

LARELL SCARDELLI: Great to chat, Arielle! Tell us, how long have you been in the podcasting industry? 

ARIELLE NISSENBLATT: I started in the podcast space four years ago when I started the newsletter, EarBuds Podcast Collective, on February 13, 2017. At the time, I didn’t consider myself part of the podcast space. I was just trying to write a newsletter. But that’s when I started to think about podcasts and podcasting in a critical way.

During these four years, I have had numerous jobs all over the industry—production, and curation, and marketing, and speaking. Some of those have continued throughout. I’ve dipped my toe into the marketing world, and then left. Now I’m in it in a more serious way with event planning.

LS: I’d love to learn more about your newsletter, EarBuds Podcast Collective. What inspired you to start it?

AN: My first job out of college was in Mississippi at a Jewish nonprofit called the Institute of Southern Jewish Life. We were partnered with different synagogues throughout the South as consultants for their Hebrew schools. If they were less than eight hours away, we’d drive to them. That’s how I got started listening to podcasts. 

LS: I’m sure so many people can relate to being stuck in a car with nothing to do. What did you listen to first?

AN: I listened to the entire back catalogues of This American Life, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, The Memory Palace— the typical podcasts that people recommend if you’re just getting started in podcasts.

I encountered more car time when I moved to Los Angeles. I was working in the city, but living in the valley, and my commute was an hour and a half each way because of traffic to go, I don’t know, 13 miles, or something ridiculous like that.

I was really upset about it at first. I felt like I was wasting my time. And then I was like, “wait a minute, I can completely optimize the time that I’m spending sitting in this car if I’m listening to podcasts that are about things that I want to learn about!”

LS: Podcasts have a way of fitting into passive moments in the day. What surprised you the most about listening?

I was amazed that I was learning so much through audio, because growing up, I was taught that I was a kinesthetic learner. You know, you move around, you learn. I thought I was stuck in that. Turns out I also am an auditory learner, and I was really taking in a lot of information by way of podcasts.

LS: How did you find your next listens?

So, I was listening to those typical five podcasts, but I thought, “how can I find podcasts that will continue to amaze me and astound me and bring me stories of new people that I’ve never heard of and new perspectives?” 

And I thought, “if I have my five favorite podcasts, my friends also have their five favorite podcasts, and their friends have more and more and more and more.” That was the impetus behind starting the newsletter— wanting new, exciting shows to listen to optimize my time in the car.

EarBuds Podcast Collective Origin Story

LS: I’m shocked so many of your friends listened to podcasts back in 2017! 

AN: I think what helped is that a lot of the friends that I called on at the time were in the same job as me, in Jackson, Mississippi. We all listened to podcasts so they had recommendations to share.

LS: How did recommendations from friends translate into the EarBuds Podcast Collective newsletter you have today?

When I started, I had no idea about email service providers. I started a survey monkey, actually, and sent it to a bunch of friends and was like, “Hi, if you want to be part of this podcast collective thing I’m doing, just fill out your information here and I’ll add you to the Gmail email.”

And so every Sunday for the first five weeks, I would send out a BCC to Gmail, just being like, “here are the five podcasts that you’re going to check out this week, let me know what you think.” Once I accidentally only cc’d everybody and it was a whole mess. 

My friend was like, “you should try Mail Chimp,” and I was like, “you are correct.” I learned Mail Chimp. If you go to the beginning of my archive for Mail Chimp, they were so ugly! I had no idea about formatting. But, you know, people were interested in this idea. So it grew over time.

LS: What does the newsletter feature?

AN: Each week we send a theme that contains five podcast episodes on that theme, and each week is curated by a different person. Anyone can curate a list. (You don’t have to be a podcaster, you don’t have to be a professional in any way, you can just be a person who really loves a certain subject.)

LS: How are these themes chosen?

AN: You know, there’s a few ways to look at it. You could be a professor who is really into marine biology and you’re specializing in beluga whales. So you’re going to go out and find five podcast episodes on beluga whales.

Or it could be like, your name is Joanne, and you live in Cedar Rapids and you’ve been really into meditation lately. You’re going to go find five podcasts on meditation as your curated list.

I also allow creators who are podcasters to include one of their own podcasts. So sometimes people will use it as an opportunity to get a little promotion for their podcasts while also shouting out four other podcasts that they enjoy.

LS: Who’s able to curate a list?

AN:  We have a form on the website where anybody can input their information, why they chose that theme, the five episodes that they’re choosing, and a short description of each one. At the bottom of each newsletter that I send out, I have that same form that anybody can click on and curate.

On the back end, we receive the form, figure out where on the calendar that list makes sense, and then reach out when your list has been chosen. We tag curators on social media and provide some sample posts.

LS: Does the newsletter feature anything else?

AN: In the past five months, we’ve started to include a section at the end of the newsletter called “Podcast Spotlight” and that’s an entire podcast recommendation that specifically differs from the theme of the week so that just in case you have no interest in the theme, you can always check out the “Podcast Spotlight.”

Another thing that’s emerged that’s been really great is our archive, which dates back to 2017. If you want to learn about, I don’t know, architecture, we’ve probably done a list or two on architecture.

LS: I see you also have an accompanying podcast?

AN: Yes! Feedback with EarBuds is the podcast that goes along with EarBuds Podcast Collective. It just returned for season two, and it’s got some changes so it’s definitely worth checking out for podcast recommendations every week! We now include an interview with a podcaster, an enthusiastic listener, or a podcast company representative. We ask them about what got them into podcasts and what they’ve been listening to lately.

Demanding Diversity In Podcast Spaces

LS: How has your newsletter process changed over the years?

AN: Today, we reserve the right to say no. A mistake that I made early on was not having a requirement for the number of women and people of color that I wanted represented in each list. Now the requirement is that three out of five of each episode chosen has to be either created by or hosted by a person of color and/or a woman or non-binary person.

Early on, I had somebody curate a list called Mancasts, “Podcasts by Men for Men,” and I don’t know why, but I let it go because it was 2017 and I was like 23. And it was terrible. I hated it. But we learn. We live and we learn.

I also had somebody curate a list and it was “best interview podcasts.” And only one of the podcasts was hosted by a woman, and somebody replied immediately. I knew that there would be pushback, because I think that week I just didn’t have time to go out and find another episode AND I also felt weird changing this guy’s pick. Whereas now I reserve all the rights to do that.

But immediately I got a reply being like, “surely all the best interview podcasts are not hosted by men?” And I was like, “I know, I agree with you. I fucked up.”

LS: When I’m reading your content today, it comes through that you’re very cognizant of the diversity you’re posting. 

AN: Thanks. Now I’m super intentional about what goes out. I send this out to a lot of people, and because of that, people are watching to see what goes out from EarBuds and I have a responsibility there and that’s something that I’ve learned and now I take very seriously.

LS: How do you think your message, your requirements, and your dedication to diversity has impacted your brand?

AN: Word of mouth gets around that you can curate a list for EarBuds, but they have this requirement: three out of five recommendations are people of color and/or women. Because of that, I think we weed out people who disagree with requirements like that.

I’ve had only a few people push back on me and say, “I’d really like to put this person in my list” and I say, “unfortunately, I can’t, I’m going to have to take editorial power there and add a woman and/or a person of color.” That’s happened a few times, and I’m very happy for those people to unsubscribe if it’s not the place for them.

LS: It really is less about monitoring and more about creating a dedicated community which, little by little, drips out into the community at large that we need to continue to represent women and people of color in this space.

AN: I think it’s super important for us to know where we stand, and to give opportunities as well.

But I’ve also seen the opposite where men who purport themselves to be really great champions of women and people of color in the space still don’t back off from panels when they easily could. So it’s interesting to see that a lot of the time, the intention is there, but the actual practice of it is not always.

I think even just putting it out there and saying, “hey, I’m going to step down and here are three people who I think would be great” is a way to advocate for diversity.

Top 3 Tips To Discover Great Content Forever

LS: Let’s talk about discovery. Because your newsletter is, in many ways, solving for a discovery issue many new listeners face.

AN: I kind of have a problem with the idea of there being a discoverability problem. I think the only reason that there’s a “discoverability problem” is because there’s so much content, and a lot of it is complete shit only some of it is good. 

It’s really about knowing how to weed through and find the ones that are good. EarBuds does that, Bello Collective does that, Find that Pod is another newsletter that does that, Podcast Review does that.

LS: So what’s your advice for new listeners looking for podcasts?

AN: My biggest advice when it comes to podcast discoverability is to sign up for curated newsletters. I think we as publication creators, people who make podcasts newsletters, need to educate that this is a way to have curated content sent to you.

Once you start listening to three podcasts that you love, you’ll never have to look for another podcast again because they will most likely recommend other podcasts you’re going to love in their ads. That’s how you’ll get on a path of finding great content forever.

LS: So sign up for curated newsletters, and you mentioned Google phrases and keywords. How does that plug you into the great-content-forever highway?

AN: Google podcasts on meditation for women. What’s going to come up is Katie Krimitsos’ Podcast Meditation Network for Women. From there, she’ll probably recommend other podcasts that are about meditation. And she won’t recommend podcasts that are shitty. She’s going to recommend good ones that have a lot of backlog for you to go through, because it would hurt her credibility to recommend something that’s not great.

A good way to figure out if a podcast has credibility is if other people are recommending it, whether it’s on shows or people have written blog posts about it, or are people talking about it on social media.

LS: Interesting. So what I’m hearing is that it’s okay to start listening to the big podcasters, because from there, you also will get to learn about smaller, but still quality, podcasts. I guess I always hear shade being thrown at the big-names, but people have to get plugged into podcasting somehow.

AN: I think so. I always want to root for the underdog. I think that the problem is underdog and indie is often synonymous with like bad, you know, but there are underdogs that are good. We just need to be able to find them.

Smart Ways To Organize Your Listening Habits

LS: I’d love to hear about how you organize your daily listening.

AN: I’ve always used Castbox to find and listen to podcasts. They have a huge podcast directory (just like Apple Podcasts) and make it easy to search for keywords. I worked for them for a while also, but I originally found Castbox at Podcast Movement in 2017. I was very new, it was just a few months after I started my newsletter.

I kind of showed up and bopped around the expo hall trying to make some friends and get some swag. I went up to every table and kind of judged each product based on the swag that they gave away. And Castbox gave away this really cool ring that goes on the back of your phone to help you hold it.

LS: So how much do you listen to on a weekly basis?

AN: I wake up every morning and I listen to The Daily, I then go to Up First, I then go to The Daily Zeitgeist, and then sometimes I top it all off with What a Day, the Crooked Media show. And then sometimes I’ll go to the Punch Bowl News, which is a short politics daily morning show.

If I have time in the middle of the day, maybe I’m going for a walk, maybe I’m doing some dishes, I’ll listen to something that came out on that day or catch up on something that came out the previous day that I wasn’t able to listen to. Or if I hear of something that I must binge, say it’s a six-episode-something on some sort of crime that happened, or a series on OJ Simpson, I’ll do that in the afternoon.

And then at night, I try to do the afternoon/nighttime daily podcasts like Vox’s Today Explained. I then go to Consider This from NPR, and that’s really what I’ve been doing lately. Yeah, lots of time spent listening to podcasts. 

LS: Okay, wow, how many hours is that?

AN: It’s a lot, but I do it on 1.5 to 1.8 speed depending on the podcast. So it’s doable. I think it’s like five hours a day normal-speed, but it’s actually like four.

Easy Ways To Market Your Podcast

LS: Podcasting is still relatively young, and you’ve been part of it for some time. What’s your favorite aspect of the industry?

AN: Everybody is so down to collaborate, and I talk about this a lot. It’s even in our recent rebrand. Our first logo said EarBuds and then the side was two little headphones that had like smiley faces on them, they looked like hands, like buds or friends. For the second iteration, I wanted to kind of continue playing off the idea that headphones can be friends, buds, whatever, that whole thing. The justification for that, in the end, was that podcasting is such a collaborative medium.

LS: I couldn’t agree more. How can podcasters use that spirit to their advantage?

AN: One of the biggest things you can do is collaborate with other people, whether that’s cross promotions, or feed drops, or having somebody on your show talk about their show, and vice versa. One of the biggest ways to succeed is through cross promotion.

I think because of that, it extends to other things in the podcast space, like cross marketing, and just in general people being willing to help each other and get a coffee together and talk about this project, that project, how can we work together? How can we partner? That leads into word of mouth, which is extremely strong and it’ll continue to be.

LS: I like how authentic cross-promotion is, especially between podcasters.

AN: It should be authentic. On Twitter, for instance, there’s so much self-promotion. Every time somebody tweets, “Just discovered podcasts, anybody have anything that you think I should listen to?” So many people drop their link and offer no context as to why someone should listen.

So there’s a lot of blind reaching out and not being collaborative. Avoid that. I have made an effort since 2017 to offer something in return if I’m asking to get a coffee with somebody, or for a shoutout on this app or on this blog. I mean, if it’s not going to be money, it’s going to be something, and I think that’s super important. 

LS: What else can a podcaster do to market themselves?

AN: Another way for folks to get their podcasts promoted is by working with podcast apps to promote their content.

For example, Spotify has a creators program where you can apply to be featured, they also have the ability for you to customize your page. Apple, same thing, and they have the ability to create personalized QR codes that you can use in all of your branding. Sounder has their weekly PodLight feature. Podcasts Business Journal has their “Why I Podcast” section. You can apply to be on the Hot 200 in Podcast Magazine.

Everybody’s got something, that if you know where to look, or if you’re taught where to look, you can apply to be featured and this is not a thing that many people are doing.

Pro Tips For Working In The Podcast Industry

LS: What are your two biggest tips for women who want to work in podcasting?

AN: One of the number one things that I did when I first got into the podcast space was get involved with Facebook groups, and one of those groups was She Podcasts. That’s really where I found a lot of information.

I would also make coffee dates with people, that has been huge for me. And like I mentioned, you don’t want to just “pick somebody’s brain,” because that is like asking them to do a free consulting session for you. So find a way to do that in a way that makes sense for both of you. Or join a mentorship program and know what you want from that mentorship program.

Subscribe to all the podcast newsletters out there, and that’s not just podcast recommendations newsletters, but also news, so Inside Podcasting, Podnews, PodMov, Podcasts Business Journal. Just know what’s going on in the industry that you want to have a big impact in.

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Why do I love the industry? It’s so fun to be in, I love going to podcast conferences, I try to be at every in-person one that there is. I’ve missed them a lot because it feels like going to summer camp— it’s just a good time.

LS: Any advice for people who like podcasts but aren’t sure where they fit yet?

AN: It’s okay not to niche down. Take me for example: I’m a general store of podcast knowledge. I wouldn’t say that I know one thing in particular, maybe marketing, over everything else, but for the most part, I can confidently say I’m familiar with each aspect of creating a podcast and marketing that podcast. 

I managed a podcast studio at a co-working space called Village Workspaces, from 2018 to 2019. Then I worked for Castbox from July 2019 to August 2020. During that time, I started working with Outlier Podcast Festival. I started the podcast that goes along with EarBuds Podcast Collective, Feedback with EarBuds, and I started the Counter Programming with Shira and Arielle. I also worked for Messy.fm, doing podcast consulting and helping people creating podcasts. And then in August 2020, I started working for SquadCast as the community manager, and that’s where I still am now.

I even completed a program called The Salt Institute, located at the Maine College of Art, where I learned everything I needed to know about Pro Tools, finding a story, whittling that story down into something that’s digestible for radio or for podcasts, interview techniques, how to use portable interview technique equipment, all that kind of stuff. So it was great. At the end I had a finished 10-minute feature piece on this guy named Sean who is a professional ring finder and metal detectorist. It’s okay to bounce around.

LS: What do you want your biggest contribution to the industry to be?

AN: I want more people to listen to podcasts. I want that question to the question, “oh, what’s a podcast? How do I find a podcast?” to be gone. I want everybody to just know. And I know that comes with education, but I want to be part of that education. I want to help people find podcasts, because, number one, it’s made me a smarter person. Number two, it just has opened my mind to so many more stories and more people and I want more people to be able to experience that. And I also want more women and people of color in podcasting.

LS: What’s your five year plan for EarBuds?

AN: I would like the FeedBack to feature an interview with the newsletter curator and some voices from the podcasts that are being curated that week. I would also like it to be a huge podcast that people must tune into because or else they would be missing out on critical podcast content!

The newsletter, I would like to be doing more live events and more podcast consulting and more podcast education. I also see integrations with companies like Podnews, where we would put the news in our podcasts and in our newsletter. 

LS: Any plugs for projects coming up? Where can people find you on social media?

AN: Counter Programming with Shira and Arielle returns on March 3, and we’re kicking off season two with a series on countertops. That is a podcast that I started with my friend at the beginning of the pandemic as a distraction-cast and each episode focuses on a different “count” or “counter.” So the idea is that it is counter programming to the grim COVID-19 situation. We’ve done counter productivity and countertenor (like the opera) and we had a countertenor on the show. This season, we’re covering recycled glass, laminate and quartz, and then we’re going into songs that have the word count or counter in the title, like Beyoncé’s Countdown and the Counting Crows in general. So that’s Counter Programming.

Signup for EarBuds Podcast Collective! We also have advertising packages. The newsletter is supported by sponsors and classified ads, so that information is on the website. Feedback with EarBuds just returned for season two.

SquadCast is this amazing company that I work for. We are a remote recording software and just released the ability to record and download video. I am now very much advocating for including video in your marketing for your podcast, whether that’s on social or on YouTube.

And you can find me personally on social media, I’m @ariellethisandthat (because my last name is Nissenblatt and it rhymes with this and that)!

___________________

Thank you for joining this month’s edition of #soundHER! If you have any questions for Arielle or would like to be featured as Sounder’s next female voice, email us at support@sounder.fm or tag us on social using #soundHER.

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The Ultimate Podcast Interview Resource

It all started with a note on his phone…

In this video interview, we sat down with Travis Brown, the owner of Pod Decks, to learn about the inspiration behind Pod Decks, why he created this valuable resource for podcasters, and what the app offers! Hint: thousands of interview questions, collaborative community, tutorials, giveaways, and more.

Like what you see? Sounder is offering one FREE month of Pod Decks so you can try it out for yourself!

Learn how to become a better interviewer, how to avoid “Podfade” and a whole lot more, as Sounder’s Content Strategist, Larell Scardelli, puts Travis Brown in the hot seat.

Get your FREE month of the Pod Decks App with the PROMO CODE “SOUNDERFM” at https://app.poddecks.com​. Select a plan (monthly or yearly), and create an account. Enter the promo code Sounderfm and enter your billing info (you will not be billed unless you keep the app past 30 days). Once your account is created, simply download the Pod Decks app from the Apple Store or Google Play store and log in with the credentials you created on app.poddecks.com. Offer expires March 31, 2021!


Offer is eligible through and must be redeemed by March 31, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET. Promotional code may be used for one month free of a monthly or annual Pod Decks app subscription plan. Existing users currently subscribed to Pod Decks app are excluded and only one promotional code allowed per user. Pod Decks app subscriptions are auto-renewing and billed monthly. Offer is not eligible for cash exchange. Cancellations prior to the end of the promotional month are not eligible for a cash refund. Offer is non-transferable. Promotional code cannot be combined with other promotions and Pod Decks reserves the right to refuse or alter any coupon or promotion at its discretion.

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The Easiest Way For Premium Podcast Teams To Collaborate And Manage Their Shows

Sounder Organizations is a premium user management functionality helping podcast teams of all sizes manage their shows in one secure workspace

In an effort to support multi-teamed and enterprise audio creators drive collaboration and streamline efficiency, we are launching our next generation of user management functionality, called Organizations. We started Sounder with our sights set on becoming an end-to-end platform for growing podcasters of all sizes. From new creators with one podcast to large publishers with hundreds, we aim to deliver technology solutions for all stages of audio development.

Manage Your Podcasting Team With Ease 

What Is Organizations?

Organizations is a premium, user management functionality that lives in the account settings of the Sounder Dashboard. Organizations allows a podcast team to collaborate on one or multiple podcasts, all in one secure workspace.

How Does It Work?

The Organization Owner has full admin rights and the ability to create an Organization for each podcast they own. Owners not only act as the gatekeeper on the individual podcast level, they can also holistically manage, track, and measure all of the shows in their account.

Each member of a podcast team can be assigned a specific role per podcast. Team members can only view at their access level, assigned by the Organization Owner, so an entire production team can move without friction. 

Organization Admin is able to migrate a podcast into the Organization and has viewing and editing rights to all podcasts within the Organization. An Organization Viewer can view but does not have editing rights. A Podcast Owner is the owner of one podcast in the Organization. They are able to migrate a podcast into the Organization and have viewing and editing rights to that podcast. A Podcast Admin can edit and view the podcast. A Podcast Viewer can only view.

Why Is It Important?

Because growing podcasters, publishers, podcast studios, agencies and enterprise creators shouldn’t share one login. This user management functionality creates a secure environment to manage who has access to what for your podcasts. Owner, admin and view-only roles at both the organizational and individual podcast levels create built-in efficiencies to help manage, scale and grow your business!

Organizations Is Perfect For…

We can’t take full credit for this new user management functionality. Our Sounder creators and the podcast community are the ones who asked for more autonomous collaboration on the platform! After hearing what was needed, we conducted extensive market research to craft a solution that would benefit creators of all sizes. Organizations is perfect for…

1. Small to Large Indie Creators

You know them and you love them. Smaller indie shows typically have teams helping them run their shows but are not part of a larger network. They may have producers, editors, production assistants, or marketers who need to access various aspects of each episode. Indie creators benefit from Organizations by being able to add their podcast production team to their Sounder account. Now the host can worry about recording and seamlessly delegate the rest to their team.

2. Podcast Agencies

Most podcast agencies, like Sweet Fish Media, and podcast production companies, like Audivita Studios, have a team of producers who need access to all the podcasts they oversee. Podcast owners, however, only need access to their individual show and not to others from across the agency. Podcast agencies can benefit from Organizations to ensure that the correct visibility permissions are active across their clients and employees. Plus, as team members join or leave the agency, they need a way to adjust what members are associated with a given podcast.

3. Publisher Networks

We found that large networks can have up to 500 podcasts in their ecosystem! They have hundreds of employees across structured departments and workstreams producing tons of podcasts. Each podcast has a team of at least five creators, producers, and marketers that bring the podcast to life. Imagine everyone having to fumble with one single login! We’ve heard from many network administrators in the industry that they want a way to give different levels of access to their team. For instance, some users will need to see all podcasts, others just one. Some users will need the ability to upload new content and adjust previously entered fields, others will need to just view the content that is already there or check on analytics. Our Organizations feature solves all of this.

Always Listening To Our Community 

Our founders started this company on a napkin, grounded with a set of core beliefs, values, and principles. As we grow, our true North continues to be making every creator successful by building tools that support an open and thriving creator ecosystem. And we do so alongside our community.

The best part of Organizations is that it came straight from our community. Through conversations with publishers and podcast studios, we learned that there was a major need for accessibility, permissions, and multi-user management within our platform. So we built it. Signup for a Sounder Plus Account to try it out with your podcast team!

As we keep building tools with our community in mind, we aim to create the ultimate end-to-end audio platform. We know that our best ideas are simply solutions. Have an idea? Feedback? We’re always looking to improve and innovate! Drop us a line at support@sounder.fm or get in touch via social media @sounder.fm.

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How To Get The Most Growth Out Of The Sounder Discovery Suite

In this frequently updated article, we walk you through how to use the Sounder Discovery Suite to grow your podcast’s audience. For each tool, we explain what it is, how it works, and creative ways to use it. Read on for best practices!

Hey there, Sounder Creator! Think of this article as an instruction manual for the Sounder Discovery Suite, only way more fun and less confusing than an IKEA bed frame manual. Here you can dig into each specific feature: how it works and how to use it.

We’re also sharing creative ideas and best-practices to put your podcast marketing strategy into hyperdrive. It’s one thing to have tricked-out tools, and it’s another to learn how to use them to maximize your growth.

For starters, using Sounder is free until you hit 20k streams per month. We take on the early costs so you can put your budget towards a great mic and headphones. Let’s dig in!

1. Audio SEO

What is it? Audio SEO is a series of optimization practices that make your content easier for search engines to crawl and index. By displaying your podcast’s transcription on your episode webpages, it helps search engines crawl and index your podcast. So when someone searches “cucumbers” your show, about cooking, will rank. We know SEO can be a little intimidating, so we’ve done all the work for you. Sounder also optimizes your podcast descriptions, title, category, keywords, and show notes. Through SEO best practices, we make sure your podcast gets the eyes and ears it deserves.

2. Sounder Player

What is it? If you listen to a show outside of any popular listener platform, you’re likely interacting with an embedded audio player. It’s a tool that allows anyone to listen to a show outside of Spotify or Apple Podcasts, just like watching YouTube videos outside of YouTube.com.

While embedded video players have advanced in technology and functionality, we couldn’t help but notice most audio players were either dated or cost extra to add to a website (widgets and such). So we built the one we wanted to see in the market, and offer it for free.

How it works: Our Sounder Player can be embedded on a website, shared on social media, or used via your Sounder episode webpages. It works just as well on mobile and desktop.

First, let’s go through the icons and functionality. At the top, you see a search bar. This is for In-Stream Audio Search, which allows listeners to search for keywords or topics across all of your content. We’ll dig into this function more below.

To the right of the search bar, is a “CC” icon. This expands the player window to show closed captioning subtitles while your episode is playing, creating an inclusive experience for all audiences. Clicking CC again collapses the player to its compact format.

To the right of the CC icon is a share arrow, which allows you or your audience to share the full episode or a short clip called a Soundbite. We’ll dig into Soundbite Audio Share below.

To the right of the share arrow is a burger menu, which opens your complete podcast library. This is a great way to keep your listeners engaged with your content.

Finally, to the right of the burger menu, is a radio wave icon where your audience can find other platforms where they can stream your podcast.

We’ve recently added a new function to our player: web linking. Before, if a listener clicked on your player it would bring them back to your Sounder webpage. Now, you can have it redirect anywhere, like to your website or social media pages.

As you can see, there are LOTS of features stacked in this small but mighty player. Here are a few ideas on how to use it.

Creative ideas:

  1. For those of you who have a website dedicated to your podcast, you’ll want to embed this player on your homepage. Why? Instead of sending your audience to a large listener platform where they can get distracted with other content, allow your audience to listen to an episode while continuing to engage with your story, merch, and other content.
  2. Don’t have a website, yet? No problem. Sounder provides all creators with a beautiful podcast website, which includes the Sounder Player and all it’s glory.
  3. Embedded players also help you to produce more content. Consider embedding each episode into a blog post and including a short introduction, overview, or detailed show notes. Here’s an example! This helps your podcast rank higher in SEO and gives listeners a different way to interact with your content.

3. In-Stream Audio Search

What is it? One of the main perks of our Sounder Player is its ability to search for topics and keywords within episodes. We call this In-Stream Audio Search. It’s like Google for your audio content. You can type a keyword or topic into the search bar and receive a list of episodes (and timestamps within those episodes!) where that keyword appears.

How it works: Since each of your episodes are automatically transcribed (for free!), In-Stream Audio Search identifies the moments in your podcast library where those keywords are mentioned and queues them up for playback. This feature is beneficial for both audio creators and their audience.

New listeners can use the search bar in the Sounder Player to taste your show or gain insight into a topic you discuss. Stans can find their favorite podcast moments faster than ever.

Creative ideas:

  1. Repurpose content in no time. Take Pride month, for example. You can search your podcast library for the word “pride” and put together a newsletter of all the episodes that discuss pride for your listeners.
  2. Make a “best of” episode. Easily find clips and quotes from your library to put together a “best” or “funniest” moments episode to round out your season!
  3. Make your show notes more efficient by searching within your latest episode for important time stamps.
  4. Suggest tangential episodes. Many podcasters point to similar episodes in their show notes or at the end of each episode to keep listeners in their loop. But sifting through dozens (or hundreds) of episodes can take hours. Using In-Stream Audio Search, creators can easily find tangential episodes to suggest.

4. Episode Soundbites

What is it? The Sounder Player allows listeners and creators to share Soundbites, or audio snippets of an episode. Now, instead of sharing a whole episode on Twitter, you can post, say, the best 60 seconds. With Soundbites, listeners get the ability to share their favorite podcast moments with their network.

How it works: Click the share arrow at the top right of the Sounder Player and select Soundbite Audio Share. This will take you to a screen (like above) where you can listen to an episode and slide the “start” and “end” bars to create a specific Soundbite. Also helpful, closed captioning is running at the bottom of the player, so you can get the perfect sentence or quote.

Creative ideas:

  1. Tease your latest episode on social media. Create and share the best audio moments of a new episode to drum up excitement.
  2. Ride a trending wave. If there’s a trending topic in the news, search your library and share the best Soundbite. This helps you stay relevant and repurpose evergreen content.
  3. Add audio to your blogs. Make your blog content interactive by adding Soundbites of your most important/compelling points.
  4. Create promotional material. Everyone loves content. If you’re hosting a guest, send them Soundbites of their episode to use on their own pages, which will bring audiences back to your podcast.
  5. Guest promotion reels. You know how radio stations get stars to say “you’re listening to 101.7 Sounder.FM” or whatever? Do the same thing with your podcast guests! Create a reel of quick intros to drum up credibility and excitement on social media.
  6. Send an audio newsletter. Keep your “new episode” newsletters exciting but adding Soundbites to tease the episode.

5. Episode Transcription

What is it? With Sounder, you get a free text transcript of each episode. That’s right, no more transcribing by hand on .5x speed (or missing this very important SEO/content opportunity).

How it works: After you publish an episode, simply download your transcription and start promoting! With our free speech-to-text recognition, it’s never been easier to create marketing content.

Creative ideas:

  1. Blog Your Podcast. Turning podcasts into blogs (and sometimes vice versa) is a great way to cross-promote your content. Blogs raise your SEO presence, increases your visibility online, and are a great resource for fans.
  2. Create compelling show notes. Show notes summarize new episodes to entice curious new listeners to dive in. With information overload, clear show notes make it easy to get a sense of your voice and content. But you don’t have to spend extra time writing them from scratch. With the help of your transcript, pull the juicy quotes (with timestamps), and write a synopsis of each episode.
  3. Write catchy social media posts. Your transcript will ensure that your pull-quotes are perfect and save you hours of listening.
  4. Make video content. Do you live-stream your episode? Or create videos of them? Use your transcript to add subtitles to any podcasting videos to create an inclusive experience.
  5. Pitch media outlets. If you’re in the market for advertisers, use transcripts to create compelling, on-brand marketing material that makes you look like a pro.
  6. Archive. Finally, transcripts make wonderful archives. If you want a static don’t-have-to-replay-it archive of all your podcast episodes easily collated, sorted, and dynamically searchable, then an archive of transcripts is the way to go. This way, your hard work can be recycled into new content time and time again.

6. Data-Driven Insights

What is it? Sounder’s Analytics help you understand your audience so you can create better content. We’re excited to offer powerful data and metrics you can’t receive anywhere else (more on that in a moment). At Sounder, we are laser-focused on helping your podcast get discovered and be heard. There’s no better way to help you do it than learning intelligently — improving your content and marketing strategy in real-time to attract more listeners.

How it works: Stop guessing what your audience cares about. With Sounder, you have access to things you‘re used to, like streams, listens, location. But we also give you access to even more, including time-of-day distribution, keyword searches, referrals and devices so you can podcast smarter. These metrics help you improve your podcast episode after episode. Heres how to use them!

Creative ideas:

  1. Streams give you an understanding of how popular your podcast (or a specific episode) is becoming. By tracking streams, you can assess what marketing efforts are the most effective, which episodes have the most success, and understand the engagement your show is having over time.
  2. Your Time Of Day chart can inform your new episode launch strategy. If, for instance, you see that the majority of your streams are being started before 11 am, it may make sense for you to release new episodes in the morning rather than at night. This can boost engagement as your listeners will be able to listen to new episodes immediately after they are released.
  3. See who’s listening. You may think you only have local listeners (hi, mom!), but with analytics you can see who is really tuning in. Looks like you have an international audience? Consider researching a topic that is especially relevant to listeners in those countries.
  4. Tap into new markets. Understanding the location of your audience informs your content and marketing strategy. As you talk about different topics on your podcast, depending on where listeners are located, they may or may not have a strong understanding of what you are talking about. The more you know about your user, the more targeted you can make your podcast. Knowing who is listening and where they reside can inform your next guest interview! Find a popular guest in the areas where people are already engaging with your content.
  5. Tailor to devices. Are most of your listens coming from mobile devices? Desktop? Consider playing around with the length of your show, or connect with your audience by adding relatable bits about what they’re doing while listening.
  6. Understand what your listeners are searching for. These queries are snippets into your listeners’ minds while they listen to an episode. The results here can be a powerful tool to help improve your content strategy. If you see people are searching for a specific topic, then perhaps you can address those topics in a future episode. Keywords allow you to have a 2-way conversation with your listeners. Embedding and sharing your Sounder Player as often as possible can help drive more engagement for your show — allowing you to surface more relevant insights as to what your audience cares about. When you share other audio players, you miss out on insights from those listeners.

How to Grow Your Business With A Podcast Part II: Managing Your Time and Budget

If you’ve read Part. 1 of this podcast marketing series, you did the hard part: plan. You have your listener profile, a unique concept that brings your brand ethos to life, and a realistic business goal for your podcast. Kudos! Now you may be wondering how to actually fit podcasting into your busy schedule. In part two of this article, we’re going to discuss streamlining processes and finding a strategy that works for your time, budget, and skillset.

(Missed Part 1? Read it here)

Many business owners feel overwhelmed when they realize that podcasting includes a lot of moving parts, such as strategy, episode planning, editing, distribution, promotion, and more. But take it from me. You don’t need to master it all. You can find a management platform (like Sounder) and remote professionals (like myself!) to help you with just about everything you need to get your podcast out there, all within your budget.

1. Get Smart About Free Tools

A busy business owner can’t work in chaos, so just like in your business, it’d be smart to use a few key (and free!) tools to help you organize and streamline your podcast. 

First and foremost, you’ll want a project management tool to help schedule each episode’s to-dos and deadlines, plan ahead, and keep track of topic ideas. I currently use Asana to run my business since its inception. It allows me to communicate with my podcast clients and delegate tasks to my team. It helps me both plan the nitty-gritty projects and the big picture goals, like following-up with upcoming guests, tracking episode downloads, and mapping those against quarter goals or partnerships. I also suggest finding a booking system to schedule communication with guests (more on this below). I like calendly.com— it’s free and easy to use!

Equipment functionality runs the gamut. This is where most of your investment will come in. Know that sound quality matters, but also stay within your budget. Here’s a good list to help.

You likely have free editing and recording software right on your computer, or you can check out downloadable free options like Audacity. For hosting, look for a free platform, like Sounder, that has multiple tools to offer. For instance, they offer free transcriptions, discovery tools, and monetization. Not to mention their custom Sounder Player that will cut specific sound bites or snippets of your episode, and distribute it to multiple podcast platforms and social media channels.

As for the style of your show, there are platforms out there that have a selection of free music for you to choose from. Pixabay, Pond5, Epidemic Sound, or Storyblocks are some of my go-to places to find royalty-free music. Be sure to check the fine print, as some platforms have restrictions of use (some will work on YouTube but not on audio platforms, etc).

Get creative with Canva, a free design tool, to create your cover art and social posts. Speaking of social, you can even automate and simplify publishing on social media with Later (also free) rather than doing it manually for each episode.

(Need help creating your cover art? Let Sounder’s graphic designer help!)

2. Template Recurring Communications

To help streamline guest communications, I suggest writing a template email, as you’ll probably get the same questions over and over again. My clients have one template for reaching out to potential guests and another for setting up recording sessions. You can check out my free template examples, where I provide guidance on exactly what information you should include to save time and convert leads into guests! The example below will also provide context:

Email Subject: Interview request

Hi, [guest’s name],

My name is [your name], and I am the host of [your podcast’s name hyperlinked], a podcast about [relevant information to your guest or your podcast’s mission]. I’d be honored to invite you to my upcoming episode about [relevant information to your guest]!

[2-3 lines explaining why you’d like to have them on the podcast, and how they can benefit from your exposure. Also, include links to your business and socials (if it makes sense), and examples that could be relevant to your guest, such as media coverage, high-profile guests, or relevant episode topics that may peak their interest]

The podcast episodes are about [time] minutes long and conducted through [Location: Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, phone call]. Interested? Please reply to this email with your available times or use this link [Calendly or another booking system link] to book a convenient time for us to chat further!

Thank you,

[Your name]

3. Upcycle Every Episode!

Think of it like this: Your business podcast becomes the basis for all of your promotional content. One episode can yield multiple resources, such as emails, social posts, blogs, or promotional material. You can stretch out each episode to cover multiple platforms over 1-2 weeks. This strategy not only saves you time, it ensures your content gets seen by your customers. Repetition is key to sales.

Let’s refer back to Case Study A from Part. 1, my client who owns a corporate gifting company and hosts a podcast called The Good Office. Her show is all about how to do good with your business. She used her brand’s ethos (giving back) and spun it into a “how-to” podcast that educates others to do the same, all while strengthening her leadership in the space of giving back. 

We turned one of her episodes titled ‘How Corporate Gifting Will Grow Your Business and Strengthen Relationships’ into multiple resources for her communication and marketing strategy. Here’s exactly what she got out of one episode: 

  • Multiple blog entries: After the episode was edited, approved and scheduled, we wrote a blog post using the same copy that we had carefully crafted for the episode, and added an embeddable player and an image. The work we put into a script became a simple yet engaging blog post, boosting her SEO. Note: If you write an article and don’t embed the episode, you’re missing out on downloads! Good hosting platforms, like Sounder, provide you with a player to make sure that your clients can listen to the episodes wherever! Remember to always provide a path of least resistance.
  • Short soundbites for social media: Any episode can provide up to ten (or more) soundbites that either tease or promote an episode. In my client’s case, she uses the audiograms that I cut for her while editing. If you’re hosting with Sounder, you can use the Soundbite Audio Share feature to effortlessly post Soundbites directly to social media. My client also uses the takeaways that my team creates (good quotes from each episode) for social media image quotes and Instagram stories.
  • Newsletter features: Unless you have new products out there ALL THE TIME, it can be hard to come up with email topics. But guess what? Each new podcast episode can be sent in much the same way a newsletter would. For instance, by talking about the business’ mission in a podcast episode, my client is able to dive deeper and in a more personal way about the true impact that her business has in the local community. You can mention product launches, sales, and teasers in a more natural way. Not to mention promote your podcast!

4. Use Show Notes To Boost Your Website’s SEO 

A lot of businesses overlook Audio SEO as a way to improve organic searchability. For starters, show notes (or podcast descriptions) help your podcast get indexed by crawlers. And Apple Podcasts allows up to 4,000 characters! You’re missing a HUGE opportunity by writing just one line with the topic of your episode and your guest’s name. Instead, transcribe your podcast’s audio into the show notes by using platforms such as Otter.ai or Sounder’s free transcription feature. Edit your show notes to include: 

  • Timestamps of key takeaways or statements
  • Direct links to your website, products, and official social media accounts
  • Your contact information 
  • Your guest’s social media account and website 
  • Any resources mentioned in the episode (such as books, worksheets, quizzes or products)
  • Any discount codes or exclusive content

By adding all of this information, you’re giving search crawlers links, keywords, and content so they can properly index your episode. And, you’re making it painlessly easy for listeners to take action and stay in your business’s web loop.

5. Get Smart About Promotion 

When it comes to online promotion, be strategic and always ask yourself, “where is my audience?” Start by promoting your new podcast everywhere (social, email, website) then use those metrics to double down on hot spots. Focus on the platforms that foster the most interaction and community or where you do your most successful business communications.

I often see podcasters with a business-related podcast (sales, marketing, etc.) do well on LinkedIn. Those that skew wellness perform well on Instagram. At first, try being everywhere then quickly get smart. You’ll save time and money by focusing promotion efforts on two places instead of five. 

I get asked about making separate podcast accounts for social media. Personally, I think it’s a ‘must have vs good to have’ situation. You can create social media profiles for the podcast or promote each episode through your business account. I’ve seen success cases in both situations. If you have the time (and resources) go ahead and create accounts with the podcast’s name and keep engaging with the community there. If you already feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin, then use your personal or business accounts. One of my clients can only do the latter and it works because her audience isn’t very tech-savvy and likes to engage with her personal posts, so a podcast-only account would be a bad idea, as they wouldn’t be willing to make the move to another account.

6. But Always Include Pinterest!

It blew my mind too. Even though Pinterest isn’t used as a social media network, it’s a powerful search engine that can make an impact on your business and your podcast. How? Unlike social media platforms, Pinterest’s timeline isn’t chronological, which means your content has a longer shelf life (compared to Instagram, which is ~24 hours if the algorithm is in your favor).

Content uploaded on Pinterest has a life cycle of months, if not years. 70% of the traffic coming into my business, The Podcast Space, originates from Pinterest. Two of my podcast clients have at least 20% of ongoing monthly business website traffic through pins they did 3+ years ago! So make sure you include Pinterest in your promotion efforts. Pin blogs, graphics, episodes, and soundbites. They will work for you time and time again.

But know that Pinterest’s traffic isn’t about instant gratification, like social media networks normally are. It’s about staying in the race for the long haul. For instance, a big percentage of the 70% web traffic I get from Pinterest comes from a few pins I created back in April 2020! Trust me, it’ll pay off.

You’re wondering if you should start a podcast to help grow your business, and the answer is yes. Podcasts will soon become like social media and video: a must for businesses that want to stay relevant. Podcasts help you connect with listeners and provide value to your audience in a way that no other platform can. The return on investment is the highest in the content creation industry, and it doesn’t need to weigh down your routine if you are smart about it. 

Remember that your podcast should be managed just like your business. Create a smart plan, use free tools to maximize your time and effort, and know your end goal. You can plan your show in a way that best suits your personality and your availability, and you can automate almost everything or invest a small fee to save you time.

The best part about podcasting is that it basically becomes your promotion material for every channel. One episode can provide multiple content pieces for your website, social media, and newsletters. Episode show notes will improve your website’s SEO and your online footprint, and you can use Pinterest to drive free traffic to your website for years!The sooner you start podcasting, the bigger the head start you’ll have over your competitors! If you’re looking for a one-on-one strategy session to maximize your podcast’s impact, you can reach out to me via The Podcast Space.

How To Market Your Business With a Podcast Part 1: Goal Setting & Concepting

Welcome back to our Sounder Coaching Series where we invite experts from around the audio industry to help you podcast smarter! Our coach Ana Xavier, CEO of The Podcast Space, works 1:1 with business owners to help them integrate lucrative podcasts into their marketing strategy. Today, she’s sharing everything there is to know about planning a podcast for business growth.

By: Ana Xavier

Podcasts are hip, intimate, and widely accessible. In sum, they’re the perfect way for a business owner, like yourself, to reach customers, whenever and wherever they are. Podcasts can serve multiple purposes for a business: marketing content, lead generation, networking, content creation, and sales. I know first hand from working with 30+ national and international entrepreneurs just how impactful podcasting can be. I’ve seen business owners establish year-long partnerships with a single episode or secure a deal that has enabled them to grow exponentially in that year! 

I also know first hand how confusing podcast marketing can be, especially for business owners who are not tech-savvy. Because of this, many companies still struggle to incorporate podcasting into their marketing strategy. So, in part one of this how-to series, we’re going to dig into how to concept and plan a podcast to help market your business’s brand (no matter your industry or niche). In part two, we’ll cover how to make podcast marketing work with your budget, tech-savviness, and time. 

1. Start With A Clear Goal 

Step one of starting a podcast to market your business? Ask yourself: “What do I want from this podcast?” Answering this will help you build an effective strategy for your unique business goal. For instance, you can use your podcast strategy to:

  • Grow your current client base/generate leads
  • Prospect investors 
  • Grow your business locally, nationally, or internationally
  • Showcase your expertise as a specialist working in your field
  • Expand your business’ online presence 

Write an achievable and realistic goal for your podcast. Most business owners want to grow by selling more products or services, but know that a podcast isn’t a place for a 50-minute commercial about how amazing your products are. In my work as a podcast strategist, I’ve found the sweet spot is to create a podcast that builds an emotional and trusting connection with your audience, so they then feel compelled to buy from you! (Spoiler alert, they will! Podcasts have the highest return on investment (ROI) in the industry of content creation.) 

Understanding your podcast’s role in your business will also help you assess the podcast’s success or need for redirection. Just like your business, you wouldn’t expect to make millions in the first week, month, or year of launching. The key to success is consistency, which can be easily achieved by a planned strategy. So start by setting a goal. If you don’t know what success looks like, how can you create a plan to get there? 

2. Find Your Topic and Angle 

What do you talk about if you’re not directly talking about your products or services? A successful podcast is all about creating content that inspires, educates, or entertains— something listeners will be motivated to share with a friend!

Motivational speaker Simon Sinek brilliantly puts it: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. People buy emotion. They want to connect with the feeling that something gives them. Hosting a show gives you an opportunity to position yourself as an expert, and most importantly, connect with your audience by expressing your brand’s personality! 

With that in mind, you want to choose a topic that aligns with your business’ ethos and practices. There are multiple ways to find your topic. To help, I have my podcast clients answer the following clarifying questions:

  • What is the one thing that my client or customer asks again and again on social media?
  • What comes up frequently on testimonials?
  • What is the area or industry I’m looking to have some influence in? 
  • What are the key pillars of my brand? (Ex. sustainability, philanthropy, education.)
  • How will topic X help me further my initial goal? 
  • Is this relevant to my ideal listener/client (more on this below)? 
  • Am I passionate/knowledgeable enough about this topic to record more than five episodes about it? 
  • Will this topic or idea be sustainable in the long term? 
  • For interview-based podcasts, will I have enough experts in the field to keep me going long term? 

Here are a couple examples of my podcasters who were able to achieve outstanding results by choosing a topic that aligns with their brand ethos.

Case Study A: I work with a corporate gifting company owner who hosts a podcast called The Good Office. It’s all about how to do good with your business. She used her brand’s ethos (giving back) and spun it into a “how-to” podcast that educates others to do the same, all while strengthening her leadership in the space of giving back. 

Case Study B: Another business I work with is a senior living consultant. She is passionate about quality of life at any age, so her show is about how to age in style. She is able to use her knowledge of an industry to help educate others while allowing people to get to know her as a consultant. 

These podcast topics may not seem like money-makers at first, but by being strategic about the type of content they produced and the guests they invited to the show every week, these two podcasters were able to register their busiest and most profitable period to date! Yes, even during a pandemic and an economic slowdown! What do they have in common? They know their industry inside-out and chose a topic that resonates with their clients/listeners. 

3. Let Your Customers Define Your Content 

The beauty of launching a podcast for your business is that you probably already know something about your listeners. Because guess what? They are your clients and customers. You’ve already done all the market research when you started your business. And if you’ve gotten feedback, testimonials, or coverage in the media over the years, you know exactly who you are podcasting for. You’re already ten steps ahead.

Refresh your customer knowledge by revising your social media accounts in the insights section. That will tell you at least gender, location, age bracket, and interests. Also use the below questions to craft a profile for your ideal listener:

  • Where are they located?
  • Am I primarily talking to women, men, transgender, gender-neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, and/or third gender? 
  • What’s their age
  • What’s their education level? 
  • What are their interests or hobbies? 
  • What’s their household income? Do they have disposable income, or are they thrifty? 
  • Are they tech-savvy? What type of devices would they have access to?*
  • Is your audience generally commuters or do they work from home?

*Understand their technology literacy 

If your ideal listener is very tech-savvy, then you will probably be able to send them to your website to read show notes, download a worksheet, or subscribe to your newsletter. But if they’re the kind of person who only listens to your podcast on Facebook (and who doesn’t want to exit the platform), then they will need a more direct call to action like, “Drop us a message below, and we will contact you.” 

Every listener’s journey is different, and you should meet them where they are, not the other way around. Adapt your calls to action (CTAs) to your audience’s tech comfort. 

4. Decide On Your Show’s Reach

Deciding your podcast reach will impact how you plan your podcast, what you say on each episode, and what your calls to action will be. Does your business make local or global sales? Is your business e-commerce? Service-based? Start with what you know. Most of your customers are located where most of your business is from.

Start local

Here’s an example: Rachel, the local horticulturist, launched a podcast to build trust with her customer base. Her customers are generally local, so she plans episodes about available plants at her greenhouse store. Locals tune in to get details about the gardening season, local plant events, and more.

When someone visits her physical store and asks plant care questions, like watering or local climate, she takes a note to add that to her episode ideas spreadsheet! The same goes for her social media and website queries. She knows her customers’ world is local, so she keeps her educational content local.

Rachel is providing VALUE to her customers through her locally-based podcast. She’s keeping customers informed and in the loop of her business. Expanding from there, she could improve her relationship with local decision-makers to hire her for upcoming projects by inviting them on the show. Most business deals take an average of 7 interactions before they’re set, and podcasts can help you shorten those by 1 or 2.

Expand your reach

While you need a geographic area to start with, opportunities can arise, and your business can take off at a larger scale. Remember to always dream big! Podcasting can be used for local or global growth, depending on how it aligns with your business goals.

Now, let’s say Rachel took a look at her podcast analytics and noticed that her audience is tuning in from all over the country. Her content could expand to talking about different varieties of plants from all over the world.

She could consider adding an additional revenue stream by starting an e-commerce website where she sells products like plant fertilizer, virtual plant audits, and gardening tools. Podcast swag such as branded t-shirts, gardening gloves, or caps with her logo or plants could also become other great revenue stream! 

5. Make Listeners Feel Special 

Podcasting is an intimate experience, and that should be an integral part of the content you prepare for each episode. Your audience wants exclusive insight into you or your business. It’s your job (and benefit) to give it to them. 

Let’s pick up Rachel’s example again. When she’s podcasting, Rachel can go in-depth about the benefits of certain plans or the business’s early years. By being vulnerable and sharing her journey, or her passion and knowledge of the industry, Rachel is sharing her ‘why’, and humanizing her brand, which helps drive customer retention and sales.

People are more likely to buy or do business with you when they get insight into the mission or reason for its existence. I’ve found that listeners crave a deeper connection or exclusivity with a host. The more you share, the deeper they’ll connect with you and your business.

If sharing personal stories isn’t your cup of tea, you can make your community feel special by offering exclusive deals. I recommend my clients offer discounts, early access to products or services, or the opportunity to beta-test a product—anything to make listeners feel like an insider to your business’s world.

Podcasting can be a lucrative part of your business marketing strategy. It can do everything from generate leads to secure investors. In this article, we covered how to set a clear goal for your podcast, how to find your topic and angle, why your customers are key in leading content, and how to define your reach.

Using the questions I prompt my clients with, it’s time to sit down and get an action plan ready! If you’re looking for a more one-on-one strategy session to maximize your podcast’s impact, you can reach out to me via The Podcast Space. If not, stick around for part two of this article, which will be all about how to make podcast marketing work with your budget, tech-savviness, and time!

Sounder Is Making It Easier Than Ever To Monetize Your Podcast

By Brittany Kandybowicz

When I joined Sounder, I had one mission: Build monetization tools for all podcast creators on our platform. Take a peek into how we’re innovating in tandem with our podcasters to build the technology they want and need. And how we’re modernizing the way advertisers target audio inventory.

People love podcasts. Over half of the US population have tuned into a show. Of those, 82.4% spend more than seven hours a week listening. Why? Listeners love being able to consume a variety of content on-demand, get behind the scenes of their favorite brands and celebrities, or enjoy stories told by hosts they have come to think of as friends. And, turns out, podcast listeners love the ads played on their favorite shows too.

Yes, you read that right: listeners love ads. In fact, more than half of the total podcast listener community say they think about buying an advertised product and 41% of listeners have made a purchase as a result of a sponsored message. There’s an undeniable trust between podcast hosts and their audience. Advertisers are recognizing this connection too. When done right, ads are seamlessly integrated into audio content, making them feel familiar. The result? Revenue for both podcasters and brands.

Sounder’s Ultimate Monetization Mission

When I joined the Sounder team in July 2020 as the VP of Platform Monetization, Kal (our CEO) assigned me one mission: Build monetization tools for all podcast creators on our platform. It’s every product-person’s dream to build something from the ground up, especially when that product serves such a diverse and passionate community. So, I got to work.

I envisioned an ecosystem where podcasters partnered with advertisers who wanted to engage their niche audience — an environment where audio creators of all sizes could get paid for their passion while establishing more of a connection with their listeners.

In the past, I’ve led ad monetization, product operations, and infrastructure for platforms such as AOL, Spotify, and Flipboard. This project for Sounder was different. Podcasting is still in its early days, as is audio ad monetization. The possibilities — and potential — are endless. Here’s how we’re innovating audio advertising and monetization.

What We’ve Built So Far

Today, monetization is live on Sounder. We’re proud to offer Dynamic Ad Insertion and Host-read Ad options.

Dynamic Ad Insertion

We’ve integrated Triton’s innovative dynamic audio ad insertion technology directly into the Sounder platform, enabling our creators to monetize both new and back catalog episodes right in their dashboard.

For many, podcasting is a passionate side gig, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be earned! Our easy-to-implement programmatic audio advertising solution provides early and mid-level podcasters (think 1–3 years in) with a “set-it-and-forget-it” option to fill their pockets with spending cash each month. In just a few clicks, Triton’s technology allows them to select ad placements (pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll) and the number of ads per episode.

Advertisers will be able to target their campaigns through Sounder, based on a variety of parameters, including content topic and listener demographic data. These ads can be heard wherever listeners stream the podcast, including leading platforms like Spotify.

Host-read Ad Deals

For large podcasters, we’ve made it easy to effectively use Sounder as an in-house sales team to secure host-read ad deals. It’s this hustling segment of podcasters who need a hand in pitching their show to top-brands.

Through our partnership with DAX, we connect creators (with more than 25k monthly streams) with hundreds of nationally recognized brands in their network, specifically ones that align with their content and mission. We help track payment, handle the backend, and secure deals on behalf of our podcasters. It’s a simple yet robust process. And it puts money in the pockets of dedicated creators.

In just a short period of time, we’ve enabled our creators to benefit from both programmatic audio and direct sales through Sounder’s newly released monetization suite that powers both revenue channels. One suite, twice the power!

Why Sounder’s Monetization Tools Are Different

We’re building our monetization tools from scratch

We know we’re not the only audio monetization tech out there, yet we’re in a unique position to build monetization tools for creators and advertisers from the ground up. We have no existing ad tech that holds us back and no technical debt to slow us down. Companies big and small have entered into the audio space with existing infrastructure, making it difficult to pivot to what the audio advertising industry needs and what creators and advertisers demand.

We have no existing ad tech that holds us back and no technical debt to slow us down.

Part of my job is learning how creators use our product and monetization tools, but more importantly, how they want to use them. In other words, a big part of my day-to-day role is listening. And, as a result, my team has become efficient at releasing tools that support creators in the way they want to make money. The blank slate we started with is quickly becoming a podcaster’s monetization dream.

While Sounder is for audio creators, we recognize the needs of advertisers to find new channels to share their brands too. We’re also listening and building to improve the way advertisers discover new creator content, making it easier for them to align their products and services with our podcasters.

We understand that monetization is about relationships

Creators and advertisers need to connect to take part in the audio advertising ecosystem. Done right, both benefit from each other. Podcasters of all sizes want access to big brand names, but not every brand name has the capacity to find dedicated mid-level podcasters. That’s where we come in.

We’re building a bridge between podcasters who are excited to advertise to the dedicated listeners they’ve established using our Discovery Suite and brands that are excited about being able to discover an entirely new audience. Put simply, we’re enabling our creators to grow their audience and generate additional revenue while providing branding opportunities for advertisers.

We’re innovating the future of ads

All that said, we’re just getting started. We recognize we’re only at the beginning of our monetization journey, but that puts us in the unique position to build a monetization ecosystem that serves all constituents in the audio space. We don’t have pre-existing ideas of what the audio ad tech space should look (or sound) like, but we do know that it must be built around the shared needs of simplicity and results for both the creator and advertising communities.

We know that audio ad tech must be built around the shared needs of simplicity and results for both the creator and advertising communities.

What we’ve learned so far is that audio creators want an easy way to monetize their content without getting bogged down in difficult administrative tasks. We hear their need for automation and a system so intuitive that it simply makes advertising happen so that they can focus on producing. We’ve created the foundations of this tech based on the feedback from our creators and we’ve already mapped out what our future looks like to meet their needs.

How We’re Modernizing Monetization

With accessible monetization capabilities available to all creators, now we’re going to begin leveraging our proprietary transcription technology to modernize the way advertisers can buy and target podcast audio inventory.

The podcast audio advertising space is still in early days of its evolution, but the contextual advertising market is expected to grow to an estimated $447B by 2027. We’ll help creators capture some of that value for years to come by providing advertisers the ability to utilize enhanced targeting capabilities, like sentiment analysis and entity recognition. This in turn generates new and valuable inventory — powered by our growing creator community — that is brand-safe for advertisers.

Come along on this monetization journey as we serve the open audio ecosystem! Feel free to give us feedback every step of the way. And every step of the way, know that we’re listening.

What is Audio SEO?

“Right now Google is really good at giving you text and video related to your search query. With all the amazing work podcasters are publishing each day, there’s no good reason why audio isn’t a first-class citizen in the same way.”

Zach Reneau-Wedeen – Google’s Podcast Team

Audio Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is in it’s infancy, just like regular SEO was in 2000. Audio SEO is a set of optimization best practices that help audio files (podcasts) rank higher in search engines and podcast listening platforms.

In order to master audio SEO, you must first understand what it is so that you can incorporate these specific optimization techniques into your podcasting strategy. By implementing these techniques, working hard, and creating high quality audio content, you will be in a good position to have your audio be displayed higher in search engines and podcast listening apps.

The future of marketing and search engine rankings will not solely be tied to website content, link building, and the never ending competitiveness of traditional SEO. The future of SEO will primarily be tied to how well you rank on search engines and audio platforms for your audio content – Also known as Audio Search Engine Optimization.

This guide and future posts will walk you through all aspects of getting your audio ranked higher within search engines which will lead to an increase in audience, traffic, and podcast monetization.

The Basics of Audio Search Engine Optimization

In the early days of web SEO, the variables and ranking factors didn’t necessarily change as frequently as they do today. As Google and other search engines became smarter, it became harder to rank for specific and competitive keywords. Today, Audio Search Engine Optimization is like web SEO in 2000. If you focus your efforts on it now, it will pay dividends in the future.

To simplify this concept, we have broken the structure up into 5 Tenets.

The 5 Tenets of Audio SEO

As you can see, the foundation of good SEO for Audio starts with ensuring your podcast is available for search engines and podcast platforms to crawl and index your audio content. From there, additional SEO techniques move up the ladder.

In future posts, we will dive deeper into each of these these five tenets to successful audio search engine optimization.

  1. Index Accessibility
  2. Optimize Your RSS Feed
  3. Leverage Transcriptions
  4. Produce Quality Content
  5. Share-worthy Snippets

What is Audio SEO?

First off, what is SEO? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It is the practice of specific website optimization techniques that can lead to higher search engine rankings. These non paid search engine rankings are called “Organic” search results.

To better understand audio SEO or search engine optimization, we must first have a foundational knowledge of what traditional SEO has become. Today, search engine optimization is primarily built on top of high-quality content, well-structured content, and the links pointing to that content from other credible sources. 

We could dive much deeper into the intricacies of search engine optimization. There are tons of questions that could be asked like; what’s the most optimal title tags you should have on a website or on a blog post? How often do you mention your focus keyword? Who is linking in and who are you linking out to? Do you have alt tags within your images that are relevant to your focus keyword? How valuable is the content that you are producing that benefits users to find what they’re looking for when searching on Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or others.

There are currently over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to rank websites. Some of these rankings include:

As it relates to Audio SEO, most of these rankings become obsolete since the way audio is created, consumed. recommended, and found, differs significantly compared to the web.

When spoken word audio is transcribed from voice to text and applied to new audio SEO strategies, there is an endless amount of growth potential for podcast creators to get discovered.

Audio SEO is going to be a major factor for podcasters looking to grow their listener based and to cut through the noise of the ever growing audio content. In the near future, search engines and podcast apps will be leveraging data, text, quality of audio, location, social signals. drop-off, and other signals to make the discovery of audio content much more relevant and better than it is today.

To use a baseball metaphor, audio and audio SEO is really in the first inning of a long double header.

Dan Daugherty – Co-founder of Sounder.fm

Why is Audio SEO Important?

The SEO industry has grown from $0 less than 25 years ago to now over $79B in 2020. The audio market is actually growing faster as it relates to the amount of new audio content being created today compared to total websites on the web in 2001. The below graph compares total website growth from 2001 to 2006 and compares that to the total number of podcast episodes active in 2020 and foretasted out to 2025.

The opportunity is very large. However, with this exponential growth comes new challenges for podcast creators. First, there are now nearly 100 new podcasts launched every hour. In 2020, there will be over 750,000 new podcasts added to the podcast ecosystem. This explosion in growth makes it very difficult for creators to attract, engage, and retain new listeners.

The importance of focusing on audio SEO today will mean you will be steps ahead of your competition when the inevitability of reaching many millions of active podcasts is just around the corner.

SoundHER: Building Influence With Lauren Popish From The Wave Podcasting

Remember when reading was fun? When you tucked away in your bedroom and got lost in a story? Or maybe you got to witness your mother’s bookclubs, where womxn would discuss characters and plots well into the evening. Lauren Popish, founder of The Wave Podcasting, started her podcast, Book (Wine) Club, back in 2018. Her concept takes a contemporary twist on traditional bookclubs—where one might serve tea, Lauren decided to pair her reads with wine. But the road to building a successful and fulfilling podcast came with its challenges.

Two year ago, when Popish started her podcast, she ran into tons of questions. In looking for answers, she only found tech-heavy, masculine videos and help-guides that were frankly pretty intimidating. As a result, she founded The Wave, an inclusive place where womxn can learn how to build successful podcasts so they can grow their audience, share their message, and get paid.

When she’s not running The Wave, reading, or recording Book (Wine) Club, she’s taking care of her new adorable puppy, Ruthie, (named in honor of RGB—RIP, sister), and remembering to refer to her partner as ‘fiancee’ instead of ‘boyfriend’.

Today in our SoundHer interview you will learn:

  1. Why Podcasting Is The Superior Marketing Medium
  2. Popish’s Podcast Journey
  3. How Confidence And Influence Are Related
  4. What The Wave Can Offer Womxn Podcasters
  5. The Secret Timeline To Topping Podcast Charts
  6. Pro Tips For New And Existing Podcasters
  7. Gender In The Podcast Industry Today
  8. What The “X” In Womxn Means

Why Podcasting Is The Superior Marketing Medium

Larell Scardelli: Happy to finally sit down with you Lauren! So tell us: Why podcasting? What inspired you?

Lauren Popish: It was my experience as a podcaster that made me appreciate why the medium is unique.

The way the world is today, if you have an idea, a personal brand, or a company, you have to build an audience to get out your message. It’s a fundamental truth, whether you like it or not. Audience-building is the only way to distribute an idea out into the world. And I feel all the traditional mediums of marketing, like social media and especially blogging, are just inaccessible because they’re so saturated.

The podcast industry is still authentic.

Podcasting is incredibly unique because of where it’s at in its popularity journey. There are only 1.4 million podcasts on Apple podcasts. That’s nothing compared to the number of blogs online today. Starting a podcast in 2020 is like starting a blog in 2008.

And the podcast industry is still authentic. You can hire someone to write a blog post for you, but you can’t hire someone to speak on your behalf. There’s a level of connection that happens between host and listener that’s so much deeper and more authentic, and, really, the kind of connection people are looking for from brands and companies and people.

So the opportunity plus authenticity-factor makes it the best way to build an audience for whatever your thing is. That’s why I love it.

LS: That really speaks to what big companies are doing today—publishing audio content that’s tangentially related to their brand.

LP: Totally. Because the “what” of your company doesn’t always speak to the brand or mission, which is probably so much more. When you sell a product, it can be hard to communicate the intent, or mission, or key driving values.

Frankly, static marketing makes it hard to communicate that too. You can say that you’re about sustainability or womxn-led brands. At the end of the day, if you’re not exhibiting that, or showing through the things you do, it can be hard to get it across.

Podcasting offers a unique opportunity to communicate the “why” in the brand. And that’s what people care about. I don’t shop at DAME (a womxn’s pleasure product company) because they sell superior products to Amazon, I do it because they support gender equality and have a sex positive-mission. It’s the “why” I care about. Podcasting helps you get to the “why” faster.

LS: And it feels like because podcasting is so personal, once a customer or shopper is invested in a brand’s podcast, the brand has won?

LP: Absolutely. The average time spent on a YouTube video is 10 minutes. The average time spent on an Instagram post is three seconds. And the average time spent on a podcast is 30 minutes!

So as a brand, being able to speak directly to your target customer for an uninterrupted 30 minutes? WHAT? When you see a brand capture someone’s attention through a podcast, winning is the only way to describe it. You’ve converted a life-long customer.

Popish’s Podcast Journey

LS: Can you tell us more about how and why you started Book (Wine) Club?

LP: I bought the equipment before I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I was really chewing on what to speak about. Like I said, I thought there was potential in the medium even before I knew how to utilize it.

In coming up with my concept, the question that I asked myself was, “what can I speak about endlessly and stay happy, content, and inspired by that topic?” I’m an avid reader, and felt like the conversations I was having with friends and co-workers made me realize people really love talking about books!

I realized: you read and love books as a young person, and then you go to high school and college where you’re forced to read, and it’s so lame, and then you become an adult and you learn to read for pleasure again. It re-ignites this magical thing about books. I hit a point in my 20s where all my friends were reading or wanted to be reading. So, through Book (Wine) Club, I wanted to mimic a book club and recreate that as an audio experience.

The pairing of the wine was a fun aspect, because I don’t know anything about wine. So the idea of pairing it based on the topic of the book rather than anything about the wine was a fun way to make wine accessible. I’m even more obsessed with books and wine now from doing this podcast.

LS: Did you learn any big lessons from your first few episodes?

LP: In the early days, because of nerves, both me and my guests hit the wine pretty hard, which made the first and second half of the show starkly different. Like, the first 30 minutes could not be more different from the last 30 minutes because we’d get too drunk and just babble about books. So the biggest lesson I took away from those early days was not too hit the wine hard for nerves.

On a more serious note, it is the role of the host to prepare guests and calm their nerves. This was a big takeaway for me too. I was having guests— who were just friends that shared book interests, and I was shocked at how anxious and nervous they were to come on the show even though it’s edited, and we know each other!

I learned it’s my role to make all guests feel informed and calm, and there’s a lot of ways to do that. I put a lot of that comfort into the recording studio for womxn we built. Comfort has a lot to do with confidence in podcasting.

LS: No way, did you publish the episode where you got too wavy at the end?

LP: Too boozed? Yes, I definitely did. Definitely got some feedback, from my mom, like, “you can really notice a difference between the beginning and the end.” I mean, in the early days, the only person listening is your mom. But, yeah. Bottle of wine later. Tune back to the first episode, if you want to hear it.

We’ve put out two seasons so far. I’ve read more good books and bad books, and drank more good wine and terrible wine, than I have in my life. It’s done everything I wanted it to do for me. And soon, I’m starting a new podcast related to The Wave!

How Confidence And Influence Are Related

LS: How did your podcast motivate the creation of The Wave?

LP: This podcast really opened the door for me to start The Wave. It was the thing that showed me just how powerful podcasting can be and how good it is at helping encourage confidence. I think podcasting is a confidence-building tool, especially around speaking.

At the time I started the podcast, I was going through a personal period of developing anxiety around public speaking and using my voice. I was losing influence in my life, in my job, and in personal relationships.

I was losing influence in my life, in my job, and in personal relationships.

As I was podcasting, it felt like a safe way to build confidence around speaking. And I wanted to build a company that was useful and mission-driven. (I’ve always been kind of a side-hustle queen.) I really started to put two and two together.

When podcasting emerged as this tool for me, all I could think was, “What if I could help more womxn increase their influence and get their idea out there in a safe way that felt comfortable and was actually confidence-building in the process?” That’s a mission I can get behind. That’s really what started the company.

LS: Wanting to help womxn take up more space in this world is a common mission, but I love how you drilled down even further. What’s the connection between confidence and influence?

LP: It’s one of those things that if you don’t speak up, it’s not like that opportunity just disappears. Someone else steps up in your place. When I wasn’t raising my hand at work, one of my co-workers was, and THEIR influence was growing. Their name, their brand, their mission. So it’s not like it had a neutral effect on my career. It was actually having a negative, inverse impact. So much of having an idea is telling people about it.

What The Wave Offers Womxn Podcasters Of All Sizes

LS: What does The Wave offer to help foster this mission?

LP: The original concept—the “what,” was safe, comfortable podcast studio space. We always wanted to be a physical space.

I started in Brooklyn and rented out a studio. When I moved to LA and opened a studio here, COVID happened, so I had to close it down and pivot. I asked myself “if I can’t provide the physical space, how can I help womxn build podcasts with the mission of helping them share their ideas?” And the answer was through digital resources and community.

I have had more inquiries for studio space recently. So, if you’re not in LA, we can provide you all the digital resources you need. In your ARE in LA, we can provide you a comfortable and affordable space for womxn to come in to spread their build, mission, and brand.

LS: What are some of the digital offerings?

LP: We offer podcast consulting. So we can sit down with you one-on-one, and there are three ways that we structure that. One is a Crafting package for people who are just starting. Together we’re going to ideate, we’re going to come up with a name, we’re going to make your listener persona. We’re going to do that beginning competitive research — all those things that are going to foundationally set up your podcast for success.

There is a Production consulting package that is all about the technical stuff. We’re getting you the right equipment, we’re looking at how to edit, we’re looking at proper mic technique, interview technique, vocal warmup technique, all of those types of things.

The last section is Growing. These are people who’ve had a podcast for a while and they’re looking to take it to the next level. They want more listeners and want to start monetizing. We look at how to build an email list and how to make sure that you’re marketing towards the right platforms. And then we also look at monetization techniques like advertising, affiliate, user donations, and all the traditional ones. Together we really find the right fit for your podcast.

We also offer guides that follow the same three chunks. You can buy a complete one or purchase them in three sections. Our big thing that we’re launching by the end of the year is a growth course, because what we’ve learned from the womxn in our community is that there a a lot of online resources about how to start a podcast, and much fewer resources about how to get your podcast there.

It’s a big hump to get over to start a podcast, but then the long game is what happens one to two to three years after the start, and it takes a lot to get there. So for existing podcasters, whether you’ve done it for two months or two years, it’ll be relevant to that group. That will be launching at the end of 2020.

LS: You mentioned community. Where does that come in?

LP: We have a small but mighty Slack group. This is a place for female podcasters to learn and support each other. After interviewing dozens of womxn, one of the major barriers we discovered is confidence.

A community helps normalize imposter syndrome.

There is serious imposter syndrome that occurs for womxn specifically when starting and growing a podcast. There’s just this feeling of “I can’t do it” or “I’m not doing it correctly”. A community helps normalize some of those feelings.

There’s some cute stuff happening in there. The biggest thing we do is a weekly challenge. This is a way to push each other to do the things we know will be good for our podcast, help us grow, and help us implement best practices, that we might not be doing because of time or motivation.

This week’s challenge is all about building a media kit so you can go out there and ask high-profile guests to come on your show, or ask a publication to write about your podcast. We have our own little weekly newsletter. It’s a tiny group, but it’s strong.

You can sign up via a form on the website. It’s the VIP (and totally free) version of The Wave for womxn who are wanting to dive one level deeper.

The Secret Timeline To Topping Podcast Charts

LS: It’s refreshing to see someone serving not just the beginner but the existing podcasters. What’s so important about this group?

LP: The womxn in our Slack group are largely the latter. There are a million blog posts on which microphone you should use. There are much fewer articles on, you know, how to approach a publication to feature your podcast so you can get new listeners. I’ve done a lot of user-research interviews and data collection, and it all skews towards a need for building the strategy and finding stamina to keep going.

The course that we’re working on has a section on habit-building because longevity isn’t about your technical skills it’s about your discipline, which is the hardest thing to cultivate in some ways. So we use things like psychology and habit-building science to help you actually build systems that can get you to that two year mark.

LS: What’s so important about the two year mark?

LP: There is a clear correlation between time and rankings. Because podcasting is so new, if you can get to two years, you can pretty much ensure success. There’s so few podcasts out there, like it’s kind of just a waiting game. But it’s hard to get to two years or about 50 episodes.

50 to 100 episodes is where people start seeing success. I find it hard for people to put out a weekly podcast successfully for two years, but a lot of people can do every other week. If you just do the math, fifty episodes every other week is about two years.

If you can get there, you can be successful. But getting there is really freaking hard.

When we see people hit that ten thousand downloads mark, we see people start moving into more a professional level with monetization and things like that. So if you can get there, you can be successful. But getting there is really freaking hard. We have so many people in our community who are in that two month to six month mark, and it’s just painful. We serve everyone, but that’s what I see as an underserved user demographic.

LS: How do the womxn in your community react to this not-so-secret timeline to success?

LP: Knowing that is inspiration enough to stick it out. You can be in the hustle and think, “what’s it worth?” But if you have this timeline in your head of like, let me hit fifty episodes, let me hit that to year mark — it can be a driving motivating factor in itself.

The most popular podcasts have been there for a long time, right, and they’re majority male-hosted because the industry was really predicated on these tech-y guys who could make their own RSS feeds.

So when you look at the rankings, they’re super skewed because the oldest podcasts are majority male-hosted. We want more female hosted podcasts in the top fifty ranked podcasteds!

Pro Tips For New And Existing Podcasters

LS: What advice do you have for womxn who are stuck at the starting gates?

LP: Any opportunity to learn about yourself is a good one. If you’re wondering ‘am I good enough?’ ‘do I have a topic worth sharing?’ or ‘can I take this podcast to the top?’ it’s not really about that if in the end you learn something new about yourself or formalize that idea you’ve been marinating on for a long time.

Doing is a better teacher than thinking.

There are numbers as high as 75% of the podcasts on Apple Podcasts have podfaded (not actively being produced). That’s a ton! So a lot of people went through that journey, is my point.

Doing is a better teacher than thinking. The doing of making the podcast will teach you more than the thinking about making a podcast. Even if all you get out of it is understanding the nature of audio equipment! To understand that on every single Zoom call you should have an external mic and headphones will make you more useful and helpful in every office setting. The world is becoming more audio and visual.

Like I said, you have to build an audience to get an idea out. So the practice of building an audience in any medium is a beneficial one over the long-term. Knowing how to engage your audience and create compelling content is useful.

LS: It kind of takes the pressure off of starting a podcast when you think about it as a learning experience rather than a long-term commitment.

LP: Exactly. It’s almost like a trial run. And it’s such a low-risk experiment. I talk about this a lot, especially with career changes. Applying to business school and spending $100k to test a theory—that’s very high-risk. Starting a podcast or taking an internship? Those are very low-risk ways to test a theory.

I think humans in general need to become more comfortable with low-risk experimentation. There is so much evidence that low-risk, quick-learning iteration and experimentation gets you to the answer faster!

For people just starting out with podcasting, how lean do you want to be? You can record a podcast on your phone. You can get free hosting through Sounder. It’s about what you’re willing to commit.

LS: What is your biggest tips for existing women podcasters?

LP: Create an email list for your podcast! It is, hands down, the best way to increase your listenership and to convert more people. Take your existing listener’s emails and email them new episodes. I promise you will see better numbers than social media. Social is not the best way to build a podcast audience! It’s a platform where you need to exit to listen. Get off Instagram. Build email list.

Gender In The Podcast Industry Today

LS: Can you describe the core message of The Wave?

LP: We help womxn start and grow podcasts, so they can leave their mark on the world. I think podcasting can be an ignition switch, it can also be the additional fuel you need to grow something that is already started.

LS: What do you wish to solve in the podcast industry?

LP: I think podcasting has a number of barriers to entry that impact marginalized demographics more than others. Meaning, the things that make it hard: cost, technical expertise, and the confidence that they have something of importance to share. All three of these barriers impact womxn and marginalized demographics more than they do others.

That means the perspectives we get to hear in our media (through radio and podcasts) are skewed towards a perspective where those things aren’t a barrier, which is skewed towards men.

I wish to make the information we get through podcasts as diverse as the people who listen to them.

The thing I wish to solve is just to make the information we get through podcasts as diverse as the people who listen to them. The data shows that people who listen to podcasts is almost a 50/50 split male and female. That’s remarkable alone. But the production stats are less diverse. Fewer womxn are producing podcasts than men.

Your own perspective is normalized when you hear someone else who has the same perspective as you. That’s what’s missing today for me. I hear all the time that womxn can’t find themselves in the media. Even in the resources to learn about podcasting.

LS: I never thought about the tone of resources before. They are very shiny and masculine. Can you expand?

LP: You cannot find a resource that isn’t written by someone who doesn’t feel tech-savvy. Even the graphics are like shiny, tech, black, *ZING,* sleek. Why are all the visuals we see that explain podcasting so intimidating and technical? Because they are not written from people who are intimidated by tech.

I’m not stereotyping women as being less technical, but if you look at the tech industry, data shows there are fewer women than men in the tech industry. So from that we can glean that women are generally not as interested or knowledgable about tech. And podcasting is a technical medium. At The Wave, we’re trying to produce more content that makes it all feel less intimidating.

What The “X” In Womxn Means

LS: What does the “X” in womxn mean to you?

LP: It means female-identifying. The “X” is for anybody that feels like they’re not represented in anything outside of women. It’s people who aren’t identifying with male perspective and gender. You don’t have to call yourself a female to identify with womxn and “X.” It’s a mindset.

LS: Who do you listen to? Do any female podcasters/shows inspire you?

LP: I’m a big fan of Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger. She’s inspirational from what she’s built as a business. I also enjoy Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield and Cathy Heller’s Don’t Keep Your Day Job. I realize these are all top-ranking podcasters.

We love and serve indie podcasts too. One of my favorites is Of Music and Men. It’s an audio drama produced by a single womxn who wrote this podcast concept for television but turned it into a podcast. She does all the different voices. It’s got the background noise, it’s self produced, and it is so cool.

It’s a ton of work to make an audio drama, and it’s so impressive when you do that by yourself. I think it just opens the door to a different format. You don’t have to start an interview podcast! It’s a great technique, but there are other options.

LS: What’s your five year plan for The Wave?

LP: I’d love to have an East and West coast podcast studio for womxn, though that’s contingent on COVID not changing the way we interact in the world. And then I want to have a suite of digital resources for womxn at every phase of their journey and at every price point. Accessibility is a corner-stone value for us.

LS: Where can people find you on social media? Anything exciting coming up at The Wave?

LP: We are on all social channels @thewavepodcasting!

We’re starting our own educational podcast about podcasting soon. What’s cool is that we’re filming the whole journey of starting the podcast. It’s a very behind the scenes look at what that process actually looks like.

We’re producing a growth course by the end of the year. Like I said, there are a lot of online resources about how to start a podcast. The long-game for existing podcasters is where we need more content. Longevity is about the discipline.

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Thank you for joining this month’s edition of #soundHER! If you have any questions for Lauren Popish or would like to be featured as Sounder’s next female voice, email us at support@sounder.fm or tag us on social using #soundHER.

9 Expert Tips to Monetizing Your Podcast From Home

Starting your own podcast is one of the most enjoyable ways to make money online. Not only are you in complete control of how you work, but you’ll also get to bring in revenue from creating content that you’re actually interested in.

This is particularly useful due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more people than ever working from home.

But, not everyone understands the best way to monetize their audio content.

Not quite sure how to begin? We’ve got all the info you need. Let’s explore everything you should keep in mind about how to monetize podcasts.

1. Dynamic Audio Ad Insertion

Historically, it has been very difficult, if not impossible to monetize your podcast if you had less than 20,000 streams a month. Today, with technology like Sounder’s dynamic ad insertion, you can simply select a check box to begin monetizing your podcast even if you have 10 streams a month or 10 million.

Dynamic ad insertion is the process of dynamically and automatically inserting audio ads within your podcast, regardless of what podcast platform the listener is listening on.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Another way to make money from your podcast is through affiliate marketing.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it involves providing links to certain products on online stores with the goal of having users make a purchase. The Amazon Affiliate Program is one of the most popular forms of affiliate marketing and is likely something you’ve seen in the past.

It’s important to know, though, that you can still make money through affiliate marketing even if your audience doesn’t purchase the products that you link to.

For example, let’s say you host a podcast centered around becoming a freelance photographer. You could link to the equipment that you use on Amazon, such as your lights, camera, etc.

Although users would click your affiliate link and be taken directly to one of these products, you still make a commission if they end up buying something else. So, a user may check out the camera link that you’ve provided but end up buying a completely different product instead.

Since they made their way to the online store through your link, you still get a commission payment.

As your audience grows, the amount of money that you make from affiliate marketing will increase exponentially. In some scenarios, it’s not uncommon to make thousands of dollars each month simply from affiliate marketing commission. 

With all that said, you would have to add the affiliate links to your show notes or episode descriptions in order for listeners to click on your links. As your audience grows, it is better to drive traffic to your owned and operated podcast website or blog than it is to depend on listeners clicking on links when listening on Apple Podcasts for example.

3. Host-Read Audio Ads

After your audience has reached a notable size, (usually over 25,000 streams a month) you will begin to attract the attention of certain brands related to your niche.

These companies may then want to capitalize on the amount of reach that your podcast has and approach you with a sponsorship offer. This is one of the most straightforward ways to make extra money through your podcast, as a sponsorship agreement often involves you simply reading a short script about the company.

For example, someone who creates sports podcast content may have one of their episodes sponsored by a local athletic clothing brand. The host would typically say something like:

“Today’s podcast is sponsored by Ridge Athletics, your premier solution for staying fit and comfortable. Ridge Athletics uses high-quality…”

As with affiliate marketing, host-read audio advertising become far more lucrative as your audience grows. Where you place your sponsorship is also something that you need to take into consideration, as some placements pay more than others.

In general, pre-roll ads pay the second-highest, mid-roll ads pay the most, and post-roll ads pay the least. This is directly related to how likely it is your audience will continue to watch or listen to your episode after they experience the ad.

If your podcast has over 25,000 streams a month, reach out to us at Sounder and we can help provide host-read monetization opportunities with some of the top brands in the world.

4. Product Reviews

Reviews are far more in-depth than typical host-read ads. They involve you thoroughly explaining what a particular product or service has to offer, your experience with it, and whether or not you would recommend using it.

As you may expect, it’s not in your best interest to convey only negative information. As opposed to saying something like “I wouldn’t recommend this” you should instead say “this product is best for people who…”

Depending on the size of your audience and the brand that you work with, you can make a sizable amount of passive income through product or service reviews. Additionally, you don’t have to devote an entire episode to reviewing something.

More often than not, you can dedicate a small portion of your podcast to a review. This comes with another important responsibility, however.

In order to maintain the trust of your audience and not make them feel like you’re simply pushing products onto them because you’re getting paid to do so, you should only review products that you actually use.

This allows you to give objective feedback and also offer insight into what it can and cannot do. Additionally, you need to be transparent about whether or not you receive something for free or if you’re getting paid to review a product or service. 

5. Merch

No matter what your niche, there’s a high chance that you can benefit from creating and selling merch.

When people buy clothing or other merchandise, they often aren’t buying it for its utility. To elaborate, somebody who simply needs a shirt would most likely buy the cheapest one that they can.

Instead, people are buying the brand behind the product. those with particularly large podcast audiences have only gotten to that point due to strong branding and quality content. As a result, merchandise they create becomes something that their listeners are proud to show off.

Take Nike versus an independent athletic brand, for example. Assuming that the quality and price between two different products are identical, it’s highly likely that more people would buy Nike simply because of the branding. Common merch ideas include:

  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Coffee mugs
  • Stickers

There’s a crucial aspect of selling merchandise that many entrepreneurs seem to overlook— you don’t want to have an online store that looks extremely ‘salesy’ or corporate if your podcast does not also convey this atmosphere.

For example, someone who posts a podcast about skating or rock music wouldn’t want to send their audience to a website that looks like it follows a cookie-cutter template for an online store. Additionally, you want to stay away from generic sales language like “buy now!” or “order yours today!”

This will only serve to create a disconnect between your brand and your store and make your audience feel as if it’s some sort of cash grab as opposed to you offering a product that has value. 

6. User Donations

If there’s a particular financial goal that you need to reach, there’s always a possibility to ask your audience for one-time donations. In some cases, you may find that you meet your goal within hours.

This is a bit of a gray area when it comes to ethics, though, as some content creators ask for donations that they don’t necessarily need. Others ask for donations to help pay for something that will have nothing to do with creating future content.

In order for you to retain your brand’s integrity while asking for donations, you’ll need to satisfy two criteria:

  • There’s a legitimate need for the money
  • The purchase will be used to create better content in the future (such as equipment)

Additionally, you need to show your audience that their money went toward what you said it would. So, if you’re raising money for a new audio setup, you need to showcase how this purchase improves the quality of your podcast.

A common scenario involves a new podcast raising money to buy a new microphone. As soon as they begin using that microphone, their audience will immediately hear the difference in quality, therefore justifying the purchase.

Asking for money to pay for expenses that don’t benefit your audience will only serve to erode the trust they have in your brand. 

7. Premium Access

Creating different tiers of listening for your audience is a great way to establish an additional revenue stream. This only works, though, if the free content that you provide is already of high-value.

When someone enjoys listening to a podcast for free, they will more than likely assume that the premium content is even better. Of course, paid content should always be far more entertaining or useful to your audience in order to justify the cost.

One of the most common types of premium access is establishing some sort of membership between your audience and your brand. When they are subscribed, it’s commonplace for them to be able to view episodes early, view exclusive content, and receive other benefits as time goes on.

For instance, someone who has paid for six months’ total of premium access could get a box full of exclusive merch as a sort of thank-you for their contribution to your brand. As long as premium access provides notably increased value to your audience, you shouldn’t have any issue acquiring subscriptions. 

8. Online Guide/Course

Those who create podcasts are often experts in their particular niche. After all, it’s relatively difficult to speak extensively on a topic without having a strong understanding of it.

Due to having this knowledge, podcast creators are often able to provide information to their audience that can help them in their own endeavors. As such, it’s commonplace for those with successful podcasts to offer online guides or courses that their listeners can take advantage of.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

These typically range anywhere from a brief introduction to getting involved in an industry or niche to a comprehensive guide on excelling in the space.

Let’s take a podcast on entrepreneurship and use it as an example.

The content creator could offer a short guide about different ways you can make money on your own as opposed to working a traditional job. They might also provide a more in-depth course that details all of the nuances associated with starting and running a successful business.

The price of your content should directly reflect how much value it has. Simply packaging a handful of tips and presenting them in a consumable format isn’t something that you should be charging thousands of dollars for.

But, under the right circumstances, even a few course sales per month could prove to be a significant revenue stream that you generate directly through your podcast. 

9. Services

This is relatively similar to offering a course or guide, but it involves performing a service for your audience after they pay for it.

One of the most valuable services that you can offer is coaching. Regardless of your niche, It’s highly likely that your audience can benefit from one-on-one interaction with an expert. This is especially true for processes that are notably difficult to perform with zero knowledge, such as creating your first online store.

As with offering a course or guide, your coaching results need to be stellar in order to justify the cost that your audience pays. This is also a great opportunity to convey your personality and connect with your listeners on a more intimate level.

If all goes well, there’s a strong chance that your past clients will tell people they know about your services. Not only will this facilitate increased revenue in the future, but it will also expand your podcast overall audience. 

It Can Seem Complicated to Monetize Podcasts Optimally

But the above information will make the process far smoother. From here, you’ll be able to make the decisions that are best for the growth of your brand and allow you to monetize podcasts you create to the fullest extent.

Have questions or comments? Feel free to submit them down below and let us know what you think!

How to Monetize a Podcast

There are currently three major ways to monetize a podcast. In our most recent Whiteboard Wednesday, we talk about how creators of all sizes can easily make money off of their audio via audio advertising, subscription, and services.

Three Ways to Monetize Your Podcast

Video Transcript

On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, I wanted to talk about the various ways that you could potentially monetize your podcast. The three most popular ways that we see creators monetizing their podcast today, really fall into three categories. The first is advertising. The second is monetizing your podcast through subscriptions. And then the third is leveraging your audience in more of a marketing capacity to sell additional services, whether that’s books or white papers or products that you own and sell.

How to Monetize Your Podcast Via Advertising

I’m going to first dive into how to monetize your podcast via advertising. Now, you’ve probably listened to a lot of podcasts where maybe you started to hear a 30 second, or a 60 second audio ad before the episode even started, and that’s called a pre-roll ad. Now, maybe you’re listening to an episode and halfway through you hear another 30 or 60 second audio ad. That would be called a mid-roll ad spot. And then finally, let’s say you finish the episode and at the end, you hear another audio ad, again, 30 seconds or 60 seconds, it varies. That would be called a post-roll advertising opportunity. So pre, mid, and post, those are common terms that you will hear if you’re looking to monetize your podcast or advertising.

Now if we break that down even more, there are really two ways that you can currently leverage audio ads within your podcast, and the first is through something that’s called host-read ad opportunities. Host read ads are exactly what it sounds like. You or your host actually reads the audio advertisement and it’s part of the episode.

So you see this a lot with Tim Ferris, where he is actually reading the ad within his podcast. That’s called host read ads. Now, there are positives and negatives for both host-read ads and then something else that I’ll talk about, which is called dynamic ad insertion. But for host-read ads, there’s limitations as it relates to who will work with particular creators and at what size. So really, the bare minimum is about 20,000 downloads or streams per month. So your podcast needs to be pretty large, and this would fall into really the top 5% of all podcasts out there that really can generate 20,000 downloads a month. And for those, they can actually leverage host-read ads through agencies or through Sounder or through other ways where you can actually work with big brands. Positives with host-read is you can get more revenue per thousand impressions and within the advertising industry that’s called CPM, so cost per thousand impressions and we’re seeing anywhere from $11 to $75 CPM that publishers can receive or creators can receive, based upon their content, the amount of downloads they have, the advertiser demand, there’s a lot of different variables there, but this tends to generate higher revenue for creators.

Podcast Monetization (Dynamic Ad Insertion)

Now the second way that you can monetize your podcast is through something that’s called DAI. And DAI stands for Dynamic Ad Insertion and Dynamic Ad Insertion is exactly how it sounds, ads are dynamically inserted into your podcast, whether it be pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll, as I discussed previously, and instead of you spending the time reading the ad, or your host reading the ad, this uses programmatic technology that will programmatically and dynamically insert audio ads to a specific listener, based upon different types of demographics or location, or other targeting capabilities. Dynamic Ad Insertion is really for both small and large creators. Historically, only host-read ads was an opportunity for podcast creators, which limited the amount of revenue, if not all, that the smaller podcast creators could generate. And one of the things that Sounder.fm is doing, is we want to democratize audio advertising and offer both host-read ad opportunities, as well as Dynamic Ad Insertion based upon how large or how small your podcast is. So if you only had 10 downloads, you can still monetize your podcast through Sounder by allowing Sounder to dynamically insert audio ads into your content, pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll.

If you’re on Sounder and you have over 20,000 downloads a month, we can also work with you in two ways. One is host-read ad opportunities, and two is through Dynamic Ad Insertion or a combination of the two.

So as it exists today, we are starting to see audio monetization become much bigger than it ever was before, because the market is expanding as it relates to new advertisers, new publishers, more listeners, and then technology like Sounder’s to make it easy for anyone regardless of size, to monetize their podcast.

Monetize a Podcast Through Transcriptions

Now, let’s go over to subscriptions. Let’s say you do not want to monetize your podcast through audio ads, you actually want to develop and continue to develop high quality content, but maybe some of that content you want your listeners to pay for, or maybe all of the content you want your listeners to pay for. So this would be more of a subscription base, where you don’t serve audio ads, but you make money through having your listeners upgrade to get access to your premium content.

There are really a couple ways to do this. today. There are a lot more software providers out there that will make it easy for you to monetize your podcast through subscriptions. I think the largest right now is really Patreon and patreon.com allows not just podcast creators, but all creators to monetize through subscription based services. So that’s one that we recommend.

The second that is more specific to podcasts is a company called glow.fm. and glow.fm also makes it easy for a podcast creator to monetize their podcast through monthly subscriptions. So this is pretty straightforward. In the United States, we are seeing less podcasts being monetized through subscriptions, and more through audio advertising. But in China, on the other hand, that’s a $7 billion a year industry where culturally they don’t want to see audio ads, they would rather pay 2, 3, 4 dollars a month to have access to content that does not have audio ads. So it really depends on where you are within the world.

As it relates to Sounder, we see a much larger opportunity in democratizing audio advertising, which will expand the market and specifically within the US and Europe, you’re going to see more audio advertising and less subscription monetization.

Monetize a Podcast Through Services

And then finally, there is a third way to monetize your podcast, where maybe you don’t want to have audio ads, you don’t want to have a subscription based platform, or opportunity. The third is offering your content for free, but use this as more of a marketing tool to increase x. So x could be selling more products, selling more books, filling the top of your lead funnel, whatever it might be. We’re seeing a lot of b2b and even b2c companies start to use podcasts as a way to sell more x. So that would be really on the services side, you could actually do a combination of all three, if you wanted to. Maybe you wanted to have a pre-roll of audio advertising, and then maybe for some content, you want to have subscriptions, and then maybe all the time you want it to just increase your top of the lead funnel and sell additional services.

Hopefully this was helpful as a how to monetize your podcast 101. Again, this will be posted on our blog and please feel free to comment or ask any questions.