It goes without saying that there are quite a few approaches you can take when it comes to podcasting.
And while some have a proven track record of success, others will likely lead to a show that leaves something to be desired.
So how do you know which approach will set you up for success with your show?
In my experience working on hundreds of podcasts covering a wide range of industries and business types, I’ve just about seen it all—which means I’ve seen firsthand what’s actually working in podcasting right now…and what’s not.
So in this article, I’m going to share with you the three best approaches to podcasting that will significantly increase your chances of creating a successful show.
I’ll also let you know what is not working so well, so you’ll know to avoid these common podcaster pitfalls.
Ready to find out what’s working in podcasting in 2021?
Let’s dive in!
3 Approaches That Are Working Now
1. Nurturing Your Audience
The strategy I use most often for clients—and the one that tends to be the most successful—is creating a podcast that aims to provide value for your audience.
If you’ve read The 8 Principles Behind Highly Successful Business Podcasts, then you are familiar with how this works. (And if you haven’t, I highly recommend you check it out!)
In a nutshell, this approach means your goal is to share valuable content that will help your listeners solve a specific problem that they, in particular, struggle with.
By offering key insights and solutions tailored to your listeners, you nurture your audience, create a community, and build trust.
This tends to work best for those who already have an established business and value proposition so that the podcast can work as an engagement tool.
Then, when they are ready to take the next step and look into your paid offer, they already know, like, and trust you.
(For more on the specifics of why podcasting as an engagement tool works, check out How a Podcast Should (And Shouldn’t) Fit Into Your Growth Strategy.)
Katrina Ubell of Weight Loss for Busy Physicians is a perfect example of this approach done right.
As you’ve probably guessed based on the name of the podcast, Katrina helps women physicians (her who) to lose weight and stay healthy long term (the problem) through relearning how to engage with their emotions in a healthier way (her solution).
And she freely offers teaching through her podcast to provide value for her audience, even if they have not gotten to the place of working with her just yet.
This is a huge part of the reason her podcast is so successful.
Now, a key piece for this approach is to make sure you have a simple call to action (CTA) that gives listeners a clear next step for when they are ready to work directly with you to achieve a bigger result.
Ideally, this CTA will be part of your standard closing for each episode and will offer an opt-in like a checklist, ebook, or email series.
Something like the following is perfect: “We have listeners asking all the time how they can get started with their own podcast, so I put together a free book, How to Create the Perfect Business Podcast that shares the exact steps to start a wildly successful podcast. You can get it for free over at CashflowPodcasting.com/book.”
(For a more thorough look at what makes an effective CTA, check out From Listeners to Clients: 7 Ways to Get Amazing Results From Your Podcast and scroll down to tip #1.)
Whatever the end goal is, lay it out for listeners so they know exactly what to do when they’re ready to take the next step.
And until then, keep nurturing your audience and strengthening your relationship with them so that when they are ready for a bigger result, there’s no question that they will go to you.
2. Co-Creating With Your Audience
If you don’t have your offer figured out just yet, that’s okay—podcasting can still work for you.
Another approach that I’ve seen successful podcasters take is to start with an idea for a specific audience, topic, or message and build from there.
Even without having your business or offer totally figured out, you can create your show with your audience in mind.
The podcast itself can be how you get your message out there and create the community/conversation/foundational home to build your offer around.
Then, as you find your audience, you can bring them into the creation process.
Get their feedback and work with them to create a product, business, and/or offer that you know they’ll be excited about.
By gathering and interacting with your audience first, you can figure out what’s going to serve them best and put together a test offering based on their wants and needs.
This way of letting your audience get in on the ground floor and be a part of the creation process helps them feel invested in your show and build a relationship with you even before you create your podcast.
And as a bonus, you know that what you’re creating is going to be something that will support them in the way they need.
Caleb Brown of the New Planner Podcast used this method to gauge interest before creating his podcast, and he got a ton of great feedback to help dial in the details.
He sent out emails to his audience letting them know his ideas for his podcast and asking them if they’d be interested.
And he asked what they would like to see in a podcast from him.
He even went the extra mile and recorded a test episode to share so potential listeners could give their opinions.
Then, based on that feedback, he made his podcast happen!
So don’t be afraid to put your ideas out there and ask questions to get some valuable insight from your ideal listeners.
They’ll let you know what they need, and many of them will be excited to be a part of helping you create it.
(Still not sure where to start with this approach? Check out How To Test Your Podcast Idea (BEFORE You Invest In It) for ideas on gauging potential interest in your show and getting started.)
3. Building Valuable Connections With Your Guests
The third approach I’ve seen work well for podcasting success is focusing on building a relationship with the people you bring on as guests.
Think of this like B2B networking.
In other words, you are connecting with influencers in your industry with a general business development approach.
Roger Dooley of the Brainfluence podcast has made great connections for speaking and consulting work through his show.
Whether you want to connect with CEOs, department heads, real estate investors, and anyone in between, your main focus is creating a relationship with your interview guests by reaching out to them with a value-first approach.
Types of people you can use podcasting to connect with are potential strategic partnerships, influential industry leaders, potential high-value B2B or corporate clients, the list goes on!
Offering people an invitation to come on your show and connect with your audience opens the door for your guests to have a conversation with the listener base you’ve built—and potentially turn them into fans of your guests, as well.
With this approach, you’re dialed into growing your network more than your audience—and building up your business and influence along the way with the added benefit of having content you can then share with your audience.
Specific Strategies That Work Well
Now that you’ve got a good high-level view of what’s working in podcasting, here’s a list of specific strategies that work well for podcasters:
1. Being a leader and an advocate for your audience
Your job as a podcast host is to make sure your audience gets the most out of your content.
That means you have to dig deeper and make it your mission to uncover key insights for them.
So challenge yourself to really get into the meat of the content if you’re going solo, and don’t let guests get away with fluff answers if you’re doing interviews.
(For more on how to be a great advocate for your audience, check out 6 Tips to Become an Incredible Podcast Host and scroll down to tip #2.)
2. Telling stories and being relatable
If you can use a story to illustrate your message, it will be a huge win for getting your listeners to connect with it.
The more you can weave a lesson into a story or share an example that illustrates what you’re teaching, the better it will sink in, the more relatable it will be, and the more your audience will find it helpful and impactful.
There’s a reason people use fables to teach moral lessons to kids—because storytelling works to drive a point home.
Use this to your advantage!
3. Having clear, simple next-step CTAs
This won’t surprise you after the above mention of calls to action, but CTAs are key for helping to build your business.
So let listeners know where they can go to consume more of your content, schedule a call with you, etc.
And again, From Listeners to Clients: 7 Ways to Get Amazing Results From Your Podcast shares specific examples of how to do this effectively.
4. Engaging your audience in back-and-forth conversation
Invite your audience to connect deeper by asking for feedback, encouraging them to submit questions for you to answer, and/or inviting them to join a Facebook group/private forum to continue the conversation.
Whatever you can do to get them to engage with you beyond just listening to your show is going to be great for deepening your connection.
And that’s always a win.
3 Approaches That Are NOT Working
1. “If I build it, they will come.”
I have seen a number of people try just putting their podcasts out there and hoping for the best.
I’m talking no audience, no promotion, no communities with people who might be interested in their shows—nothing.
This approach does not work to make your podcast successful.
It takes more than just creating something and crossing your fingers.
You’ve got to put some actual thought into things and plan before you sit down behind the mic.
2. “I’ll just get podcast sponsors to make money.”
This is another common pitfall I see.
To be fair, there are some circumstances in which getting sponsors for a podcast can generate income.
Unfortunately, this is not the norm, and the podcasts that are making money from sponsorships tend to have tons of listeners.
I’m talking hundreds of thousands.
So if you’re not speaking to audiences of this magnitude, a standard sponsorship setup is probably not going to be a huge income earner for you.
(For a deeper dive into this topic, check out How to Get Top-Paying Podcast Sponsorships.)
Instead, I encourage you to focus on the long-term ROI of using your show in one of the ways mentioned in the successful approaches section above.
3. “I’ll try podcasting out for a few episodes.”
As I’ve said in many of my previous articles, podcasting is a long-term strategy.
If you want your show to be successful, you need to plan to be in it for a while.
That’s not to say that you have to podcast forever—if your show isn’t working or you get to a point where it’s no longer serving effectively, shut it down.
But you should at least show up with the intention of podcasting for a good while.
Otherwise, you don’t give your show the chance it deserves to build that connection with your audience and lead them to taking you up on your paid offer.
When done right, podcasting can help you achieve a number of important goals.
Among those are:
- Building authority and credibility
- Creating a community and growing an engaged audience
- Building trust and deep connections with people
- Building an easy, evergreen content resource center that you can use in conversations with prospects and as a way to educate folks in your space
But these things don’t happen overnight, and they don’t happen by accident.
You have to go in with a plan and execute it.
Thankfully, you have tons of resources to help you do that.
In addition to those listed above, I recommend you check out How to Start A Podcast That Gets You More Clients to help you with the basics.
Then, when you’re ready to dive into podcasting, you can be sure you’re coming at it with the best possible approach.
Do you have more tips for successful podcasting? Share them in the comments below!
Ben Krueger is the founder of Cashflow Podcasting and he specializes in helping thought leaders entrepreneurs amplify their impact through podcasting. He’s a world traveller, outdoor sports junkie and future enthusiast!