I’m tempted to make this the shortest blog post and say that you should start a podcast in 2019 because Gary Vaynerchuk told you to in his book Crushing It!
Nah! That would be no fun, and all those thoughts I wanted to share, would go down the trash. So instead of taking the easy way out, I’m going briefly point out at some serious indicators to urge you start a podcast in 2019.
Update: Quick update. I wrote this article in 2019. But if you’re reading in 2020 and beyond, check out my 2020 Podcasting Industry Predictions in the link below.
I recently published 17 podcasting industry predictions for 2020 and beyond. Read the predictions and also download my 2020 Podcasting Strategy Handbook. You can use the handbook to evaluate and effectively position a podcast for your brand or business in the new decade.
While there could be many reasons why you are perhaps on the fence, when it comes to starting your podcast, I want to show you why there is no better time than now, to start a podcast.
The World Knows What Podcasts Are.
The word podcast was coined back in 2004 and was later popularized when Apple included podcasts in iTunes in 2005. Though popular in the west, Podcasts took a while to get recognized in countries like India, and many South-East Asian countries.
But When People Still Ask Me What a Podcast Is…
Here’s what I tell them. It’s internet radio. It’s a better version of the FM radio that you listen to, where you can pause what you listen to, replay whatever you like, and do a lot more. People around the world know what a radio is. And everyone, their dad and grandma knows what the internet is. So, that usually works.
Let’s Get Back to Why Should You Start a Podcast in 2019.
Podcasting today, has evolved far beyond what one could imagine back in 2005. The rapid growth of technology, has been one of the biggest reasons for this growth.
For a long time, it was written content that ruled the world. From newspapers and magazines to online written content in the form of blogs and websites, it was all about written content.
But things started to change as technology turn-around and adoption started to get faster. Audio formats like MP3 and WAV have been around for a while. But the advent of smartphones and faster mobile networks using technologies like VoLTE (Voice over LTE), have resulted in massive changes in the area of voice.
The biggest of all changes on the technology space is the proliferation of voice as an alternative medium….or the medium. Thanks to Amazon and Google (and yes, Apple tooooo), voice has found itself in every household.
Amazon Alexa and Google Voice have been the two biggest platforms spearheading the creation of voice-based content. They took voice beyond what Apple did with Siri, including understanding different accents worldwide.
Amazon and Google have consumerized voice with their devices Echo and Google Home. I sometimes listen to podcasts at home on my Amazon Echo (this is an affiliate link) by just asking it to “Play Design Your Thinking Podcast” or “Play Freakonomics Radio”.
Smartphones have played a big role in changing listener behavior too. From streaming audio to voice-search, smartphones have now become a lot smarter and faster.
The iPhone X is more than 2300 times faster and has a memory that 8 million times more than what was inside Apollo Guidance Computer onboard the Apollo 11 launched about 50 years back in 1969.
And as a result of this, the apps on these smartphones have been able to do far more advanced functions too. Features like in-audio search to the use of AI to do advanced curation, discovering podcasts and interacting with them have become super easy using just your voice.
When it comes to apps, Amazon has gone full-on with Alexa Skills which are Amazon’s term for voice apps. Amazon has over 30,000 Alexa Skills in it’s marketplace.
It’s super-intelligence at your service! The advancements in speech recognition have grown leaps and bounds from what it was in the mid-20th century.
You go for a run, you are listening. When you drive the car, you are listening. Even when you walk your dog, you are listening. And in all of this too, voice is becoming the medium.
“Siri, skip the song”, “Alexa, play the TED Radio Hour”, “Siri, call Karthik”…and you continue to run a brisk pace, or scoop your dog’s poop or drive through the city traffic in your car.
No matter what you do, there’s someone (yes, it’s eerie at times) listening to you.
The year 2019 opened with Spotify making one of the biggest acquisitions in the podcasting space – buying Gimlet and Anchor. While I’m not a big fan of valuations and such, when a company earmarks to spend over $500 million in an industry, it’s a sign.
Spotify chose to focus on podcasting and open up the platform to more countries. Google Podcasts have focused on building more awareness and access to countries outside of the United States. Move like these leads to a lot more room for podcasters and podcast listeners. The size of the pie is indefinitely growing and there is so much room for all of us.
Getting a pair of microphones was an expensive affair even 10 years back. Today, thanks to mass consumerization of electronics, microphones have got much cheaper.
It’s not to say that the quality of microphones have dropped, but the variety has increased. Today, there is a microphone available for everyone and for every need. I found this one for under $10 which are perfect if you are getting started with podcasting and want to test the waters.
If you are feeling more confident after using the sub-$10 microphones, you can pick something a little higher priced like this microphone from Audio Technica (that’s one of the mics I always have in my kit) for about $64 on Amazon.
Podcasting is not rocket science today. Thanks to the powerful smartphones that are available today, there have been a number of options for those who want to start a podcast.
Anchor has been one of my favorites. It’s an app that lets you start podcasting with just a click of a button. Literally. It also allows you to see who is listening to you, and have an interactive two-way conversation with your listeners.
Does that convince you enough to start your podcast this year? Not yet? What if I told you that you could make new friends, know more podcasters around the world, while you build your own podcast?
Well, that’s actually true. Knowledge can only take us so far. End of the day, it’s about execution. And in executing on your dreams and starting your podcast, you need some support technically and emotionally.
That’s what I want to talk about finally. Ecosystems of support, to help you start a podcast in 2019.
Podcasting today is big. Thanks for podcasts like Serial and This American Life in the United States, people around the world have woken up to the fact that podcasts are indeed here to stay.
Currently, Apple iTunes, the mothership of podcast directories, touts to have over 550,000 podcasts in its directory as on 2018 (here’s a nice infographic on stats). Of which, only a small percentage makes money. With so many podcasts out there, it takes time for newer podcasts to get discovered, and even fewer to make money.
So the question remains “how do podcasters keep showing up, keep creating new content? Should I start a podcast if I don’t get any help?”
This is where the support ecosystem has played a key and crucial role. As I type this, there is someone out there who is joining a community or creating one.
These communities play a big role in bringing podcasters together, exchange notes, help each other and promote their work.
There are various kinds of communities that you’ll find in the interwebs. Here are 5 broad kinds of communities you will find:
So there are many communities you can join right away. Here are a few I’d recommend:
If you know of any other support groups, worldwide or regional, do leave a comment and I’ll include them here.
Unlike communities that are online, conferences offer a different kind of an experience in fostering a community. Very often these conferences also have online communities that you can join.
So if you are looking for conferences to attend, here are a few you should consider:
While these are four I handpicked from across the globe, you can find more conferences on podcasting here.
I hope that brings some clarity to you about the podcasting space, in general. But more importantly, I hope this helps you start your podcast in 2019.
First, let’s bust the questions. Is there question or a thought that’s still haunting your mind? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Second, consider signing up for my newsletter to stay tuned for more on podcasts and podcasting (you won’t be disappointed!).
Third, if you did end up starting a podcast this year, do let me know a little bit about your podcast in the comments below, so we all know what it’s all about.