Like most people, I learned about podcasting a few years ago when the initial Apple iPod came out and haven’t thought much of it since. I considered it to be an extremely niche content medium that not many people listened to and that even fewer people produced. I never understood why someone would tune into a podcast on a topic, when they could watch a youtube video on the subject or read an article online.
Recently, podcasting has come back into the public spotlight and has been gaining more steam. This Washington Post article reported that subscriptions to podcast via iTunes reached 1 billion in 2013 and according to Edison Research, an estimated 39 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month.
We’ve seen the rise of popular podcasts like Serial, a true-crime story, Entrepreneur on Fire, a show that interviews entrepreneurs, and Smart Passive Income, where listeners can learn how to create multiple passive streams of income.
To give you an idea of numbers, the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast generates $55,000 per month in sponsorship income and over $300k in total income per month. Crazy!
Why has podcasting become popular?
In my research, I’ve found that there are a few factors that have contributed to the growing popularity of podcasts.
1. Bluetooth accessibility in cars. No doubt, books and informational products on tape were a huge hit several generations ago. While commuters were traveling to work they could become an expert in a new topic or pick up a foreign language. Bluetooth-enabled cars allow drivers to easily sync and listen to podcasts that they have stored on their smartphone and is replacing the earlier method of purchasing informational CDs or tapes.
2. Smartphone growth. While once it was an outlier for someone to own a smartphone, now it’s the contrary – if you don’t own a smart phone, most people are asking you why, because it’s so cheap! Smartphones make it ridiculously easy to download new podcast episodes over wifi, which you can listen to later. No more cables are needed to sync a podcast to your iPhone.
3. Better programming. Naturally, when a new content platform emerges, the initial programming will not be top notch or on-par with other content platforms. For example, youtube was once thought of as a place to watch cat videos or “fails,” where as now it contains multitudes of high quality channels and successful creators.
4. Why I love podcasting. I love podcasting because you don’t need an internet connection to listen to programming, unlike youtube, and you can download new episodes in seconds. In addition, it doesn’t take up very much space on your smartphone. I’ve learned so much from the podcasts that I am subscribed to and hope that I have also provided useful content on my podcast.
Where is the industry going?
I think we’re going to see a lot of growth in the coming years in the podcasting industry, in particular in the categories that were traditionally popular for audio tapes, CDs, and radio, like motivational speaking, learning languages, drama/stories, comedy, business advice, and more.
In addition, we’re already seeing that a lot of celebrities are using podcasting as a way to connect with their fans, from Snookie to Dave Ramsey. Eventually, once all cars are bluetooth enabled, podcasting will be a formidable competitor to traditional broadcasting mediums like radio.
What do you think?
Do you think that podcasting is a fad or do you think it’s here to say? Is it realistic to say that you can make money from a podcast? Share your thoughts in a comment below!