What if no one listens?

Long time reader and friend-of-the-list Scott Gould sent in this great question about starting a podcast (shared with permission):

Hi Jonathan, I’m curious - my thought on producing a podcast would be “would anybody even listen to it?” What’s your take on that? Because surely that’s the most important thing to consider? Yours engagingly, Scott

Sure, it would be nice if lots of people listened to your podcast, but if you start out with a one-on-one interview show format (which is my recommended starting format for new podcasters), it doesn’t really matter of anyone listens.

Wait, what?

You shouldn’t care if anyone listens to your podcast?

Yep, that’s right. Having listeners is just one of the benefits of hosting a podcast, and IMHO it’s not the most important one. Here are three other benefits that I think are more important:

1) Building relationships

Hosting a podcast means you always have something to invite people to (especially, luminaries in your field). If I reached out to Seth Godin and asked, “Hey, you wanna to jump on the phone for an hour so I can pick your brain?” he would surely say no. But if I asked instead, “Hey, would you like to come on our podcast and talk about that thing you care about?” he might agree.

When I dreamed up the idea for TBOA, it was specifically for the purpose of having something to invite my favorite thought leaders to. It’s nice that the audience is growing, but all I care about is getting to talk to really smart people for an hour.

2) Researching your market

This is similar to the previous benefit, but instead of inviting rockstars to come on your show, you invite people from your target market and essentially have a free consulting call with them. This is a great way to get to know the hopes, dreams, worries, and fears of your ideal buyers without the pressure of trying to close a deal. As a side effect, improving your podcast interview skills will improve your sales interview skills.

BONUS: If you are currently doing execution work (e.g., coding, copywriting, illustration, video production, audio editing, voice overs, etc) and want to transition into consulting, coaching, or other types of pure advisory engagements, inviting ideal buyers onto your show is low-risk way to road test your capabilities, and to combat impostor syndrome.

3) Rapid content creation

Hosting an interview show is a great way to create a huge amount of quality content very quickly. An hour long chat with a guest will result in about 10,000 words of content. Could you write that many words in an hour? Heck no. For very little money, you can have your episodes transcribed and then read through to pull out rough drafts for shorter written articles that you could publish as blog posts, email messages, or social media posts.


I could keep going, but hopefully you get the point. There are plenty of benefits to starting a podcast even if nobody listens!

Yours,

—J