Entrepreneur Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Has Some Unique Ideas on What it Actually Takes To Grow a Podcast

Last updated
March 12, 2021
  • Great guests aren’t enough to carry your show. Your podcast’s success depends on what you can uniquely bring to the table.
  • Repurposing content across media is a creative way to reach new audiences on different platforms — and an efficient way to develop content for your podcast.
  • Growing a podcast audience is a slow game, but strong relationships with other podcasters can give you a leg up.

Podcasting might be relatively new in the world of broadcast media, but it keeps growing in popularity. The competition is strong, and you have to work hard to stand out, grow an audience and earn money from a podcast.

“You should think about your podcasts the way you think about a business, which is to say, what is the whitespace?” says Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine.

“Whitespace,” as Jason calls it, is the opportunity your competitors are missing. What can you contribute that’s not already being done? And how can you cultivate an audience that wants to come back week after week to hear it?

Jason hosts three popular podcasts: Problem Solvers for Entrepreneur, which shares stories of how business leaders solved serious problems; Build for Tomorrow examines why people resist new things; and Hush Money tackled taboo personal finance questions.

In an interview for the Entrepreneurs Circle podcast, Jason shared advice to efficiently produce engaging interviews, grow an audience and collaborate with other podcasters.

In podcasting, easy entry means tough success

Jason’s first piece of advice for producing a successful podcast is to treat it like a business.

“The thing about podcasting is that the barrier to entry is very, very low, which means that the barrier to success is very high,” he says.

You can find tips for the best mics, mixing board, and editing service to use, but, really, podcasting doesn’t take much set up. Anyone can start one — and you have to find a way to rise above the noise.

Jason says interviewing “great guests” isn’t good enough for building listenership. “It has to be you,” he says. “It has to be you and your concept and understanding how you can serve an underserved audience with something that's special.”

That foundation is key, he says, because everyone can start an interview show. And great guests are hard to come by.

Great guests want to be on a great show

Jason is asked to be on a lot of podcasts — and he usually says no. That’s because he has to decide whether the hour or two he’ll spend with you, plus the time around it preparing for and getting to an interview, will pay off for him, too.

To give you some insight, here’s what he does when he’s invited to be a guest:

  • Search for the show in Apple Podcasts.
  • Look at the number of reviews — he wants to see more than 50 or 75 or so.
  • If it has enough reviews, he’ll listen — to a minute or two — to note whether it sounds well-produced and engaging.

“Competition for great guests is very hot...[A person’s] time is limited, so you're just not going to come out of nowhere, launch a show and just get Jack Dorsey on your show.”

If you can book someone huge, like Elon Musk or Jack Dorsey, who rarely gives an interview, then great. Who would turn that down? But, Jason points out, he doesn’t chase those guests, because the show can’t rely on them.

“I know that I can deliver me, but I can't deliver Elon Musk every week,” he says. “So if I'm going to ask people to listen to a show every week for a year on the off chance that one time I booked Elon Musk, then I’ve got nothing for these people.”

Use content more than once

With a background in print editing, experience in speaking and a suite of podcasts to his name, Jason knows the value of repurposing content across media.

“It is always worth thinking about how you can translate content from one space to another,” he says.

Getting your content on different platforms helps you reach a broader audience. You’ll have some super fans who consume everything you create, but mostly, audiences will discover and follow you on their platforms of choice.

Repurposing content to or from your podcast helps you maintain a presence on several platforms more efficiently, because, Jason notes, “you've already done some work.”

He also says working the content over again helps you see it from new angles, expand on it and find new pieces that fit each new medium. “You have to make it organic to the medium you're in. So it's forcing you to be more creative, more insightful.”

Here’s an example of how Jason turns a single idea into content for multiple platforms:

  1. Instagram: Post an insight or observation to his Instagram Stories, and generate a response.
  2. LinkedIn: Incorporating the responses, expand upon the idea for a more in-depth post on LinkedIn.
  3. Column: If the LinkedIn post is engaging, write about the subject in his Entrepreneur column, Editor’s Note.
  4. Podcast: Spend five minutes recording himself reading the column, add a 10-minute interview with someone to get more insight on the subject, and make it a podcast episode.

“There's one idea that I had [and it] hit literally everything that I have to offer,” he explains on the value of repurposing.

Another plus: It’s a smart way to vet an idea with relatively low-effort media before putting the time and resources into writing a column or producing audio.

Growing an audience isn’t easy, but you can do it

Not encouraging: “Audience growth is really the absolute hardest part of podcasting,” Jason says.

Not even the pros have growth figured out in this relatively new medium.

“All media is a slow game, and podcasting is absolutely no different,” Jason says. “In fact, it is a slower game, because it's a really, really crowded space, and discovery is not perfected.”

There may not be a perfect hack to grow an audience fast, but Jason shares these tips for reaching new potential listeners:

  • Interview swap. He recommends starting by forging relationships with other podcasters. Swapping interviews with other hosts with similar audience makeup and size is a simple and efficient way to offer each other value and exposure to new audiences.
  • Ad swap. With a podcast at your level, you can also swap ads — promote their podcast on your show, and they promote yours. With podcasts that have a larger audience, you can swap ads and pay a discounted rate to have your podcast advertised on theirs.
  • Advertise. Simply running paid ads on shows with similar audiences, if you’re willing to put money behind growth, is also a great way to find new listeners. Jason recommends AdvertiseCast, where you can find podcasts to advertise on. (You can also list your podcast on the network if you have at least 2,500 downloads per episode to earn some revenue.)

What doesn’t work for audience growth might seem counterintuitive. Jason explains going after guests with large social media audiences is not a great strategy — it used to be, though. Now, everyone is just on too many podcasts to promote any of them on social media.

“I almost never tell my social media audience that I was on a podcast unless it's an enormous podcast,” he admits.

The produce as-you-go approach for podcasting success

You actually don’t need to do as much prep before an interview if you make a highly produced show, compared with a straight interview show. 

“What you're doing is producing raw material you can work with later,” Jason explains. 

If you plan to release your whole interview, you might want to go in more prepared, but Jason says he doesn’t do much prep before interviews, because he’ll only use the best sound bites.

More important than prep work in this case, he says, is how you conduct the interview.

“I'm producing the show as I'm doing the interview,” he says.

To “produce” while you interview, Jason recommends:

  • Get everything on tape. Don’t cover valuable information in an introductory conversation with the guest before you hit record. “You should be hearing [information] for the first time while the recorder is running,” he says. 
  • Share that guidance with the guest. Jason starts his interviews by explaining how the conversation will go. He gives an overview of the topic they’ll cover and the major questions he’ll ask — but he instructs the guest not to answer those questions until they start the official interview. That keeps them from trying to recreate great candid moments later (or missing them altogether).
  • Interview in chronological order. If you’re getting a story out of the guest, ask questions in chronological order, and keep them on track. This will make editing easier later.
  • Get “good tape.” Get strong quotes from your interviewee, with strong emotion behind them. If you have to ask a question over and over to get a good answer, do it.

With that in mind, instead of meticulously planning an interview before he goes in, Jason says, “I basically wrap the interview when I feel like I've got all the raw material I need.”

This article is based on an episode of Entrepreneurs Circle. A version was originally published at erikcabral.com and has been republished here with permission.

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