The Thing About Podcasting And Making Real Money

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Question: “what do you prefer: writing or podcasting?”

I hate that question. I get it all of the time.

The first thing that I think about, when someone asks that question is the whole, “which one of your children do you like the most?” It’s a ridiculous question to ask (unless one of your kids is a real tool). The truth is that I like consuming different media for different reasons. When it comes to creating media, those differences become even more expansive. Most people dread, hate and procrastinate when it comes to writing a book. There are actually books that have been written (many of them) about writer’s block and how to overcome it. I love writing books. I love the research and the deep-diving that takes place. I love the depth of focus that comes from writing something long. Still, I love writing pieces like this blog post, because of the immediacy, and the way in which you can experiment with words and phrasing that you can’t in other forms. Writing articles for places like Harvard Business Review is different too. An article needs a different feel than a book and blog post. It needs to fit the editorial direction of the publication, and it needs a balance of the writer’s voice with the tone and feel of the magazine. These are all subtle nuances, but they’re the difference between writing something and writing something memorable. 

That’s just the written word. Podcasting is so different. 

As much as I love to write, I have developed a deep and passionate love for the Six Pixels of Separation podcast, and what podcasting can be. Over the years, I’ve described my podcast as being the greatest fraud going. I get the chance to corner some of the business world’s most interesting thinkers, and ask them everything I would have wanted to, if these people would grace me with a conversation over coffee. I just so happen to publish these chats. So, it’s like a head fake. It’s also a media format that has changed so much since I started producing a show every week nearly a decade ago.

From indie to mainstream. 

The mass media just can’t seem to get enough when it comes to podcasting. There is no doubt that it’s gaining ground in popularity. Whether it’s Marc Maron getting President Obama to hang out in his garage or a piece of research from Edison Research highlighting listeners and recall. With that, I’m also approached about the business value of podcasting from a brand perspective and whether the value is really there. Brands still want to know: is podcasting really worth it? 

The one thing about a podcast that most brands, marketers and business professionals don’t understand. 

Is there a ROI in podcasting? Has Mirum (formerly Twist Image) ever signed on a new client because of the podcast? If we were hanging out in a café, and you asked me this question, here is how I would respond: podcasting has been – without question – the single best, most powerful and profound networking strategy that we have ever inadvertently created. Six Pixels of Separation has enabled me to network, connect and grow my professional circle of influence unlike any other networking strategy that I have ever deployed in my 20+ years of working. It’s not just the person I’ve had on the show as a guest, it’s the access to their network, the listeners and the listener’s network. In short: it’s been mind-blowing. Has it been a direct response channel? I can’t say. I don’t think that anyone has listened to a show, and thrown a mandate at Mirum, but I have heard many senior marketers reach out and ask about Mirum while indicating that they either love the podcast, or heard someone on the show, liked what they heard and reached out.

Podcast may not close the deal, but it opens many doors. 

This is why the show has no sponsors or advertisers. That’s a distraction, and it’s a short term cash grab that takes the focus away from the main reason that the show is created every week: for people to think of Mirum (and me!) for any and all of their digital marketing needs. This is why I also smile when I see how traditional radio monetization metrics are laid against podcasting. If somebody wants to really make money from podcasting, they should realize that the more work that they put into the show (and the better it is), the more expansive their professional network will become. The value of that will supersede any ad revenue.