Welcome to the Grow My Podcast Show
Jan. 2, 2023

41. The Marketing Secrets to High-Income Success in Podcasting

41. The Marketing Secrets to High-Income Success in Podcasting

We share the most surprising findings from the State of Podcast Marketing Report with a deep dive into what high-income podcasters are doing differently to low-income podcasters.

As a massive nerd who scored in the 99th percentile in mathematics in high school, I’ve always sought out data to help me make decisions. 

So naturally when it came to understanding the drivers behind podcast growth, I became insanely curious to know what the evidence-based practices were for marketing strategies high-income podcasters were using to help grow a podcast audience faster and more successfully than low-income podcasters. 

I found it quite difficult so I decided to conduct my own research on the state of podcast marketing with some awesome collaborators at Listen Notes, Podbean, SquadCast, Alitu, and Grow the Show. 

We surveyed over 200 podcasters and discovered some very surprising insights.

"We get told time and time again as podcasters that you need a large number of downloads before you can be successful. What we found is that this isn’t always true. What's also really interesting when you look at high income podcasters is that they aren't spending all of their time on social media."

We realized we had to share with the broader podcasting community and that’s how The State of Podcast Marketing report was born. 

In this first of many deep dives, you will learn:

  1. The most surprising findings from the State of Podcast Marketing Report 
  2. The sweet spot of episode downloads for high-income podcasters (and why higher downloads doesn’t always mean higher income) 
  3. The one social media platform high-income podcasters are using that low-income podcasters are not  

Related Grow My Podcast Show episodes you may enjoy:

How to Repurpose Your Podcast for YouTube

In this episode you will learn the 3 step strategy to repurposing your podcast content for YouTube

How to track the sales generated from your podcast

Find out how to track how much your podcast generates in leads and sales with this easy guide.

Resources mentioned in this episode 

💻 Try Capsho free for 2 episodes here!

Capsho is an AI-powered podcast marketing content writer that creates an episode title, description, podcast website content, social media captions, emails, blog posts, LinkedIn article and YouTube description AND curates a selection of quotes from your episode. All with a simple upload of your episode audio or video file.

🎁 Get your Podcast Marketing Report here

💬 Send me a message here

❤️ Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here 

Connect with Deirdre: Instagram  | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn



I am so excited to finally be able to bring you this particular episode. This has been months, months in the making, I kid you not. Okay, so you may or may not have picked this up about me, but you may be able to tell that I'm kind of a massive nerd. I know.


Thank you. But yes. To illustrate just how nerdy I am, I'm going to tell you a secret if you promise not to spread it. Deal. I actually scored in, like, one of the top percentile, I think.


Is that what they say? Someone who's meant to be a maths nerd. I'm like, how do percentiles work? I just scored in the 99th percentile in mathematics in the equivalent of the SATS in Australia, so they call it the HSC or the highest school certificate. So if that tells you anything, I am a numbers nerd.


I am a total numbers nerd. Now, over the past few months, as I've been sharing a lot of my podcast growth strategies with you, something was bothering me a little bit. I was sharing everything I knew and had done, as well as what my amazing podcast guest knew and had done. But something was missing because I think we all know that every single strategy we get taught works, right? Literally every single coach that I've come across, every single coach I've heard speak, every single person who has tried something and has grown their audience and made a matza, all of them, all of the strategies that they had implemented and focused on, I know it works.


It all works. All of them. I actually don't doubt that it doesn't. But our job as an entrepreneur and the podcaster is to decide which one we want to focus on and implement. That's it.


Does that make sense? For example, we get told that we can grow our podcast audience on TikTok. Sure. Yes, that works. We get told to guest more to grow our podcast.


Yes, that 100% works, too. We get told to be on YouTube to grow our podcast. Of course that works. As long as we go all in on that particular strategy and make it work for us, it will work. Does that make sense?


So with literally a million and one strategies out there, how do we cut through it all and make an educated decision on exactly what to focus on? Now, as the maths nerd, you probably know what I'm going to say, right? It's the numbers, it's the data. So I scour the internet for data that tell me what has actually worked for podcasters. And if you've been following my podcast episodes, you probably know that I found one report by Improved podcast that satisfied my curiosity for a bit.


I spoke about the findings of those in episodes 29, 31, and 33 of this podcast. The problem with that, it was conducted over a year ago with how ever changing platforms and technologies are, how can I, hand on heart, say these strategies were still working? I couldn't. So what did I do? I decided to do my own research instead.


So I have actually co authored the state of podcast marketing report with listen notes. Podbean, SquadCast Alitu and Grow the Show. And we have just finalized and released it. So what I want to do in this episode is to give you a preview into some of the results and specifically some of the more surprising things that came out and what it is that we, as podcasters looking to grow our podcast, can learn from it and start doing. Sound good?


My name isDeirdre Tshien, CEO and co founder of Capsho, the fastest way to market and grow your podcast. And this is the Grow my podcast show.


Hey, you. We are here. We're finally here. The release of the first annual State of Podcast Marketing Report. And yes, I know that you're wondering how you can get your little hands on the report.


Don't you worry, we are going to leave the link to that in the show notes. There is so much we covered in the report, but in this episode, I thought I would invite my co-founder and Capsho CEO Bona Rai to join me for this chat. And specifically, I want to talk about the three of the most surprising results that came out and what it is that we can take from that and start doing. Hey, Bona. Hey.


Hi Bona. Hey. It's good to be back. It feels like it's been a while. Okay, so before we get into it, I wanted to set the scene for this research paper.


So we surveyed over 210 podcasters and the way we set this paper up was actually really intentional. We wanted to differentiate between what higher income podcasters do versus lower income podcasters. And I thought this was a really important distinction because when I think about the main outcome that a lot of us are trying to achieve with our podcasts, myself and you, our audience, it always comes down to the money, right? That's why we ultimately are looking to grow our audience. So I wanted to be able to intentionally differentiate what it is that the podcasters who are successfully making money through their podcast, what they are doing that lower income podcasters may not be.


What is it that we can all learn? And so that's how we are here now, publishing the first ever annual state of Podcast Marketing report. So let's start with the one thing that you found surprising. Bonner, let's start there. Yeah, the most surprising takeaway for me from the report was that the number of downloads, the number of episode downloads is not always the key, I guess, success metric of a high income earning podcast.


So absolutely, we know there's some super successful podcasts out there that have a lot of downloads but really I think that what we found was a sweet spot for high income podcasters in our report was actually 250 to 500 downloads per episode. Nothing to sneeze out, of course, but way lower than we might have assumed around how many episode downloaded scenes people tell you that you need before you can truly be successful. So I thought that was really interesting. Yeah, that was actually such a cool result to see that because we get told time and time again as podcasters and I guess there's a distinction here as well. Like we should probably talk about this distinction.


There are those who are looking to monetize through, I guess, sponsorships. And of course, if any of us as business owners are looking to spend ad dollars, we want to ensure that there is going to be an immense amount of reach. That's generally how it works. If you have a big audience that we can tap into, of course we'll spend money there. But that's almost like the old school way of thinking about monetizing your podcast, right?


A lot of us are listening especially to this podcast, because I'm very hopefully quite intentional to be like to say that I am talking to experts who podcast. So coaches, consultants and service providers who podcast. I think that this is what we use a podcast for to monetize an offer on the back end. That is actually why there are so many more high income podcasts that don't need huge downloads. And if we delve even further into that and I want to get your thoughts on this bonus because this was a big one that I think a lot of us have made the same mistake time and time again.


But it always comes back to this fundamental foundational aspect of marketing, which is you have to know who you're talking to, you have to know your audience. Absolutely. So I was just thinking what you were just saying earlier about the number of downloads, that there are some podcasts in some very successful mainstream, successful podcasts that I listen to, that absolutely. They're sponsorship based and because they're talking to a really broad range, you almost kind of just listen through the ads because they're so highly produced and you kind of go, I understand. This is how this person is able to make money and give me all this really entertaining content.


Right. So almost from a listener's perspective, this podcast has almost become like a celebrity in your mind. So Dr. Andrew Hoberman is an example that comes to mind. But absolutely, when it comes to smaller podcasts, if you will, that listen to us audiences, the main reason we do that is they speak so specifically to us.


It's not the broad appeal that really does it, it's the specificity with which and whether they're entertaining you, whether they're educating you. But especially as experts in podcasts, if you're listening to an expert on a specific field that you're interested in and you want help on, it's the level of specificity that comes with it that makes you go back time and again. And I think that's really so super important because a lot of, as you say, podcasters, we make the mistake of trying to model ourselves off of big podcasters who have lots of broad appeal. But that's a very, very small percentage of people that are able to do that, and even a small percentage of people who are able to do that successfully. And once you're able to find your niche of people, that listener base may start off as ten, but the great thing is that they share your show and your content with people who are exactly like that.


For the power of 20 to 100 listeners is way more than the power of 1000 casual listeners, if you will. I think, like you said, fundamental marketing practice, but especially for podcasting because it's such an intimate form as well of connecting with the person, providing content, versus just watching the YouTube video or listening to a live while you're doing something else. I think audio is very, very intimate. Yeah, for sure. Cannot agree with that.


100% agree with that. I should say. I can agree with that more. And the other thing that kind of came to mind is when I talk about this a lot and it's really about, you know, to the point of like, having a small amount. So having ten dedicated listeners.


Now, the power of that, apart from them being like, talking about your podcast and referring your podcast to others, is that when they are dedicated like that, because you are talking so specifically to them, that is really when you start to really become known, liked and trusted. And it came to mind because I was at Podfest and no, it wasn't a podcast, it was at a podcasting meetup. And I remember speaking to someone and I remember speaking to her about a podcast. That's right, she was like, oh yeah, she was at Pod Fest. And I was like, oh great, what did you do?


And so she was so excited because she was like, one of the best things was I got to meet this person. I've been listening to his podcast forever and I actually got to meet him. And actually it was actually Kevin, and he's a good friend of mine. And I was like, oh, this is Kevin. But this is the power of, as you said, that intimacy, right, is that you do start to become this mini celebrity to people when they meet you.


And that is because that is because you are specifically talking to them. Yes. And that's the power of even a small audience and how you can actually monetize a small audience. Absolutely, yeah. Super cool finding.


Okay, so that was number one. So number one is that the number of episode downloads does not have to be huge. What we found is, as Bonus said, 250 to 500 downloads per episode is actually the sweet spot for high income podcasts. In fact, even with less than 250, there's actually quite a lot of high income podcasts that have less than 250 listeners per episode as well. But yeah, 250 to 500.


So that's okay. So that's a really cool finding, really quite surprising. Now, the other thing that I found surprising that I just wanted to touch on as well was actually the use of social media. Because we talk about this a lot, and specifically the time that's spent on social media. And this I wanted to raise because I battled with this for a long, long time.


I grew up in the era I grew up put that in Verte comments in the era of Instagram coming kind of exploding onto the scene and really dominating that social media space. And then obviously now it's a TikTok, et cetera. And so in my mind, I was always like, oh, social media is the way to grow something. I mean, that was honestly the first way, that's how we grew. My first business, the desert by in Sydney was really leveraging instagram.


So for whatever reason, it's kind of been ingrained in me to be like, okay, social media is a platform to grow something. And so I used to spend a lot of time trying to figure social media out, trying to figure all the different algorithms out, and trying to be on there and all of that. And what's really interesting is that when you look at high income podcasters, they aren't spending all of their time on social media, they are actually spending most of their time. The top three places is their blog, their website, their podcast website, and I guess one social media platform, which is LinkedIn, which makes sense for high income podcasters, that LinkedIn is probably where they're going to spend their time. And then what's really interesting is that lower income podcasters are spending their time on the likes of TikTok and Pinterest and Instagram.


They're like, oh my gosh, I have been thinking like a low income podcaster. Isn't that fascinating?


I thought that was super fascinating because even if you aren't a massive social media user, I think it's just done such a good job of making us feel like we have to be on there, we have to be visible, we have to be doing things. Even if we're not seeing the results, it's because we're not doing enough. So this was another example of more is not always more. Of course there is a certain amount of time that you have to be on there because otherwise nobody knows that you exist. But I think what was really striking about this is, as you say, the amount of time and where and if you're spending too much time in the wrong place, then no one do.


You don't have a you're not getting the results and B, you're taking time away from what you do best, which is creating content too. That's the other thing I really think about with social media a lot of the time. I think lower income podcasts also burn out quicker and are probably less consistent because they are doing all of these things like maybe doing TikTok to promote their latest episode, I'm not too sure. Or trying through Pinterest who might be looking for a visual, you know, resource for something totally different. So I think this was super fascinating, but as you say, when you think about it, not surprising at all.


It's like, oh, that makes sense when the data is played back to you. I think it's so interesting and I think LinkedIn definitely is one to watch because LinkedIn is having a little bit of a not a rebrand per se, but I don't know about you DJI, but I always used to associate LinkedIn with a very corporate crowd and I guess we both come from corporate. There's definitely a lot going on in corporate there, but it's become such a hub now for creators and podcasters are right in the thick of it. And I think a lot of people are sleeping on LinkedIn because they again might have perceptions like we do about it being a corporate place to just look for jobs or recruit people. And that's where recruiters, as soon as you hit, are in your inbox and trying to get you into a job based on your past experience.


But really now LinkedIn are doing a fabulous job of helping creators really reach people and become influencers on the platform. True influencers. And not just, I guess talking about their achievements. Yes, 100%. I think that this is definitely going to be a core to our strategy going forward, is doing more LinkedIn because yeah, coming from corporate, it was either, okay, it's the corporate thing of oh, I'm only really on LinkedIn if I want to find a new job or as a business.


It just felt like the place that people came to spam your DM and about their service. So that was to me, my perception of LinkedIn and honestly, since spending more time on their recently it has actually completely changed. I mean, yes, I still get the spam every now and then that I can just ignore, but it is so much more about community building is what I found on LinkedIn. There's so much more daring and deeper conversation.


I don't really vibe with Twitter personally, personally vibe with Twitter because I feel like there's a lot of conversation happening on there, but it's very much just people trying to throw their opinions and weight around in a way. Whereas I feel like LinkedIn, there's a lot more respect that's on that platform for people's opinions and to actually learn and get deeper into a topic. That's kind of what I found. But that could just be a personal thing as well. But yeah, LinkedIn it's 2023.


All right, so that was really surprising. Okay, so the other thing that I just wanted to cap off on, that second surprising thing about the whole social media is I don't know if this has been for anyone else, but definitely for me. I felt this immense amount of pressure lift by almost by seeing that, you know what? Like, social media does not have to be the make or break of my podcast marketing. Like, it doesn't if I'm not posting every day, I think on Instagram, the last post I did was like weeks ago.


I'm not posting and it has not done anything. It hasn't decreased my listener. Like, nothing, right? So I actually feel like, oh my gosh, okay, I can breathe because I don't know, I feel like that's what social media has been doing all these years. It's really been putting me into this because I'm not a natural introvert.


And there are some introverts who are really natural online. I'm neither. I'm not natural online. I'm not natural offline all this time, I'm feeling this pressure to have to be active and constantly be promoting and I don't know, seeing these results and being like, you know what, it doesn't have to be the make or break. I'm like, wow, that's liberating.


I can breathe. Yeah, it's so liberating, actually. The stuff that's going to make a difference. Like LinkedIn. Yeah, but that's a great thing, right?


It's like, okay, instead of trying to stretch myself over all these multiple platforms and new ones like TikTok that everyone's talking about, I'm like, no, you know what, I'm just going to focus on this one. LinkedIn, maybe two Facebook. Like LinkedIn facebook. I'm just going to focus on two. That's it.


That's all I need to really put my mind to. And that in itself is like such a breath of fresh air. So that was really cool. Okay, so then I want to talk about this third one. Another really surprising oh, I don't know, would you call it surprising?


Can you lead us into this one that we kind of spoke about together already? Yeah. So this is one that's going to be mutually agreed. White wealth may not be surprising, I think it is very interesting and one to watch. One finding that we found in the report was that when it came to platforms that people want to be on, podcasters want to be on, both high income and low income podcasters were absolutely like YouTube, for sure, right?


So people who aren't on it definitely want to be on it, and people who are already on it definitely want to do more on it. So not the most surprising. Makes a lot of sense. And we're definitely starting to see YouTube are really pushing in the space of podcasters to really make them feel special as creators and really serve them. Our suspicion, though, in our conversation has been that likely low income and high income podcasters will have separate approaches to LinkedIn.


One really interesting note that was made in the paper was around. Obviously, again, there's some really highly successful YouTubers or podcasters who have YouTube followings as well that have created quite an aspirational content creation kind of machine. So there's going to be a lot going on there in that space. We have our own strategy in terms of how we take the content we've already created for our podcast and then come up with YouTube content specifically that's going to help people discover your podcast but also help them with what they're looking for so they can't help but binge on the rest of your content. So we'll make sure that we link that specific podcast episode to our show notes to this one, because there's a whole lot that goes into that.


But I think that's going to be super interesting because I know gone are the days of just whacking on your entire episode onto YouTube and just hopefully people listen on there as well. So the way people are going to approach it, I think is going to be really interesting. Yes. So cool. And so the episode that Bona was talking about was episode 35 of the Grow my Podcast show.


So at the end of this, we highly encourage you to go listen to episode 35 because that gives you the insights into how we're going to be approaching YouTube. Because you're right, like for the less, like just to get started on YouTube, I think it's a good idea to just put your podcast on there, like put your podcast video on there. But more and more, you know, we really want to be intentional about how it is that people are actually consuming videos on YouTube. A lot of even when we look at, I guess, who we might think are the more successful podcasters out there. So the likes of Joe Rogan and things like that, obviously they have a production team sitting behind them so they can do this.


But they are very intentional with what videos that they put on YouTube around their podcast episode. They clip them down, they create segments. They do all these different things to actually make the YouTube video different to just listening to their podcast. And I think that that is more and more to your point to what you're saying is where higher income podcasters, if they want to be intentional with being on YouTube, that's probably more the strategy or the approach that they're going to go down versus just putting their full podcast onto YouTube. That'll be interesting.


Anyway, we'll watch it and we'll see how that's going. But yes, if you want to hear our approach to how we're tackling YouTube, I guess listen to episode 35 of this podcast. All right, Vana, any last closing comments right now about this report? Not really. As you were just saying, that.


I think the final thought that came to mind is it's all a virtuous cycle, right? Because you can kind of go, oh, even with that YouTube thing, you're like, oh, but I have to make different content. Now, for YouTube, it's all about focus. The fact that I think the reason we always are going to run out of time to do stuff. But if you are trying to be on all these platforms and create TikToks and be on Pinterest and be on Instagram and waste all of your time doing that, of course you're not going to have time to be more intentional or even think about a strategy.


But if you're really ready to make 2023 a really successful year of podcasting, you have to take a beat, definitely read the paper and really look at what people are doing really well. Take a breath, look at the strategy, and then go forth and apply. That applies to every form of business. Of course, I'm saying it so that I can take my own advice as well. But I think, again, this paper has done such a great job really articulating that for us, very objectively.


So that will be my final thought. Yes. Okay. So if you want to get that paper, you know where to go. There will be a link in the show notes.