Want to finally get the ball rolling on your podcast business? The Podcast Host Academy provides helpful coaching and courses that can help you launch, grow, and earn an income from your content.
We spoke with Colin Gray, founder of The Podcast Host Academy, about podcasting’s latest shift in focus.
ThePodcastHost.com has always been a great place for tips and courses throughout podcasting’s growth over the course of recent years. How has The Podcast Host changed to meet podcasting’s ever-evolving needs?
Over the past few years our focus has really evolved, based strongly on what our audience is telling us. We listen really closely to the questions that come in, via the site, via the podcast, through social media, and our content is hugely focused on answering them. I think the biggest way we’ve changed, to be honest, is by growing and expanding the types of help we offer. For example, early last year, we were really struggling to keep up with the inbound contacts. We were getting a LOT of email, with all sorts of questions. That’s great, but we were struggling to keep up. It made me realise we needed a new solution to help these people who wanted much more personalized help, and that’s what led to launching the Podcast Host Academy. It’s aim was to give a low-cost training program and live support space where podcasters could jump in and solve their problems.
Next, we found that the Academy was working well, but it still didn’t solve one of the biggest pains that podcasters experience—editing, production, and publishing. The thing is, a lot of podcasters just want to speak! They really don’t want to learn how to edit a show or how to use EQ and compression. They also don’t have the time to do it, week in, week out, or to spend the extra time is takes to publish their show. So, I started looking into a solution for that, and Alitu.com was the result. That took so much time with fundraising, development, and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t expect, but our audience was asking for it, really really strongly, and we’re following that lead. That’s how we evolve—we listen, we follow, and then we lead.
You have 7 years of experience teaching hosts how to podcast. What are the most complicated things new podcasters struggle with nowadays?
We’re really lucky in that the size of our audience means we get a really good read on what people are struggling with, month to month. From the thousands that visit our site every day, a good chunk of them sign up for our Podcast Pointers newsletter, or our How to Start a Podcast guide, and once they’ve signed up, we always ask the question, “What are you struggling with?” So, every day we get a few responses to this—barriers, problems, questions, issues. And the focus of that has changed a lot over the past few years. In the early days, it was all tech—what microphone, what hosting company, what editing platform. But, slowly, the monetization questions started to come in much more strongly—”How do I make a living from my show?” That made me think the medium was definitely maturing. Then it was sustainability, which is a complex area, but which I thought was even more promising.
People were podcasting, but they were struggling with getting it out there every week and tying it in with their other content. That’s when I started writing much more about content stacking and seasons-based podcasting. Now, though, it’s much more about growth. Podcasters are realizing—and this isn’t a new idea, but we’re finally getting it—that there’s as much time required for promotion and growth as there is for content creation. So we have a lot of plans for that. We already have a course in our Academy—30 days of growth—but I want to put out more material on the blog for that, and on Podcraft too.
What is your favorite new thing you learned in 2017 about the podcasting business, and what do you think will be the coolest thing 2018 will bring to the field?
In 2017, I think the biggest thing for me was creativity and taking chances. The podcasting industry is still so young. It’s been around more than a decade, but it really is still young. So, there are so many things we’ve yet to discover, and in 2017 I saw a lot of people trying to make those discoveries. For example, audio drama is an area of podcasting that just blew up in 2017. You had big productions like Homecoming and Terms gaining a lot of attention, and smaller ones really hitting their stride, like the Bright Sessions. The Bright Sessions has even been optioned into a TV show, which is amazing. Those types of shows take time, and they’re a risk, but it really paid off for a number of creators. I think you’ve got to take that risk now. The standard ‘unedited interview show’ just doesn’t work anymore. We’re beyond that. We need much more creative approaches. And they don’t all have to take as much time and effort as an audio drama, but they do at least require you to think laterally, to do something a little differently, to not follow the crowd. Even outside the shows themselves, we have a lot more companies taking chances on new services, new tools, or trying to solve some of the bigger problems in podcasting, like stats. That’s brilliant.
So I think that ties into the coolest stuff for 2018. I think we’re going to see many more tools come out to make the lives of podcasters easier. Creative, out-of-the-box ideas that investors will fund enough to give them a chance. I also think that some of the old guard are really going to be disrupted in the meantime. There are a fair few companies and influencers that have been around since the beginning, offering services and coaching to podcasters—and, don’t get me wrong, they’ve done an amazing job. But, I see quite a few of them falling behind a little, not keeping up in terms of design, in terms of function, in terms of the changing podcaster demographic. That’s going to bite them when the new kids arrive on the block with all sorts of crazy ideas, a few of which I’ve heard, and am really looking forward to seeing emerge!
Colin Gray is the founder, podcaster, and online educator behind The Podcast Host Academy and Alitu. His mission is to teach hosts how to make better podcasts and hone their online business skills. You can catch all of his production tips and suggestions on Twitter.