Updated: Jun 24, 2022
Podcasts are easy to create and communities around podcasting have sprung up giving life to this form of brand storytelling. This medium is becoming more popular, and more people are jumping on the bandwagon with varying results. What makes some podcasts popular while others struggle to even get their mom to listen? I wanted to know so, I dove into the Information highway and asked people, “What makes a podcast good?”
My son encouraged me to start a podcast, he thought I’d be good at it. I’m glad he did because I am having fun. Finding a couple podcaster guest matchup sites made it a lot easier to book interesting people to talk to. When I put my podcast on the sites, I wasn’t expecting much because I thought, who would want to talk to me? Turns out almost 100 people right off the bat, which led to the 100 podcast episodes in 100 days challenge.
I’ve almost completed 100 episodes in 100 days and talked with over 70 people, now what? It is important to understand why people choose to try a new podcast, even more important is to know why they follow a podcast and become fans. If a podcaster wants to build an audience, then they need to create what people want to hear and the only way to know what makes people keep tuning in, is to ask.
Know The Audience
The demographics of an audience is the most important part of storytelling. You must know who you are talking to before you craft the story. Once you understand whom you want to talk to, you can determine the tone, voice, content, and structure of your story. This is not easy and at times you will need to reassess the audience as the people who show up can be different from those whom you intended to be in the audience.
Who Listens to Podcasts?
The largest percentage of listeners are under the age of 35. While 86% of people aged 12-34 listened to online audio at least once in the last month, only 42% of over 55s said the same. (1) When choosing the topic of your podcast consider where in the cycle of life your audience is experiencing. Are you wanting to mentor and teach people, or do you want to entertain people? If you want an older audience because you’re talking about the empty nest or saving for retirement, a podcast is still a good idea. There may be less people over the age of 50 listening, but if you can connect with them by talking about what’s important to them, you have a better chance at building an audience than if you tried to appeal to everyone.
Isaiah Henry, the CEO of Seabreeze
I’ll keep listening to them because they either make me laugh or provide valuable information that I can apply to my own day-to-day life.
Robert Welch CEO| Projector1
To make the most captivating digital recording, your point ought to be something that you are learned and energetic about. The web recording you go with ought to be explicit and interesting to a wide crowd. For example, assuming you pick the subject of cooking, you might have many other web recordings to contend with. Assuming you pick more explicitly vegetarian cooking, you will limit the web recordings you rival. While your potential audience shrinks, you can more properly focus on the right audience members and observe committed audience members who are invigorated that their specialty is being investigated.
Lisa Odenweller, Founder and CEO of Kroma Wellness
For me, a great podcast has to offer a fresh perspective on something. A podcast I've been listening to recently, The SelfWork Podcast, has helped me to gradually change my relationship with work culture and productivity. I’m very compelled by a podcast that can combine the intimacy of personal narratives with the authority of professional advice. These are the podcasts that can draw me in for the long haul.
Why do People Listen to Podcasts?
Over 74% of those surveyed by edison research said the main reason they listened to podcasts was to learn something new. Other reasons people gave were, to be entertained and staying up to date. (1) Evergreen content has the best chance of being listened to because people can listen to it today, tomorrow, and next year and feel they learned something new.
Karl Hughes. I'm the CEO of Draft.dev,
I stick around because I know I'm gonna learn something completely new every week. And the host's sense of humor and spirited inquiries are a breath of fresh air.
Maria A. McDowell Founder EasySearchPeople
I've got an eclectic taste in podcasts. Most of the podcasts that I listen to are podcasts that teach me something. I love learning new things, so I'm apt to listen to a podcast that's teaching me something I didn't know before. This can be anything from how to build a car to how to write a good book. But I also love a good story. If I can get a good mix of a story, personal brand, and an interesting episode title, I'm more likely to listen to that podcast.
Ravi Parikh, CEO, RoverPass
I especially enjoy podcasts that have something to teach me - even more so if they offer me other avenues to learn even more about the topic they cover.
Which Genre is Best?
In the US, 22% of respondents to a Statista survey about podcasts said that comedy was their favorite type of podcasts to listen to. Worldwide, the number one genre is Business. (2) How funny are you? Podcasts are a great medium for stand-up comedians to use for engaging their audiences and testing their routines. Joe Rogan did start off as a comedian before branching out as an interviewer and host to celebrities and popular thought leaders.
Trevor Larson, I'm the CEO and Founder of Nectar
Ultimately, the key is finding content that truly interests me and keeps me coming back for more. Whether that's in the form of a funny comedy podcast or an informative news show, it's all about finding the content that clicks with me and keeps me engaged.
Where do People Listen to Podcasts?
When it comes to where podcast listeners like to consume their favourite episodes, 90% of podcast listeners say they listen to podcasts at home. 64% tune in while they’re in the car, 49% listen while they’re walking, 43% at the gym or while they’re working out, 37% while they’re at work, and 37% on the commute or while using public transportation. (3) People are listening while they do other things, its background noise. The amount of time they have to listen to an episode is determined by how much time it takes them to do these activities.
Think about how you can offer value to someone.
Brian Donovan, CEO, TimeShatter
A good podcast is this generation's version of a good radio show. It needs a clear brand identity, a compelling human element, and an angle that differentiates it from similar offerings in the market. My choice to follow or not to follow a podcast comes down to one simple question: does this add value to my free time? If the answer is yes, I'm a follower for life.
Melanie Anderson of Loopy Little Letters
I have several podcasts saved in my favorites, but I always go back to the same two or three. The connecting theme is that I learn something new, am inspired, and walk away with actionable ideas of how I can improve my life. It also helps if they are under an hour.
How Many Podcasts are There?
It can be hard for a new podcast to attract an audience because there are almost 2 million podcasts (only 700 000 are active) and over 47 million podcast episodes online. (4) With The average number of podcasts, a regular podcast listener listens to is six, and 30% of hard-core listeners listen to six or more. (1) To get them to switch out one of their regular podcasts shows for yours is the goal and why you need to make sure what you produce is better than what is already available.
Many podcasters shell out a lot of money and have teams to help them produce high quality shows. Which is why the sound quality, and the sound of your voice, is important. If you have a nice voice, it may be the reason your podcast is chosen as someone’s fav.
Stefan Smulders at expandi.io
I'm also very picky in terms of audio quality, I just can't follow a podcast that has just started because most of the time the audio is terrible (understandable, but I still don't like that).
Max Shak Founder SurvivalGearShack.com
I want the podcast to be of high production quality. My point is that some of the pods I listen to have terrible production quality (Big Ego Tapes, I'm looking at you) but they have such interesting content that I can overlook it.
Are you the right person to host a podcast? There is a lot more to podcasting than just talking into a microphone. You must have something to say, speak with authority, be energetic, and a varied tone. Unless the point is to sound like Buler’s teacher. “Buler… Buler… Buler…” Listen to some of the podcasts in your genre to hear how they sound and then figure out how you can up the bar.
Emma Gordon Founder of USSalvageYards
When I am listening to a podcast, I decide whether to follow or not depending on how catchy or enthusiastic the voice of the host is. I could also decide to follow if the podcast is full of valuable and helpful content. If the host has a good accent and is audible, it is a plus.
Angela Hathaway of The Fit Pro VA
When I finally choose something to listen to, I pay attention to their speech. It's sounds petty, but speakers who are too slow, have vocal fry, and use too many filler words are an automatic skip for me. I like podcasters who are eloquent, get to the point, and allow their guests to tell their stories.
Harry Morton Founder at Lower Street
What gets me to become a fan or ongoing listener of a podcast is the quality of the host: 1. Do they ask good questions? 2. Do they allow their guests to speak and not interrupt? 3. Do they stay focused and not ramble or waste time?
What Do You Talk About?
Connecting to an audience you can’t see isn’t easy and talking to ourselves feels odd. When you tell a story and address the listener by asking questions you don’t answer but give them something to think about can help connect you and the audience. Over 27% of new podcast listeners will abandon a podcast if it doesn’t “hook” them within the first 5 minutes. Almost 28% will keep going until 15 minutes before they stop listening and around 22% will listen to a whole episode before deciding if they’re going to tune in again. (5) Make sure you polish the beginning and hook them in quickly by creating curiosity, hitting them with something big, or letting them know what’s coming down the pipe in the episode.
Jessica Marketing Associate at TeamUp
As a listener I feel that I am being spoken to, not spoken at. I think a lot of podcasts miss the mark when they are focused on sharing their personal opinions about things, rather than engaging with their audiences and trying to formulate opinions and ideas that their audience would connect with.
I love listening to a podcast that is easy to understand and digestible. Difference-making criteria between a good and a bad podcast is the clarity of the topic.
How the Podcast Episode is Structured
Storytelling works because it has structure, a beginning, a middle, and an end. Audiences know what to expect and can follow what is going on without having to put in too much brain power. When you are talking or interviewing a guest are you just letting it go all over, or do you guide them through a structure of beginning, middle, and end?
Ellie Walters, CEO of FindPeopleFaster.
Personally, a good podcast must have some of the following: an engaging introduction is my taste of a good podcast, I always go back to channels that start their podcast with introducing the topic in a question-like manner to get the listener engaged in trying to figure out an answer for him/herself. sometimes, repetition on a podcast can be an asset and if there is a time to do it, then i prefer to hear it at the beginning.
Jordan McAuley, Founder CELEBRITY / PR
"There are so many podcasts today, I only listen to ones that get right into the story. No offense, but I don't have time to listen to small talk with your co-host, what your kids are up to, what your vacation was like. Just get right into it."
Lindsey Allard CEO & Co-Founder of PlaybookUX
The production must be quality and the hosts must know what they’re doing. I’m not interested in listening to small talk about the hosts, what they are doing, or a ton of ramble about nonsense. Get to the meat of the conversation, make sure it sounds professional, and give me a solid amount of information per minute.
Guests can help you build your audience because they will share the episode with their audiences, and you gain a fan or two. The quality of the guest matters, along with the sound quality of their equipment. Even if they have the most interesting story, if they sound like nails on a chalkboard, your audience will stop listening. If it happens too often, they may stop following you altogether.
Robert Puharich Associate Producer Specified Growth Podcast
The ability to bring in other experts is a significant factor. Those with a network of successful people in a particular area get my attention. Podcasts that get it right are asking good questions, allowing the speaker to work through their ideas, and asking further good questions to really dive into a topic. When I listen to experts, I really like to understand where they are coming from on their ideas, and good podcasts get these ideas out.
James Green, Owner, Cardboard Cutouts
For me, it's about the content and the interaction of the host(s) with the guests. Podcasts have become a valuable information source for many people, so if the podcast is providing solid information in an entertaining way, then they're definitely doing something right.
Lucie Chavez CMO of Radaris
I choose my podcasts by the shows that provide continuous value to me, have engaging guests, and keep me wanting to come back.
Nothing else is important to me other than what I can learn in each episode and the value it provides me. If they can do that, and I feel like it’s worth my time, I keep coming back.
I learn the hard way – I do the work and figure it out for myself instead of researching, reading, and listening to find out how to get where I want to go faster with less headaches. That might be why I have such a headache today – and here I thought it was all the eye strain from hours on end of screen time getting everything done on time.
I was overwhelmed by people wanting to talk to me that I pretty much talked to everyone. Most people were great, but there was the odd person who sounded so tinny and had only one thing to say that no matter how much editing I did, I just couldn’t use their episode.
I ended up spending lots of time on editing for several reasons, poor speaking quality of a guest, the sound coming through from their side of the conversation, or long ramblings onto tangents that didn’t matter to the core message. The great thing about editing is that I learned which filler words I use and have gotten better at speaking because of it.
I have gotten BrandAPeel: Brand Storytelling in the Digital Age off to a huge start with 100 episodes to promote and organize. Now all I need are listeners and your feedback to help me improve.