You don’t have to do the same thing with your podcast (and we wouldn’t recommend it!).
But in general, the more you show up for your audience, the more you’ll become a part of their life and tuning in to your show will become a habit for them.
Not to mention, all that practice is going to make you a lot better at creating your podcast content.
So how consistent should you be, at least at the start of your podcasting journey?
The podcasts that Buzzsprout sees sticking with it are the ones that make it past the ten-week mark.
“Once they hit that ten-week point,” says Alban Brooke, “it’s a game-changer for whether or not they stick with it long term.”
That’s why he tells people to start by committing to releasing an episode every week for ten weeks. Succeeding with that will put you in a group of roughly 600,000 active podcasts that have produced at least ten episodes.
Growing Your Podcast Audience Takes Active Marketing
What if you’ve pushed through your first ten episodes, seen some early growth, and… that growth has slowed, or even stagnated? A lot of podcasters find that an early growth spurt leads to a frustrating plateau.
Unfortunately, a lot of podcasters—and content creators in general—also take an “If you build it, they will come” approach.
But that won’t work today. You have to actively market your show.
Here are some strategies that can help you push your listenership back on the incline slope.
Strategy #1: Getting Exposure on High-Growth Video Channels (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube)
A number of successful podcast creators have grown their shows by sharing content on high-growth channels like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and even YouTube. They’re leveraging the algorithms on these channels to get exposure they can redirect to their podcast.
The basic strategy is to create a short piece of video content that borrows from your podcast episode, then invite viewers to the podcast to hear the full story.
Once in a while, one of these videos may even go viral. You can find case studies about podcasters who have gained thousands of new listeners based on just one viral TikTok video or Instagram Reel.
And a number of famous podcasters have used YouTube clips to attract listeners and then direct them to their podcast feeds.
The key is that the video content has to be related to the podcast episode you’re driving people to. You need to tell a story that’ll hook people in to want to hear the rest of the episode.
It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many creators get tripped up by not following this crucial point.
How do you pick a high-growth platform to pull off this strategy? Alban always encourages creators to find the platform they understand and feel comfortable creating content that will perform well on it.
Strategy #2: Guesting on Other Podcasts
It helps to remember the big principle behind successfully growing your show, which is finding audiences that don’t know you already.
Repurposing your podcast episodes and putting them on your Twitter or Facebook feed is fine, but by and large they’re going to be seen by people who already know you exist.
So how do you get your podcast in front of new ears?
Guesting on other podcasts is a tried-and-true and still very effective option. (If you’re looking for a way to scale your podcast-guesting outreach, we like what Podcast Hawk has to offer.)
Another is including your podcast episodes in blog posts on your site, which helps people find your show via Google’s search algorithm.
If you write a blog post about a topic you’ve already covered on the podcast, link to that episode in the post itself.
Strategy #3: Paid Advertising and Sponsorships
What about paid acquisition? Is it something podcasters should be thinking about?
The short answer is yes, and there are two main strategies here: paid ads and sponsorships.
Paid ads are definitely a viable strategy for growing your show. Just know that there’s a right way, and a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way is to put ads directly on Facebook or Google and hope that a cold audience will start clicking and listening.
The experts at Buzzsprout have never seen anybody successfully grow a podcast that way. There’s just too much friction in the way of getting someone from the ad to your show.
As Alban says, they’ve “only seen people lose a lot of money” this way.
So how do you reduce the friction and do podcast ads the right way? The key is to advertise on apps that already have a captive audience of listeners—apps like Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Podcast Addict.
You could also look into sponsoring another podcast—paying a fellow podcaster to give you a shoutout.
Trying this on some of the bigger shows could get expensive, but there are a lot of small, fast-growing podcasts looking to monetize that might be a better fit.
So find a content creation cadence that fits your life, and that you’ll be excited to do. For a lot of people, allocating one day a week to creating your episode is a good choice.
Since “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work, you also need to carve out time for marketing. There’s almost always more you can do to market your show, but start with putting just an hour aside each week for marketing.
If you’re on TikTok, maybe that means spending an hour making a video to promote your latest episode and engaging with people on TikTok. If you’re on LinkedIn, it’s writing a post that ties into the content in your episode.
Start small, and stay consistent.
Engage with Your Listeners and Build Podcast Superfans
Podcasting is a long game. The podcasters who stick with it for years are most likely to find the success (and download numbers) they’re looking for.
The average new podcaster, though, is getting roughly thirty-seven plays per episode. That may sound small, and it is.
But small can be mighty.
That’s because each of those thirty-seven people is a real human being. And one of the superpowers you have when you’re small is that you actually can engage with every one of them.
Ask people to reach out, and then honor it when they do. If someone sends you an email, mention it on the podcast. If you get a positive review, read it on the air and thank the listener. If a fan posts something about your podcast on social, like it and thank them for sharing it.
Elevate your superfans. Connect with them and learn more about them, so you can better serve them and attract more just like them.
Learn More about What Makes a Podcast Successful in 2022
By the way, a lot of the insights in this post were taken from Pat Flynn’s conversation with Alban Brooke, head of marketing at Buzzsprout, during SPI’s first Audience Driven Summit in October 2021, our two-day deep-dive into the most effective, relevant ways to build an audience today.
Chelsea Guffy recently began a side hustle as a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations.
“I thought to myself, ‘Okay, this could be something really cool,’ Guffy said when a friend she helped advise on a Disney vacation suggested she do it as a job.
This is Chelsea Guffy’s story, as told to writer Jamie Killin.
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This is an as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Chelsea Guffy, who recently began a side hustle as a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Last year, I noticed on social media that one of my sorority sisters had started working as a travel agent on a lot of Disney vacations and working for a travel agency called ET Family Travel.
I had a Disney vacation coming up that November, and I had already booked the whole thing but I had asked her if she could get me dining reservations, because those are the hardest thing to get at Disney World, and she agreed. She helped me get all the dining reservations that I wanted.
Then she said to me, “Chelsea, you know Disney in and out. You should come on as an agent.” So, I thought about it, and come the new year I thought to myself, “Okay, this could be something really cool.” I joined the team and I fell in love with it.
Travel is just in my blood, and I love booking vacations for my family, so it was a no-brainer.
I grew up in Florida about two hours away from Disney World and grew up going.
The first time I went, I was probably three weeks old. I’ve always had a love for travel – I studied abroad in college, and when I was growing up my family would take trips at least once a year to different places all over the country.
Travel is just in my blood, and I love booking vacations for my family, so it was a no-brainer that I’d like doing it for other people.
The agency I work for focuses on Disney and family-friendly trips, so most agents focus on theme park vacations. However, we do all kinds of travel. I mainly focused on Disney at first, but then I got requests from my friends, so I decided to branch out.
I did a United Kingdom trip for a friend of mine in June, and now I’m doing another UK trip as well as a New York trip. I’ve also helped with California trips and even staycations.
My clientele is primarily my friends and people in my network, but now I’ve had two clients who I did not know previously – one reached out to me through my social media, and another was a referral through the agency.
I’m able to help my clients save a lot of time. I have a lot of knowledge; while they might need months to plan a trip, I can do it for them in three weeks. Sometimes I also find lower prices for them.
I also make sure to tell my clients that this is my second job and that I have a full-time job. I try to give as much time to my clients as I can – but I make sure to set expectations.
I do also get benefits like free Disney tickets and discounts at hotels.
As a side hustle, it’s nice to have the extra cash. I am an independent contractor who makes money based on commissions from the theme parks and hotels. There can also be perks from vendors we work with, which is a benefit for a travel enthusiast like myself.
The amount of time I spend on the job varies, but I average 12 to 15 hours a week in addition to my full-time job. I start as soon as my son goes to bed, so 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. are my prime. It works because I’m a person that likes to be busy – we’re always go, go, go.
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Startup business grants can help small businesses grow without debt. But if you want free money to start a company, your time may be better spent elsewhere. Competition for small-business grants is fierce, and many awards require time in business — often at least six months.
Some grants are open to newer businesses or true startups. And even if you don’t qualify now, it can pay to know where to look for future funding. Here are the best grants for small-business startups, plus alternative sources of startup funding to consider.
How Much Do You Need?
with Fundera by NerdWallet
Government startup business grants and resources
Some government programs offer direct funding to startups looking for business grants, but those that don’t may point you in the right direction or help with applications:
Grants.gov. Government agencies routinely post new grant opportunities on this centralized database. If you see an opportunity relevant to your business idea, you can check if startups are eligible. Many of these grants deal with scientific or pharmaceutical research, though, so they may not be relevant to Main Street businesses.
Local governments. Lots of federal grants award funding to other governments, like states or cities, or to nonprofit economic development organizations. Those entities then offer grants to local businesses. Plugging into your local startup ecosystem can help you stay on top of these opportunities.
Small Business Development Centers. These resource centers funded by the Small Business Administration offer business coaching, education, technical support and networking opportunities. They may also be able to help you apply for small-business grants, develop a business plan and level up your business in other ways.
Minority Business Development Agency Centers. The MBDA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, operates small-business support centers similar to SBDCs. The MBDA doesn’t give grants to businesses directly, but these centers can connect you with grant organizations, help you prepare applications and secure other types of business financing.
Local startup business grants
Some local business incubators or accelerators offer business grants or pitch competitions with cash prizes. To find these institutions near you, do an online search for “Your City business incubator.”
Even if you don’t see a grant program, sign up for their email newsletter or follow them on social media. Like SBDCs and MBDAs, business incubators often provide business coaching, courses and lectures that can help you develop your business idea.
Startup business grants from companies and nonprofits
Lots of corporations and large nonprofits, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, organize grant competitions. Some national opportunities include:
iFundWomen. iFundWomen partners with other corporations to administer business grants. You can fill out a universal application to receive automatic notifications when you’re eligible to apply for a grant.
Amber Grant for Women. WomensNet gives two $10,000 Amber Grants each month and two $25,000 grants annually. Filling out one application makes you eligible for all Amber Grants. To qualify, businesses must be at lesat 50% women-owned and based in the U.S. or Canada.
National Association for the Self-Employed. Join NASE, and you can apply for quarterly Growth Grant opportunities. There are no time-in-business requirements for these grants of up to $4,000, but you’ll need to provide details about how you plan to use the grant and how it will help your business grow.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. This annual competition awards grants to small-business owners in a variety of industries. You can sign up to receive an email when each application period opens. To be eligible, you’ll need to have been selling your product or service for at least six months. Be mindful, though, that each grant cycle receives thousands of applications.
Fast Break for Small Business. This grant program is funded by LegalZoom, the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and administered by Accion Opportunity Fund. You can win a $10,000 business grant plus free LegalZoom services. Applications open during the NBA season, which runs from fall to early summer each year.
Alternative funding sources for startups
New businesses likely won’t be able to rely on startup business grants for working capital. The following financing sources may help accelerate your growth or get your startup off the ground:
SBA microloans offer up to $50,000 to help your business launch or expand. The average microloan is around $13,000, according to the SBA.
The SBA issues microloans through intermediary lenders, usually nonprofit financial institutions and economic development organizations, all of which have different requirements. You can use the SBA’s website to find a lender in your state.
Friends and family
Asking friends and family to invest in your business may seem daunting, but it’s very common. Make sure you define whether each person’s money is a loan and, if so, when and how you’ll pay it back. Put an agreement in writing if possible.
Business credit cards
Business credit cards can help you manage startup expenses while your cash flow is still unsteady. You can qualify for a business credit card with your personal credit score and some general information about your business, like your business name and industry.
You’ll probably need to sign a personal guarantee, though, which is a promise that you’ll pay back the debt if your business can’t.
If your business has a dedicated customer base, they can help fund you via crowdfunding. Usually businesses offer something in exchange, like debt notes, equity shares or access to an exclusive event.
There are lots of different crowdfunding platforms that offer different terms, so look around to find the model that works best for you.
Startups looking to make it easier for people to rent apartments on a flexible, shorter-term basis are gaining momentum thanks in part to the rise of remote work. Last week, Dealbook reported that a flexible living startup, Flow, founded by WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, has locked down $350 million from Andreessen Horowitz. Earlier today, TechCrunch reported that an online rental marketplace, Zumper, just raised $30 million in a Series D1 round of funding led by Kleiner Perkins to help it better serve people looking for short-term rental options.
Now, Landing, a startup that is making it possible for its customers to rent a fully furnished apartment on its platform for as short a period as one month, says it, too, has secured fresh funding: $75 million in equity funding and another $50 million in debt.
Delta-v Capital led the equity piece, joined by new and earlier investors, including Greycroft and Foundry. Landing has now raised $237 million in venture funding and $230 million in debt since its launch in 2019.
We told you a bit last week about Landing’s founder Bill Smith, a serial entrepreneur who we dubbed the “anti-Adam Neumann,” given that he’s decidedly understated, he’s conservative when it comes to raising venture funding, and his two past companies have only made investors money. Neumann, in comparison, is a forceful personality, and not everyone came out ahead, famously, on WeWork’s path to becoming a publicly traded company last year.
Smith’s company works like so: Using gobs of data on pricing and demand around the country, it zeroes in on multifamily buildings around the U.S. Through performance marketing and referrals, it then finds tenants for these apartments, itself signing one-year leases, then quickly moving in everything from furniture to utensils for the tenant. Landing has all of these furnishings made in Vietnam and shipped to warehouses in Austin, Phoenix and Alabama, where it is based.
Tenants, who sign on as Landing “members” for a $199 yearly fee, commit to renting from Landing for a minimum of six months, though they’re allowed to move freely to other Landing-operated apartments during that period, provided they give the company two weeks’ notice. Smith says that currently, on average, they stay in one spot six months.
Right now, Landing — which is not profitable — makes money by marking up what it pays in rent by upwards of 40%. Eventually, Smith told us last week, Landing intends to sell its software directly to the multifamily property owners. “Over time, we’ll partner with owners to bring this product to their building, and it really won’t be a ‘Landing’ lease product,” he said. “They’ll just join the Landing platform. They’ll operate using our technology and our standards. And, and it won’t be this model of, you know, Landing leases it and is committed to that lease.”
It sounds very much like what Flow is building, based on a “inside” story about Flow in the real estate outlet The Real Deal this week. According to the outlet’s sources, Flow is effectively a service that landlords employ to make their properties more attractive to people who want to bounce around yet also experience a branded, consistent experience.
As with Landing, shorter lease terms and furnished apartments will likely allow Flow to command higher rents, notes The Real Deal.
Unlike Landing, Flow will itself own at least some of the multifamily units into which its members move. Indeed, with his ample WeWork proceeds, Neumann has already snapped up more than 3,000 apartment units in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta and Nashville, per Dealbook. It could give the outfit an additional advantage. As The Real Deal notes, Flow’s buildings will “also be able to tap into cheaper financing . . . because banks can lend to the properties at the same leverage point offered to apartment projects, or up to 80 percent. Those are more favorable terms than the roughly 55 percent typically offered to hotel developments, essentially creating a high-yield business with lower costs.”
Flow, Landing and Zumper aren’t alone in spying opportunity in flexible living. Last fall, Zeus Living, which is focused on giving people “flexible living” options, raised $55 million in a round led by SIG. Blueground, a pre-furnished apartment rental startup focused on short-term and long-term rental, meanwhile raised $180 million in equity and debt funding last September. Another tech-enabled platform, Placemakr, separately raised $90 million from investors back in March.
Another flexible-living company is Sentral, whose 3,000-plus properties are owned by Iconiq Capital, the San Francisco-based investment firm whose investors include Mark Zuckerberg and Reid Hoffman; Iconiq is also a major investor in Sentral, the WSJ reported last year.
Expect more players backed by more capital, despite the uneven performance of some companies in the space, including Sonder, a short-term rental startup that went public last year via a SPAC merger and that last month cut one-fifth of its staff as part of a restructuring designed to shave $85 million in annual expenses. (On the customer-review platform Trustpilot, Sonder receives 1.3 out of five stars, with complaints about everything from a lack of hot water in its branded units to blood-stained linens.)
While the short-term rental business is complicated given its many moving parts, more individuals are adopting a nomadic existence owing to the pandemic’s ripple effects, and VCs like nothing more than an industry in flux.
“Our view,” Placemakr’s CEO tells The Real Deal, is that the “more the merrier. The institutionalization of an asset class doesn’t happen by a single group.”