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Survey Sheds Light on How Podcasting’s ‘Haves’ And ‘Have Nots’ Differ In Strategy And Success.

The podcast consultancy Improve Podcast has released the findings of its survey of 1,076 podcasters about how they produce, market and monetize their shows. The results finds that among podcasters who earn $50,000 per year or more the winning formula may be patience -- it says successful podcasters are 8-times more likely to have published more than 100 episodes and 16-times more likely to have published over 200 episodes.

Success in podcasting comes with time and experience,” says Improve Podcasting’s Chris Land in a blog post detailing the results. He says 69% of podcasters whose show is over 24 months old are monetizing it successfully, while 80% of lower-income podcasters have shows younger than 24 months. The data also shows a high correlation between the number of published episodes, months of podcasting, and listeners per episode. Land says higher-income podcasters are 8-times more likely to have more than a thousand listeners per episode.

Not surprisingly, the survey finds the biggest revenue source among podcasters is advertising. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said advertising and host-read ads are how their money is made. Yet nearly half (47%) said they also benefit from direct contributions from listeners. Podcasters who earn over $50,000 per year are three-times more likely to have sponsorships as the main monetization channel, and two-times more likely to sell their own services as their main monetization channel according to Land.

Diversification also pays off. The survey finds higher-income producers use on average 2.5 monetization channels. That is more than double what lower-income podcasters use. The survey finds nearly half (45%) of lower-income podcasters only use one monetization channel while higher earners are two-times more likely to use three monetization channels and two-times more likely to use four or more. “The rich mix of monetization channels used by most successful podcasters clearly indicates an untapped and vast monetization opportunity hidden in podcasting,” says Land.

The survey also found that higher-earning producers are twice as likely to actively promote their shows than lower-income podcasters. Compared to lower-income podcasters, podcasters who earn over $50,000 per year are twice as likely to create episode transcripts, use paid promotion, engage in partnerships and collaboration, and make a live video. They are also more likely to have a website with additional content and produce bonus episodes.

The number of marketing channels used is also highly correlated with financial success. Higher-income podcasters use on average 3.6 marketing channels. That is 157% more than lower-income podcasters. And more than a third (36%) of lower-income podcasters use only one marketing channel.

“It is paramount for new creators to understand how promoting podcasts is different,” says Land. “Long-term audience growth depends highly on choosing the proper channels and executing a well-thought marketing strategy over a long time. New creators often invest their time in channels that do not yield good results and are not a good value.”

Email marketing is not widely adopted by podcasters, despite being what Land thinks is one of the most effective marketing channels. The survey finds 53% of higher-income podcasters and 36% of lower-income podcasters engage in list building. “Email marketing in podcasting holds huge untapped potential. If you are not mailing to your listeners, your competition will,” says Land.

Improve Podcast’s survey also asked creators what trends they have noticed during the past two years. Increased competition was most cited by higher-income podcasters where a majority 53% said that is their biggest observation. Land notes the survey also found that twice as many higher-income podcasters (16% vs. 8%) see increased competition as a big challenge in podcasting.

The biggest change among lower-earning podcasters is a belief that listeners today expect higher-quality content. Nearly six in ten (59%) say that is their biggest observation, while a third (32%) said it is getting more difficult to monetize their shows.

One thing both groups of producers can agree on is one in five say it is getting harder to get traffic from YouTube than it was two years ago.

Land says the findings of their survey both confirmed some long-held assumptions and offered surprises. “As with any online business, there is no one blueprint you can use to make a podcast successful, but we hope this study will give you a lot of confidence, that the right amount of focused effort will bring the necessary results,” he said.

Read the full Improve Podcast survey results HERE.

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