Can Podcasts Benefit Regional Magazine Publishers?

revenue - increasing revenue with podcasts

After recently exploring how blogs can help magazine publishers boost ad sales, we’re turning to another type of on-demand media that has been enjoying a surge in popularity – the podcast.

While it might not be an obvious choice, it’s something that could potentially be perfect for regional publishers. As discussed in Publishing Executive, “Podcasting is a modern method of storytelling through the spoken word, which is a natural extension for magazine publishers who already excel at storytelling largely through the written word and photography.”

According to the Infinite Dial’s report, The Podcast Consumer 2019, in the last year alone the audience for podcasts has grown significantly – 51% of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to at least one podcast with 32% having listened in the last month and 22% in the past week.

So, we know people are listening, but there’s another statistic that should be of particular interest to regional publishers. Of those surveyed, 54% of podcast consumers report that they’re more likely to consider brands they hear advertised on podcasts. In an industry that relies heavily on ad revenue, this could be a major selling point when it comes to ad sales.

If you’ve considered creating one for your publication, or just want to be part of one that’s already established, here are a few things to consider when deciding if it might be right for a revenue boost.

Not sure where to start?

Think about the basics first. Similar to blogs, you’ll need frequent content, so develop a content calendar with a frequency that feels realistic. If you have to start with one a month, but quickly realize that a bi-weekly podcast is do-able, scale up. Starting slowly and building will lead to less frustration as you get the hang of what all goes into producing an episode.

In terms of what you say, consider both their listening habits and their interests. Here are some ways to think like a radio producer and keep a listener’s interest:

  • Converse! Monologues are flat and aren’t interesting, so invite guests and make it a dynamic conversation.
  • Promote! The best way to grow your podcast is to grow awareness. You can do this by utilizing all available channels to post updates about episodes and content. Use your website, social channels and consider a dedicated section on your printed pages as well. And don’t forget to sign up for directories like iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify and podcast.net.
  • Value-driven. Whether it’s educational, inspirational, informational or just pure entertainment, make your content interesting and of value to the listener—don’t just push ads and selling more copies and subscriptions.

Unlike blogs, you may need to invest in some equipment to get started. There are some inexpensive tools and software available to ensure your sound quality is professional-grade. Just like with the frequency of episodes, start somewhere that makes sense for your budget and goals. If you aren’t certain that it will be a good fit for you, try out some of the less expensive or free tools before investing heavily in more professional equipment.

When it comes to revenue and podcasts, there are a few different tactics to consider.

Host-read ads

As part of your ad sales, add an upsell option to have a host-read ad during a podcast episode. You could sell it as an option all on its own, or as part of a package with a print ad. If you sell ad space on your website, consider a bundle that includes all three.

Selling sponsorships

There are a lot of different ways to approach sponsorship. You can offer title sponsorships, affiliate sponsorships where you talk about particular products or sponsorships that fall either at the start, end or middle of the podcast. At the beginning, it might be difficult to track down sponsors without the ability to show that you actually have listeners, so many people will start looking for sponsors once they’ve built up a small audience. The advantage that regional publishers have is that they can offer their sponsors exposure on more than one medium, so it might be possible to garner sponsorships early on when combined with print, social media mentions and website ad space.

Include the podcast as part of a subscription package

If you’d like to incentivize people to buy subscriptions, add in special episodes or additional bonus content that’s available to subscribers only. If you focus on a particular sport, like trail running, consider having particular interviews with top athletes or new gear reviews available only to paid subscribers—something that will be of high interest to your target audience.

If you aren’t ready to dive in to developing your own podcast just yet, there are ways to still take advantage of the popularity of the medium.

Be a guest

Research has shown that people who are regular podcast listeners tune in to seven podcasts a week. This means that if you find popular podcasts within your publication’s area of interest, you have ample opportunity to be heard. If you’re an expert on a particular topic or there’s a regional or local event coming up, reach out to popular podcasts to see if you can make a guest appearance. When contacting various podcasters, just be sure highlight any relevant links between the podcast’s audience and what you have to say.

Partnerships

If you don’t want to go it alone, find a partner and tag team the effort. If your magazine focuses on a particular hobby, like fly fishing, link up with a well-known fly shop to bring in a larger audience and a perspective that will be relevant to your target listeners.

Not certain how to approach podcasting? Gather information from those who have already tried it out, like San Diego Magazine, which you can read about in this article.

In the end, whether or not developing a blog or podcast is right for your publication will depend on your bandwidth and audience. Take a look at your available resources and if you aren’t able to create your own, leverage those who do it well and could create great exposure for your magazine and positively affect your revenue stream. Either way, you’re carving out a place in a community that creates opportunity to show another side of your brand.

Give it a listen!

For more ideas on what other regional publishers are doing, check out these podcasts:

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