What does it take to create a podcast consistently for five years?

create a podcast

By Mark Schaefer

Tom Webster and I certainly beat the odds. We just recorded our fifth anniversary episode of The Marketing Companion, putting us in an elite category … not too many shows last that long. In fact almost none of them do.

So I thought I would take a few moments and dissect the show and hypothesize what has made it successful for so long. In this post I will provide an honest assessment of our challenges, what we do well, and what we could do better. But like all good case studies, let’s start with the goal. Why did we create a podcast at all?

The Goal of The Marketing Companion

Most people start a podcast to a) build a content asset they can monetize; b) promote their businesses; or c) become known in their field.

It might surprise you to learn that none of these worthy goals drives us. We do have sponsors, but Tom and I don’t need the money, we don’t promote our businesses, and while the program has certainly enhanced our personal brands, I would not say this ever enters our minds when we do the show.

We started The Marketing Companion five years ago to learn about podcasting. Having a program on the air has helped both our careers but I would say that at this point for both of us it is a creative, intellectual challenge. It’s interesting to match wits on the show and we also have a lot of fun along the way. The podcast primarily serves as a creative outlet for us at this point and an opportunity to spend time together every other week!

Our challenges

Here are some of the issues we have faced over the years.

Personal Evolution — Both of us have had career twists since we started the show in 2013. I am less “social-media-oriented” than I used to be. Tom is more audio/podcast-focused than when we started. We have had to evolve the show and keep our audience coming back for more at the same time.

Time — We only record every other week but even that minimalist schedule presses us. Both of us have families and crazy travel schedules and we’ve recorded under some pressing circumstances. But I’m proud to say that we have never missed an episode in five years.

Sponsors — It is not necessarily difficult getting sponsors for our podcast. It’s a great show and we have reasonable rates. But we have not been able to attract many long-term sponsors, meaning that lining up new partners is an on-going process. I think a lot of people are still “experimenting” with podcast advertising. If you’d like to be a sponsor, let me know.

Promotion — We’ve done a lousy job promoting the show. Neither Tom nor I are comfortable with a lot of self-promotion and we don’t have time for it either. The show has grown steadily, but we know it could grow a lot more if we put a little “oomph” behind it.

Humor — Each show starts with a wacky introduction from Scott Monty. We normally lead with a “bit” by selling a made-up product from our made-up home office at Rockefeller Center. Let me tell you something: It is HARD WORK being funny in a way that appeals to a broad, global audience. A constant challenge to shake things up and keep it fresh.

Where do we belong? Many shows are migrating to networks. We’re open to the possibility but have not found the right home yet.

What’s working well

Keep it simple — We knew that if we were to create a podcast, resist complexity. We do two shows a month. No guests. We out-source production duties. Keep it small, keep it simple, keep it fun. If the show ever becomes a burden, I fear that would be the end.

Delegate — Tom and I spend time preparing for each show, spend about 90 minutes a month recording it, and that’s it. We delegate the other work on the podcast so we can focus on creating content.

Chemistry — Tom and I have an incredible chemistry that has grown over the years. If I had to name one source of our success it would be that we have more fun than the audience every show. Chemistry is number one.

Focus — Here is the highest compliment I ever received for the show: “You guys are never going to be huge because you’re too smart. I’m not sure everybody can follow you.” I’m OK with our place in the pod-verse. We’re focused on creating a great show through our quirky personalities. I’m at peace that we’re not for everybody. But the people who DO love us? Wow. You could not ask for more amazing and passionate fans!

Entertaining — Sometimes I will go back and listen to a show right after I recorded it. And you know what? I laugh. Even though we just recorded the show and I KNOW what we’re going to say, I laugh. I think that is a good sign. If I can entertain myself, I think it might just entertain you, too.

And now I would like to invite you listen to our very special fifth anniversary show. For the first time ever, we recorded the show face-to-face (while drinking a local Boston beer called Boom Sauce). We reflect on the “founder’s story” of our show, and share a few of favorite moments, including a bit we did that caused us to laugh so hard we literally could not speak.

Thanks for being with us on our journey, and enjoy the show!

Click on this link to listen to Episode 129

Other ways to enjoy our podcast

Please support our extraordinary sponsors. Our content is free because of their generosity.

Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter The Full Monty and his new podcast available here: fullmontyshow.com.

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