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6 Things a Successful VC Says You Need to Create a Profitable Podcast

6 Things a Successful VC Says You Need to Create a Profitable Podcast

6 Things a Successful VC Says You Need to Create a Profitable Podcast

  • Apr 16, 2024

As the host of a business podcast focused on helping creative entrepreneurs turn their passions into profitable podcasts, I often have insightful conversations with guests about what it takes to build a successful show. My latest podcast guest was Andrew Romans, a venture capitalist with over 100 investments in high-growth startups. Andrew shared his unique perspective on the ingredients needed to create a profitable podcast. Here are the six most important things I took away from our conversation:

1. Consistently Great Content

According to Andrew, the #1 component of a successful podcast is consistently having great guests who provide value to your target niche audience. He explained that it's not enough to land one or two big-name guests to give your podcast credibility. While that may drive some initial interest, you need to overdeliver with insightful, relevant guests on every single episode in order to build an audience that keeps coming back. 

Having the occasional A-list guest is like getting a sugar rush - it feels good short-term but doesn't provide lasting energy. Think of big-name guests as desserts - nice to have occasionally, but not the main staple. To keep listeners engaged for the long haul, you need protein-packed value and substance in every episode.

Aim to have guests that you genuinely enjoy having conversations with around your niche. This passion and authenticity shine through in the episodes, which resonates with audiences. They can tell when you're truly excited about the topics and your guests. Make it a goal with each episode to uncover something fascinating you didn't know before. This contagious curiosity and joy will make your podcast irresistible.

2. Integration with Other Offerings 

Andrew refers to Disney's business model of integrating various spokes of offerings into one wheel that builds momentum. From movies to merchandise to theme parks and cruises, Disney has successfully interlinked various products and services to create a self-reinforcing ecosystem. 

Andrew emphasizes adopting a similar strategy by tightly integrating your podcast into any other products, services, and initiatives you offer. For example, if you sell an online course, leverage your podcast to drive interest in your educational content. Bring on students from your course as guests to showcase transformation stories. Discuss specific modules from your course curriculum in each episode. Offer podcast listeners discounts to purchase the course. 

The same concept applies if you speak at live events, have an agency or consulting firm, an ecommerce business, or any other monetized offering. Essentially, “guest star” your podcast in other distribution channels to reinforce interest and drive business. 

This integrated “hub and spoke” system creates a positive feedback loop. Your podcast drives interest in your other offerings, which results in more purchases, connections, and data that can inform podcast content improvement and guest suggestions. More value delivered on your podcast means more course sign-ups, coaching calls booked, and event tickets sold. It compounds.

3. Favor Trading

One of Andrew's secrets to success is spending 30% of his time doing genuine favors for other people without expecting anything in return. This could be making introductions between two people who would benefit from knowing each other, promoting someone's content, writing recommendations, or providing thoughtful advice. 

Andrew explains that consistently helping others builds significant goodwill and can lead to big payoffs down the road, even if you don't know how or when. He gave examples of people he assisted with a small favor years ago who ended up referring him to a huge business opportunity recently. 

The key here is not to do it from a scarcity mindset solely focused on what they can do for you in return. Rather, develop an abundance mentality powered by compassion. How can you genuinely help this person take their business to the next level? Build relationships through generosity without expecting reciprocity.

That said, by consistently adding value to those around you, remarkable opportunities will emerge organically over time. Someone you go out of your way to help today may end up referring you to a huge client tomorrow. Goodwill compounds. 

4. Raising Capital If Needed

While bootstrapping a podcast business is ideal, Andrew notes that you may need to raise some capital from angel investors to afford things like production, marketing, sponsorships, etc. If you have a solid business plan and have built trust with potential investors, you may be able to raise the funds needed to accelerate growth. 

Andrew suggests that beyond friends and family, angel investing provides a reasonable path for securing start-up capital if you have a solid business plan and vision. Identify individual investors you may have existing relationships with that believe in you and your business enough to take a smart bet. 

Of course, their investment criteria still apply - how much return can they realistically expect on their capital, and in what timeframe? Come equipped to discussions with angel investors with insightful market data and the ability to make fact-based projections:

  • What is the addressable audience size given your podcast niche? Analyze competitors to estimate demand. 
  • What are realistic listener and download projections in years 1, 2, and 3? Reference benchmarks.
  • How will you monetize the audience? And through what offerings? Show precedent. 
  • How many potential episodes can be produced annually? At what pace can audience growth be fueled? 

Backing up your business plan with market analytics versus hopes and dreams is key to securing angel investments to accelerate your podcast. Demonstrating a viable path to recouping their investment and producing a return is what ultimately motivates their decision.

In terms of how much to raise, be strategic. Consider the infusion of funds that would truly take you to the next level. Narrow in on the 1 or 2 things that would be game-changing. This focus provides confidence to potential angel investors on achievability. Defining an exact use of funds versus a vague “general working capital” request goes a long way when asking people to put hard-earned money to work.

5. Build an Audience You Own

Rather than selling off ownership of your podcast to create the next big podcast that sells for nine figures, Andrew advocates a different mindset - build your own niche audience and ecosystem without giving up ownership. This approach gives you control of the business, allows you to keep more equity and profits, and creates transferable assets you fully own.

Think through what is required to produce your definition of success, then construct the necessary elements - identify and deeply understand your niche audience, determine monetization strategies, create high-quality content that over-delivers value, and incrementally scale while retaining control. 

You likely don't need massive outside funding or advisors if you take this targeted approach. Curate an intimate following that pays for access rather than clickbait content funded by questionable advertising. Quality over quantity. Depth of connection versus shallow vanity metrics. 

With full ownership, you control distribution, so nothing prevents you from still reaching wide audiences across various channels if you choose. But the key is you aren't beholden to outside interests or reacting to outside pressures. Make decisions anchored on your personal vision versus investor expectations.

6. Leverage Emerging Tech 

Podcasting in 2024 is tough. It is so much more than just simply recording and distributing audio content. Podcast listeners want more, and successful podcasters know the value of having both video and audio content, blog and social media posts for each episode, and a website to house all of your podcast content can bring to your podcast. Andrew explains that creators should not just be focused solely on content, but also fully leverage innovative tech tools.

While passion for great audio content is essential, it is no longer enough by itself. Form symbiotic partnerships with tech products to rapidly grow your podcast while allowing new products to refine capabilities for the collective benefit of podcasting. Progress compounds when builders collaborate.

The possibilities for integrating emerging technologies into your podcast are endless. From augmenting human creativity to automating administrative tasks to unlocking data-driven insights, adopt an abundant, entrepreneurial mindset about leveraging innovation to prosper.

There you have it - 8 key things I learned from Andrew Romans on how to build a profitable podcast. His advice reinforced strategies I'm already executing but also opened my eyes to new approaches to implement. 

I'm confident that by focusing on consistently overdelivering value to your podcast audience and tightly integrating it with other offerings, the momentum will continue to build.


Key Takeaways

Get comfortable with hearing "no" a lot. Keep picking yourself up with enthusiasm after rejection. Have a high pain threshold for rejection.

Plan for the worst possible outcomes in business. Don't be naive - have contingency plans even for unlikely failures.  

Closing sales and getting people to say "yes" can be major high points in business.

Consistently having great guests is key to a successful podcast. Provide value to them so they return.  

Spend 30% of your time doing favors for others without expecting anything in return. This can pay dividends later.  

Use a "hub and spoke" model like Disney to create momentum across books, podcasts, events, etc. Let them reinforce each other.


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Thanks for joining us for this episode. I wish you success as you move forward to monetize your podcast.

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