Every year, One Stone Creative, releases its State of the Podcasting Industry report and I love to see what’s new, what works (and what doesn’t), and where the trends point toward.

The report shows that, overall, the top 100 business podcasts are about the same age—and many of them are newer shows, which means you’re never too late to start a podcast. 

It also shows that there are more episodes being published today than last year. Daily releases have increased from 9% last year to 17% this year. Not only that but thrice-weekly releases have increased from 7% to 10%. 

While the daily podcast has increased, weekly releases took a little dip from 44% to 38%, and every other week releases were halved to 3%. I really thought podcasting would take a hit with so many people working from home and no longer commuting, but it seems to be the complete opposite. I also would think that everyone releasing their episodes on Mondays would create an echo chamber (we release on Tuesdays for that very reason), but that also doesn’t seem to be the case.

The takeaway here is that unless your goals are strictly about relationship building or content generation (which are 100% legitimate goals!) you should try to release at least weekly. And don’t worry about the release day of the week. If you want to do it on Mondays, like almost everyone else, do it! Or you can buck the trend like we do and do it on a different day.

The point is, it doesn’t really matter when you release as long as you are consistent.

How to Pitch Business Podcasts

The Spin Sucks podcast gets pitched A LOT, which always is a great indication that the PR person pitching us has never actually listened to an episode and it’s worse if they blow smoke about how much they liked such and such episode because then we really know they haven’t listened. 

The report shows that, like our podcast, 67% of the shows have a single host. From a creation standpoint, this is great because a show with a single host as the “talent” is a lot easier to manage. It also means that not everyone (like us) accepts guests so communicators have to be smart about how they pitch. 

It’s asking a lot to require everyone to listen to several episodes before pitching, but at least do a little homework. You can usually tell by the shownotes if there are guests and what topics they like to cover.

Different Types of Show Types

This year, the report also looked at show types. Generally, there are three high-level categories: business development, audience engagement, and thought leadership.

For business development, the main objective is networking and relationship building. Audience engagement is about, well, engaging a pre-existing audience. And thought leadership is about being a thinker and innovator. 

Most shows (64%) fell under the category of thought leadership, with another 15% in audience engagement. The report counted 21 of the shows separately, however, and classed them as education. 

Broadly, though not exclusively, they are part of networks or publishing organizations, and their main aim is to teach skills and theory. Normally, those would be nested under thought leadership shows, but there are enough that are focused on teaching that they deserve a special mention. 

It’s important to decide early what kind of show you want to have. If you have an overarching podcasting goal, it’s going to be a lot easier to make strategic decisions about the kind of content you produce and how you promote and repurpose it. No matter which you pick, you’re going to get some of the benefits from all three high-level categories, but with one main objective, you’ll have a much easier time selecting guests, repurposing your content, and tracking your success metrics.

Should You Join a Podcast Network?

One of the things we struggle with the Spin Sucks podcast is a podcast network. Do we join? How will we benefit? Are there shared advertising costs? What about a revenue share? It’s all a bit much and we get paralyzed by it all—so we do nothing.

The State of the Podcasting Industry report shows the same level of confusion among the top 100 business podcasts. While 43% are part of a network of sorts, most don’t see value from them. That said, the report says there are lots of benefits if the network is executed well—shared promotion, cross-posting, and revenue share. 

If you want to join an existing network, ask yourself the following:

  • What are your responsibilities in terms of content, production quality, allowing advertisements, and social promotions? 
  • What benefits you will be entitled to in terms of promotion, networking, profit sharing, etc? 
  • You may or may not be expected to include a notice that you’re a member of the network or do a certain amount of promotion for the network as a whole. 

Sometimes, joining a network can be a fantastic move for your show and your business—and other times, it’s not a great fit. If you do it, make sure you have a clear understanding of the benefits and responsibilities, and that they work for you and your goals.

How to Handle Sponsorships

As you think about ways to build your network and generate revenue for your podcast, also consider sponsorships.

This year there were fewer sponsored shows among the top 100—49% compared to 61%. This might be due to the greater variety of show topics and types, but may also be that business podcasts are finding there are better ways to monetize such as selling products and services or just reaping the indirect benefits such as name recognition and audience engagement. 

For those shows that do have sponsors, most linked to them in the show notes, a few got logo placement somewhere on the podcast website, and in one instance the guest seemed to be the sponsor, which can be a good strategy to enhance a sponsorship package.

When it comes to audio ads, they found roughly equivalent numbers of dynamic/produced ads and host reads. Dynamic ads are advertisements that are pre-produced, then inserted into a show on the host-end, often for a certain number of downloads, or a certain length of time. 

This is typically the kind of sponsored ads we do—a PR industry vendor will sponsor the podcast for a certain number of downloads. I feel like we can better control what kind of content our listeners get this way—and it also allows us to be involved in the types of results they get, which everyone knows makes me happy.

If you do accept ads, the report found that host reads are more valuable, so include your own read into the packages your offer. 

As you think about sponsors, ask yourself you should have sponsors at all. It can be great to offset the costs of production, but that doesn’t always mean it’s worth giving up your valuable airspace. You can always use the “sponsor” space to talk about your own products and services or to arrange cross-promotions with other shows. If you listen to the podcast, you may have noticed we do this. I like being able to promote some of the fun things we’re doing versus giving that space to a paid sponsor.

Not to say I’d turn a sponsor away if it were the right fit, but I do like that we own that space.

All in all, podcasting is not going away. Even though it may feel like you’re being left behind if you don’t have one, this report shows that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like there are few female-led business podcasts (get on that, will you!), there is still lots and lots of space for your business podcast.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich