TWE: How Do We Grow an Audience?

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

“Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change.”

Richard Branson

Matty Kerr is co-creator and cohost of with John Brancaccio of The Working Experience Podcast which can be found on iTunes, Spotify and wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts. Find us also on Twitter, Linked In, Instagram and Facebook.

There are many, many podcasts to choose from; you can find one on pretty much any topic. True crime, politics, and sports have broad appeals and there is an endless variety of podcasts that fall within those genres. Then there are podcasts with a more niche appeal, such as painting miniature figurines, or nuclear non-proliferation or Swedish Death Metal. These might have a smaller but more devoted audience.

Whatever the topic, broad or narrow, podcasts need an audience.

We really want people to listen to The Working Experience podcast and we want to grow as a brand (videos, blogs, live events etc.). One reason is that we enjoy doing it; it is creatively fulfilling. Another reason is that we would like to make money from it. I (and I think I speak for John) would like the podcast (and The Working Experience brand as a whole) to be my primary source of income. I would like to live the ethos of getting paid for doing what you love. And I would like to have to not wake up at 5am and commute to work.

We see the podcast as an anchor for The Working Experience brand.

There are many ways to make money with a podcast. One is to have sponsors pay for ad time, which is certainly viable if the podcast has enough listeners (potential advertisers will ask for these numbers).

A podcast can also make money from directly from the audience. There is a platform called Patreon where listeners can pay a certain amount every month, generally 1 to 20 dollars, and receive perks such as access to exclusive episodes or participation in a contest. It’s a way for listeners to support a podcast and feel engaged.

One can also sell merchandise (or “merch” as it is known in modern parlance) though various online stores. These might be t-shirts or mugs or hats or another product that bears the name of the podcast or promotes it in some way.

The Working Experience has a Patreon account where we offer personalized motivational videos or a shout out on an epsiode. We sell t-shirts and mugs and stress balls through T-Spring.com. We had Spotify as a sponsor for a few months. They were paying us $17.50 for every thousand episodes downloaded. Considering the fact that we get around 30,000 downloads a month that is not exactly retirement money.

(Full disclosure: Spotify does not sponsor us anymore.)

The reality is that we have not made any money from Patreon and we have not sold any merch. We have not made one dime from the podcast.

The bottom line is, we need to grow our audience; we need to attract listeners.

This what we have been doing.

After we record an episode it is posted to iTunes and Spotify. Tom, our editor and social media guy, posts promos on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In with pictures and snippets of audio from the episode. The idea is that if people see the promos while scrolling through their phones, they will see the promos and be inclined to find the podcast and listen to it and then maybe buy a shirt or something.

And I always post my Medium stories to Linked In, Twitter and Facebook.

However, we have received very little response on social media. We get very, very few likes or comments. We are trying to fix that.

Our concept of The Working Experience has three main components: podcast, videos, writing.

We think of The Working Experience as a brand, not just a podcast. To that end we have a website that is nearly ready to go live. This has been quite a long process. (Hint: It can be much cheaper to have people in a country like India develop a website and they have done a fine job but the lag in communication can cause things to move slowly.) As soon as it is live we will post episodes of the podcast and have a blog available as well as links to our videos.

As part of the overall brand, we also have a YouTube channel where we post short, comic videos such as Master Class parodies (how to seem engaged in a meeting when you are not listening, for example), people stealing food from the break room, HR telling an employee he smells like urine. We keep them very short, two minutes at most.

And we are looking ahead to develop new strategies for growth. There are so many avenues to explore that we found we needed to seek outside help; we have found it valuable to consult with a few media specialists for advice. For example, we hadn’t really considered using Linked In; it seemed like a place for resumes and professional contacts. However, the specialist we consulted informed us that they are trying to be a platform like Twitter or Instagram with funny videos and the like, but with a more narrow focus on business professionals. We were missing out on a potential audience so now we use it.

We also learned that it is important to understand the audience for a certain platform. Videos that work on Instagram would not work on Linked In. The Linked In crowd would want something funny but not crude or explicit. I might post a video to Instagram titled “Work Sucks Balls” but I would not put that on Linked In. Maybe on Twitter.

We have been considering Tik Tok but that involves a younger crowd with music and dancing. I’m not sure what we would do for it but we will most likely try to come up with something.

We are planning to publish an ebook on Amazon about creation and development of The Working Experience.

We have some tentative plans for live events, seminars and retreats. They are obviously on hold right now.

We have thought about doing a documentary, possibly focused on one entrepreneur who is trying to open a business. Or it could be a group of entrepreneurs.

Maybe a video series.

Maybe….I don’t know. I’m open to ideas.

There is no template, no simple answer. But that is the nature of doing something creative. That’s what makes it exciting and stressful. If there were a template, it would not be creative; you would not be creating anything. And where is the fun in that?