Podcasting is here to stay. Here are seven reasons you should take it seriously as an author.
1. Podcasting Is a Tool of Bestselling Authors
Here is a list of the 10 bestselling Christian authors for September 2019. (A Bible study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book is actually #9, so I edited the list to remove the repetition.)
- Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
- Boss Up! by Lindsay Teague Moreno
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
- Overcomer by Chris Fabry
- 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs
Now here is that same list but with each author who either has a podcast (H = host) or has been a guest (G = guest) on a podcast in bold.
- Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (H & G)
- The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (G)
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst (G)
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile (H & G)
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (H & G)
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (H)
- Boss Up! by Lindsay Teague Moreno (H & G)
- Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (G)
- Overcomer by Chris Fabry (H & G)
- 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs (H & G)
As you can see, 100% of the bestselling authors this month were either a guest or host on a podcast. 60% of them did both!
Out of curiosity, I did a spot check on the next 20 authors in the bestseller list. They all had a podcast presence too. It should come as no surprise that every major book marketing plan includes a podcast strategy of some kind.
In 2019, podcasting is something you can’t afford to ignore. Or, put another way, a podcast strategy is a required platform element for top authors. If you want to be a top author, you can’t afford to ignore podcasts.
2. Podcast Listening Is More Popular Than Ever!
According to Edison Research, 51% of Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast. This means more people have listened to podcasts than not.
Podcast listening is expected to eat away market share from radio each year for the foreseeable future.
Among podcast listeners, the biggest chunk of their time goes to podcasts: 28%. That’s more than what they spend on AM/FM radio (24%) or streaming audio (15%).
3. Podcast Listeners Are Book Readers
Not everyone reads books, and not everyone listens to podcasts. The kind of people who listen to a 30-minute podcast are the same kind of people with the patience to read books. It is no wonder bestselling authors are embracing podcasting so completely.
Podcast listeners are also:
- more educated
- more connected
compared to the average American.
4. Podcasting Is Not a Fad
Podcasts have been around for a long time. The “pod” in podcast comes from the iPod, to give you an idea of how old they are. Podcasts are older than the smartphone technology people now listen to them on. Podcast listening has grown continually for more than 15 years. And the rate of growth has been accelerating in recent years.
5. Podcasts Are More Influential Than Social Media
What do you think would be more effective for convincing someone to buy your book: an image they saw on Facebook or listening to a 30-minute conversation between you and a podcast host they already know, like, and trust?
It’s no competition. The conversation will win every time. Authors with a podcast-centric strategy will outsell authors with a social media-centric strategy.
6. Podcasting Is Censorship Free
Because of how RSS (the technology behind podcasting) works, listeners have full control over what they listen to; and podcasters have full control over what they create. As social networks crack down on Christian authors, those authors are switching to podcasts to get the word out about their books. This protects them from censorship or anti-Christian practices while simultaneously giving them a richer connection with their readers.
From a technological perspective, it is nearly impossible to fully censor a podcast.
7. Christianity Is the Most Popular Podcast Category
One reason why podcasting is so particularly powerful for Christian authors is that there are so many podcasts for those authors to be guests on.
According to Pacific Content, there are more Christian podcasts than any other kind of podcast. This is due, in part, to sermon podcasts. For years, churches have promoted the church podcast during the announcements and in the bulletin.
Yes, You Need to Start Listening to Podcasts
Even if you are still an unpublished author, you need to start listening to podcasts to prepare for your inevitable interviews and potential show.
Chances are you already listen to podcasts. If not, statistically speaking, you are most likely an Android user.
Android users trail far behind iPhone users in terms of podcast consumption. The reason for this is because unlike iPhones, Android phones don’t come with a podcast app preinstalled. But don’t worry. You can still listen to podcasts on an Android phone; you only need to download a free app like Castbox from the Google Play Store.
If you are looking for podcasts to listen to, we have a strong list of Podcasts for Christian Writers here.
More Podcasting Stats
Infographic by MusicOomph.com.
Damon J. Gray
Ugh! This is like a gut-punch (but in a good way).
I had a co-hosted podcast underway, and my partner backed out. I’ve bought all the equipment and am pretty much ready to go, but reluctant to go solo with it. From my own experience as a listener, I find the interaction of a co-hosted podcast much more engaging.
Do you have any thoughts, insights, stats (co-hosted/solo), advice?
A good question, one that I cannot answer definitively. I’ve listened to dozens of podcasts that have a solo host and they are just fine because they are good interviewers of their guest.
I’ve also listened to solo podcasts where that individual is the only one talking, like a short speech.
There are no “rules” in podcasting other than “be interesting” if it is your podcast.
“Be interesting” if you are the guest!
Hi Damon, Congrats on the podcast equipment and gearing up! I believe if you do a solo show, you’ll be most comfortable writing it out and prepare more… which sounds fun if you’re a writer! You can also repurpose the written content into blog posts or social media posts as well. So it can have multi-use!
I’ve tried several times to listen to the Thomas Umstattd podcasts, but they seem to spend a lot of time complementing each other, telling each other how great they or their product is before getting down to the meat of the podcast.
A lot of time wasted, in my opinion.
Besides, I learn more and learn better when I read material. With a podcast, it’s in-one-ear and out-the-other.
Not every form of media is for everyone.
Some cannot stand the radio or podcasts. They would rather watch video (like TV or YouTube).
Others don’t like to read and prefer an audible or visual. Thus our agency provides both a podcast every week as well as three days of text, and one day of fun which is usually visual.
The point of the post isn’t to say “love podcasts” but instead to say “Don’t ignore podcasts.” They are a new and effective medium for a growing audience.
If you are an author the idea here is to make sure you include being a guest on podcasts at the very least.
Hosting one is a big commitment.
I’ve got no apps to make me weary,
and Alexa is not down the hall.
I’ve never had a chat with Siri,
and have never Skyped at all.
I’ve never heard a podcast,
never watched a livestream feed.
It’s not that I’m iconoclast;
it’s just not what I need.
The questions now are basic
and existential to the core.
Why, Lord, must I be so sick,
and what lies beyond the door?
God sighs, and says, “Haven’t you heard?
The tech is there to spread the Word!”
Andrew you are far more talented at poetry than I. I don’t comment often but enjoy your comments. Praying this is a better day for you.
Daphne, thank you for this, with all my heart.
and those last 6 lines are the bottom dollar… why, and the Word.
Claire, thank you so much!
I enjoy the content of podcasts, but I find there are two major problems with them.
First, they take too long for me to get the information I want. It’s sometimes possible to speed up delivery by 1.5 to 2x, and I always do when that’s an option. But I MUCH prefer to read the text version that some of the best podcasters in the publishing area provide. I can read the transcript at least 3x faster than the normal delivery time, and it doesn’t disturb anyone as irritating background noise. Plus, if there is a part that doesn’t particularly interest me, I can scan ahead to start reading again at the next part that does.
If it’s an audio-only, no-transcript podcast, I usually don’t take the time to even start listening unless there is enough info provided (as text) about the detailed content for me to consider it worth not getting something else done to listen to it.
I’m sure there’s some great content in all of your agency podcasts, but the lack of a transcript means I don’t listen to many of them. It would be great if your agency podcasts had full transcripts, like several others I could mention. I’d probably check out every one instead of maybe one in ten.
Second, I usually listen with my laptop while doing something else that doesn’t require full focus rather than with a phone. I don’t like headphones, so the sound is there for anyone nearby to hear. It’s disruptive for others in a room to have to listen to a podcast they don’t care about, so that inhibits the times that I can listen to them.
Both of these problems could be solved if a text version of the podcast was always available for those who would prefer reading over listening.
It would be nice if we had a transcript of our weekly podcasts. But it isn’t free.
There are services that provide either an A.I. which makes a transcription (much like scanning a printed document). But that would have to be edited and proofread. That means either time or money.
There are services like http://www.transcribeyoursermon.com which will transcribe for a reasonable fee. But it is a fee.
Often Thomas will provide a detailed outline of that day’s podcast which is not required but helps those who only want to read.
Great article. I love listening to Podcasts. The great thing is you can listen while driving to and from work or you can listen while cooking or doing other chores. Turn off the TV and turn on a Podcast. Great way to be encouraged, learn and be entertained as a listener.
If making a podcast I’d assume practice and learn from those who do it well like Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
As one who recently discovered she does indeed have time for podcasts (while walking my dog – who knew?!), I most enjoy The Christian Publishing Show with Thomas Umstattd, Jr. I’ve just begun to pursue publishing and to say I have learned a lot from “eavesdropping” on his conversations with great guests is the understatement of the year. I am looking forward to learning even more this Thursday evening, and thank you so much for generously sharing this valuable information!
Jane A Duquette
I can understand how important this is for non-fiction Christian writers, but I do not understand how it will work for Christian fiction writers.
Thomas Umstattd Jr.
Being a podcast guest is a great way to promote fiction. This is why all the top novelists do it. As for listening to podcasts, there are some great podcasts on craft like Writing Excuses. But also listening to podcasts can help you be a better guest.
That would be a good question to ask Thomas during Thursday’s webinar.
It isn’t only saying you need to host a podcast, but that you should endeavor to be a guest on as many as possible. A form of marketing.
Like being a guest on radio or television.
A novelist who has a great podcast is Stephen James. You can find it here: https://www.thestoryblender.com/
Thanks Steve. I somehow missed that Steven James had a podcast.
I’ve been listening to podcasts for a few years now, and they’re a great resource for writers. Although I am a visual learner and would prefer to read, since I spend almost two hours on the road every day, I love having the ability to obtain information during that time. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information, and I look forward to hearing more from Thomas Umstattd Jr.
Steve, if you have a few minutes, there are some questions that come to mind:
1) For what level of ‘quality’ should one aim? Obviously audio has to be understandable, but having done voice-over narration in the past, I know how excruciatingly hard it can be to get a professional product. Some voices just can’t do it; what’s the ‘get-by’ standard? (For example, if you stumble over a word, is a re-take needed, or does the pocast-listening community make allowances for small errors?)
2) I’ve seen entry-level equipment sets advertised for $100, with $2-500 being something of a norm, and more can obviously be spent. The microphone’ an obviously critical link, but do you have any feeling on what’s a worthwhile expense?
3) Shoud one have a music fade-in and fade-out? oes that make it sound more professional, or just pretentious?
4) Asuming podcasts are worked into a blog rotation, is there a rule-of-thumb for podcast frequency vs. written frequency?
We will be covering a lot of these questions in the webinar. You can get a good sounding setup for a few hundred dollars. With how much prices have fallen in the last few years, there is no need to spend $2500 unless you are also buying acoustic foam and building a whole studio.
Thomas, thanks for the quick reply!
I worked from an acoustically protected studio, and did find that the mike picked up extraneous noise from without; my guess is that it was transmitted as vibrations through the building’s structure.
For that reason, we generally recorded in the dead of night, when external activity was at a minimum.
If you are getting noise from an acoustically protected studio the next step is to switch to dynamic microphones. They are *much* less sensitive to room noise. They are also cheaper! It is very hard to make condensor microphones like the Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti to sound good in the real world.
Thomas, that makes sense; in the voiceover world, we only used condenser mikes because of the somewhat broader throughput that lent a richness to the narration…or such was assumed.
Thomas Umstattd Jr.
@Andrew You are right! Voiceover artists tend to use condenser mics and record from sound booths. In the radio world, it’s mostly dynamic microphones. The Electro-Voice RE20 and Sure SM7b are the most popular. I personally use the SM7b but I recomend a cheaper mic (Samson Q2u) for those just getting started. You can usually find it for around $60 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2QeJ9wR.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Podcasts kind of annoy me. I prefer written material. I think as folks have mentioned, getting right to the point and making sure all your material is for the listener rather than the hosts just chitchatting would help. That said, my husband loves podcasts and thus I have listened to my fair share of them. Our family enjoys Stuff You Should Know as we can search up an interesting topic and find out info about that right away. That being said, they work well for moments of boredom or during menial tasks like doing the dishes. I prefer an audiobook, but I will give a podcast a try when cleaning the kitchen. Perhaps if they either got to the point more quickly or used the chit chat time to tell fun stories instead of uninteresting small talk, I would be a bigger fan. Although, I have noticed that if you listen to a podcast for a while, your tolerance for the chit chat goes up as you get to know the person. But I’ve only lasted long enough to get to know the Stuff You Should Know guys, due to an innate distaste of small talk. But yes, I see that others like them and I will give one a try now and then.
As mentioned above the point of this article is to put podcasts on the radar of every writer.
Whether you consume them or not is a personal taste issue. I don’t like Twitter, but as an author I do not ignore it as a medium to get the word out about my book.
This is an encouragement to put podcasting into your marketing plan, either as a host or as a guest.
To ignore podcasts is to miss an opportunity to talk about your book to a new audience of potential readers.
I’m that rare bird, a fiction author who also hosts a podcast. I write historical fiction set in the early 20th century. My podcast, “A Sparkling Vintage Life,” focuses on all things vintage, including, but not limited to, historical fiction. I’m figuring that at least some people who like vintage things will read historical fiction. I’m still quite new at this and getting used to the technology. When I feel a little more comfortable I plan to start interviewing authors of historical fiction and nonfiction. At the very least, it gives me a place to trumpet my own books. 🙂
P.S. I type up my own transcripts, because I’m the cheapest transcriptionist I know. 🙂 I believe that having a written transcript as well as the audio increases the chance of being spotted by search engines.
Unfortunately, I am one of those who do not like podcasts. They simply take up too much time with a lot of chit chat that extends the time. What I prefer is when they also have the text below; then, I can skip through the nonessentials and do a fast-read on the good points.
A reminder. This post isn’t about whether or not anyone likes podcasts, but encouraging all authors to make them a part of your book marketing plan. To avoid them because you don’t like them would be leaving a growing segment of the market unserved.
At least learn how to be a guest on a podcast to extend your marketing reach.
Good post. I am juggling the advice I’ve been receiving from your agency. Retired and busier than a one-armed paper-hanger.
Much of my post-graduate work was podcast listening, thus am familiar with it, so much so I could go for a walk a listen to an hour endocrinology lecture. Have several new podcasts to catch up on as well.
Was interviewed as an ‘upcoming-author-yet-to-be-published,’ then did a podcast interview with author DJ Williams on ‘The Auctioneer,’ split my WordPress into three platforms because I have recipes, Biblical stuff and also an author site. Yay, three. But since they are split up?? I lost all of my followers except a few stragglers and those I could find… yikes. Y’all welcome to follow by the way…
Taking a class this week from the local Toastmasters on public speaking — I have a public speaking event coming up not related to writing (except an investigative article I wrote), but the timing is 1. perfect and 2. will help me as I learn to organize events, be a speaker at events, writers conferences I will attend (I am horrifically shy– socially awkward, not panic or anxiety just the president of the Knee-Knocker Variety Club, so this is a huge leap from my comfort zone).
Have been fiddling much with podcasting and — the thought of YouTubing though… have nothing to sell. Share ups and downs of writing? Cook? Talk about the passages I read daily? Be a one-woman Diamond and Silk? Dunno yet on YouTube.
But this is a good push article for me to nudge as in fast-forward. Big breath. Since I have to do a Nation Wide Skype Discussion on Big Issues interviewed by Big Wigs in October, I’d best be ready. Hey, and that’s not even a WordPress site yet. But, learning to stay on track and rid the ‘ums’ etc.
and Andrew and Tom, good info on the microphone issue.
I see most of the books on your list are nonfiction, and I can see the logic in podcasting for nonfiction authors. What about fiction?
Are you recommending podcasting for both fiction and nonfiction writers? I’m curious how it might be used for fiction.
Great article! Thanks so much for all of the information and the encouragement. I listen to KM Weiland. She has the transcript and the podcast. I often wonder when I’m listening/reading if she writes them beforehand and then reads what she has written with a few extra examples thrown in from time to time.
One other thing she does is offer an occasional worksheet or a pdf of a topic, like character arc building, that has blank spaces so I can immediately use what she is teaching.
Thanks for the info and the free webinar coming up! Have to catch the replay as I lead a writer’s group that night.
This is compelling data. Thanks, too, for the list of podcasters to listen to. I’m looking forward to catching the webinar replay!