I’ll admit, business planning isn’t sexy. But when it comes to your podcast, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared.
Writing a podcast business plan will not only help you prepare but outline where you see yourself heading in the future. Many podcasters get started without taking this step, but if you want to set yourself up for success, I highly recommend it.
Why Do We Need a Podcast Business Plan?
Plenty of podcasts start without a business plan, so what makes yours so different? Can’t you just start and see where podcasting leads you?
Podcasting is just like any other business venture you’ll undertake. It takes time, money and resources to get it done. Even if your end goal isn’t to run a million-dollar podcast and you simply want to have fun, driving down podcast highway with no destination in sight will get old very fast.
A podcast business plan can help you avoid that. Or at least make that journey more meaningful by adding goals, targets and milestones. Generally speaking, business plans help you in three big areas:
1. Better Understand What You’re Doing
Creating a podcast business plan before you get started can help you to better understand what you’re doing before you get too deep into it. There’s a lot more to podcasting than simply uploading a new episode.
Taking the time to plan before you start recording helps you think beyond listener numbers, episode titles and equipment. It gives you the chance to dig into what already exists, who you plan to make your podcast for, where you’re going to fit in and how you’re planning on growing.
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2. Increase Your Chances Of Success
Success in podcasting varies depending on your end goals, which makes planning all that much more important. You need to identify what success looks like to you and how you’re going to get there.
Starting anything new is a challenge but I truly believe that a plan makes it significantly easier. It gives you a place to go and provides a roadmap to get there. There will be days that you really need that.
3. Get Funding (If You Need It)
I’ll start out by saying that not every podcaster seeks external funding. But with the rise of podcasting as a business function and the podcast-as-a-business model, external funding is becoming more popular. Funding means you need funders—whether that be through a financial institution or private investors.
When funders decide whether or not to support you, they look to your business plan to measure the probability of success. They want to know how you’re going to spend money and make it back.
If you’re creating a podcast for a large organization, creating a business plan can help secure buy-in from your corporate overlords. I’ve pitched podcasts inside major companies before and, in a lot of cases, the higher-ups don’t know enough about podcasting to see the value. Putting in a little work and effort goes a long way.
How to Write a Podcast Business Plan
Writing a podcast business plan is easier than you think. It’ll take some time and research. But the more work you put into it now, the easier it will be to create, manage and maintain your podcast in the future.
But before you get started, you need to decide who will see your plan when it’s done. In many cases, this will simply be you and possibly those that are helping you. But if you’re looking for funding or to build a corporate podcast, don’t skip over the “extras for the corporate overlords” section. You’ll need it.
The overview is exactly what it sounds like. It covers the who, what, where, when and why of your podcast. You’ll want to write up:
- A quick overview of what your show is about and how it’s presented
- Outline the hosts, producers and other personnel involved
- Create the mission, values and goals of the podcast
This overview does not have to go into detail. You simply want the reader to get a quick sense of the podcast before they dig into the plan.
Overview of the Podcasting Space
In any other business plan, I would call this section the “competitor” section but in podcasting that’s the wrong word. There will be shows out there like yours that you need to differentiate yourself from but you don’t necessarily have to compete for the audience—there’s enough space for all of you.
You want to dig into the research on this one and figure out what already exists in your podcasting niche. Your big goal is to answer the following questions:
- Who are the top players in your niche? Why? Where do they find their audience?
- Who is your podcasting inspiration? Who do you aim to be like?
- Where do you fit into the mix?
You want to be honest with yourself on these ones, chances are you’ll be the only one who looks at your plan.
Helpful Resource: Podcast Stats – The Very Latest Industry Facts & Trends
The whole “if you put something out there, the people will come” theory is a lie. There are A LOT of options out there, it’s a bad call to not put any thought into your audience because you assume they’ll find you.
You want to create a target audience that you’ll be creating your podcast for. This should be more defined than men and women between 18 and 40—you want to know what your audience is into, what attracts them to a podcast and what will encourage them to engage.
You can’t grow your audience if you don’t know who they are. This section of your podcast business plan is really where your growth starts.
You can absolutely create a podcast with no budget whatsoever. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Eventually, your podcast will cost you money and here’s where you figure out how much that is.
Some of the line-items that are included in a podcast budget are:
- Hosting platforms
- Editing and production
- Marketing collateral and activities
- Website design and hosting
Building a budget will help put the costs of podcasting into perspective and decide whether or not you need to add monetization to your “to do” list.
The personnel (or “management” section in a traditional plan) outlines who does what for the podcast. You want to identify the following roles and responsibilities:
- Audio engineer (editor)
- Operations manager
And anything else that your podcast might need.
It’s possible that one or two people might fill all of these roles in the beginning but if you plan to expand your personnel later, this is a great place to start thinking about how that will happen later.
Marketing and Growth Plan
Whether you’re podcasting for money or fun, you’ll want your podcast to grow. This is where your marketing plan comes in. You’ll want to outline what activities you’re going to take on a regular basis and where you’ll find your audience.
Make sure that you outline all of the different channels you’ll be using (for example, I have a website, blog and social media accounts related to my podcasts), how often you’ll be utilizing the channels and what the overall brand looks like. You’ll also want to decide whether you’re going to do paid advertising.
Monetization and Products
With your budget created it might become clear that doing at least a little bit of monetization is in your best interest. Some popular monetization channels for podcasts include:
- Affiliate marketing
- Sponsorship, ads and partnerships
- Digital product sales
- Physical product sales
Outline what kind of monetization you’re going to do in your podcast business plan, give some kind of idea when you’re planning on starting this and decide how you’ll make it happen.
Podcast Business Plan Extras for the Corporate Overloads
The following sections of the podcast business plan are specifically for those seeking funding or trying to appeal to an internal corporate audience. If you’re simply making the plan for yourself, you’re most likely safe to ditch them.
Industry and Market Analysis
When appeasing the corporate overlords, you’ll want to make sure that you do some solid research on the podcasting industry and market as a whole. This way you can outline what the organization can get out of podcasting.
Make sure to outline the different podcasts that are put out by similar large organizations, and outline how they help their brands grow, acquire new customers and anything else that will help give you street cred.
When requesting funding, you need to make your ask specific. Tell your funders how much money you’ll need and for how long. You’ll want to clearly outline how that money will be used and how long it will take you to pay them back.
Organization, Management and Approvals
While you talked about management in the personnel section, you need to outline how the podcast fits into the organization. Who is overseeing your activities, what kind of approval and oversight do they have and what you’ll need from other members of the organization.
The executive summary of any business plan lays out the entire plan on one page. It summarizes everything that a reader will dig into on subsequent pages so they know what they’re getting into.
If you are submitting this plan to a funder or an organization you need this section. If it’s just for you skip it completely. The executive summary should be the last thing you write, but it’ll be displayed on the first page of the business plan.
Putting Your Podcast Business Plan Together
Creating a podcast business plan seems like a monstrous task that sucks the fun out of podcasting. But from personal experience, I can tell you that it actually breathes life into your project and gives you the confidence boost you might be waiting for.
This plan does not have to be complex. Use simple language and don’t overcomplicate it—you’re creating a podcast not launching a rocket to Mars. Most importantly, take some time to have fun with it.
If you need some more tailored help with your podcast business plan – or any other aspect of podcasting – then be sure to check out The Podcast Host Academy. There, you'll get access to our weekly live Q&A sessions as well as all of our courses, templates, checklists, and downloadable resources.