How much money should I spend on growing my podcast?
Vol. 14 - Spending money on growth campaigns and Canadian True Crime’s publication ban petition .
Hihi!! Happy Pod the North Tuesday!
I’ve finally booked my trip to Nova Scotia for this September. In honour of’s Disney Cruise countdown, only 176 days to go! Right now my plans include putting myself into a lobster-coma and hopefully seeing a whale or two, but if you live in Nova Scotia, please send me your recommendations!
In this issue:
Spending money on growth campaigns.
Tobin Dalrymple says paid Spotify ads have been disappointing.
Canadian Indie: Gender, Sex and Tech!
True North Podcast Feature: Toasted Sister Podcast.
Canadian True Crime’s publication ban petition and more Canadian podcasting news!
Some love from The South: Alexandra Cohl on But What Do I Know?
ICYMI: There are 32 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 28 First Nations communities across Canada.
I’ve been creating my indie podcast, Alpaca My Bags, with my lovely pal and host, Erin Hynes, since 2018.
We’re currently well into production of our sixth season. At this point we have a handful for Patreon subscribers, one main sponsor, and have done a couple one-off sponsored episodes and partnerships.
Each episode of our show takes at least 12 hours to produce; from chasing guests and scripting the show, to recording and editing and promoting the whole thing.
But making Alpaca My Bags is neither of our full-time jobs.
Making the show over the last handful of years has always been fun, but let’s be real for a second. We’re both 30-something-year-old-women with 30-something-year-old-women-responsibilities, full-time jobs, other hobbies and interests, relationships and friendships to maintain, and we’re still trying to figure out what self-care means.
Stress is easy to come by and indie podcasting can be a thankless gig.
So over the last few years, our main measurement of success (aside from an engaged community of listeners and possibly even changing the travel industry for the better) has been focused on getting some sort of compensation for our time.
By no means are we creating our podcast to make thousands of dollars, but it’d be nice to have some sort of — for lack of a better term — return on investment.
This is obviously not just the case for indie podcasters. We know making money is top of mind for Spotify anyone using the world “blockbuster podcast”. Okay, almost everyone.
But seeing any sort of compensation feels extra unlikely for indies, especially with sponsors often echoing that they’re looking for 5000+ monthly downloads on podcasts that they potentially partner with. And with podcasting’s massive discovery problem, developing an audience that is large enough to secure a sponsor often feels pretty unlikely.
For podcasts created by small teams, or even just one person, audience development and podcast promotion is yet another job(s) to add to the list of things to do. So how do you mitigate that labour?
Sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.
In a recent video from Buzzsprout, Ross, host of the Smells Like Humans podcast, talked about the success he had with buying a display ad listing on Overcast, but also a dynamic ad insertion through Buzzsprout ads, the latter of which actually translated to about 50 thousand downloads!
With cross-promotion being one the top ways that audiences are finding podcasts, investing in dynamic ad insertion feels like a promising move. But some industry folk are even warning against that. (Thank you Erin for sending me that article!)and Lauren Passell have also been unpacking the different ways to spend your money on audience growth, from paid in-app placements, to podcast newsletters, and even Google Search over on .
So what’s the deal here?
How much money do you really need to spend to see significant and meaningful audience growth?
And where the heck should you even spend it?
Thoughts from the ecosystem:
Tobin Dalrymple says Spotify paid ads have been disappointing.
Tobin Dalrymple, Founder and B2B Content Marketing Expert at branded podcasting studio, Pilgrim Content, has been lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend other peoples money and really experiment when it comes to audience growth campaigns.
Now, I’m lucky enough to pick his brain about it all! I talked to Tobin about what types of growth campaigns he’s tried, how much money he’s spent on them, and what promotional avenues are worth your money.
This interview has been edited for brevity.
Kattie Laur: What is it that ultimately made you decide to start doing paid growth campaigns?
Tobin Dalrymple: I primarily work with brands and B2B clients, so they are typically already spending on legacy social platforms, like paid LinkedIn, paid Twitter and paid Facebook ads. It was just part of their general branding and social promotion stuff.
With non-traditional platforms like podcast apps and Spotify, I think that there's probably a much more efficient way to grow your audience with a budget versus those traditional places where the key metric is generally a click or an impression and it doesn't really have much value. Bottom line, I am trying to get them to help them grow their audience with the money they're already spending in a lot more effective ways.
KL: In terms of more traditional social media platforms, what's your overall vibe of spending money there to promote a podcast?
TD: If you'd asked me that three months ago, I would have said 100% no. Though I think my mind has changed.
Number one, I think it's worthwhile to say it matters that somebody saw your audiogram or your video even if they didn't go and actually download and listen to the show even just for brand awareness.
And people are busy and not everybody's gonna listen to podcasts anyways. It's kind of nice that people know you're doing a podcast and the fact they see you're doing a podcast means maybe they'll reach out to you. You're still winning something.
I've seen some promise, especially on Twitter funny enough recently, where if you organize it correctly and you set up your targets and your audiences correctly, you can actually drive some real downloads from it.
But make your metrics less about listens or downloads and just make sure you're doing that for brand awareness.
KL: So you've also been experimenting with paid ads on podcast listening apps. Where have you been putting money into growth campaigns so far?
TD: It started with Spotify and then a few years after that, Podcast Addict and Overcast, and then most recently Acast. I've also read some stuff onabout Castro and that's something I'm gonna be trying out soon.
I don't really do Spotify at all anymore. Once I started seeing the results from Podcast Addict, Overcast and Acast, I'm not really looking back at Spotify. Unless you can actually get your ad spots in other podcasts, I don't think [Spotify is] worth it – they're still just throwing your podcast ad in the music loops and I've just never seen any real solid good impacts from Spotify. It was very similar to the kind of conversion we were seeing from LinkedIn or Twitter.
KL: What kinds of assets are you producing for these paid ad slots?
TD: There's different kinds for sure. Some of them are really simple, like the display ads on Overcast and Podcast Addict. Those are just podcast player apps so all you need to do is plug in your RSS. There's no customization, it just pulls the title of your show, the description and the artwork, and then you just pick what feed you wanna sponsor. You could do the homepage or the tech feed or the business feed, whatever.
Overcast is almost the same thing, but you can customize the copy for it. It's a display ad. There's no audio happening.
Where it gets a little more creative and involved is with the networks like Acast, and they basically have two options: a scripted host read or a 30 second audio ad spot that you produce with your host. Both of those will be dynamically inserted based on their inventory.
You reach out to them and say, ‘I have this technology show or this lifestyle show. I wanna advertise in Canada.’ And then you work with their team, they'll put together a proposal for you with some shows, what the CPM (cost per mille) is for them, and you just kind of go from there.
KL: So what about Spotify?
TD: To their credit, they have a really awesome DIY ad studio. So you can upload your own music or your own 30 second pre-produced spot, and then pick all the metadata and the descriptions for it, and then you pick who you want to listen to it and where, and what your budget is and the geographies. You don't ever have to talk to anybody. You can be in and out in like 10 minutes.
But like I said, the results have been disappointing. It'd be worth it if you can get in front of actual podcast listeners while they're listening to podcasts on Spotify. Other than that, I don't really see the value.
KL: What has been your biggest waste of money and time so far?
TD: Spotify for sure. Looking at the numbers, the highest that we ever paid was a thousand dollars per listener, which is a little ludicrous. I've seen similar or higher numbers from LinkedIn using Chartable SmartLinks to track who clicked on an ad on LinkedIn to listen to the show and it's about the $600-$2,000 CAD per listen.
KL: What's been your most efficient, cost effective paid growth campaign?
TD: There are two ways to slice and dice that. For pure listens, Acast’s host reads and it was hit or miss. You really have to make sure you have the right show and the right tone. But I was able to get to $1.48 per listen. Then you extrapolate that and a lot of those listeners do turn into subscribers – you could see that through Chartable SmartPromo tracking.
If you are more interested in directly adding subscribers and followers to your show, Overcast and Podcast Addict are great. They're around the $20 per subscriber range. The lowest I was ever able to get was about $11 per subscriber, and the highest I ever paid was $45 per subscriber.
Another question you might have is if it's worth it to you. If you go and sponsor the homepage of Podcast Addict or Overcast, you're gonna add a few hundred subscribers instantly, basically. And you can see they do tend to stick around and listen. I was suspecting maybe it'd be spam, but it doesn't seem to be.
KL: It's also less work for both of those platforms too, right? Because you're not making a trailer! It's just paying for space.
TD: Oh yeah. The hardest part is getting the spot you want. Overcast can be very tricky. You have to sign up to their email list and then they'll say, ‘Hey, there’s a slot open on technology’ or ‘the homepage slot's open’ and you gotta get on that right away. Sometimes they have one or two slots and then the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets – kind of like buying an airplane ticket. So I'd suggest you plan ahead very early, like two months out, and sign up for their alerts.
KL: That’s a hot tip! Can you give me a general sense of the budget that someone would need in order to see success from a paid channel? What's the most and the least amount of money you can spend on a successful growth campaign?
TD: Well, the more you spend, the more results you're gonna get. If you are an agency or you’re a brand that's already advertising on social media, you are wasting your money.
You definitely can get success if you have a budget of $5,000 to $10,000 and real, measurable outcomes. You'll be able to double your 30 day downloads, you'll have a thousand new subscribers. You could really make an impact.
If you are an indie show or a podcast that's your own business, then you have to figure out how much a subscriber is worth to you. Say one out of every hundred subscribers is gonna actually end up giving you money, can you make a business case to do it?
But if there's no immediate value to having more subscribers or listeners and it's just your vanity, you're basically paying for Instagram followers at that point and it's probably not the right strategy.
If there's a value to having those listeners and that’s something you're already investing in, then for sure go for it. Anything less than $500, you wouldn't have a huge result. But if you have $500 to spend, then go for it.
What Tobin is listening to:
Check out this Canadian Indie:
Continuing the Conversation - Gender, Sex and Tech!
Applying feminist theories and concepts to everyday technologies.
“From birth control to dating apps, from gender confirmation surgery to the video games we play to relax, technology is all around us, constantly interacting with our bodies, lives, and sense of ourselves in ways we may not even realize, let alone understand. Dr. Jennifer Jill Fellows unpacks it all! We aren't luddites here, but it is complicated!”
True North Podcast Feature: Toasted Sister Podcast
All about Native American food, food sovereignty, people and culture.
“After contact, Indigenous foodways and knowledge were devastated, nearly destroyed and replaced with foods that are far from the people.” Diné Journalist, Andi Murphy, talks with Indigenous people across the country about food in this award-winning podcast!
What’s going on in Canada’s podcast ecosystem:
Canadian True Crime podcast is releasing a two-part series called Kelly Favro's Story. Kelly is a sexual assault survivor from Victoria, British Columbia, who discovered her identity had been put under publication ban without her consent, preventing her from legally identifing herself as a survivor or even talking about her experience. Now, CTC host, Kristi, and Kelly are fighting for changes to the Canadian Criminal Code—and they need your help!
Sign the petition now to give Canadian sexual assault survivors a choice in the application of a publication bans on their identites. This petition is open to Canadian citizens or residents until this Friday, March 10, 2023 at 9:29 am EST .
NCRA/ANREC Virtual Podcast School starts it’s 6-week course tonight! Learn everything there is to know about podcasting from experts from around the country. You can still register here!
The Amplify Podcast Network has put out a call for proposals for new podcasts to join their Sustain stream. Proposals can be for podcasts of a wide range of topics within the humanities and social sciences, but will be selected based on Amplify’s guiding editorial values: commitment to critical pedagogy and open scholarship. More info here.
Harbinger Media Network is hosting the “Building Canada's Progressive Podcast Community” workshop at The Broadbent Institute's 2023 Progress Summit next week! 11 shows of their shows will be there. Check out the line up here.
Restructuring is underway at Pacific Content, the branded podcast division at Rogers Sports & Media. Read more about the layoffs and leadership leakage on Broadcast Dialogue.
CoHost has unveiled their new B2B analytics which allow branded podcasters to see which companies are listening and “justify your podcast's ROI”. I have plenty of questions about this so I’ll be doing some more research here for sure. Read more here.
ICYMI: My presentation about the state of Canada’s podcasting ecosystem from PodCamp Toronto is on YouTube! We only recorded it last minute (many thanks to Erin, again), so if you’d like my slides to follow along, just let me know! Otherwise, watch it here.
Some love from the south!
Hellooo, everyone! My name is Alexandra, and I write Podcasting by the Moon, a feminist podcast newsletter that comes out every full moon. My work always centers on women in podcasting; so, each issue puts women at the forefront of news & recommendations, along with reminders to reflect & to celebrate; plus, a list of things to banish. Kattie kindly let me take over a portion of Pod the North to share about it…and to brag about one of the Canadian podcasters I work with in my Broads in Progress membership!
Her name is Chid Suzan and she’s been hard at work on the new season launch of her podcast But What Do I Know?, which is all about helping listeners affirm their knowledge and learn and heal from their experiences. I mean, look at this promo video! She also revamped her podcast’s description and has been carving out time to pitch her podcast for features. I’m so proud of her.
As I suspect you know, promotion work is often challenging, time-consuming, and lonely. Having community & guidance around those efforts is everything (which is why I started mine). I hope you’ll give Chid’s podcast a listen when it drops on March 8th!
For your Pod:
- and are hosting a FREE virtual workshop about how to build a custom podcast marketing strategy on March 22nd. Sign up here.
Third Coast International Audio Festival’s 2022-23 call for entries is open with nine categories! If your podcast is pushing the boundaries of audio storytelling check your podcast’s eligibility and enter here.
Looking for more awards, fellowship, and scholarship opportunities for your podcast? If you’re not subscribed to Transom’s All Hear newsletter, you’re missing out!
YouTube is in the midst of launching some updates that make it easier to publish podcasts. YouTube lead, Neal Mohan, released a letter that you should definitley check out.
Understand your podcasts success outside of just downloads! Dan Misener has a new post on the Bumper blog about measuring attention, not just downloads.
Finally, a word from Joe…
If you have thoughts or questions about this newsletter, please share them with me! Leave a comment or reply to the newsletter email. If you’re feeling generous you can also pledge monetary support through Substack or buy me a coffee!
Thanks for supporting Pod the North, I’ll be back in your inbox in two weeks!
Kattie | @podkatt
(Find me on Twitter, Post, Spotify, and Goodpods)
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Another very informative article Kattie! Thank you. I'm actually going to give Podcast Addict Ads a try.
Loved this interview Kattie! And thanks for the shoutout of the workshop 🙏🙏🙏