Will The BBC Running Adverts on Podcasts Affect You?

The BBC has suggested running adverts on their podcasts for UK listeners using third party apps like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. This could increase the public broadcaster’s income – but why are audio production companies concerned by this move?

The BBC gets the majority of its income from a licence fee, which all UK households with a television have to pay, but there is currently an estimated £90m funding gap. This is why the BBC is considering placing adverts on their podcasts when people listen in third-party apps such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Whilst listeners can still get advert-free shows on the BBC Sounds app, this will be the first time that the broadcasters has considered running UK adverts as a source of the revenue.

The BBC still has a strong influence on the UK’s audio industry as a whole and so there have been concerns about how a step into advertising could affect other aspects of the industry. A group of audio production companies and public broadcasters have written a letter to Culture Secretary, Lucy Frazer MP, stating that this will have a “disastrous impact on the sector”.

This is not the first time that BBC’s moves to close the funding gap have been questioned by the wider industry. It follows on from concerns raised in the AudioUK manifesto about BBC Studios (the broadcaster’s commercial production studio) dominating the share of audio production in the UK.

So why are some audio production companies concerned about this move to advertising revenue? We look at some of the background to this decision, and how this move could have for podcasting and podcasters.

The BBC Already Has Adverts On Podcasts

It’s worth noting that the BBC has been running adverts on podcasts for years, this is just the first time they will be heard in the UK. Using geo-blocking technology, they have targeted these adverts to those listening outside the UK, “to commercialise audio and radio content made available to non-licence fee paying international audiences”. With this precedent already set, it is perhaps more a moral line being crossed – should licence-fee paying audiences be commercialised?

It Could Bring Ad-revenue Into Podcasting

Currently Acast have the licence to sell adverts on BBC podcasts outside the UK. It wouldn’t be surprising if this relationship continued when expanding to the UK, and assuming Acast takes a cut of the ad-revenue this could be a lot of money coming directly into the podcast industry via Acast. We don’t know the contract they have with the BBC, but the company currently takes 50% from podcasters’ advert placements according to their T&Cs. Hopefully Acast will want to reinvest any share of BBC adverts back into podcasters. They have previously run Amplifier schemes, and supported community events, so it would be good to see more of this.

Indirectly, the BBC are such a big player with such a reputation, there is a possibility of their shows being something of a ‘gateway’ for new advertisers. The UK’s podcast industry currently brings in ad-revenue of around £76 million – could the BBC help make that number higher? And if so, how will that be monitored?

Will The Profits Be Passed To Indie Producers?

It does bring about a question of how independent production companies that create work for the BBC will factor into the new format. We know that production contracts can be tricky to navigate, but advertising revenue adds a new aspect to working with the BBC – if a production company is contracted to make the piece, will they get a share of revenue? If this is shared, it could mean bigger production budgets for indies working with the broadcaster – something that could help bring pay up and create jobs.

It Might Split Advertising Revenue

As mentioned, the BBC’s reputation could bring more ad-revenue into audio as a whole, but one of the main concerns in the open letter is that the opposite will happen. There is the risk that this could create more competition for the advertising there is, and as the BBC’s total income is over £5bn, and the funding gap is larger than the entire podcasting ad-revenue, if the overall ad-spend doesn’t increase vastly, it is a legitimate concern.

It Could Mean Less Eyes On Non-BBC Podcasts

Because the BBC would only be running adverts on third party apps, people would be incentivised to use the BBC Sounds app to avoid them, which only carries BBC shows. BBC Sounds would not be the first to use this exclusive format – Wondery + likewise offers advert-free listening on their own app, which has only Wondery shows. But this would limit the chances for people to stumble across other content.

What is worth pointing out is that the BBC, along with other public broadcasters ITV and Channel 4, are fighting for more integration with streaming services for their terrestrial television offering. BBC Sounds currently carries a very select amount of non-BBC podcasts (No Such Thing As A Fish, Real Dictators, and Help I Sexted My Boss). It would be nice to see them do more of this integration and promotion of external content.

What Will Happen Next?

One thing that I think has been missed from the conversation so far is how much Acast (or the ad-sales company, if the standing contract isn’t expanded) is pivotal to the next phase of both the BBC plan and its effect on the industry. How much this benefits or hinders the podcast industry could depend on that middleman of ad-sales, and how they are speaking to advertisers who approach for BBC shows. As an intermediary, there is a space there for them to ‘upsell’ to other podcasts – and again, hopefully independent ones.

Advertising to UK listeners of BBC podcasts is still at the proposal stage currently. The open letter to Lucy Frazer MP is a good resource outlining the concerns and potential issues this could bring, but given the UK is now in a lead-up to a general election, this is likely to be lost in preparations.

If we have a new government and new Culture Secretary after July 4th, this might get completely lost in the changeover. As is often the case with arts and media, the national politics will trickle down to industry level – so keep an eye on places like the Radio Academy and AudioUK to help understand what is going on at the governing level.

Podcast Conferences: Are They Worth The Investment?

As podcasting gets more established, podcast events are popping up all over the place – and it is impossible to attend all of them. Francesca Turauskis asks some questions to help you decide which events are worth the price of admission.

Attending podcast events is one of my favourite things about my job, and because I write about podcasts I’ve often been lucky enough to have press passes – but honestly, if I always had to pay myself I wouldn’t go to half of them. I’ve found that the events that are sold or perceived as valuable (with high ticket prices or big attendance) are not necessarily the ones that have been valuable to me.

This certainly isn’t something that is unique to UK events or my own experience – earlier this year, Sangeeta Pillai from the Masala Podcast wrote on LinkedIn how she “left the room annoyed” after Podcast Movement, a US-based set of conferences that self-describes as ‘biggest and best events’ in podcasting. How is it even possible for events like that to curate a line-up that isn’t relevant or representative?

Whilst I can’t tell you if it’s worth investing your time and money into attending any one particular podcast event, I do have a few ideas to help you decide which are worth your investment.

Know What YOU Want From Attending

The fear of missing out that lingers around podcasting events can be real, but is FOMO a good enough reason to attend? It can be good to think about attending events as a way to invest in your show. Do you want to get better at making your content? Look for events with workshops as well as talks. Do you want to build your community and team? Aim for networking and events built on community. Are you looking for listeners? It might be better to attend an event about your subject, rather than podcasting.

I feel like a large portion of people attending podcasting events expect to find some business, but if you’re going into an event hoping to find funding – you may be disappointed. It is possible to get funding or connections through events, but there’s a lot of people selling and not many buying.

Look For The Write-ups

Whilst there aren’t, in my opinion, enough journalists covering podcasting in the UK, there are a few places where you can find reviews of podcast events. Pod Bible (who for transparency, I also write for!) covers many podcast events, with different freelancers sharing opinions – for example this lovely, honest review of the Podcast Show London 2023. Emily Crosby is another independent who’s written about podcast events previously, and of course Content is Queen shares news of the events we personally find value in, including International Women’s Podcast Awards.

Another place to look is LinkedIn, which often has plenty of small write-ups, such as this one from Kobi Omenaka. Perhaps more useful are the discussions underneath that can highlight different opinions.

Who’s Behind The Event

One of the major things that will draw me to an event is how much I know and trust the creators of the event. You see a lot from the Founders and organisers of events such as the International Women’s Podcast Festival, UniPodFest, and the Independent Podcast Awards. In comparison, it is quite difficult to find out about ‘Who’s Behind The Podcast Show 2024’ (there’s a small drop-down on the Contact Us page where you can find out about Founders Jason Carter and Tim Etchells). I personally love to see the festival teams show their passion for podcasting – and the audio part of the industry in particular.

Head To The Fringe Events Instead

If you still have some FOMO about the big events, the good news is there are often fringe aspects to them. Communities and companies might put-on meet-ups the same day as events that are cheaper, or even free, and can be less overwhelming than big conferences. These aren’t often advertised by the event, so it’s worth signing up to podcasting newsletters or following podcast professionals on LinkedIn to find out when they are.

Look For Digital Passes

Attending an event digitally can be a great middle-ground of investing time without too much extra effort. Events about recording content for non-linear consumption could very easily record some events for people to access digitally. Unfortunately, not all events do, and for some smaller events that can be about capacity – but for larger events it strikes me more as gatekeeping information for profit. This can be a good indicator that the price of admission is more important to the organisers than podcasting is – in my opinion, anyway!

Are you looking for a podcasting event that ticks all your boxes? The International Women’s Podcast Festival includes live podcast shows, workshops, talks, networking and socials that celebrate the best in women’s podcasting. join us on 4 October at the International Women’s Podcast Festival, live in London and online. We hope to see you there!

Where to Invest in Your Podcast

When you have limited resources, planning where to invest in your podcast can prevent you from spending more time and money than you can afford…

In a previous article we told you how you can earn money from your podcast, but one thing we touched on only briefly was how important it is to think about what you are investing in your show. This is especially important if you are an independent podcaster, and even more important is thinking about where you are investing your time and money.

Broadly speaking, there are three main places you can invest in your podcast: producing the actual show; marketing your podcast; and building a community around your podcast. It is likely that you do all of these things already, but you will no doubt focus on some more than others and might not have separated them in your mind.

Here are some suggestions of where you can invest in your podcast – and where you perhaps don’t need to!

Marketing

Investing in the marketing of your show will help you build a large audience, but marketing can be a rabbit hole of costs! Set a budget and stick to it.

£ Low

If your budget for marketing is small, use it to target people in the right place. Find shows that are similar to yours for trailer swaps and shoutouts, make sure your show is searchable with SEO and suggest your show for themed features in podcast apps.

££ Medium

If you have a bit more budget, consider hiring someone familiar with podcasts to do some marketing and approach the press. You want to reach potential listeners in the right places, and hiring someone with podcast knowledge will make it more likely you get featured on podcast apps or in places like podcast review columns.

£££ High

Perhaps you have a massive budget and want to build a big audience – it is worth spending some money on advertising your show to the right people? Many podcast apps offer the chance to buy advertising, and this can be a really good way of building awareness for your podcast. However, to reach big numbers it can take big bucks!

Community

Listener numbers are certainly not the only measure of success for indie podcasts. If your show is more niche, or talks about issues that are relevant to a particular demographic or community, you might not get a big audience but you can get a dedicated audience.

£ Low

Start with your current listeners, and build up conversations with them on different platforms. Make sure you use your podcast to speak to them and thank them, and take the time to reply to comments and questions on social media. You can also include your audience in your show through your call to action, and ask them to respond to questions.

££ Medium

If you want to spend a little more on things for your community, a great investment is merch. Merchandise is often a bit of an upfront investment (although you can find companies that print-to-order) but it can be a really great way of giving your show and community a shared identity. Another thing that takes less cash but some time is doing live streams or a Q&A online for your community.

£££ High

If you have a really strong community feeling around your show, an in-person meet-up can be a fantastic way to meet your listeners, and thank them for supporting you. This could be based around a live show, or it could be a social event that is related to your topic – for example a hike for a podcast about hiking.

Production values

The most obvious part of making a podcast is – making the podcast! Investing in the actual content of your show makes a lot of sense. You can invest a lot of time and money into making a really professional podcast with the best equipment and paid team, but if your show is a side hustle, it’s okay to spend less on production costs.

£ Low

For small budgets, it is really worth spending a bit of time to develop your show into the best version of itself. Check out our free resources to help enhance your own production skills and spend a bit of extra time script and edit your podcast together. The International Women’s Podcast Festival is another great place to learn more about podcasting, with workshops and classes to help you create and grow your show. You’ll find some of the sessions from the last festival on our YouTube festival playlist.

££ Medium

If you are looking to level up your show, it’s worth investing in your sound quality – you can buy good microphones, but podcast studios are a great place to invest some money. They have higher quality equipment than what is generally available, you have access to engineers, editors and producers, and you’re going to get the best audio possible without too much effort on your part.

£££ High

If you want to make your podcast as professional as possible, it is really worth investing in production support to elevate the listening experience. Recording in a studio and hiring an editor is great, and don’t forget to put as much thought into the pre-production. Booking a consultation is a good one-off investment to develop your ideas, as well as help you structure and format your podcast.

Access

Lastly, one thing that everyone needs to invest some time or money in is thinking about the accessibility of your podcast – it helps your show reach a wider audience, it creates extra content and it builds a strong sense of inclusive community.

£ Low

At the lower end of investment, accessibility means thinking about an audience beyond listeners and providing transcripts (and there are several reasons that will help you too!). Auto-transcripts are very quick and can be done for free, or you can put your show on YouTube to use their auto subtitles.

££ Medium

If you want to invest a bit more in access, upgrading your transcripts to human-corrected versions means you can make sure that names are spelled correctly – something that can mean a lot to people whose names often get misspelt.

£££ High

For some shows, accessibility is a core part of their offering, and they will invest a lot into making sure everyone can access their podcast. Equal Too, a podcast about the paralympics and disability, offered a British Sign Language (BSL) version, and posting CD versions for people who aren’t internet users is another way some podcasts include more people in their shows.


If you’d like to invest in a day of podcast-related content, connection and collaboration designed to help you grow your podcast, why not join us on 4 October at the International Women’s Podcast Festival, live in London and online. We hope to see you there!

9 Sustainability Podcasts To Keep Your Queue Green

Earlier this week, we shared our tips for how to make your podcasting more sustainable and it’s made us think about all of the podcasts that have taught us about climate, sustainability and being green. Podcasting is such a great medium to discuss climate issues, because it lets people delve into the nuances of such a complex issue. It’s been two years since we last suggested podcasts around the topic of sustainability and climate change, so we thought it was time to offer some up-to-date recommendations to make sure your queue is always green.

OUTRAGE + OPTIMISM

The climate crisis can be an infuriating topic, but there are ways to face it head on. This show shares plenty of anger over the problem, but focuses on solving the climate crisis and remaking the world – hence the name, Outrage + Optimism. Former UN Chief Christiana Figueres is joined by Tom Rivett-Carnac and Paul Dickinson get together weekly to delve into the issues at the forefront of the climate crisis and educate listeners on their power to help solve it. The most recent episode at the time of writing (Microplastics, Transition Plans and the Beginning of the End of the Climate Crisis) also features a piece of music by Cosmo Sheldrake called ‘Soil (feat. Nature)’ which credits Nature as an artist, following the UN’s new Sounds Right initiative to recognise the artistic merit of natural sound. Listen here. 

CLIMATE DECODED

Whilst we can all make changes at individual levels, the work and policy around climate at a national and international level can be hard to penetrate. This is where Climate Decoded comes in, as it exists to make climate science and policy accessible and engaging for everyone. With multiple hosts and a diverse array of guests, the show’s first series delved into some of the biggest aspects of climate policy and communication – such as how journalists communicate the dense information in the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The final episode of the series also acknowledged the personal level of such information, by looking at Climate Anxiety, and how that can help lead policy. Listen here. 

DRILLED, RIGGED AND DAMAGES

What do you get when you pair climate change with true crime? Drilled. Reported and hosted by award-winning journalist Amy Westervelt, Drilled has been delving into the crimes against the climate since 2017. From fossil fuels and tar sands to greenwashing and accountability, Drilled is entertaining, informative and, at times, shocking. If you enjoy (if that’s the right word) this type of investigation,  the other podcasts in the Critical Frequency network have since explored other important climate subjects. Rigged explores how the PR industry helps corporations – including oil companies – shape the world to their own design, and Damages looks at law cases involving the climate crisis.

THE YIKES PODCAST

Speaking of law cases involving climate, since taking the UK Government to court over the climate emergency in 2019, Mikaela Loach has become one of the most influential climate activists in the UK. In The Yikes Podcast, Mikaela and her friend Jo Becker analysed the ‘yikes’ topics of the world without overwhelming themselves or their listeners. From the climate crisis to experiences with activism and racism, the pair offered nuanced and accessible takes on important topics. Unfortunately the show is no longer active but the conversations are still worth revisiting. If you’re missing this show, then you can catch-up with Mikaela via the Working Hard, Hardly Working podcast – she spoke to host Grace Beverly last October on ‘Ep.57 So You Want To Educate Yourself On The Climate Crisis? Start Here with Mikaela Loach’. 

MOTHERS OF INVENTION

Feminism and sustainability? Yes, please! Mothers of Invention is a podcast sharing feminist solutions to the man-made climate change problem. The eclectic lineup of hosts – former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, comedian Maeve Higgins, and series producer and co-host Thimali Kodikara – is matched only by the wide range of guests. The show shifts the focus to the stories of black, brown and indigenous women innovating from the front lines, but it is also packed full of love, laughter, and exceptional storytelling. Sadly it’s been more than three years since the series ended, but the mini episode they left us with is a lovely way to help new listeners find their way into the back-catalogue. Listen here.

SUSTAINABLY INFLUENCED

A permanent fixture in our podcast library is Sustainably Influenced. Hosted by Bianca Foley, the show is part of her bigger Sustainably Influenced project to guide people through the minefield of sustainability. Bianca speaks to sustainability experts about a range of specific topics, from ethical and sustainable jewellery to whether the beauty industry has failed the disabled community. The conversations always bring in aspects of cultural and ethical context, offering a variety of ways to build in sustainable living practices. With more than 120 episodes to get through, we suspect Sustainably Influenced will become a firm favourite for you too! Listen here.

SUSTAINABLE(ISH)

Brought to you by Jen Gale, the Sustainable(ish) podcast has been giving us weekly episodes with barely a break since 2018. The premise of the show, however, is about giving ourselves a bit of a break when it comes to trying to be more sustainable.  Jen talks about sustainable living minus austerity, deprivation, or the need to live off the grid in a yurt. Instead, you can expect engaging conversations, accessible and actionable tips and knowledgeable guests. Sustainable(ish) is the pod for you if you’re ready to make small tweaks to do your part. Listen here.

SUSTAINABABBLE

Fancy a good laugh and learn? Then the Sustainababble archive is well worth checking out. Self-dubbed ‘a funny podcast about the environment, sustainability and all the guff people talk in the name of saving the planet’, the show is hosted by Ol and Dave and features tunes, jokes, and babble brandy in the final episode. With 274 episodes, you’ll be spoilt for choice on topics – you could head to the episode about ‘Liz Truss’ or the one about ‘Poo’. Whatever takes your fancy, the pair are as entertaining as they are educational. Listen here.

THE CLIMATE CONSCIOUS PODCAST

Lastly we have a recommendation from Content is Queen Founder, Imriel Morgan. Imriel shared this show in her list of Climate Pioneers for Earbuds Podcast Collective. The Climate Conscious Podcast amplifies the Caribbean perspective on climate change and sustainable development. Hosted by Derval Barzey, the show was launched on Earth Day four years ago, and also has a number of mini-series that dig into local events and topics in more detail – such as the recent Truth Be Told that looked at A Caribbean Call to Action on Climate and Gender Justice. Listen here. 

7 Ways To Make Your Podcast Greener

This Earth Day, Francesca Turauskis suggests how podcasters could make their shows more sustainable with some simple, green production methods.

Earth Day is a yearly event on 22nd April to demonstrate support for environmental protection, and each year I love to see the lists of podcasts about sustainability shared. If you are trying to be more environmentally friendly, you’ve probably listened to shows giving you tips to try in your personal life.

However, you might not have considered ways to make your podcasting more sustainable. This isn’t surprising, as during my research I found very little information around the subject! The resources that were available, such as the Audio UK Sustainability Guidelines, are more focused on businesses and freelancers rather than independent podcasts.

The good news is, there are several ways we can all make our podcasting greener – here are seven suggestions of easy ways to make your show more sustainable.

Make audio-only podcasts

The rise of video podcasts is undeniable, but if you’ve been wondering whether to start creating video for your show, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not as eco-friendly as audio-only podcasts. One of the biggest carbon emissions for digital content is the electricity and energy needed to create, stream and store it on servers. Because videos are larger files than audio, they create more carbon emissions through the energy used each time someone watches them.

Audio advocates can rejoice in the fact that audio-only podcasts are significantly more sustainable than video. According to one study about the “overlooked environmental footprint of increasing Internet use“, audio-only Zoom calls reduce carbon emissions by up to 96%, whilst another study points out that YouTube still wastes energy even if you only listen and aren’t watching the video.

Borrow, Buy Secondhand and Mend

As well as the non-tangible electricity used in podcasting, we use a fair amount of equipment to create our shows. Microphones, recorders, laptops and headphones are all things we can’t really separate from audio production. This kind of electronic equipment can take a lot of resources to make, and if you’re just starting out in podcast production it can be tempting to buy everything – and perhaps end up using it once. It’s worth borrowing equipment before you buy to check if it’s what you need – Fat Llama is a great resource for testing tech equipment of all kinds.

If you do want to buy something, consider looking for something secondhand in the first instance. When buying new, think ahead, and get the best equipment you can afford rather than buying something that you’ll need to throw away after a year. If you get an extended warranty, a lot of equipment can be repaired for years or even decades. When something does come to the end of its life, Audio UK suggests “Recycle electronic devices through certified e-waste programs or donate/sell functioning devices you’re done with instead of trashing them”.

Another thing to consider with equipment is using rechargeable batteries rather than throwing away batteries. Just be sure to keep them charged and carry spares so that you don’t run out of power.

Produce Remotely and Use Local Talent

Another good suggestion from Audio UK is to reconsider how much you need to travel when producing your show. Remote recording has come along so much since COVID enforced production at a distance, and many productions now use it as a default. Whilst there might be a difference in the sound quality compared to getting in a studio, a good producer can do a lot from afar. You can use remote recording software designed for audio, such as Riverside, SquadCast or Iris, to keep the audio quality high.

Another option is to post microphones and instructions to your guests for them to record themselves locally. I have done this when working for Broccoli Productions and with Tremula Network (hint: always insure the package for the cost of the equipment and put a return address on it. Yes I learned from experience!)

If you do want a more controlled, in-person interview, you can hire local producers or book them into a local studio rather than travelling to the interview yourself. This is particularly true if you’re producing podcasts internationally, and it has the added benefit of being more cost-effective than plane travel, as well as widening your audio network.

Keep Your Production Organised

Speaking of good producers, another thing that can keep your carbon footprint down is having an organised production and filing system. Duplicate files, exporting and uploading things multiple times and sending files back and forth all take up energy, electricity and carbon. There are a couple of things you can do to keep your production organised and reduce this production footprint.

  • If you have a workflow where several people need to input and sign-off, make sure any edit requests are clearly explained and understood so there is less back-and-forth with files.
  • I always advocate for having a good filing and backup system to avoid losing important files, but do you really need “Version 2.b” of that project you worked on at university ten years ago? Only keep the files and projects that you actually need to save space on your computer and in the Cloud.
  • Those ten thousand tabs you have open on your browser? We’re all guilty of it (I’m currently at 28…) but they not only slow down your browser and computer capacity, they all add to the carbon footprint of your internet usage. Try keeping your browser cleaner and opening tabs only when they are needed.
  • Make sure all drafts and exports are in a compressed file type that you can upload to your podcast hosting platform (e.g. MP3 or M4A). Some audio producers like to work with WAV or FLAC files because these are better quality, and this makes sense in your DAW projects. However, most hosting platforms and podcast players will actually reduce the audio quality and file size of your final episode for streaming purposes. It is better to export and upload compressed files because they take less energy, but they also sound more like the final episode your listeners will hear.

Choose a Greener Hosting Platform

One of the things I noticed when researching this article is how little information there is on the eco credentials of podcast hosting platforms. Of the main podcast hosting platforms, PodBean was the only one I could find a green initiative statement for, and whilst Spotify for Podcasters doesn’t have information about their podcast hosting specifically, the company does consider the climate in its yearly Equity and Impact Report.

This is very disappointing because podcast hosting takes a great deal of internet space and server energy (that’s why you can’t host your RSS feed on a regular website). One thing that you could consider is emailing your current podcast host to ask about their climate considerations.

Get A Green Website

There are many benefits to having a website for your podcast, including making your show more discoverable, the opportunities to repurpose your content and provide extra value for your listeners. If you do have your own separate platform, this is another place you can look to lower your podcast’s carbon footprint. According to Website Carbon Calculator, the average website produces 60kg of carbon emissions per year, and you can use their website to check how your own measures up. If you find out there is room for improvement, there are few things you can do to make your website greener:

  • Switch to a green host. It is far easier to find a green host for your website than your podcast. Whilst many big companies – including a certain popular podcast advertiser – don’t have a public sustainability or environmental policy, other web host companies are openly trying to provide a greener option by using renewable energy, and carbon offsetting their energy use.
  • Turn on lazy-load images and turn off auto-play. If you changes these settings on the website so that visitors only have visual content when they need it, it reduces the background processing.
  • Use a minimalist design. Website designs with fewer images, lots of space on the page and default fonts are more energy efficient. The busier and more bespoke a website is, the more energy it will require to run.
  • Limit or remove pop-ups and cookies. Okay, this is a bit of a tricky one for podcasters who want information on their audience, because your website can be a good source for statistics on who is interested in your show. Likewise, pop-ups can be really good for announcing news, growing your mailing list and more. However, it’s worth knowing that both use a lot of data in the background of your browser.

Talk About Climate Change

The last thing we can do as podcasters to help make steps towards a greener planet is the thing we’re probably best at – we can talk about climate change. It is worth remembering that you have influence with your listeners and community, and even if you don’t have to have a climate podcast, you could think about the ways your subject is affected by the issue. After COP26, broadcasters and filmmakers committed to the Climate Content Pledge, which states “We will reach more of our audiences with content that helps everyone understand and navigate the path to Net Zero, and inspires them to make greener choices.” Whilst this pledge didn’t encompass audio specifically, there is no reason we can’t aim for it too.

Do What You Can

It might be overwhelming to think about all the changes you could do, and it can be especially frustrating to think about making greener choices on an independent level when the audio industry seems to be lacking a drive for sustainability. Do what you can with the resources that you have, and it might encourage others to follow. The good news is, audio is inherently more sustainable than other forms of media. So keep making and listening to podcasts – it might help save the planet!

Want more content about sustainability? Check out our favourite sustainable living and climate podcasts, or listen to the new show, Climate Decoded, for conversations that make climate science and policy accessible and engaging for everyone.

This post contains affiliate links from which members of the Content is Queen team may make a commission.

Meet Aradhna Tayal Leach, Managing Director of The Radio Academy

Aradhna Tayal Leach started her career in radio as a Broadcast Engineer, but since then her path has given her extensive experience across the media, arts and technology sectors. In a former role at the BBC Academy (the training and development department within the BBC) and through her own consultancy business Clockhouse Media, Aradhna has spent most of her career leading events, initiatives and strategies across the creative industries.

Alongside this work, she is also the co-director of Radio TechCon (the UK audio industry’s technical and engineering conference) and last year, Aradhna became the Managing Director of The Radio Academy, which is the UK’s only audio and radio industry charity. She is bringing her passion for industry development to the role in the hope that our industry can better reflect, represent and influence society.

Francesca Turauskis spoke to Aradhna about her path to the role of Managing Director, bringing in experience from other creative industries and just how many different ways you can have a meaningful career in audio.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FT: You are the first engineer to lead The Radio Academy. I’m not sure that enough people know what engineers do, and how that looks as a career. Can you give me an insight?

ATL: I started my career at the BBC as a Broadcast Engineer in network radio. I was trained on all aspects of broadcasting, everything from the microphone in the studio, fixing a sound desk, your editing software – or hardware as it often was in those days – all the way through to processing and transmission. So it’s very, very broad.

Then as you go further along in your career you’ll probably specialise in one area: you get Transmission Engineers, you have Studio Engineers.

When your [sound] desk is broken or the microphone isn’t working or you’ve done something when you are editing and you’ve just lost three tracks and you don’t understand why – that’s when you’d call someone like me [a Broadcast Engineer] to come and try and troubleshoot, fault find. Hopefully, ultimately, the number one aim is recovering the programme or getting you back on air.

You also have Sound Engineers or Mastering Engineers who might be more controlling the sound desk, making the sound sound good – music or speech. Engineer is used both for a technical role and a support role, so I think sometimes the terminology can be confusing.

It was really exciting for me when I started my career because I studied engineering at university, but I was very much part of the team that got radio out on air. I felt that if it wasn’t for me fixing problems then we wouldn’t have radio going out to people. So you feel very much part of that.

FT: It really sounds like being somebody that wants to problem solve is a big aspect of it. Are there other skills that you think people can bring into engineering, besides the hard skills?

ATL: Communication’s really, really important. Imagine you’re picking up the phone to someone who has just lost this piece that they spent the last three months recording and then editing. You need to be able to talk to that person to reassure them, to understand why this is so critical – and at the same time you might literally be trying to get Radio One back on air because they’ve fallen off for some reason. So understanding the bigger picture priorities but also the individual’s context and priorities, and communicating appropriately on both.

I think being able to project manage is a really big skill in engineering. For me that was something I was really interested in – I like seeing the whole problem, the thing we need to do, the challenge, working it through, figuring out how we can do it realistically within a certain timeframe. Who do you need to be involved in that? Where might you need to get permissions? Where are your boundaries? For example, you can’t access that studio until midnight – does it mean that I’m going to stay here till midnight or do I need to find a night engineer?

I liked problem solving and then delivering the project side of things – which probably relates more to what I then ended up doing for most of my career, running projects and thinking more strategically about things.

FT: What was your introduction to The Radio Academy?

I found out about The Radio Academy – it must be maybe 10 years ago? At the time, The Radio Academy ran a three day festival every year – which is now a one day festival. It was a much bigger affair [10 years ago] and half a day of it was dedicated to engineering and technology called TechCon (which ultimately has evolved and left The Radio Academy and is now Radio TechCon). The chair of the TechCon committee approached me through the BBC Academy to join, mainly because there were no women on the TechCon committee because [engineering and technology] is such a male dominated world. They wanted to get some different people and perspectives involved.

Fast forward quite a few years, 2018 I was elected to [The Radio Academy] board of trustees. which was really interesting and that’s when I really got involved. The reason that I put myself up for election was because I felt that the Radio Academy, it’s such an important resource to have and I wanted to help shape that and make sure that it was actually supporting all people in the audio industry.

I hadn’t necessarily always felt represented, there weren’t very many people who looked like me. There weren’t very many people with my background. That’s why I wanted to join the board of Trustees. This is our industry charity, so therefore I want to volunteer my time and help to shape that.

Then last year I saw this job [as Managing Director] and I just thought “actually, I can do something really meaningful here”. And it’s a very, very different position being the MD compared to those various experiences I’ve had volunteering my time.

FT: We have people coming in to audio from lots of different places now, and The Radio Academy seems mostly broadcast related – is that accurate?

ATL: The Radio Academy is forty-one years old, so obviously there was only radio then but we are very much for the full audio community.

I really hope that more people, especially those starting out in podcasting, do come and look at all of the resources available through our website and through our events. It is our industry’s charity and it’s a really important way to come and be able to connect with other people and see what opportunities there might be for you.

It’s important to me to bring together our whole audio community, and not keep divides between radio and podcasting. You can have a much more exciting and fulfilling career knowing that you can move around audio – you can produce both radio or podcasts.

FT: Is there something that you are very proud of that you’ve done in the first nine months being in the role?

ATL: In terms of active change – representation, accessibility, feeling safe, included and valued, those are just so ingrained in me and my values and The Radio Academy and what I believe we need as an industry. Certainly I think that’s coming through.

I’m really proud of how much we reach out and are trying to be really transparent and open, including where we’re not necessarily getting things right. I’m only human, I’m learning and I think we’re putting a real human face to The Radio Academy and to the industry.

And hopefully to reach out across the whole country as well and whatever level you are at in the industry and whichever bit of it – to reach out to you and say, “we are here for you, what do you need?”

I put myself forward as well. It makes me vulnerable, but I think it’s important and the position that I am in, I want to be visible. I want people to see me and to see the first woman of colour at the helm of The Radio Academy. I couldn’t have imagined seeing that ten, twenty years ago. I didn’t see it when I was starting out in the industry.

I have a brilliant team, so trying to shine a light on what they’re bringing, as well as trying to highlight our members and different people’s stories and perspectives.

If you say what is the one thing? Just being more present and available and open. Hopefully. It’s a work in progress.

FT: You mentioned reaching out across the country – The Radio Academy has regional branches, and I think there’s also regional events as well?

ATL: Yeah, that’s really, really important to me. I grew up in Manchester and it’s a big city, so I’m lucky. But even still, when it came to getting a job and working in media, you had to up and go to London. That’s all that was available. If we want to be inclusive and open and accessible, it’s about going to where those people who don’t feel included are, and showing through actions.

Talking about what I’m proud of, we run this Foot In The Door event, and this is probably one of the things that has really taken on since I’ve started. We’ve been running training days for quite a while, but it’s really found its groove. It travels to different cities around the country a few times a year and we partner with a university in that town and then all of the industry experts travel to that university.

It’s not just for students, it’s for anyone at that new, early-career or career-change stage to find out a little bit more about careers and audio. There’s practical workshops and discussions from the experts and people that you wouldn’t have access to normally. We were in Glasgow in February and we had 150 people in the room and it was incredible.

We have branch events around the country as well, which are organised by people in the local area and a really nice way of bringing together colleagues. What’s nice about The Radio Academy is that you get outside of your own company. It expands your network locally, as well as plugging you into this national network that we’ve got across The Radio Academy.

FT: Do you think that remote working after COVID has made it easier for people to get experience whilst not necessarily having to leave their home regions?

ATL: It definitely helps, yes, because there’s so many good tools that you can use now to have your own remote studio. Being able to do that and then being able to have interviews with people far and wide, nationally or internationally, makes a big difference.

I actually think having a more diverse range of shows and producers and presenters, people with all different backgrounds and based in all different places, it all adds a different perspective and a little bit of colour to our whole landscape. Whereas if you are all in one place, working out of one square mile, talking to the same people and to each other, you are not going to have as rich a tapestry across the audio landscape and therefore we all suffer as an industry.

The bit that I think is still tough though, which we haven’t quite cracked, is while you can do the work and you can get experience, a lot of our industry is still based in centralised city hubs. So from the “outside”, it’s hard to get the connections, find out where the jobs are, meet the commissioners and the publishers who are going to give you advertising revenue, etc. You’re sort of expected to have already made it before you can meet the budget holders.

I think that’s why having these branch events is helpful with widening your network and getting those contacts, finding collaborators, finding mentors or people who might recommend you for jobs or give you advice that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to if you’re just sitting in your own home somewhere.

FT: It is so difficult and there’s still a need to go to those meetups and be brave enough to speak to the right people.

ATL: Well, I think putting yourself out there and going to meetups – it is hard, but it is essential. And actually believe it or not, it doesn’t get easier. The higher up the chain you get, you’re more likely to know somebody there, but I often go to things and I think, “I don’t know anyone there” and that never stops being a little bit scary, but you learn to be able to do it because you learn the value of doing it.

FT: Beyond doing things like local meetups, is there anything that you would like to see the industry itself do from a top down perspective to help support that career development?

ATL: There are some things that I would like to see. I do think the impetus shouldn’t be all on the creator or the person early in their career. It should also be the other way around. Those senior people should be taking their evening off to go to one of these meetups as well. They will find it really valuable themselves, but also they should be there meeting new talent and you might find the next person that you want to hire. And even if you don’t, you have a lot to give and you have a lot to share.

I also think that there needs to be really open and transparent routes into the industry and up through the industry as well. One of the things that The Radio Academy runs is RAMP, The Radio Academy Mentoring Programme and that’s specifically aimed at people at the mid-level in their careers because I don’t believe that you can just say, “yeah, you can get into the industry. Okay, you’re in now, bye!”. I would like to see more initiatives which have a joined-up follow-up after the programme ends. And I think that’s an industry-wide thing. The Radio Academy and other organisations like us, we’re really well placed in terms of being independent and we must work together. We are not against each other, this goes beyond competitive divides.

Then the third thing I’d say is training. I think there’s a real, real issue in audio with access to proper training. Our industry runs through freelancers. On one level people report that they can’t hire the right talent. On the other hand, you’ve got so many people wanting to get into the industry, loving audio. That’s a beautiful thing. Why would you know exactly which microphone to use or what the legal implications are? We can teach that, and we should be.

You should absolutely go reach out to your local community station or set up your own podcast and learn. But also, we shouldn’t leave people blind to just try and figure it out and then test them at interview. There needs to be more training and resources available outside of those staff jobs. We’re working on that.

FT: You have experience in film and TV as well, and is it the same across a lot of creative industries?

ATL: It really is. And it’s really interesting looking at film and TV in terms of what they’re doing, what we can learn from them. Because it is a brilliant thing that you can be a freelancer, you can have a successful well paid – or paid anyway – career in the industry, but then if that’s how you run [an industry] then you’ve got to support that.

The other things as well as training – are you providing suitable provisions for better mental health, safe working conditions, fair working conditions? It’s an industry wide thing where we all need to come together on these topics and make sure that as an industry we’ve got support structures in place.

FT: There’s so much to go into! Is there anything that you’d really like to add that I haven’t touched on?

ATL: The thing that I really care about is industry development. For some people it’s about making content that really resonates in society, that has an impact with people, that represents people, that offers a voice or a perspective that you might not come across otherwise. What I think I’m good at and where I bring value is that you can’t have impact in society if you are not looking after your own, looking after the industry and looking after the people.

To represent society, you’ve got to be representative and to offer open and inclusive and different perspectives, you’ve got to live that yourselves. That’s what I care about. That’s why I wanted to do the job at The Radio Academy, to work on that. And so all the focus, this term ‘industry development’, is what I do. It’s about developing the industry so that we, as a whole, are lifted, that we’re resilient, sustainable, and effective in order that the content we’re creating for our audiences is the best and most impactful it can be.

FT: I love the fact it’s come back to the audience at the end there as well. It is to serve the audience, it’s to serve the stories.

ATL: That’s why we do it, isn’t it? Otherwise, we just record stories ourselves and why do we publish them? Why do we want to get them out into the world? It’s because we want to have an impact with other people, isn’t it?

The Radio Academy is the UK audio and radio industry charity, which runs national, regional and online events for members, skills and career development opportunities, and further resources such as a weekly podcast, careers advice and learning hub. Individual Radio Academy membership is open for freelancers, sole-traders, podcasters, or any other type of audio lover, and is £36 for the year.

Whether you want to take the next step in your career, master production or stay up to date with podcasting events, the Content is Queen community awaits to support your own development. Explore our membership options here and you can practise your networking skills in October at the International Women’s Podcast Festival in partnership with Spotify.

6 Podcasts Offering New Perspectives This Spring

Has anyone else noticed there have been a lot of new podcasts around this Spring? This season is generally a great time for new ventures, and maybe it’s because everyone has spent months seeking comfort indoors and had time to work on their projects.

We agree that this season is the perfect time to find a new favourite show, but it doesn’t always have to be a new show. We’re sharing a mix of old and new podcasts that we think will give you a new perspective for Spring.

Serial – Season 4

Are you listening to the latest series of Serial? It hardly seems like it needs recommending, but ten years after bringing mainstream attention to the podcast format, the new series looks into the important topic of Guantánamo. Serial has often felt like it is as much about Sarah Koenig as the story she is uncovering and this series is no different as we follow her and co-host Dana Chivvis through their investigation. We get a kind of meta-journalism, where they let us in on how this story has developed over years of investigation. Sarah and Dana find leads, lose the narrative and take us from the gift shop of the infamous island, into the stories the island became infamous for. We’ll get to learn more about the processes behind the show when Sarah Koenig comes to London for an exclusive in-person conversation as part of The International Women’s Podcast Festival in partnership with Spotify, but for now – listen here.

The Trouble With Politics

After our article last month highlighted the need for more woman-led politics podcasts, we were thrilled when The Trouble With Politics was released mere days after our list went out. Journalist and broadcaster, Marverine Cole, explores the state of our political system in the UK, platforming what the description generously calls “perspectives often skimmed over on mainstream news programmes”. The first episode analysed Black voters and politicians, with Marverine, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and Nels Abbey discussing the fallout from the racist comments made about Diane Abbott by Tory donor, Frank Hester. There is understanding and disagreement, with a much-needed discussion of potential solutions. More of this please – listen here.

Unlawful Killing (and Things Fell Apart)

The subject of death after police contact has been receiving increased attention recently, particularly around the use of disputed medical terms to explain the deaths. An article in The Guardian suggested that it was an episode of Things Fell Apart that caused the renewed attention. In the ‘The Most Mysterious Deaths’, host Jon Roson unpacked the history of the terms “acute behavioural disturbance” (ABD) and “excited delirium”, and the connections to racism and sexism. Once you’ve listened to that episode, Unlawful Killing is another must listen. The show proves how long this topic has gone unnoticed, and draws on the four decades of campaigning by the charity Inquest. Hosts Lee Lawrence and Lucy Brisbane have personal and professional connections to those at the forefront of these struggles, creating a show that is both knowledgeable and emotional – listen here.

The Healing Power of Nature

If you are after a podcast that helps you destress (which might be needed after the previous two looking and troubles of our society) this show is the perfect remedy – and we mean that literally. On the surface, The Healing Power of Nature is a nature podcast, but it is also part of a five-year research project by environmental psychologist Alex Smalley, who has been exploring how digital forms of nature can impact wellbeing. The show gives listeners an immersive experience, replicating natural soundscapes so you can access their healing potential even if you can’t access the landscapes. This is a joint production between Audible and BBC Studios Natural History Unit, so production is of the highest level, and being in dolby-atmos it is worth experiencing through headphones. Episodes are a quick 15 minute dose that provides nature to your brain and an explanation of the science behind how it can help – listen here.

Unsung

Sumit Sharma is known as one half of Breaking Atoms: The Hip Hop Podcast, a long-running show that is embedded in the genre. Here, Sumit goes solo on a short passion project about some of the hidden stories in music history. Over six episodes, we hear stories about a range of artists that transcended not just genre, but the boundaries of music. From Jazz bassist Charles Mingus to renowned Japanese DJ and producer DJ Kush, each story is short (the shortest is six minutes) but highlights the life and careers of artists that are influential but unsung. A bit of behind-the-mic trivia: Sumit made the show over his Christmas holiday, which goes to show how far passion and a deep knowledge of your subject can take you – listen now.

Camlann

A fantasy podcast that is funded by Creative Scotland but set in a post-apocalyptic Wales, Camlann is inspired by Arthurian legends but doesn’t follow the tales precisely. This gives some familiarity to the characters, but twists to the tale. Like many fiction podcasts, the matter-of-fact queer relationships provide a lot of heart to the show. The show is only seven episodes in, but a lot of listeners are already invested in Camlann, no doubt in large part because of the heartfelt acting and thoughtful script, which is no surprise given Ella Watts’ involvement (you can hear her tips on scripting in her Masterclass, ‘How to Write a Killer Script For Your Podcast’). The music can’t go without a mention, and is a lovely way to include Welsh in the project. What is also rather lovely is how each episode ends with a recommendation for another podcast they think you’ll like – listen now.

Would you like support to make your show? As well as writing articles about podcasts, we specialise in helping first-time podcasters get their projects off the ground. Get in touch to talk about podcast production or to book some time in our studio.

What To Do When a New Podcast Uses Your Name?

What do you do when a new podcast has the same name or similar idea as yours? It can be frustrating, but there are ways to navigate this situation, and even turn it to your advantage…

As more podcasts are created, and more companies adopt the medium, there’s more chance of shows popping up that are similar to existing ones. We’ve seen this recently as Lemonada media announced David Duchovny (X-Files) will host his first podcast, Fail Better, which is being compared to How To Fail with Elizabeth Day. It’s likely that this idea was organic because David Duchovny has written about failing in the past, and there’s space for both shows.

Elizabeth Day has a large profile of her own, but it’s more disheartening to see the indie podcast Straight To The Comments having to navigate the Daily Mail using the same name for their new, comparable show. Lisa Williams and Sarah Illingworth, the hosts of Straight To The Comments, said on a recent minisode of their show “you’d think that the Daily Mail would be using Google and seeing that we come up on the first two pages.”

Similar shows can arise organically, but it is notable that Straight to the Comments and How To Fail are women-fronted, and the more corporate takes on the topic chose men to host. It’s unlikely this was a conscious decision from production teams, but it does seem to exemplify this new, more commercialised iteration of podcasting.

Whether it is coincidence or more directly influenced, there is a lot you can do about similar shows, even as an individual or small show. We suggest some ways to navigate the situation, plus we learn more from the Editor of Straight To The Comments, Emily Crosby. (We invited DMG Media to also comment, but at the time of publishing we haven’t received a response.)

This article is a list of things to consider and should not be taken as legal advice.

Don’t get disheartened

It’s worth knowing that copyright is an automatic form of media rights that applies to creative works, so you don’t need to have ‘registered’ your podcast anywhere to prove you own your show. By being the first to create the show you are in a good position when it comes to any actual infringement.

This could also be a good chance to reaffirm your podcast idea to yourself and your audience, and it can be quite reassuring to know that you’ve got a good idea if other people want to do something similar.

Check if it IS copyright infringement

You own the copyright for your show, but copyright law can be complicated because it only applies to the execution of an idea, not to ideas themselves. This means that shows can be about the same topic – for example a particular cold crime case – so long as they cover the topic in distinct ways.

In a recent interview with Press Gazette, Jamie East (Head of Podcasts at DMG Media and Executive Producer of the Daily Mail’s new podcast) talked about this: “if you’re telling a story in a different way, or in a new way, or you’re using your own platform to tell that story, such as Straight to the Comments or Sidebar. Then you’ve got a point of difference already.”

Both hosting platforms and podcast apps do have their rules and regulations that can help clarify copyright issues. For example, in the Terms and Conditions for Apple Podcasts “1.7. Rights Infringement” refers specifically to copyright law and is more vague, but the “1.4. Impersonation” specifies Apple will remove:

“Podcasts designed to mislead listeners by mimicking, copying, or duplicating other content or search terms are not permitted. Creators must not pretend to be someone else or claim they are affiliated with someone else without their permission and cannot use the artwork, description, or metadata of another creator’s show without permission.”

Unfortunately, whilst artwork, description and metadata are specified, the podcast name isn’t.

Even if the new show isn’t directly mimicking yours or infringing on your copyright, if there is a possibility that it could confuse your audience, you should still address the situation.

Find out who the other show is

It’s important to find out who’s behind the new podcast to decide the best course of action. Is it a big company or an independent show? What are the names of the hosts, producers, executive producers and production company? You can often find this information on the shownotes in your podcast app, but Podchaser is another good resource for this information, and will also show you which hosting platform they use.

It’s worth noting that if there aren’t clearly any people attached to the show, or the feed has copied your show completely, it might be Podcast Piracy, and you might want to file a DMCA – more on that below!

Get legal support

It might feel intimidating to ask for legal support, but this is worth it, especially if you are dealing with a company or somebody who might also have legal support. “Lots of friends and colleagues encouraged us to pursue a legal case, and suggested law firms that could help us” says Emily. “Speak to as many of them as you can, to see whether you have a case worth pursuing. Legal cases are long and frustrating, so it might not be for you, but getting advice from someone who has fought a similar case is useful anyway.”

There are agencies that can offer free advice, and if you are part of a workers union such as Bectu or industry association such as Radio Academy or AudioUK, you can ask them for suggestions.

Contact the show

Contacting the creators of the show directly can be a good option, and  introducing yourself and asking them to change the name may be all that is needed. They might not have been aware of your show and because podcasts are non-linear content, if you do share an audience there could even be room for collaboration.

If you are dealing with an organisation or a person who refuses to stop using the name, your legal support might be able to send a ‘cease and desist’ letter if appropriate, which is a more legally binding way of asking them to stop using the name.

File a DMCA takedown notice

If the podcast creator doesn’t respond, isn’t co-operative or you can’t find them, your legal support may advise going directly to the podcast hosting platform to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice. This is a form of copyright protection for any digital media, and hosting platforms such as Acast or Spotify for Podcasters will have a procedure in place.

Do bear in mind that you have to be certain there is copyright infringement. As the Acast form linked says, “your statements in this document may subject you to legal consequences. You may wish to consult an attorney before submitting a claim.”

Use it as content and marketing

Whilst it’s natural to worry about the potential listeners you might lose, there is an opportunity to gain support and marketing from this type of situation by piggybacking on the PR of the new release. This was the direction that Emily and her team took with Straight To The Comments: “Rather than being buried by the media coverage of their launch, we’ve made enough noise that the press feel they have to mention us whenever they mention them.”

Protect your own podcast branding

It is worth asking your legal support whether you can trademark your show’s brand for future protection. In the UK you can register a trademark online and prices start at £170. However, you might find that you can’t trademark the name of your show as things like book titles are often exempt – but you might be able to trademark your cover art or logos.

The second thing to remember is that your show is always going to be more than your idea: it is about you, your expertise and execution. Ask yourself – what is your point of difference? With Sarah and Lisa’s Straight To The Comments, whilst there is the inherent comedic value to the idea of the show, it’s the pair’s expertise as a communications consultant and psychology graduate that is a point of difference.

Once you’ve pinpointed your unique offer, you can bring that into your overall branding. You might want to add a tagline to your show that highlights that main theme more, or perhaps make sure that your name (or names) are in the Author section of the podcast metadata.

Think about your audience (and potential audience)

The last thing to mention is probably the most important thing to keep in mind throughout the whole thing – don’t forget to think about your audience. You might want to address the situation and ask for support from current listeners and reintroduce yourself in case you get new ones.

“Our biggest fear was that new listeners wouldn’t find our show” says Emily “so we’ve concentrated on telling our story everywhere we can. It’s tempting to make episodes or social posts attacking the other show, but that’s not true to the values of our show, so we’ve stuck to the facts and encouraged fans to share our links. We work hard to make a great show, which will speak for itself.”

As podcasting matures and grows, individuals, production companies and media corporations will have to navigate how to share the space – but here’s hoping that independent podcasts get the limelight they deserve.

If you are a company who would like to support creators, head over to learn more about our new Marketplace where you’ll gain access to a diverse community of creators whose content aligns with your brand’s values.

How Can You Earn Money From Your Podcast?

Many podcasters have a goal of monetising their show, but podcasting is not always an easy revenue stream. Even podcasts with big celebrity names can have difficulty recuperating what was spent on the show (for example Megan Markles’ Archetypes, which was cancelled by Spotify after its first series).

However, plenty of independent shows without household names bring in enough money to keep production going, and even allow podcasters to make a living. Why do some podcasts succeed where others have failed? I think it comes down to having a clear strategy that matches the focus and values of your show.

There are a lot of ways to potentially monetise your podcast, such as advertising, listener support or selling merchandise. Every method of monetising has positives and negatives, but success can depend on choosing the right method for you. Your method of raising money has to fit into the way you make your podcast.

Below are some ideas to help you think about how monetising fits into your overall podcast ethos.

Think about your investment

Before you can think about making money, it’s important to think about what you are spending on your podcast – and I’m talking about both money and time. It is going to be easier for your show to pay for itself if you put less money in, but if you don’t have time to work on your show you might still find it difficult to break even.

To give your monetising an aim, set a budget for both the money you will put in and the time you will spend on the show. However big that budget is, there are three main areas you can then invest in:

  • Invest in marketing to build a large audience
  • Invest in building a community around your show
  • Invest in making a really professional podcast

If you are an independent podcast with limited resources, I’d suggest you focus on one to start with. Of course, if you have a lot of time and money to invest, you can always aim for all three! But there will likely be one area you focus on more and this is where you start your monetising plan.

If you’ve focused on marketing your show…

Monetise through advertising and affiliate links

We already know that podcast advertising commands the highest levels of attention and trust, and finding sponsors for your podcast is perhaps the most obvious way of trying to make money. We’ve written before about how to find sponsors for your podcast, and it can be relatively easy to find brands that want to reach your audience.

Unfortunately, because advertising often runs based on CPM (cost per mille) and affiliate links run on CPA (cost per action) you might need a big audience before seeing big returns. Even if you only spend a couple of hours working on an episode, you’d need thousands of listeners to make minimum wage.

As the saying goes, you often have to spend money to make money. If you’ve spent some upfront investment marketing your show and building a big audience, monetising through advertising could be lucrative.

If you’ve focused on community…

Monetise through listener support

If you are creating a show that is aimed at a particular community, you might not be able to build a large audience, but what you can build is a strong community. Shows that seem very niche are often very community focused. For example, Leanne Alie’s podcast Coiled was a very specific topic about the culture and history of afro hair, but it went viral on Black Twitter and won a British Podcast Award.

Despite its obvious success, Leanne spoke to us about her difficulty in funding the show through traditional means, and mused that listener support would have fit the show best:

“Upon reflection, because I had built an audience and built a community around that podcast, I could’ve tried to do a crowdfunder or something to fund the next season – but I’d have to do that straight off the back of the first series.”

As Leanne said, with a seasonal show crowdfunders could help raise revenue, and this is something that fiction podcasts do a lot. Re:Dracula is an example of a podcast that raised funds through crowdfunding before starting production, and the show is now multi-award-winning.

For always-on shows, asking for support via platforms like Patreon could be the better option. The important thing with ongoing support is giving a reason to join the paid community. This can be extra content, but it doesn’t have to be – it could also be a place to meet-up and talk about the show, a way to speak to you directly or a way to be involved in the show themselves, such as listener shoutouts or questions. Giving your paid community a fun name also helps, and sharing how much fun you have will give listeners FOMO if they don’t join.

Lastly, when fandoms build up around shows, another way to raise funds can be merchandise. Whilst selling merchandise does take time and money, it can be a really good way of rolling community, money-making and marketing into one.

Whichever way you choose to monetise through listener support, it’s important to pinpoint your call to action so that you feel comfortable saying it, and your community knows how (and why) to support you.

If you’ve focused on making a professional show…

Monetise through your expertise

If you are having fun making podcasts or are really community focused, you can sometimes get away with putting out shows that aren’t highly polished. However, if you are an audio professional or you are making a show based around your personal brand or business, it is worth making a really professional show.

Investing in top-notch audio quality, spending time researching your topic and sharing useful resources does take time and money. This can make it harder to see a direct return on investment when it comes to monetising, but it can open the door to indirect monetising from your podcast.

When you are a professional in your field, it can be good to think of your podcast as your business card. You can show your skills and expertise through the podcast, but point towards other offerings to make back the money. For example, do you offer 1:1s with clients about your topic? Perhaps you can use your podcast to show your expertise, but pitch articles to magazines and newspapers. You might build up your conversation skills through podcasting, and then pitch yourself to run workshops or appear on panels.

For those who work in (or want to work in) audio, your own podcast might not make money, but it could lead to paid work for other shows and production companies. You never know what opportunities your podcast could unlock.

Content is Queen recognises that it can be difficult for emerging creators to grow and monetise their content. That’s why our new Marketplace platform aims to provide a variety of opportunities to creators including advertising partnerships, commissioning briefs, and collaborative projects with other creators or commissioners.

If you want to learn more when it launches, sign up to the Content is Queen Marketplace waitlist now.

6 Women-led Politics Podcasts to Add to Your Library

As a women-led politics podcast breaks into the top ten in the podcast charts, Francesca Turauskis is using International Women’s Day 2024 as a chance to inspire your political podcast listening and support these women-led shows…

Take a look at the most popular shows on podcasts apps and you’ll consistently find The Rest Is Politics in the top ten. Many podcasts have tried to emulate the success of the show’s Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart pairing, but whilst many choose hosts that are unlikely political partners, they are always similar in demographic. The phenomenon even has its own Guardian name: ‘the dadcast’.) Considering how much politics shapes the gender inequalities we see, it’s disappointing when we can’t hear women’s voices in the discourse.

Sky News have finally branched out with their new politics podcast Electoral Dysfunction, making it to the top of the charts. The setup is similar to The Rest Is Politics, with Sky Political Journalist Beth Rigby joined by Labour MP Jess Phillips and Scottish Conservative MP Ruth Davidson as they talk about current affairs in a way that is civil.

We have success: a women-hosted political show is popular! Yet cynically I can’t quite celebrate Electoral Dysfunction’s success. Perhaps it’s that they are trying to “attract people in that don’t necessarily live and breathe politics” by… having three hosts who live and breathe politics?

Perhaps it’s that I can’t help but feel that if a person of colour was involved, the first minute of Electoral Dysfunction wouldn’t include the phrase “my Asian friend told me…”. It was mentioned during the obligatory ‘generic chat’ portion of the episode and came across as tokenistic.

It’s also because I know that Electoral Dysfunction’s success has no doubt been helped along by the investment in the release that many worthy shows don’t get – with press releases, news coverage from their parent company and high-profile app features, it wouldn’t necessarily need to be good to be popular.

The official UN theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #InvestInWomen. Championing gender equality and specifically #EqualityInAudio is central to the Content Is Queen ethos but this year I am using it to recommend these women-led political podcasts I think deserve to be in the charts too…

Surviving Society

Readers of our newsletter will recognise Surviving Society from our Community Spotlight. This weekly political podcast explores both UK and global politics with a focus on race and class from a sociological perspective. The host, Dr Chantelle J Lewis, brings both professional and personal experience to the topics and invites guests to talk about their different areas of expertise. A recent episode “E190: Skinfolk, but not kinfolk? Ethnic minority conservative political elite actors” explores the increase in ethnic minority representation in the right-wing, conservative parties of the UK. Because Chantelle and her guest are approaching from an academic perspective, the talk is in-depth and perhaps not for a casual listener – but a must for those who follow politics closely. Listen here.

Wood For The Trees

The winner of the ‘Politics and News’ category in last year’s Independent Podcast Awards, Wood For The Trees is hosted by Cait Macleod and explores issues she describes as ‘messy’ – for example legalising drugs or prison reform. Cait’s background in competitive debating is perhaps what gives her the confidence to enter these conversations, and she often interviews guests with opposing opinions. What’s also interesting is how she draws on global examples and experts, in particular looking to South Africa and Scandinavia. This is currently a short-run series and its last episode was in May 2023, but the topics aren’t especially time sensitive so it’s worth heading back to. Listen here.

If I Speak

This is more about personal affairs than current affairs, but If I Speak approaches personal dilemmas from the political point of view (and vice-versa). A new podcast that follows the ‘mates chatting’ genre, Ash Sarkar from Novara Media is joined by her friend and colleague Moya Lothian-McLean to discuss current trending topics, and tackle listener dilemmas. Moya’s podcast with Broccoli Productions, Human Resources, adeptly tackled the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and here she and Ash bring this type of background knowledge to topics such as the hyper-sexualisation of Houthis on social media, and a listener wondering whether to give her mum an allowance. Listen here.

Media Storm

Media Storm has seen a lot of success since it began in 2021, and it investigates wider political issues more than current affairs. Mathilda Mallinson and Helena Wadia speak to people that news stories are normally about, and episodes have covered stories such as gender self-identification law, medical cannabis and sex work. As they said in the notes for the episode on ‘Gaza and Beyond’: “We cannot hand our listeners the truth, but we can better equip you to identify it.” It’s a good example of really striving for balance in who they speak to. Listen here. 

The Trawl

I will caveat this recommendation by saying that The Trawl doesn’t focus on analysis like some shows, and the commentary can focus too much on the personal rather than the political for my liking. However, when Electoral Dysfunction claimed they were the first women-led podcast talking about politics, the hosts and fans of The Trawl duly corrected them on (fittingly) Twitter. Broadcaster, Jemma Forte, and political commentator Marina Purkiss have been commenting on the news cycle for nearly two years by scrolling through Twitter so that listeners don’t have to. The pair are proudly biased against the government and make good fun of the week’s events, so this is a good place to listen to others venting about the state of UK politics – and there’s definitely a need for that. Listen here.

Not BAME Podcast

An independent show I found that is worth a quick nod, despite being ad-hoc with episodes, because it analyses current affairs as they happened from a Black, millennial viewpoint. Hosts Cory and Bay discuss what has happened in the UK political week, but the last episode was back in November 2023 – a long time in politics, and an eternity with the current government. However, it is worth keeping an ear to the ground to see if it returns… Listen here.

If you’d like people to be listening to your new show in 2024, get in touch! We’d love to see you in the studio some time.