I wasn’t thinking about the advantages of podcasting when I started Tech Done Right — or if I was, only vaguely. I wanted a way to have conversations about things that mattered in technology, with people I like and respect. If there were fringe podcasting benefits, great. But business wasn’t the primary motivator.
(This is why I work with other people who think about things like the pros and cons of podcasts before jumping in.)
One year later, and the podcasting advantages and disadvantages are clear to all of us. We’ve had incredible conversations about things we care deeply about, but for us to continue contributing time and energy and attention to putting out a podcast every two weeks, we need business benefits as well. Fortunately, for us, the podcasting advantages outweigh the costs. If you’re trying to figure out what the benefits of podcasting could be for you, read on.
The benefits of doing a podcast: Relationships, recruiting and revenue
We started Tech Done Right with a few test interviews with colleagues at Table XI. We liked them, they weren’t a burden to make — in truth, since we outsourced the editing, they probably took less time than writing a long blog post. And my more business-minded colleagues started to see the potential tangible advantages of podcasting in the outreach and social capital those interviews developed. So we started putting episodes out regularly.
The first big step was making a list of all the people we wanted to talk to. For the most part, they were colleagues I know from conferences and just generally working in tech. But even the people I do know, I don’t regularly get to talk to, and definitely not in-depth about issues we both care about. I’ve known Andy Slavitt for years, and I’d always been curious about what it was like for him to rescue Healthcare.gov, but we’d never had an hour to sit down and talk about it. One of the best podcast uses for me has just been creating a space for those conversations to happen. It adds depth to the relationships I already have and builds new ones. And we all benefit from their smart perspectives on important issues.
We hoped that the podcast would help us attract great developers and designers. That has maybe been the most successful of the podcast benefits. Santiago, our newest developer, largely applied to Table XI because of the podcast. If hiring them was the only upside, it would still be worth it, but we’ve also had plenty of other applicants who have mentioned the podcast either in applications or interviews.
The big advantage of podcasts that everyone is shooting for though, is one of the hardest to measure — driving sales. We do know that the podcast is a concrete thing that shows our expertise in the industry and what topics are important to us. We don’t know for sure if that’s been the tipping point in any deals, but we do know new clients like JAMA and Discover are excited by the podcast’s existence. It may not be the deciding factor, but it’s clearly a contributing one, which is success enough.
So, should I do a podcast?
Well, maybe not. For us, the benefits of a podcast make it worth our while. But part of that is our particular business, our clients and the types of people we’re trying to hire. And then there’s the fact that we have something to say.
When we started, we weren’t motivated by podcasting’s business benefits. It was about having real conversations around topics that matter in the industry. We had things to say: about design, about testing about diversity and dozens of other topics. There’s a reason why so many of our guests are women and/or people of color. There are technical and cultural shortcomings in the tech industry, and we wanted a chance to talk about them, share our thinking and hopefully influence how other people approached the problems.
If your primary purpose of podcasting is to make you, or your business, look good, it’s probably not going to be a very fun podcast to listen to. Tech Done Right isn’t about selling Table XI, and if it was, it probably wouldn’t be very fun to make, either. If you have a point of view and a couple hundred dollars though, podcasting can be an exceptionally inexpensive way to get your ideas out there. Yes, there is a business happening, and yes, the podcast advantages need to add up for people to keep making them. But honestly? Even if it was a wash, I’d still be having these conversations.