Podcasting has been around for decades but according to Business Insider the format has only truly come into it’s own in the past five years as its blossomed into a $1 billion industry. Apple, Spotify, YouTube and Google Podcasts are leading the pack but the podcast industry is currently “in a particular moment of creative and innovative renaissance, from content creation by publishers and hosts, to listener discovery”.
This intensified even more in the wake of the pandemic with the number of “US podcast listeners increasing 16.0% year-over-year to 106.7 million and 77.9 million people listening to a podcast at least once a week” according to eMarketer.
Not surprisingly, this has opened enormous opportunities in the market for new and exciting players including Dear Media (DM) to carve out distinctive segments that are gaining considerable traction. Founded in 2018, DM hosts 70+ podcasts fronted by top-tier talent like Debra Messing, Chriselle Lim, Patrick Starrr, Marianna Hewitt, Whitney Port, Dr. Jackie Walkers, Heather McMahan and generating a following of more than 60 million listeners across social channels garnering massive attention.
Dear Media Podcast Network CEO and Co-Founder Michael Bosstick explained the inspiration behind the brand and its three-prong success strategy is the platform’s ability to diversify itself from its competitors, cutting through the clutter with a distinctive female voice and as a powerful collective of talent.
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The approach is based on Bosstick’s objective of “building the podcast network of the future through a 360 degree business model, providing unparalleled support from concept to editorial, production, distribution, and commerce extensions.” This has resulted in a highly engaged and vast consumer audience enabling the network to attract global brands and digitally savvy partners.
If you don’t know the backstory, it has been a rapid journey to creating the highly coveted media platform. Bosstick previously built businesses in the direct to consumer retail, aviation, fashion, and wellness space and was an early adapter to digital media helping brands build and scale online. Through these ventures he participated as an operator, founder, marketer, and investor. The pivot happened in early 2016 when Bosstick and his wife Lauryn jointly started co-hosting The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast from their living room.
The idea for Dear Media was subsequently sparked after the duo bootstrapped, self produced, hosted, and monetized their popular Podcast. This experience led Bosstick to believe in the future of podcast audio as a platform to launch brands and media properties. After 25 episodes the pair moved their show to a prominent podcast network to scale the show.
It suddenly became clear to Bosstick “that the network and previous landscape of audio did not understand how to marry audio to digital channels while capturing new revenue and growth opportunities”.
The Bosstick’s went back to self producing and carved out their singular podcast business model after analyzing the space. This realization led to an important strategic epiphany. It became very apparent that there was very little female representation in the podcast arena. Aiming to change this, Bosstick partnered with Digital Brand Architects and created the Dear Media podcast network.
The result is Dear Media is now the first and leading podcast network with close to 40 shows under management focused on amplifying female voices, audiences, and narratives along with a successful $8MM Series A round in 2020. Today, The Skinny Confidential podcast is the network cornerstone show with 70 million unique downloads/listens worldwide making it one of the top podcasts in the world.
With the podcast world exploding and demand increasing, more women are pursuing shows of their own. The top hosts from Dear Media have some very personal, thought provoking and actionable advice about how to create your own podcast including making sure you have a distinctive content angle and digging deep for results.
Find Purpose. Marianna Hewitt, Influencer, Co-Founder of Summer Fridays and Host of Life With Marianna advises podcast newbies “To have a successful podcast, make sure to ask yourself what the purpose is before you begin. Is it to motivate, entertain, inspire or provide some sort of information?” For Hewitt and her audience, “being able to motivate and give them tangible advice to apply to their lives, careers or aspiring career path is always the goal of what I do.”
“Before I record I ask myself, what is the point of this episode? And I try to make sure that as I am asking each question, I answer my “why” and give my listeners valuable information in a conversational way — so you feel like you’re listening to two friends chatting about a topic you are interested in”.
Define Success And Have Fun. Dr Deepika Chopra, OPTIMISM DOCTOR®, Founder of Things Are Looking Up™ and Host of The Looking Up Podcast reflected on “how important it is to take some time to define what ‘success’ means to you in terms of your podcast. The idea of hosting or producing a successful podcast can look so different for everyone so really defining that and coming up with tangible goals is important.”
Chopra added that “always staying true and authentic to your mission or intention for having the podcast – your ‘why’ is an important guidepost. Building an audience and listenership or even developing your flow takes time and can ebb and flow but staying spot on with your intention and the ‘why’ is the one of the critical elements of it all. This is what makes a podcast sustainable through the ups and downs and growing pains.”
As the Optimism Doctor, it is only natural that Chopra also espouses that just enjoying the process has been a key part of the journey for her including (and she is highly aware of this aspect of her work) “that I get to tell stories of resilience, optimism and personal growth as well as get to interview and learn from some of the most inspiring people in the world — so when things get tough, or aren’t going my way, or tech glitches happen (because they do) or listenership is not as high that week as I thought it would be, I laser focus on the joy in it all”.
Chopra echoed Hewitt’s advice on finding purpose sharing “she started the podcast to to inspire and be inspired by raw authentic storytelling about resilience and hope as well as to learn from the most talented scientists and experts in order to get that information out to everyone because podcasting is such a special medium. It feels inclusive, approachable and accessible.”
Be Critical. Jackie Schimmel, the host of ‘The Bitch Bible’ and ‘Mind. Body. No Soul.’ is “ecstatic and relieved that podcasting is finally getting the credibility it deserves in the digital media space.” However, when people ask Schimmel for advice about starting a podcast she typically says, “don’t” which is intended as a joke but also not. The host does counsel people to “objectively ask themselves what they have to offer an audience and proceed with extreme critical self awareness and understanding” as “it takes consistency and unique perspective” to succeed.
Reflecting on her own journey, Schimmel “was lucky to get in at the right time” and has been podcasting for over 6 years making only $6 for the first three years, literally having her car “repoed” while she still continued to put episodes out. The fortitude paid off. Since partnering with Dear Media, Schimmel has brought in 7 figures in ad revenue for The Bitch Bible.
Be Yourself. Television personality and fashion designer Whitney Port, Founder and Creative Director of the WITH WHIT Podcast shared how she gained her footing and confidence as a host explaining when she “first started WITH WHIT, I was always so nervous to interview my guests. In my career, I have always been on the other side of the questions. It was intimidating to host my podcast where my mission was to guide and share conversations I was having with others. Eventually, I found that I needed to stop trying to be a ‘podcast-host who interviews people,’ but rather just myself.”
This a-ha moment and Port dedicating herself “to my authenticity completely changed how I view my podcast and podcasting in general. It has led me to find a consistent trajectory of content that I love and care about. Additionally, I’ve found the courage to share episodes featuring just me and my microphone. I no longer feel reliant on someone else to make the episode ‘worth listening to.’ I walk away from my recording sessions feeling more and more empowered each time – whether I’ve been by myself or with someone else. My advice to anyone starting a podcast is to allow your content to evolve as you do. Do not feel like you need to stay the course with your initial launch idea. Let your content grow with you, because before you know it what you create is going to start impacting you in addition to those tuning in.”
Be Unique And Maintain Standards. Lauryn Evarts Bosstick Co-host of The Skinny Confidential podcast shared a great analogy worth remembering. Evarts Bosstick stressed how, “A successful podcast is like baking cake. It’s a recipe. The most important ingredient is having a unique perspective. Just having another interview show is not enough. You need a twist. We came into the space and right away decided to have really taboo conversations with all types of people in a non-judgemental space, while peppering in solo episodes with our unique perspectives.” It worked and the rest was history.
Besides focusing on distinct content, Evarts Bosstick emphasized the importance of “having the right sound equipment. No one wants to listen to a podcast with a muffled sound. The audience has a high standard for sound quality these days, so be sure to have the right set up. Consistency is also a huge part of podcasting. So many people put out 50 episodes then stop. Keep going, don’t stop, week after week. Commitment is key.”
Other musts on the co-host’s list include “going in with the intention to provide some kind of value, whether it’s educational, inspirational or entertaining. Be sure the episode has a takeaway. Assets like video clips and high quality pictures for promotion are a good idea too.”
Finally, Evarts Bosstick advises, “No one likes a stiff, boring podcast. Loosen up, pretend you’re out having drinks with a friend and make sure you’re paying attention. Let the guest get their point across but also lead the way with questions to keep your audience engaged.”
Tap Into Your Vulnerability. Sydel Curry-Lee, Host of the Because Life podcast and Mental Health Advocate encourages digging deep explaining that “with anything in life, it is important to commit to the things you are passionate about.” Curry-Lee got into podcasting because she was “passionate about mental health and passionate about giving a voice to those who go through things in their life that can help and inspire others while also supporting them through whichever walk of life they are on.”
This is often referred to as a “go to war skill” in one’s career and Curry-Lee reiterated “the importance of staying true to your passion, not being afraid to open up and getting personal, even when it seems scary because there is power in the vulnerability.”
Schimmel sums it up best by highlighting how different the podcasting game is now then it was years ago. Observing that there “are so many more shows and luckily it has become so much more inclusive. There really is a show and voice for everyone which is more important now than ever as podcasting is such a unique platform as it relies solely on thoughts and authentic connection with an audience. Whereas Instagram showcases single images, Tik Tok utilizes quick video bites, podcasting is an ongoing conversation.” If you are ready, it might be time to start a dialogue with an audience that matches your passion. It’s the new way to podcast.