How successful can a niche podcast be?
The answer likely depends on the niche. For example, back on episode 154 of this podcast Glenn Hebert, the personality and power behind The Horse Radio Network said this about his niche:
”(Annually) We are well into five figures, and you know, in our niche, we’ll probably never get to six figures. I don’t see us ever doing that.”
But his comments are about an expensive and specific niche, horses. What about if the niche in question is broader but very popular?
While he was still in college, Kenny Coleman became a fan of bourbon (makes sense) and got into the “Bourbon Culture” from there. His interest became a passion and his passion has turned into a multi-six-figure business, all built on the back of a podcast that happened to become very, very popular.
My theory? Kenny pursued something he loved that many others were growing to love at the same time, and he saw an opportunity to serve people like himself.
Kenny and Ryan started their podcast from scratch, just like the rest of us
Go back and listen to episode 1 of The Bourbon Pursuit podcast (you can find it here). There was nothing super special about it. Just two guys with a mic (maybe two) who were talking about something they enjoyed — bourbon. They set the stage, gave listeners an idea what to expect, and asked for feedback. I love what they said at the end of that episode…
“If we suck, let us know, if it’s good, let us know. If you think something else would be cool, let us know. We just want to learn and grow as we go.”
That is KEY: Ask for feedback
No matter what your niche is, you won’t be able to serve your audience well until you know what they want. So figure out ways to ask them…
- What do they want to learn?
- Who do they want to hear from in the niche?
- What kind of skills do they need?
- What are the pains they feel related to the niche?
These days Kenny and Ryan do that through a community that is managed, run, and kept alive by members of their Patreon supporters. But back at the beginning, they had to figure out ways to do it. Annual surveys were a tool they used. Soliciting listener feedback episode to episode helped. And little by little, they were able to dial-in their demographic and know how to serve their audience better.
Quality matters, both technically and in skill level
Kenny and Ryan started their podcast about bourbon back in 2015. Bourbon back then was NOT the thing it is today. Today it’s cool, hip, trendy, etc. , but back then, it was just a hobby for enthusiasts. But that began to change. More bourbon-related podcasts started showing up and Kenny (the Executive Producer of the show) realized he’d have to figure out ways to make their show better than all the rest.
So he up-leveled the equipment they used. He improved their interviewing skills. He shot for higher-level guests and topics listeners said they wanted to hear.
And the podcast continued to grow.
Burnout happens to all podcasters at some point
There was a turning point when Kenny felt he was going to have to give up the podcast. He was working a full-time job, was married, and had a child, and he felt that he was being pulled in too many directions. Between his job and the podcast he was working 80 hours a week and knew that without any payoff coming from his efforts, it didn’t make sense to keep making the kind of sacrifices he was making.
He was open about the situation on social media and a fan reached out and suggested they start a Patreon. Kenny didn’t even know what it was. If you dont, here’s the nutshell: Patreon allows fans to support you on a donation level. You can set it up in a way they donate monthly, or per-episode you produce, or anything else. It’s a cool idea. Another great platform like Patreon that is built especially for scenarios where the creator wants to produce audio as a “thank you” perk to those who support their show, is called Supercast (affiliate link). I use Supercast for one of my projects and LOVE it.
The Patreon started slow but showed encouraging signs of potential. Over time it grew and Kenny was able to hang on long enough to make his participation in the show pay off tangibly. Today (February 2022) the Bourbon Pursuit Patreon brings in almost $15,000 per month and includes a Bourbon Barrel Club. See the resources below to learn more about it.
Could your niche be successfully monetized?
Kenny believes that whatever you’re interested in, there is an audience out there that is also interested in it. Your job (should you choose to accept it) is to take the time and do the work required to find out what that audience wants… and give it to them.
That idea is the foundation of all entrepreneurial endeavors and every business. Contrary to what those capitalism-haters out there believe, business is about meeting needs and serving people. Your podcast can succeed by meeting needs, too. It just takes work to figure out how to do it and how to gradually slide into that place.
Listen to hear how Kenny and his team have scaled from episode 1 (bad audio quality and all) to an amazing team of 6 people, multiple sources of monthly revenue, and the launch of their own bourbon brand.
Bourbon Pursuit Podcast (all 3 weekly episodes):
Bourbon Pursuit Collection: https://seelbachs.com/collections/bourbon-pursuit-collection
Barrel Club (Patreon): https://www.patreon.com/bourbonpursuit
Kenny on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendrickColeman
Kenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kendrickcoleman/