By Kayleigh Alexandra

Podcasts dominate our listening habits. No matter what kind of content you’re looking for (inspiration, motivation, education, entertainment) you can find a vast assortment of great podcasts to try, and the numbers make it clear — purely through Apple’s ecosystem, there are over 500,000 active podcasts with more than 18.5 million episodes.

While this is a great thing for consumers, it’s also somewhat intimidating to anyone thinking about starting a podcast of their own. Is it a saturated market? With so many expert podcasters pushing out slick finely-tuned products, would yours find an audience?

Well, regardless of the specifics of your situation, I feel confident in saying it’s absolutely worth giving it a shot — and I’m going to tell you why. Let’s get started!

There’s always room for high-quality content

No matter how many podcasts there are out there, there will always be room for more, and the cream will generally rise to the top. This has always been true of every kind of media and it’s still true today. Think about how you choose podcasts: do you bring up an exhaustive list of 500k podcasts and carefully make your way through in descending order of popularity? No, of course not. It’s a lot more arbitrary than that.

You probably use a combination of factors including popularity rankings, media recommendations, personal recommendations, subject matters, particular keywords, graphics, social media referrals, and many others.

Once you account for all the layers of filtering, you’re not dealing with a seemingly-endless sea of options — you’re looking at a niche list that suits your personal tastes, and anyone putting out a great product in your areas of interest has a great chance of attracting your attention.

Of course, even if your podcast ideas are fairly generic and would pit you against a giant array of competitors, you might want to try it anyway; your podcast doesn’t need to be popular to be worth doing, as we’ll consider next.

Hosting a podcast is a great learning experience

A podcast can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. At its most basic, it requires a recording system and a distribution method — for the former, every smartphone or laptop has a passable microphone, and for the latter, there’s the internet, replete with many free podcast hosting options to choose from. The barrier to entry is insignificant.

Then factor in that it doesn’t even take long to record an episode (you can do a 20-minute podcast in, well, 20 minutes) and you have something you can throw together with no budget during a lunch break. That forms the basic structure that you can then customize however you want, making podcasting a fantastic method for learning about hosting, presentation, curation, recording, production, and editing.

But that’s not all. To run a really good podcast, you also have to pick up time management, negotiation, graphic design, social media promotion… there are so many things that can go into it, and the project is entirely your own, so you can take it in whichever direction you want.

It’s no surprise that podcast creation is being used as an educational task in schools. Everything you learn while working on your podcast will help you with your regular business activities and make you a more well-rounded professional.

You can make it a networking tool

If you don’t feel that you really want to be doing all the talking for a podcast, or you don’t think you have enough insight to make it worthwhile, you can steer towards the curation approach — something that also turns podcasting into an incredibly valuable networking tool.

You’re no doubt aware that many podcasts feature interviews, guest hosts, and roundtable discussions with industry experts. This kind of collaboration and content exchanging achieves the following things:

  • It expands the value provided to the listener
  • It lessens the production burden on any one party
  • It supports mutually-beneficial cross-promotion
  • It makes it easier to get into contact with influential figures

SEO expert Stephan Spencer has nailed this format with his podcast The Optimized Geek. Every episode is built around Spencer serving as the host and interviewing his featured guest, learning from their experiences and extracting real-world advice for his listeners. This keeps the show feeling fresh from week to week and delivers a great sense of variety that you wouldn’t get from a one-person show.

If you don’t have much authority in your field, think of it as having your own talk show — people who wouldn’t ordinarily talk to you might be willing to appear on your show to promote their own brands and activities. Are there figures in your field whom you’d like to associate with? Invite them to appear in a segment on your podcast and you’ll have a great chance of making a valuable contact (having strong mentoring hugely increases chances of business success).

You have nothing to lose

I’ve argued here that starting your own podcast is something worth doing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is something you should do. To figure that out, you need to answer just one question: do you want to start a podcast?

If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t start a podcast, because you won’t get anything out of it. You’re far more likely to have unrealistic expectations, get frustrated with it, and give up on the idea having concluded that it isn’t worth your time.

But if the answer is yes, or you’re simply on the fence, then do it. It’s cheap and easy to get started, and there isn’t much of a creative or practical ceiling on what you can achieve with it. If you start today, who knows where you could be in a year?

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest micro biz news and inspiring entrepreneurial stories. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

Podcast stock photo by Forest Run/Shutterstock