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Should You Start a Social-Impact Podcast? | An Interview with Kate McCarthy

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

A woman sitting and doing a podcast.

With websites, blogs, vlogs, social media, and newsletters, there are plenty of accessible ways to share your point-of-view and expertise, and in recent years, podcasting has emerged as another popular platform. In fact, the iTunes library now boasts over 525,000 active podcasts available in more than 100 languages.

So, with all the podcasts out there, is there still room for new voices? Read on to hear what brand mentor and podcaster Kate McCarthy thinks as she shares her experience with podcasting, how to decide whether to launch your own, and if you do, how to ensure that it’s making an impact.

Communicating personality

For Kate McCarthy, the 2017 launch of her Amplify: A Podcast for Creative + Courageous Entrepreneurs podcast was a gamechanger.

“It [has] shifted so much for my business,” McCarthy shares. “It [has] made it easier for me to get my work…in front of my audience in a way that my written work hasn't. On a really practical level, I've gotten more clients through podcasting than through email marketing.”

And as a storytelling platform, podcasting has allowed McCarthy to forge a more intimate connection with her audience.

“Podcasting allows me to capture conversations and stories that might be otherwise missed,” she explains. “It also allows me to communicate my personality without a filter. It [has] allowed my audience to get to know me in a really personal way.”

Why start a podcast?

“I truly don't think that the podcasting landscape is oversaturated right now,” states McCarthy. “Though I'd say that if you're thinking about starting a podcast, do it now!”

The data agrees that oversaturation isn’t an issue just yet: Monthly listeners grew from 24% to 26% of the U.S. population during 2017, with podcast audiences largely in the 18-54 age group.

“The average podcast doesn't get beyond six episodes,” McCarthy adds. “Which means that anyone who is interested in publishing consistent content…has an automatic advantage for creating a loyal audience.”

A relevant platform for job seekers

“I think people are just begging for more voices in the realm of social impact,” McCarthy asserts.

Because podcasting is an easy medium to consume, it’s a platform that may prove valuable for job seekers who are ready for a passion project to demonstrate dedication, curiosity, and know-how in a specific field or area of interest. In this way, a podcast can add real value to a person’s portfolio—including it as an activity on your resume and adding links on your social media accounts—because they’re designed to foster a personal connection between podcaster and listener.

Pro tip: While there’s no guarantee that launching a podcast will lead to a job, it is an outside-the-box approach to introducing oneself to a wider audience and connecting with people who are passionate about similar issue areas. If you do go this route, make sure you find ways to lift up your podcasting work when talking to potential employers.

“I can imagine someone who wants a job in a niche or unique industry leveraging podcasting through conversations and interviews with experts or solo episodes with well-researched topics,” says McCarthy. “Podcasting would allow [a job seeker] to not only position [oneself] as a leader dedicated to knowing more and being innovative, but also to cultivate connections with other experts and leaders.”

Criteria for launching a new podcast

“I think that knowing your core values—both personally and for the podcast—[and] knowing what you want your audience to walk away with, and having a real vision in mind is key,” McCarthy emphasizes.

Here are five questions to help you decide whether or not to launch your social-impact podcast:

  • What’s your deepest intention for starting your podcast? Why do you want to start this podcast and what are you hoping that your listeners will get out of tuning in?
  • Who is your target audience or listener? Think about who you want your podcast to speak to and who can most benefit from your work.
  • What is your podcast format? Whether you’re thinking of conducting interviews, having informal conversations, doing well-researched solo storytelling, or some combination of these, think about the best way to share your personality, point-of-view, and expertise.
  • How often do you plan on publishing your podcast? Whether you do it daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly, consistency is key to cultivating an audience.

McCarthy reflects, “There are interviews that can get away from you, content that can be vague and directionless...Intention, awareness, and a set of defined values can hold you in alignment [with your podcast mission].”

Find your audience

The biggest challenge faced by any podcaster is finding one’s audience, but the most powerful vehicle for a podcast’s success is genuine connection.

“By leveraging your connections, you can not only create loyal fans of [your] podcast, but also word-of-mouth marketing,” offers McCarthy.

Let the people in your life—family, friends, past and current colleagues, bosses, mentors, and teachers—know about your podcast and use your blog, social media, or newsletter to remind people to tune in.

And don’t be afraid to reach out to people you like and follow on social media. By connecting with other voices in your field or area of interest, you’re encouraging them to listen to and share your work.

“[Podcasting] is all about experimenting, learning, and making the choices that will move you closer to your goal,” says McCarthy. “If you think about it as an experiment, [and] avoid giving in to the pressure for perfection, really beautiful and impactful things can emerge.”

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Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni is a writer and creative coach in New York City. She helps women living with chronic illness and mental health challenges to pursue their passion projects without compromising their health.

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