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From Podcast Listeners to Podcast Learners

Oct 16, 2019

This week, I’m talking about things you can do with your podcast that clearly are not podcasting. So far we've talked about hosting live events and putting out an excellent newsletter. Today, I want to shine a light on audio-based learning opportunities.

You might have heard that podcasting is big business in China. The revenue number often bandied about is $7 billion dollars. No, not revenue from advertising. Not sponsorships. In China, people pay to listen to podcasts, which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the world, where podcast listening is mostly free.

But that information isn’t quite right. The top-line revenue number is probably right (though China does have a history of inflating monetary numbers when it comes to podcasting). But that doesn’t mean people in Xi’an are forking over their hard-earned Yuan to listen to 3-hours of comedians smoking weed with entrepreneurs in their garages.

Instead, people in China spend money on audio-based learning experiences. Lots of money. And because these audio-based learning experiences are delivered in a similar fashion to how you get your podcast content, the media has ran with that attention-getting narrative. 

But rather than argue the “is that really a podcast?” discussion (which is pointless and painful), it sets the stage for a more interesting question:

Can you do that? 

Can you make an audio-based learning experience that is worth paying for? What would it take for you, the working podcaster, to make an audio-based learning course? 

I realize the concept of leveraging your own expertise to create coursework isn’t new. Many professional service providers, experts, and gurus in their field have been creating courses, mostly video-based courses or through online learning platforms like Udemy, for years

But for this particular episode, I want to explore the concept of making audio-based learning experiences that feel a whole lot like a podcast. 

You’re a working podcaster. You have a microphone. You have all of the equipment necessary to make audio-based content. Can you do that again, but this time making audio just for people who want to learn from you? 

Maybe you already make content that people learn from. Take Podcast Pontifications, for example. People like you listen to the program because they want to learn something about the future of podcasting and how to make podcasting better. But I’m not sure I’ve truly created an audio-based learning experience with my show. I certainly didn’t design it to be so.

To make the best experience for the learner, a course needs to be self-contained and focused on a single topic. Each lesson needs to have an objective, and the contents of the episode need to lead the learner toward that objective. And the objectives of each of those episodes need to roll up into a larger learning objective.

You can see that I’ve given this some thought. People have been asking me to do something like this for a long time. A few years back, I created and taught a live video-based six-week course. Also, my name graces the spine of the first two editions of  Podcasting For Dummies and other how-to books. To top it all off I’m married to a fantastic curriculum developer and instructional designer. 

I have all the pieces necessary. But I’ve avoided following through for two reasons: 

  1. I know the time commitment to do it properly.
  2. I can’t decide what to teach. 

All of us will face the 1st problem. But that shouldn’t stop us, because we know how much work it takes to put out a quality podcast. It’s just a matter of prioritizing current audio work and future work. But as a working podcaster, you have the skills, the expertise, and you probably know things that some people would pay to learn.

As is my wont, I’m more interested in “the why” than “the how”. Metrics could be one reason why. Sure, you’d love for your audio-only learning experience to reach hundreds of thousands of people. But I see these appealing to a much smaller and more specific audience, which mitigates the constant checking of download numbers. Or at least it should.

I’d suggest not repurposing your previously released episodes. Yes, you can go back to the well and you can draw from concepts you’ve already spoken about on your podcast. But you probably want to completely revamp that content to make it fit with objective-based learning.

The good news is that you don’t have to learn a new interface or a new distribution network. New tools like Glow make creating exclusive (read: paid for) audio-only content (read: podcasts) super simple. For you, the working podcaster, at least. 

I think it's worth exploring. So much so that I’m going to do it. I just need figure out what I’m going to teach. 

I'm curious about what you’d offer in your class. What skills do you have that might translate really well into an audio-based learning experience? You can tell me in the comments right here. Or you can go to, a private and free mobile app where you can chat with other listeners of the show.

Want to show your support for my program? Great! You can buy me a coffee. I don't mean really buy me a coffee. I mean go to

And if you are in business and need to make sure your podcasting strategy is on point (maybe your business could produce some audio-based learning experiences for additional revenue streams?), get in touch. reaches me, and you can visit to see a list of services that we currently offer clients.

I shall be back tomorrow with another Podcast Pontifications