Podcasts have changed my life.
I know how dramatic that sounds, but it’s honestly how I feel. Podcasts have made what used to be the most dreaded parts of my day — like driving, cooking, and cleaning — into parts of my day that I actually look forward to. I know that with every two-hour drive to our St. Louis office comes an episode of “This American Life,” and for every 30 minutes I spend cleaning my kitchen, I get to listen to an episode of “Reply All.”
Beginning simply as a way to add entertainment to my day, regularly listening to podcasts has had an incredibly positive effect on my career.
As content marketers, we have to know at least a little about a lot of different topics to write for our various audiences and keep content interesting and fresh. Podcasts are an amazing way to open yourself up to new knowledge, and the format of different podcasts can make otherwise boring topics suddenly feel exciting — all through the power of rich storytelling.
To open you up to new, compelling, and useful information, here are my suggestions for podcasts that will make you a better content marketer:
“This American Life” should be a must for regular podcast listeners, and it’s certainly at the top of my list. Each week, Ira Glass and his producers tackle a topic from many different angles to allow variety in the style and storytelling of every episode.
Content marketers can learn so much about great storytelling and truly engaging content from the format and quality of “This American Life,” and I’d challenge you to take a “This American Life” approach to your next content campaign: Take a singular topic, and write on that idea using three different examples, stories, or angles to force yourself to engage readers in different ways.
Get started with: Episode 388, “Rest Stop”
If you write about anything related to the Internet, “Reply All” is for you. This podcast by Gimlet focuses on different stories every week that relate to the Internet in some way. As someone who doesn’t identify as a techie, I was a bit worried at first that “Reply All” would be over my head, but what this podcast does so well is talk about the Internet in a way that feels more like stories about your own family than stories about tech concepts you can’t relate to. “Reply All” draws you in with the human interest stories and teaches you things along the way.
Get started with: Episode 28, “Shipped to Timbuktu”
If you’re a marketer in the tech industry, a must-listen is “This Week in Startups.” Host Jason Calacanis interviews different startup founders each week and digs into everything from fundraising to founder drama to the nitty-gritty of user acquisition and upcoming product features. I’m always intrigued by how much great information he’s able to extract from the intelligent individuals he has on the show, and it’s a great way to stay current on what’s happening in the tech world.
I started listening to “Planet Money” about a month ago, and I’m already addicted. This podcast brings you stories about the global economy in a way that’s accessible to someone with no former knowledge of economics. As a marketer, I enjoy “Planet Money” because it provides me with great examples of how other industries operate and interesting information that affects businesses on a macro level.
Get started with: Episode 550, “When Salaries Aren’t Secret”
It’s easy to get a little tired of constantly learning about trends and practices exclusively within your own industry, so when you need a little break, you can turn to “The Dollop.” Hosted by comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth “Gary” Reynolds, “The Dollop” brings you a story from America’s history that is at once incredibly absurd and absolutely true. The two take turns commenting on the story with hilarious and, at times, vulgar reactions that make me look a bit scary laughing hysterically in my car alone during my commute.
What makes “The Dollop” so valuable to content marketers is that while the stories can get a little out of hand, the hosts’ ability to deliver them can help you understand how ideas evolve over time and provide some context for what you’re writing about today.
Get started with: Episode 45, “Lobster Boy”
To be good marketers, we need to understand people, and I’ve yet to find a podcast that does a better job of helping me understand human nature and behavior than “Invisibilia.” Latin for “all the invisible things,” this podcast, hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, explores human psychology using fascinating storytelling and compelling research.
Get started with: Episode 5, “The Power of Categories”
Honorable mentions that you’ll need to delve into yourself include:
What podcasts do you listen to that inspire your content creation? I’d love to hear about your favorite podcasts and episodes in the comments!