When the pandemic kept Americans across the nation at home, Ed Hart had more time to make podcasts.

He’d done only eight episodes of his From the Hart podcast out of a studio in Anaheim when he was forced to adapt. He transferred the small operation to his home and has since recorded nearly a podcast a week, reaching about 50 episodes.

Hart is a relative newcomer to podcasting, leveraging connections as director of the Center for Family Business at Cal State University Fullerton to find guests.

What You Need To Know

  • Ed Hart is the director of the Center for Family Business at Cal State University Fullerton

  • The podcasting industry has seen large acquisitions recently, including the nearly $200 million purchase of The Ringer by Spotify

  • Research firm eMarketer forecasts ad revenue for podcasts to pass $1 billion in 2021

  • The From the Hart podcast so far has about 5,000 unique downloads

His brand of podcasting combines his business experience with elements of his Christian faith.

Each episode concludes with the question, “what’s in your heart?”

He’s one of many home podcasters to dive into a flooded market that continues to grow. Some hope to hit it big. Others, like Hart, want to find a niche and figure out how to make money later.

For Hart, the ascent has been modest with 5,000 unique downloads.

For others, the podcast business has boomed, capitalizing on revenue streams of advertising, subscription models, and crowdsourcing. 

Hart is still carving out his path.

“I think the mistake I made going in was trying to focus on people with big names or large social media followings,” Hart said. 

Hart's podcast is still small, but others that have acquired large followings have seen massive paydays.

Acquisitions have driven some of the growth in the market. Over the summer, the Joe Rogan Experience signed an exclusive deal in excess of $100 million with Spotify. The Swedish music streaming service has been aggressively bulking up its offerings, also snapping up The Ringer, a sports and pop culture website with a deep roster of podcasts ranging from sports analysis to recaps of The Bachelor. That deal, which cost the company nearly $200 million, has helped set the market as advertising dollars continue to grow.

Over the past two decades of podcasting, advertising has been slow to catch on. Research firm eMarketer sees that changing.

“By the end of 2020, podcast ad spending in the U.S. will reach $782.0 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21.0% share of the U.S. digital radio ad market. And in 2021, spending will jump nearly 45% to $1.13 billion,” eMarketer said in a report.

But industry insiders see a correction coming. Most podcasts do not strike it big with YouTube streaming, deep-pocketed sponsors, or steady advertising.

Hart’s plans weren’t grandiose and didn’t get rolling until a serendipitous meeting run-in at a coffee shop.

While discussing his plans, a woman at a neighboring table chimed in that her husband ran a podcasting studio.

That’s how Hart met Todd Frazier, a certified public accountant with a budding podcasting business. Frazier produced the first eight episodes out of his studio and maintains a relationship with the podcast.

Frazier has been developing content since 2014 and has created three shows on his platform. 

He’s found a measure of security in a diverse array of services. His company not only produces its own shows but also works with clients to create tailor-made podcasts. He also manages social media for clients, pulls some money from a monetized YouTube account, and collects advertising dollars. Altogether, his business reached six figures in revenue in 2019 before dropping to somewhere around $50,000 during the pandemic.

“The main driver financially for the business has not been advertising but has been actually creating digital media for others,” he said.

How he’ll grow in the future is a work in progress, but he has plans. He’s now developing a smartphone app for his Jesus And Coffee podcast, a morning show that discusses scripture. For now, he’s done creating new shows but wants to add more like-minded programming to his roster. The From the Hart podcast is one such show. Now Frazier is on the hunt for more.

“I think it would be better with a subscription-based model with a little bit of a smaller audience but people who really want to hear what you have to say,” Frazier said.

Hart is pursuing a similar strategy. His podcast is about establishing community and building revenue streams when they present themselves. So far, he’s had a diverse slate of guests, including Lynsi Snyder, the heiress to In-N-Out Burger and Denise Brown, sister of the slain Nicole Brown Simpson.

Once the nation returns to business as usual, he hopes to experiment with live events. 

Eventually, he hopes to connect with sponsors. 

“As we come out of this pandemic, I think the huge audience will be the companies that have really hemorrhaged,” Hart said. “I think a year from now, the most interesting stories will be those who are hanging by a thread now but are booming a year later.”