A conversation about the future of podcasting in Belgium at #MFF19

January 10, 2020
min read


A conversation about the future of podcasting in Belgium at #MFF19
We invited several interesting Belgian podcast makers to our Meet The Makers open sessions at Media Fast Forward, the innovation event of Flemish public broadcaster VRT.

This session was hosted by both Pieter Blomme, co-founder of the Relaas podcast and audio storyteller at Chase Creative, and independent podcaster Eva Moeraert. They invited an entire table of other podcast creators to a conversation about topics such as funding your podcast and diversity within the podcasting scene.

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Around the table were Thomas Smolders of tech podcast Computer Club, Reine Nkiambote of Yaya Talks, Jan D'hont who makes podcasts for brands with Chase Creative and Wederik De Backer who is also an independent podcast creator. Later, Anthony Bosschem of Zwijgen is Geen Optie also joined the table. The first question asked was:

Who are you, what do you make and can you make a living from your podcasts? 

Pieter: "We make the Relaas podcast, with about 10,000 listeners per episode, reportedly the critical limit in the Netherlands to introduce your podcast to advertisers. However, we don't really have a loyal community tied to our podcast. 

Thomas: "Computer Club has about 1500 listeners a week on Spotify, which is a very consistent and loyal group. Proof of this is that we have a Facebook group of 500 people and one in 7 listeners already bought a sweater for 40 euros. Advertisers come to us because we have a loyal audience, but we choose not to go for it. We'd rather go to Patreon than to advertisers." 

Reine: "I started Yaya Talks with Tracy out of boredom and frustration. We didn't feel represented in the mainstream media. Our target audience is mainly women from migrant backgrounds or people who are in contact with people with stories similar to ours. English and Dutch are the languages we mainly use in our podcasts." 

Wederik: "I am an independent audio creator specializing in audio fiction, radio documentaries and podcasts. I am part of the Belgian podcast collective "Luyster," which features my podcast"Plantrekkers." Together with Lucas Derycke I work on this project for which we invite other creators to make one episode." 

Jan: "Chase works with organizations, companies and publishers to develop, produce and promote podcasts. Some of our recent clients include: Mediahuis, Mediafin, KPMG, EY Belgium, ING Belgium and City of Ghent. We are still producing several projects we can't tell you about yet. Podcasting is one of the three services we offer, alongside Social Strategy and Social Media Management. We work with teams of up to 8 creatives on a single project, which is profitable today." 

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Host Pieter Blomme, co-founder of the Relaas podcast and audio storyteller at Chase Creative.

What do you do to increase the reach of your podcast? 

Thomas: "My biggest struggle is: promoting podcasts on social media , which is mainly image-based? I still find this very difficult." 

Reine: "I use a visual sound wave with a piece of audio to promote our podcasts." 

Anthony: "I film the podcast and broadcast it as video. The marketing value of video is huge, so the combination of video and audio is important. Our best episode of the year was 2 hours and 20 minutes. It used to be bon-ton to say that people no longer have a long attention span. But this is just not true." 

Pieter: "We host a live storytelling evening where the audio is recorded. We find that during this event our community mainly talks about our stories, not really online." 

Reine: "We also sometimes go live, for example during the Festival of Equality. We recorded the second season of Yaya Talks before Tracy went to live abroad. Engaging with the audience during this live event was a fun experience. Sometimes we also do a Q&A on Instagram or ask people to submit questions. We left Facebook because we feel it is outdated and our audience is not on it." 

Eva: "I used to have some resistance to video. But now I realized that video is an important part of promoting your podcast." 

Jan: "We try to create an audience development plan for each client. This ranges from publishing on the right platforms to social ads, media buying and PR actions. We also advise companies to invest heavily in social video and advertise it on social media. It is especially important to look at the communicative strength of the brand (e.g., a great newsletter, newspaper or strong social media presence) and try to tap into that strength. All this to create a community around the podcast." 

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Jan D'hont COO of Chase Creative, which creates podcasts for brands, and Reine Nkiambote of Yaya Talks.

Let's talk about money! Who is working on sponsorships? Is that the most logical way to generate revenue? 

Anthony: "We now have 5 people working full-time for Silence is Not an Option. With the donations we get through Patreon we pay the salaries of three people, we noticed that this model works better than a paywall. A subscription to our platform starts at a minimum of ten euros per month. The salary of the other two people is paid off with a loan. Within five years, the loan must be repaid. 

Jan: "We do see opportunities with publishers. In a perfect world, you can sell good stories/series to larger publishers, who in turn seek advertisers for them. It seems like it is only a matter of time before there is an opportunity for podcasting here. On the other hand, micropayments would also be a good thing. I am happy to pay for some podcasts. If you asked me for a small in-app contribution after a good episode, I would gladly donate it." 

Anthony: "I do believe that working with sponsors can be done without content interference, but I think the Belgian market is too small for sponsors." 

Thomas: "I turned down sponsorship offers. Going along with investors would take away the club feeling." 

Reine: "If we were to work with sponsors, it would be important to have the same ethical standards!" 

Pieter: "With Relaas, we had Albert Heijn as a sponsor for six weeks. They paid 1,500 euros to be mentioned in six episodes." Thomas: "That's peanuts, I wouldn't have done that." 

Anthony: "That's exactly why it makes more sense for us to go for membership rather than ads." 

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Where do you want to be in 5 years with your podcast?

Thomas: "I want to have more products derived from the podcast, but no sponsors. Maybe I want to partner with a media company." 

Reine: "I would like to keep it the way it is now. We may be open to advertisements and we are definitely open to sponsorships." 

Anthony: "I would like to get my loan paid off and start a "Silence is No Option" hub in Amsterdam. In this way I want to build a bridge with the Netherlands and maybe even make something European out of it." 

Jan: "I hope in the next few years we can convince companies to make podcasts with stories people want to hear, not content the companies want to tell. I also think that technological innovation should all move a little faster, so that in the future they will implement more podcast features and solve the copyright issues for music in podcasts. Music labels could play a big role, if you see how TikTok is now being used to promote new music, the same could be done with podcasts." 

Wederik: "I would like to continue doing what I am doing now. Being independent and doing more fun projects." 

Eva: "I want to make the new Series of Flanders and get paid for every day I work on it." 

Pieter: "With Relaas, I want to see what Silence is Not an Option is doing and get inspiration from it. 

Why podcasting as a marketing tool? 

No other medium can keep you in touch with your audience for so long. Podcasts also provide new touch points with your audience; it can be listened to anywhere while you do other things. If done well, podcasts can inspire trust and authenticity. It lends itself well to marketing content, it's a great way to convey opinions and emotions, and you can also use the transcripts for SEO. The concept is also relatively new, so your brand will definitely get some attention during the launch of your podcast. And you can make a difference, worldwide there are more than 500 million blogs, some 80 million Facebook business pages and "only" 700,000 podcast titles, of which 250,000 are active. 

Article by Helena Verheye, content marketer at Chase Creative.

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