Should I Start a Podcast or a YouTube Channel to Build an Online Business?

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Creating content online can be a super-effective way to build an audience and ultimately to make money.

If you’re just starting out or trying to grow your business, you might be wondering what type of content makes the most sense to create.

In this episode, we’re going to compare and contrast two of the most popular content channels going today: podcasting and YouTube.

This is actually the first of several friendly debate-style episodes this month I’m calling the Side Hustle Showdown series.

For each debate, I tried to source guests in a similar niche so they could best speak each other’s language.

To fire shots over the pros and cons of starting an online business with podcasts or YouTube, I enlisted the help of:

  • Podcaster Jonathan Mendonsa, co-host of ChooseFI, a personal finance show. We last heard from Jonathan in episode 287, where he talked about how his show took off and how he was able to quit his job just 10 months in.
  • YouTuber Marko Zlatic, who started his personal finance channel Whiteboard Finance as a side hustle also in 2017. Since then he’s amassed 370k subscribers and quit his job to produce videos full-time.

podcasting vs. youtube

Tune in to hear both Marko and Jonathan go back and forward discussing which of the platforms are best for:

  • Marketing and discoverability
  • Content production
  • Monetization
  • Start-up costs
  • And more

This is a fun one, and by the end, you’ll have an idea which platform is going to be best for your business.

Round 1 – Growing a YouTube Channel vs. a Podcast

How Marko Got Started on YouTube

“Starting YouTube was an incredible opportunity for me, and one that I didn’t even plan on getting into,” Marko told me.

Marko just decided one day to buy a good camera and pick up a whiteboard from Craigslist and start recording videos in his living room.

To get discovered on YouTube, Marko explained, “You have to think how a human would search, and also how an algorithm would look at your videos as well.”

Marko explained when he uploads a video, he pays attention to the title and description from these two aspects:

  • Writing good titles with clear keywords so algorithms understand his content and rank it well
  • Adding something extra to make them “enticing” for people to want to click them

An example he gave was, “How to Tie Your Shoes (the best shoe-tying technique ever!)” It captures the keyword people are likely to search and has an element of curiosity as well.

He used this technique when starting out. By focusing on videos that were important to him and his target audience, his channel gained traction quickly.

How Jonathan Got Started Podcasting

In 2017 when Jonathan started podcasting search was a lot more limited than it is now. Finding podcasts was almost limited to Apple iTunes, and there was a lot of keyword stuffing going on.

The title of a podcast, author name, and episode titles are still the main areas to focus on to be found. Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past and there are more platforms now.

Jonathan said search exposure has improved a lot recently too as Google rolled out Google Podcasts.

If you register with Google Podcasts and set up the correct header code, “You get a very pleasing search result that identifies you are a podcast,” Jonathan said.

Another differentiation from YouTube Jonathan pointed out is that podcasts are story-driven. They’re not typically found through search and discovery like YouTube videos.

When starting out you also have to rely on word of mouth. The benefit to this is that people tend to listen to most if not all of a podcast, and the retention rate is a lot higher than YouTube.

How to Retain Visitors/Listeners on YouTube and Podcasts

Retaining Viewers and Viral Growth on YouTube

Marko said that telling a story and selling yourself also applies when making YouTube videos.

“You hook them by providing great content, but you keep them there with your personality,” Marko told me.

He said that arguably you can put more of your personality across in video than you can in audio format. It’s something he’s been very deliberate about and has helped grow his audience.

There’s also the possibility of a video going viral, which really doesn’t happen with podcasts.

An example of this is one of Marko’s videos called How Car Dealerships Rip You Off (The Truth), which has almost 7 million views!

This didn’t happen purely by chance either. Marko described his content strategy as a pyramid that looks like this:

  • Bottom of the pyramid are evergreen topics
  • Middle of the pyramid is trending topics
  • Top of the pyramid is videos that have sharing or viral potential

He also said he nailed the thumbnail for that video. It’s a picture of him pointing to the four-square sales technique with the word “Stealership” in red.

“Variability comes from telling a good joke,” Marko said. If you can make people laugh at something they can relate too, they’re going to share it.

Retaining Viewers and Viral Growth with Podcasting

Jonathan admits you don’t get the same kind of viral exposure in the podcasting world as you do with YouTube.

He has had some big wins though. First of all, he said to stop focusing on trying to get on the New and Noteworthy section of Apple iTunes. That’s not what brings in new listeners.

Platforms like Spotify and that have their own ecosystem and listener base are much more likely to bring in new listeners.

In fact, at the time of recording this episode, Jonathan said he saw a 70% increase in traffic just the day before. This was an increase in 40-50k listeners, all of which came from Overcast.

He’d never seen anything like it before and it was so new he wasn’t even sure exactly why he saw the spike in traffic.

It was likely due to Overcast recommending his podcast and boosting it in their algorithm, demonstrating the power these in-app recommendations.

Round 2 – Content Production and Discovery

Podcast Content Production

It’s no secret that there is less editing needed to get a podcast ready than you’ll need for a highly-polished YouTube video.

But this is largely dependent on what type of content you’re producing, especially on the YouTube side.

In the early days, Jonathan said he was knocking out two 1-hour shows a week and spending anywhere up to 8 hours editing and finalizing each show. (Even to the point of splicing together words!)

He has a much more well-oiled machine now. He outsources a lot of the work, and told me, “You can get the quality you want with a 3:1 ratio.” (Meaning 3 hours or work for every hour of content.)

Podcast Content Scheduling and Discovery

Jonathan said keyword research and detailed show descriptions are best practices when uploading a podcast, but it’s not as important as it is for YouTube.

This is because podcasts are mostly story-driven. Most new listeners are not finding shows via an algorithm.

It’s also just not as competitive. Jonathan said there are around 31 million YouTube channels, while there are around 1 million podcasts.

YouTube Content Production

Marko said the time spent on producing YouTube videos is, “very content-specific and very channel-specific.”

As an example, he pointed out that another YouTuber in the financial niche called Andrei Djick puts a lot more time into producing his videos than he does.

“He has a lot of cinematography, a lot of visuals… even though we’re giving the same information our delivery is very different,” Marko explained.

Marko stands in front of a whiteboard for his videos. He conducts them as if he was a teacher, speaking directly to the camera (the viewer).

This has enabled him to cut a lot of time in the editing process. Marko said he can take a video from the idea to the finished product in 3-4 hours.

This is by no means the average time it takes to produce a YouTube video though. Marko has a streamlined and simplified process and is on the quicker end of the spectrum in terms of editing.

YouTube Content Scheduling and Discovery

Marko likes to batch his content whenever possible. This is easiest with the evergreen content in his “pyramid.”

With the current global situation (we were mid-pandemic while recording this episode) there is a lot more time-sensitive financial information he’s publishing right now.

For his evergreen content, keyword research is an important part of his process. He combines using keyword tools like Keywords Everywhere, ahrefs, and TubeBuddy with a little common sense around what he thinks people want.

Round 3 – Monetization

Podcast Monetization

Jonathan said everyone has the same 7 monetization opportunities, whether it’s blogging, YouTube videos, or podcasts.

These are:

  • Affiliates
  • Advertising
  • Physical product sales
  • Digital product sales
  • Masterminds
  • Books
  • Brand opportunities

When he was starting out, Jonathan leaned more towards working with affiliates. He did this because affiliate commissions are typically higher than ad revenue per the number of listeners.

He would have been happy to carry on with just an affiliate model, but when COVID hit, he saw affiliate commissions dropping and some companies even pausing their programs altogether.

To offset this income loss, he started rolling out advertising on his show.

He has tried most of the other monetization methods at some point too. He has a book, has built a community, sells a course. Jonathan said he’s building an ecosystem for people interested in financial independence — not just a podcast.

In terms of podcasting ad revenue, for every 1000 listeners you have, you can earn $21-35 per episode as an industry average. For example, a show with 10,000 downloads could earn $210-350 per advertiser per episode.

YouTube Monetization

The main differentiating factor with earning on YouTube is that YouTube is primarily monetized through advertising.

If you watch YouTube videos, you’ll be well aware of the ads that pop up before, during, and below videos. Creators keep 55% of that ad revenue, and Google keeps the other 45%.

Marko also does some affiliate marketing. He reviews products he uses himself and gives his unbiased opinion on the pros and cons of the product, taking a commission if his viewer’s signup via his affiliate link.

The third most popular way YouTubers monetize their channel is through digital courses. This leads itself to YouTube more than podcasting as you’re already producing course-like material.

Marko said a lot of YouTubers curate their best material, and/or add new material and package it into a structured course format to sell to their audience.

The CPM for ad revenue on YouTube varies depending on your niche, you can expect anywhere between $3-$15 CPM. (For every 1000 views, you could earn $3-15.)

When you have a viral video, you can see how that can add up fast!

How Long Did It Take to Go Full-Time

Marko left his full-time finance job about a year and a half after starting his YouTube channel.

For Jonathan, it was about 10 months into ChooseFI that he called it quits on his pharmacy career.

The important thing to note is that these success stories are obviously outliers, but do show what’s possible with dedicated focus. To be clear, it took me a bit longer before The Side Hustle Show could be considered a full-time income.

Podcasting vs. YouTube Startup Costs

Cost of Start-up for a YouTube Channel

Marko said he spent about $1,000 on his camera and lighting equipment. Obviously, this number can skyrocket depending on the types of videos you’re making.

Marko pointed out, “That’s ridiculously low overhead to start a potential 6-figure income business.”

Jonathan has a YouTube channel himself and chipped in that there’s more to it than that. You also need a computer capable of doing video editing, video editing software, and some other tech.

Cost of Start-up for a Podcast

A podcast on the other hand has much lower start-up costs. “With a podcast, you can make a $100 investment in a microphone and you can use free software,” Jonathan said.

Check out Jonathan’s podcasting gear checklist here.

Long Term Prospects on YouTube vs. Podcasting

Despite all the benefits of being on YouTube, Marko knows he’s on “rented land.”

YouTube could shut down his channel at any time. Marko is in the process of building out his site,, along with an email list so he can “own” his audience should he need to move platforms.

Jonathan has already established his brand on various podcasting platforms, YouTube, and website.

Closing Arguments: Should You Start an Online Business on YouTube or With Podcasts?

Despite thinking YouTube is a better business model for people starting a new business, Marko did admit that there is a lot of overlap with podcasting.

“With YouTube, you have the potential to see gratification more quickly,” Marko explained.

The downside is that you have to publish more consistently to maintain the level of exposure, fame, and revenue you build up.

Jonathan said podcasting is a better platform to get started on. His argument is that the start-up costs are lower, listeners are more loyal, and you can practice creating audio content before jumping into the potentially less-forgiving YouTube landscape.

Links and Resources from this Episode


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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

4 thoughts on “Should I Start a Podcast or a YouTube Channel to Build an Online Business?”

  1. Thanks again for having me, Nick! I had a blast and hope I was able to help convince some of your listeners to start their own YouTube channel ;)

  2. I’m glad the debate series started with this episode as I am someone with both a YouTube channel and podcast for my business. The YouTube channel has much broader reach (primarily because of the searchability) but the podcast has a more devoted audience. So they both serve a purpose. Depending on what your business does, the podcast may not be necessary or may be critical to building the trust needed to make the sale. Great food for thought, Nick!

  3. I’m thinking of starting an ASMR podcast. Probably doesn’t lend itself much to ads or sponsors. Thoughts?

    Thanks much for the article!


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