Jordan Harbinger’s first job was as a lawyer on Wall Street. It’s safe to say that, since then, his career has taken a serious — and seriously cool — turn.
Thanks largely to a shoutout in Apple’s “Best of 2018” list, his self-titled podcast has become wildly popular. The Jordan Harbinger Show has played host to an impressive roster of famous faces and thinkers, from Seth Godin and Russell Brand to Kobe Bryant and Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Full disclosure: Jordan is also a close friend and advisor to SquadCast.)
When he’s not working on his own show, Jordan serves as a consultant to others in the media space, many of whom focus on platforms other than podcasting, like YouTube and social media. On an episode of Between 2 Mics, Jordan talks extensively about why podcasting is his platform of choice.
“Podcasting allows some dude with a dad bod in the garage like me to sit around, read books, talk to smart people, put it up on the internet and be like, ‘Wow. I’m making more money than I did when I was a lawyer,’” he says. “This is dope.”
In his work as a consultant, Jordan has learned firsthand that developing a loyal following for a podcast can be an easier task than developing a loyal following on other platforms — but real success, he believes, comes from producing high-quality content… and doing it consistently.
Here’s his advice for building an audience and growing a thriving show.
1. Good or bad, don’t focus on the numbers
While the metrics for The Jordan Harbinger Show are impressive, Jordan doesn’t put a lot of stock in them. When asked what it’s like to release a podcast episode knowing that millions of people will be listening to it, his answer is simple: “I ignore that a lot.”
Jordan doesn’t think about the success of his show based on the download numbers for a single episode — whether those numbers are high or low. He focuses on the big picture, and considers the podcast as an average of the many episodes he produces, which can be impacted by dozens of uncertain factors.
“Nobody wins the Super Bowl because they had one good pass, right?” Jordan says. “There’s no podcast that just went viral once in the news and then made its host millions of dollars. It’s a game of being consistently B+. You don’t have to hit home runs regularly — or ever.”
2. Earn your audience’s time
For Jordan, it’s about being consistently B+ — but also about consistently earning his listeners’ time with quality content.
He breaks it down in terms of hours.
“If I have a bad guest on, I might have spent 20 hours [for] prepping them at the most and I spend another two hours interviewing them,” he says. “But if I send that to a quarter-million-plus people and they listen to it, I’ve wasted 250,000 hours of their time. That’s grossly unfair.”
When you do that kind of math, it does seem pretty unfair — and more than a little shocking. If you really step back, that scenario begins to feel like a big time-waster for the podcaster too!
Cut back on this kind of waste and earn your audience’s trust by valuing their time enough to produce high-quality work.
3. Be an advocate for your listeners
Jordan has also earned his audience’s trust by making thoughtful choices about the guests and advertisers he welcomes to the podcast.
While many people and brands are eager to pay big money for a slot on the popular Jordan Harbinger Show, Jordan takes his role as an advocate for his listeners very seriously and is happy to turn down high-ticket deals if it means staying true to his message and being honest with his audience.
“You only get a few passes, where people listen and go, ‘Yeah, that one wasn’t for me,’” Jordan says. “They’ll go, ‘You know what? I like his other stuff, so I’ve got faith in you. I just didn’t like that particular [guest or ad]. That’s fine.’”
Beyond those few passes, though, Jordan notes that listeners begin to lose faith and become convinced that a podcaster is letting their personal interest and income outweigh what’s best for the audiences who they’ve built a relationship with over the years.
They might not keep coming back, so don’t forget to vet the people and products you’re partnering with.
4. Think of podcasting as an open ecosystem
Jordan has a lot of fantastic insights about the podcasting space, especially as it relates to other forms of newer media. One of his most reassuring messages for all podcasters? The industry is in a good spot, because it’s not regulated by algorithms and can’t be influenced by people buying followers.
“Podcasting is an open ecosystem,” Jordan says. “It’s less likely for a single actor [like Spotify or Apple] to screw things up for everyone because one actor can’t just make a policy change and demolish the whole industry.”
Without algorithms and fake followers in the mix, it’s almost impossible to game the system in podcasting. According to Jordan, what it takes to be successful is much simpler than that: consistent high-quality content that your listeners can count on.
For more of Jordan’s insights on how to be a strong player in the podcast game, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.
Rockwell Felder is a CPA, entrepreneur, and co-founder of SquadCast. He and his team are on a mission to amplify collaboration, seeking to empower creatives to engage in meaningful conversations without barriers.