Courtesy of Gillian Tietz
- Gillian Tietz is the founder of Sober Powered Media and the host of the “Sober Powered” podcast.
- The seven shows in her network bring in about $15,000 in ad revenue and 400,000 downloads a month.
- To get started, she chose Instagram as her platform and filled in the gaps she saw from other shows.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Gillian Tietz, the 32-year-old founder of Sober Powered Media in Boston. Her revenue has been verified with documentation by Insider. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I used to be a biochemist who aimed to stay on top of developments in my field and advancing my career. I was also on a desperate journey to learn to control my drinking. When I was 29, I accepted the fact that I could never touch alcohol again, but I was still trying to figure out why.
I could understand research-based literature given the scientific nature of my job, so I started reading published journals to understand my alcohol addiction. The causes of my panic attacks, anxiety, depression after drinking, and hopelessness became crystal clear to me. Eight months into my sobriety, I realized I should share my knowledge and tools with other people.
I decided to start a podcast and launch it on Instagram because I thought people would be more likely to engage with sobriety content there as opposed to somewhere such as LinkedIn. I named it the “Sober Powered” podcast, created an Instagram account, and started working on it every day.
Since I launched, I’ve expanded my podcast into a network that sells roughly $15,000 worth of advertisements and receives 400,000 downloads each month. Here’s how I built it.
Gaining a following
During the learning phase I went through when I launched, I realized what other podcasters did that turned their followers off, and I filled in the gap.
I’d post full-length podcast episodes on Instagram as videos instead of providing my audience with just a sneak peek into the episode and redirecting them to another platform. I got more followers, shares, and saves once I started doing this, and the people who found me through my podcasts on Instagram turned into my loyal listeners. I’ve since grown my Instagram following to 46,000.
Another strategy that helped me gain followers and intensify relationships with other podcasters was speaking at podcasting conferences. I go to them regularly and share my journey and marketing expertise with other podcasters.
Tietz speaking at a podcasting conference.
Courtesy of Gillian Tietz
At one conference, a woman I met who worked for a company called Megaphone suggested I start my own sober-podcast network. I didn’t think I had it in me to launch something like that, so I didn’t move forward with the idea at the time.
This “imposter syndrome” stage culminated as soon as another person at these conferences suggested the same idea. I resigned from my full-time job in June and officially launched Sober Powered Media, a podcast network that includes my show.
I eventually started using Instagram to redirect my growing audience to my podcast channel, which was originally on Buzzsprout and is now on Megaphone. Once I moved the episodes, I took advantage of then new Reels features and trends as they rolled out. To stop my audience from scrolling past me, I give away the subheads and the intros to the episode so the value is clear.
Building business relationships and landing sponsors
Networking events and social media helped me strengthen business relationships with other podcasters in the same space. I view them as my collaborators instead of competitors.
I also mastered the art of landing sponsors and used this skill as an extension of my podcast-marketing strategy. In the beginning, I undercharged because I was afraid people would say no. Eventually, I started asking others about their experience with sponsors and how much they charged, and I read podcasting newsletters and attended conferences where these conversations took place.
Other podcasters in my space started trusting me and asked me to handle their sponsorships. I now monetize other podcasts through my network in exchange for 20% of the ad revenue, and I have seven podcasts in my network. The 20% covers all podcast hosting and operational costs.
I oversee all of the advertising campaigns, plan cross-promotions, assist the podcasters with marketing, offer input on their strategies, and get them on major shows and featured in media. I also set up a mastermind session where we discuss our projects and get input from the group.
Cross-promoting to gain reach
I cross-promote other shows, but I don’t limit my cross-promotion to my own network. I comment and share on other influencers’ posts that I genuinely like, with the goal of building great professional relationships. This also prompts them to share my content on their network.
I invite like-minded podcasters who can bring in their expertise as a unique selling proposition for a particular podcast episode. For example, I might have someone on who targets mothers, which is a great way to provide fresh content.
I also join other podcasters on their channels and give my best effort each time. I prioritize this because it’s an excellent combination of word-of-mouth marketing and endorsement.
I have a partner agency that assists me in pitching the network’s shows to brands. We’re able to sell a lot of monthly impressions because we invest time in building our audiences through network marketing.
My top priorities right now are increasing audience size and awareness because our ad revenue depends on the size of our shows.